Abraxas

Abraxas has long become a household name for both Amsterdammers and the city’s numerous visitors. Especially those interested in blends and aromas of local greenery. Abraxas is easily among the city’s coziest and atmospheric coffee-shops. But what’s in a name?

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In a great majority of instances the name Abraxas is associated with a singular composite figure, having Chimera-like appearance somewhat resembling a basilisk. He appears on the amulets with the head of a cock or of a lion, the body of a man, and his legs are serpents which terminate in scorpions. In his right hand he grasps a club, or a flail, and in his left is a round or oval shield. Some claim that Abraxas is a form of the Adam Kadmon of the Kabbalists and the Primal Man whom God made in His own image. If so, we definitely went far astray from the original image!

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A vast number of engraved stones are in existence, to which the name “Abraxas-stones” has long been given. The subjects are mythological, and chiefly grotesque, with various inscriptions, in which ΑΒΡΑΣΑΞ often occurs, alone or with other words. The meaning of the inscriptions is seldom intelligible: but some of the gems are amulets; and the same may be the case with nearly all.

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Finally, it is uncertain whether the mythological Abraxas has any relationship to marijuana, which is being sold under his patronage. But it is quite likely that psychedelic substances and various mind-altering drugs have long been used by mystics and initiates into secret societies and cults. For example, numerous scholars have proposed that the power of the Eleusinian Mysteries (the most famous of the secret rites of the ancient Greece) came from the special drink called kykeon. The initiates, sensitized by the beverage and prepared by preceding ceremonies, may have been propelled by the effects of a powerful psychoactive potion into revelatory mind states with profound spiritual and intellectual ramifications.