Caduceus n. A
wand of staff with two snakes twined around it. At the top of the wand
sit a pair of wings. Today the caduceus is used as the symbol of the
Many "medical" organisations use a symbol of a short rod entwined by
two snakes and topped by a pair of wings, which is actually the
caduceus or magic wand of the Greek god Hermes (Roman Mercury), messenger of the gods, inventor of (magical) incantations, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves.
(As I researched Caduceus, I found an interesting article and thought I would include it here as a further study.)
is interesting to see that most of organisations using this symbol are
generally either commercial or military (or American). New Zealand
examples include drug and pharmaceutical companies. A study by
Friedlander confirms this impression.
The link between the caduceus of Hermes (Mercury)
and medicine seems to have arisen by the seventh century A.D., when
Hermes had come to be linked with alchemy. Alchemists were referred to
as the sons of Hermes, as Hermetists or Hermeticists and as
"practitioners of the hermetic arts". There are clear occult
associations with the caduceus.
The caduceus was the magic staff of Hermes (Mercury),
the god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel and theft, and so was
a symbol of heralds and commerce, not medicine. The words caduity &
caducous imply temporality, perishableness and senility, while the
medical profession espouses renewal, vitality and health.
 The Staff of Asclepius (Æsclepius, Asklepios)
[Personification of Medical or healing Art and its ideals]
and patient centred organisations (such as the NZMA, in fact most
medical Associations around the world including the World Health
Organization) use the "correct" and traditional symbol of medicine, the
staff of Asclepius with a single serpent encircling a staff, classically a rough-hewn knotty tree limb. Asclepius
(an ancient greek physician deified as the god of medicine) is
traditionally depicted as a bearded man wearing a robe that leaves his
chest uncovered and holding a staff with his sacred single serpent
coiled around it, (example right) symbolizing renewal of youth as the
serpent casts off its skin. The single serpent staff also appears on a
Sumerian vase of c. 2000 B.C. representing the healing god Ningishita,
the prototype of the Greek Asklepios. However, there is a more
practical origin postulated which makes sense.
Asclepius and his staff
Who was Asclepius? Asclepius
was most probably a skilled physician who practised in Greece around
1200BC (and described in Homer's Iliad). Eventually through myth and
legend he came to be worshipped as Asclepius, the (Greek) god of
Healing. Medical schools developed, which were usually connected to
temples or shrines called Asclepions (Asclepieia) dedicated to
Asclepius. The Asclepion became very important in Greek society.
Patients believed they could be cured by sleeping in them. They would
visit, offering gifts and sacrifices to the god, and be treated by
priest healers (called the Asclepiadae). The worship of Asclepius
spread to Rome and continued as late as the sixth century.
Asclepiadae were a large order of priest physicians who controlled the
sacred secrets of healing, which were passed from father to son.
Harmless Aesculapian snakes were kept in the combination
hospital-temples built by the ancient Greeks and, later, by the Romans
in honor of the god. The snakes are found not only in their original
range of southern Europe, but also in the various places in Germany and
Austria where Roman temples had been established. Escaped snakes
survived and flourished. Smooth, glossy, and slender, the snake has a
uniformly brown back with a streak of darker color behind the eyes. The
snake's belly is yellowish or whitish and has ridged scales that catch
easily on rough surfaces, making it especially adapted for climbing
trees. Scientific classification: The Aesculapian snake belongs to the
family Colubridae. It is classified as Elaphe longissima.
Asclepius is the god of Healing. He is the son of Apollo and the nymph,
Coronis. While pregnant with Asclepius, Coronis secretly took a second,
mortal lover. When Apollo found out, he sent Artemis to kill her. While
burning on the funeral pyre, Apollo felt pity and rescued the unborn
child from the corpse. Asclepius was taught about medicine and healing
by the wise centaur, Cheiron, and became so skilled in it that he
succeeded in bringing one of his patients back from the dead. Zeus felt
that the immortality of the Gods was threatened and killed the healer
with a thunderbolt. At Apollo's request, Asclepius was placed among the
stars as Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer.
Meditrine, Hygeia and Panacea:
The children of Asclepius included his daughters Meditrina, Hygeia and
Panacea who were symbols of medicine, hygiene and healing (literally,
"all healing") respectively. Two of the sons of Asclepius appeared in
Homer's Illiad as physicians in the Greek army (?Machaon and Podalirius
Note that the classic Hippocratice Oath is sworn "by Apollo the physician, by Æsculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, ....."
