The Healing Spa of Asklepios

“The city also had a healing center called the Asklepion, built in honor of Asklepios, the Greek serpent-god. In the first century, this was a cross between a hospital and a health spa, where patients could get everything from a mud bath to a major surgery. Even the emperors came all the way from Rome to be treated here, but this was no ordinary doctor’s visit.

“If you were a terminal patient, you were not allowed to go into the Asklepion,” says Renner. “These Asklepion priests didn’t want anyone hearing that someone had died in the Asklepion.  There was a huge sign just above the official entrance to the Asklepion that said, ‘Death is not permitted here.’ So the only way you were going to get in to begin with is if they knew you were going to live.”

Patients entered through an underground tunnel. Then they drank a sedative, and spent the night in the dormitories of the Asklepion, while non-poisonous snakes crawled around them all night. They were told that the serpent-god Asklepios would speak to them in their dreams and give them a diagnosis.

“It was believed that the snakes carried the healing power of Asklepios,” and if a snake slithered across you while you were sleeping at night, that was a divine sign that healing power was coming to you.”

The next morning, the patients told their “dreams” to the priests, who prescribed their treatments. Finally, the patients made clay sculptures of the body parts that needed healing and offered them to Asklepios.”

Taken from the book, “A Light in the Darkness,” by Rick Renner.

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