The Emerald Tablet 101

A truly transformational experience

200 - 800 CE Hermes Trismegistus | 2016 Matthew Barnes

5 Stars
Illustration by Léon Jean Joseph Dubois

Short and truly remarkable

14 January 2022

Once in a while you stumble upon short literature that really makes a difference. This book is such an example. It accompanies the writings of the Emerald Tablet without blatantly over-analyzing its substance. It lays a foundation for you and helps you distill its abstract yet deep and meaningful contents.

My take, read it! It will be the best time you ever spent on a spiritual book, especially because it's so short yet oh so important.


  • Paperback:‎ 81 pages
  • E-book: 77 pages
  • ISBN-10:‎ 1537047612
  • ISBN-13:‎ 978-1537047614

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"The Emerald Tablet 101" by Matthew Barnes is an introductory guide to the Emerald Tablet, a legendary piece of Hermetic wisdom thought to hold the key to the secrets of the universe. The book provides an overview of the tablet's history and its connection to the Hermetic tradition, as well as the key figures associated with its study, such as Hermes Trismegistus and Isaac Newton.

Barnes delves into the core teachings of the tablet, including the principles of alchemy, transformation, and the interconnectedness of all things. The author also discusses the significance of the tablet's cryptic phrase, "As above, so below," which symbolizes the unity of the macrocosm and microcosm.

Throughout the book, Barnes emphasizes the importance of using the Emerald Tablet as a source of inspiration and guidance for personal growth and self-discovery.

Most important learnings and insights

  1. Origins and history
    The Emerald Tablet is a short, cryptic text believed to have been written by Hermes Trismegistus, an ancient figure who is said to have possessed divine wisdom. The tablet has had a significant impact on Western esoteric traditions and has been highly influential in the fields of alchemy, hermeticism, and philosophy.
  2. The principle of correspondence
    One of the most famous phrases from the tablet, "As above, so below," represents the idea that the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, and vice versa. This principle suggests that by understanding the laws of the universe, we can also understand the inner workings of our own nature.
  3. Alchemical transformation
    The Emerald Tablet has been interpreted as a guide to the process of spiritual and material transformation, known as alchemy. This process involves the purification and transmutation of base metals into gold, which symbolizes the transformation of the human soul into a divine, enlightened state.
  4. The unity of all things
    The tablet emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things, suggesting that everything in the universe is made from a single, primordial substance. This concept has parallels with modern scientific theories, such as quantum mechanics and string theory, which propose that all matter is ultimately composed of the same fundamental particles.
  5. The seven stages of transformation
    The Emerald Tablet outlines a series of seven stages through which one must progress in order to achieve spiritual and material transformation. These stages are calcination, dissolution, separation, conjunction, fermentation, distillation, and coagulation.
  6. The importance of balance
    The tablet highlights the need for balance in all aspects of life, including the balance between opposing forces, such as masculine and feminine, light and dark, and positive and negative. Achieving balance is essential for personal growth and spiritual development.
  7. Practical applications
    Barnes discusses various ways in which the teachings of the Emerald Tablet can be applied to everyday life, including meditation, visualization, and affirmation techniques designed to help individuals achieve a greater sense of self-awareness and personal transformation.
  8. The tablet's influence on modern thought
    The book explores how the ideas contained within the Emerald Tablet have influenced various fields of study, from psychology and philosophy to science and spirituality, demonstrating its enduring relevance and impact on human understanding.