The probable medical origin of the single serpent around a rod: In ancient times infection by parasitic worms was common. The filarial worm Dracunculus medinensis
aka "the fiery serpent", aka "the dragon of Medina" aka "the guinea
worm" crawled around the victim's body, just under the skin. Physicians
treated this infection by cutting a slit in the patient's skin, just in
front of the worm's path. As the worm crawled out the cut, the
physician carefully wound the pest around a stick until the entire
animal had been removed. It is believed that because this type of
infection was so common, physicians advertised their services by
displaying a sign with the worm on a stick.
The staff as a Medical symbol:
From the early 16th century onwards, the staff of Asclepius and the
caduceus of Hermes were widely used as printers’ marks especially as
frontispieces to pharmacopoeias in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over
time the rod and serpent (the Asclepian staff) emerged as an
independent symbol of medicine.
the unequivocal claim of the staff of Asclepius to represent medicine
(and healing), the caduceus, a rod with two entwined serpents topped by
a pair of wings appears to be the more popular symbol of medicine in
the United States, probably due to simple confusion between the
caduceus and the staff of Asclepius, the true symbol of medicine. Many
people use the word caduceus to mean both of these emblems.
The Caduceus of Hermes
Greek Hermes found his analogue in Egypt as the ancient Wisdom god
Thoth, as Taaut of the Phoenicians and in Rome as the god Mercury (all
linked with a magic rod with twin snakes).
mythical origin of his magic twin serpent caduceus is described in the
story of Tiresias. Poulenc, in "Les Mamelles de Tiresias" (The Breasts
of Tiresias) tells how Tiresias--the seer who was so unhelpful to
Oepidus and Family- found two snakes copulating, and to separate them
stuck his staff between them. Immediately he was turned into a woman,
and remained so for seven years, until he was able to repeat his
action, and change back to male. The transformative power in this
story, strong enough to completely reverse even physical polarities of
male and female, comes from the union of the two serpents, passed on by
the wand. Tiresias' staff, complete with serpents, was later passed on
Occult Hermetic Connection: An occult description of the Caduceus of Hermes (Mercury)
is that the serpents may represent positive and negative kundalini as
it moves through the chakras and around the spine (the staff) to the
head where it communicates with MIND by intellection, the domain of
Caduceus Power Wand:
This wand is sold at occult, new age & witchcraft stores such as
Abaxion with descriptions such as "It's central phallic rod represents
the potentiality of the masculine, and is initmately surrounded by the
writhing, woven shakti energies of two coupling serpents. The rod also
represents the spine [sushumna] while the serpents conduct spiritual
currents [pranas] along the ida and pingala channels in a double helix
pattern from the chakra at the base of the spine up to the pineal
According to occultists, there
are three principal nadis (Sanskrit for channel) in the human body. The
sushumna (the spinal column through which the life-forces flow), by
which means we enter and leave the body, the Ida (refreshment and
stimulation of spirit), which is associated with the higher mind or
manas and the Pingala, (reddish-brown), associated with kama or the
force of desire. (G. de Purucker "Man in Evolution" ch. 15 & 16;
and "Fountain-Source of Occultism", pp. 458-63).
There are few names to which more diverse persons and disciplines lay
claim than the term "Hermetic". Alchemists have applied the adjective
"Hermetic" to their art, while magicians (not the entertaining type)
attach the name to their ceremonies of evocation and invocation.
Followers of Meister Eckhart, Raymond Lull, Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme,
and most recently Valentin Tomberg are joined by academic scholars of
esoterica, all of whom attach the word "Hermetic" to their activities.
most abiding impact of Hermeticism on Western culture came about by way
of the heterodox mystical, or occult, tradition. Renaissance occultism,
with its alchemy, astrology, ceremonial magic, and occult medicine,
became saturated with the teachings of the Hermetic books. This content
has remained a permanent part of the occult transmissions of the West,
and, along with Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, represents the foundation
of all the major Western occult currents. Hermetic elements are
demonstrably present in the Rosicrucian and Theosophical movements.
The caduceus in peudo-science: There are amazing claims that a Cadeuceus Power Wand has zero impedance and infinite resonance .
