Medical symbolism

 
The Lodge has a strong historical connection with the Medical profession. As previously mentioned in the history section, the Lodge can trace its origins back to a collection of brethren who were all associated through different branches of medicine. The Lodge name "Galen" was chosen because of the major contribution this historical figure made to the development of medicine. It is due to this relationship that medical symbols and trappings have always had an important role in the workings of the Lodge.
 
To this very day, while the Lodge is at work, a mortar and pestle is always on view on the dais. Also, if you happen to take a look at the Secertary's desk, you will see a small set of Pharmaceutical scales. These were once use to measure out the quantities of ingredients for pills and treatments, but now they add a fine addition to the Secretary's and Treasurers table. Even the Lodge carpet reflects the medical connections, with a mortar & pestle woven into 2 of 4 corners.

Another trait is in the preparation of the candidate. All candidates will always be dressed in a white lab coat while taking their degrees. This reflects again back to the Lodges founding fathers and their connection to the medical profession.

The Lodges banner has the ancient symbol of the rod and serpent, which is a traditional medical symbol known as "The Rod of Asclepius".

Lodge Galen has a unique office in Scottish Freemasonry, which is believe to be the only one in existance. This was added to the list of office bearers in 1923, the year after the founding of the Lodge. The office is Physician. This honourary office is usually bestowed upon a member of the Lodge, normally a Past Master, who has contributed greatly to the Lodge, or Freemasonary in general, over the previous year.  The jewel of his office is the Caduceus, which is in the shape of a wand surmounted by two wings and entwined by two serpents. The Caduceus was originally a staff or mace carried by the Caduceator in time of war. The Caduceator signified peace and one of the duties of the Lodge Physician is to see the brethern work together in peace and harmony.

The caduceus is sometimes inaccurately used for a symbol of medicine.  In the section below, the medical symbols which are usually on view within the lodge will be explained in more detail.



            The lodge motto
........."Quis Morbis Tuis Medetur"    

The word Meditur is a Latin word which can mean amongst other definitions
- to reflect upon, consider, study, ponder / practice. Morbis can signify or imply sickness, disease, or illness and can all be collectively associated as medicine.

So the motto of Lodge Galen can be interpreted into English thus –
 
          
Quis Morbis Tuis Medetur.... Who Healeth Thy Diseases 
 





The mortar and pestle

A mortar and pestle is a tool used to crush, grind, and mix substances. The pestle is a heavy stick whose end is used for pounding and grinding, and the mortar is a bowl with the substance being ground between the pestle and the mortar. The word pestle is derived from the Latin pistillum meaning "pounder", mortarium became the English mortar, meaning, among several other usages, "receptacle for pounding" and "product of grinding or pounding".  The mortar and pestle is the most commonly used icon which can be associated with pharmacies. For pharmaceutical use, the mortar and the head of the pestle are usually made of porcelain, while the handle of the pestle is made of wood.



The earliest recorded use of the mortar & pestle as a pharmacist's or apothecary's symbol is well documented in early literature such as the Egyptian Papyrus Ebers which can be dated back to 1550 B.C. This is believed to be the oldest preserved piece of medical literature in the world. There are also various mentions of the mortar and pestle in the Old Testament such as in the book of Numbers 11:8 and the book of Proverbs 27:22.
 




The Rod of Asclepius

The rod of Asclepius is an ancient Greek symbol, associated with astrology and healing. As you can see the symbol consists of a serpent spirally wound around a staff. In Greek mythology Asclepius was the son of the God Apollo and Coronis, the daughter of king Phlegyas of Thessaly. Because of her unfaithfulness, it is said that Apollo's twin sister, Artemis, killed her. Her body was placed upon a funeral pyre and as it started to burn, Apollo feeling sorrow for his unborn son, rescued the child from his mother's corpse, saving him from death. The newborn Asclepius was then handed over by Apollo to the wise Centaur Chiron to raise him, and to become his tutor and mentor. Chiron taught Asclepius about medicine and healing, and soon became skilled in surgery, the use of drugs, love potions and incantations.
 
Legend tells us that the Goddess Athena gave Asclepius a magic potion made from the blood of the Gorgon which had a different consequence depending on which side of the Gorgon the blood was taken from. If taken from the right side it had a miraculous effect, said to be able to bring the dead back to life, but from the left, it became a deadly poison. With this gift Asclepius was said to have violated the natural order of the universe by resurrecting the dead, this greatly offended the gods who thought that no mortal should have that kind of power. It was also said that Asclepius accepted money in exchange for raising the dead, and as a punishment Zeus sent down a thunderbolt killing him.
 
Eventually realising the many benefits that Asclepius had brought to man, the mighty Zeus had second thoughts and made him into a god, placing him among the stars, in the constellation Ophiuchus (the serpent-bearer). Asclepius was also said to have been one of the fabled Argonauts serving as the surgeon on the ship Argo.
 
 
The Caduceus of Hermes

The Caduceus is a symbol which consists of two snakes entwined around a winged rod or staff, this is sometimes also known as the Rod of Hermes. As a symbol of the Greek god Hermes the Caduceus is traditionally associated not with medicine but with trade and commerce as Hermes was the messenger of the gods (the Greek equivalent of the Roman Mercury) and his rod has been used as a herald's staff.

The caduceus is sometimes mistakenly used as a symbol for medicine or doctors even though this is historically inaccurate. The misunderstanding between the two symbols is undoubtedly due to the links between alchemy and Hermes.
Alchemists adopted the caduceus because of Hermes, who also became their guardian (patron saint), as well as that of gamblers, thieves, and tricksters. By the end of the 16th century, alchemy had become widely associated with medicine in some areas, thus wrongly leading some to use the caduceus as a medical symbol.
Despite the undeniable claim of the Rod of Asclepius to represent medicine and healing, the caduceus appears to be the more popular symbol of medicine in the United States where many people use the word caduceus to mean both of these emblems.
 

The symbol's origins are thought to date to as early as 2600BC in Mesopotamia, and there are several references to a caduceus-like symbol in the Bible, namely in Numbers 21:4–9, and 2 Kings 18:4. During the Exodus, Moses was instructed by God to fashion a pole upon which he was to position a serpent made of bronze; when looked upon, this Nehushtan, as it was called in Hebrew, would spare the lives of the Israelites stricken by venomous snakebites. The intent was that people would look upward and be reminded to pray to God, but eventually the meaning was forgotten and this symbol was apparently worshiped by the Hebrew people until the reign of Hezekiah as described in 2 Kings 18:




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