CADUCEUS VS ESCLEPIUS

​ESCLEPIUS OPHIUCUS Secret 13th sign http://www.miscellanies.org/eng3993/students/mag1/asclepius.html

Aliearia

[1] The Caduceus of Mercury (Roman) and the Karykeion of Hermes (Greek)Many “medical” organisations use a symbol of a short rod entwined by two snakes and topped by a pair of wings, which is actually the caduceus or magic wand of the Greek god Hermes (Roman Mercury), messenger of the gods, inventor of (magical) incantations, conductor of the dead and protector of merchants and thieves. It is derived from the Greek karykeion = “herald’s staff”, itself based on the word “eruko” meaning restrain, control.

It is interesting to see that most of organisations using this symbol are generally either commercial or military (or American). New Zealand examples include drug and pharmaceutical companies. A study by Friedlander confirms this impression.

The link between the caduceus of Hermes (Mercury) and medicine seems to have arisen by the seventh century A.D., when Hermes had come to be linked with alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as the sons of Hermes, as Hermetists or Hermeticists and as “practitioners of the hermetic arts”. There are clear occult associations with the caduceus.

The caduceus was the magic staff of Hermes (Mercury), the god of commerce, eloquence, invention, travel and theft, and so was a symbol of heralds and commerce, not medicine. The words caduity & caducous imply temporality, perishableness and senility, while the medical profession espouses renewal, vitality and health.

 

[2] The Staff of Asclepius (Æsclepius, Asklepios) 
      [Personification of Medical or healing Art and its ideals]

Professional and patient centred organisations (such as the NZMA, in fact most medical Associations around the world including the World Health Organization) use the “correct” and traditional symbol of medicine, the staff of Asclepius with a single serpent encircling a staff, classically a rough-hewn knotty tree limb. Asclepius (an ancient greek physician deified as the god of medicine) is traditionally depicted as a bearded man wearing a robe that leaves his chest uncovered and holding a staff with his sacred single serpent coiled around it, (example right) symbolizing renewal of youth as the serpent casts off its skin. The single serpent staff also appears on a Sumerian vase of c. 2000 B.C. representing the healing god Ningishita, the prototype of the Greek Asklepios. However, there is a more practical origin postulated which makes sense [See Dracunculus medinensis].

 

Asclepius and his staff

Statue of Askleppios
at Guys Hospital

Who was Asclepius? Asclepius was most probably a skilled physician who practised in Greece around 1200BC (and described in Homer’s Iliad). Eventually through myth and legend he came to be worshipped as Asclepius, the (Greek) god of Healing. [See BBC reference]

Medical schools developed, which were usually connected to temples or shrines called Asclepions (Asclepieia) dedicated to Asclepius. The Asclepion became very important in Greek society. Patients believed they could be cured by sleeping in them. They would visit, offering gifts and sacrifices to the god, and be treated by priest healers (called the Asclepiadae). The worship of Asclepius spread to Rome and continued as late as the sixth century.

The Asclepiadae were a large order of priest physicians who controlled the sacred secrets of healing, which were passed from father to son. Harmless Aesculapian snakes were kept in the combination hospital-temples built by the ancient Greeks and, later, by the Romans in honor of the god. The snakes are found not only in their original range of southern Europe, but also in the various places in Germany and Austria where Roman temples had been established. Escaped snakes survived and flourished.

Smooth, glossy, and slender, the snake has a uniformly brown back with a streak of darker color behind the eyes. The snake’s belly is yellowish or whitish and has ridged scales that catch easily on rough surfaces, making it especially adapted for climbing trees. Scientific classification: The Aesculapian snake belongs to the family Colubridae. It is classified as Elaphe longissima.

