Asclepius was the Greek god of medicine, surgery, healing and resurrection. The son of Apollo and mortal Coronis, he was born via Caesarean section, cut out of his dying mother’s womb by his father. In another version he was abandoned by his mother and rescued by a goatherd, until being restored to the care of Apollo. In his early life, he learned the medicinal arts from his father, and then went on to learn from the centaur Chiron. Myth consistently associates Asclepius with serpents, an ancient symbol of wisdom, power and renewal. While a boy, the story goes, a snake licked his ears, and thus imparted to him the secrets of healing. In another story, a snake helps him to revive a dead man. According to yet another, the goddess Athena had given him the blood of the Gorgon Medusa, half of which could kill and half of which could restore life.
These stories of miraculous healing seem to speak to the paradox of poison—whether venom, plant, or virus—as cure. As an evader of death, and master healer, he angered the gods and was killed by Zeus’s thunderbolt. He was, however, honored among the stars as the constellation Ophiucus, “The Serpent Bearer.”
His temples of healing were called asclepieia. Those seeking a cure for their illness would make a pilgrimage to the asclepeion, where they would make sacrifice, undergo ritual and be treated with a form of dream therapy. The Rod of Asclepius, a serpent-entwined staff, was his primary symbol and is still a symbol of medicine today.
Currently, asteroid Asclepius is exactly conjunct asteroid Apollo and Venus at 12 degrees Taurus. Constellation Ophiucus corresponds roughly to the tropical sign of Sagittarius.