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Swastika

Swastika

One of the most important and widespread symbols in ancient religion, mysticism, and magic is the swastika or tetraske-lion. Essentially, it is a Greek cross with arms of equal length, each with four arms at right angles, either right-handed (regarded as a male symbol implying good fortune) or left-handed (female symbol). The right-handed form is sometimes known as gammadion, i.e., formed from joining four gamma letters.

The swastika is generally regarded as a symbol of the power of the sun, and it may have been derived from a circle divided into four by crossed lines. A variation of the swastika is the Triskele ("three-legged") form, often found on Sicilian coins and used as the emblem of the Isle of Man off the coast of Britain.

The swastika dates back to the Neolithic Age, when it was engraved on stone implements, but it has also been found in many culturesin ancient Britain, Ireland, Mycenae, and Gascony, as well as among the Etruscans, Celts, Hindus, Germanic peoples, Central Asians, and pre-Columbian Americans. The Buddhists regarded it as a chakra or wheel of the law; the Tibetans called it Yun-drun or path of life. The swastika has traveled from the ancient Greek cities of Troy and Mycenae down to the 9th century in Ireland, as well as to Persia, China, North Africa, and Scandinavia.

Some authorities have interpreted the swastika as a symbol of the deity during the Iron Age, and others have associated it with agriculture, compass points, and the origin of the universe. No doubt this universally diffused symbol has acquired many secondary associations in addition to its main association with the sun wheel.

The name "swastika" derives from a long-established use in India, where the expression Su-asti means "Be well," implying auspiciousness and good fortune. Hindu parents mark the symbol on the breast and forehead of a baby, and a swastika formed of ears of wheat is made in the birth chamber. Hindu writers often place a red swastika at the beginning and end of manuscripts; the sign is also marked on floors and paths at weddings. There is a hatha yoga sitting position known as "Swatikasana" or the auspicious posture, in which the legs are crossed and the feet rest on opposite thighs.

The use of the swastika as a Nazi symbol may have derived from German scholarship in the field of Hindu folklore and religion, distorted by such pseudo-mystical occultists as Guido von List, who originated theories of Germanic and Nordic folklore as early as the 1870s. According to List, the swastika was the symbol of a secret band of initiates called the Armanen or "children of the sun," who flourished in ancient times.

It may also have been reputable scholarly discussions of the Indo-European migrations of ancient peoples and cultures that were perverted to the antisemitic doctrine of an Aryan master-race. Before World War I, the use of the swastika symbol was popular among romantic youth folklore movements like the Wandervögel. It was continued by political revolutionaries who had been Wandervögel members and by Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party in the post-war period.

The Nazi swastika was designed by Friedrich Krohn, formerly a member of the Germanen Order, a secret order founded by followers of Guido von List. Krohn's design was adopted around 1920. Ever since, this ancient Hindu sacred symbol of auspiciousness has become inextricably associated with the perverse doctrines of the German Nazis.

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swastika

swastika an ancient symbol in the form of an equal-armed cross with each arm continued at a right angle, used (in clockwise form) as the emblem of the German Nazi party. The word is recorded in English from the late 19th century, and comes ultimately from Sanskrit svasti ‘well-being’.

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swastika

swas·ti·ka / ˈswästikə/ • n. an ancient symbol in the form of an equal-armed cross with each arm continued at a right angle, used (in clockwise form) as the emblem of the German Nazi Party.

swastika

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swastika

swastika the symbol . XIX. — Skr. svastika-, f. svastí- well-being, fortune, luck.

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Swastika

Swastika. See cross.

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swastika

swastikabicker, clicker, dicker, flicker, kicker, liquor, nicker, picker, pricker, shicker, slicker, snicker, sticker, ticker, tricker, vicar, whicker, Wicca, wicker •bilker, milker, Rilke •blinker, clinker, drinker, finca, freethinker, Glinka, Inca, inker, jinker, shrinker, sinker, Soyinka, stinker, stotinka, thinker, tinker, Treblinka, winker •frisker, whisker •kibitka, Sitka •Cyrenaica • Bandaranaike •perestroika • Baedeker • melodica •Boudicca • trafficker • angelica •replica •basilica, silica •frolicker, maiolica, majolica •bootlicker • res publica • mimicker •Anneka • arnica • Seneca • Lineker •picnicker •electronica, harmonica, Honecker, japonica, Monica, moniker, Salonica, santonica, veronica •Guernica • Africa • paprika •America, erica •headshrinker • Armorica • brassica •Jessica • lip-syncer • fossicker •Corsica •Attica, hepatica, sciatica, viatica •Antarctica • billsticker •erotica, exotica •swastika

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Swastika

SWASTIKA

The Sanskrit name (svastika ) for the gamma-cross, a figure consisting of four capital gammas, joined at right angles. One of the most common of ancient symbols, it is found in almost universal use in the cultures or civilizations of Eurasia, and it may have had an independent origin in Africa and the Americas. The Sanskrit term means well-being (from su, well, and asti, is). The swastika, accordingly, was a symbol of good omen, a bringer of luck, prosperity, fertility, protection, and long life. It was employed also as a symbol of fire, lightning, and of the heavenly bodies and their motions. It has a prominent place in the various forms of Buddhism, and in Hinduism and Jainism. Christianity took it over as a form of cross and used it in a Christian signification. However, it has never been a favored Christian symbol. Its employment among the ancient pagan Germanic peoplesalthough not original with themled the founders of German National Socialism (193345) to make it their militant party emblem.

See Also: cross.

Bibliography: j. hasenfuss, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765); suppl., Das Zweite-Vatikanische Konzil: Dokumente und kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al., pt. 1 (1966) 4:132728. j. de vries, Die Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 7 v. (3d ed. Tübingen 195765) 3:3132. g. d'alviella, "Cross 3," j. has tings, ed., Encyclopedia of Religion & Ethics, 13 v. (Edinburgh 190827) 4:327328. p. thomsen, Reallexikon der Vorgeschichte, ed. m. ebert, 15 v. (Berlin 192432) 5:2021.

[p. schmidt]

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