The Legendary Emerald Tablet And Its Secrets of The Universe


The Emerald Tablet is said to be a tablet of emerald or green stone inscribed with the secrets of the Universe.

The origins of Western alchemy can be traced back to Hellenistic Egypt, in particular to the city of Alexandria. One of the most important characters in the mythology of alchemy is Hermes Trismegistus (Hermes the Thrice-Great). The name of this figure is derived from the Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth, and his Greek counterpart, Hermes. The Hermetica, which is said to be written by Hermes Trismegistus, is generally regarded as the basis of Western alchemical philosophy and practice. In addition, Hermes Trismegistus is also believed to be the author of the Emerald Tablet.

Legends of the Emerald Tablet

The Emerald Tablet is said to be a tablet of emerald or green stone inscribed with the secrets of the universe. The source of the original Emerald Tablet is unclear; hence it is surrounded by legends. The most common story claims that the tablet was found in a caved tomb under the statue of Hermes in Tyana, clutched in the hands of the corpse of Hermes Trismegistus himself.

Hermes Trismegistus.

And the creator of the Emerald Tablet has been provided in myth as the Egyptian god Thoth, who Armando Mei writes “divided his knowledge into 42 plates of emerald, codifying the great scientific principles ruling the Universe. The legend tells that after the gods’ fall, the Hermetic tablets were cleverly hidden so that no human being might find them. Only Thoth, on his return to that dimension, was able to recover the mysterious book.”

Thoth, (Greek), Egyptian Djhuty, in Egyptian religion, a god of the moon, 
of reckoning, of learning, and of writing. He was held to be the inventor 
of writing, the creator of languages, the scribe, interpreter, and adviser 
of the gods, and the representative of the sun god, Ra.

Another legend suggests that it was the third son of Adam and Eve, Seth, who originally wrote it. Others believed that the tablet was once held within the Ark of the Covenant. Some even claim that the original source of the Emerald Tablet is none other than the fabled city of Atlantis.

Spreading Stories of the Emerald Tablet

While various claims have been made regarding the origins of the Emerald Tablet, as yet no verifiable evidence has been found to support them. The oldest documentable source of the Emerald Tablet’s text is the Kitab sirr al-haliqi (Book of the Secret of Creation and the Art of Nature), which was itself a composite of earlier works.

This was an Arabic work written in the 8th century AD and attributed to ‘Balinas’ or Pseudo-Apollonius of Tyana. It is Balinas who provides us with the story of how he discovered the Emerald Tablet in the caved tomb. Based on this Arabic work, some believe that the Emerald Tablet was also an Arabic text and written between the 6th and 8th centuries AD, rather than a piece of work from Antiquity, as many have claimed.

While Balinas claimed that the Emerald Tablet was written originally in Greek, the original document that he purportedly possessed no longer exists, if indeed it existed at all. Some say the text burned up in the Library of Alexandria. Nevertheless, Balinas’ version of the text itself quickly became well-known and has been translated by various people over the centuries.

For instance, an early version of the Emerald Tablet also appeared in a work called the Kitab Ustuqus al-Uss al-Thani (Second Book of the Elements of the Foundation), which is attributed to Jabir ibn Hayyan. It would, however, take several more centuries before the text was accessible to Europeans. In the 12th century AD, the Emerald Tablet was translated into Latin by Hugo von Santalla.

A reconstruction of what the Emerald Tablet is believed to have looked like.

What’s written on the Emerald Tablet?

The Emerald Tablet would become one of the pillars of Western alchemy. It was a highly influential text in medieval and Renaissance alchemy, and probably still is today. In addition to translations of the Emerald Tablet, numerous commentaries have also been written regarding its contents.

For instance, a translation by Isaac Newton was discovered among his alchemical papers. This translation is currently being held in King’s College Library in Cambridge University. Other notable researchers of the Emerald Tablet include Roger Bacon, Albertus Magnus, John Dee, and Aleister Crowley. And today knowledge of the legendary Emerald Tablet (at least one interpretation of it) is reaching new audiences with its presence in the surreal German-language series Dark.

An imaginative 17th-century depiction of the Emerald Tablet from the 
work of Heinrich Khunrath, 1606.

