1920s-era cigarette trading card art and text:
Abraxas stones were commonly worn and highly
esteemed in the Roman Empire about the time
when Christianity was becoming established there.
Much importance was attached to the word Abraxas,
in the Greek notation making up the number 365,
signifying 365 heavens, occupied by the 365 gods,
who according to the Gnostic religion, formed the
earth and ruled its destiny. The Abraxas, the curious
device Jeo, or Jehovah of the Gnostics, has a fowl's
head, signifying watchfulness and foresight; the
shield, wisdom; whip, authority; two serpents,
mystery, eternity, vitality. These rings were worn
as talismans for protection against physical ills.
The talisman is a gold signet ring with an engraved greenish-grey stone in a simple, heavy bezel. The carving represents Abraxas, a monster with the head of a rooster, the body of a man holding a shield and a whip, and two upturned snakes for legs and feet. Surrounding the Abraxas is an inscription in Greek, the letters reversed so that the ring may be used as a signet.
Regarding the name "Jeo" carved on the stone, which the cigarette card's author refers to "Jehovah," Matthew Rabuzzi writes:
"A seal of a rooster-headed serpent-legged shield-bearing god clearly labeled YAHWEH can be found illustrated in Anne Baring & Jules Cashford's 'The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image.' I've also seen this god named Zeus Sabazius."The fact that the name Abraxas works out to the auspicious number 365 does not satisfactorily explain why the creature has the head of a rooster, the body of a man, and snakes for legs. I have seen other Abraxas figures in which the entity was riding in a chariot, which reinforces the symbolism of the 365-day year rolling forward on circular solar wheels. Like many Gnostic symbols, Abraxas enjoyed a brief moment of popularity as a charm for magical protection during the late Roman era but was never a strong factor in European or Middle Eastern folk magic.
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