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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

SWASTIKA

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Some examples of Swastika motifs from Ancient times to the 20th Century
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The term Swastika is derived from a Sanskrit root meaning "so be it".   It has been a common religious symbol since at least 10,000 BC.   It has appeared in religious art in India, Japan, Greece, Rome, Asia Minor, China, Persia, Libya, Scandinavia, Iceland and the British Isles.   The Greeks called the swastika the Gammadion, since it appeared to be composed of four Greek gammas, and considered it to be a sacred symbol.   In India it is known as the Dorje.   To the Norse it was a Sun symbol and became the sign of Thor's hammer in the Runic alphabet.   It also appears in Native American art, and is considered by all those cultures mentioned as a symbol of good fortune.

It is ordinarily drawn with arms pointing clockwise and was regarded as a solar symbol.   Drawn with counter-clockwise arms (a Sauvastika) it represented the moon or the feminine.   Variations in medieval art and heraldry include the Croix Gamme, Gamma Cross or Gammadion, the Fulfot or Fylfot, the Croix Cramponee and the Germanic Hakenkreuz, or crooked cross.   Its Nordic association made it of interest to the likes of the Thule Society, who introduced it to the Nazi movement.   But its position was reversed, so that its direction, instead of being clockwise, was anti-clockwise - said to be the direction of unreason and chaos.

The Nazi's use of this symbol has lead most people in modern Western society to associate it with evil, but this was certainly not its original connotation at all.

see also: THULE SOCIETY; NAZI MYSTICISM


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PLEASE NOTE:
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc



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