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44 45 The image of the caduceus, with its pair of serpents climbing up a central staff, is very ancient indeed, and finds its most widespread application in the yogic and tantric traditions of ancient India. Here it appears as the essential blueprint for the human bodya pair of serpent heads springing from the base of the spine, volatalising i.e., gaining wings by spiralling upwards toward the heavens and framing the seven spinning energy centres known as the chakras. This amphisbaena embodies a power known as kundalini, similar to the Chinese chi and Japanese qi, and, like the Chinese yin and yang, thought of as consisting of a balance of female and male energies. In India these are Shakti, the mother of the universe, and Shiva, the purifier shown together below left. A central purpose of yogic physical and mental exercises is to awaken the kundalini and allow it to rise and transform the individual. the serpent poWer Top Left An alchemical emblem showing the divine hermaphrodite fusing with the serpent energies of the awakening kundalini which rises and spirals from a mastered amphisbaena on which the figure stands. Left According to the tantric yogic tradition Kundalini is curled up in the rear part of the root base chakra in three and a half turns around the sacrum. When awakened the serpent energies rise up the spine as a transformative caduceus of balanced male Shiva and female Shakti principles allowing the individual to truly fuse with the universe. Above The seven chakras or pyschic centres of the ancient Indian system, corresponding to the seven endocrine glands of modern biology. These are only truly awakened when the serpent power is liberated.
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