"We should be hardly induced, from anything we are commonly conversant with, to conclude that Self-Knowledge would be a way to the knowledge of the Universal Nature. Yet this was taught and believed formerly, not either as it were an arbitrary conceit, but as a truth understood and proved beyond speculation." 163

". . . The Universal Reason so magnified and its ethereal vehicle, very meager evidence is afforded to the senses or this life. Yet man, say they [the Alchemists], is demonstrated to be a compendium of the whole created nature, and was generated to become wise and have a dominion over the whole of things; having within him, besides those faculties which he exerts ordinarily and by which he judges and contemplates sensible phenomena, the germ of a higher faculty or Wisdom, which, when revealed and set alone, all the forms of things and hidden springs of nature become intuitively known and are implied essentially. This Being, moreover, or Faculty of Wisdom, is reputed so to subsist with reference to nature as her substratal source, that it works magically withal, discovering latent properties as a principle, governing and supplying all dependent existence; and of this they speak magisterially, as if in alliance they had known the Omniscient Nature and, in their own illumined understanding, the structure of the universe." 164

"This is that which the Egyptians, industrious searchers of Nature, proclaimed upon their temple’s front, that Man should know himself: and this advice was meant experimentally and ontologically, though modern fancy has slighted it and taken every ethnic fable and mythology in a profane sense. And here we are reminded of a difficulty in endeavoring to make these positions respecting the nature of true Being obvious and of drawing them into a form related to sensible intelligence. Every science is difficult to treat of to the uninitiated mind, and this kind of speculation more particularly is irrelevant to many and naturally abstruse. Those to whom nature has granted such a ray of experience in the inner life as would otherwise appear favorable to a more profound investigation, are often indifferent to the rational ground, and remain accordingly satisfied in the dreams and deluding visions of an included imagination; others more awakened to reason on the other hand, but in whom the spirit of inquiry is wholly drawn to externals, disregard as vain every proposition that does not immediately address the senses or pander to some apparent individual interest; even the most reflective and educated class have rare inducements in these days, or permission of leisure sufficient to prosecute studies of an abstract nature. But we have adverted to the independent evidence of Universals in the human intellect by way of introduction chiefly, not on their own account abstractly considered, or so much because the ancients rested their proofs of internal science thereon; but because, having once derived a rational ground of possibility, we may be better enabled to proceed with the tradition of the Hermetic mystery and more tangible effects." 171

"When the soul is situated in the body, says the philosopher, she departs from self-contemplation, and speaks of the concerns of an external life; but, becoming purified from the body, will recollect all those things, the remembrance of which she loses in the present life; and Plutarch, who was well initiated in these mysteries, says, the souls of men are not able to participate of the Divine nature whilst they are thus encompassed about with senses and passions, any further than by obscure glimmerings, and as it were, in comparison, a confused dream. But when they are freed from these impediments and removed into purer regions, which are neither discernible by the corporeal senses, nor liable to accidents of any kind, it is then that God becomes our leader --- upon Him they wholly depend, beholding without satiety, and still ardently longing after that beauty which it is impossible for man sufficiently to express or think --- that beauty which, according to the old mythology, Isis has so great an affection for, and which she is constantly in pursuit of, and from whose enjoyment every variety of good things with which the universe is filled, is replenished, and propagated. And again, in the opening of the same admirable treatise, he observes, that to desire and covet after the Truth is to aspire to be a partaker of the Divine Nature itself; and to profess that all our studies and inquiries are devoted to the acquisition of holiness; the end of which, as of all ceremonial rites and disciplines, was that the aspirant might be prepared and fitted for the attainment of the knowledge of the Supreme Mind, whom the Goddess exhorts them to search after. For this Reason is her temple wherein the Eternal Self-existent dwells, and may there be finally approached, but with due solemnity, and sanctity of life." 177

M. A. Atwood,
Hermetic Philosophy and Alchemy