Steven Richheimer: True meaning of the swastika |

Steven Richheimer: True meaning of the swastika

Today in the West, the swastika is considered a symbol of hate and is highly stigmatized because it is associated with Nazism. However, its origins date back at least 12,000 years, and historically, it has symbolized well-being, good luck and spiritual success.

The word "swastika" is derived from Sanskrit: su (good) + asti (being) + ka (neutral object). It is considered a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, where it can be seen on many temples and religious objects.

Besides being an ancient symbol of these Eastern religions, it has been found in Neolithic Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and China. It was also used by Celts, Greeks, Roman, Germanic and Slavic tribes, and by Native Americans. Archaeological evidence suggests that it served as a good luck charm or religious symbol in these various cultures.

Unlike the cross, which is another important religious symbol, that connotes earth or matter, the twisted cross or swastika symbolizes movement about the center.

Both Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell argued that the swastika was another example of a symbol that was adopted by many cultures that had no historical contact with one another and was universally associated with good luck and success. As such both men felt that the experience of being human is a collective experience across time, space and culture, and that our common myths and symbol can be traced to our most primitive origins of human consciousness or "archetypes" that are communicated by what Jung termed the "collective unconscious."

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Probably due to the swastika's ancient Aryan/Indian origins, in the early 20th century, German nationalists began to use the swastika as a representation of Germanic/Aryan superiority. For Hitler, the new flag was a symbol of struggle and eventual success. It is ironic, yet very sad, that the swastika — this ancient symbol of spiritual victory and attainment, was appropriated by a force that used it for exactly the opposite reasons — to enslave and brutalize human beings.

Today in the Western world, the swastika is often painted by people whose intention is to promote anti-Semitism and hate. However, its power to incite disgust among us can only exist when we fall victim to associating it with hatred instead of what it truly symbolizes — achieving the very goal of human existence — spiritual growth and ultimate unity.

Steven Richheimer

Steamboat Springs

Editor’s note: Steven Richheimer, PhD, is the author of “The Unity Principle,” “The Link between Science and Spirituality” and “The Nonlocal Universe, Why Science Validates the Spiritual Worldview.”