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Medical Symbols


SYMBOLS from the Bible and Mythology

The Medical symbol has always intrigued to me and I had wondered how it came about...especially the use of the rod with snake/serpent. Then last year while reading the Bible, I again came across the story about Moses, the pole, staff and a serpent that healed the Israelite...I have read this story many times, however this time a flash came into my head and I asked myself, "is this where the medical symbol came from?"

Moses and the serpent

Moses and the serpent

Moses and the serpent

Numbers 21:8-9

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, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Of course there are more Biblical stories related to poles/staffs and serpents...and outside of the Bible I found many connections with Greek Mythology and Greek god Hermes.

So here I'm covering just a few stories of the origination of this Symbol...I'm sure there are many more out there, and I will be adding them to the Links listed as I find them.

Stainglass by Chantel Pare

Stainglass by Chantel Pare

Stainglass by Chantel Pare


Aesculapius ~ single serpent


The most popular symbol of medicine around the world is the staff with a single serpent (snake) wrapped around it, the staff is called Asklepois (Latin ~ Aesculapius) it was the staff of Asklepois the ancient Greek god of medicine.

In Europe, most Medical Doctors and Clinics use the Aesculapius symbol staff/rod with the wingless one serpent entwined around the staff. The British Royal Army Medical Corps, American Medical Ass. and the Royal Canadian Medical Corps use this symbol of medicine as well as the emblem.

Asklepios ~ double serpent

Asklepios ~ double serpent

Asklepios ~ double serpent

(the Asklepian)

This staff Asklepios (the Asklepian)which has the coiled double serpents with wings ascending to the top is called the Caduceus, both being popular medical symbols in the United States.

The medical Symbol the Caduceus is usually described as the Medical Symbol and equivalent to the Ancient Caduceus with a double serpent, this being of the Greek god Hermes (Latin ~ Mercury)

Actually the medical caduceus is quite modern in origins it's obtained idea was from a well known 19th Century medical publisher's printers mark and not from the ancient caduceus of Hermes.



modern version

The Caduceus symbol is frequently designated as the Medical Caduceus and is described as equivalent with the ancient caduceus with the double serpent staff of the Greek god Hermes Latin ~ noted above for Asklepios module, the design was not from the ancient caduceus. Surprisingly it was adopted by the US Army Medical Corps in the early 20th Century making it then popular.

I also found that the Word Caduceus (Latin) has origin from a Greek word Karykeion (Karyx or Keryx meaning Herald)

The double snake baring caduceus even has a certain resemblance to the DNA symbol called the double helix which is like a coil like twisted-ladder.

Caduceus ~ DNA helix

Caduceus ~ DNA helix



an infulence from caduceus

You will even find this symbol used by the American Veterinary Medical Association...interesting!

According to the Hebrew text

Very interesting!

My Internet friend LaraineRose shared this interesting and informative research she had done, and I have added it to my lens, word for word. Thank You Laraine!

LaraineRose wrote:

I decided to do a bit of research on this interesting subject and here is what I found. I hope that you find it interesting. You may add it to your lens if you want to.

The Israelites kept the copper serpent and later improperly began to worship it, making sacrificial smoke to it. Hence, as part of his religious reforms, Judean King Hezekiah (745-717 B.C.E.) had the more than 700-year-old copper serpent crushed to pieces because the people had made an idol of it. According to the Hebrew text, the account at 2 Kings 18:4 literally reads, "he (one) began to call it Nehushtan." Some translations leave the word "Nehushtan" untranslated. (AT; Ro; RS) In Koehler and Baumgartner's lexicon, suggested meanings of the Hebrew term nechush·tan′ are "bronze serpent" and "serpent-idol of bronze." (Hebräisches und Aramäisches Lexikon zum Alten Testament, Leiden, 1983, p. 653) The New World Translation appropriately says that the copper serpent "used to be called the copper serpent-idol." Jesus Christ made clear the prophetic meaning of the wilderness event involving the copper serpent when he told Nicodemus: "Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven but he that descended from heaven, the Son of man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone believing in him may have everlasting life." (John 3:13-15) Like the copper serpent that Moses placed on a pole in the wilderness, the Son of God was impaled or fastened on a stake, thus appearing to many as an evildoer and a sinner, like a snake, being in the position of one cursed. (De 21:22, 23; Ga 3:13; 1Pe 2:24) In the wilderness a person who had been bitten by one of the poisonous serpents that God sent among the Israelites evidently had to gaze at the copper serpent in faith. Similarly, to gain everlasting life through Christ, it is necessary to exercise faith in him.

