Apech

Caduceus - staff of Hermes

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I posted this pic in 'Cool Pictures' but then was struck by a detail:

 

E9nscEEXMAADR1g.thumb.jpeg.ba367da6dc0fef2bf98ba581b1972c00.jpeg

 

The staff itself :

 

6126610554801_ScreenShot2021-08-25at16_14_09.png.80a0ad6a61606e15046cc0177b7822cd.png

 

A few things to note:

 

1.  The serpents are knotted.

2.  They have beards.

3.  They are twisted round each other and are staring at each other.

 

So first the knot ... this is actually an Egyptian motif:

 

seth-horus-2-terres_orig.jpg

 

you can see the knot in the middle of this image.

 

There are also snakes with beards in Egyptian art:

 

nehebkau-Amunemwija2.png

 

... anyway this is just to suggest that this is ancient symbolism going ... way back.

 

Why are the snakes looking at each other?  and what does that mean?

 

Suggestions please.

 

(Dear mods I posted this in general and not Eso so I would get more hits - but move it if you want).

 

 

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Posted (edited)
31 minutes ago, Apech said:

Why are the snakes looking at each other?  and what does that mean?

 

Suggestions please.

 

 

 

It´s said that the eyes are the "windows of the soul" and eye-gazing is an effective way of merging energies.  It seems likely to me that the two snakes represent two polarities (yin/yang, side channels, etc) and that by looking at each other they alchemically combine their energies into a unified neutral force (central channel in Taoism).

 

 

Edited by liminal_luke
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Posted (edited)

About knots, what immediately came to mind is DNA knotting.  I've always associated the caduceus with the ancient knowledge of the Great Cosmic Serpent, the DNA, and the knots in those depictions add a twist (no pun intended) that demonstrates the knowledge may have been deep.  In "our" science, DNA knotting is a fairly recent discovery (1981). 

 

An intro to DNA and knot theory: http://www.tiem.utk.edu/~gross/bioed/webmodules/DNAknot.html

 

Someday I'll try to find the time to look closer at DNA gyrase, an enzyme possessing the unique ability to catalyze the introduction of negative superhelical turns into closed-circuit double-stranded DNA and untie the knots.  I sense a connection to some funky magic therein...  

 

 

Edited by Taomeow
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What strikes me about the image is the delicate grip on the staff itself.  Not the most comfortable way to hold what I assume to be a heavy metal staff!  But this gesture -- index finger and thumb connected in a circle -- is almost a cliche among meditators.  Just ask a seven year old to do her best imitation of a meditating yogi.  I imagine her sitting in full lotus, loudly humming "ommmmm," with index finger and thumb touching exactly as positioned on that staff.  It´s a terrible position for holding something heavy but a great position for subtlely attuning fine streams of internal energy.

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12 minutes ago, liminal_luke said:

What strikes me about the image is the delicate grip on the staff itself.  Not the most comfortable way to hold what I assume to be a heavy metal staff!  But this gesture -- index finger and thumb connected in a circle -- is almost a cliche among meditators.  Just ask a seven year old to do her best imitation of a meditating yogi.  I imagine her sitting in full lotus, loudly humming "ommmmm," with index finger and thumb touching exactly as positioned on that staff.  It´s a terrible position for holding something heavy but a great position for subtlely attuning fine streams of internal energy.

 

I find it almost impossible to replicate that hand position.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

White and red, who could have guessed. Screenshot_20210825-195246.thumb.png.a63110394817ada1a51b676c9264bb2a.png

Edited by Cleansox
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20 minutes ago, Apech said:

 

I find it almost impossible to replicate that hand position.

 

 

 

In the Hindu tradition (at least the one I had some limited exposure to) it is the mudra counterpart of the mantra "ong namo gurudev namo" -- "I bow to my inner teacher."   

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That hand position is pretty remarkable.  It definitely gives the impression of hard grasping, even involving the muscles in his arm.  Artists don't usually do things for no reason.  It is very important to him that this caduseus remain stable.

 

As to the snakes looking eye to eye?  Could it be that it's the moment that man realizes who he really is?  He is meeting himself?

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2 hours ago, liminal_luke said:

 

by looking at each other they alchemically combine their energies into a unified neutral force (central channel in Taoism).

 

 

17 minutes ago, manitou said:

 

As to the snakes looking eye to eye?  Could it be that it's the moment that man realizes who he really is?  He is meeting himself?

 

I think we´re saying the same thing in two different ways.

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1 hour ago, Apech said:

 

I find it almost impossible to replicate that hand position.

