From Hermetica: The Ancient Greek and Latin Writings which contain Religious or Philosophical Teachings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus 1:341-7; translated into English by Walter Scott from a Latin text, itself a translation attributed to Apuleius from a Greek original which is now lost.
Do you not know, Asclepius, that Egypt is an image of heaven, or, to speak more exactly, in Egypt all the operations of the powers which rule and work in heaven have been transferred to earth below? Nay, it should rather be said that the whole Kosmos dwells in this our land as in its sanctuary. And yet, since it is fitting that wise men should have knowledge of all events before they come to pass, you must not be left in ignorance of this: there will come a time when it will be seen that in vain have the Egyptians honored the deity with heartfelt piety and assiduous service; and all our holy worship will be found bootless and ineffectual. For the gods will return from earth to heaven; Egypt will be forsaken, and the land which was once the home of religion will be left desolate, bereft of the presence of its deities. . . .
In that day will our most holy land, this land of shrines and temples, be filled with funerals and corpses. To thee, most holy Nile, I cry, to thee I foretell that which shall be; swollen with torrents of blood, thou wilt rise to the level of thy banks, and thy sacred waves will be not only stained, but utterly fouled with gore. Do you weep at this, Asclepius? There is worse to come; Egypt herself will have yet more to suffer; she will fall into a far more piteous plight, and will be infected with yet more grievous plagues; . . . The dead will far outnumber the living; and the survivors will be known for Egyptians by their tongue alone, but in their actions they will seem to be men of another race.
O Egypt, Egypt, of thy religion nothing will remain but an empty tale, which thine own children in time to come will not believe; nothing will be left but graven words, and only the stones will tell of thy piety. And in that day men will be weary of life, and they will cease to think the universe worthy of reverent wonder and of worship. And so religion, the greatest of all blessings — for there is nothing, nor has been, nor ever shall be, that can be deemed a greater boon — will be threatened with destruction; men will think it a burden, and will come to scorn it. They will no longer love this world around us, this incomparable work of God, this glorious structure which he has built, this sum of good made up of things of many diverse forms, this instrument whereby the will of God operates in that which he has made, ungrudgingly favoring man's welfare, this combination and accumulation of all the manifold things that can call forth the veneration, praise, and love of the beholder. Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be thought more profitable than life; no one will raise his eyes to heaven; the pious will be deemed insane, and the impious wise; the madman will be thought a brave man, and the wicked will be esteemed as good.
As to the soul, and the belief that it is immortal by nature, or may hope to attain to immortality, as I have taught you — all this they will mock at, and will even persuade themselves that it is false. No word of reverence or piety, no utterance worthy of heaven and of the gods of heaven, will be heard or believed.
And so the gods will depart from mankind — a grievous thing! — and only evil angels will remain, who will mingle with men, and drive the poor wretches by main force into all manner of reckless crime, into wars, and robberies, and frauds, and all things hostile to the nature of the soul. Then will the earth no longer stand unshaken, and the sea will bear no ships; heaven will not support the stars in their orbits, nor will the stars pursue their constant course in heaven; all voices of the gods will of necessity be silenced and dumb; the fruits of the earth will rot; the soil will turn barren, and the very air will sicken in sullen stagnation. After this manner will old age come upon the world. Religion will be no more; all things will be disordered and awry; all good will disappear.
But when all this has befallen, Asclepius, then the Master and Father, God, the first before all, the maker of that god who first came into being, will look on that which has come to pass, and will stay the disorder by the counterworking of his will, which is the good. He will call back to the right path those who have gone astray; he will cleanse the world from evil, now washing it away with waterfloods, now burning it out with fiercest fire, or again expelling it by war and pestilence. And thus he will bring back his world to its former aspect, so that the Kosmos will once more be deemed worthy of worship and wondering reverence, and God, the maker and restorer of the mighty fabric, will be adored by the men of that day with unceasing hymns of praise and blessing. Such is the new birth of the Kosmos; it is a making again of all things good, a holy and awe-striking restoration of all nature; and it is wrought in the process of time by the eternal will of God.
For God's will has no beginning; it is ever the same, and as it now is, even so it has ever been, without beginning.
Book IV, chapter xxiv; translated from the Sanskrit with Notes by H. H. Wilson.
[There will] be contemporary monarchs, reigning over the earth; kings of churlish spirit, violent temper, and ever addicted to falsehood and wickedness. They will inflict death on women, children, and cows; they will seize upon the property of their subjects; they will be of limited power, and will, for the most part, rapidly rise and fall: their lives will be short, their desires insatiable; and they will display but little piety. The people of the various countries intermingling with them will follow their example; and, the barbarians being powerful in the patronage of the princes, whilst purer tribes are neglected, the people will perish. Wealth and piety will decrease day by day, until the world will be wholly depraved. Then property alone will confer rank; wealth will be the only source of devotion; passion will be the sole bond of union between the sexes; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation; and women will be objects merely of sensual gratification. Earth will be venerated but for its mineral treasures [that is, there will be no Tirthas — places held sacred, and objects of pilgrimage; no particular spot of earth will have any especial sanctity]; the Brahmanical thread will constitute a Brahman; external types (as the staff and red garb) will be the only distinctions of the several orders of life; dishonesty will be the (universal) means of subsistence; weakness will be the cause of dependence; menace and presumption will be substituted for learning; liberality will be devotion — simple ablution will be purification; mutual assent will be marriage; fine clothes will be dignity; and water afar off will be esteemed a holy spring. Amidst all castes, he who is the strongest will reign over a principality [Bhu-mandala, "the earth"] thus vitiated by many faults. The people, unable to bear the heavy burthens [the original has kara-bhara, "load of taxes"] imposed upon them by their avaricious sovereigns, will take refuge amongst the valleys of the mountains, and will be glad to feed upon (wild) honey, herbs, roots, fruits, leaves, and flowers: their only covering will be the bark of trees; and they will be exposed to the cold, and wind, and sun, and rain. No man's life will exceed three and twenty years. Thus, in the Kali age, shall decay constantly proceed, until the human race approaches its annihilation. [We read in the Bhagavata-Purana, XII, ii: "When the splendor of Vishnu, named Krishna, departed for heaven, then did the Kali age, during which men delight in sin, invade the world. So long as he continued to touch the earth with his holy feet, so long the Kali age was unable to subdue the world."]
When the practices taught by the Vedas and the institutes of law shall nearly have ceased, and the close of the Kali age shall be nigh, a portion of that divine being who exists, of his own spiritual nature, in the character of Brahma, and who is the beginning and the end, and who comprehends all things, shall descend upon earth: he will be born in the family of Vishnuyasas — an eminent Brahman of Sambhala village — as Kalki, endowed with the eight superhuman faculties. By his irresistible might he will destroy all the Mlechchhas [foreigners] and thieves, and all whose minds are devoted to iniquity. He will, then, reestablish righteousness upon earth; and the minds of those who live at the end of the Kali age shall be awakened, and shall be as pellucid as crystal. The men who are, thus, changed by virtue of that peculiar time shall be as the seeds of human beings, and shall give birth to a race who shall follow the laws of the Krita age (or age of purity). As it is said: "When the sun and moon, and (the lunar asterism) Tishya, and the planet Jupiter are in one mansion, the Krita age shall return." [The Bhagavata agrees with the text in these particulars. The chief star of Tishya, also called Pushya, is in the constellation Cancer.]
(Reprinted from Sunrise magazine, February 1980. Copyright © 1980 by Theosophical University Press)
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