All who are called, are called to be healers… and so it is of interest to look back to the traditions of the physician healers for what we may learn. The Hippocratic Oath of the physician healers is said to have been written by Hippocrates, who is said to be a descendent of Podalirius, one of two human sons of Asclepius [useless tidbit: the other son died in the battle of Troy, part of the troops in the Trojan horse]. And Hippocrates, through Asclepius, traces his lineage all the way back to Apollo.
Here’s Asclepius’ back story:
- Apollo was the god of poetry, healing prophecy and reason and was passionate about humans and in love with a mortal, Coronis
- Apollo went off, leaving a white crow to watch over her, but he reported she was in love with someone else
- Apollo was so enraged he turned the crow black, and had his sister Artemis kill her, but not before news got out she was carrying his son Asclepius
- Apollo plucked Asclepius out and had him raised by Chiron the wise centaur
Why would physicians swear by Asclepius, and not by the most powerful war God, Ares? Because the healing arts, at their best, are meant to be gentle and non-harming arts. That is the meaning of Asclepius’ name: “unceasingly gentle,” and his healing wife’s name is Epione, which means “soothing.” Aside from their two sons, they also had heavenly daughters: Panacea or “all health” [goddess of remedies] and Hygeia [goddess of preventative care], Iaso (goddess of medicine), Aigle (goddess of radiance) and Telesphorus (god of convalescence) .
Perhaps the knowledge of the background behind the healing arts will shed a little light on the healing in your ministry. And, if revisiting the Hippocratic Oath can be helpful in sorting out future directions for non harming ministries, how much more helpful would it be if it were to be seriously examined as regards our medical system, its priorities, and its language of war (e.g., cancer war), returning again to language of benificence and justice, health and wholeness.
Source: Miles, Steven. The Hippocratic Oath and the Ethics of Medicine. 16.