But it is no enough, in fact the Armenian liturgy, which is one of the most ancient dating back at the end of fourth century, comes to rescue. In the book “The Armenian Liturgy translated into english” edited and published in Armenian monastery of San Lazzaro. Venezia 1862, we can find: “The Doctors or Vartabieds have a particular sort of crosier formed of two serpents intermingled ( in original intertwined), at the end of a long rod, the serpent being the emblem of prudence, a virtue indispensable to those who preach the word of God.” And here, for the first time, we find croziers clearly identified with serpents, ringlets and Prudence.
We all appreciate Prudence as a pastoral requirement, of course, but that will not meet our thirsty demand for hermetic symbolism. Fulcanelli is once again precious, even if cryptic, on the other hand that’s the reason why he is so worshipped (because he is precious or cryptic?). In his “Mystery of Cathedrals” Fulcanelli is dealing with a Notre Dame cathedral emblem representing Prudence virtue, to which he adapts to the occasion a quote from Basilius Valentinus Testamentum: “The whole body of the Vitriol (3) must be recognized only as a Mirror of the philosophical Science …. It is a Mirror in which you see our Mercurius, our Sun and Moon, appear and shine……This so common and so much despite subject becomes later the Tree of Life, the Elixir or the Philosophers Stone; nature’s masterpiece, aided by human industry”.
A serpent wounding around a rod is quite a caduceus. As a matter of fact it is not a caduceus yet, since the latter one presents two serpents and not a single one. Caduceus is a symbol for Solve et Coagula, thus our Serpent/Secret Fire /Mercurius has already undergone a fixation. Consequently two serpents wounding around the alchemical rod stand for Mercurius Philosophorum (4), or a fixed Mercurius. But we know that it can also be standing for Mercurius Duplicatus (5). See an Opus Magnum scheme.
In addition the mirror resemblance to an emblem-shield is something we will encounter again. But let’s back to our main topic, croziers indeed. Mystery of Cathedrals:
“……..St. Marcellus holds a crozier, as short as a gatekeeper’s flag. On his head is a mitre, decorated with a cross, and, as a superb anachronism, this pupil of Prudence is wearing a beard! A piquant detail is that the dragon in the opposite picture is shown with his jaws sideways on, gnawing the foot of the poor bishop, who, however, appears to worry very little about this…….will see there the bishop killing the dragon by touching it with his crozier, as is reported by tradition”. Dragon is a synonymous for serpent and to kill is an allegory for sublimation-fixation in an eternal material support. But don’t be so sure, since the killing allegory is subjected to rule of three too, thus it can also represent dissolving and extracting phase. Bishop is often a symbol for the third salt involved in alchemical marriage or Duplicatus, since sometimes the two Mercurius are unable to couple by themselves. In fact the third salt cannot be too different from the two Mercurius Philosophorum he is trying to marry (3), in addition a beard is a symbol for Mercurius Philosophorum in some alchemical ways. Fulcanelli is always more evocative than explicative. Being a metallurgic poet.
“The first form of Crozier known and found in roman catacombs, the character represented in gold foil is the bishop Amachius, but we can not be sure that the staff is bent on crozier, since it could also be the inaugural roman lituus.
Under the name of crozier is designated the baculus (staff) worn by church dignitaries as a sign of spiritual power. But it is not to be confused with the rod of honor or other clubs only showing a temporal power. On the right the figure of the Roman Emperor Arcadius with a cane rod, engraved in Almendralejo silver disk and stored in Madrid. In fact, Popes, that’s to say the papal sovereigns, do not carry the Crozier, but only the ferule, a staff more or less long but straight as a sceptre and sometimes with small crosses and oval ornaments on the top. In fact ornamented crossed sceptres were signs of power bearing not only by a pope. On the left a staff crossed Pope Clement in Chartres Cathedral. Innocent III testimony is formal, in his Missa De Mysteriis (On the Mystery of Mass) he said:
Romanus Pontifex non utitur pastoral virga, or Roman Pontiff Makes No use of pastoral stick. Thomas Aquin reported: “..in dioecesi Treverensi papa baculum portat, et non in aliis. Or Pope brings Crozier (Baculum) only in the diocese of Trèves, not in the other ones (5). According to the Gregory X ceremonial, a Pope is in fact a simple priest.
Croziers are worn only by bishops, both Latin and Greek, that is by those concerned about souls and not only temporal power. Indeed bishops are unequivocally the souls shepherds of christendom. Especially in greek orthodox investiture ceremonies bishops are delivered a short crozier, like a crook, as a symbol of their being shepherds leading the flock. A monk in Saint Denis, at the time of Charles the Bald, wrote that Crozier was “arcuatum in ima reflexum” or bent into a curve at the top. Tradition has it that first Croziers were apostles rods of journey.
Together with abbots and abbesses. In “ The life of saint Gal” by Walafrid Strabon, at least sixth century, abbot Colomban allowed his crozier to be sent to Gal as means of reconciliation. We know that in seventh century croziers enterered abbatial ceremonies. In ottonian age abbesses partook of the same privileges of abbots. Being extremely concerned about temporal power, catholic liturgy prescribed abbots and abbesses to strictly hold croziers with ringlets closing toward their shoulders, meaning that their jurisdictions included just monasteries and nunneries, while bishops croziers were closing outward to mean jurisdictions on a wider region. And an ordinance of Clemens III in 1251 ordered abbesses to show their crozier only along processions. The picture below puts on display the tomb of Abbess Urraca Lopez de Haro (1170-1262) in which she is holding her now broken crozier shaft. Nunnery of Santa Maria del Salvador, Cañas, La Rioja, Spain © Adrian Fletcher (6).
Croziers had been made in wood, horn, ivory, rock crystal, iron, copper, lead, silver and gold. A rock crystal crozier is conserved in the bibliothéque de Versailles. A lead one was held iron croziers. But the more common are in copper, sometimes enameled or gilded. Silver croziers are scarce, some example are those of Saint Remi, of Godefroi de Mans and bishop Richard in the London Treasure. Strangely enough we have not been reported of any still existing golden croziers. The first rods, or shafts, were made of wood, preferably cypress.”
Wooden rods, even if present in hermetic symbolism both for thrashing and piercing, are of such a common day life use that cannot in anyway be necessarily claimed to have an hermetic meaning other than obviously being mere croziers supports. Nevertheless be aware that cypress wood, by many religions, has often be considered sacred or for sacred use only. A wooden piercing cypress stick or spear may sometimes be involved in the dry antimonial way.
To be continued at Croziers & Ringlets of Serpent 2.
- Vitriol here takes the significance of Mercurius Philosophorum;
- Se also Atalanta Fugiens & Mercurius Duplicatus ;
- See also Atalanta Fugiens & Golden Apples;
- “Le Baton Pastoral etude archeologique par l’abbé Barrault et Arthur Martin S.J”. Extrait du Tome IV des Melanges d’Archéologie, d’Histoire et de Literature, redigés ou recueillis par les auteurs de la monographie de la Cathedrale de Bourges. Paris 1856;
- In the Trèves Cathedral it is said to be conserved the first bishop Saint Peter’s crozier;