by "the Bard"
This is a precis of information found on the use and meaning of the swastika in various cultures and ideologies.
Swastica: Sanscrit "su" meaning "good" and "asti" meaning "to be"
In order to discuss this symbol, we must first do a little backtracking, with -some- speculation.
It has been postulated that the first method of measuring time was by the moon's phases. These are obvious, easy ways of measuring the year, and we find it, for example, in Woodland AmerIndian culture, along with naming the years by what happened of note that year. The female menstrual cycle seems to follow it, and that would tend to make the moon-calendar (and Goddess concepts) almost universal in hunter-gatherer cultures, and so it is, in the remaining such cultures on our planet.
But this moon-calendar, while quite sufficient for hunter-gatherer cultures, is NOT sufficient for the next "level" of civilization: farmers.
It is not sufficient because it shows a year that, due to the variant lengths of the moon-months, tends to mess up the calculations for harvest time and planting time. Look at the (Lunar-based) Islamic calendar. The months do not fall in the same seasons with regularity, making Ramadan (the fasting month) a real burden when it falls in the heat of summer. Any Muslim or Baha'i can vouch for this (both use a Lunar calendar). You must add an intercalary month (or days) from time to time to make it come out right.
But a -solar- calendar is more accurate. Indeed, you can make a solar calendar at home. Just wait till Midsummer, and mark where the Sun rises on the horizon, from a fixed viewpoint. Then mark Midwinter, and whatever other calendar points strike your fancy. With both of those, plus the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, you will get a layout on the ground that looks a bit like this: (though this one is more regular than most of the real ones)
* * * *
The Sun moves in an apparent circle, so connecting the dots in a ring is a logical next design step. This would be facilitated by taking astronomical observations, adding the directions of the compass, and such other doo-dads to the four seasonal points. When we add the central observation point, we get the Sun-Wheel:
. * . . | . . | . (which also appears in the *------0------* center of the Celtic Cross) . | . . | . . |. *
Stonehenge (which was -not- built by those naughty Druids) and many, many other such circles all over the world all seem to do the same thing: point to the seasonal position of the Sun and stars.
If you have an accurate calendar, you know to a pinpoint when you need to plant. This is a simple -survival- thing. If you plant at the wrong time, you, your family and friends all starve to death. This tends to make such things IMPORTANT, and they would be a commonly repeated religous / artistic motif in such cultures. What with the Milky Way and it's apparent "belting" of the Earth, the Zodiac, and the apparent circular motion of the Sun, we get a -repeating- theme of circularity that perhaps might lead to the dichotomies of light/dark, alive/dead, and so forth in an endlessly recurring cycle. This makes the circle seem to have some religious significance, and may have led to the -spiral- design (another very common artistic theme in primitive cultures) having a related meaning, but a bit more esoteric.
It is an easy design-step from this to the swastika. There is no occult origin here. Just a very clever Sun calendar illustration that is found all over the world......and most probably for the same reason: it told the time.
It is such an ancient symbol that its true origins are lost in pre-History, but I feel that the above -speculation- is probably hitting pretty close to the mark.
