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The Hermetica

Date: 07-09-11
Host: Ian Punnett
Guests: Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince

Historical researchers, Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince joined Ian Punnett for a discussion on how the rediscovery of lost Egyptian documents not only fueled the Renaissance but also launched the bedrock of the Enlightenment. They explained that the texts, collectively dubbed the Hermetica, consisted of a series of treatises written by separate authors who were "all members of the same, depending on how you look at it, philosophical school or religious cult." So profound were the writings of the Hermetica, Prince contended, that they had more impact on Western culture than any other book except for the Bible and, in modern culture, the collection's influence even surpasses that of the Biblical texts.

The duo went on to explain that the Hermetica had been "banned and rejected" by the Christian Church which saw the texts as occult and resulted in them disappearing from Europe "for a long time." However, the Hermetica reemerged in the middle of the 15th century, which Prince claimed "kicked off the Renaissance." To that end, Picknett said that the return of the Hermetica in Europe created a frenzy amongst the thinkers of the day, so much so that the scholars tasked with translating ancient texts were ordered to "drop everything" and turn their attention solely towards deciphering it. "Everyone was in a fever of excitement about it," she marveled.

According to Picknett, such legendary scientists as Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton were among the beneficiaries of the Hermetica's wisdom. This is because the concepts contained within the texts led these great thinkers to examine things in a different way and, thus, make great discoveries. Prince used the example of Isaac Newton, noting that he "took Hermetic principals and applied them to the physical properties of matter and that's what allowed him to crack the mystery of gravity." Ultimately, Picknett mused, the Hermetica gave these researchers "permission to be daring in their thoughts," because they were fueled by one of the principals contained in the texts which suggested that "we can do anything, so long as our minds are unlimited."

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