Symbols are important, we use them to communicate volumes by looking a simple design that often has no words as all. I stumbled on to a interesting revelation today about a more commonly recognized symbol. The symbol is the Caduceus or heralds staff, typically associated with healing and medicine this symbol is commonly seen in your family doctor’s office. The problem is the symbol it suppose to be is the Rod of Asclepius apparently these symbols get confused pretty often.

What brought this to my attention is my oldest son is reading “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” so I have heard a lot of Greek mythology lately (great series by the way!) and today one of my volunteers, Tim, came in wearing his EMT gear. I saw the Rod of Asclepius in the Star of Life on Tim’s clothes and I wondered what made it different from the Ceduceus.

In design they are very similar, the difference really boils down to how many snakes are on the rod and if it has wings or not. If it has 2 snakes and wings- Caduceus, 1 snake no wings- Rod of Asclepius

What I find interesting is in meaning they have very little in common, in fact based on what I learned today it seems like a Freudian slip to use the Caduceus in the medical field. Let me explain, Asclepius is the Greek god of healing and medicine, so his rod makes prefect sense as a medical symbol.  However, the Caduceus is a symbol for Hermes or Mercury; in Greek mythology Hermes is the messenger god and is associated with commerce, in Roman mythology Mercury is the god of gamblers, liars, and thieves.

By now you should see where I am going with this.

Do you really want to go to a doctor who’s logo is the symbol of commerce, gamblers, liars, and thieves? It seems like they are just advertising that they are going to take your money.

I apologize if that struck a little close to home for the doctors reading this blog, but seriously I think it’s just funny.

Why symbols are significant to you? Do they really mean what you think they mean?