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Medical Symbols

Updated on April 25, 2016

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 and snakes. 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 many 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

(Latin~Asclepius)

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.

Caduceus

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 ~ Mercury...as 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

AVMA

an infulence from caduceus

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

Learn about Medical symbols and more...

This would make a great gift to a Medical Student.

Set of 3 Medical Symbol Lapel Pin #121
Set of 3 Medical Symbol Lapel Pin #121

Well this certainly can identify you!!!

 
Sterling Silver Caduceus Charm Medical Symbol, 1 inch tall
Sterling Silver Caduceus Charm Medical Symbol, 1 inch tall

I like this and can see this being worn by a Doctor or Nurse or even someone who is going through Med.school

 
Snakes in bronze
Snakes in bronze

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 http://wol.jw.org/zu/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001031

Stedman's Medical Abbreviations, Acronyms and Symbols, Fourth Edition on CD-ROM
Stedman's Medical Abbreviations, Acronyms and Symbols, Fourth Edition on CD-ROM

Stedman's Medical Books seem to be on the top of popularity on this subject, here you can get it on CD-ROM

 

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!

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    • tazzytamar profile image

      Anna 2 years ago from chichester

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

    • smine27 profile image

      Shinichi Mine 3 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

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

    • profile image

      tonyleather 3 years ago

      Interesting Post!

    • j3st3r profile image

      Leroy J Dayhoff 3 years ago from Scottsboro, AL

      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.

    • profile image

      changrcoacher 3 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Remya16 3 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      LadyDuck 3 years ago

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

    • jayavi profile image

      jayavi 4 years ago

      Interesting lens. Thanks for sharing.

    • NoYouAreNot profile image

      NoYouAreNot 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      kulla 4 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank youj!

    • profile image

      KaraAshton 4 years ago

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

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 4 years ago

      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 profile image

      BlogsWriter 4 years ago

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

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

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

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      This was interesting, thankyou

    • LindsayPietrolu profile image

      LindsayPietrolu 4 years ago

      Interesting lens :)

    • pumpum profile image

      pumpum 4 years ago

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

    • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image

      OUTFOXprevention1 4 years ago

      Interesting lens! Symbols tell so much!

    • mechanicaleye profile image

      Eda Škulj 4 years ago from Bosnia and Herzegvina

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

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

    • indigomoth profile image

      indigomoth 4 years ago from New Zealand

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

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 4 years ago

      Very interesting and well done Lens. Kudos!

    • profile image

      olmpal 4 years ago

      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 profile image

      raelcalu 4 years ago

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

    • profile image

      JoshK47 4 years ago

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

    • biminibahamas profile image

      biminibahamas 4 years ago

      Wonderful lens, great information!

    • profile image

      TheDeeperWell 4 years ago

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

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 5 years ago

      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-delia profile image
      Author

      Delia 5 years ago

      @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 profile image

      MrWidemouth 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      ourmarket 5 years ago

      Very interesting reading love the lens

    • jstarley profile image

      jstarley 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      what is more fitting than some squidangel *blessings*.

    • Edwardjames81 profile image

      Edwardjames81 5 years ago

      An interesting lens and a good read.

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 5 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      This is a very interesting lens. Thumbs up!

    • oxfordian profile image

      oxfordian 5 years ago

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

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      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.

    • bechand profile image

      bechand 5 years ago

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

    • juditpaton profile image

      Iudit Gherghiteanu 5 years ago from Ozun

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great learning lens :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

      two thumbs up! :D

    • vauldine profile image

      vauldine 5 years ago

      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 profile image

      KimGiancaterino 5 years ago

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

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens - love the images.

    • delia-delia profile image
      Author

      Delia 5 years ago

      @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 profile image

      Cinnamonbite 5 years ago

      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.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Runnn 5 years ago

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

    • sushilkin lm profile image

      sushilkin lm 5 years ago

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

    • itsmuzza2011 profile image

      itsmuzza2011 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      healthybloggerbeth 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

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

    • elyria profile image

      elyria 5 years ago

      Very interesting Lens!

