Hermes’ staff of life, called the “Caduceus” is an external representation of the internal energy pathways and their intersections at certain centers called “chakras”. Chakra means “wheels of energy”. These energy centers are symbolized on the caduceus by the crisscrossing of the serpents along Hermes’ staff. The Caduceus is a Hermetic symbol that can now be seen in most medical facilities and physician offices. It has become the symbol of the medical profession, which interestingly enough is a profession with an emphasis on healing or making one whole. It is also interesting that not many physicians are aware of the ancient Hermetic practice from whence this symbol has its’ origin. Now each chakra has a certain vibratory rate which has certain physical, psychological and spiritual correspondences. A good analogy would be a musical instrument whose strings vibrate quickly to produce high notes and vibrate more slowly to produce deeper notes. Similarly each chakra has its own vibratory rate with the lower chakras vibrating at a lower frequency and the higher chakras vibrating at a higher frequency. Each chakra also corresponds to a specific spiritual quality and are referred to as “tattwas”, “siddhis” or “elements”. The element describes the quality of the frequency of energy at each chakra. The lower chakras are associated with the principles of earth, water, fire and air. They are sometimes called the “Quaternary” or “Tetragrammaton” in Hermetic literature. The higher chakras make up the more refined spiritual levels of the etheric principle and are referred to as the “Trinity”. We are basically a synthesis of the Quaternary and Trinity which can be seen as the embodiment of matter and spirit or body and soul.
It is important to remember from a mystical standpoint that all manifestation is basically the life force working at different rates of vibration and that the difference between one element and the next is ultimately its specific frequency of vibration. A rock vibrates at one frequency and a flower at another frequency. Consciousness can vibrate at the lower frequency of physical manifestation or it can vibrate at higher frequencies of spiritual realities. Matter and spirit, body and soul are not really two completely different natures but rather different vibrations of the One life force. In order to experience higher levels of consciousness, it is helpful to learn the nature and energy of each chakra and use it as a “Jacobs ladder” to spiritual development.
“And Jacob lighted upon a certain place and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows and lay down in that place to sleep.”
“and he dreamed, and beheld a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”
“Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God”
Looking closely at the Caduceus, we see two intertwining serpents crisscrossing each other at certain points called the “chakras”. The serpents themselves represent the two major energy channels along the spine called the “ida” and “pingala”. The pingala channel is associated with the right side of the body along with the right nostril of the nose. The subtle energy flow of the pingala channel is warm, active and stimulates the metabolic processes. It is symbolized by the nature of the sun and is primarily yang or positive. The ida channel is cool and passive; it has a relaxing, calming effect on the metabolic processes. It is symbolized by the nature of the moon and is yin or negative.
The ida and pingala energy channels influence the activity of each chakra; causing certain chakras to act more predominately thereby producing certain physical and emotion effects. Our entire metabolic system is constantly in a state of change as our energy fluctuates between the ida and pingala channels. During certain periods we tend to be more active and the pingala channel will be dominating and then other time we are more relaxed and the ida channel will be active. There are many Hatha yogic practices that help to balance the ida and pingala energy flow by certain breathing or pranayama exercises. When the ida and pingala energy flow is balanced, then the internal energy flows through the central channel called the “sushumna”. When the energy flow is balanced, the sushumna channel becomes active and there is a sense of tranquility and peace. It is through the sushmuna channel that one practices the mantra meditations to experience higher levels of consciousness.
The sushmuna channel flows up the spinal column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Located along the spinal column are the seven different chakras. The “mystery of the seven stars” and the ‘song of the seven seas” are metaphors that refer to the seven chakras. Associated with each of the chakras are certain mantra seed syllables. Each mantra seed syllable has a specific vibration, color, sound and form that opens the door to each chakra allowing the transfer of energy to experience higher levels of consciousness.