The Myth: Asclepius is the god of Healing. He is the son of Apollo and the nymph, Coronis. While pregnant with Asclepius, Coronis secretly took a second, mortal lover. When Apollo found out, he sent Artemis to kill her. While burning on the funeral pyre, Apollo felt pity and rescued the unborn child from the corpse. Asclepius was taught about medicine and healing by the wise centaur, Cheiron, and became so skilled in it that he succeeded in bringing one of his patients back from the dead. Zeus felt that the immortality of the Gods was threatened and killed the healer with a thunderbolt. At Apollo’s request, Asclepius was placed among the stars as Ophiuchus, the serpent-bearer.

MeditrineHygeia and Panacea: The children of Asclepius included his daughters Meditrina, Hygeia and Panacea who were symbols of medicine, hygiene and healing (literally, “all healing”) respectively. Two of the sons of Asclepius appeared in Homer’s Illiad as physicians in the Greek army (Machaon and Podalirius).

Note that the classic Hippocratice Oath is sworn “by Apollo the physician, by Æsculapius, Hygeia, and Panacea, …..”

The probable medical origin of the single serpent around a rod: In ancient times infection by parasitic worms was common. The filarial worm Dracunculus medinensis aka “the fiery serpent”, aka “the dragon of Medina” aka “the guinea worm” crawled around the victim’s body, just under the skin. Physicians treated this infection by cutting a slit in the patient’s skin, just in front of the worm’s path. As the worm crawled out the cut, the physician carefully wound the pest around a stick until the entire animal had been removed. It is believed that because this type of infection was so common, physicians advertised their services by displaying a sign with the worm on a stick. [See graphic photos -not for the faint-hearted or Benjamin.]

The staff as a Medical symbol: From the early 16th century onwards, the staff of Asclepius and the caduceus of Hermes were widely used as printers’ marks especially as frontispieces to pharmacopoeias in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over time the rod and serpent (the Asclepian staff) emerged as an independent symbol of medicine.

Despite the unequivocal claim of the staff of Asclepius to represent medicine (and healing), the caduceus, a rod with two entwined serpents topped by a pair of wings appears to be the more popular symbol of medicine in the United States, probably due to simple confusion between the caduceus and the staff of Asclepius, the true symbol of medicine. Many people use the word caduceus to mean both of these emblems.

CMA
 

NZMA
 

Medical Council
 

WHO
 

The Caduceus of Hermes

The Greek Hermes found his analogue in Egypt as the ancient Wisdom god Thoth, as Taaut of the Phoenicians and in Rome as the god Mercury (all linked with a magic rod with twin snakes).

The mythical origin of his magic twin serpent caduceus is described in the story of Tiresias. Poulenc, in “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” (The Breasts of Tiresias) tells how Tiresias–the seer who was so unhelpful to Oepidus and Family- found two snakes copulating, and to separate them stuck his staff between them. Immediately he was turned into a woman, and remained so for seven years, until he was able to repeat his action, and change back to male. The transformative power in this story, strong enough to completely reverse even physical polarities of male and female, comes from the union of the two serpents, passed on by the wand. Tiresias’ staff, complete with serpents, was later passed on to Hermes…

Occult Hermetic Connection: An occult description of the Caduceus of Hermes (Mercury) is that the serpents may represent positive and negative kundalini as it moves through the chakras and around the spine (the staff) to the head where it communicates with MIND by intellection, the domain of Mercury [wings].

Caduceus Power Wand: This wand is sold at occult, new age & witchcraft stores such as Abaxion with descriptions such as “It’s central phallic rod represents the potentiality of the masculine, and is initmately surrounded by the writhing, woven shakti energies of two coupling serpents. The rod also represents the spine [sushumna] while the serpents conduct spiritual currents [pranas] along the ida and pingala channels in a double helix pattern from the chakra at the base of the spine up to the pineal gland”.

According to occultists, there are three principal nadis (Sanskrit for channel) in the human body. The sushumna (the spinal column through which the life-forces flow), by which means we enter and leave the body, the Ida (refreshment and stimulation of spirit), which is associated with the higher mind or manas and the Pingala, (reddish-brown), associated with kama or the force of desire. (G. de Purucker “Man in Evolution” ch. 15 & 16; and “Fountain-Source of Occultism”, pp. 458-63).