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Interesting and informative lens. Blessed by a squid angel

    • profile image

      tssfacts 5 years ago

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

    • profile image

      GetSillyProduct 5 years ago

      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!

    • Psycho-Gamer profile image

      MasterPsycho 6 years ago from Earth

      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

    • Psycho-Gamer profile image

      MasterPsycho 6 years ago from Earth

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

    • jvsper63 profile image

      jvsper63 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      antoivo lm 6 years ago

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

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • profile image

      tareen63 6 years ago

      @kougar lm: What a great lens!

      Really amazing!I wondered to read this.

      Really an informative lens.Thank you very much.

    • kougar lm profile image

      kougar lm 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Positivevibestechnician 6 years ago

      very interesting lens thank you for posting it

    • Philippians468 profile image

      Philippians468 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      worthim 6 years ago

      Interesting indeed...

    • profile image

      Overtrack 6 years ago

      Very interesting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

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

    • jojokaya lm profile image

      jojokaya lm 6 years ago

      nice lens and great info

    • profile image

      scar4 6 years ago

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

    • jackieb99 profile image

      jackieb99 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      peteriannuzzi 6 years ago

      awesome

    • ChrisDay LM profile image

      ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

      Symbolism is fascinating - thanks

    • hotbrain profile image

      hotbrain 6 years ago from Tacoma, WA

      Wow - Awesome information! Squidoo angel blessed :)

    • stephenteacher profile image

      Stephen Carr 6 years ago from Corona, CA

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

    • jnstewart profile image

      John Norman Stewart 6 years ago from Cottonwood, CA

      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 profile image

      sukkran trichy 6 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      informative lens. lens rolled

    • profile image

      redpillpuppet 6 years ago

      Very interesting, I like symbolism and history.

    • Coffeebreak9am profile image

      Coffeebreak9am 6 years ago

      Wow This was so interesting. Thank you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

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

    • howdoyouspellst profile image

      howdoyouspellst 6 years ago

      Very interesting information! Thanks!

    • emmaklarkins profile image

      emmaklarkins 6 years ago

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

    • ChristopherPick profile image

      ChristopherPick 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      NarrowPathPubli 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      Twmarsh 6 years ago

      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 profile image

      KokoTravel 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

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

    • hlkljgk profile image

      hlkljgk 6 years ago from Western Mass

      thanks for the info. :)

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image

      VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      poutine 6 years ago

      I never thought about it before...

      But thanks for all the info, very interesting.

    • Pete D profile image

      Pete D 6 years ago

      Nice lens. Very interesting, I enjoyed it.

    • RuthieDenise profile image

      RuthieDenise 6 years ago

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

    • JoleneBelmain profile image

      JoleneBelmain 6 years ago

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

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      anonymous 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

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

    • delia-delia profile image
      Author

      Delia 6 years ago

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

    • delia-delia profile image
      Author

      Delia 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      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.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      It is very interesting and nicely presented. *-*Blessed*-* and featured on Sprinkled with Stardust

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 7 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Well, I was dropping by to also invite you to the challenge but for the JJJ team. Do you feel wanted? This is a great lens. My husband is a doctor so I am especially interested in learning more about these symbols.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 7 years ago from Upstate, NY

      The Giant Squid Greeters are kicking off a fun team challenge. You are hereby formally invited to join my team: Kab's Fab Squid Squad. I think you'd be a great addition to the Squid Squad.

    • BusyQueen profile image

      BusyQueen 8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your knowledge. It's well done. 5 *****'s

    • lynnasafriend profile image

      lynnasafriend 8 years ago

      this was amazingly interesting... I had no idea... thank you for sharing

    • monarch13 profile image

      monarch13 8 years ago

      Faved. 5 stars. Lensrolled and you are now a Wise Woman Squidette...

    • Andy-Po profile image

      Andy 8 years ago from London, England

      Very interesting. I leaned a lot.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 8 years ago

      Ah, how interesting and informative! I always wondered about that medical symbol. Unique lens.

    • profile image

      TrixiJahn 8 years ago

      What a cool and informative lense! Great work Delia (she's my cousin...I have to brag with her!!!)

      Love you!

      Trixi

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