What is Caduceus and what does it symbolize?  Could it have any meaning for people of modern times and the way in which you are invited to live your life?  Or is this just a logo used to represent Western medicine or a symbol of past times related to ancient Roman and Greek Gods.

In this series of blog posts, I intend to introduce you to key yoga symbols that invite a deeper understanding of the power of symbols and how you can you these as a commitment to remembering your magnificence.

Table of Contents

What is the Caduceus?

So let you and I explore what I consider to be one of the most powerful and symbolic healing images that you might ever come across.

In addition I will invite you to explore how this symbol can have meaning for Companioning Your Greatness.

What is the Caduceus?

what is the caduceus

What is the Caduceus other than a complete symbol of healing?  It is a combination of other healing symbols, including the Staff, the Snake, and Wings.

It is not to be confused with another healing symbol that is the Rod of Asclepius and which is the symbol of Western medicine.

Understanding the Caduceus symbol can be a map of personal and spiritual transformation for those willing to explore its meaning.

The mystic poet Rumi could have been speaking of the power of the Staff of Caduceus when he reminded you:-

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly.

― Rumi

Staff of Caduceus vs Rod of Asclepius

The use of the Staff of Caduceus as a symbol of medicine was introduced in the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was as a result of misunderstanding and confusion.

This confusion if epitomized in the use of different symbols by different associations within the health care industry in the United States of America.

This confusion stems around

  • The Staff of Caduceus.
  • The Rod of Asclepius
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Comparison of Staff of Caduceus with Rod of Asclepius

AspectsStaff of CaduceusRod of AsclepiusOther
Greek GodHermesAsclepius
No of Snakes21
No of Wings2None
Medical AssocArmy Medical Corps.American Medical Association
God associated withTraders, travelers’ thieves, liars, and gamblersDoctors
Used by Hospitals63%37%
Used by Commercial Medicine76%24% 

If you asked most health care workers what the Caduceus is many would be hard-pressed to tell you.

It is hard to trust a profession that cannot even get its symbols straight. Most physicians in the United States think that the symbol of their profession is something called the Caduceus. But this is actually not true. Historians have discovered that someone in the U.S. Army Medical Corps mistook the caduceus for the Aesculapian and introduced the Medical Corps’ symbol at the beginning of the twentieth century. Soon thereafter, everyone in the United States was emulating the mistake. — Daniel P. Sulmasy, A Balm for Gilead: Meditations on Spirituality and the Healing Arts

Source – Wikipedia

Let me quickly say the I think the Rod of Asclepius is the symbol that better represents the one-pointed focus of modern Western medicine with its association the God of Healing.

Having said that the Staff of Caduceus in the opinion of this writer is the more complete healing symbol.

So now let us take a closer and deeper look at what I regard as the complete healing symbol and why I take this view.

Staff of Caduceus Symbolism

The Staff of Caduceus – Symbol of Soul Alignment and the Chakras.

For me as a writer on yoga and the 7 chakra energy system the Staff of Caduceus is the No 1 healing symbol of Yoga. This premier symbol of healing has other healing symbols within it that include.

  • Healing Staff.
  • Intertwining Snakes.
  • Wings

Not many healing symbols have this degree of related symbology held within them.

What does a Staff Symbolise?

One of the greatest book series and movie series of my lifetime is Lord of the Rings.  One of the principal characters in this book and movie series was the Wizard Gandalf.

I find it of interest that the name of this character comes from the name Tharkûn, which is “said to mean ‘Staff-man'” in Khuzdul, one of Tolkien’s invented languages.

The symbol of the staff may be seen as the world tree, as an axis connecting God and man. This is the driving force of individuation, which integrates human unconsciousness and consciousness while discovering and accepting the genuine Self. Humans realize Self through consciousness of the inner personality by constantly establishing a relationship with the inner world of unconsciousness. They desire to constantly communicate with God, and they want to live a symbolic life through transformation. As a spiritual guide, the staff is an archetype of the therapist. – Source – Journal of Symbols and Sandplay Therapy

[irp posts=”26043″ name=”Chakras and their Meanings for Living a Life of Fulfilment”]

What do Snakes Symbolize?

what do snakes symbolise

The snake has been mentioned in legends, epics, and mythologies since 3000 BC.

The central myth of the Western world revolves around a talking snake in a garden that tempted the 1st woman to eat the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The real importance of this symbol of the snakes is that they are.

  • Intertwining.
  • Expanding.

The central understanding of this intertwining represents the intertwining and expansion of the energies of feminine and masculine.

