Updated: Oct 14, 2019
For the past two years, Hermeticism has been instrumental in my approach to everyday life.
What is Hermeticism you may ask?
Well, simply put, Hermeticism is the study of the natural laws governing our universe. Written by Hermes Trismegistus, the name given by the Greeks to the Egyptian god Thoth or Tehuti.
This multi-faced character is considered the god of wisdom, learning, and literature.
Now, regardless of if these laws were actually written by Hermes or not is not the point. The point is that these laws have been widely agreed upon for millennia, and they are currently gaining popularity, especially in the West, due to the century edition of The Kybalion.
These laws of Hermeticism consist of seven fundamental principles:
1. The Principle of Mentalism.
2. The Principle of Correspondence.
3. The Principle of Vibration.
4. The Principle of Polarity.
5. The Principle of Rhythm.
6. The Principle of Cause and Effect.
7. The Principle of Gender.
All of which work in synchrony in order to deliver a cocktail of deep understanding, and when applied, a new level of human awareness and experience.
But this article isn’t going to be a cut and dry explanation of Hermeticism. If you’d like to first gain context by reading an article explaining Hermeticism in detail, click here.
In this article, we are going to breakdown and take a closer look at the book The Stellar Man. Written by philosopher, and founder of The Hermetic Institution in Santiago Chile, John Baines.
This book delivers a straight forward description of the esoteric reality behind the veil of the matrix and acts as a practical guide (As practical as esoteric knowledge can be) on how you can access an incredible level of awareness and experience through Hermetic practices.
So, together with a quick breakdown of the main premise of the book, I have written 4 sections on what I found to be the most influential or moving parts of the book along with notes on why these parts stood out to me and what I believe Baines is trying to instill in the reader.
These sections are the following:
What is a Stellar Man?
Waking up and Becoming a Stellar Man
The illusion of Free Will
Hermetic Initiation and the Qualities of The Stellar Man
It seems the premise of Baines’ book is to deliver a straight forward, no holds bar, practical view of Hermeticism and Hermetic beliefs by laying out the underlying illusion of the world we live in and how to transcend it.
By coining everyday people as ‘Sapiens’, Baines makes it very clear that most human beings are sacrificing true awareness and liberation for the fleeting and external satisfaction of the material world. Living as ‘Automatons’, these people aren’t aware of this illusion, let alone their slavery to it.
While those who take the necessary steps to transcend the illusion of the consumer-based matrix and achieve liberation from the suffering associated with this paradox evolve into a ‘Stellar Man’. According to Baines, the only way to transcend this illusion is by detaching from the Central Computer, which can be represented by the everyday mundanity of conditioned consumer-based life.
So, how does one transcend the matrix and evolve into a Stellar Man?
Well, by understanding and practicing the corresponding natural laws that govern the known universe.
Hermeticism is the ancient knowledge of these laws, (Or what Baines calls the Masterly Science of the Universe) and taking the necessary steps toward evolution while understanding and utilizing these laws is the path to becoming a Stellar Man.
What is a Stellar Man?
Stellar Man is a reference to a self-realized human being. One who sees beyond the veil of illusion associated with keeping up with the Joneses.
An individual that has discovered their true nature, knowing that they are not their body, but are eternal energy that will continue its existence for eternity. This realization, when applied, allows the individual to internalize this truth and experience a new form of reality, a completely different awareness of oneself and the surrounding environment.
An incredibly evolved version of existence, detached from expectation, desire, fear and ultimately, suffering.
Becoming Stellar Man is the equivalent of achieving Buddha Nature. And in doing so, one exists in Nirvana. It can also be compared with receiving Salvation within Christianity, which in turn leads to experiencing heaven.
There are MANY names for this experience and although Hermeticism is not a religion, there are many similarities between Hermetic qualities and it’s religious counterparts. In the end, the experience, and understanding associated with this massive realization are virtually the same.
In my eyes, Hermeticism could be considered a religion that focuses primarily on the natural laws of the universe, understanding, and living in accordance with these laws, and in turn, achieving liberation from the bindings of the matrix. Just as one is liberated from Samsara or suffering when attaining Buddha Nature.
Who doesn’t want to be free of the prison of the mind?
Who doesn’t want to have complete trust and faith in the universe and have the ability to appreciate every single moment for what it is without judgment or expectation?
