Exploring Swastika Symbol Meaning From Around the World
Regrettably, swastika symbol meaning has been horribly marred due to the Nazi regime, when the symbol was the icon for the atrocities committed during WWII.
The goal of this article is to expose the swastika (also known as svastika or also a fylfot) in its many different forms and meanings around the world and throughout history.
Various cultures have their own term for their version of the swastika. The term swastika is a blanket word for four-armed or four-angled symbols.
In the Hindu language, the term swastika means ‘well being.’ This is the first of many examples demonstrating this symbol as the complete opposite of evil connotations inherited by Nazi Germany.
Swastika symbol meaning varies according to era and culture. This symbol has been around for over 3,000 years. It has made its appearance throughout the ages in China, Japan, India, Greece, as well as Celtic and Native American cultures. The swastika has also been featured in alchemy and even Christianity.
Swastika Symbol Meaning in Hinduism and Buddhism
The swastika, also known as sauvastika is not only a religious symbol in this culture, it is also considered a lucky symbol. It is said to bring about great prosperity and good fortune. The symbol adorns statues, buildings, textiles, and it is even painted on bodies for various festivals. The swastika is commonly used in ceremonies. For example, this symbol is strongly featured during weddings with Ganesh, the elephant god of luck placed in the center of the cross to insure blessings upon the marriage.
The arms of the sauvastika represent the directions and cycles of life. These extensions give a sense of motion, which symbolizes the forward motion of human life. The four dots represent the four concepts of Karma: Right thought, right words, right actions, and right understanding.
Swastika Symbol Meaning – Greece
The above shown symbol is an artistic rendition of a tetraskelion, which is the Greek version of the swastika. This symbol is also found in other regions of ancient Europe. It’s not always in the form of horses, as show above. Sometimes this ornate swastika was created with arms, wings, snakes or other features from nature.
In this symbol, the horse is symbolic of the chariot of the Greek titan Helios, who represented the sun. In myth, the grand chariot of Helios was pulled by four horses: Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon. The circle in the center is symbolic of the sun.
Swastika Symbol as a Swedish Rune
This swastika symbol meaning deals with paths taken in the afterlife. It was a symbol commonly found on Scandinavian grave sites. Notice all the lines connecting and crossing each other. This is symbolic of the infinite nature of life – even in the afterlife. The center cross has been known to symbolize the womb. In Norse belief, the transition from physical to non-physical is all about returning to the source of life – the womb of the mother. In essence, this Norse rune represents journey through afterlife with the goal of returning back to mother earth (or mother sea in some accounts).
Swastika Symbol in Native American Tradition
This symbol can be seen carved upon numerous stone structures in New Mexico and Arizona. This is where the Hopi hailed from and believed the swastika symbol meaning dealt with their origin and ultimate destination of their clans. The center cross is symbolic of TuwanasaviI, this is the center of the world. It is also considered the center of the Hopi soul.
Legend states that the first Hopi clans were at the center of the world, and centered within their souls. With assistance from Spirit, the four clans were guided in a certain direction: North, South, East, West. After traveling out (from the center cross) both physically and spiritually, each clan turned left, which is symbolic of turning towards the earth. Other clans were guided to turn right, which was a migration towards the sun.
Swastika Symbol Meaning From Pagan Perspective
This version of the fylfot (or swastika) started its life as a Pagan sun wheel symbol. It represents the movement of the four seasons. Each of the four arms of the symbol are also symbolic of the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air, Water. Pagans assigned spiritual energy to all things in Nature. Consequently, each arm of this symbol stands for the energy of each element: Salamander (fire), Gnome (earth), Sylph (air) and Undine (water).
Later, the symbol was adopted by Christians. In the early days, being a Christian wasn’t the most popular choice. There was a lot of controversy about the new religion. Early Christians used this symbol as a sign to other Christians that they were among fellow believers. This symbol is also called crux dissimulata because it disguised the Christian cross, and helped believers avoid persecution.
Native American Version of the Swastika Symbol
This is an artistic rendition of swastika symbol from the Native American Ho-Chąąnk people (also known as Winnebago tribe). Four birds in a four angled design have been located on Ho-Chąąnk burial grounds. This is a nod to both creation and death. One ancient Native creation myth describes four magical bird clans who came from the heavens to populate the earth. In time, these clans evolved into different sects. But the birds clans were the first. This bird motif on grave sites is symbolic of flying back to the great Spirit or Creator at the time of death. The first four ancient bird clans are: Eagle, Dove, Vulture and Owl.
The eagle provided power and the courage of a warrior as a tribal member walked through the after life. The vulture insured all physical remains of the body were removed so that the soul could be fully released to move through the after world. The owl gave his eyesight and senses through the shadowy unknown of the after life. And the dove gave the deceased a calm, sweet countenance…a feeling of nurturing and peace throughout the after life journey.
The symbol in the middle is the union of all great spirits with the center of the crossing lines representing the ultimate Creator, as well as the ultimate destination of the soul.
Celtic Version of Swastika Symbol Meaning – Brigid’s Cross
In Celtic mythology Brigid was the goddess of the mighty Tuatha Dé Danann. These were four clans who were guided into Ireland to begin a new life. As a powerful goddess of one of these clans, Brigid was celebrated during the time of Imbolc, a festival marking new beginnings, and Springtime.
Brigid’s cross, also known as a sun-wheel, was typically woven out of straw or rushes. Once made during Imbolc, these ornaments were customarily hung in the home as a symbol of protection.
Each of the arms of Brigid’s cross represents the four Irish clans of the Tuatha Dé Danann, ruled by individual deities who were: Lugh, Fal, Nuada and Dagda.
Meaning of the Directions of the Swastika Symbol
Throughout most cultures, there is a sweeping consensus as to directional representation of the swastika.
If the symbol is turning clockwise (right), this is symbolic of opening up to sun energy. Conversely, if turning counter-clockwise (left), this allows an opening to moon energy. This is an age-old concept that attempts to define universal polarity.
For example, sun energy is symbolic of: Masculinity, Assertiveness, Passion, Truth. On the other hand, moon energy is the opposite, symbolic of: Femininity, Restrained, Calm, Mystery.
Closing Thoughts on Swastika Symbol Meaning
I hope you enjoyed this article on the various meaning of the swastika. It was my highest goal to shed new light on this symbol. I think it also teaches a symbolic lesson that just because a symbol has gotten a bad reputation (such as Nazi German swastika), that doesn’t mean the symbol has always stood for a maligned concept.
Segments of populations have been adopting and changing the meaning of preexisting symbols for eons. That means one symbol almost never has one single meaning.
Don’t let this be the end of your research on swastika symbol meaning. In fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are lots more versions of these symbols, and with each version, there is are different meanings.
If you liked this article, you might enjoy the related links listed below. As always, thanks for reading.