The Caduceus

Here’s a final look at the pyramids:

Notice that there are two golden mean rectangles that are in golden mean proportion to each other. At first glance this is an unusual arrangement that appears to lack any artistic merit. If we add clockwise Fibonacci spirals inside the rectangles however, it seems to yield a snake:

The Rod of Asclepius is an ancient symbol associated with medicine, consisting of a serpent coiled clockwise around a rod. Asclepius was the god of healing. His followers were some of the first priests who were also formally trained as physicians in the medical arts. They were also some of the most prized philosophers and mathematicians of their day and were often the teachers to the pharaohs.

The element associated with snakes is called mercury and its symbol (Hg) refers to hydrargyrum or “water-silver”. Since mercury isn’t really a solid it lacks a crystal structure and technically isn’t a mineral but rather a mineraloid. Embodying both the solid and liquid states, mercury was therefore the element of unity and with an atomic number of 80 it was often represented by a serpent. Mercury is the only metal for which the alchemical name became the common name. 

Above: cinnabar or mercury sulphide (HgS)

In the crystalline structure above the snakes are apparent. The primary mercury ore is cinnabar, which when heated readily decomposes leaving behind pure, metallic mercury which sinks to the bottom of the vessel. The richest mercury ores contain up to 2.5 per cent mercury by mass.

Once mercury is purified, it can dissolve metals such as gold and silver to form amalgams. Iron is an exception, and iron flasks have traditionally been used to trade mercury. Alchemists thought of mercury as the “First Matter” from which all metals were formed. In alchemy, this prima materia was the starting material otherwise known as The Philosopher’s Stone.

From right to left above: life, love and light in an alchemical sky

Mercury represents integration—the middle path between sound and light, space and time and liquid and solid. On a deeper level it is androgenous and like the sword in the stone represents the power of balance summed up by the word similitude. The Rod of Asclepius is therefore the implied middle way.

Indeed, the serpent is the original goddess symbol. Like mercury, snakes move with the fluidity of waterit’s the only liquid metal at room temperature. In ancient times, it was believed that cobras never died of old age, but instead shed their skins and were reborn. From the serpentine motions of bellydance, to the curves of a woman’s body, to the womb of the Earththe serpent really implies consciousness itself:

Perception has a dual aspect—is is the balance of the halves that makes awareness possible. This quality of light itself is manifest in mercury because it exhibits birefringence or “double refraction”. This occurs when a ray of light is split by polarisation into two rays taking slightly different paths. This hints at why mercury is a symbol of consciousness—the rod in the middle is the balance point of perception.

If we return to the snake at top, this time we can mirror these spirals and balance this design. Suddenly we have caducean, chromosomal serpents (below) that represent sound and light. The Latin word caduceus is an adaptation of the Greek kerukeion, meaning “herald’s wand”. In ancient Greece, the two entwined serpents symbolised the call of creation:

With this in mind, you may hear the similarity between the words Thoth and throat. The upper neck, where the hyoid bone is located, is where deep change can be realised. Looking energetically at the throat chakra is like looking into a deep well. These energies are unlike the other energy centres—they can inspire great change.

So the hyoid bone acts like a HORN. Unlike other cartilage, the “herald bone” is separated by muscles and ligaments and appears to “float” in the neck. In reality, it is anchored by muscles from the anterior, posterior and inferior directions and aids in tongue movement and swallowing. The name hyoid is derived from Greek hyoeides, meaning “shaped like the letter upsilon.”

As we ruminate on the origins of the mercury symbol (u) then, we start to realise that this crescent shape also has lunar connotations (Thoth was a Moon god). As you practice in this area, your mantras will open your awareness to the greater part of you. Thoth has always been there to assist in these changes. The energy system of the human body then, is a profoundly musical reference that culminates in the hyoid bone.

So the caduceus represents the perceived polarities of the ascending snakes which are eventually integrated as one via the (fifth) throat chakra. The wings of the falcon refer to the third eye (sixth) chakra and the circle at top is the (seventh) chakra representing unity. As you harmonise sound with light, you may rise as a HERMETIC KING.