Jehovah Witness site

this research was found at a Jehovah Witness site

I realize this is an odd subject, but thought it interesting....and just maybe you at one time thought, how did this symbol come about.

* I'd like to mention that there are many myths, conceptions and misconceptions, some towards evil, other faiths and Masonic belief. My page and research are mostly based on the Bible and meanings in Greek and Latin.

Created 11/03/2008

What you are is God's gift to you, what you do with yourself is your gift to God: Danish Proverb

Now you know ~ just a few of the facts!

Anna from chichester on May 13, 2014:

This is really interesting, you've answered a question that I've often pondered

Shinichi Mine from Tokyo, Japan on February 07, 2014:

How interesting this lens was to read. I always wondered about the symbol.

tonyleather on October 25, 2013:

Interesting Post!

Leroy J Dayhoff from Scottsboro, AL on October 22, 2013:

I encounter medical symbols that depict a snake all the time on my job, and have never even thought about where that came from. I don't know if it has anything to do with the bible verse you quoted, but I'd say that's definitely very possible and what an amazing find on your part.

changrcoacher on July 28, 2013:

Fascinating lens. In Native American Medicine the snake represents Transmutation and Healing. They have the ability to shed their damaged, dirty, dinged, scraped and dented old skin and slither off, all shiny and new. That's CHANGE! So do we.

Remya16 on July 03, 2013:

Hey.. I'm new on Squidoo..

Thank you for commenting on my first lens. It means a lot to me.

This lens that you've created really intrigued me. I've seen this symbol, like many others, but I've never bothered to find out how it actually came about.

Thank you so much for sharing that with us.

LadyDuck on May 16, 2013:

Beautiful instructive lens. I am fascinated by symbols coming from ancient Mythology.

jayavi on March 18, 2013:

Interesting lens. Thanks for sharing.

NoYouAreNot on March 16, 2013:

Some say (and I find it quite plausible) that it is associated with the 7 chakras / energy centers.

kulla on February 27, 2013:

Really interesting. I had always wondered about the wand and serpent symbol. Now thanks to you I know how it originated. Thanks for sharing interesting insights.

anonymous on February 16, 2013:

Thank youj!

KaraAshton on February 03, 2013:

I've never really thought about this medical symbol but I found it very interesting reading your lens. Blessed.

chas65 on January 20, 2013:

I have a couple of antique walking canes from England with a snake carved into the entire length of the cane with the snake winding itself around the cane. They were supposedly used by doctors.

BlogsWriter on January 17, 2013:

This is very interesting, most of the symbols have some hidden meaning and story behind them.

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on January 09, 2013:

Our life is full of symbols and in many cases we don't even realize them. Thanks for your presentation.

Snakesmum on January 02, 2013:

This was interesting, thankyou

LindsayPietrolu on December 06, 2012:

Interesting lens :)

pumpum on December 05, 2012:

Great lens, I learned so much from this lens, Thanks for sharing.

OUTFOXprevention1 on November 04, 2012:

Interesting lens! Symbols tell so much!

Mech from Bosnia and Herzegvina on October 29, 2012:

Excellent lens! Even though I knew most of this, there were still some new information here. You did a thorough research! Kudos!

anonymous on September 16, 2012:

Thank you for your click. I'll be back soon to other

indigomoth from New Zealand on September 14, 2012:

Some very interesting information here. Thanks for your thorough investigation of the topic!

Deadicated LM on September 13, 2012:

Very interesting and well done Lens. Kudos!

olmpal on August 14, 2012:

As a Greek, I knew about the staff of god Hermes and Rod of Asclepius but I found it interesting to be connected with Moses!

raelcalu on July 01, 2012:

i did not know this...thanks for the info!!!

JoshK47 on June 09, 2012:

Quite the fascinating read! Thanks for sharing! Blessed by a SquidAngel. :)

biminibahamas on May 07, 2012:

Wonderful lens, great information!

TheDeeperWell on April 03, 2012:

Have you noticed how this symbol is also a representation of the twining coils of DNA? It is not just symbolism.

lesliesinclair on March 20, 2012:

As an artist in whose huge painting this symbol was prominent, I, too, wondered about its origin. You have shed light on an elusive subject. Interesting

Delia (author) on March 08, 2012:

@MrWidemouth: That's interesting, I vaguely remember reading something to that effect, I'll have to look it up again...Thanks for the info!

