BOOK REVIEW: “The Kybalion” by The Three Initiates

The Kybalion by the Three Initiates (Amazon) (Goodreads)
  • Title: The Kybalion 
  • Author: “The Three Initiates”
  • Publication: Rough Draft Printing
  • Pages: 108 pages
  • Genre: Non-Fiction, New Age/Metaphysical
  • Format: Paperback
  • Source: Purchased copy
  • Rating: 5/5 stars

The Kybalion is a brief introduction to the arcane world of Hermeticism, a mix of religious, philosophical, and magical beliefs of humanity’s spiritual quest to its true divine nature. The book consists of a short intro to Hermeticism with chapters dedicated to each of the seven hermetic principles:

  1. The Principle of Mentalism: Everything is mental
  2. The Principle of Correspondence:  As above, so below
  3. The Principle of Vibration:  Everything is in motion, nothing  is at rest
  4. The Principe of Polarity: Everything is dual
  5. The Principle of Rhythm: All is ebb and flow
  6. The Principle of Cause & Effect: Every cause has its effects and every effect has its cause
  7. The Principle of Gender: Everything consists of masculine and and feminine qualities

This cryptic tradition was founded by the mysterious figure Hermes Trismegistus. Trismegistus was a reputed philosopher, priest, and a magician. Some claim he was an actual man who lived in Egypt so long ago that the biblical figure Abraham picked up his teachings. Others believed he was simply a metaphorical figure mixed of the ancient gods Hermes and Thoth. Trismegistus supposedly wrote over 10,000 books, giving another theory he was actually made up of a group of anonymous occult student writers.

Speaking of anonymous writers, William Walter Atkinson wrote The Kybalion under the pseudonym “The Three Initiates”. He was compelled to write this book after a conversation with a yoga teacher. Atkinson was a Chicago lawyer heavily interested in the occult world. He wrote for the Yogi Publication Society as “The Three Initiates” and “Yogi Ramacharaka”. More information about Atkinson is wrapped in uncertainty.

Overall, The Kybalion can be a difficult read but a satisfying one at that. I read this book multiple times to grasps its concepts and found a few of my favorite useful sayings:

The possession of Knowledge, unless accompanied by a manifestation and expression in Action, is like the hoarding of precious metals-a vain and foolish thing. Knowledge, like wealth, is intended for Use. The Law of Use is Universal, and he who violates it suffers by reason of his conflict with natural forces.” –The Kybalion

Mastery consists not in abnormal dreams, visions, and fantastic imaginings or living, but in using the higher forces against the lower – escaping the pains of the lower planes by vibrating on the higher. Transmutation, not presumptuous denial, is the weapon of the Master.” -The Kybalion

This book is written as an easy read but it can be hard and excessive in some chapters. It is read in The Kybalion it’s only easy for those who are ready (otherwise, you’re a noob). Fans of general philosophy and the occult world might enjoy this book. For me, reading The Kybalion was a diving board to a deep ocean of hidden knowledge.

Have you read The Kybalion?

What occult traditions have you read related to Hermeticism?


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