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The Calamus Project

A calamus is a quill pen, made of a plume or reed, and is thus a symbol of literacy and learning. Because writing was once a sacred art, the calamus has traditionally symbolised individual destiny as the will of the Divine Being written in the Book of Life. Writing on stone has permanence; writing in ink on parchment can be altered, signifying what was traditionally regarded as a change of destiny, or what in modern terms can be seen as the power of personal transformation and growth.

Another strand of meaning for calamus is the reed used as a wind instrument, carrying the breath of spirit and the spiritual power of music.

Calamus International University, which began by specialising in holistic fields, is dedicated to learning in the cause of positive personal and social change.

The name calamus is given to a number of  ethnobotanically significant plant species. The genus Calamus comprises some 400 species of rattan.  An ongoing study of the symbolism, mythology, folklore and social use of the name "calamus" in all its forms is being undertaken by adjunct advisory board member Dr Gareth Hayes, whose great-uncle, Will Hayes, a pioneer scholar of interfaith studies and spiritual diversity, was the author of a book entitled “Sweet Calamus: A Study in Comparative Religion.”  

Further information about universal use of the "calamus" symbol will be given here. Because of its association with pens and writing, the name "calamus" has been adapted by the literary community and, by extension, by software developers. Walt Whitman's "Calamus Poems" are to be found in his classic work "Leaves of Grass". 


Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman is available as a free download from Project Gutenberg here:


The reed is one of the earliest musical instruments, and we find musical groups called Calamus. As a plant, Calamus is claimed to be an aphrodisiac.  Thus we find the essentials of culture: spirituality, writing, music and love - all related to Calamus.


We welcome any examples. In the meantime, here are some websites relative to "calamus" which are not connected with Calamus Extension College or Calamus International University:


Calamus Bookstore, Boston


Calamus Press, Los Angeles


Calamus International Association (for players of the zampogna, an Italian ethnic instrument)


Conservation of Calamus species in Singapore










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