Hermetic: There are few names to which more diverse persons and disciplines lay claim than the term “Hermetic”. Alchemists have applied the adjective “Hermetic” to their art, while magicians (not the entertaining type) attach the name to their ceremonies of evocation and invocation. Followers of Meister Eckhart, Raymond Lull, Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme, and most recently Valentin Tomberg are joined by academic scholars of esoterica, all of whom attach the word “Hermetic” to their activities.

The most abiding impact of Hermeticism on Western culture came about by way of the heterodox mystical, or occult, tradition. Renaissance occultism, with its alchemy, astrology, ceremonial magic, and occult medicine, became saturated with the teachings of the Hermetic books. This content has remained a permanent part of the occult transmissions of the West, and, along with Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, represents the foundation of all the major Western occult currents. Hermetic elements are demonstrably present in the Rosicrucian and Theosophical movements.

The caduceus in pseudo-science: There are amazing claims that a Cadeuceus Power Wand has zero impedance and infinite resonance! -check it out here .

The caduceus as a Medical symbol: The link between Hermes and his caduceus and medicine seems to have arisen by Hermes links with alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as the sons of Hermes, as Hermetists or Hermeticists and as “practitioners of the hermetic arts”. By the end of the sixteenth century, the study of alchemy included not only medicine and pharmaceuticals but chemistry, mining and metallurgy. Despite learned opinion that it is the single snake staff of Asclepius that is the proper symbol of medicine, many medical groups have adopted the twin serpent caduceus of Hermes or Mercury as a medical symbol during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Like the staff of Asclepius, the caduceus became associated with medicine through its use as a printer’s mark, as printers saw themselves as messengers of the printed word and diffusers of knowledge (hence the choice of the symbol of the messenger of the ancient gods). A major reason for the current popularity of the caduceus as a medical symbol was its illinformed [03] official adoption as the insignia for the Medical Department of the United States Army in 1902.

Medcorp
 

IUPS
 

Pagan symbol


 

Friedlander

Friedlander surveyed 242 logos or insignias of American organizations relating to health or medicine in which the caduceus or staff of Asclepius formed an integral part dating from the late 1970s to early 1980s. He found that professional associations were more likely to use the staff of Asclepius (62%) while commercial organizations were more likely to use the caduceus (76%). The exception is for hospitals, where only 37% used a staff of Asclepius versus 63% for the caduceus [but remember that US hospitals are usually commercial ventures]. Friedlander notes that while the prevalent use of the caduceus for the commercial aspects of medicine might be seen as “more-or-less appropriate”, he thinks the reason is that professional associations are more likely to have a real understanding of the two symbols, whereas commercial organizations are more likely to be concerned with the visual impact a symbol will have in selling their products. Friedlander, Walter J. The Golden Wand of Medicine: A History of the Caduceus Symbol in Medicine.” New York, Greenwood, 1992

Further information on the two symbol confusion at:
[01] Bruce Grainger “A Survey of Symbols of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine” and 
[02] Darren Nichols “Walk Among Gods -The Symbols of Medicine” and more recently, 
[03] Wilcox, Robert A and Whitham, Emma M “The Symbol of Modern Medicine: Why One Snake Is More Than Two” Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:673-677. www.annals.org

 

And to add some biblical confusion, we have:

And the Lord said unto him [Moses], What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand and caught it and it became a rod in his hand. Exodus 4:2-4


The Brazen Serpent
[Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld 1851-60)]

And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten [by a sepent], when he looketh upon it, shall live. Numbers 21:8. The etching “The Brazen Serpent” (to the right) by Schnorr von Carolsfeld shows this as only one snake, suggesting he interpreted this as a medical rather than mystical or magical symbol.

Apparently an Israelite cult subsequently formed worshipping Nehush’tan, the serpent Moses made (apparently twin snake images were inscibed on standards of the time) but the cult was eventually suppressed (over 600 years later) by King Hezekiah – “He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan (2 Kings 18:4).

