abraxas

[uh-brak-suhs]
noun
a word of unknown significance found on charms, especially amulets, of the late Greco-Roman world and linked with both Gnostic beliefs and magical practices by the early church fathers.

Origin:
< Greek abráxas, abrasáx, of obscure origin; the combined numerical value of the Gk letters is 365, an important figure in numerology

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abraxas or abrasax (əˈbræksəs, əˈbræsəks)
 
n
an ancient charm composed of Greek letters: originally believed to have magical powers and inscribed on amulets, etc, but from the second century ad personified by Gnostics as a deity, the source of divine emanations
 
[from Greek: invented word]
 
abrasax or abrasax
 
n
 
[from Greek: invented word]

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abraxas

sequence of Greek letters considered as a word and formerly inscribed on charms, amulets, and gems in the belief that it possessed magical qualities. In the 2nd century AD, some Gnostic and other dualistic sects, which viewed matter as evil and the spirit as good and held that salvation came through esoteric knowledge, or gnosis, personified Abraxas and initiated a cult sometimes related to worship of the sun god. Basilides of Egypt, an early 2nd-century Gnostic teacher, viewed Abraxas as the supreme deity and the source of divine emanations, the ruler of all the 365 heavens, or circles of creation-one for each day of the year. The number 365 corresponds to the numerical value of the seven Greek letters that form the word abraxas.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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