The caduceus as a Medical symbol:
The link between Hermes and his caduceus and medicine seems to have
arisen by Hermes links with alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as the
sons of Hermes, as Hermetists or Hermeticists and as "practitioners of
the hermetic arts". By the end of the sixteenth century, the study of
alchemy included not only medicine and pharmaceuticals but chemistry,
mining and metallurgy. Despite learned opinion that it is the single
snake staff of Asclepius that is the proper symbol of medicine, many
medical groups have adopted the twin serpent caduceus of Hermes or
Mercury as a medical symbol during the nineteenth and twentieth
Like the staff of Asclepius,
the caduceus became associated with medicine through its use as a
printer’s mark, as printers saw themselves as messengers of the printed
word and diffusers of knowledge (hence the choice of the symbol of the
messenger of the ancient gods). A major reason for the current
popularity of the caduceus as a medical symbol was its official
adoption as the insignia for the Medical Department of the United
States Army in 1902.
surveyed 242 logos or insignias of American organizations relating to
health or medicine in which the caduceus or staff of Asclepius formed
an integral part dating from the late 1970s to early 1980s. He found
that professional associations were more likely to use the staff of
Asclepius (62%) while commercial organizations were more likely to use
the caduceus (76%). The exception is for hospitals, where only 37% used
a staff of Asclepius versus 63% for the caduceus [but remember that US
hospitals are usually commercial ventures]. Friedlander notes that
while the prevalent use of the caduceus for the commercial aspects of
medicine might be seen as "more-or-less appropriate", he thinks the
reason is that professional associations are more likely to have a real
understanding of the two symbols, whereas commercial organizations are
more likely to be concerned with the visual impact a symbol will have
in selling their products. Further And to add some biblical confusion, we have:
the Lord said unto him [Moses], What is that in thine hand? And he
said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the
ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the
Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail.
And he put forth his hand and caught it and it became a rod in his hand. Exodus 4:2-4
the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a
pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten [by a
sepent], when he looketh upon it, shall live. Numbers 21:8
an Israelite cult subsequently formed worshipping Nehush'tan, the
serpent Moses made (and twin snake images were inscibed on standards of
the time) but the cult was eventually suppressed (over 600 years later)
by King Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:4).
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.
Call- Invoking divine forces.
Candlemas- Pagan sabbat held on Feb. 1.
Cantrip- A spell cast by a witch. It is small, quick, and has minimal effects.
Cardinal Points- North,
East, South, and West. Symbolized by the circle in magic (which
connects the points), the four elements, and the watchtowers.
Cartomancy: the act of reading cards in divination work.
release of magickal energies at the height or climax of a ritual.
Essentially the use of energy at the catharsis is the crux of the rite,
determining whether its outcome will be successful or not.
feminine symbol of the goddess, also of life, death, and rebirth. This
is associated with Cerridwen, a goddess who brewed a magickal cauldron
from which a single drop was yielded each year. The consumer of her
brew would be granted great wisdom. Today her cauldron survives not
only in pagan ritual but in the Christian concept of the holy grail.
CE- Common Era is the nonreligeous equivalent of AD.
container in which incense is smoldered or burned. It symbolises the
element of air. Often a censer is used during ritual to "cense" an
area, generally by moving the censer around the area and especially
around the circle as a means of purification.
Centering- Grounding your energy through meditation, often before rituals to help harness and direct the balanced energy.
Seven major energy vortexes in the human body.Each is usually
associated with a color. These vortexes are: crown-violet,
forehead-indigo, thoat-blue, chest-green, naval-yellow, abdomen-orange,
Wiccan rituals, a sacred cup or goblet used to hold consecrated water
or wine, and normally kept on the west side of the alter. The chalice
symbolizes the ancient element of Water. During monthly rituals known
as "Drawing Down the Moon", some High Priestesses "lunar energize" a
chalice of wine, water, or juice by holding it up to the rays of the
full moon. The chalice is then passed around the coven so that all
members can partake of its energizing liquid; A feminine symbol of the
element water. This is used during ritual and once the waters of life
which it contains is blessed, it is passed around so that everyone in
the coven may bring the Goddess "into" themself.
Channeling- Mediumship; a word for an entity talking through a human to convey a message to the physical plane.
Channeling, physical- is the action of psychic impulses on a physical level; such as using a tarot deck.
is the action of psychic impulses on a mental level; such as
clairvoyance. A term often used by authors wishing to sell their books,
as this was quite a 'fad' for several years... it's the exercise where
a person 'channels' the thoughts of a person considered 'dead'. This
includes spirit entities, 'angels', & deceased persons.
of magickal phrases, syllables, or words to produce a desired effect as
well as bring the chanter to a deeper meditative state.
A Chaos magician not actively in practice.
Chaplet n. Flowers and leaves woven to create a crown for handfastings and High Holy Days.
Charge, The- The traditional Garderian/Alexandrian declaration by the High Priestess in the name of the Goddess.
Charging- The act of empowering an herb stone or other magickal object with one's own energies directoed towards a magickal purpose.
An amulet or talisman that has been charged by saying an incantation
oover it and instilling it with energy for a specific purpose.
the property of some stones such as Tiger's Eye or Moonstone; of
showing apparent movement, illumination or opalescence, within it.