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. 
John 3:14-15

Now just in case you thought you had it all sorted out about which was the “good” symbol…. nothing is that simple, take a look at this interesting painting of Adam & Eve…….

In Memoriam: Asclepius

The community is grieving today over the loss of one of our most beloved. Though no one seems to agree whether he was born a god, he had definitely become a hero and a god. Asclepius, son of Apollo and the late Coronis, died in a tragic mishap over the weekend. The hero, well known for his extraordinary healing powers, will be forever remembered as Ophiuchus in the sky. It is believed that Zeus acted in haste, for he has now been quoted as saying Asclepius will become the god of healing and medicine.Asclepius emerged as a bit of a mystery early on. Apollo fell in love with the mortal woman Coronis (daughter of King Phlegyas of Thessaly). While she was in the family way, she either had an affair with or married Ischys. A crow flew to tell Apollo, but word had already arrived. In a moment of rage, he turned the white feathers of the crow black and they remain that way to this day. But, I digress. Depending on which story you believe, either Apollo, mad with rage (and jealousy I presume) killed Coronis, or Artemis killed her with an arrow to avenge Apollo’s pride. It has also been questioned as to whether Coronis was killed just before or just after Asclepius was born. Most of the elders agree that Coronis died before he was born. While the funeral pyre was being built, his grief-stricken father performed the first Caesarian surgery to save Asclepius.

Asclepius began his wonderful healing and medicine practices under the watchful eye of the centaur Chiron. He excelled in healing and became a great surgeon. His skill is testified to by the many whom have benefited from his healing powers. Some of the more famous include Heraieus of Mytliline, whose bald head will no longer be seen. After having his head anointed while sleeping at Epidaurus, (Asclepius’ most famous shrine), he now has a full head of hair! Hermodikos of Lampsakos suffered a far worse ailment, having an abcess in his chest and paralysis of his arms. He too was healed at Epidaurus. A final story is that of Hermon the Thasion. Asclepius cured his blindness, but he did not leave the customary offering representing the healed body part. Asclepius returned his blindness until he revisited and spent another night at the shrine.

Epidaurus was a beautiful place for healing to occur. Snakes were an important part of the healing rituals. They were often left in the shrine overnight, and many people saw snakes in their healing dreams. In remembrance of Asclepius and his great works, the new medical association set about making plans to use his symbol, the serpent coiled around a resting staff, as the basis for the emblem of their association and profession. However the caduceus they chose to use is actually the magic wand of Hermes.

It was rumored that Asclepius had the power to cure, the power to raise the dead, and the power to bring about death. Athena had given Asclepius two separate vials of blood from the Gorgon. The blood from the left side was a deadly poison, whereas the blood from the right side could be used to perform miraculous healing. In fact, he used this wondrous potion to raise the dead on several occasions. But in helping Artemis on such an occasion he offended his grandfather Zeus, which lead to his demise.

Even though the final results of the investigation into his death have not been released, there appears to be two main viewpoints on exactly what happened. The stories seem to agree that Artemis asked Asclepius to resurrect one of her favorites Hippolytus. Then the conflict begins. Some witnesses say that Hades was becoming fearful of losing clients and appealed to Zeus to do something about it. However, other witnesses state that Asclepius took money for raising Hippolytus from the dead, which offended Zeus. All witnesses agree that Zeus was extremely upset and struck Asclepius down with one of his thunderbolts. However, there is some confusion about the fate of Hippolytus: some believe he was stricken down by the same thunderbolt, while others believe he was left alone.

Asclepius’ legacy will live on for a long while. His healing centers will be closed so everyone can attend memorial services on Wednesday, but will remain open to continue his good work through his status of a god. There is some irony in his death. If it is determined that he was born a god, it will make Asclepius the first god to die a mortal death. Some say it is fitting for the god of healing to be the only god to die.

