Wisdom – Symbolic Analysis

Posted on April 8, 2011


“…each mind/body/spirit complex shall and should and, indeed, must perceive each archetype, if you use this convenient term, in its own way. Therefore, you may see that precision is not the goal; rather the quality of general concept complex perception is the goal.”- Ra, Session 77



Arcanum 9

Key Observations

  • Male energy, active.
  • A staff can have a utilitarian meaning as it can be used for additional support or to help someone carry their own weight.
  • Serpent: in the culture to which these images were given the serpent was the symbol of wisdom. Indeed, to the general user of these images perhaps the most accurate connotation of this portion of the concept complexes might be the realization that the serpent is that which is powerful magically. In the positive sense this means that the serpent will appear at the indigo ray site upon the body of the image figures. When a negative connotation is intended one may find the serpent at the solar plexus center.
  • Robe: covered or heavily cloaked. This would indicate mystery and otherwise just plain hidden.
  • A flame is held in front of the figure of Wisdom, much like Balance holds the scales before her. Traditionally, fire represents the active and masculine Yang of Chinese symbolism. It is most closely related to the  sun and the powers of change and purification.¹
  • Age: wisdom is depicted often as an old man suggesting the attribute that wisdom comes with age or time or experience.
  • Papal hat with intertwined serpents could be a symbol of interplay between the two polarities, the mortal coil, double helix, the never-ending-spiral, etc…(interesting side note: two serpents) Similar to the caduceus except in this case the twin snakes wind an invisible spire in the opposite direction and the heads face away from one another.

**I am unsure what the two objects (jars? potions? chili peppers? Two fat little cobras?…with hats on?) at the feet of the figure but they have Egyptian style hats on. If you are in the know, please comment!

Deeper Meanings: suggestions have been embedded within every image pointing to perspective, functions and relationships each archetype has with polarity, the material world and the other archetypes. Observing the left or right hand or the position of the figure (forward or side facing) are two examples of another layer of symbolism that can be considered. Ex. the right hand may be considered to represent the right-handed path or the “service-to-others” path, while the left hand may be considered the left handed path or “service-to-self”. Facing to the left may suggest that this archetype is naturally focused in the direction of self.

  • He is forward facing with both eyes wide open. This power is rooted in the present moment and alertness or awareness is key.
  • Heavily wrapped in a thick black and white robe, clad in mystery, the main figure representing Wisdom or that force that is the influence of growth and change in the body is represented here as something covered or hidden under many layers. So too the soul is encased within many layers of energies and levels of the body in total. Here we are talking about the chemical body, the etheric body and so forth, therefore discernment is key since so many things are hidden from instant recognition when it comes to the body.
  • The body is able to heal itself in most cases, but there are situations when the conscious actions of the person are impeding on the body’s natural ability to heal. Careful attention, logic, reason and deduction play a part in this process as one must understand what is causing a problem in order to solve it and to understand it, one must observe it. The cause may exist in the many layers of the body, it could be incarnational, emotional, mental, spiritual, environmental, etc… “Grant me the courage to change the things that need changing, the strength to accept the things I can not change and the wisdom to know the difference.”
  • The right hand is revealed while the left hand remains unseen. Wisdom will be revealed to the right-hand through constant rebirth (serpent) and balanced use of the will (the staff is placed just to the left of center). The left-hand holds the flame of life but is unseen, buried in cloth.
  • The serpent staff: the staff has been established to represent the use of will and in the case of Wisdom, the staff is serpent headed. Serpents are sometimes associated with feminine energies, rebirth, and wisdom. They also can represent virulence, trickery and magical power. Serpents are connected with both poison and medicine. Note also the intertwined snakes on the papal hat.
  • The serpent symbol up until this point has only been seen on head pieces of figures. Here we see the serpent symbol rides the top of the figure Wisdom’s staff. Serpents, representing rebirth, the shedding of old for the birth of new which is central in the one who wishes to use his will wisely. The erected serpent may also indicate the activated kundalini within an individual. Kundalini literally means coiled and is envisioned either as a goddess or else as a sleeping serpent, hence a number of English renderings of the term such as ‘serpent power’. Connecting the body with its power to focused and directed energy at will.
  • The double helix-ish reference on the papal hat of the main figure is hard to ignore. It is reminiscent of the caduceus only without the central staff.  This symbol is placed in the center of the third eye of the figure.

    The two Egyptian symbols commonly translated as “time” and “eternity” are neheh (nhh) and djet (dt), respectively, and looked something like this.


  • a flame is found in Primeval Darkness [inverted](Arcanum 15)
  • a serpent is found in the Wheel of Fortune (Arcanum 10), Empress (Arcanum 3), Emperor (Arcanum 4), Chariot (Arcanum 7), Primeval Darkness (Arcanum 15), Enchantress (Arcanum 11)
  • standing: main figures also stand in the Magician (Arcanum 1), Enchantress (Arcanum 11), Alchemist (Arcanum 21), Two Paths (Arcanum6)

“Each student may see some other nuance. We, as we have said, did not offer these images with boundaries but only as guidelines intending to aid the adept and to establish the architecture of the deep, or archetypical, portion of the deep mind.”- Ra, Session 91

Modern keywords for Wisdom:

Introspection —– Silence —– Guidance —– Reflection

Solitude —– Looking inward —– Reclusion —– Being quiet

Inner search —– Deep understanding —– Isolation

Distance —– Retreat —– Philosophical attitude