Now, let's get a little more specific:
The symbol is pretty much universal throughout the world. It is found in such diverse cultures as:
China India Japan Tibet Egypt Ancient Crete Ancient Troy (level of excavation unknown) Scotland (Picts) Ancient Ireland Kickapoo Indians Tennessee and Ohio Indian burial mounds (Hopewell Mound) Pottawatomie Indians Hopi Indians Zuni Indians Old Norse Plains Indians (who were originally -farmers- until they were pushed into the Plains by neighboring tribes, and then became nomadic) Central American Maya and Aztec (two -very- different cultures!) Buddhist (found on the soles of the Buddha's feet, in statuary) Pre-Hejira Arabs Seen on a quilt pattern (age and pattern name unknown) A variant with only three arms is used on the Isle of Man, and is known as a "triskeleon." It is usually represented as three -legs- and thus suggests the act of running. Found in the Catacombs of Rome (see Crux Dissimulata) A coin of Ethelred of Northumbria (9th cent. CE) Embroidered on Christian vestments (8th and 9th cent. CE) English heraldry: CHAMBERLAYNE (Argent, a chevron between three fylfots gules) circa 1394 CE German heraldry: VON TALE (Ecartele en equerre de gueules et d'argent) (date unknown) (English blazon: Quarterly per fylfot gules and argent.) "Equerre" refers to the carpenter's square, and may be a clue as to the usage of it by the early Christians, due to Joseph's occupation as a carpenter. NSDAP (Nazi Party) (Gules, on a roundel argent a fylfot reversed in bend sable) circa 1920-1945 CE. (note: many other combinations of designs were used by the NSDAP, usually combining gules, sable and argent with the swastika.) German medieval brasses (usage unknown) MS Landsdowne, no. 874, circa 1480 CE, uses the name "fylfot" to describe a monogram of the initials "F.F." Austria (an anti-Semetic emblem used post WW-I) Estonia (circa WW-I and post-War) Finland (circa WW-I and post-War)
"There is no reason to suppose that all of these have been derived from a common source...." (Gough & Parker)
The swastika has appeared in different forms, in different places and for different reasons, in human culture since pre-historic times. The meaning has been a "Wheel of Life," a "Sun-Wheel," the four points of the compass, the four winds, Man himself, a symbol of the Hopi emergence into the current world (showing the directions taken by the various tribes in their wanderings) ... many, many interpetations have been given to this most ancient symbol.
It can be found with both right-angled arms, and with curved arms rather like two letters "S" superimposed at right-angles to each other.
It's wide distribution in so many varying cultures shows quite conclusively that it is neither an "Aryan" nor an non-"Aryan" symbol, the pretensions of the NSDAP (German Nazi Party) and their descendants notwithstanding.
The Oriental interpetation has been that of a "Sun-Wheel," with the right-handed version being for "life" or the Sun, and the left-handed version being for "death" or the Moon.
---- ---- | | | | --------- --------- | | | | ---- ---- "right handed" "left handed" ------> Sunwise (deasil) <------ Widdershins rotation rotation (heraldic default position) (heraldic reversed position)
It is interesting to note that the original designer of the insignia of the NSDAP, Dr. Freidrich Krohn (see below), initially drew it right-handed, but Hitler insisted on its being changed to the left-handed version.
The Brahmins use it to make fire within an "arani," a disc-like wooden object where fire is made by friction with the pramantha (see above) symbolizing the male generator. The symbol is regarded as the "womb of the world" in a ceremonial/mystical sense.
The Old Norse -may- have used it as a symbol for Thor, i.e. for the thunder and lightning, and this (if true) could very well be the source of its use in England (from the Norse invasions of the 9th and 10th centuries CE) and its use in the other Germanic countries. The Old Norse -may- have gotten it thru their trade contacts with Byzantium and China. (The Norse tended to trade more than raid, popular modern legends notwithstanding.)
The common Norse shield-decoration, called by heralds a "gyronny - arondee" may have evolved from the crossed "S" form. The "Hammer" (an inverted "T") was the most common symbol for Thor, however.
Heraldic usage regards it as just another Cross, though its usage in new heraldry is actively discouraged, and in some heraldic jurisdictions outright forbidden, due to the connotations of shame and evil that it has gathered from its Nazi associations.
Nazi Germany's use of it has an interesting history. The initial association that the symbol seems to have had was that of extreme nationalism, but not necessarily associated with the Nazi Party. It was first used in this context about 1870 CE by the Austrian Pan-German followers of Schoenerer.
Wilhelm Schwaner displayed a swastika on the title page of his "voelkish" periodical "Der Volkserzeiher" in 1897 CE as a symbol of the paper's "voelkish" sentiments, and this may be the first printed usage of it in this context.
