Symbology of the Cross


In our world, there are symbols every where.  So, what exactly is a symbol?  The dictionary defines a symbol as “a person or a concept that represents, stands for or suggests another idea, visual image, belief, action or material entity.”

We use symbols for just about everything, from driving to religious.  One of the symbols that is very prominent is the Cross.  Normally, we relate the cross with Christianity as it is a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus.  The Cross is related to the ‘crucifix’ which is a cross that includes a three dimensional image of the body of Jesus Christ.  Many do not realize that the cross is an ancient symbol and that it’s use predates Jesus, Christianity.  But surprisingly, the bible doesn’t really describe the instrument that Jesus was crucified.  Acts 5:30; 10:30 and 13;28-29 actually refer to it as a “tree”.  The Greek word that was used was xulon,  and can mean a stick, club, tree, stake or other wooden articles. Not so surprisingly, the word “cross” appears 28 times in the New Testament, and in all cases, it is translated from the Greek word stauros. The original meaning of stauros  isnt “a cross”, it is an upright stake. I was also surprised to learn that the Christian use of the cross did not begin until the time of Constantine (discovered by his Mother Empress Helena in a crypt under the Temple of Aphrodite), which was three centuries after Jesus.  

The ancient Greek Diana is sometimes pictured with a cross over her head, similar to the way many medieval artists put on the “Virgin Mary”.  And lets not forget the Greek God Bacchus, God of wine, is often pictured as wearing a headdress adorned with crosses.  There were many crosses used in Mexico, before the Spaniards arrived. The Hindus and Egyptians can’t be left out either, as the Egyptians used cross in symbols of abundance.  In the British Museum there is a statue of Assyrian king Samsi-Vul, son of Shalaneser, wearing a Maltese cross around his neck.  The statue of Ashur-nasir-pal also has a similar cross.  In prehistoric rock carvings from Crete, at Tintagel in Cornwall, Weir Island in Finland, and Chartres Cathedral Spiral “feminine” labyrinths were shown to penetrated by a cross.  Could this be read into as a symbol of fertility as well?

In fact, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, has been used since the dawn of man’s civilization.  It also goes on to state “The use of the cross as a religious symbol in pre-Christian times, and among non-Christian peoples, may probably be regarded as almost universal, and in very many cases it was connected with some form of nature worship”.  There has been much talk about how Christianity shares many holy days with Paganism.  And one of these examples is that Tammuz. If you’re Christian, you might recall this name from the book Ezekiel chapter 8;14, but Tammuz is a Mesopotamian God of fertility embodying the powers of new life in nature in the spring.  The cult of Tammuz celebrated two yearly festivals one held in early spring and then in late winter.  According to historian Alexander Hislop, Tammuz was associated with the Babylonian mystery religions that were began by the worship of Nimrod, Semiramis and her illegitimate son, Horus.  He noted the original form of the Babylonian letter T was that is identical to the Christian cross. Tau-cross-st-francis Today, it is the Latin cross that is most used.  During baptism into the Mysteries, the Tau (cross) was marked upon the head of the initiate.  In just about every Pagan tribe, there has been found some kind of cross used. Even Vestal Virgins wore crosses around their necks, just the way Christian nuns do now. What I find fascinating is that the Tau cross, an indisputable sign of Tammuz, was seen as a sign of the false Messiah, Tammuz, but it has  some how been carried over to represent the true Messiah (Christianity) Jesus.   The Encyclopedia Britannica (1910 11th ed) states the the Christians knew of the occult significance and used its symbolism to represent a special meaning among their religion.  Minueius Felix, a church father of the 3rd century, denied that Christians worshiped the cross.  celtic-crossceltiberiatradersHe stated “You it is, ye Pagans, who are the most likely people to adore wooden crosses…for what else are you ensigns, flags, and standards, but crosses gilt and beautiful. Your victorious trophies not only represent a simple cross, but a cross with a man on it”.  It is not uncommon for religions/beliefs to take from one another.  Even in Voudou, it was very common for a tribe to take over the Gods of the tribe they defeated.  Is this the case with the cross?

Many suggest that the four points of a cross represent self, nature, wisdom, and higher power or being….but the meaning of the pentagram does pretty much the same thing.  The pentagram represents earth, air, fire, water, and spirit.  In the Occult, the cross means “as above, so below”.  The Egyptian Ankh, a cross with a circle on top, means life everlasting and rebirth.  In all accounts, it has a patriarchal meaning, as it is a phallic symbol.

I feel that in today’s world, the cross represents hope.  It connects us to something more powerful than ourself, our salvation from the burdens of this world, a knowing that if we do make wrong choices, there will be forgiveness at the end. But even if it does symbolize something quite different than what it was created to mean, it is still very important to study the meanings of these symbols that we wear or tatoo upon our bodies.  These energies still remain.



The Women’s Encylopendia of Myths and Secrets by Barbara G Walker

An accumulation of my learnings 🙂

photos: Celt Iberia Traders (Celtic Cross) myself (top), Site Show (Tau Cross with St Francis)

~ by TerraRubrae on April 20, 2017.

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