If you have read the article “A Letter of Introduction to the Hermetic Science,” then this essay will be your logical next step. You now have a very, very rudimentary idea of what Theurgy is. In that letter we indicated that the Hermetic Science can be seen as en entire corpus of teachings, a large body of philosophical and mystical wisdom which can be applied towards a multitude of ends. For our sake, we have defined theurgy as the application of the Hermetic Science and its principles towards the noble end of self realization and inner illumination. In this essay we will consider with much more depth precisely what Theurgy is, how it can be recognized from other practices, what its intentions are, and from whence it came into the public world.
Theurgy is viewed by its followers as the Science of Divinity or the Magic of Light, as many orders romanticize it. So many are its names, though, as are so many are who fraudulently assign those titles to their own systems and whimsical ideologies, that we must look further to see if what we are studying is actually Theurgy. The primary four characteristics shall be here provided, followed by an explanation and elaboration of the initial paragraph:
1.) Theurgy is always beneficent in nature. Be it the spiritual evolution of the individual, the exaltation of the soul or Godhead, the transmutation of the gross into the fine, or the protection of the quality of life throughout the human race, the work and aim of Theurgy is firstly beneficial to the magician, through whom others may come to be benefited. The nature of the proposed “selfishness” of the mystics as issued from the mouths of critics of the art shall be dealt with slightly later.
2.) Theurgy shares characteristics with Egyptian theological sciences and practices. Organizationally this includes a priesthood and a class system of sorts, seen throughout most hermetic orders. Ideologically this includes the belief in multiple layers of existence and therein several bodies composing the human persona, faith in an afterlife, and a devout study of how the natural world and the actions of the supposed gods interact.
3.) Theurgy contains components of the ancient teachings of the Pythagorean, Eleusinian, Orphic, and Platonic Mystery Schools, particularly the evolution of the universe and all components therein expressed via number, the geometrical fixation of stars and the proper composition of key symbolic figures. Further than these we draw upon the philosophies of such scholars as Iamblichus, who resolved the Egyptian teachings with the Greek teachings.
4.) Theurgy is at once a polytheism and monotheism, believing in the existence of every supposed entity said to exist, giving each its due of respect and reverence, and yet believing also in a monad.