Symbol of power, creation, foolishness.

An apex is a pointed cap. It is a conical hat with a point on the top whose meaning has changed throughout the years. In its original form, it was worn by high priests. The apex has evolved and changed symbolism over time.

In ancient Egypt, the Upper Egyptian pharaohs wore an apex which was called a Hedjet. The goddess Nekhbet, who was the guardian of Nekhebet, was depicted with a white apex. The falcon god Horus also had a white apex. The kings of Egypt and the pharaohs wore the Hedjet until they started wearing the blue Khepresh later.

The Zoroastrian divinity Mithra appears with an apex on his head. He is the god of contract, guardian of the water, cattle, and harvest. Mithra is an all-seeing protector of truth and the justice system. He is usually depicted riding a white bull while wearing an apex.

Mithraism was centered around Mithra but was a Roman mystery religion. This religion worshiped Mithras who was born out of a rock wearing a conical cap with a bent apex. Some depictions have lightning bolts coming out of the conical cap. Mithraism was practiced by the Roman military starting in 1 CE. It was kept secret between the initiates. Mithras was often depicted hunting and killing a bull.

In ancient Rome, beginning in 509 BC, priests called flamen were assigned to major deities. The Pontifex Maximus, who was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs during ancient Roman times, would consecrate the Flamen Dialis. There were major and minor priests corresponding to the gods they served. The Flamen Dialis, who was considered the high priest wore an apex which had a pointed piece of olive branch on the top. The olive branch point was surrounded by a piece of wool. Only the Flamen Dialis of all the priests wore an apex. If a flamen was seen in public without his apex his priesthood was taken away from him. Salii were priests that served the god Mars. They also wore an apex which was a spiked headdress.

In 715 BC King Numa Pompilius introduced the Salii who were the priests of Mars. They were twelve youths dressed as ancient warriors. They had elaborate outfits including an apex and a special shield. Once a year the Salii would process around Rome while singing and dancing. They would relate the story of Numa who sent a shield down to earth. There were eleven copies of the original shield created to hide the identity of the blessed shield. Each Salii carried one of the shields. Whoever preserved the shield would have dominion over all the world.

Freyr, the Norse god of battle, good harvest, fair weather, sunshine, prosperity, fertility, and peace. One famous small statue of Freyr from the Viking age depicts him with a conical apex and a pointed beard.

In ancient Egypt, the creator god Atum rose out of the primordial waters on a benben stone. The benben stone is the top stone of the pyramid. It is shaped like an apex. The benben stone was associated with creation and power.

In medieval and Renaissance times the apex was placed on the court jester. There were jesters in Ancient Egypt but they did not wear an apex. The court jester’s hat sometimes had more than one apex and they were usually bent. The job of the jester was to entertain the court with juggling, music, storytelling, puns, and other forms of entertainment.

Elves, fairies, and gnomes who are found in pagan cultures are also depicted wearing apices.

The apex, in more modern times, has retained the symbol of foolishness as opposed to power. Students who acted like fools in class or who did not complete their work were made to wear a dunce cap which was a conical shaped hat.

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