Asklepios, also known as Vejovis, is the God of health, medicine, and is the savior of the All, who, with His father Zeus, fulfills the fair order of the whole of life. Asklepios heals our bodies, and along with Apollo and Hermes aids the Muses in caring for and training our souls. The art of healing is derived from Asklepios, whose oracles are found everywhere on earth, the God granting to us a share in them perpetually. When people are sick, it is Asklepios who cures their ailments by prescribing remedies and healing dreams. Asklepios does not heal mankind in the hope of repayment, but rather to fulfill His own function of beneficence to humankind.
Asklepios the Saviour
Zeus engendered Asklepios from Himself among the Intelligible Gods, and even before the beginning of the world, Asklepios was at His father’s side. The divine Zeus sent His son to earth through the light of the Sun to harmonize the universe and all life, filling them with fair order and good temperament. Asklepios, having made His visitation to earth from the sky, appeared at Epidaurus singly, in the shape of a man; but afterward, He multiplied Himself, and by His visitations stretched out over the whole earth His saving right hand. He came to Pergamon, to Ionia, to Tarentum afterward; and later He came to Rome. And He traveled to Cos and from there to Aegae. Next, He came to be present everywhere, whether land or sea. He visits no one separately, and He raises up and heals souls that are sinful and bodies that are sick.
Asklepios’ mother, Coronis, succumbed during childbirth. Apollo saved the infant by cutting Him from the womb of His mother, and hence gave the child the name name Asklepios, meaning “to cut open.” Asklepios was then raised by the centaur Chiron, who taught Him how to master the art of medicine.
It is said that Asklepios became such a skilled physician that he could bring the dead back to life, causing Serapis to complain to Zeus. In response, Zeus bid His son to come back to him by the divine signal of ethereal rays of light: the flame of a thunderbolt.
Children of Asklepios
Asklepios is the husband of Epione, of whom they have six daughters together, all of who are associated with an aspect of healing:
- Aglaea: Radiance of Health.
- Akeso: Healing.
- Hygeia: Good Health.
- Iaso: Remedy.
- Panakeia (Panacea): All-Healing.
- Meditrina: Longevity.
Asklepios also has several sons:
- Aratus: Whom Asklepios had with Aristodama.
- Makhaon and Podalirius: Greek surgeons during the Trojan War.
- Telesphoros: His name means “He who brings completion,” because it is He who brings recovery from illness. He consistently accompanies His sister Hygeia, and is represented in iconography as a dwarf wearing a hood or cap.
Role in the Cosmos
Asklepios and His brother Dionysos are expressions of the Sub-Lunar Demiurge. The Sub-Lunar Demiurge is subsumed or “contained,” within the Celestial Demiurge (Zeus-Helios), though operate on a lower level. Their Activities are focused on the Sub-Lunar Level, literally the realm “Below the Moon,” or alternatively “Below the Heavens,” which means the material cosmos below the sphere of the moon, i.e., our world. The Sub-Lunar Realm is part of the Encosmic Realm, and Iamblichus splits the Sub-Lunar Realm into three; the aether, ruled by Kronos, the air, ruled by Rhea, and the sea or water ruled by Phorcys. It is the Sub-Lunar Demiurge’s roles to direct the Sub-Lunar Realm and all within it, including human souls who fall into it and Daimons whose job is to lead them upwards again.
The Sub-Lunar Demiurge is an imitator, not a creator. They are called “image-maker,” eidolopoios, and “purifier of souls,” kathartis psychon. They separate and re-assemble the logoi (manifestation of the Forms shaped and directed by the Celestial Demiurge) in the Realm of Generation, organizing them to give shape to the hylic matter of the cosmos. Dionysos represents the Sub-Lunar Demiurgic power of separation or division. As He is torn asunder by the Titans themselves, Dionysos is the activity of dividing wholes into their constituent parts, separating the logoi from the bodies within which they are contained. Asklepios, however, is a God of healing, and the ill go to His sanctuaries to receive healing dreams. Whereas Dionysos takes things apart, Asklepios restores them, putting the logoi appropriate to us in their proper order.
As souls descend into generation, Dionysos removes from them logoi inappropriate to their nature, and Asklepios attempts to give those souls a life appropriate to the logoi properly belonging to them. In doing so the Sub-Lunar Demiurge also deeply binds the soul into the Realm of Generation. They are the Master Daimons, megistos daimon, especially over Personal Daimons.
Lord Asklepios was worshiped all throughout the ancient world, most notably Epidaurus. Temples dedicated to Asklepios, known as Asklepion, were great centers of healing, where patients would seek treatment from priests who would be referred to the title of Asklepiades (Asklepiadae plural), meaning “son of Asklepios.” Here patients would sleep at the temple in a process called incubatio, where their dreams would be interpreted (a practice called oneirocrisia) by priests who would then prescribe remedies based on what the dream suggested.
These sacred hospices would house a species of non-venomous snakes called Asklepian snakes, scientifically known as Elaphe longissima. Thanks to the love of the divine Lord and the spread of His temples, this snake can now be found all over much of Europe, far away from its native region in the south.
Lord Asklepios is usually depicted as a mature man of a noble benevolence and is frequently (though not always) shown as bearded. He often wears a long robe with a snake twisted about it, and his chest exposed either entirely or partially. He is also often depicted carrying the Asklepian, a staff with a serpent entwined, an icon still used in contemporary health organizations.
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