Visionary Experience and Ritual Realism in the Ascent of the Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth (nhc vi,6)

In: Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies
Christian H. Bull University of Oslo and Princeton University

Search for other papers by Christian H. Bull in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):


The Discourse on the Eighth and the Ninth (nhc vi,6) is a dialogue between Hermes Trismegistus and his son, during which they experience visions of the eighth and ninth spheres, above the seven planetary spheres. The paper aims to show that such experiences were not merely literary fiction, but actively pursued and allegedly obtained by those who followed the course of spiritual formation known as the Way of Hermes. A comparison with the Greek and Demotic magical papyri shows that these texts all show signs of “ritual realism,” meaning that correct ritual performance necessarily provides direct access to the divine realm, which should be experienced as real. It is furthermore argued that the Coptic translation of the text, and its presence in the Nag Hammadi codices, might be explained by the interest of Egyptian monks in visions of the divine.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 516 140 11
Full Text Views 330 4 1
PDF Views & Downloads 232 11 4