The interpretation of the Emerald Text is not a straightforward matter, as it is after all a piece of esoteric text. One interpretation, for instance, suggests that the text describes seven stages of alchemical transformation – calcination, dissolution, separation, conjunction, fermentation, distillation, and coagulation. Yet, despite the various interpretations available, it seems that none of their authors claim to possess knowledge of the whole truth. Furthermore, readers are encouraged to read the text and try to interpret and find the hidden truths themselves.

This article (The Legendary Emerald Tablet and its Secretsof the Universe) was originally published on Ancient Origins and is published under a Creative Commons license.


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  1. The emerald tablet is describing the ancient formula of fire and water.

    To put the emerald tablet in perspective, you walk on the surface of the earth that separates the above from the below.

    Earth is an enclosed system. The MERCURY is the water that circulates from below the surface of the earth to above the surface of the earth, way high high up in the sky.

    The SULFUR is the plant and animal life that grows and covers the surface of the earth.

    The SALT is the soil that covers the surface of the earth.

    Above the surface of the earth is life and growth, fire and air, hot and dry.

    Below the surface of the earth is death and decomposition, water and earth, cold and wet.

    There are 2 ways to get pure crystalline earth. By fire and burning, and by water and decomposition.

    The idea of alchemy is to combine the 4 elements and thier attributes, fire, earth, air, water, hot, dry, cold, wet, to make the 5th element, the aether, the light, the spirit in the flesh, in pure bodily form so the light can shine out of matter in its purest state of being. A perfect balance of the elements and their attributes, completely incorruptible.

    The miracle of the one thing is salt. And all the different combinations of the elements and their attributes can manifest as different forms of life growing here on earth. The light of the self determines if the life will have a dense hard crystalline basis of all life, or a liquid crystalline basis for all life.

    The emerald tablet is trying to tell you to get the pure crystalline salts, with different elemental properties and combine them to make the philosophers stone. You need a crystalline sulfur with the elemental properties of fire, air, hot, and dry. And you need a pure crystalline salt with the elemental properties of water, earth, cold, and wet.

    The fixed, masculine, sun, gold, seed, called SULFUR can be found in the ashes of burned vegetation. The fire, air, hot, dry crystalline salt.

    The volatile, feminine, moon, silver, soil, called SALT can be found in the soil. The water, earth, cold, wet crystalline salt.

    Dissolve these 2 opposite salts in MERCURY(spring water) in right proportion, then cook it. It will turn black, green, grey, white, yellow, orange, red, ruby red as it thickens and the water evaporates. Depending on how well you know the art of alchemy, it could take a day to fuse permanently, or a year.

    The entire enclosed system of earth is symbolized by a snake eating its own tail.

    1. The emerald tablet says to, "separate the earth from the fire, the subtle from the gross(water), and with great care, ascend it to heaven, then descend it back to earth again."

      This means you distill the soil until it stops smoking. The white smoke will ascend to the top of the distiller, then descend and condense as a semi liquid crystalline clear white volatile salt in the receiver.

      Then calcine the remaining to ashes. Leach the fixed incombustible sulfur from the ashes of the soil. There will be very little. Another way to get the fixed incombustible sulfur in abundance is by burning general fallen vegetation to ashes, then leach the ashes with water. Filter the water. Evaporate and get the fixed incombustible sulfur.

  2. The Emerald Tablet - a Hermetic text, attributed to the legendary Hermes Trismegistus, that dates back sometime between c. 200 and c. 800.

    As stated in this article, the oldest known source of the text is its inclusion in a book written in Arabic in the late 8th or early 9th century, but most likely based on much older Greek and/or Syriac sources. Also, as stated in this article, it was first translated into Latin in the 12th century, and since then has been translated into English multiple times (including one version by Isaac Newton). Below is a poetic translation:

    True it is, and it is so.
    As above, so is below.
    All is mind and possible.
    With adaption, miracle!
    All in motion and from one.
    Both mother moon and father sun.
    Everything but shades of gray.
    From black to white and night to day.
    Extract the subtle from the gross.
    Rise and fall, the water flows.
    All power granted from these laws.
    Every effect has its cause.
    Balance force with fortitude.
    From the start and to conclude.
    The emerald stone illuminates!
    As wrote by Hermes the thrice great.

    I created a t-shirt design with this translation that can be seen at this link: