The Meaning of As Above So Below: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of the phrase as above so below? This guide will provide you with all of the info you need on the idiom as above so below, including its definition, etymology, example sentences, and more!

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What does the phrase as above so below mean?

According to Linguaholic and Learn Religions, the English phrase as above so below has many possible interpretations. The most straightforward definition means that anything that happens on Earth is also happening on an astral plane. This is considered to be the most literal definition. The phrase can also mean that microcosms are reflections of microcosms of the world of the individual is also the world of society at large, or things that are reflected in small groups are also reflected in large groups. 

This expression examines any place or situation in which there is a duality and draws a comparison between the two. This phrase is seen in Occultism and esoteric tradition; astrologers take this expression to mean that the stars have meaning on what happens in and affects our everyday lives. Some see it as meaning that the human body and the functions within it are a miniature version of the outside world. 

Overall, people usually take this expression to mean that whatever you do in the physical world will reflect itself in the spiritual realm or the afterlife. Therefore, if one performs good deeds and is a good person when “above” this will be reflected when they are “below.” Many different belief systems believe some sort of form of “as above, so below.” Whether this is interpreted to relate to tarot card readings, astrology, Hermetic texts, alchemists, a philosopher’s stone, God, or other religious and spiritual interpretations, many systems of belief believe that which is below reflects that which is above, and vice versa – and that what is above, reflects what is below. The variants in the different belief systems relate to what is considered “above” and what is considered “below.” 

What is the origin of the phrase as above so below?

The expression as above, so below has deep ties to Hermeticism, which is an ancient religion and philosophy. This religion was started by Hermes Trismegistus and was very influential during the time of the Renaissance and the Reformation. The religion traces its origins to Prisca Thrologia. 

Hermes Trismegistus was the author of the Hermetic Corpus, which was a book that is similar to the bible. Others, like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Giodano Bruno, believe that Hermes was a prophet who actually foretold the rise of Christianity.

Many Christian religions have adopted large parts of Hermeticism and Hermetic principles. Some also believe that Hermes is related to the Greek god of interpretative communication Hermes and the Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth. 

Believers in Hermeticism believe that the Emerald Tablet, or Smaragdine Tablet, or Tabula Smaragdina, is also a part of the Hermetic texts. This tablet is also a key component in alchemy as it focuses on the prima materia, or starting place for all other materials. While no one knows the source of the Emerald Tablet and Hermes is considered by many to be the author of the tablet, the text that was written on the tablet was actually first seen in Arabic texts from the 6th to 8th centuries. 

The expression as above, so below was first seen on the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, hence its close ties to Hermeticism. Isaac Newton translated the Emerald Tablet and states “as above, so below” to mean that whatever happens in nature is reflected within the alchemical lab and the body itself. 

How can the phrase as above so below be used in a sentence?

The phrase as above, so below is often used in a sentence of tis own to draw some comparison between two things. While this is not a very common phrase that you might hear in everyday conversation, it is still important to know how to use it. In this example, Mary Lynn and Sara are discussing the actions of their classmate.

Mary Lynn: I just don’t know what he thinks is going to happen. Everyone knows he’s a cheater and a fighter; he’s going to end up arrested once he turns eighteen. And no one seems to care. No one is even trying to stop him

Sara: I know this is really important to you, Mary Lynn–

Mary Lynn: It’s like I’m the only one who cares that he’s torturing all of us every day, yelling at teachers and students and threatening people. You know he steals from the convenience store down the street every day. He thinks he’s invincible. 

Sara: Mary Lynn, you are getting far too worked up about this. I understand that you care. That you want him to be punished. But that’s out of your control. As above, so below. He will get what is coming to him in the end. 

Here, Sara uses the paraphrase as above so below to mean that their classmate will be judged someday for his actions, even if that day is not today. 

Overall, the phrase as above so below has many different interpretations, but is commonly used to draw a comparison between two things – a macrocosm, or larger element, and a microcosm, or smaller element. As above, so below can mean that whatever a person does on Earth will be reflected in the spiritual plane, or that whatever happens in nature or the stars is reflected within the human body. This phrase finds its roots in Hermeticism and the Emerald Tablet.