Who doesn’t want to truly understand ancient knowledge of the masters and actually apply this knowledge in the modern world?
I know I do…
And that’s why this book spoke to me SO much. Instead of exhausting oneself with literature such as the Tao De Ching, or a conscious interpretation of the Bible, The Stellar Man lays out virtually the same information available in ancient spiritual texts without the fluff or much need for interpretation.
So, let's take a closer look at some highlights from The Stellar Man.
Waking up and Becoming a Stellar Man
On page 69, Baines opens up with two simple objectives of what he calls true occultism, or inner Hermetic work.
That Sapiens be transformed into Stellar Man.
That this man be spiritual.
Simple enough eh?
Let's take a look at what it truly means to be spiritual within the realm of Hermeticism.
On the same page, Baines states “To become spiritual in truth only means one thing: that the spirit manifests itself through one's own brain. Thus, the individual is truly spiritual because his spirit has access to material, concrete, and temporal reality.” - pg 69
This explanation of spirituality really resonates with me. Instead of using some fluffy, dreamlike explanation, Baines demonstrates the understanding that we are certainly Mind, Body and Spirit. This practical definition of spirituality allows the reader to conceptualize what it is to be spiritual instead of leaving them in the dark to simply guess, guess and guess again.
This concept is also in alignment with the first principle of Hermeticism, the principle of Mentalism.
At first, while reading the Kybalion, I didn’t understand this concept. Yet, when I read what Baines describes as the definition Hermetic philosophers have given to the word Mind, my confusion subsided.
This definition is “Mind is Intelligence and consciousness born from apprenticeship in an intensified state of awakeness”.
Baines goes further in saying “The common man lacks mind and must resign himself to handling his limited intelligence and knowledge. Which have been developed through a somnambulistic apprenticeship in a state of hypnosis or sleep.”
Reading this statement, it is much easier to relate to the seemingly grandiose concept of Everything is Mind. What Baines clarifies is the fact that Mind is not simply the intellectual and logical mind that we immediately think of in the west, but an embodiment of one's spiritual consciousness in one's intellectual mind.
So, in a nutshell, the Stellar Man is one who not only understands but masters the implementation of bringing one's spiritual and eternal nature into the forefront of one's consciousness, and in turn, expresses true spirituality freely and effortlessly.
Therefore the Stellar Man responds to his environment as such and expresses his or her spiritual understanding through their everyday interactions and activities. He or she sees beyond the mundane drudgery that is constantly both debilitating and remaining the conversational topic of Sapiens. Who, according to Baines, “Live almost permanently entangled in a web of fantasy and dreams, which rob them of their best possibility for achieving true consciousness and happiness.”
The Illusion of Free Will
“One of the most powerful illusions of Homo Sapiens is that of free will.” - The Stellar Man pg 107
This chapter rocked me.
The quote above is the first line of chapter seven and I was instantly confused upon reading it. How can someone blatantly say that humans don’t have free will? My whole life I believed that free will was the ONLY thing that we truly had as humans. But when you look at the fact that the term Sapiens is referring to individuals who are not self-realized and unaware of their true nature, we can see the silver lining behind this statement.
Baines goes on to say “Sapiens believes in his personal independence due to the fact that at any moment he may, if he so desires, violently break any of the bonds which imprison him without any impediments. It is possible for him to leave the work that imprisons him and live as a vagabond on other people's charity if he so desires. Or, he can abandon those studies that are so arduous and look for a job or live as he can. If he undertakes any of these measures of freedom, he knows he will have to pay for them, but considers the price cheap for doing as he pleases.” - pg 109
Most people would consider this to be the free will that is every human being’s birthright. I sure have my entire life. If I can make decisions for myself then surely I must have free will!
But this is not the type of free will Baines is talking about. Sure, we all have the ability to make decisions for ourselves, but are our decisions truly ours? Or are our decisions pre-determined by a lifetime of conditioning, belief systems, and fear? Do we truly make decisions based on the greater good of our highest self? Or do we make them in order to please others, or worse, our false ego…
“We can assert that Sapiens understands only what he wishes to understand, more accurately, that which is convenient. He absolutely discredits everything that affronts his cerebral guidelines or his habits of life and conduct.” - Stellar Man pg 110
We see here that when Sapiens are not freed from their mental conditioning, they are not making decisions based on what is truly best for them, but based on what is comfortable and convenient.
