Caduseus: The Symbol of Healing: – Kabbalah and Ayurvedic Medicine
Thou wast the same before the world was created,
Thou hast been the same since the world has been created,
Thou art the same in this world, and
Thou wilt be the same in the world to come.
The Explanation of the Symbol of Healing
The sign and symbol of the ancient physician was the caduseus. It was carried by the messenger of the God of Life, who was always pictured with wings on his feet. He was called Hermes by the Greeks and Egyptians and Mercury by the Romans. The symbol contains the totality of the body’s functions and its connection to the mental, emotional and spiritual worlds. It is the description of the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Food and Nourishment.
A globe with two wings symbolises the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain, with the pineal body or third eye at its centre, and the central upright staff or trunk of this Tree of Life, which is the base of the brain and the spinal column. The cerebellum, the lesser wings of the staff are part of the sympathetic nervous system regulating automatic functions and the preservation of the body through the vital centres. The bulb at the top of the staff represents the optic thalamus, the centre of consciousness and light in the brain.
The two life-breaths wind down around the central wand, as two serpents of mind and emotional impulses or energy fields expressed in their stepped-down energy, positive and negative, attraction or love and repulsion or hatred. They represent the mind principle in its dual aspect. On the right, the fiery Sun; positive; yang; pingala. On the left, the Moon; negative; cooling; yin; ida currents. They manifest as desire which led man into the fall or involution.
Below the causal plane, the patterns are extracted from each other, yin and yang. In this duality of function there is a constant fall into matter and materialization, through creation of forms. Yin is the principle of Mother, shaper of forms. The yang principle is Father, giver of life. Form and sense bring the vital energy down to Earth and bind it in life.
There is an involutionary and evolutionary cycle of the soul and mind. The serpent descends the Tree of Life through matter to limitations, restrictions, difficulties and pains – the Curse. The serpents cross in each oval cavity, exchanging polarity. The last loop is the cauda equina – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, situated below the second lumbar vertebra. The Chakras or the Sephirot are at the positions of these crossovers.
The nervous system resembles a tree, upside down. The brain is the root, the spinal cord the trunk and the rest is the branches hanging down.
The top of this ‘tree’ is in the brain, the Tree of Life itself; the supersonic current which lights up the pineal gland (third eye), as a Christmas tree, the evergreen tree with its fruit, the cone, the pineal, the symbol of illumination. The symbol of Santa Claus or Father Christmas is that of the giver of life, coming down the chimney, bringing gifts from the Source, descending to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – the hearth fire, the generative principle, distributing them and returning to the Fountain of Energy above. This is the Word – the stepped-down Sound Current of Spiritual Energy, coming from the higher regions and passing into matter.
The Mind energy is one river, splitting into four rivers of Living Energy Currents which are stepped down into four primary polarized pattern substances of atomic fineness, essentials of life. These four rivers are for supply and exchange of warmth, air, water and food for mankind and vegetation. They relate to the four elements of air, fire, water and earth, contained in the fifth element of ether or space. To enable man’s organs to function, the energy currents flowing in the body relate to the five ovals or spaces: the nervous system, respiratory and circulatory systems, digestive system, generative system and eliminative system.
The physicians of old aspired to a knowledge of these currents of the body and the relationship of a man’s oval fields to his motor activities and the five lower chakras to his sensory system.
The serpents symbolise the Mind Energy and Wisdom through experience in the Centre of Consciousness where the downward and upward currents meet. This is the point from which man can direct his energies upwards for spiritual benefit or downwards as it descends the spinal column. This is the exchange of energy between the brain and Universal Energy, between mind and Universal Mind and emotional energy waves. Downwards it flows over the sympathetic nervous system, for physical and material expenditure, following the senses outward for sensation, as always the great deceiver. It is forever active on embodied Trees of Knowledge.
This is the symbol of the serpent coming down the Tree of Life, tempting Eve, the mother of all living things, the incarnate soul energy in man and woman. Woman as a person was not the cause of Man’s fall into matter – male and female created He them. This is also the symbol of the hero returning home; Christmas or the feast of the Pine Cone – in the Father’s house – inner birth; the ascent back to the soul; the return of the Prodigal Son.
An initiate who knows how to channel and control these two currents can knowingly attract light and heavenly blessings and repulse the forces of darkness and evil. The caduseus embodies the system which is within everyone. Man know thyself. Physician heal thyself. Man himself is a living caduseus.
