One the most tantalizing bits of information floating about in occult research is the idea of an antediluvian, that is, pre-flood civilization. In this theory, there was a unified civilization of high technology, occultism, and moral degeneracy that was destroyed by God in the Great Flood. Echoes of this time have been preserved in both Western and Eastern mythology and some residue of the pre-flood technology, including the use of magic, was carried into Egypt (for the record, I strongly doubt that this civilization had electronics or space ships–but who knows?).
It was a goal of pagan religion to revive this ancient civilization after a period of “apostasy” in which Christianity would triumph.
In the Renaissance, occultists such as Giordano Bruno, John Dee, and Francis attempted to either discover or revive Atlantis and Egyptian magic and technology, and one of the vehicles of this religious teaching was thought to be the Corpus Hermeticum.
Scholars today largely argue that the Corpus contains Neoplatonic and Gnostic ideas that were current only after the time of Christ, and there is no real “ancient” Egyptian teaching in it.
However, I have just finished reading an academic essay by Clement Salaman titled “Echoes of Egypt in Hermes and Ficino” that seems to prove that the Corpus does contain earlier Egyptian magic and religious teaching from such works as The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Thus, the possibility remains open that the Corpus is only one of many vehicles of a very old teaching that was unearthed in the Renaissance and has been used to build the Egypt in which we now live.