Baines then proceeds to say that the only way to access the understanding of one's highest good and true free will is to diminish one's own personality and ego due to it being shaped by prior experience and conditioning.
“The first step taken by the student of Hermeticism is to really put his feet on the ground and proceed, despite the pain, with his own deflation until he reaches his real level. He will hopefully reach the lowest point possible, as there is no other starting point except from zero.” - pg 120
This diminishing of one's ego and conditioning is an incredibly difficult and strenuous path. It takes incredible effort, and in the western world, this entire concept is virtually unrecognized at best.
But, for those who aspire to gain access to this ancient knowledge and become a Stellar Man, it is necessary.
Baines also touches on the fact that we are constantly seeking leaders to follow and surrender our shortcomings and suffering too.
This is extremely evident when we look at the history of civilization. From Jesus to Hitler, Obama to Ganges Kahn, Sapiens are constantly allowing their thought processes and belief systems to be shaped by leaders who ironically are conditioned by their own insatiable egos, desire for power, and their also conditioned environment. Doesn’t seem like a winning system, does it?
“The masses, in turn, constantly seek leaders to follow. This is the real recognition of the fact that their volition is void; they need someone to follow as they lack the will power to direct themselves.” pg. 118
“Though it may be true that for sapiens all is written, this is not true for the wise man who has freed himself from the collective animal soul and has been converted into a Stellar man.” pg 119
In a nutshell, in order to attain true free will and make conscious decisions based on the greater good of your TRUE SELF and not your egoic structure, you must make an intensive effort to cultivate a healthy relationship with the ego. We do this by identifying it through conscious observation and then continuing to build upon this via pattern recognition.
“The individual must appreciate the magnitude of his ignorance.” The Stellar Man pg. 111
While powerful entheogens such as Ayahuasca and 5MEO-DMT have proven to be very effective tools at diminishing one's false ego, there are also ways to do this completely naturally. You can click here to check out the 3-step-process I created that is designed to recognize, observe and neutralize fear, which derives from the false ego. This process is based on dozens of consultations and years of intensive study.
Hermetic Initiation and the life of the Stellar Man
“One of the great errors committed by followers of the occult and esoteric matter is to consider initiation as only an assembly of practices, knowledge, or ceremonies, ignoring the transcendental, cosmic, mystic, divine, and eternal nature of initiation. Initiation truly represents a tremendously significant act from the point of view of universal truth, as it is the transformation of animal sapiens into Stellar Man.” pg. 208
The concept of initiation that Baines is describing reminds me so much of a single moment I experienced shortly after a spiritual pilgrimage in North America which included a massive ego death. I then spent 7 days by a lake in Austin Texas meditating and connecting with nature and two dear friends who were on the same path.
I remember feeling as though I had reached a new level of awareness within myself. I had come to the conclusion that the true path to fulfillment (at least for me) was in bringing value to others and being in service.
I thoroughly remember surrendering to the flow of the universe and asking the source to make me an instrument. To make me as valuable as possible to as many people as possible. Completely surrendered, and with an open heart and mind, I continued my daily meditation practice.
Then, in one instant, as I was meditating on the dock, I remember feeling what I can only describe as a bolt of energy shoot through my body. I immediately woke from deep meditation and pulled up the blindfold I had over my eyes.
When I opened my eyes, everything was uniquely different. The water shined in a new light, teeming with energy. The wooden dock came to life in a way that is difficult to explain. My entire body was in pure ecstasy and being still felt unbelievably great. I could hear the buzzing of a bee from what seemed like a football field away and had what I can only explain as 360-degree vision.
At this moment, I somehow knew what was happening. I felt as if I was a complete observer of my physical body and was fully conscious that I was having this incredible experience, as an observer behind a window, yet I was completely submerged in the experience itself.
In this moment and for an entire month after that day, everything that I had become, a well-known traveler, entrepreneur, and filmmaker, none of it mattered to me at all. I was completely liberated from everything in this physical world in a way that is completely indescribable. I didn’t want to be identified with anything whatsoever. I only wanted to be seen and represented as ME. ME wasn’t a filmmaker or a traveler, ME was wearing the mask of these archetypes, and after realizing this, my life has been very different.
This single occurrence completely changed my life, and it is the only experience that I can relate to a Baines’ description of a Hermetic Initiation.