(nb: the German word "voelkish" is essentially untranslatable to English. It means a "German-ness," a patriotism that transends national boundaries and time, to include everything that is truly "Germanic," a "cult of the race," if you will.)
By 1912, the swastika was seen in use by many "voelkish" groups, and the "voelkish" thought began to take on an anti-Semitic cast. It was popular enough that the firm of Eckloeh began manufacturing badges, tie pins, buckles, and other such artifacts incorporating the device.
It was also used as a national emblem by Estonia and Finland in this period, being most familiar in photos of the Finnish Air Force during the Winter War with the Soviet Union.
The "Wandervoegel" youth movement became very familiar with the symbol, being very "voelkish" in nature, and thus, the soldiers of Imperial Germany in WW I knew of the swastika and associated it with "voelkish" sentiments.
These "voelkish" sentiments included a reverence for the operatic works of Wagner, an interest in the Grail Cycle of legends, the belief that the "Aryan" race is the "Herrenvolk" or "Master Race" of humanity, and a belief in an international Jewish conspiracy to control the world, as outlined in the so-called "Protocols Of The Elders Of Zion."
One can only imagine the consternation that may have resulted when these soldiers of Germany saw the device being used as part of the insignia of the famous "Lafayette Escadrille," the American pilots that fought for the Allies before America's entry into WW I (the "Great War.")
After 1918, the swastika was adopted by many of the "Freikorps" units, being seen in photographs of the Erhardt Brigade in its liberation of Munich from the Communists in April of 1919. Very soon after, the Hakenkreuz was no longer a romantic "voelkish" symbol, but an expression of right-wing opposition to the Weimar Republic.
In America, it remained an American Indian symbol, and was quite commonly used in "Indian Lore" of the Boy Scouts, as evidenced by its usage on the back cover of my copy (original) of William Tomkins' "American Indian Sign Language." (circa 1928; currently in reprint from Dover Publications.) The German fascination with "Cowboys and Indians" in the books of Karl May ("Der Alte Shatterhand") may have served in another way to bring this symbol forward in the minds of the people. It is known that Hitler had quite a large collection of Karl May's novels. I have no information at this time as to when Karl May first became popular in Germany, whether before or after WW I.
Therefore, when Hitler chose the swastika as the symbol of the NSDAP, he was quite probably conciously choosing an already familiar symbol that already had the tenets of National Socialist ideology attached to it in the minds of the German public. This act of adopting an already familiar badge is just one more point of evidence that Hitler was a canny and cunning man, and willing to steal and pervert whatever would advance his program.
The badge of the NSDAP was designed by Dr. Friedrich Krohn, a dentist who had belonged to several "voelkish" groups, including the "Germanen Order" (membership in which, incidentally, precluded -any- advancement in the NSDAP). As mentioned above, the symbol was originally drawn right-handed, and Adolph Hitler insisted on its being reversed. Many occultists shook their heads at this, thinking (rightly) that it presaged a bad end for Hilter's Germany.
The Nazis tended to extremes in their interpetations of the meaning behind the swastika, from Guido von List's insistence that it was related to the Runic letter "G" and thus had meaning to ancient Scandanavian scops (I have -never- found such in -my- readings....!!) to Friedrich Dolleger's attempt to tie in the Cretans and others of the Near East as Germanic peoples, to Ludwig Fahrenkrog's Buddhist-derived Theosophic analysis that the right handed form meant "to God" and the left handed form "away from God."
Nazi Germany took an ancient symbol and perverted it to such a degree that it can never be used again without bringing up all the associations of death, destruction, hatred and vileness that the NSDAP perpetrated. If the Swastika is displayed in any of the "civilized" parts of the earth, the reactions of the viewer are universally of rage and disgust. This perversion of "right" may be one of the prime evils of the Nazis; they took patriotism, honorable military service and its associated ritual, chivalry, and the concept of "voelkishness," among so many other good and useful things, and perverted them into something so bad, so evil and vile, that to call a person a "Nazi" is one of the most terrible epithets a human can use.
