Hemeticism most likely was developed during the first to third Centuries A.D. It is an outlook associated with the Hermetic writings which are writing in Greek. Much of the work is concerned with alchemy, astrology, and occult sciences, but there is a philosophical Hermetic literature as well. The writings appear to be an amalgam of Greek philosophy, particularly Platonic, with other elements. As a result of this, Hermeticism tended to gain broad interest among numerous groups in antiquity, such as the Arabs and Persians, and early Christians as well. Among those who believed that the works were much older, those include Lactantius, who, writing in the forth Century taught that the writings belonged to an Egyptian seer who lived after Moses and who had visions that improved on the Genesis story and that anticipated, prophetically, the coming of Jesus in his story of the “son of God.” Augustine, while he did not approve of the “magic” of the Heretic tradition wrote that he believed that they belonged to antiquity (and, it could be argued he did so because it lent power to the idea that Jesus’s rise was foreseen, even if by other than the Jewish prophetic tradition). By the time of the Renaissance, Hermeticism and its books were being widely translated, read, and commented on. It has had a strong effect on Alchemy and thus, on the rise of Chemistry, too, although it can be well argued that the point of alchemy was not to truly make lead into gold but that this was an effort to forge a new level of awareness in humankind, whose effects were analogous.

I find the work tied to Hermes Trismegistus to be very similar in some respect to the phenomenon of awakening, which involved meditation, a sudden breaking through the sensory barrier into a numinous state where a deeper knowing is attained. Additionally, it is interesting to see how the soul is described as containing both aspects of male and female in them, a strong marker in the awakening process.

The work begins with the following series of passages:

1. It chanced once on a time my mind was meditating on the things that are, my thought was raised to a great height, the senses of my body being held back – just as men who are weighed down with sleep after a fill of food, or from fatigue of body.

Methought a Being more than vast, in size beyond all bounds, called out my name and saith: What wouldst thou hear and see, and what hast thou in mind to learn and know?

2. And I do say: Who art thou?

He saith: I am Man-Shepherd (Poemandres), Mind of all-masterhood; I know what thou desirest and I’m with thee everywhere.

3. [And] I reply: I long to learn the things that are, and comprehend their nature, and know God. This is, I said, what I desire to hear.

He answered back to me: Hold in thy mind all thou wouldst know, and I will teach thee.

4. E’en with these words His aspect changed, and straightway, in the twinkling of an eye, all things were opened to me, and I see a Vision limitless, all things turned into Light – sweet, joyous [Light]. And I became transported as I gazed.

Later in the work the following observation is made:

24. Well hast thou taught me all, as I desired, O Mind. And now, pray, tell me further of the nature of the Way Above as now it is [for me].

To this Man-Shepherd said: When the material body is to be dissolved, first thou surrenderest the body by itself unto the work of change, and thus the form thou hadst doth vanish, and thou surrenderest thy way of life, void of its energy, unto the Daimon. The body’s senses next pass back into their sources, becoming separate, and resurrect as energies; and passion and desire withdraw unto that nature which is void of reason.

This passage is interesting because it is similar to what many works within the Hindu tradition that state that upon awakening the awareness pulls away from the physical sensory awareness to that of an energetic one, those inner senses which are part of the larger or higher self.  Here, a relationship is set up where the physical senses appear to be described as being a subset, or a deeper root of inner sensory awareness, which is where the root of being can be found or known.  One of the notable outcomes or symptoms of awakening is the rise of those abilities which are called siddhi.  These are described in a number of Hindu texts including the Panchatantra, The Yoga Sutra of Pantanjali, and others. 

In IX On Thought And Sense, the following statement is made which those who have experienced awakening might find common ground: 

For this cause they who Gnostic are, please not the many, nor the many them. They are thought mad and laughted at; they’re hated and despised, and sometimes even put to death.

What is most apparent to me when reading this body of work is how it varies in many ways with other traditions, yet contain elements that are often very common.  It is what you might expect when reading about the same observed phenomenon when it is taking place in a different culture or time. It can help to add breadth to your understanding while also providing new thoughts in a Hellenistic/Judaic amalgam with roots about as old as Christianity (and most notably Gnostic Christianity which shows clear signs of being aware of this body of work. You can study this body of work more by finding them on sacredtexts.com