YEARS I SAW the symbol Rx and used it without knowing what it meant
or symbolized. Finally, I stumbled upon the meaning of it and took
note. The symbol Rx is derived from the major lines in the
symbol of the Eye of Horus. Horus was an Egyptian god, the god of
Nekhen, a village in Egypt, and god of the sky, of light, and of goodness.
He was the son of Isis, the nature goddess, and Osiris, the god of the
underworld. Osiris was murdered by his evil brother Seth, the god
of darkness and evil. Horus sought to avenge his father’s death by
challenging his uncle Seth to a fight. Seth cut out Horus’s eye,
but Thoth, a god associated with wisdom and compassion, magically restored
the eye. Horus did defeat Seth, finally. Horus’s eye, also
called the wadjet eye, became a symbol for health. The Egyptians
considered it a symbol of good and restored health.
The symbol was passed along through the ages.
As William Osler wrote in 1910, “In a cursive form it is found in mediaeval
translations of the works of Ptolemy the astrologer, as the sign of the
planet Jupiter. As such it was placed upon horoscopes and upon formula
containing drugs made for administration to the body, so that the harmful
properties of these drugs might be removed under the influence of the lucky
There is another theory of Rx’s origin.
In that version, Rx is an abbreviation for the Latin word recipere,
which means “take” or “take thus.” Long ago, this would not
have been a direction to a patient but to a pharmacist, preceding the physician’s
“recipe” for preparing a medication.
That may be, but the shape of the symbol is a strong
argument in favor of the Eye of Horus as its origin.
If you look closely at the major lines of the eye
of Horus, you can see the elements of the symbol Rx.
TOP TO BOTTOM: The Eye of
Horus, the symbol for Jupiter, and the Rx symbol share similar elements.