The Universal Pattern Currents were fixed by the creator as the one established fact of the eternal energy within the heart and essence of all creation, sustained by the outgoing breath of the one eternal source of Energy, the Creator of all, in every realm of being.
The second creation of man was the unfolding of the pattern and form of man previously created, moulding it by the finest material energy as an actual body made out of the essence of matter or clay. The Universal Life Breath of Prana was breathed into its nostrils, to link the universe or fine essence of matter outside with the soul in the body, blended into one unit of being, a living soul in a fine, material body.
There are three types of tree which relate to the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous systems. They function as the three qualities of mind and fine material energy in the body:
1. The Tree of Life – as the central nervous system is the intelligent or Sattvic impulse created as the first creation, the Source and Centre of things, the super-conscious state of mind patterns. Who abides in that state will not go forth, but will remain in the Source or the house of the Lord – the positive pole in the brain.
2. The Tree of Food and Nourishment – as the parasympathetic nervous system is the emotional, restless active preservative impulse – Rajas, created in the second creation. Rajas, good for food and nourishment, is the field of general action and service. It is the activity of the conscious mind.
3. The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – as the sympathetic nervous system, Tamas or the earth-bound mind, the blind expression of the force of crystallisation, the generative, driving power, going into sense life entirely and bound thereby; after the fall or loss of the conscious life in Paradise. This last stage of final involution into matter is our Earth life as we know it, including the cycles of history. It is the crystallizing effect of the subconscious mind. Energy when expended becomes exhausted, tired, spent and depolarized, dense and crystallised. This concerns the vital forces in the body, in the pelvis. The sympathetic nervous system, The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, is the un-intelligent pole of impulse on the other end of the nervous system and spinal column. It is the emotional, generative impulse which keeps man bound to the earth.
The three nervous systems need to be co-ordinated.
The question is how to escape the trap of matter? Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita says:
Act without being attached to the fruits of action
ie. do our duty to the best of our ability and leave the results in the hands of the Lord.
Be still and know that I am God. Man is ill because he is never still. There is great healing in the quiet depths of space, but man never tunes into it by being quiet himself!
Where is the dweller in the body, the Charioteer who runs this machine? What makes the dweller experience pleasure and pain? What happens in sleep or when we die? Can we understand ourselves without knowing the Self in the body? Is it the body or the whole being that needs tuning into the Universal Current? Is the origin disease or in man and his mind and senses?
Consciousness is a soul quality. The soul, spirit or real being receives its energy from the great Universal Spirit, soul, sun. Physical sun gives light, life and radiates energy – Prana. The inner sun gives light and energy to the soul, as ultrasonic energy. The soul energises the mind and the mind works through the senses as its agent of action. Man has abused this energy and has fallen so low that he is unaware of the fact that he is permitting the senses and emotions to rule the mind and the mind to enslave the soul. Mankind is borrowing and wasting this great gift in mental and material pursuits. He has completely forgotten his source.
Where does the soul reside? In the waking state, in the centre of the forehead, a two-petalled lotus between the eyes. It functions through the cerebrum for all action and thought. As a perceptive agent, consciousness resides in the optic thalamus, gives light to the eyes, the look of intelligence to the face and guidance to the feet and hands.
Health is the neutral position in life by which cellular activity of the body is in neutral polarity state called balance. In this state the energies of the body are in tune and in communication with all life in the cosmos. Through a balanced flow of electromagnetic light waves, there is a free exchange in etheric and airy essences and elements, so vital to health. The exchange of gases of carbon dioxide in our lungs for oxygen and nitrogen is our breathing in and out, which connects us with the Earth’s atmosphere. Then life flows unconscious of itself in an exuberant expression as in childhood. There is no interference from positive or negative energy blocks. This finer chemistry, connected with our emotions and thinking is only just being given attention in our time with the development of complementary therapies and yet it is one of the greatest factors in our life and health-building process. If we could be really still and get in touch with this inner life, the answer would readily appear.
Life is a gift from the Beloved Creator. Like wealth, we can waste it, or use it wisely and conservatively and live longer. We can dig our grave prematurely wasting the energies of life by reckless habits. Our every action is our karma, which decides our life here. We are either a wise steward or an inefficient manager. The mind must be guarded at every step.
