Usage Egyptian Mythology, Gnosticism, Popular Culture
Pronounced Pron. ə-BRAK-səs (English)
Other Forms FormsAbrasax (Greek: Αβρασαξ)
Edit Status Status
Contributor Contrib.Evil on 7/19/2007
Last Editor EditorSeaHorse15 on 4/28/2012
From a word thought to have originated with the Gnostics or the Egyptians, found on many amulets during the last years of the Roman Empire. Abraxas was used by the Basilideans, a Gnostic sect of the 2nd century, to refer to the Supreme Being or god whom they worshipped; they believed it to be a name of power because it contained the seven Greek letters which, computed numerically, equal the number 365 (the number of days in the year). However, older mythologists placed Abraxas among the Egyptian gods, while some demonologists cite him as a demon with the head of a king and serpents forming his feet. He has been represented on amulets with a whip in his hand. The mystic word #abracadabra# is supposedly derived from his name (itself perhaps derived from Aramaic #avra kedabra# "what was said, occurred" or "I will create as I speak"). Many stones and gems were cut with his capricious symbolic markings, such as a human body having a fowl's or lion's head, and snakes as limbs, which were worn by the Basilideans as amulets. Gnostic symbols were later adopted by many societies devoted to magic and alchemy, therefore it is likely that most "abraxas-stones" made in the Middle Ages that contained kabbalistic symbols were talismans. According to some sources this was an alternative name of one of the four immortal horses of the Greek sun god Helios. It was used by author J. K. Rowling in her 'Harry Potter' series of books for a minor character, the grandfather of Draco Malfoy.