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From: USA
Registered: 11/21/2008

(Date Posted:01/08/2009 01:59 AM)
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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 medical profession.
  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.)
 It 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.


[2] The Staff of Asclepius (Æsclepius, Asklepios)
      [Personification of Medical or healing Art and its ideals] 

Professional 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.

The 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.

The Myth: 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 [?Podiatry]).

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.

Despite 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

The 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).

The 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 to Hermes...

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 Mercury [wings].

 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 gland".

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).

Hermetic: 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.

The 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 centuries.

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.



Friedlander 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:

And 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

And 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

Apparently 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.
John 3:14-15

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.

Catharsis- The 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.

Cauldron- A 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.

Censer- A 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.

Chakras- 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, groin- red. 

Chalice- In 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.
Channeling, mental- 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.

Chant- Repetition 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.

Charms- An amulet or talisman that has been charged by saying an incantation oover it and instilling it with energy for a specific purpose.

Chatoyancy- 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.  

Circle, Magic- 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.

Cleansing- Purification 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.

Correspondences- Materials 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 dreams.

Court Cards:  The 16 Minor Arcana cards that are represented by people -King, Queen, Knight, and Page 

Coven- A 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.

Coyote Energy- 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.

Crucible   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."

Curfane (or 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.  

Crystal Ball: 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.

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