 

 

 

There’s an anatomical reason for that.

It’s likely stylized.

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2 hours ago, steve said:

 

There’s an anatomical reason for that.

It’s likely stylized.

 

Yes there's something almost Buddhist about that gesture.

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2 hours ago, manitou said:

That hand position is pretty remarkable.  It definitely gives the impression of hard grasping, even involving the muscles in his arm.  Artists don't usually do things for no reason.  It is very important to him that this caduseus remain stable.

 

As to the snakes looking eye to eye?  Could it be that it's the moment that man realizes who he really is?  He is meeting himself?

 

Yes!!!!

 

 

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4 hours ago, Apech said:

 

I find it almost impossible to replicate that hand position.

 

 

 

Even when gripping your staff ?

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Posted (edited)

weapon_dancer.jpg

 

Just to add to this slightly - there is a tradition that links Hermes/Mercury to the Norse Odin (Saxon Wotan ) ... who wears a 'horned' headpiece which is actually two birds heads facing each other ... I couldn't find a very good pic ... he is described as a 'weapon dancer' because he is depicted dancing holding two spears.  This is thought by some to be a shamanic trance dance.

 

 

Edited by Apech
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Posted (edited)

As much as I like some suggestions, they seem modern  and projected back onto the Egyptians .

 

I think we have to look at what the Egyptians themselves  saw in the symbolism of  snakes ,  two snakes  and the face to face thing .

 

I am thinking it is representing a polarity of forces 'coming together' or   the 'magician'  utilising both ( or opposing forces)

 

One snake could be  Nehebkau -  the primordial snake God  that became one of the 42 assessors of Ma'at who also provided dead souls with ka ... so they could continue 'life' . In later times he became more powerful and attended on the deceased King , was associated with the Sun God , and perhaps more importantly ( in this case )   was evoked in magical spells of protection.

 

OR

 

Apep .  Chaos , an opponent of Ma'at and light .  An opponent of Ra , etc .

 

 

" The black and the white are harnessed to his car . "

 

There is also Wadjet  ( a Goddess from Lower Egypt   )  but she was not pared with another snake , but a vulture  ( Upper Egypt deity )  and is not depicted bearded .

 

The beard was a symbol of sovereignty and divinity .

 

So it also depends on the dating of the OP image and what period the symbolism comes from .  It appears very 'New Kingdom' .

 

In the New Kingdom Renenutet and Merseger. Meretseger protected the Theban necropolis and Renenutet was a guardian of the king and also a protector of the harvest. They represent Isis-Thermouthis and Serapis (Serapis is the bearded one on the right). Isis was the consort of Serapis, and the two came to embody the forces of male and female fertility. They are sometimes represented on door-jambs as human-headed serpents.

 

W56-256x300.jpg

 

 

220px-Ningizzida.jpg

 

 

The Sumerian deity, Ningizzida, is accompanied by two gryphons Mushussu; it is the oldest known image of two snakes coiling around an axial rod, dating from before 2000 BCE.

 

( note; the 'original ' form has the snakes looking at each other  )

 

... and the beard is a symbol of divinity and sovereignty

Edited by Nungali
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Posted (edited)

represents  a balance of prana flowing through ida and pingala nadi's which then merge and result in flow through sushumna nadi with greater kundalini coming into play.   Ages old yogic knowledge from yogi's.  (btw there is danger with incorrect, or uncontrolled flow in nadi's thus not something for a wana-be enlightened to dabble with)

   

is.jpg.685e5f831f1548232d447477b0196415.jpg

Edited by old3bob
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12 hours ago, Nungali said:

As much as I like some suggestions, they seem modern  and projected back onto the Egyptians .

 

I think we have to look at what the Egyptians themselves  saw in the symbolism of  snakes ,  two snakes  and the face to face thing .

 

I am thinking it is representing a polarity of forces 'coming together' or   the 'magician'  utilising both ( or opposing forces)

 

Yep.

 

12 hours ago, Nungali said:

One snake could be  Nehebkau -  the primordial snake God  that became one of the 42 assessors of Ma'at who also provided dead souls with ka ... so they could continue 'life' . In later times he became more powerful and attended on the deceased King , was associated with the Sun God , and perhaps more importantly ( in this case )   was evoked in magical spells of protection.

 

OR

 

Apep .  Chaos , an opponent of Ma'at and light .  An opponent of Ra , etc .

 

 

Apep I don't think - because he is always associated with what opposes the sun - or what is good.  Nehebkau is a good suggestion and I thought of this - he is associated with seven uraei  which in turn have some connection with the seven cervical vertebrea which are themselves sometimes called 'knots'.  So there may be a symbolic connection with the knotted serpents (?)

