vrijdag 11 oktober 2013

Caduceus


Caduceus
Some Gnostic Christians worshipped the serpent hung on a cross,
rod, or Tree of Life, calling it Christ the Savior, also a title of Hermes
the Wise Serpent represented by his own holy caduceus, the scepter
of two serpents. This was one of the oldest and most revered holy
symbols. "The usual mythological association of the serpent is not, as
in the Bible, with corruption, but with physical and spiritual health, as in
the Greek caduceus." To Sumerians it was an emblem of life,
appearing on art works like the Libation Cup of Gudea, ca. 2000 B.c.

 

In pre-Hellenic Greece the caduceus was displayed on healing temples
like those of Asclepius, Hygeia, and Panacea, which is why it is still an
international symbol of the medical profession. The caduceus is
found also in Aztec sacred art, enthroned like a serpent-deity on an
altar. North American Indians knew it too. A Navaho medicine man
said his people's sacred cave once featured "a stone carving of two
snakes intertwined, the heads facing east and west." 1
Hindu symbolism equated the caduceus with the central spirit of
the human body, the spinal column, with two mystic serpents twined
around it like the genetic double helix: ida-nadi to the left, pingala-nadi
to the right.

 

Moses's brazen serpent on a pole, the mere sight of which cured
the Israelites, was probably a prophylactic caduceus (Numbers 21:9).
It was named Nehushtan, and worshipped in the tabernacle up to the
reign ofHezekiah (2 Kings 18:4). See Hermes.

 
Hermes
Greek god of magic, letters, medicine, and occult wisdom, identified
with Thoth in Egypt, Mercury in Rome. He was really older than
Greece, one of the Aegean Great Mother's primal serpent-consorts,
partaking of her wisdom because he was once a part of her. Like India's
Ardhanarisvara-Kali and Shiva united in one body- Hermes was
the original "hermaphrodite" united in one body with Aphrodite.
Priests of Hermes wore artificial breasts and female garments to
preside over Aphrodite's Cyprian temple in the guise of the god
Hermaphroditus.1

 

Hermes was a universal Indo-European god. An Enlightened One
born of the virgin Maia, he was the same as the Enlightened One
(Buddha) born of the same virgin Maya in India. The Mahanirvanatantra
said Buddha was the same as Mercury (Hermes), the son of the
Moon (Maya).2
Greeks called Hermes the Psychopomp, Conductor of Souls, the
same title everywhere given to the Lord of Death in his union with
the Lady of Life. Hermes had greater power over rebirth and reincarnation
than the heavenly father Zeus. It was Hermes who transferred
Dionysus from the womb of the Moon-goddess to Zeus's "thigh"
(penis) so he could be born from a male; apparently Zeus couldn't
accomplish this miracle for himself.3
His feminine wisdom credited Hermes with the invention of
civilized arts usually attributed to the Goddess: measuring and weighing,
astronomy and astrology, music, divination by knucklebones. He
helped the three Fates compose the alphabet.4 He could control the
elements. His caduceus could transform whatever it touched into gold,
which is why Hermes became the patron of alchemists.5
Ovid said Hermes was married to the lunar priestess of a sacred
fountain in Caria, the Land of the Goddess Car. He was also part of a
trinity with Mother Earth and Father Hades, and a phallic god of the
orgiastic Cabiri who worshipped Demeter Cabiria in the Mysteries of
Phrygia and Samothrace.6 ·
Hermes's phallic spirit protected crossroads throughout the GrecoRoman
world, in the form of herms, which were either stone phalli or
short pillars with Hermes's head at the top and an erect penis on the
front. During the Christian era, the herms were replaced by roadside
crosses, but the idea of setting these votive erections at crossroads was
pagan rather than Christian.
Saxons worshipped Hermes as the phallic spirit of the Hermeseul,
or lrminsul, planted in the earth at the Mother-mount of Heresburg
(Hera's Mount). It is now known as Eresburg, and a church of St. Peter
stands where Hermes's ancient sanctuary united the phallic principle
with Mother Earth. Other Germanic tribes worshipped Hermes under
the name of Thot or Teutatis, "Father of Teutons." 7 Hermes-
Mercury was the same as the Germanic father-god Woden, which is
why the Hermetic day, Wednesday, is Woden's Day in English but
Mercury's Day in Latin languages.
The Cross of Woden also represented Hermes as "the only
fourfold god." The sign of the cross traced by Christians on their
heads and breasts originated as one of the crosses of Hermes, the Arabic
numeral 4, often appearing upside down or backward as the Christians'
gesture drew it. 8 The medieval legend that witches made the sign
of the cross upside down or backward may have begun with worshippers
of Hermes; actually, Christians had reversed the cross-sign made by
the pagans instead of vice versa.
The cross marked Hermes a god of four-way crossroads, the four
quarters of the earth, the four elements, the four divisions of the
sacred year, the four winds, and the solstices and equinoxes represented
by their zodiacal totems Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius-the
bull, lion, serpent, and man-angel symbols adopted by Christians to
represent the four evangelists. 9 Sometimes, the cross of Hermes was
an ankh, standing on a crescent that signified his mother the moon.