This is symbolic of the unity of opposites within you.  When these opposites are in harmony within you then you experience health and well-being.

We all have these energies within us and they are not to be simply equated with gender.

These intertwining feminine and masculine energies are climbing the Staff which is your spine. They climb through the energy centers called the chakras.

As they do so, your sense of yourself expands until you take wing. You become unified and self-actualized.

Greeks viewed snakes as sacred and used them in healing rituals thus honoring the Asclepius. The act of the snake shedding the skin symbolized rebirth and renewal.

The shedding of skin indicates longevity and immorality.

The fact that the snake has the ability to change one stage to other rapidly symbioses the ability and power to convalesce from an illness.

Symbolism of Wings

symbolism of wings

Wings symbolize transformation. Think of the experience of the chrysalis that transforms into the butterfly.

As the mystic poet Rumi reminds us, “You have wings, you weren’t meant to crawl, so don’t. You have wings. Use them learn to fly.”

Wings symbolize the awakening of your full potential. This is the potential that is seeded within you and that must come forth through you.

Wings symbolize your ability to go higher. They have a connection to the element air related to the heart chakra and to the emptiness of the sky that is representative of the Boundlessness of Spirit.

Wings symbolize your ability to trust. You have to be willing to let go into the unknown (emptiness) in order to fly.  You have to be willing to trust that the Universe KNOWS how to hold you up.

Benefits of Using the Staff of Caduceus

I invite you to consider the Staff of Caduceus to become a symbol you explore.  This is a map of potential and fulfillment. It is a map of destiny and purpose. It is a map of healing and revelation.

Let me list the benefits of exploring the Staff of Caduceus.

  • The Staff.
  • The Snakes.
  • The Wings.
  • The Invitation.
benefits of the staff of caduceus

Like all symbols, the caduceus is rich with meaning and layered with interpretation. Symbols often have a life of their own; like all living things, they grow, evolve and change through time. Studying symbols can uncover their history and origins and illuminate their present meaning. Meditat­ing upon them, however, may reveal secrets lying dormant within like germinal seeds waiting to birth the next generation. https://catalystmagazine.net/chakra-series-reclaiming-the-caduceus-east-meets-west-in-medical-symbology/

The Staff

The staff is a symbol of wisdom It supports your INNER KNOWING. It supports your inner guidance system directed from the Still Small Voice Within.

If you are a yoga teacher, doctor, nurse, or healer in any way, make the Staff of Caduceus a symbol of your intention to realize the yogi or healer within you.

Become a Staff-man or a Staff-woman.

The Snakes

Unify the flow of the feminine and masculine within you.  Let the masculine serve and support the manifestation of the flow of the feminine.  Each is needed.

Balance doing with Being but allow Being to be the primary driver.  This avoids stress and burnout.

It allows you to move in the world as an expression of Love in Action.

The Wings

Commit, in whatever way best suits you to

Awaken at dawn with a winged heart ready for another day of loving – Khalil Gibran.

Let this awakening of your consciousness be your focus. Let your wings unfold.  Let your full potential unfold in the service of Love’s purpose which is your primary purpose.

The Invitation

Let the Staff of Caduceus inspire you to fulfill your true potential.  You have wings. You were born with potential. You were born with goodness and trust.

The problem is that you have forgotten. Your overthinking personal mind is driving you. The servant has taken over the Palace.

You need support in remembering the unfolding that is to take place within you and through you. Symbols speak to you beyond the limitation of words.

They have the power to unify.

Let this premier symbol of healing and unity be a symbol you embrace as a reminder to live in alignment with your truer Self and your Better Angels.

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List of Yoga Symbols of Empowerment

benefits of the staff of caduceus

This Staff of Caduceus symbol is the 1st in a series of blogs that I intend to write related to yoga symbols and their meaning and how you can use them for inviting the flowering of your full potential.

As of late May 2021, here is the list of Yoga symbols that I intend to explore in detail. There will be a link to each as they are written and posted.

  • No 1 – The Staff of Caduceus.
  • No 2 – The Flower of Life.
  • No 3 – The Symbol Om.
  • No 4 – The Symbol of Infinite.
  • No 5 – The Lotus Symbol.
  • More to come.

I hope you found value in this article related to the Flower of Life.

If you did, I encourage you to share this with others on social media. In this way you help build a community of others who value the call to the revelation to unity that is the meaning of the Flower of Life.

If You Found Value in the Article.


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what is the caduceus
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Staff of Caduceus vs Rod of Asclepius
Tony Cuckson
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