MrWidemouth on March 08, 2012:

Good study! Did you know that the single snake represents Christ taking our place on the cross for sin but the double snake is a demonic symbol? It represents witchcraft and pharmacy as well as deception in business. If you search "baphomet" under images you will see how disturbing it is. Cheers.

anonymous on March 03, 2012:

Nice spot. unfortunately doesn't seem to operating to heal, always looking to tell us we have something or other

ourmarket on March 01, 2012:

Very interesting reading love the lens

jstarley on March 01, 2012:

I'm not sure either how this symbol came about. My chiropractor has a small statue of the archangel Michael holding the staff with snakes and I've always thought it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. Great lens! Thanks!

goo2eyes lm on February 06, 2012:

what is more fitting than some squidangel *blessings*.

Edwardjames81 on February 05, 2012:

An interesting lens and a good read.

Barbara Isbill from New Market Tn 37820 on January 30, 2012:

This is a very interesting lens. Thumbs up!

oxfordian on January 15, 2012:

I think it's really interesting too. I love learning things like this. (I even went to to make sure I was pronouncing the terms correctly!) Thanks so much.

goo2eyes lm on December 13, 2011:

i know about aaron's stab which moses turned into a snake when the pharaoh was challenging him. i never related this to the medical symbol but you are right. you have quality and informative lenses. thank you for opening my eyes.

K Bechand from NY on November 15, 2011:

interesting - never knew where it came from and I work in medical field ... hmmm

Iudit Gherghiteanu from Ozun on October 30, 2011:

Everything is so new to me, i knew about Hypocrate's symbol, but this is obviously the original symbol, thanks for the info and a lot of work.

anonymous on October 22, 2011:

Great learning lens :)

anonymous on September 25, 2011:

aww.. i never get this kind information before..

two thumbs up! :D

vauldine on July 07, 2011:

I ama metaphysical Christian which means I was tauight to interpret the bibile beyong lierasl meaning. Therefore, this is highly significant of a state of human consciouness related to the five senses which needs to be spiritualized into Godness. Thanks for sharing this is awesome theogical research.

KimGiancaterino on July 05, 2011:

I've never seen so many expressions of the medical symbol in one place. Beautifully done!

traveller27 on July 03, 2011:

Beautiful lens - love the images.

Delia (author) on July 02, 2011:

@Cinnamonbite: Very interesting...thanks for sharing...being a Christian I believe God created the Universe even mentioning Astrology/Stars in the Old Testament...Ptolemy was born c AD 90 a long time after the writing of the O.T. None-the-less it's interesting both ways...?

Cinnamonbite on July 02, 2011:

The medical symbol is represented by the constellation, Ophiuchus, one of the 48 constellations listed by the 2nd-century astronomer Ptolemy. It used to be an astrological sign but, over time, the sky and our planet has shifted some. Instead of coming to the sensible conclusion that astronomy is not real science, they just took Ophiuchus out of the equation. Ophiuchus represents the healer, Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing. His daughters are Hygiene, Medicine, Healing, Healthy Glow, and Panacea. The rod of Asclepius, a snake-entwined staff, remains a symbol of medicine today, although sometimes the caduceus, or staff with two snakes, is mistakenly used instead.

anonymous on June 19, 2011:

Symbol means so much and sometimes they tell it all in just symbols. Great way of depicting this topic in this lens.

Runnn on June 07, 2011:

Now I know the history of the symbol. Thanks for sharing.

sushilkin lm on June 05, 2011:

Nice to read about Medical Symbol. I Like it more than red + sign.

itsmuzza2011 on May 26, 2011:

what a very good and interesting lens, well done i loved it

healthybloggerbeth on May 13, 2011:

That's really interesting! I never knew about the printer's mark...

anonymous on May 10, 2011:

Ya I always thought about the sign that from where it comes from..thank u friend for this lens...

elyria on May 03, 2011:

Very interesting Lens!

Liz Mackay from United Kingdom on May 03, 2011:

Interesting and informative lens. Blessed by a squid angel

tssfacts on April 28, 2011:

Coming from the medical background this question comes up a lot. You have given a nice review on this one symbol. Great job.

GetSillyProduct on March 31, 2011:

wow, this is one of those things that you just take for granted until someone asks why. What a great lens! I love when I come on squidoo and learn something!

MasterPsycho from Earth on March 23, 2011:

And a correction if i may propose.....Wherever you say greco-roman...change it to just Greek......Romans just copied Greek civilization...So if you want to be historically accurate please make the change

MasterPsycho from Earth on March 23, 2011:

Many variations of the basic staff and serpent symbol....really interesting....i didn't know there were so many.......

jvsper63 on March 22, 2011:

You got me pretty curious myself. It sounds like a possibility,although I have never heard of that. Good Question.:) Great Topic and Lens Joni

antoivo lm on March 20, 2011:

Very interesting but i think a lot of people may have different beliefs on were this actually stems from I think.

