Medical Symbol

With my upcoming travel assignment to Texas, I started to think about also getting another tattoo.  I was thinking of some type of tattoo related to travel or maybe nursing.

When it comes to nursing tattoos people have a stethoscope, some time of EKG strip, or this pictured below.caduceus

I have seen this image a million times almost, but I had no idea what it was called.  So naturally I typed into my browser.  “Medical symbol.” One of my results is the “Caduceus.”

The Caduceus is seen all over Western medicine and this is the tattoo that many people have.  (I actually have a chime that hangs from my rear view mirror in my car of this.



The Caduceus is the wand of the Greek God Hermes.  You may already know a little of Greek mythology.  I remembered Hermes as the messenger god which is correct; BUT I didn’t know he is also the guide of the dead, and the protector of gamblers, liars, and thieves. Hmmm.. the first doesn’t bother me as much. Maybe he is helping guide the dead to where they belong but protecting liars and thieves? I don’t like that so much.


Now the word caduceus comes from greek kerukeion meaning “herald’s wand”   (herald meaning public messenger).

The origin of Caduceus is unclear. There are several different mythology stories.  One is the story of the Tiresias, who saw two snakes copulating and killed the female with his staff.  Tiresias immediately became a female and remained until he repeated the act with the snake every seven years.  Another tale geared more from Roman mythology is that the snakes were in combat and Hermes separated the two snakes and brought about piece.

To connect the symbol to a medical foundation is quite difficult. However it was seen as a symbol of medicine approx. the 1400s when it first used in that context.


rodofA.pngThis may be the thing you want instead.

Rod of Asclepius comes from the Greek god of medicine and healing, Asclepius who carried the pictured rod below.  In some tales he was also married to Hygeia, the goddess of healing. His children also became known for healing and the art of medicine. God Asclepius also had several sanctuaries across Greece that promoted healing.

Asclepius died as a result of Zeus striking him with a lightening bolt because of his medicinal and healing powers.  He was afraid Asclepius was bring humans and gods to close together. and lessen the eternal divide.


Recap how to tell the difference:

  • Caduceus has two serpents and angel wings
  • Rod of Asclepius a staff with a single snake






Next time look to see who is using what symbol.  I found this quite interesting since I had never seen the Rod of Asclepius.  I also love Greek Mythology so this was so fun to read about.




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