37 significant notes

View these notes on Goodreads

  • 10%Instead of Alchemy representing a literal transformation of a base metal like lead or mercury into gold, I believe it represents the transformation of a base human being, ignorant and full of ego, into something of a higher nature- a spiritually matured, knowledgeable, compassionate and enlightened human being.
  • 10%These inner teachings were typically more advanced studies on the ultimate reality of life as opposed to the simple instructions on proper behavior as taught to those outside of the inner circle.
  • 11%the inner teaching is that the jihad is actually a war within you- a war between what is good and right within you versus your inner darkness. Another way of expressing this idea is that the inner war is between your self-centered ego and your higher self.
  • 13%Actual experience is proof beyond a doubt, whereas faith alone is simply taking the word of another- it is secondhand belief.
  • 14%Hermes taught that in his vision, he saw directly that at least part of the purpose of human life was to create and explore, as the Intelligence that created this world and us also creates and explores.
  • 15%when the teachings of Hermes were allowed, society flourished, as happened in the Renaissance, where spiritual and scientific curiosity was encouraged.
  • 15%The Emerald Table is reported to have been buried around 400AD to protect it
  • 15%According to Heremetic teachings, we as humans grow in consciousness and compassion over time.
  • 15%Over time, and possibly over many lifetimes, we eventually ripen and mature into a being of higher nature. This is Alchemy. Once we ripen and mature to a certain point, it is time to move on to the next realm after death.
  • 16%By this philosophy, there is no good or bad, there is only mature and “not-yet-mature”. Those of us who seem good have simply matured more. Those of us who seem bad are simply not yet ripened. We all make this jour... This highlight has been truncated due to consecutive passage length restrictions.
  • 16%The ultimate goal of the Hermetic teachings is to speed up this evolution so that we may pass on to the next realm sooner.
  • 18%“Seek not to walk in the footsteps of the wise, seek what they sought.” – Basho
  • 41%The swirl of the negative electrons Around the nucleus of an atom Is the basic battery of Life Producing Energy unending
  • 42%Future generations Will call this Life Force, This Energy, Many things- Ki and Qi Prana and Mana
  • 49%The truth Is that we have a body, But are not that body- What we are Is the Consciousness (fire) Within that body (earth), Infinite and immortal
  • 51%As your body moves And as your thoughts rise and fall And the world and all its dramas and dreams Seem to spin chaotically around you, Stay calm in the Center Within your core And simply watch There is nothing else For you to do,
  • 55%Observe! Contemplate these things Well and often And gradually The Truth will build up Within your understanding
  • 58%When I awakened It was as if my Mind, The Consciousness within Me, Separated From the body
  • 61%I was overcome, Filled to the Core With Light And Peace And Love And Knowledge
  • 69%Awaken And the Truth of this world Will open up before you And all of this will change, Forever
  • 72%When that Light Illuminates your Being All darkness recedes, For darkness is not equal To the Light, But merely the absence of IT
  • 73%Darkness, ignorance Is but a lack of knowledge- It breeds feelings Of separation and fear,
  • 74%The Truth Fills us with a compassion And an understanding And an empathy And a feeling of kinship For all living things
  • 75%Once Illuminated You will see only eternity, Only infinity, Immortality, Unity
  • 77%You may think That you are powerful Because you have money Or possessions Or status, Or because you have sway Over other people But these things are as nothing Compared to the Power That animates The living world
  • 80%Awaken to ITs presence And then you will know Power, Real Power- You will bear witness To the greatest Force Ever known
  • 84%The positive and the negative, Reunited through attraction Thus was born the Holy Spirit, Or Life Force, or Qi That enlivens And animates This living world
  • 86%This world And every square inch of it Is a miracle- Alive, And filled with Intelligence, Consciousness, Awareness
  • 88%Even now As you read these words, New life is forming Out of The One Thing And being imbued With Essence And Intelligence And Awareness Even now As you read these words, Old life is being broken down, And reabsorbed And redistributed
  • 93%The Father, The Son, And the Holy Spirit This is the Trinity Or the Tri-Unity Of Life-
  • 94%The Great Light of Consciousness That exists beyond this realm And creates and animates This living world The same Light, The same Consciousness, Exists within you as well Study, Observe, Awaken…
  • 96%The world of matter emerged from this Intelligence, this Energy, and then split into two opposing charges- the positive particle and the negative particle. From the attractions and repulsions of these two charges did this world reproduce into infinite forms.
  • 96%The Ultimate goal of this Life Force is to inhabit matter, imbuing it with life, consciousness, awareness, intelligence.
  • 96%With an open mind, intense study, an indomitable will and regular practices of deep contemplation you will be able to witness the separate existence of your body and the immortal Consciousness within it.
  • 96%All ignorance will leave you and you will become free and wise, filled with a deep and enduring compassion for all living things.
  • 96%IT is beyond your ability to imagine, comprehend or fathom.
  • 97%the Triunal composition of this world, consisting of The Father (the One), the Son (the Universe, made from the One) and the Holy Spirit (the Life Force).