THE SOLAR CROSS

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crosses-celtic-22.jpgcelticcross2-celtic-11.jpgThere are many simple geometric symbols that resonate deeply with the human psyche. Examples include the circle, the sunburst, the swastika, various spirals, the cross, and other radially symmetrical designs.

Neuropsychologists have confirmed what Carl Jung intuited a century ago: these basic geometric designs are hard-wired in the human brain, interacting via the visual cortex with symbolic representations buried deep in the regions of the brain where the primal responses to stimuli are rage, awe, and fear.

This helps explains why various symbolic designs exert a fascination over the mind that transcends time and culture. Variants on the most basic symbols were scratched on ivory or painted on cave walls before the dawn of the Neolithic. As prehistoric symbologies passed into historic times, the designs were elaborated and extended, and developed complex cultural and mythological associations to accompany their instinctive fascination.
One such design is known as the solar cross or the sun wheel, and consists of a simple four-part cross overlaid on a circle. As the Indo-European tribes exploded out of Central Asia in the third millennium before Christ, they brought with them the solar cross, using it to represent a wheel on the chariot that carried the sun god across the sky. (*)

The design recurs in many variants across all human cultures. A version known as the Caddo cross was used by prehistoric Indians in what is now the southeastern United States. Other variants on the solar cross can be found in India, China, Africa, and Europe. Pagan versions were merged with the Christian cross in Europe as the continent was converted to Christianity in the first millennium.

Monday, December 03, 2007

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(*) According to the Wikipedia entry on the sun cross: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_cross)
The sun cross, a cross inside a circle, is one of the oldest and most universal religious symbols, and a popular neopagan solar symbol. It is also known as the suncross, solar cross, sun wheel, sunwheel, sun disc.

In neopaganism, the terms sun cross and sun wheel are sometimes also used to refer to swastikas, fylfots and Celtic crosses, understood as cognate symbols.

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