The ancient Hermetic philosophers were well aware of a certain subtile correspondence or analogyexisting between the superior and inferior worlds, the world of causation and that of effects. They traced a connection between the noumenal and the phenomenal, between the mind of man and his bodily condition, between the spiritual and the natural.
They affirmed all this in a trite axiom: As above, so below. This philosophy extended to concrete observations, and became a science which they embodied in the Doctrine of Correspondences. The hieroglyphic writings of the Chinese, Egyptians and Assyrians arethe outcome of this science, portions of which are current in our own thought and language. Thus when we speak of commerce, the merchant and the market, we are going back to traditional knowledge which associated the “winged messenger” of the gods with the ship in full sail; the word merx (trade) being atthe root of the name Mercury, and the symbol the hieroglyph for all that the name imports.
We call the Sun “he” and the Moon “she,” tracing unconsciously a subtle correspondence between the day and the active male function in nature, and between the night and the passive female function. We speak of jovial men and infer their connection with the planet Jupiter; and all our destructive and hurtful ideas areembodied in such words as “to mar,” “martial,” “murder,” etc., linking them to their source in the root marna (to strike), because the destructive element in nature is represented in our system by the planet Mars.