A Real Caduceus

Hey, guys, have you heard that I’m on something of a Hermes/Mercurial kick lately?  I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it anywhere, but working with the dude is kinda awesome.

I mentioned before that I hastily made a wand (cane, more like) for use in my work with Hermes, especially in being a psychopomp.  It was a simple walnut dowel that I had rubbed in with spirit oil and a Mercurial balm I originally made for my caduceus tattoo (olive oil, beeswax, and eight herbs associated with the sphere of Mercury) with some minor woodburning.  It was a really simple thing, and though it helped out for my first venture out in the graveyards, it was still a little too…well, boring for my tastes.  Besides, with it being unshod on the bottom, the staff could easily be damaged or harmed, and it didn’t look like anything special for a distance.  While mulling over ideas for elaborating it, I came up with a plan  and made the simple wand into something much more resembling a real caduceus, just omitting the real snakes and wings.

  • I woodburned four rings around the top and bottom of the staff, leading to eight rings total.
  • I got four yards of decorative cord twisted with gold thread, two each of white cord and black cord.  I drilled a hole near the top of the staff, threaded them through so that each cord had equal parts on both sides leading to four cords “emanating” from the staff.   These would act as the two snakes of the caduceus, one white and one black, one front and one back.
  • To keep the cords from fraying, I used a Fransiscan monk’s knot at the end of each cord, looping the cord back on itself four times and tying each knot around a (fake) gold ring.  The rings give the staff a bit of a flare, as well as link it to the khakkhara or shakujo, the monk’s staff used in East Asian Buddhism, as well as to the bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha, who also plays a role as psychopomp and guide not unsimilar to Hermes.
  • I twisted the cords around the staff so that they each made four loops around in a double helix pattern, then “locked” them into place with four square knots.  This helped in keeping the cords managably short as well as giving the look of two snakes twisted around the staff, just as in the iconic caduceus.  And, just as in my tattoo, this leads to eight loops and eight knots total around the staff.
  • I took a small wooden sphere with a hole drilled out in the bottom to fit on the top of the staff to act as a knob handle as well as a finial for the caduceus.   Before I glued it on, I woodburned in a spherical form of a quadrupled Mercury symbol I had a brief insight of while thinking about the design, which on a 2D plane looks something like this:

    I adapted this to the sphere by connecting the crossbars on each of the legs from the circle and having the crescents meet up on the connected circle.  I also added four dots under the meeting tips of the crescents between the legs of the crosses, just for style.  If I were to draw it out on a 2D surface with the circle for the staff insert as the boundary circle for the symbol, it’d look like this:

    It looks pleasingly abstract, like something from Myst or Portal, which is appropriate in either case.
  • I got a brass cap, golden in color to match the cords and the rings, and put it on the butt of the staff to prevent damage to the wood.  Brass, being a mixture of metals, is perfect for mercurial work.
  • I rubbed in more of the Mercurial balm onto the light pine (?) handle after staining it a color closer to the walnut, as well as lightly rubbing in some oil I made specifically for Hermes himself (kinda like Alchemy Work’s Hermes Oil).  This was to help protect the wood as well as imbue the whole thing with magical force to help it better resonate with any Hermaic or Mercurial work I do.

Overall, I’m highly pleased with how this project turned out.  You’ll also notice that the number four keeps popping up, four being the divine number associated with Hermes, who was born on the fourth of the lunar month and also given the fourth day of the week, Wednesday.  This is half that of the magical number associated with the sphere of Mercury (8), but since this is more of a divine tool instead of a magical tool, it’s probably better to aim towards the smaller of the two numbers, even though they’re so closely intertwined anyway.

Now that the whole thing’s been finished, I plan on officially consecrating and dedicating it to Hermes and his service.   My idea is to present it to Hermes during his monthly devotion and officially dedicate it to him then, repeating the Homeric Hymns once and Orphic Hymns four times each day for four days.  After this, and if he’s amenable to it, I plan to conjure Raphael of Mercury and consecrate the staff under the powers of the sphere of Mercury for eight days as I would any other talisman or magical item.  This may not be needed, depending on how Hermes wants to work with the wand himself, but the magical consecration would help tie it in closer to Mercurial currents of power.