“Initiation is the conversion of a programmed animal into an unprogrammed and free Stellar Man. There is only one way to accomplish this: the destruction of the personality, since this is the individual’s program.” - pg. 210
“During initiatic process, the student must experience the death of the program, which naturally is a gradual process. Nevertheless, it should not be thought that this is merely destructive, but rather that the program dissolves upon being absorbed and transformed by the Superior I.” - pg. 211
Baines breaks down Hermetic Initiation into 3 parts.
Let's dive in.
Naturally, humans are programmed since birth. This is unfortunately unavoidable due to the fact that our parents and caretakers are also programmed.
The term “Programed” may seem stark, but the semantics pale in comparison to the reality behind the truth of the programming itself.
The majority of human beings are stuck in cyclical self-imprisonment that begins when they are born and usually doesn't end until they die. Every manipulation you experience from someone else, whether conscious or unconscious, is a form of programming. Your parents taking you to church, your school teachers telling you to sit still. It is all a systematic effort to create a better worker for society.
Strangely enough, this isn't anyone's fault. Both your teachers and parents are simply doing what they have also been programmed to do. 9.9 times out of 10 they will not have a clue about what is truly going on.
We are especially programmed from the ages of 3-7 when our brain is in a Theta brain wave state.
At this time, our minds are like a sponge. Soaking up every sliver of information from our environment and storing it deep within our subconscious minds. This time in our development has the potential to truly shape someone for their entire life. If someone experiences trauma during this time of their life, they will almost always cary it into their adult life.
Maybe their house caught on fire, or one of their parents was an abusive alcoholic. You can bet that that person will have a fear or even a phobia or fire and most likely will not drink.
The really harsh reality behind this is the fact that we can't control our environment whatsoever during this time of development. We are literally at the whim of whatever our immediate environment provides us. Which is typically very programmed information coming from very programmed individuals. All the while as you grow up, you practice the belief systems you attained from this conditioning, further solidifying it into your being.
It is only by deprogramming or deconditioning oneself that he or she may attain liberation from their own internal prison that has been crafted for a lifetime.
I was a victim of this imprisonment.
Always trying to please everyone else, working toward living up to everyone's expectations. Constantly concerned about people's opinions of me and if I am making the right decisions in my life. How do I look? Am I worthy of this person's love? Should I keep working at this job or should I sell everything and travel? My mind was constantly having a dialog with itself, running in circles, spinning its wheels.
It wasn't until I briefly, yet completely became detached from everything and everyone I knew that I finally found myself. I personally did this by moving to a Medellin Colombia, where I knew no one and didn’t speak a word of Spanish. I simply went because it looked beautiful and, for the first time in my life, had both money and time to travel. Little did I know that I was embarking on a journey that would dramatically change my life.
Three months later I returned home anopologetically myself. I also returned a much more complete. fulfilled, kind, and understanding person. My detachment from the world that had been conditioning me my entire life lead me to find my true self. With no one expecting anything of me I was finally free to truly be and express myself. This transformation stuck with me and I’ve never looked back.
When before, I thought my family would practically disown me for leaving and being “Different” than them. Quite the opposite actually happened. When I returned, my family was so excited to see me and I was respected as a man who made his own decisions in life. This respect is still shared and my relationship with both myself and my family is better and more unique than I ever thought possible.
We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to take steps toward deprogramming.
Deprogramming simply means letting go of all the conditioning you’ve been exposed to in your life. That doesn't mean you have to turn your back on your friends and family and never be close to them again. It means taking time to facilitate an environment that allows YOU to be YOU.
Whether that's at a meditation retreat, an ashram in India, or a 4-month escapade in Colombia, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you shed the layers upon layers of programming and conditioning you’ve been exposed to in your life. Once you begin to release this conditioning, you begin to move into your power, the REAL YOU.
We also owe it to the world to deprogram.
When we deprogram we are able to make conscious decisions based upon what we know to be true as conscious, educated adults. We begin to see things without bias and opinion. We begin to see things for what they truly are. When we aren't so caught up in our own internal chatter and misery, we make space to consider things such as social and environmental concerns. With this space, you become a healthier individual not only for yourself but for the entire world and its inhabitants.
Deprogramming is a noble and admirable act of courage. One that will radically change your life.
