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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Hermes Trismegistus (Hermes Thrice-Great) One name for a god also identified as the Egyptian deity Thoth. He was master of alchemical knowledge and wrote secret books on alchemy, astrology, and magic.
      In 1455, a manuscript from the cultural center of Florence titled Corpus Hermeticum began to circulate among the intellectuals of Europe. The ideas expressed in this book——believed to have been written between A.D. 250 and 300——had been mentioned even in manuscripts of the late Middle Ages, though knowledge of the written Greek language in which it had been preserved had been all but lost in those times.
      It was said to be the compilation of the wisdom of Hermes Trismegistus. Scholars who regained the use of Greek promoted this treasured, arcane knowledge and it became prized as a privileged key to the occult. Printed copies of the Corpus spread throughout the civilized world for the next half century and appeared in the libraries of the intellectuals.
      Mostly concerned with magic spells and other such trivia, it is of interest only as an example of early thought and philosophy.
      See also Hermetic.

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