 

This evolved into the conventional sign of Mercury, a circle with a cross
Sign of Mercury (Hermes) below and a crescent above. 10
Hermes was also represented by the Gnostic "world" sign, a
Maltese cross with a circle at the end of each arm.11 This seems to
have referred to the four solstitial and equinoctial suns. Gnostics viewed
Hermes as a personification of the World Serpent, ruler of time, who
coiled around the terrestrial egg. 12 According to Gnostic Gospels, Jesus
told Mary that the serpent surrounded the world, with his tail in his
mouth, his body containing the twelve zodiacal halls-that is, he was
identified with the Egyptian Tuat (Thoth) and the druidic ouroboros,
also known as the Wise Serpent Hermes.13
Neoplatonic philosophers called Hermes the Logos, or Word of
God made flesh. 14 Christian images of Jesus as the Logos were
borrowed from the older deity, whose hymns addressed him in terms
similar to those used in the Gospels:
Lord of Creation, the All and One .... He is the light of my spirit; his be
the blessing of my powers . ... Hymn, 0 Truth, the Truth, 0 Goodness,
the Good, Life, and Light, from you comes as to you returns our
thanksgiving. I give thee thanks 0 Father, thou potency of my powers;
I give thee thanks 0 God, the power of my potencies. Thine own Word
through me hymns thee .... Thou pleroma in us, 0 Life, save us; 0
Light, enlighten us; 0 God, make us spiritual. The Spirit guards thy
Word. . .. From the Eternal I received blessing and what I seek. By thy
will have I found rest. 15
Naturally, Hermes became the "god within" sought by all
religious philosophers of the Gnostic period. (See Antinomianism.)
His traditional bisexuality was interpreted as self-love; some said he
invented the ritual of self-love, that is, masturbation. His caduceus was
called a masturbatory symbol, a rod massaged by the serpents that
embraced it. 16 Masturbation was said to be the hermit's typical act of
self-contemplation, which some claimed would lead to comprehension
of the God, just as sexual intercourse led to comprehension of the
Goddess. A "herm-et" was literally a little Hermes, with a divine
spirit dwelling in the phallus.

 

Hermes lived on through the Middle Ages in a new disguise as
Hermes Trismegistus, Hermes the Thrice-Great One, founder of
systems of Hermetic magic, astrology, alchemy, and other blends of
mysticism with natural science. Lazzarelli' s Calix Christi et Crater
Hermetis (Chalice of Christ and Cup of Hermes) said all learning came
from Hermes, who gave it to Moses in Egypt. Agrippa von Nettesheim
often cited the authority of Hermes, whom he took for a
grandson of Abraham. Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy listed Hermes
as one of the great philosophers, along with Socrates, Plato,
Plotinus, Seneca, Epictetus, the Magi, and the druidsY A 16thcentury
treatise said the Hermetic vessel was "a uterus for the spiritual
renewal or rebirth of the individual . .. more to be sought than
scripture." 18
Hermetic magic was extensively cultivated by the Arabs, who
based much of their numerical and alchemical systems on Hermetic
lore. 19 Sufi mystics and eastern alchemists both claimed Hermes as an
initiate of their craft.20 After the crusades, Europeans developed a new
interest in what they regarded as the ancient wisdom of the east, and
became greatly impressed by any philosophy attributable to classical
antiquity.

 

About 1460 a Greek manuscript of the eastern Corpus Hermeticum
was presented to Cosimo de' Medici by a monk named
Leonardo da Pistoia. Other texts were added later to the grov.ing ~of
semi-secret "devilish arts" which commanded more and more of
the attention of European intellectuals. Sir Thomas Browne called
Hermetism "the mystical method of Moses bred up in the Hieroglyphical
Schools of the Egyptians," stating that the Egyptians
worshipped Hermes as Mercurius or Anubis, "the Scribe of Saturn,
and Counsellor of Osiris, the great inventor of their religious rites, and
Promoter of good unto Egypt." Hermes ascended to heaven in the
form of Sirius, the Great Dog. He was so revered in Italy that the
mosaics of Siena Cathedral portrayed him with the inscription,
"Hermes Mercury Trismegistus, Contemporary of Moses." 21
The Christian mythological figure most often assimilated to Hermes
was the archangel Michael, Angel of Death, with a function
resembling that of the ancient Psychopomp. "On the ruins of ancient
temples of Mercury, built generally on a hill, rose chapels dedicated
to St. Michael." A hill formerly sacred to Hermes-Mercury in France
still bears the name of Saint Michael-Mont-Mercure. It lies opposite
another "Michael's Mount" located across the channel in England.22
Spirits of the two mounts were both called Mercuri us in preChristian
times, perhaps representing the twin serpents that expressed
Hermes's dual function as lord of death and rebirth. The twin serpents
had many incarnations in alchemy and magic. Of them Flame!
wrote: "These are snakes and dragons, which the ancient Egyptians
painted in the form of a circle, each biting the other's tail, in order to
teach that they spring of and from one thing. These are dragons that the
old poets represent as guarding sleeplessly the golden apples of the
Hesperian maidens .... These are the two serpents that are fastened
around the herald's staff and the rod of Mercury." 23