Asclepius is survived by his father Apollo, grandfather Zeus, aunt Artemis, and his children. Some say he has five daughters, Aceso, Iaso, Panacea, Aglaea and Hygieia. Others tell of his two sons, Machaon and Podalirius. His life was full of awesome events, yet shrouded with mystery as to the truths in his personal life.


Works Cited

  1. “Asklepieion.” Atlantic Baptist University. September 27, 2000. http://www.abu.nb.ca/courses/pauline/images/Asklepieion.htm.
  2. Ferguson, John. Greek and Roman Religion: A Source Book. Park Ridge, NJ: Noyes Press, 1980.
  3. Graves, Robert. The Greek Myths. New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1955.
  4. Guthrie, W.K.C. The Greeks and Their Gods. Boston: Beacon Press, 1951.
  5. Leadbetter, Ron. “Asclepius.”Encyclopedia Mythica. Pantheon organization. September 27, 2000. http://www.pantheon.org/mythica/articles/a/asclepius.html.
  6. Meier, C. A. Ancient Incubation and Modern Psychotherapy. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press, 1967.
  7. “Ophiuchus.” The Peoria Astronomical Society. Fall 2000. Peoria Astronomical Society. September 27, 2000.http://www.astronomical.org/constellations/oph.html.
  8. Powell, Barry B. Classical Myth. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1998.
  9. Rose, H. J. A Handbook of Greek Mythology, Including Its Extension to Rome. New York: E.P. Dutton and Company Publishers, 1929.
  10. “Sanctuary of Asklepios at Ancient Epidaurus.” Hellenic Culture. Hellenic Ministry of Culture. September 27, 2000.http://www.culture.gr/2/21/211/21104a/e211da03.html.

 

The Caduceus of Hermes

The Greek Hermes found his analogue in Egypt as the ancient Wisdom god Thoth, as Taaut of the Phoenicians and in Rome as the god Mercury (all linked with a magic rod with twin snakes).

The mythical origin of his magic twin serpent caduceus is described in the story of Tiresias. Poulenc, in “Les Mamelles de Tiresias” (The Breasts of Tiresias) tells how Tiresias–the seer who was so unhelpful to Oepidus and Family- found two snakes copulating, and to separate them stuck his staff between them. Immediately he was turned into a woman, and remained so for seven years, until he was able to repeat his action, and change back to male. The transformative power in this story, strong enough to completely reverse even physical polarities of male and female, comes from the union of the two serpents, passed on by the wand. Tiresias’ staff, complete with serpents, was later passed on to Hermes…

Occult Hermetic Connection: An occult description of the Caduceus of Hermes (Mercury) is that the serpents may represent positive and negative kundalini as it moves through the chakras and around the spine (the staff) to the head where it communicates with MIND by intellection, the domain of Mercury [wings].

Caduceus Power Wand: This wand is sold at occult, new age & witchcraft stores such as Abaxion with descriptions such as “It’s central phallic rod represents the potentiality of the masculine, and is initmately surrounded by the writhing, woven shakti energies of two coupling serpents. The rod also represents the spine [sushumna] while the serpents conduct spiritual currents [pranas] along the ida and pingala channels in a double helix pattern from the chakra at the base of the spine up to the pineal gland”.

According to occultists, there are three principal nadis (Sanskrit for channel) in the human body. The sushumna (the spinal column through which the life-forces flow), by which means we enter and leave the body, the Ida (refreshment and stimulation of spirit), which is associated with the higher mind or manas and the Pingala, (reddish-brown), associated with kama or the force of desire. (G. de Purucker “Man in Evolution” ch. 15 & 16; and “Fountain-Source of Occultism”, pp. 458-63).

Hermetic: There are few names to which more diverse persons and disciplines lay claim than the term “Hermetic”. Alchemists have applied the adjective “Hermetic” to their art, while magicians (not the entertaining type) attach the name to their ceremonies of evocation and invocation. Followers of Meister Eckhart, Raymond Lull, Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme, and most recently Valentin Tomberg are joined by academic scholars of esoterica, all of whom attach the word “Hermetic” to their activities.

