As above, so below refers to a popular paraphrase of a quote from the Emerald Tablet, attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, used for describing the structure of the world.
“As above, so below” is especially popular and widely referenced among esoteric circles, ranging from practices such as astrology, tarot, and palmistry.
Although the phrase “As above, so below” is attributed to Hermes Trismegistus’ Emerald Tablet, the actual existence of the legendary figure is debated.
Some claims state that Hermes is identical to the Egyptian deity Thoth, others recognize a reference to him in Mycenaean Greek Linear B clay tablets, found at Pylos, while yet another claim states that Hermes was but a mystical figure, worshipped by the emergent Hermetic cult of 3rd century Rome.
What is known that the phrase first appears in a similar form in the first known version of the Emerald Tablet: pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana’s Sirr al-khalīqa, written between 750 and 850 AD.
This text was first translated into Latin by Hugo of Santalla during the 12th century.
It is important to note, that the Latin translation differs from the original Arabic text in the sense that in the latter, it is written that “That which is above is from that which is below, and that which is below is from that which is above.”
Hermeticism was popular among scholars, especially alchemists and astrologers in the late medieval period, as well as the renaissance.
In the early modern period, “As above, so below” retained its position among scholars, although its popularity started diminishing following the enlightenment.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, the phrase was kept alive and propagated by such occult figures as Helena P. Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, and the Three Initiates (believed by many to be Willian W. Atkinson) who wrote The Kybalion, a modern-day compilation of Hermetic philosophy.
“As above, so below” still retains some popularity today, with esoteric circles citing the quote on occasion both in real life and online.
In August 2014, a mystery horror premiered in the United States, under the title “As Above,So Below”.
- Wikireligions.com – As Above So Below Occult Phrase Origin
- Linguaholic.com – As above, so below
- Quora.com – What does “as above, so below” mean and where does it originate?