As a hieroglyphic sign the staff like crook held the meaning ‘to rule’ and commonly appeared in Egyptian imagery being carried by either god, king or high official. It is believed to have originated from the staff carried by shepherds, later adopted as a symbol of power and authority.
The flail consists of a short rod with either two or three strips of pendents or strings of beads. The origin of the flail in Egyptian imagery is unclear, some believe it to originate from the shepherd’s whip whilst others believe it to be a fly-whisk. The flail was viewed as a symbol of authority when held by a Pharaoh, but was also a symbolic characteristic of the gods Min and Osiris.
Painted wooden Stela of Neshkons, showing Osiris with crook and flail, 21st dynasty (Tanis 1069 - 945 BCE). The crook and flail royal and religious imagery is best represented in the reliefs and stelae of the Petrie collection.
The crook on its own appears heavily in the tarot cards series of ‘wands’ cards, either standing alone or held by individual characters:
‘Wands’ series of cards in general.
‘The Lady of the Sciences’ (Queen of Wands) – “a noblewoman decorated with the royal symbols raises her hand in greeting”.
‘The Lord of Fertility’ (King of Wands) – “A King raises the wand of earthly power”.
‘The Traveller’ (Knight of Wands) – “A noble knight rides his charger, bearing the banner of power”.
‘Horus’ Messenger’ (Knave of Wands).