“To keep reason active all the time it is necessary to follow the discipline of a wise man.”
“What one has to learn is to go wholeheartedly into the work in hand and remain with it with full attention as long as one is engaged with it. As soon as one has to switch onto another work one must forget the previous work. If thoughts or worries of the previous work are carried over to the next work the attention wouldn’t be totalŠ If one stopped anticipating and worrying one would find much quiet time during each work.”
Formation of the embyro: When a man with unimpaired sperm and a woman with unafflicted genital tract, ovum and uterine bed cohabit during the period of fertilisation, the soul (jiva) along with the mind descends into the zygote lodged inside the uterus. This results in the formation of the embryo. It grows unafflicted, being nourished by wholesome nutrient fluid and being managed with proper regimen. Thereafter the foetus is formed with all the sensory and motor organs, possessed of all the limbs of the body and endowed with excellence of strength, complexion, mental faculties and compactness for delivery at the due time.
This house of clay in which we stay
And where we play and also pray,
Is our temple and our fort, for life’s sport,
Built from mind and feeling patterns long and short.
We are what we eat and drink,
What we feel and what we think.
‘Man does not live by bread alone.’
Mind patterns rule our life.
‘May all be happy.
May all be without disease.
May all see the Good.
May no one experience misery.’
Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit, Ayus – life, and Veda – knowledge. It is a system based on the five elements of Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. It defines three constitutions, depending on the balance of these elements. These are: Vata – Ether & Air, Pitta – Fire & Water, and Kapha – Water & Earth.
According to Ayurveda, lifestyle is the cause of all disease. The art of healthy living is to understand how to balance the elements according to one’s constitution.
The Alchemists defined the four elements in relation to the four states of matter – solid, liquid, gaseous and igneous Earth, Water, Air and Fire. The four elements influence our nature and constitution. The dominant element determines a person’s temperament. The four temperaments defined by Hippocrates – sanguine, choleric, phlegmatic and melancholic, are determined by the elements:
Earth corresponds to the physical body, Water the astral (emotional), Air the mental and Fire the soul and spirit. Heat and light are the manifestation of the soul and spirit respectively. Ether is the space in which it is all held.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful
beyond measure. It is our light, not our
darkness, that most frightens us. We ask
ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not
to be? You are a child of God. Your playing
small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing
enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are meant to shine as children do.
We were born to manifest the glory of God
that is within everyone. And as we let our own
light shine, we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same. As we’re liberated
from our own fear, our presence automatically
Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech
Clear thinkers try to find the causes which lie in ourselves. Humanity has to be responsible for its actions in war and peace. We need to understand ourselves. Only then can we get along with ourselves and value this precious gift of life, given for the sole purpose of freeing our soul and consciousness from the snares of the mind and senses, which are the real cause of our suffering and ill health. The outer evidences are but the symptoms of the inner conflicts of energies and inharmony.
As above so below
As within so without
Life is the expression of love in sound waves and energy currents, throughout the creation and in man.
How does the chakra system relate to the Tree and the Caduseus?
Life is a river. Health is the natural expression of the body, mind and soul, of love and unity, when they are in rhythm with the One Life, its Source and supply house. Happiness is of the soul, the reality of being and fullness through understanding and compassion. The body is an earthly Temple and has only the happiness in its fields which the thinker or artist in the body builds into it, by thinking designs and patterns of happiness and health. By our daily efforts in habits of eating and drinking for health we must not merely obey our sense of taste or cravings and habits of the past. We will become what we contemplate. Life must have a definite purpose and meaning. It is a road that leads somewhere. Where is our guiding Star, and our Goal? What is life for, if it is not an effort to higher realisation of consciousness or soul growth and inner happiness? We can become that which we wish to be if we work for it.
True health is the harmony of life within us and is happiness and well-being.
In compiling this original article, I acknowledge that I have quoted extensively from:
* Polarity Therapy, Volume 1 and Volume 2, The Complete Works of Dr Randolph Stone DC DO, published by CRCS
* The Polarity Process – Energy as a Healing Art by Franklyn Sills, published by Element Books
* Adam and the Kabbalistic Tree by Z’ev ben Shimon Halevi, published by Gateway Books
* His Holiness Shantanand Sarawati
* Caraka Samhita
© Ann Roden