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Origins and meaning

The Caduceus is an ancient symbol traditionally associated with medicine and healing.  However, it can equally be a symbol for the fields of science, mathematics and their application to Life. It also depicts the evolution of human consciousness and serves as a model for the structure of the Universe.


Adopted as the Western medical profession’s insignia in the early twentieth century, The Caduceus symbolises an understanding of the primordial origins of both the healing process and disease itself.1  The word “caduceus” comes from the Greek word “kerykeionwhich literally means “Herald’s staff”.  A herald was originally a messenger sent by monarchs to convey a message or proclamation.  A staff is known as being a magical artifact or wand associated with wisdom and the ability to perform mystical actions.  This aspect of a staff is repeatedly shown in the scriptures of Islam, Christianity and Judaism.2  The staff is also a symbol of power and is said to be the axis or pole by which the ancient messenger gods travel between Heaven and Earth.


Through the process of writing the book, “1 = 3: The Caduceus”,  I have come to understand and value that The Caduceus is: 


  • A map of the energy grid of the human body, Earth and the whole Universe
  • A symbol showing the blueprint for unlimited energy production
  • A symbol of mathematical and scientific principles
  • A map of Consciousness
  • A symbol of the future
  • The meaning of life
  • The template of life
  • A road map of life 
  • The fractal of life 

    On researching the origins of this mystical symbol, many references are found that shows it is originally associated with the goddess Iris, a messenger god who is the personification of the rainbow.3  A rainbow has seven colours (like the seven colours of each of the circles in the central column).  This is where the word “iridescent” arises for objects that reflect the colours of the rainbow.  A rainbow is also a bridge connecting Heaven and Earth.  This surely is what The Caduceus truly is – a bridge with an important message, a proclamation that has been shrouded in mystery for centuries.  This is also what this book is – a proclamation.  It proclaims the message of The Caduceus – its true meaning and symbolism of wisdom enshrined within its mysterious form – an important message for an important time – the troubled early 21st century.

    The Greek god Hermes, is most commonly associated with The Caduceus.  Like Iris, Hermes is a bearer of The Caduceus.  He too was a herald of the gods, bearing messages from them to humanity.  He was known as the god of commerce, thieves, sports, travellers and boundary crossings.   He was also the god of invention, weights and measures and had a reputation as a sly trickster! 4  Small wonder that the Western medical profession would rather not associate itself with the god of tricksters, cunning, commerce and thieves.  At the very least, it is an embarrassing identification.

    From my research it would appear that Iris, Hermes and his later counterpart, the Roman god Mercury were all preceded by the Egyptian god Thoth, an ibis headed god representative of science, mathematics, healing, medicine and wisdom.  It is these five areas upon which this book’s framework is built.  Like Iris, Hermes & Mercury, Thoth was also perceived as a “go-between” messenger between Heaven and Earth.  He was involved with “stepping in when things get out of balance and infusing his wisdom into the most dire of situations”. It is my view that this is why this information about the wisdom of The Caduceus is now becoming known, as humanity is in a fairly dire situation at present.5  Note the “staff” being held by Thoth in the following picture:  

    The history of The Caduceus goes still further back, to around 3,000BC, where it was originally associated with the ancient Sumerian (Mesopotamia) god of fertility:  Ningizzida, who was depicted as a serpent with a human head.  He was also known as the magical god of healing.6  This data thus demonstrates that the image of The Caduceus dates back to the dawn of civilisation itself – Mesopotamia.  The area between the Tigris & Euphrates river is often known as the “Cradle of Civilisation”.  Sumer means “Land of the Lords of Brightness”.   This meaning is in true alignment with the message of this book and the hidden symbolism of The Caduceus – that everything has come from brightness (light/Consciousness) and is also comprised of light/Consciousness. The Caduceus is a map leading us back to this “Land of Brightness”.