You will see life with a brand new light and have so much more confidence in yourself. You will be a shepherd of wisdom and insight, with room for serving the greater good of yourself and others.
The healthier we are directly correlates to our environment. When you have deprogrammed yourself, everywhere you go will benefit and most people who know you will speak of you with pride and honor. When you are deprogrammed, you inspire others to experience the same liberation. This creates ripples that touch many lives, and potentially, liberate many beings.
Baines doesn't go into much detail on what an actual initiatory death really is. Besides the fact that the student of Hermeticism achieves the initiatory death by way of deprogramming, there isn't a clear cut description of what this “Death entails”.
Based on my research and personal experiences both naturally and with naturally occurring psychotropics, my only hypothesis of what an initiatory death can be is the equivalent of the experience I had by that lake in Austin.
A single moment in which everything shifts into a new paradigm of awareness and consciousness. Where everything you had been programmed or even programmed yourself to become dies. When you no longer care about the characteristics that were born out of the programming.
This can be called a True Ego Death.
From my experience, this death is typically the second death you experience in this initiatory process.
While the first death is an Artificial Ego Death.
This ego death seems extraordinarily real and can be terrifying, while the True Ego Death happens completely naturally and is typically one of, if not the most incredibly blissful experiences you can have.
The artificial ego death typically comes from the use of either psychedelic compounds, clinical hypnosis, or deep meditative practice. This ego death leads one to identify his or her ego.
By the ego deteriorating, the person then recognizes that they are both spirit and body in one.
Upon realizing this, one can move forward in a more balanced and harmonious manner, not allowing the ego to run amuck and cause all kinds of internal and external trouble.
The artificial ego death is very important but should be recognized as the beginning of ones deprogramming journey, not the end.
In order to complete ones deprogramming, it is necessary to take steps toward moving through one's shadows, deep exploration of one's inner world or consciousness, surrendering to the flow of the universe, and becoming an instrument of serving others. True Ego Death is a long and tedious path that leads to a new awareness and renewed way of being. It is less common in the western world than in the East, where meditation is practiced more due to religions such as Buddhism and Taoism. Yet, the artificial ego death is a fantastic starting point and one that can easily transform your life on its own.
Both the artificial and true ego deaths are not permanent. Unfortunately, you will never remain egoless during your journey on Earth. A part of existing on this planet as a human is walking with both a spirit and identity or ego.
The difference is when one works to grow and nurture his or her spirit while taming and acknowledging their ego. This creates a more harmonious balance as a whole. Most people are ravaged by their egos. Reaching externally for another hit of fulfillment, only to be disappointed when that fulfillment is quick to flee.
When one harnesses the power of the ego, he can then utilize it in times of need and neutralize in times when it is detrimental. And understanding this is nearly impossible without first experiencing an ego death.
Below, Baines lists what the student of Hermeticism can expect to acquire once he or she experiences an initiatory death or True Ego Death.
“Hermeticism of which we speak in this book sustains that the Hermetic initiate can acquire the following privileges along his or her path of initiation:
Freedom from the complexes and base passions
Freedom from the central computer of the species and becoming a truly awakened
Absolute mental clarity and emotional equilibrium
Knowledge of the occult forces of Nature
Entrance into the elite of the truly wise; the true sage is a sage of the mind and not of the intellect.
Victory over the eventualities in life
To know and to find oneself
To grasp the secret of happiness and love
Emotional, instinctive, and cerebral deprogramming
Freedom form the collective unconscious or animal soul
Union with one's inner divinity
Knowledge of the transcendental truth and the only truth, becoming converted into a sage of the mind
Freedom from futile pain by means of an avatar
Knowledge of the occult causes of all that exists
Power over vibrations and the secret of transmutation
Conscious reincarnation by means of an avatar.
Achieving the status of Stellar Man or Stellar Woman by means of genetic and psychological mutation
Freedom from Maya
Shortly after death, the universe will always host a rebirth. Rebirth is just as relative to the individual as the sensations of one's ego death will be. Although, when we are reborn, we are not the same. We acquire an awareness of the laws of nature and an understanding of ourselves and the grand picture as if it was always there, yet covered by a veil of illusion.
We begin to acknowledge and question our internal state for what it is instead of being a slave to it completely. We become more humanitarian and less self-centered. We gain peace beyond measure and release ourselves from the grips of fear, especially of dying and death.