Chnoubis (Xnoubis, Chnoumis, Chnuphis)

Chnoubis is an Egyptian Gnostic solar icon, found most often on gnostic gems, and amulets for protection against poison and disease. It is a composite figure with the head of a lion and the body of a serpent, usually with seven rays emanating from the head, sometimes, with the twelve zodiacal signs. Chnoubis is an aspect of the Gnostic Demiurge, Yaldabaoth, and is associated with Abraxas. Images of Chnoubis are most often found inscribed on gnostic gems, small talismans made from semi-precious stone, that date from the first century onward.


The lion’s head represents the solar forces, enlightenment; the serpent, the lower impulses, earth. The rays represent the seven planets, the seven Greek vowels,* and the seven colors of the visible spectrum.


*An important part of ritual formulas

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Giuseppe Acerbi October 23, 2017 at 4:52 am

I agree to James, but even how much Timo P. writes is very interesting and I think it’s right.

Michelle LovLeigh February 4, 2016 at 2:41 am

I painted a spiritual wall in my room when I first awakened in the middle I painted my goddess self a feathered serpent. Peacock feathers actually representing my new begininng. And all seeing eye dreams also of serpent. My astro rising sign in my birth chart? Leo rising. Very connected to the phoenix fire bird in fact I took a pic of sunset and its the bird. Very connected to this deeply deeply

Ivan October 1, 2015 at 8:57 am

How can it be an aspect of Yaldabaoth, and at the same time be associated with Abraxas?

Jennifer October 8, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Because Abraxas is also correlated with Yaldabaoth.

Marcelo August 26, 2016 at 8:10 pm

Why are they “correlated”?

Jennifer September 1, 2016 at 3:52 am

Because they are both chief archons in different systems, and so common amulets would often conflate them, as was common at the time.

Timo Penttilä April 3, 2013 at 11:03 am

I 1st came across this Egyptian god Khnoubis when reading a book about Egyptian Gnostics by Jean Doresse, a French egyptologist. (The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics. An Introduction to the Gnostic Coptic Manuscripts Discovered at Chenoboskion. Translation by Philip Mairet.
Authors Jean DORESSE, Philippe Auguste MAIRET
Publisher Hollis & Carter, 1960). These are the famous Nag Hammadi scrolls found in Egypt already in the late 50s.
There has earlier existed another more original Egyptian god called Khnoum from which the Khnoubis has been derived later. One of the main cult centers for Khnoum was the Elephantine island in the Nile – it was also called ‘Abu’. The island had a Nilometer built in the middle of the island which was a measuring instrument for the height of the Nile. The holy duty of the priests of Khnoum was to follow the height of the Nile with their Nilometer, and report to the Pharaoh and his officers what was going to happen to the great flood.
A Jewish temple has also once stood on the island of Elephantine. The name of the god was not ‘YHVH’ but only ‘Yah’, a single syllable. Some correspondence of the temple was found on fragmented papyri by German archaeologists long ago and has been studied and published.
The famous dream of the Egyptian Pharaoh which Joseph interprets (Gen.41:1-57) has been found written on papyri, but the interpreters are the priests of Khnoum, and there is no mentioning of Joseph in this account.

James February 10, 2012 at 5:29 am

I love this image of the serpent (spirit) putting on the lion’s face (soul). To me this is the leonine Christ bursting into alchemical Solification. Jung says that the function of an archetypal monstrum (or monstrance) such as this is to reconcile the play of opposites, in this case the moon (spirit) and the sun (sol, soul). Mechanistic duality is dispelled and replaced by the Singularity, i.e. one and only Christic consciousness.

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