Cheiromancy- Divination based on the examination of the hand, related to palmistry.
Chi- A Chinese term for the all-encompassing universal life force.
A sphere of magical energies in which Wiccan rituals are usually
practiced. The area inside the circle is seen as being sacred ground in
which Wicca and their deities may meet. The circle is deconstructed
(released, grounded, etc) after use. Often constructed using the
athame, along with incence, salt, and water, but methods vary greatly.
Circle of Protection; CoP- See Circle.
through a ritual bath (often with a handful of sea salt thrown in) and
through meditation to cleanse the psyche. Traditionally performed
before every ritual.
Cone of Power- Psychic energy raised by either an individual or a coven and released to perform a certain goal through magick.
Conjure- To summon entities from the spirit realm into the physical plane.
Consecration- The blessing, cleansing, or positively charging of an object which is meant to be used in magick or dedicated to a deity.
Corn Dolly- A
figure made by plaiting wheat, similar to a poppet. It is symbolic of
the fertility, grain, and harvest aspects of the Goddess.
used in magick which relate to their specific goal. These can be herbs,
stones, moon phases, colors, numbers, etc. An example would be mugwort
used in a dream spell, as mugwort is a popular herb corresponding to
Court Cards: The 16 Minor Arcana cards that are represented by people -King, Queen, Knight, and Page
group of witches led by a High Priest and/or a High Priestess who meet
to worship and practice magic. Traditionally limited to 13, though most
are significantly smaller.
Covenstead- The place where a particular coven habitually meets.
Cowan- Used in Wicca and Witchgraft to mean a non Wiccan/Witch in much the same way gentile is used by Jews to desigante a non Jew.
Cowan- A slang term for a non-witch or non-pagan, generally used as a derogatory word for a pagan who is considered a fake or a poser.
Coyote- a tricky, prankster, perverse or clowning person named after the Nat.Am. 'Coyote', who tricks man into learning needed lessons.
trickster energies. Named for the American Indian Trickster, Coyote,
who tricks man into learning what he needs to learn. Applies to one who
constantly jokes and clowns. Also applies to the concept of "Holy Fool"
in many traditions
Craft, the- The Craft is a term used to refer to witchcraft and wicca.
Crone- A term of respect used for a witch who has passed menopause or who is over 50-56 years old.
Croning- A rite of passage into being a crone.
Cross of Confusion- An ancient Roman symbol which questioned the validity of Christianity.
Cross Quarter Days- A
term used for the fire sabbats (Samhain, Imbolb, Beltane, Lammas). The
most important festivals of the years which form the "cross" in the
wheel of the year.
n. (1). A container made to heat metal at high temperatures, As such,
it is extremely tough and durable. (2). A crucible is also defined as
a severe test or trial. The Burining Times certaionly were crucible
for witches and for anyone suspected of witchcraft.
chrys·a·lis- .n pl. chrys·a·lis·es or chry·sal·i·des 1. A pupa, especially of a moth or butterfly, enclosed in a firm case or cocoon. 2. A protected stage of development. This
word is used in the "Charge of the Dark Goddess" and in that passage,
refers to The Dark Goddess being the Cocoon that helps you to emerge
after facing the darkest parts of yourself. It is very powerful and
only you and She together may go through this time in your life.
"I am the chrysalis in which you will face that which terrifies you and
from which you will blossom forth, vibrant and renewed. Seek me at
the crossroads, and you shall be transformed, for once you look upon my
face, there is no return."
kirfane) is a white-handled knife used for cutting or carving, as in
candle Magick. This white-handled knife has a straight blade. Some
consider it to be an Cabbalistic influence (see the "Key of Solomon the King") and hence not native to Traditional Wicca. The curfane is not to be confused with the boline - another white-handled knife which has a curved blade.
[source: "Wicca Awakens" by Keith Morgan, Mandrake Press Ltd, UK (2000), page 28]
Cup- an altar tool that often looks like a cauldron on a stem. Symbol of the Goddess and fertility; and of the Element Water.
though many types of crystal can be bought in sphere (round) form, this
term is almost exclusively a reference to the clear quartz type, used
for scrying and divination. Its round shape makes it a Goddess symbol,
which is why periodic moonbaths will keep it clear of negative energies
and enhance its psychic powers.
Cunning Man- A
practitioner of magick; this term dates back to long before
Christianity. He was relied on by villagers to bring a good harvest,
protect them from evil, and provide charms and medicines. The Cunning
Man survived the coming of Christianity, but not for very long.
Curse- Conscious direction of negative energy towards a person, place, or object.