  • Here is a timeline depiction of the stages that The Caduceus has moved through, along with its associations:



    Ningizzida (Sumerian god of fertility + ealing Mesopotamia) – 3000BC


    Thoth (Egyptian god of science, mathematics, healing, medicine & wisdom)


    Iris (Greek goddess/ messenger from gods, of the Rainbow)


    Hermes (Greek god/messenger from gods, associated with

    commerce, thieves, sports/athletes, travellers and boundary crossings,  
    invention, weights and measures and had a reputation as a sly trickster.  
    He was an Olympian god and so had great strength and prowess)

    í                                              î 

                                                              Mercury (Roman  messenger                 Asclepius (Greek god of medical intervention) 
                                                              god similar to Hermes)                            Rod of Asclepius not to be
                                                                                                                                          confused with The Caduceus

                                                (it has a single serpent rod)


    The Caduceus was used as a printer’s mark for publishers of medical books to show that they were messengers of Hermes, god of commerce.8


    In 1902 U.S.Army Medical Dept. adopted The Caduceus (rather than Rod of Ascelpius) as its symbol.  This has come to be associated with medicine today.9

    The Caduceus itself comprises of the wand (central staff) around which two serpents are entwined.  At the top of the staff are two wings with a sphere on the top.


    There have been many interpretations on what The Caduceus symbolises and many of these perspectives are true, for The Caduceus, like most mystical objects, has understandings and nuances on many levels.  In this book, the interpretation given will hopefully be one of depth, clarity and sanctity.  This is no ordinary symbol – it is given to humanity for a purpose and that, until now has not been fully realised.  Essentially, The Caduceus is the template of Life – both of how it exists energetically (at the universal, objective and human level) and at a conscious level how both humanity as a whole and individuals can return to a life of peace, freedom and unity.


    On the human level, The Caduceus is a symbol of the three major energy channels (nadis) of the body:  sushumna (central staff) and the two snakes entwining it symbolising the ida and pingala nadis, along with the chakra system.  This depiction also has universal significance, which will be explained during the course of the book.


    The two snakes represent the dualism of our nature.  In order to become whole (healed) we must integrate the polarities, the masculine and feminine energies within us.  We must integrate the good and the bad, the light and shadow aspects of ourselves.  To become truly whole we have to transcend the polarity of opposites.  This is symbolised by the image of the wings that are aligned to the crown chakra, symbolising 

    the flight to freedom, wholeness, completeness and ultimate union with Pure Consciousness/God.

    At the centre of the staff is the green heart. The heart is the centre of being in both the physical, subtle and spiritual planes. It represents the central wisdom of compassion and understanding that is so essential on the journey towards unity. When we are working towards uniting the energy of our dualistic nature (ida and pingala) we must do so with compassion, love and understanding of ourselves. This compassion will then radiate out to others and give us freedom as symbolised by the wings around the heart. In order to become truly healed, we must unite the opposites we find within ourselves as symbolised by the two serpents facing each other. Both the staff and the serpents must be integrated into our own lives in order to become truly healed.



    I have come to understand and appreciate that The Caduceus is essentially the hologram or template for Life.  By understanding the principles of this image we can begin to grasp essential relevant knowledge that has been obscured up till now from human consciousness in regard to science, mathematics, medicine, healing and the evolution of consciousness/wisdom.  This is what the book “1 = 3: The Caduceus” is about… explaining what The Caduceus reveals to us, and how this knowledge can be used for our future direction on the planet.


    To easily explain the intricacies of this symbol, it is necessary for it to be divided into two sections.  The first being a series of three columns:  one central vertical (golden) and two spiral shaped (red and white).  These are called nadis.  The second being a series of eight multi-coloured circles.  These circles represent the chakras.


    For the understanding of The Caduceus, it is necessary to bear one basic tenet in mind, that the basic principle or matrix of the Universe is Consciousness.  This matrix of Consciousness cannot be seen or quantified, but its effects can be.  The essential threads of Consciousness are:  energy (sattwa), light (rajas) and matter (tamas).



    Please click on the different tabs to find out more about what this book is about…..


    Christina Munns

    Author – 1 = 3: The Caduceus – Unity of Science, Spirituality & Consciousness


    1. Wood, Matthew, The Magical StaffThe Vitalist Tradition in Western Medicine,North Atlantic Books, Berkeley, California, USA, 1992, p 209

    4.  Friedlander, Walter J., The Golden Wand of Medicine:  A History of the Caduceus Symbol in Medicine, Greenwood Press, CT, USA, 1992

    9.  Friedlander, Walter J., The Golden Wand of Medicine:  A History of the Caduceus Symbol in Medicine, Greenwood Press, CT, USA, 1992








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