 

12 hours ago, Nungali said:

" The black and the white are harnessed to his car . "

 

There is also Wadjet  ( a Goddess from Lower Egypt   )  but she was not pared with another snake , but a vulture  ( Upper Egypt deity )  and is not depicted bearded .

 

That is often but not exclusively true - both Nekhabet and Wadjet can be depicted with cobras.

 

61277cfaf037b_ScreenShot2021-08-26at12_29_55.png.7ee226773f85643392df400a41891c2b.png

 

just for info in this imgae posted above by @Cleansox the cobra on the left does not wear the red crown but a solar crown made up of the cow horns of Hathor, a sun disk and two feathers.  The Egyptians did however colour the sun disk red and not yellow as we would tend to - so the white/red symbolism stands.

 

12 hours ago, Nungali said:

The beard was a symbol of sovereignty and divinity .

 

So it also depends on the dating of the OP image and what period the symbolism comes from .  It appears very 'New Kingdom' .

 

Which image do you mean? the Hermes that I originally posted is from 1st Cent AD.

 

12 hours ago, Nungali said:

In the New Kingdom Renenutet and Merseger. Meretseger protected the Theban necropolis and Renenutet was a guardian of the king and also a protector of the harvest. They represent Isis-Thermouthis and Serapis (Serapis is the bearded one on the right). Isis was the consort of Serapis, and the two came to embody the forces of male and female fertility. They are sometimes represented on door-jambs as human-headed serpents.

 

W56-256x300.jpg

 

 

220px-Ningizzida.jpg

 

 

The Sumerian deity, Ningizzida, is accompanied by two gryphons Mushussu; it is the oldest known image of two snakes coiling around an axial rod, dating from before 2000 BCE.

 

( note; the 'original ' form has the snakes looking at each other  )

 

... and the beard is a symbol of divinity and sovereignty

 

 Nice.

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The Caduceus is the origin of the mercury symbol used in astrology/astronomy :

 

Mercury-Symbol.jpg

 

- its just a simplified form of Hermes staff - and you can see where the horns come from.

 

Hermes (among other things) was the god of Heralds and was a psychopomp (guide to the dead).  

 

 

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All I know is the action of the Dao is reversion.  Regardless of what society or language we delve into, the Dao wants to revert back and meet itself.  I think this template is written into every human.  We are not separate beings, we - collectively - are awaiting our own enlightenment, the joining of the human to the source.  I think it goes pretty deep.

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Posted (edited)
38 minutes ago, manitou said:

All I know is the action of the Dao is reversion.  Regardless of what society or language we delve into, the Dao wants to revert back and meet itself.  I think this template is written into every human.  We are not separate beings, we - collectively - are awaiting our own enlightenment, the joining of the human to the source.  I think it goes pretty deep.

 

"...To be great is to go on,

To go on is to be far,

To be far is to return..."   Chap 25

 

My take is different in that I'd say that the "Tao" or Spirit in a human seeks itself so to speak, while human forms or others can evolve yet are still ultimately limited to being a vehicle, a vehicle that can not join the Source in equality or per-se being that Spirit is not bound by forms, including human ones.  

Edited by old3bob
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Wouldn't you agree that part of the knot itself looks a bit phallic , suggesting union of male and female energies?

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1 hour ago, oak said:

Wouldn't you agree that part of the knot itself looks a bit phallic , suggesting union of male and female energies?

 

Mine isn't long enough to tie in a knot ... 

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61277cfaf037b_ScreenShot2021-08-26at12_29_55.png.7ee226773f85643392df400a41891c2b.png

10 hours ago, Apech said:

 

Yep.

 

 

Apep I don't think - because he is always associated with what opposes the sun - or what is good.  Nehebkau is a good suggestion and I thought of this - he is associated with seven uraei  which in turn have some connection with the seven cervical vertebrea which are themselves sometimes called 'knots'.  So there may be a symbolic connection with the knotted serpents (?)

 

 

That is often but not exclusively true - both Nekhabet and Wadjet can be depicted with cobras.

 

 

 

Is the one on the right a cobra ?   It does not appear to have a hood ?  But has a beard . Is the one on the left  the way a cobra is always depicted, with a flared hood, or is that specifically to hold the  Sun disc   ( if it is a sun disc ) ?  .... and it isn't bearded .

 

Hmmmmm .... ?

 

( I just did a quick image search of  ancient Egyptian depiction of cobras and they all appear to be hooded, without beards  .)

 

 

 

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