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The Kybalion, originally published in 1912, is a short volume (223 pages, 7.5" x 5" hardcover) that presents, with commentary, the basic Hermetic principles. The author(s) of the book are anonymous.
Chapter 1 provides background on Hermetic philosophy, and describes the overall purpose of this book: "In the early days, there was a compilation of certain Basic Hermetic Doctrines, passed on from teacher to student, which was known as 'THE KYBALION,' the exact significance and meaning of the term having been lost for several centuries. This teaching, however, is known to many to whom it has descended, from mouth to ear, throughout the centuries. Its precepts have never been written down, nor printed, as far as we know. It was merely a collection of maxims, axioms, and precepts, which were non-understandable to outsiders, but which were readily understood by students, after the axioms, maxims, and precepts had been explained and exemplified by the Hermetic Initiates to their Neophytes ... We herein give you many of the maxims, axioms and precepts of THE KYBALION, accompanied by explanations and illustrations which we deem likely to render the teachings more easily comprehended by the modern student, particularly as the original text is purposely veiled in obscure terms." (Note: as is common in many books of this era, the author(s) make extensive use of what today would be considered non-standard capitalization and punctuation.)
The Hermetic principles, familiar to any who have done basic readings in western esoteric philosophy, are outlined and then examined in depth. (For those not familiar with them, the principles include such ideas as "As above, so below; as below, so above," "opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree," "nothing rests, everything moves," "the measure of the swing to the right is the measure of the swing to the left," "every cause has its effect; every effect has its cause; Chance is but a name for Law not recognized," "the universe is mental, held in the mind of The All," and "the Laws governing the nature of the universe can be used to transmute the undesireable into what is worthy.")
Quotations taken from the source material ("The Kybalion") are given, and then explained very clearly.
The chapters are as follows: 1. Hermetic Philosophy 2. Seven Hermetic Principles 3. Mental Transmutation 4. The All 5. The Mental Universe 6. The Divine Parodox 7. "The All" in All 8. Planes of Correspondence 9. Vibration 10. Polarity 11. Rhythm 12. Causation 13. Gender 14. Mental Gender 15. Hermetic Axioms.
Whether or not you agree with Hermeticism, this book and/or the material from the original "Kybalion" served as important source material for many of the key Hermetic writers of the 20th and late 19th centuries. This book should be included in the library of anyone seriously interested in western esoteric philosophy.