Serpents Climbing the Pillar

serpent-pillar

This pillar with serpents ascending from earth to the heavens, is my new candle holder. Have you ever asked where the dollar symbol $ came from. Well, to me it looks like a serpent, or snake, climbing a pillar. There is another such symbol. The caduceus.

The caduceus (☤; /kəˈduːsiːəs/ or /kəˈdjuːʃəs/; from Greek κηρύκειον kērukeion “herald’s staff” ) is the staff carried by Hermes in Greek mythology. The same staff was also borne by heralds in general, for example by Iris, the messenger of Hera. It is a short staff entwined by two serpents, sometimes surmounted by wings. In Roman iconography it was often depicted being carried in the left hand of Mercury, the messenger of the gods, guide of the dead and protector of merchants, shepherds, gamblers, liars, and thieves.

As a symbolic object it represents Hermes (or the Roman Mercury), and by extension trades, occupations or undertakings associated with the god. In later Antiquity the caduceus provided the basis for the astrological symbol representing the planet Mercury. Thus, through its use in astrology and alchemy, it has come to denote the elemental metal of the same name. It is said the wand would wake the sleeping and send the awake to sleep. If applied to the dying their death was gentle, if applied to the dead they returned to life.

By extension of its association with Mercury and Hermes, the caduceus is also a recognized symbol of commerce and negotiation, two realms in which balanced exchange and reciprocity are recognized as ideals. This association is ancient, and consistent from the Classical period to modern times. The caduceus is also used as a symbol representing printing, again by extension of the attributes of Mercury (in this case associated with writing and eloquence).

The caduceus is often used incorrectly as a symbol of healthcare organisations and medical practice (especially in North America), due to confusion with the traditional medical symbol, the rod of Asclepius, although this has only one snake and is never depicted with wings.

This candle holder is full of magic, and I will enjoy it fully.