The "Aryan" "Herrenvolk" (Master Race) myth is still with us, in the mythos' of the "skinheads" and of the (pseudo) Christian "Identity" Church/ Movement in North America, not to mention the well-known Ku Klux Klan and its various offshoots. (who have taken another ancient and honorable symbol, the Scots "fiery Cross" clan rallying sign, and perverted it to a degraded usage.)
Some groups of the "Odinist" tradition tend towards an "Aryan" Master Race attitude also, although this is dying out quickly.
The "separate-but-equal" doctrine preached by some of the "King James (Bible) Only" Christian Fundamentalist groups does -not- (apparently) include a regard of non-white races as inferior, however.
An interesting -reversal- has been seen in the theory that the "Aryans" are a "satanic" influenced "race," fathered by the "giants" of Biblical reference (the basis being the belief that the "giants" mentioned in the Bible were the offspring of angels that mated with human women) and that the "race" thus produced has been working against Christianity for thousands of years, taking the widespread use of the swastika and using this as "evidence" of sun-worship in any culture that uses/used it. (and taking sun-worship as "satanic...") With some rather strained linguistic analysis, some rather fuzzy and sloppily documented books, and the known involvement of a few of the leaders of the NSDAP with "occult" groups in pre-WW II Germany, a picture emerges of a world-wide and history-wide conspiracy.
This can be seen as a typical "Conspiracy Theory Of History," bringing in everything from the ancient Druids, Theosophy, the World Bank, the Council On Foreign Relations, the Rockefellers, the Merovingian dynasty, the Illuminatti, modern neo-Pagans and the so-called "New Age Movement" (and, seemingly, everything else that can be made to fit) into a "Great Conspiracy." It is fascinating to watch the parallels in the rhetoric of these belief systems with that of the Nazis, and to see how much it "buys into" the Nazi Big Lie.
The "Black Muslim" mythos of the "devil white man" is another example of the reversal of the "Herrenvolk" myth by an oppressed racial minority. So far I have not seen any other such beliefs in other minorities within the USA.
Both the "Herrenvolk" myth, and its reversals, perpetuate the cycle of hatred against those who are not "our kind of people;" the attitude of "us against them;" thus forwarding the Nazi mind-set into the modern world, and encouraging division and suspicion in humanity.
If Satan has a program, this division and hatred certainly would suit his purposes very well indeed.
"A Treasury Of American Superstions"
De Lys, Claudia; Philosophical Library, NY MCMXLVIII
"A Dictionary Of Heraldry"
Friar, Stephen; Harmony Books, NY 1987
"A Glossary Of The Terms Used In Heraldry"
Gough & Parker, Gale Research Co. 1966
"The Book Of Signs"
Koch, Rudolph; Dover Publications 1955
"The Holy Bible"
King James Version
"Man, Myth and Magic"
Marshall Cavendish Corp., NY 1970
"The Spear Of Destiny"
Ravenscroft, Trevor; G.P. Putnam's Sons 1973
(note: most of this book's core concepts are -not- referenced, being "written from memory" or "seen in visions" or "seen in astral travel" and thus must not be taken as "hard" information.)
"The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich"
Shirer, Wm. L.; Simon & Schuster, NY 1960
Tolland, John; Doubleday 1976
"Dictionary Of Pagan Religions"
Wedeck, H.E. and Baskin, Wade; Philosophical Library NY, 1971
"Woodward's A Treatise On Heraldry, British And Foreign"
Woodward, John and Burnett, Chas. E.; Charles E. Tuttle Co. Rutland, Vermont 1969
"The Book Of The Hopi"
(my copy currently is mislaid, so no biblio info at this time)
Various conversations monitored on Computer Bulletin Board message areas:
OPEN_BIBLE: "Rick Savage," "Michael Haight," "Ralph Stokes" et. al.
CULT_WATCH: "Robert Lee" et. al.
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