One of the most important and widespread symbols in ancient
religion, mysticism, and magic is the swastika or tetraskelion.
Essentially, it is a Greek cross with arms of equal length,
each with four arms at right angles, either right-handed (regarded
as a male symbol implying good fortune) or left-handed
(female symbol). The right-handed form is sometimes known
as gammadion, i.e., formed from joining four gamma letters.
The swastika is generally regarded as a symbol of the power
of the sun, and it may have been derived from a circle divided
into four by crossed lines. A variation of the swastika is the Triskele
(‘‘three-legged’’) form, often found on Sicilian coins and
used as the emblem of the Isle of Man off the coast of Britain.
The swastika dates back to the Neolithic Age, when it was engraved
on stone implements, but it has also been found in
many cultures—in ancient Britain, Ireland, Mycenae, and Gascony,
as well as among the Etruscans, Celts, Hindus, Germanic
peoples, Central Asians, and pre-Columbian Americans. The
Buddhists regarded it as a chakra or wheel of the law; the Tibetans
called it Yun-drun or path of life. The swastika has traveled
from the ancient Greek cities of Troy and Mycenae down to the
9th century in Ireland, as well as to Persia, China, North Africa,
and Scandinavia.
Some authorities have interpreted the swastika as a symbol
of the deity during the Iron Age, and others have associated it
with agriculture, compass points, and the origin of the universe.
No doubt this universally diffused symbol has acquired
many secondary associations in addition to its main association
with the sun wheel.
Swann, William F(rancis) G(ray) Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed.
The name ‘‘swastika’’ derives from a long-established use in
India, where the expression Su-asti means ‘‘Be well,’’ implying
auspiciousness and good fortune. Hindu parents mark the symbol
on the breast and forehead of a baby, and a swastika formed
of ears of wheat is made in the birth chamber. Hindu writers
often place a red swastika at the beginning and end of manuscripts;
the sign is also marked on floors and paths at weddings.
There is a hatha yoga sitting position known as ‘‘Swatikasana’’
or the auspicious posture, in which the legs are crossed and the
feet rest on opposite thighs.
The use of the swastika as a Nazi symbol may have derived
from German scholarship in the field of Hindu folklore and religion,
distorted by such pseudo-mystical occultists as Guido
von List, who originated theories of Germanic and Nordic folklore
as early as the 1870s. According to List, the swastika was
the symbol of a secret band of initiates called the Armanen or
‘‘children of the sun,’’ who flourished in ancient times.
It may also have been reputable scholarly discussions of the
Indo-European migrations of ancient peoples and cultures that
were perverted to the antisemitic doctrine of an Aryan masterrace.
Before World War I, the use of the swastika symbol was
popular among romantic youth folklore movements like the
Wandervögel. It was continued by political revolutionaries who
had been Wandervögel members and by Hitler’s National Socialist
German Workers’ Party in the post-war period.
The Nazi swastika was designed by Friedrich Krohn, formerly
a member of the Germanen Order, a secret order
founded by followers of Guido von List. Krohn’s design was
adopted around 1920. Ever since, this ancient Hindu sacred
symbol of auspiciousness has become inextricably associated
with the perverse doctrines of the German Nazis.