I was reading The Secret when I came across the above quote and couldn't understand it in spite of googling

  • 1
    This is a very formalized/formulaic utterance; it is not something a person would ever say in casual conversation or newspaper prose, for example; the register is ritual/prayer/incantation. You might hear something like this in a story about witches and warlocks.
    – TimR
    Apr 17, 2016 at 11:23

1 Answer 1


I don't know what the secret is, but the first part is probably a reference to an idea in The Lord's Prayer

...in earth, As it is in heaven...

Above is Heaven, below is Earth, and so it means

It is the same on Earth as it is in Heaven

The second is probably intended as a similar idea: within and without in this context mean inside and outside. Within is still widely used, but without is quite old fashioned.

  • without is old-fashioned, but within still gets used fairly often in AmE, but not with buildings so much as with precincts, confines, areas, regions, etc.
    – TimR
    Apr 17, 2016 at 11:19
  • @TRomano: agreed. London had a city wall, built in by the Romans in 200AD. This church (built 1200AD) was just outside one of the gates in the wall. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Botolph-without-Bishopsgate
    – JavaLatte
    Apr 17, 2016 at 15:25

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