Origins of the doctor’s symbol

September 13, 2022

Somebody asked, “The symbol of medicine is a stick with a couple of snakes in it. What does this have to do with healing?”

The symbol is actually two entwined snakes on the staff of Mercury, messenger of the gods in Roman mythology.

In ancient times, it was a badge of authority proclaiming that its bearer was a sacred person. Thus, it can be interpreted as a sign that the physician was not to be obstructed in his or her errands of mercy.

On the other hand, there is a Greek god of medicine called Asclepius, who probably was a real person. After his death, he was deified, with festivals in his honor.

Asclepius is depicted as carrying a staff with one snake twirled around it. Hence, physicians need to deduct one snake from their symbol if it is to have true medical relevance.

It is unfortunate that many of the powerful symbols that have survived the world’s ancient past have lost their original meaning. The “Caduceus” is one of these. It appears as a wand entwined by two snakes and topped by wings for a winged helmet.

According to Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, the Caduceus is “an esoteric symbol of spiritual enlightenment and higher wisdom. It is also associated with healing and has been the emblem of physicians for centuries.”

Photograph By Jaime Licauco
The Canduceus, emblem of physicians.

The Caduceus is associated with the messenger of gods Hermes (Greek mythology) or Mercury (Roman mythology). Hermes carried the wand when escorting souls to the underworld.

“According to legend, Hermes came upon two snakes fighting and thrust his wand between them. The snakes became entwined on the wand and remained attached to it,” said Guiley.

Thus, the wand became a symbol of reconciliation of arguments at the beginning. Later, the Caduceus symbolized immortality because, with a touch of his magic wand, Hermes could put mortals to sleep or raise the dead.

Actually, according to Guiley, the Caduceus pre-dated Greek and Roman mythology because the symbol appeared in Mesopotamia around 2600 B.C. where the serpents represented a god who cured illness.

“The association of the Caduceus with medicine and health was passed from the Middle East to Greek culture. In ancient India, the Caduceus appeared in temples as a symbol of the four elements — the wand (earth), the serpents (fire and water), and the wings (air).”

In Hindu and Buddhist esoteric teachings, the Caduceus represents the transformation of spiritual consciousness through the vehicles of the body’s etheric energy system. The wand represents the spinal column and the two serpents the rising kundalini force, sometimes known as the serpent-power often depicted as coiled and sleeping at the base of the spine.

When the kundalini (serpent) force rises through the two openings of the spinal column, known as the ida and pingala, and reaches the highest psychic center or chakra, known as Sahasrara, a person experiences cosmic consciousness or enlightenment.

In a real sense, this represents true healing.

As for Asclepius, the Greek god of healing, here is how the symbol (with one snake entwined) became associated with him. When he was born, his father, Apollo, entrusted him to the wise and kindly centaur, Chiron, for training.

“Among the healing techniques Chiron taught Asclepius,” according to Lost Secrets of the Mystery Schools by Earlyne Chaney, “was the usefulness of a certain kind of snake which was allowed to lick or touch the afflicted area, bringing a cure. The snake was symbolic of rebirth and eternal life through the cycles of regeneration.”

If our modern doctors will only trace the origins of the symbolisms they use, including the Rx, which originally was derived from the Egyptian Eye of Horus, they will realize the strong connection their profession has with mysticism and magic.

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