 

Hermetic mysticism usually called the serpents male and female,
for the real secret of Hermetic power was androgyny. Like that of
Oriental gods, Hermes's efficacy depended on his union with the
female soul of the world, like the Aphrodite of his archaic duality. In
medieval texts she was called the Anima Mercury, a naked woman
surrounded by oval mandorla designs like the World card of the
Tarot pack.24 This card was the last of the Tarot trumps, and the
Magician, identified with Hermes, was the first numbered trump. A
Mantegna Tarot showed the Magician as a classic Mercury with
serpent-twined caduceus, winged helmet, and flute, stepping over a
severed head-symbol of oracles-toward a cock, the symbol of
annunciation. 25


Aphrodite

 

Often dismissed as a "Greek goddess of love," Aphrodite was really
much more than that. Like Kali, she was a Virgin-Mother-Crone
trinity. She was once indistinguishable from the Fates (Moirai); her
old name was Moira, and she was said to be older than Time. She governed
the world by ius naturale, the natural law of the maternal clan.1
She was not only Greek. She was the Dea Syria, also known as
Asherah or Astarte, Goddess of the oldest continuously-occupied
temple in the world.2 She was the ancestral mother of the Romans, for
she gave birth to their founding father, Aeneas.3 Under the name of
Venus, she was the mother of the Venetii, whose capital city became
Venice, called "Queen of the Sea" after the Goddess herself.
One of Aphrodite's major centers of worship was the city of
Paphos on Cyprus, the island named for its copper mines. Thus, she
was called "the Cyprian" or "the Paphian," and her sacred metal was
copper. She was also called Mari, the Sea. Egyptians referred to her
island as Ay-Mari.4

 

During the Christian era, Aphrodite's temple on Cyprus was
converted into a sanctuary of the virgin Mary, another name of the
same Goddess, but in this sanctuary the virgin Mary is hailed to this day
as Panaghia Aphroditessa, "All-holy Aphrodite." 5
Continued worship of the goddess on Cyprus probably contributed
to the Christian belief that the whole population of Cyprus descended
from demons.6 In reality, Cyprian Aphrodite was like all other
manifestations of the Great Goddess: ruling birth, life, love, death,
time, and fate, reconciling man to all of them through sensual and
sexual mysticism. The Cyprian sage Zenon taught Aphrodite's philosophy:
"mankind and the universe were bound tqgether in the system
of fate .... Diogenes Laertios tells us that Zenon was the first to
define the end of human existence as 'life in accordance with nature.' " 7
Aphrodite had almost as many "emanations" as Thousand-Named
Kali. She was not only Mari and Moira and Marina and Pelagia and
Stella Maris, all titles related to her control of the sea; she was also
Ilithyia, Goddess of childbirth; Hymen, Goddess of marriage; Venus,
Goddess of sexuality and the hunt; Urania, Queen of Heaven; Androphonos,
the Destroyer of Men; and many others. She was often
identified with Isis. Anchises, her lover who begot Aeneas and then was
castrated, had a name meaning "he who mates with lsis." 8 Under
several of her names, Aphrodite mated with Semitic gods. Her cult
occupied the main temple in Jerusalem after 70 A.D. In the 4th
century it was said that Constantine's mother found the true cross of
Christ buried in Aphrodite's Jerusalem temple. (See Cross.)
One of Aphrodite's greatest shrines in Asia Minor was the city of
Aphrodisias, once dedicated to Ishtar. Up to the 12th century A.D.,
when the city was taken by Seljuk Turks, the Goddess was worshipped
there as the patron of arts and letters, crafts, and culture.9 Recent
excavations have uncovered exquisite artifacts and statuary, bespeaking
a cultivated and sophisticated lifestyle under the Goddess's rule. 10
The calendar still keeps the name of Aphrodite on the month
dedicated to her, April (Aphrilis). The ancient Kalendar of Romulus
said this was the month of Venus. 11

 
Aphrodite, Pan & Eros

 From Barbara Walker's Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets

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