The Cross isn’t exactly a Christian sign, even though it might now be readily recognised as a Christian symbol. The Cross has existed as a potent symbol for ages. It has been employed across cultures, way before Christianity even came into being…in any form. Crosses have existed as petroglyphs in caves, from the Iron age, and have been found across cultures and history. In spite of its simplicity of depiction, it has always represented potent forces.
Symbologists seem to concur that the cross, as a symbol, was meant to denote the conjunction/copulation of the Male principle with the female principle. The male being the vertical stroke, and the female being the horizontal stroke. This was essentially the basis of Shiv Linga for us, here in India, being given a 3D representation to a 2D symbol. Even Swami Vivekananda had also observed the fact that the Cross was nothing other than the Shivalinga and Yoni.
The cross was also the basis of the ‘Ankh’, or the Crux Ansata. The sign has a cross shape but with an oval loop in place of an upper bar. It also denotes the same ‘creative force’ of consciousness coming into existence as manifested. The loop of the ‘ankh’ is the same as the Yoni of the lingam (the lingam being the staff)
“This combination represented the male and female procreative organs. Referring to the female symbol on this cross—the circle—by the Hindu term yoni,
“The crux ansata (cross with a handle) was used all over the world from India, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt, to Sweden and Denmark (old Runic) and in the Western Continent. . . . It is the ankh of the Egyptians, the symbol of life, because it represents the feminine yoni in union with the masculine tau cross.”Sex and Sex Worship by O. A. Wall, page 359:
The Egyptians have frequently depicted the ankh being held in gods’ hands, representing their life-giving power. Their priests were the first to carry a staff which had the representation of the cross at its head and many a time depicting the ankh.
The cross was used by worshipers of Tammuz/Damuzid, an Ancient, Near East deity of Babylonian origin, who had the cross shaped taw (tau) as their symbol. The Tau symbolized the consummation of the marriage of Goddess Inanna (later to be called Ishtar, from whom we get Easter) and Dumuzid, a symbol of Holy Matrimony, just as Shiva comes together with Shakti. In ancient Babylonia, Egypt, as also in modern China, India, Korea, the cross is venerated by the masses as a charm of great power.
The first Christians were definitely against the usage of the cross as a symbol. For them, it was more a symbol of torture, on account of what Jesus had to face. Moreover, their faith forbade any symbolical depiction. As Tertullian, an early Christian form Carthage is supposed to have observed:
“Crosses, moreover, we neither worship nor wish for. You, indeed, who consecrate gods of wood, adore wooden crosses perhaps as parts of your gods. . . . Your victorious trophies not only imitate the appearance of a simple cross, but also that of a man affixed to it.”
Also, the ‘cross’ on which Jesus is said to have been crucified was more a ‘T’ shaped placement of beams than the ‘cross‘ as we know it. The Greek word, generally translated as “cross”, is stau ros. It basically means “an upright pale or stake “. True Christians do not use the cross in worship, for Jesus Christ did not die on a “cross”. Bible writers use another word of the instrument of Jesus’ death. Its the Greek word xy’lon. (Acts 5:30, 10:39, 13:29, Galatians 3:13, 1Peter 2:24) This word simply means “timber” or a stick “, club or tree.
It wasn’t until much later, as posited by many, at least 6 Centuries later, that the Cross was adopted as a symbol to represent Christianity.
A letter, ascribed in the Augustan History to Emperor Hadrian, refers to the worship of Serapis (Egyptian God) by residents of Egypt who described themselves as Christians, and Christian were those claiming to worship Serapis:
The land of Egypt, the praises of which you have been recounting to me, my dear Servianus, I have found to be wholly light-minded, unstable, and blown about by every breath of rumour. There those who worship Serapis are, in fact, Christians, and those who call themselves bishops of Christ are, in fact, devotees of Serapis.
In fact, the ‘Tau’ was an ancient symbol of mysteries in ancient Egypt and it became adopted as the symbol of worship by many Christian. Christianity, at this stage, was a very amorphous, loose faith.
Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy have observed:
“That which is now called the Christian cross was originally no Christian emblem at all but was the mystic Tau of the Chaldeans and Egyptians — the true original form of the letter T — the initial of the name of Tammuz… That mystic Tau was marked in baptism on the foreheads of those initiated in the Mysteries and was used in every variety of way as a most sacred symbol… The Vestal virgins of Pagan Rome wore it suspended from their necklaces, as the nuns do now. The Egyptians did the same… There is hardly a Pagan tribe where the cross has not been found. The cross was worshipped by the Pagan Celts long before the incarnation and death of Christ.”
What is known for sure is that early Christianity spread from Jerusalem to the Antalay regions of Turkey, the Alexandria region of Egypt as also to Greece and Rome.
What is also known is that it was Emperor Constantine who had the vision of the Cross and looked upon it as a potent symbol who possibly suggested the adoption of the cross as the primary symbol of Christianity in the 4th Century AD, at the council of Nicaea, in present-day Turkey.
This council had been called (and involved the Bishop of Alexandria, among others, who were there to discuss/debate the essential part of current Christianity): the nature of the Son in his relationship to the Father. This was the first instance that creed and canons were created and accepted for the Church.
After assembling the council of Nicea, Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in the 4th Century (just a week or two before his Death, and for very ‘political reasons’ than for faith). Constantine was a Pagan. He adopted the pagan symbolism so that it would be easier for the pagans to convert, as it would provide them with a familiar powerful symbol. Thus, crucifixion was abolished as a punishment, and the cross was promoted as a symbol of the Son of God.
The Swastika, as known as the crux gammata, is a symbol derived from the cross and is in itself a complex cross, taking the copulation of the life-giving action to a confluence of centripetal energies to represent harmony. It has been known by a variety of names across cultures and across history. It is mostly known as the Swastika on account of the first recorded notings by Panini in the 6th century BC.
Read more on Swastika’s connection to Hagia Sophia & how Hitler found his symbol here.
The purpose of this post isn’t meant to assault anyone’s faith.
Hopefully, the symbol of your belief is as potent to you as always, cos it is the significance which you yoke onto it which gives it its potency. I just wanted to prove a point that all that we take as ‘our very own’ and ‘familiar’, might in itself have a whole history behind it. Nothing has been ‘created’ in this realm in isolation.
We can subsequently look into how the “Cresent and Star” have Sumerian antecedents. Which might have gone on to influence both Turkey and Islam.
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