The Kybalion is a modern interpretation of an ancient compilation of all the main doctrines of occult knowledge.
These are the teachings that originated in ancient Egypt and that have been passed along throughout the centuries, mouth to ear.
Hermetic philosophy has always been kept a secret: “the lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of understanding”.
But thanks to this modern edition of The Kybalion, we can now have access to seven fundamental principles of occult knowledge.
The authors believe that, following the principle of causality (more on this soon), the teaching can be shared with those who are ready for them.
As written in the original Kybalion, “when the ears of the students are ready to hear, then cometh the lips to fill them with Wisdom”.
What does “Kybalion” mean?
In the early days, there was a compilation of certain Basic Hermetic Doctrines, passed on from teacher to student, which was known as “The Kybalion”, the exact significance and meaning of the term having been lost for several centuries.The Kybalion
There you have it. We don’t know the exact meaning of this mysterious word, but we do know that it was a compilation of all the main concepts of Hermetic philosophy.
In the original text, these concepts — which are abstract and complex enough for the average layman — were often concealed in metaphors, so that outsiders would not understand.
With the Kybalion, the Three Initiates offer a concise, modern, and comprehensible version of the original text, where all the main principles of Hermeticism are no longer veiled in obscurity.
Even to this day, we use the term “hermetic” in the sense of “secret”; “sealed so that nothing can escape”; etc, and this by reason of the fact that the followers of Hermes always observed the principle of secrecy in their teachings.The Kybalion
All masters and students of Hermetic philosophy have always been very careful not to make the teachings too accessible. Their attitude, though often criticized, has been a necessity.
Why? Because otherwise Hermeticism would have turned into some kind of cult, religion, or sect, and the original meaning of the teaching would have lost its fundamental essence.
In the book, the authors provide examples of this, such as what happened in India, Persia, Ancient Greece and Rome, where “occult knowledge” degenerated.
The Kybalion: summary
The Hermetists believe that, beyond the impermanence of the physical world, where everything changes, there is a Substantial Reality.
This is the first and most important of the seven principles, and it is explained thoroughly in the first chapters, with different metaphors and analogies.
“As above, so below”. All manifestations of matter and life correspond in some way. This is because everything originates from the same universal source.
The infinitesimal is similar to the infinite; the color scale to our own emotional states; etc. When you see correspondence, you see the unknown from the known.
Not only does everything “vibrate” at a certain frequency, much like sound waves — but those who master occult wisdom can change the frequency at will.
To change someone or something, you have to change its vibration, e.g. state, condition, or position in the scale.
Every quality, trait, or characteristic is nothing but the position between two extremes. “Hot” means closer to the highest temperature; “cold” closer to the opposite pole.
Same for sharpness and dullness, brightness and darkness, etc. However, everything is relative, and nothing can ever reach either pole.
Life has highs and lows; but it’s not just our own life — it affects everything in the universe. Everything has highs and lows; everything has “rhythm”.
This is a law and it cannot be changed, however the master Hermetist may rise above the law, or at least be virtually unaffected.
There is no such thing as coincidences in the sense that everything must be a cause, an effect, or both a cause and an effect.
Whereas traditional science offers proof of this in the material world, Hermeticism teaches that the same principle affects “all planes of manifestation”, including spiritual ones.
Masculine and feminine — two qualities commonly associated with living beings — are actually in everything.
Again, this manifests in all planes. The Hermetist sees masculine or feminine in the physical, mental, and spiritual worlds.
Summary and review
The seven principles may sound abstract and/or confusing, and they are. The book does offer a more thorough explanation, but it’s still quite dense.
Though The Kybalion is an easy read, and even longer editions are less than 200 pages, it deals with abstract philosophy, so you may have to read it a few times before you “get it”.
I feel this is one of those books you want to go back to over and over again, and each time you’ll discover a new insight, potentially an enlightening one.
It’s also a good way to familiarize yourself with Hermetic philosophy before you dive into longer or more advanced texts about esotericism, the occult, and mystic psychology.
If you do have a genuine interest in occult knowledge, please don’t be discouraged by the complexity of the principles because like I said, eventually you will internalize them.
The book is available in many different editions, and even hardcover ones are very inexpensive. Definitely a must read for those who are into esotericism and spirituality.