The most abiding impact of Hermeticism on Western culture came about by way of the heterodox mystical, or occult, tradition. Renaissance occultism, with its alchemy, astrology, ceremonial magic, and occult medicine, became saturated with the teachings of the Hermetic books. This content has remained a permanent part of the occult transmissions of the West, and, along with Gnosticism and Neoplatonism, represents the foundation of all the major Western occult currents. Hermetic elements are demonstrably present in the Rosicrucian and Theosophical movements.

The caduceus in pseudo-science: There are amazing claims that a Cadeuceus Power Wand has zero impedance and infinite resonance! -check it out here .

The caduceus as a Medical symbol: The link between Hermes and his caduceus and medicine seems to have arisen by Hermes links with alchemy. Alchemists were referred to as the sons of Hermes, as Hermetists or Hermeticists and as “practitioners of the hermetic arts”. By the end of the sixteenth century, the study of alchemy included not only medicine and pharmaceuticals but chemistry, mining and metallurgy. Despite learned opinion that it is the single snake staff of Asclepius that is the proper symbol of medicine, many medical groups have adopted the twin serpent caduceus of Hermes or Mercury as a medical symbol during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Like the staff of Asclepius, the caduceus became associated with medicine through its use as a printer’s mark, as printers saw themselves as messengers of the printed word and diffusers of knowledge (hence the choice of the symbol of the messenger of the ancient gods). A major reason for the current popularity of the caduceus as a medical symbol was its illinformed [03] official adoption as the insignia for the Medical Department of the United States Army in 1902.

Medcorp
 

IUPS
 

Pagan symbol


 

Friedlander

Friedlander surveyed 242 logos or insignias of American organizations relating to health or medicine in which the caduceus or staff of Asclepius formed an integral part dating from the late 1970s to early 1980s. He found that professional associations were more likely to use the staff of Asclepius (62%) while commercial organizations were more likely to use the caduceus (76%). The exception is for hospitals, where only 37% used a staff of Asclepius versus 63% for the caduceus [but remember that US hospitals are usually commercial ventures]. Friedlander notes that while the prevalent use of the caduceus for the commercial aspects of medicine might be seen as “more-or-less appropriate”, he thinks the reason is that professional associations are more likely to have a real understanding of the two symbols, whereas commercial organizations are more likely to be concerned with the visual impact a symbol will have in selling their products. Friedlander, Walter J. The Golden Wand of Medicine: A History of the Caduceus Symbol in Medicine.” New York, Greenwood, 1992

Further information on the two symbol confusion at:
[01] Bruce Grainger “A Survey of Symbols of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine” and 
[02] Darren Nichols “Walk Among Gods -The Symbols of Medicine” and more recently, 
[03] Wilcox, Robert A and Whitham, Emma M “The Symbol of Modern Medicine: Why One Snake Is More Than Two” Ann Intern Med. 2003;138:673-677. www.annals.org

 

And to add some biblical confusion, we have:

And the Lord said unto him [Moses], What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand and caught it and it became a rod in his hand. Exodus 4:2-4


The Brazen Serpent
[Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld 1851-60)]

And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten [by a sepent], when he looketh upon it, shall live. Numbers 21:8. The etching “The Brazen Serpent” (to the right) by Schnorr von Carolsfeld shows this as only one snake, suggesting he interpreted this as a medical rather than mystical or magical symbol.

Apparently an Israelite cult subsequently formed worshipping Nehush’tan, the serpent Moses made (apparently twin snake images were inscibed on standards of the time) but the cult was eventually suppressed (over 600 years later) by King Hezekiah – “He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan (2 Kings 18:4).

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up. 
John 3:14-15

Now just in case you thought you had it all sorted out about which was the “good” symbol…. nothing is that simple, take a look at this interesting painting of Adam & Eve…….

Permission to 

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