by Jake Block
“As above, so below” is a statement embraced by many Satanists and is evocative of the idea of self deification and control. Sometimes we might see the expanded popular version of this phrase as, “As above, so below, as within, so without, as the universe, so the soul,” and represents the concept that whatever we think or accept (consciously) will definitely be the circumstances of our life.
However, in its direct translation from The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, by Dennis W. Hauck*, a more correct translation of this statement would be, “That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing,” (meaning that whatever happens on any level of reality (physical, emotional, or mental) also happens on every other level.)
This translation illustrates the idea of “translative alchemy,” in which, over the years of common usage through either incorrect or inefficient translation of words and/or concepts from antiquity, a new and unrelated maxim occurs that is accepted as truth by a people separated by ages of time. Today, the simple phrase “As above, so below” has become an accepted truth for probably millions of people both inside and outside the “occult community,” and despite the words we find in The Satanic Bible, telling us, “Whatever alleged truth is proven by results to be but an empty fiction, let it be unceremoniously flung into the outer darkness, along with the dead gods, dead empires, dead philosophies, and other useless lumber and wreckage!”, to do so might be tantamount to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
Much of what we know as “history” can be proven to be a result of such “translative alchemy.” In a simplistic, although accurate example, as children (at least in America” we were taught about “The midnight ride of Paul Revere.” The idea was that the American Colonist and patriot, Paul Revere, galloped to spread the word that the British are coming, “to every Middlesex village and farm.” But what we were told in grade school as “history” was highly fictionalized, and heavily influenced by “Paul Revere’s Ride,” a popular poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The truth of the incident is quite different from Longfellow’s recounting. For instance, the famous lanterns in the Old North Church tower that initiated the ride were not TO Paul Revere, but FROM him, and were being shown to waiting members of The Sons of Liberty in Charleston. Revere was not alone in spreading the word, and was in fact headed to the villages of Lexington and Concord but he, along with a fellow patriot known as Dr. Samuel Prescott, was captured before reaching Lexington. Dr. Prescott escaped to deliver the message to those villages, but gets no credit for his efforts. Revere was eventually released by his captors, but on foot. They confiscated his horse. We know this to be an accurate account of the event because of a letter Revere wrote to Dr. Jeremy Belknap of the Massachusetts Historical society (http://www.masshist.org/database/viewer.php?item_id=99). That letter was subsequently printed in an magazine of the time, from which Longfellow created his iconic poem.
Accurate or not Longfellow’s stirring poem has become a “truth” in the minds of millions, that conveys the legend and the spirit of the event. We accept it because it fits our cosmology in context, much as we have come to accept “As above, so below” as a truism within the legend and lore of our philosophy. Although not an accurate and complete translation of the phraseology within The Emerald Tablet, it now conveys a message and meaning as real to us as if it was. Consider then, the quote:
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”
— (character) Maxwell Scott (The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance)
*Dennis W. Hauck, University of Vienna, Faculty of Mathematics, Alumnus, researcher and author of over a dozen books including The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy of Personal Transformation, The Philosopher’s Stone: A Beginner’s Guide to Alchemy, Alchemy Reference Guide, and his translation of Secret of the Emerald Tablet, from Die Alchemie, by Dr. Gottleib Latz.
** Illustration by Brock Springstead