Tattoo, the healing powers of the Caduceus

Stories - CaduceusIn my previous installment; Tattoo, the power to heal, I discussed the power of a tattoo.

Now I want to discuss the awesome symbology of the most frequent tattoo’s used by the medical profession; The Rod of Asclepius and the Caduceus.

These sacred symbols can awaken us at our deepest place; the heart of a healer.

The Rod of Asclepius is actually the symbol of the Greek God of medicine, Asclepius, who is known for great healing powers including restoring people back from the dead.

He received his medical knowledge from serpents, which is why his staff (rod) has a serpent spiraling on it. Serpents, symbolically, are not bad, instead they teach rejuvenation & renewal; they release the old with the shedding of their skin and then re-emerge anew.

The rod itself is considered to be the essence of power and authority upon which this knowledge of healing is held. At one point, temples to Asclepius were constructed and used as centers for healing.

The Caduceus

Years ago the image switched from the Rod of Asclepius to the Caduceus, otherwise known as the Staff of Hermes.

Hermes is the Greek trickster-messenger God who is also known for guiding the dead to the afterlife.

Not the ‘ideal’ image of health, but in many traditions, including now, the passage of death is just as important as life.

The image of a caduceus has the same vertical rod with a golden ball on the top; the differences are the two serpents spiraling upward toward wings that stretch out on top.


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The two serpents can have a double meaning as they heal, but also remind us of our ability to harm if we have no regard for our profession.

Spirituality, the rod is the center; the proverbial tree of life (used for meditation in qabalah) that reminds us that we stand on the material plane constantly moving upward toward spirit. It can also be akin to our spinal column, our personal caduceus of balance and stability.

In some images, you will see the 7 spiraling Chakra superimposed upon the caduceus.

Chakras are energy points along the spine that associate with different areas in the body. When working with the Chakras, the energy (Kundalini, serpent energy as in yoga) moves upwards through the Chakras; restoring, healing and clearing away blockages to return us back to health; mind, body and spirit.

This becomes reflective in our outward expression.

Another metaphor is the twin-serpent spiraling around the central rod can be seen as the spiral pattern of our DNA strands; the double helix, which is found in all of life.

This reminds us that we are all universally connected.

This goes along with the axiom of the Hermes, or hermetic teaching of “as above and so below” represents inner and outer wisdom; what’s in the cosmos is also reflected within us.

On the top of the rod is the golden ball and outstretched wings, which has been known to be an Egyptian solar symbol.

The ball or sun is the essence of spirit; of god, enlightenment or spiritual attainment.

Wings are angelic symbols of freedom, divinity, grace, and to rise above the material world to seek personal enlightenment.

Wings wrap around the sick bringing comfort, compassion, and protection.

Only you can decide what type of symbol represents your healing art and how deep below the skin in metaphor and symbology you want to go.

As I said in my previous post; tattoos have the power to heal. So do nurses.

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