VarietyWriter2 on March 16, 2011:

Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

tareen63 on March 05, 2011:

@kougar lm: What a great lens!

Really amazing!I wondered to read this.

Really an informative lens.Thank you very much.

kougar lm on February 12, 2011:

Very interesting lens. Coming from the medical field and loving mythology made it extra fun for me. Thank-you

Positivevibestechnician on February 10, 2011:

very interesting lens thank you for posting it

Philippians468 on February 02, 2011:

thank you for this interesting lens! found your biblical reference accurate! cheers

worthim on January 31, 2011:

Interesting indeed...

Overtrack on January 30, 2011:

Very interesting.

anonymous on January 20, 2011:

ah...thanks for your lens now I know what is all about....I always wonder what is the symbols mean

jojokaya lm on January 19, 2011:

nice lens and great info

scar4 on January 09, 2011:

Funny, I just heard the story about medical symbols, hope to learn more here.

jackieb99 on January 09, 2011:

Very interesting...I was just talking about the serpent and the staff with some friends the other day.

peteriannuzzi on January 02, 2011:


ChrisDay LM on December 27, 2010:

Symbolism is fascinating - thanks

hotbrain from Tacoma, WA on December 26, 2010:

Wow - Awesome information! Squidoo angel blessed :)

Stephen Carr from Corona, CA on December 21, 2010:

Have visited more of your lenses. Stumbled upon this one. Great lens! I really enjoyed the facts and history about the symbols.

John Norman Stewart from Cottonwood, CA on December 11, 2010:

Hi D: I found this lens to be very informative. Thanks for sharing the info. I had forgotten about Moses and the gold snake staff. :)

sukkran trichy from Trichy/Tamil Nadu on December 04, 2010:

informative lens. lens rolled

redpillpuppet on December 02, 2010:

Very interesting, I like symbolism and history.

Coffeebreak9am on November 20, 2010:

Wow This was so interesting. Thank you.

anonymous on November 07, 2010:

Fascinating, a lot of the time we just accept things without questioning their origin.

howdoyouspellst on October 24, 2010:

Very interesting information! Thanks!

emmaklarkins on October 13, 2010:

Great information I've never heard before! Blessed by a Squidoo Angel!

ChristopherPick on October 06, 2010:

Good one. The symbolism goes back into India as well. The rod representing the spine and the cord, the serpents the nerves either side, and the wings at the top the two hemispheres.

NarrowPathPubli on October 02, 2010:

Fascinating! I've read the Moses story over and over...being Jewish I read it every Passover if not more often...and somehow never noticed the serpent reference. Nice to know not all serpents are evil LOL. Anyway the rest of the article was equally fascinating.

Twmarsh on September 28, 2010:

Yes, this may be a bit of an odd subject, but I think that's what makes it an interesting topic for a lens. Well done!

KokoTravel on September 26, 2010:

I'm a nurse and I wasn't aware of some of this.... Thanks, you educated me...

anonymous on September 19, 2010:

Congratulations on your 4 year anniversary on Squidoo. That's so cool, and so are you!

hlkljgk from Western Mass on September 13, 2010:

thanks for the info. :)

VarietyWriter2 on September 12, 2010:

Geez, I learn something new on Squidoo every medical signs :)

poutine on September 09, 2010:

I never thought about it before...

But thanks for all the info, very interesting.

Pete D on September 07, 2010:

Nice lens. Very interesting, I enjoyed it.

RuthieDenise on September 02, 2010:

Very interesting. I had not thought about connecting the symbol with the serpent on a pole in the Bible. It makes sense.

JoleneBelmain on August 18, 2010:

Nice :) I hope you are having a great summer.

anonymous on August 17, 2010:

Wow! I really enjoyed this, your images are great, and the modules you have put together pull it all together. Beautiful.

anonymous on August 15, 2010:

Fascinating handling of a topic that's shrouded in mystique and symbolism - really good read - thanks

Delia (author) on July 09, 2010:

@norma-holt: Thank You for the lens Blessing!

Delia (author) on July 09, 2010:

@anonymous: Very good! Thank You for your contribution.

anonymous on July 09, 2010:

John 3:14 explains the prophetic purpose of the Mosaic brass serpent. Brass is the metal that was used in connection with judgement,(it can take the heat of fire) and Christ became (our) sin and hung on a post of wood. Those who looked to it were (are) healed.

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