MYSTERY OF THE SWASTIKA
Immediately one imagines the Gestapo, the massive assemblies of machine-like soldiers, stormtroopers of the Blitzkrieg, and the madness of Adolph Hitler as he attempts to rule the world. A person's first feeling at the sight of the swastika may be a chilling one, evoking the memory or vision of a tragic global war that saw millions persecuted and killed, an event that continues to be an example of rampant, yet orderly, insanity. Yet the meaning of the swastika reaches back much further than-the brutal Third Reich of 20th Century Germany. Whether or not Hitler was aware of its history or sensed its primordial meaning, or if he merely attempted to harness what he observed to be a powerful symbol, is something we'll never know; he never discussed it.
William Shirer, who studied Hitler for several years,writes, "The Nazis now had a symbol which no other party could match. The hooked cross seemed to possess some mystic power of its own, a beacon to action in a new direction to the insecure lower middle classes which had been floundering in the uncertainty of the first chaotic postwar years. They began to flock under its banner."
Symbols such as the swastika have existed countless ages, mysteriously underlying the movement and development of civilization. Ever since man first began to research his past, both professional and amateur archaeologists have been fascinated by the universality of this basic symbol among the world's cultures. The swastika is the oldest known symbol of consistent meaning, found usually moving with its arms bent to the right-though Hitler often displayed it with the direction reversed. Sometimes feared, sometimes praised, it has been found in every region of the earth.
For Hitler, the swastika represented "the struggle for the victory of Aryan man." It was a symbol that he saw would not only express the essence of his new organization, but would appeal at a very basic level to the imagination of the masses, arousing them to follow and fight. In Mein Kampf, he exclaimed at the power of his choice, "A symbol it really is!" When he wrote the doctrine of the National Church, claiming exclusive right and control of all churches within the borders of the Reich, he declared, "On the day of its foundation, the Christian cross must be removed from all churches, cathedrals and chapels, and must be superseded by the only unconquerable symbol, the swastika."
Ironically, the swastika already had been widely used in the early days of the very church which Hitler sought to conquer. In the catacombs it is still found, known as the symbol of the Christ, "the Sun of Righteousness."
In ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs the swastika appears as an instrument of justice, a striking, pounding, unyielding force. It adorns the robes of both an ancient Greek statue of Aphrodite and the cover of a sacred urn found in the Vatican. It is engraved in the jewelry of Troy, as well as on the swords and buckles of the earliest Scandanavian warriors. Countless examples of the "broken cross" are found throughout South and Central America, Iceland, all of Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Far East.
There is an interesting theory developed by Colonel James
Churchward about the existence of a lost civilization called Mu. He describes the land of Mu as a continent inhabited by an advanced civilization of some sixty million people, which sank into the ocean approximately twenty thousand years ago, the islands of the Pacific ocean being the only points high enough to remain above water. Churchward supports his research with documents and various artifacts, some of which exhibit the swastika as a central theme. One of the uncovered documents defined the swastika as being symbolic of the four primal forces, "The Heavenly Architects which emanate from the Great Supreme Infinite One and in doing so create the material universe from chaos."
The word Swastika comes from the first recorded language of man, Sanskrit, the traditional language of the Indian scriptures, and the basis of all Indo-Aryan languages, including English. "Swastika" is translated "of good fortune." The footprints of the Buddha, carved in stone in the fifth century B.C., bear the swastika as a symbol of benediction and luck to a fifth of the world's population.
In the Smithsonian Institute report for the year 1894 there is a story from India recorded by General L. Wallace:
"I am a Prince of India, a disciple of Siddhartha … To an ancestor of mine, Maha Lashiapa, Buddha happened to have entrusted His innermost mysteries - that is, He made him keeper of the pure secret of the Eye of Right Doctrine.
Behold the symbol of that Doctrine."
The Prince drew a leaf of ivory, worn and yellow, from a pocket under his pelisse and passed it to Mohammed, saying, "Will my Lord look?"
Mohammed took the leaf, and in the silver sunk into it he saw this sign:
"I see," he said gravely. "Give me its meaning."
"Nay, my lord, did I that, the Doctrine of which they made me keeper the very highest of Buddhistic honors would then no longer be a secret. The symbol is of vast sanctity. There is never a genuine image of the Buddha without it over His heart. It is the monogram of Vishnu and Shiva, but as to its meaning I can only say that every Brahmin of learning views it worshipfully, knowing it to be the compression of the whole of the mind of the Buddha."
Many a child in the southwest United States, well aware of Hitler's terrors since an early age, has been surprised to discover swastikas in unlikely places, perhaps engraved on the concrete pillar of an old bridge or on the cornerstone of a downtown building.
The first white settlers were attracted to this symbol and used it extensively for ornamental purposes. To the Hopi Indians the swastika was a sacred symbol. Their legends say that the swastika describes the pattern their ancestors followed while journeying outward from "Oraibi," the center of the material universe.
Though no communication has been discovered between most of the civilizations in which the swastika is found, the concept of it seems to be consistent: an expression of a deep pattern of some universal force, be it law, righteousness or luck.
The swastika is but one example of a number of symbols which have migrated through time and culture by some unknown means. The six-pointed star, known to the Jewish people as the Star of David, is also familiar to the people of Japan, India and China. The ancient Eye of Osiris from the Egyptian pyramids is also found in many cultures, but is best known to us as it appears on the back of the one-dollar bill.
A great part of the work of Carl Jung, the renowned psychologist, was concerned with the individual's understanding of symbols. In studies which he conducted, he found that some of his patients would reproduce certain symbols in their art work that are found elsewhere, yet the symbols were not part of their previous experience. He became aware of the ability of certain symbols to retain a great deal of their "spell." They could even, after a long period of time, continue to evoke a deep emotional response similar to their original meaning. There is a developing feeling that these archetypes, as Jung called them, are perhaps reflections of actual forms possibly inherent in human consciousness. Jung commented that "their origin is so far buried in the mystery of the past that they seem to have no human source."