The Staff of Asclepius

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The Staff of Asclepius

Post  deviadah on Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:49 am

Often confused with The Caduceus of Hermes, and perceived by some to be not an image of alchemy, but I beg to differ. But I will post more on this at a later date.

For now enjoy the following images:

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Re: The Staff of Asclepius

Post  deviadah on Tue Nov 13, 2007 5:12 pm

There is a 13th sign of the zodiac known as Ophiuchus Serpentarius (or Ophiuchusm), the Serpent Holder, which lies between Scorpio and Sagittarius. Plato called this 13th sign the God of the Underworld and later the Christians of the mediaeval ages changed it into the figure of St. Paul holding a viper before abandoning it altogether. The constellation of the Serpent Holder is the only sign of the Zodiac which is linked to a real man that lived in ancient Egypt around the 27th century B.C.E., a one Imhotep.

The attributes of Imhotep can also be found in the Biblical Hebrew Joseph, son of Jacob. Imhotep is credited with many accomplishments including the knowledge and use of medicine. Itís said that Imhotep brought the art of healing to mankind. The symbol of a serpent was used to represent Imhotep.

In the 16th century this 13th constellation was called Alpheichius, God of Invocation, named after Asclepius who was a skilled physician, and similar to Imhotep, who practised in Greece around 1200 B.C.E. and described in Homerís Iliad. If he truly existed no one knows but regardless he, through myth and legend, became part of the Greek family of gods as the God of Healing and the son of Apollo and the nymph Coronis. He had several daughters of which Meditrina, Hygeia and Panacea all became symbols of medicine, hygiene and healing.

Rationalism and patriarchy began to be established around the 5th century B.C.E and myths were modified. For instance Zeus who originally was represented as a serpent now defeats the serpent monster Typhon with the aid of his daughter Athene (Reason). This act guaranteed the reign of the patriarchal gods of Olympus and at the same time he brings back Asclepius to life, after having killed him with a lightning bolt, and presents him with the serpent wrapped around a staff.

Itís believed that Hippocrates, a great doctor of antiquity, was a descendant of Asclepius and the oath, which bears his name, was sworn in the names of Apollo, Asclepius and Panacea.

A cult formed from Asclepius and became very popular during the 300s B.C.E. The Asclepions, centres where priests cured the sick, became important in Greek society. The worship of Asclepius spread to Rome, his name changed to the Latin Aesculapius, and continued to the late as the 6th century.

Since ancient times there have been columns, trees and staffs with serpents climbing or twirling around them and throughout the ages it has been the image of the art of healing and not evil. The Staff of Asclepius, with a single serpent wrapped around it, possibly became a symbol of medicine and healing because infections by parasitic worms were common. The filarial worm dracunculus medinensis crawled around the victimís body, just under the skin and the physicians treated this infection by cutting a slit in the patientís skin just in front of the wormís path. As the worm crawled out the cut the physician carefully wound the pest around a stick until the entire animal had been removed resulting in the symbol of a worm, serpent, around a stick to advertise this service.

The Staff of Asclepius have often been confused with The Caduceus of Hermes, and although the former is clearly a symbol of medicine and healing the latter has often taken on this role in the collective mind. The Encyclopaedia Britannica clearly states that The Staff of Asclepius is ďthe only true symbol of medicine.Ē It also says that the Caduceus is ďwithout medical reference since it represents the magic wand of Hermes, or Mercury, the messenger of the gods and the patron of trade.Ē

Modern pharmacies probably began using the serpent as a symbol for their business because they sold the antidote to snake venom.

The Staff of Asclepius and The Caduceus of Hermes were both widely used as printersí marks in particular as frontispieces to pharmacopoeias, which are books containing lists of drugs with directions on how to use them, in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Perhaps a footnote but it has been noted that the $ resemble The Staff of Asclepius but this canít be anything but a coincidence. The story goes that the Spanish pesos, also called piastres, Spanish dollars and pieces of eight (the value was eight reales) were so well used and known (like the dollar is today in the world) that when the U.S. issued its own silver coinage (first appearing in 1794) they thus replicated the Spanish weight, value and name. When pluralized pesos was abbreviated ps. This created over time the $ symbol (a p over an s, the p in time reduced to a single stroke).

It was the revolting British/American colonists who first made the transition from ps to $. This is the reason why the $ is written before the number, $1, instead of behind because it mimics how the British use their pound sign, £1.

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Statue of Asclepius

Post  deviadah on Sun Feb 17, 2008 2:58 pm



Here is a statue of Asclepius that I took earlier today in a museum in Copenhagen, Denmark!

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Re: The Staff of Asclepius

Post  carabric on Sun Jun 08, 2008 3:02 pm



I've always found this from Flamel to be of the same nature as that of Asclepius's staff. I generally feel that both the rod of Asclepius and Moses as well as the caduceus are one and the same but represent more or less a progression of something that is effected within the practical work of alchemy. I give no source other then it is just my opinion.
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Re: The Staff of Asclepius

Post  Jepetto on Sat Jul 19, 2008 1:16 pm

Ive been spending my day with the book Alchemy & Mysticism The Hermetic Museum and on page 410 found this image with the following caption.



Seal of the spagyric laboratory 'Soluna', founded in 1921 by the poet and shadow player Alexander von Bernus at Stift Neuburg near Heidelberg, and continued a few years later in Stuttgart. According to Bernus, iatrochemical spagyrics, which date back to Paracelsus, refers to "that type of healing which includes both complex homeopathy and biochemistry and goes beyond itself; for on one hand it encompasses th whole fund of medicines of both, on the other it gives the disabled organism the indicated ingredient in (...) and 'open' and thus assimilable state, particularly the metals, half-metals and minerals."

These medicines, according to Bernus, have their effect through the invisible "fluid body" or "ethereal body" of man and are thus capable "of summoning up the healing forces without burdening the organism with poisonous substances and doing it lasting damage, so that it may reorganize itself". (Von Bernus, Alchymie und Heilkunst, Stuttgart, 1936)

Though this is from 1921 and not that old, I would also agree with Carabric that these symbols could be interchangeable. Why draw two serpents when one will do or if the symbolism of the one is clearer. Also there could be arguments for two serpents when suggesting ideas of polarity and rythym.
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Lisbon Staff

Post  deviadah on Sat Sep 27, 2008 4:06 pm

Found this on the statue of a famous portugese botanist (name lost forever) in the Lisbon Botanical Gardens:



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