Caduceus: The Symbol of Creative Force

© Don Platt

Caduceus (from Greek “herald’s staff“) is the staff carried by the Mesopotamian god of healing Eshmun, ancient Egyptian gods Anubis and Iris, the Greek god Hermes, the Phoenician god Baal, the Akkadian goddess Ishtar and many others.

In Christianity, caduceus has become an attribute of Sofia (God’s Wisdom). In ancient Orthodox icons she is holding it in her right hand.

There are numerous interpretations of the meaning of caduceus. It is believed to symbolize the key which opens the bounds between light and dark, good and evil, life and death.

Besides that, the wings of caduceus symbolize the ability to overcome all kinds of borders (according to one interpretation it is an embodiment of the spirit), the scepter – control over the forces of nature, the double snake – opposite sides of dualism, which have to merge together.

The two snakes represent the power of bond and separation, the good and the bad, fire and water, and so on.

There is a belief that the rod or scepter is the axis of the world (one option is the world tree), upon which, up and down, in between the Earth and sky, travel the messengers of the Gods. That is why all the messengers wore caduceus as a symbol of peace and protection, and that was their main attribute.


The two snakes with heads turned upwards symbolize, in this case, evolution and at the same time the two beginnings of the world (similar to yin and yang in Taoism) or they are interpreted as two mutually conditioned processes of the development of evolution of the material forms and the soul, which in turn has control over the material forms.

The symmetry in the position of the snakes and the wings serves as evidence of the balance between opposite powers, and the harmony between the lower body and higher spiritual level.

The snakes also connect with the rebirth cycle of Nature and the recovery of the universal Order, when it is disturbed. Quite often, they are equalized with symbol of wisdom. In Anatolian traditions, the two snakes were a common symbol of fertility and in the Mesopotamian traditions, the intertwined snakes were believed to be the embodiment of the healer God.

An analogue of the symbol of caduceus was discovered in ancient Indian monuments. In the esoteric ways of Buddhism, the scepter of caduceus symbolizes the axis of the world, and the snakes – the cosmic energy.

Intertwining around the central axis, the snakes merge together at seven points, connecting the chakras. Kundalini (the power of free will) sleeps in the main chakra, until, as a result of evolution, it doesn’t wake up, climbing up the spine by three paths – central, Shushumna, and two side paths that form the two cross-over spirals – Pingala (the right, male, active spiral) and Ida (the left, female and passive one).

Whatever the interpretation of caduceus may be, according to most researchers, it was one of the ancient symbols of the Creative Force. That is why it was believed that the owners of caduceus were in command of all the laws in control of Nature.

In this commonly accepted interpretation, some of its most important features were not mentioned, but we will focus on them now. And they are:

-Spread-out wings, which basically do not differ in any way from the wings of the sun disk or the winged Sun with its numerous variations.

-The sphere on top of the scepter, which has the same form as the Sun disk, а framed by the Moon sun disk or Ankh.

According to researchers, the variation of caduceus in Ancient Egypt was the scepter, crowned with a sun disk bordering with the moon. There is an opinion that caduceus appears as a scepter, which supports the symbols of the Sun and the Moon together.

-The composition of caduceus, which comply with many illustrations of another Ancient Egyptian symbol – Uraeus (cobra) or Wadjet, merging together into one whole (frequently in different combinations) bird (wings), snake and a sun framed by the Moon. Often, one more Ancient Greek symbol joins the rest – they eye of Horus (in Masonic symbolism, it represents the All-seeing eye).

According to some, the caduceus represents one more symbolic illustration – the equality and unity.

Such hierarchy of the Sun and Moon gods is confirmed by the tales of many nations, who say that after the first great battle between them which ended in victory for the white Gods, they settled down on the surface of the Earth, and the snake-like people ascended to below it.

At the same time, the caduceus can represent a symbolic illustration of the unity of the underworld or Earth (snakes) and the surface of the Earth or Sky (wings), which spin around the axis of the world (the scepter) and are illuminated by the Moon and Sun (sphere or circle).

Esotericism also has an interpretation of the caduceus. According to it, the snakes of the caduceus are the peripheral nervous system – the sympathetic system affects the elimination of the stimulating hormones, while the parasympathetic system affects the elimination of the halting hormones. In esotericism, these are Pingala (sun, stimulating, fore, yang) and Ida (moon, halting, water, yin).

The central axis (the scepter) is the central nervous system. In Esotericism this is Shushuma, the central canal, which is exposed during the balance between stimulating and halting.

The circle above the axis is the brain stem, the limbic system, and that is where when the central canal is exposed, a certain substance is delivered through the central lymph canal to the spine.

The wings of the caduceus are a wide perception of reality, a specific case is flying.