by Dennis William Hauck


 The Emerald Tablet

            The Emerald Tablet is at the center of Western alchemy and contains concepts crucial to understanding alchemy as it is practiced around the world. The alchemists believed the Emerald Tablet was an artifact brought to Egypt by mysterious visitors over 12,000 years ago. The tablet contains the essence of alchemical philosophy and has been credited as the source of both alchemy and the scientific method. The Emerald Tablet is also said to contain a formula for the perfection of anything, whether it be a metal or the human soul. Nearly every medieval alchemist had a copy of it hanging on his laboratory wall and constantly referred to the secret formula it contained. 

It is not just the ancients who appreciated the tablet. “The Emerald Tablet,” said noted Jungian author Dr. Edward Edinger, “is the cryptic epitome of the alchemical opus, a recipe for the second creation of the world.” Esoteric scholar John Matthews wrote: “Whatever one chooses to believe about it, there is no getting away from the fact that the Emerald Tablet is one of the most profound and important documents to have come down to us. It has been said more than once that it contains the sum of all knowledge – for those able to understand it.” Explorers of consciousness Terence McKenna believed that the Emerald Tablet contained “a formula for a holographic matrix” that is mirrored in the human mind and offers our species its only hope for future survival.

The secret formula contained in the Emerald Tablet became known as the Emerald Formula. It consists of seven consecutive steps that lead to a new level of creation no matter what the “substance” of transformation may be. The alchemists interpreted these steps in terms of seven chemical operations that they performed on the “matter” of their work to perfect it. We will examine this formula in detail in the ensuing chapters. For now, however, we are going to devote some time to gaining a deeper understanding of the Emerald Tablet.


What the Emerald Tablet Tells Us


            The Emerald Tablet is organized in seven rubrics or paragraphs. They are called rubrics (from the Latin rubeo, meaning “red”) because, in the Latin translations, the first letter of each paragraph was highlighted in red ink. It should be noted that when the tablet refers to the “Universe,” it is talking about the material universe in which we live. When it speaks of the “Whole Universe,” it is referencing not only the material universe (Below) but also the spiritual universe (Above). See if you can sense the secret formula hidden in the words of the Emerald Tablet as you read the following version. 


The Emerald Tablet


In truth, without deceit, certain, and most veritable.


That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing. And just as all things have come from this One Thing, through the meditation of One Mind, so do all created things originate from this One Thing, through Transformation.


Its father is the Sun; its mother the Moon. The Wind carries it in its belly; its nurse is the Earth.  It is the origin of All, the consecration of the Universe; its inherent Strength is perfected, if it is turned into Earth.


Separate the Earth from Fire, the Subtle from the Gross, gently and with great Ingenuity. It rises from Earth to Heaven and descends again to Earth, thereby combining within Itself the powers of both the Above and the Below.


Thus will you obtain the Glory of the Whole Universe. All Obscurity will be clear to you. This is the greatest Force of all powers, because it overcomes every Subtle thing and penetrates every Solid thing.


In this way was the Universe created. From this comes many wondrous Applications, because this is the Pattern.


Therefore am I called Thrice Greatest Hermes, having all three parts of the wisdom of the Whole Universe. Herein have I completely explained the Operation of the Sun.


Arabian Emerald Tablet            The first rubric simply sets the tone of the documents and asks us to come to a higher awareness and become open to deeper truths. The second rubric presents the Doctrine of Correspondences, which describes a vertical relationship between the realm of spirit Above and the realm of matter Below. This is the so-called Vertical Axis of reality, which the alchemists felt they could enter in their meditations. The Horizontal Axis is our normal material world. A wonderful example of experiencing the Vertical Axis is a work in the Corpus Hermeticum called the “Divine Pymander” (or “Divine Mind”). It is allegedly written by Hermes Trismegistus and describes his meeting with the Divine Mind and what it revealed to him about the nature of reality.

            The third rubric elaborates on the nature of the One Thing, which is the subject of the tablet. The alchemists have usually interpreted the One Thing to mean the First Matter or Universal Life Force, and this rubric describes its characteristics. The first two sentences of this rubric present the Four Elements in the order of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth. Associated with each of these elements are the first four operations of alchemy: Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, and Conjunction.

            The fourth rubric is the most mystical part of the Emerald Tablet and seems to be telling us how to enter the spiritual realm Above. It also describes the last three alchemical operations of Fermentation, Distillation, and Coagulation. The fifth rubric describes the result of the previous conditions, which is the purified Quintessence.

            The sixth rubric suggests that the previous rubrics have described a specific universal Pattern that leads to transformation on all levels of reality. It is not only the formula that the alchemist follows in his work, but also the overall pattern of nature in perfecting matter. 

            The seventh and last rubric, identifies the author of the tablet as “Thrice Greatest Hermes.” Hermes is the Greek name of Thoth, who in the Roman tradition was known as Mercury. His Latin name is Hermes Trismegistus, which means “Thrice Greatest Hermes.” Hermes (or Thoth) is thrice-greatest because he has gained knowledge on all three levels of reality: the physical plane, the mental plane, and the spiritual plane. He is now free of the cycle of rebirth and exists outside time. The Operation of the Sun is the complete explanation of the workings of the universe.

            It is best not to over-analyze the Emerald Tablet but rather seek a deeper connection with its truths by reading it many times until it begins resonating with you in some way. Carry a copy of the tablet with you and read it at various times of the day to see how the meanings change. You may want to rewrite in a way that makes more sense to you. It seems that just about every alchemist from Albertus Magnus to Isaac Newton had their own personal translation of the tablet.



© Dennis William Hauck