Meanings of the Swastika Symbol
from Collation of Theosophical Glossaries: SWASTIKA
As differentiated from the swavastika (or sauvastika), which is similar but which has its legs take off from the ends of the cross to the right, left-handed (motion), implying counter-clockwise direction -- counter to the currents of Nature -- the swastika has legs which take off from the ends of the cross to the left, right-handed (motion), implying clockwise direction -- and therefore 'with' the currents of Nature. The symbol which Hitler used for the Nazi party was actually a swavastika (or sauvastika).
from Theosophical Glossary: Svastika (Sk.). In popular notions, it is the Jaina cross, or the "four-footed" cross (croix cramponnee). In Masonic teachings, "the most ancient Order of the Brotherhood of the Mystic Cross" is said to have been founded by Fohi, 1,027 B.C., and introduced into China fifty-two years later, consisting of the three degrees. In Esoteric Philosophy, the most mystic and ancient diagram. It is "the originator of the fire by friction, and of the 'Forty-nine Fires'." Its symbol was stamped on Buddha's heart, and therefore called the "Heart's Seal". It is laid on the breasts of departed Initiates after their death; and it is mentioned with the greatest respect in the Ramayana. Engraved on every rock, temple and prehistoric building of India, and wherever Buddhists have left their landmarks; it is also found in China, Tibet and Siam, and among the ancient Germanic nations as Thor's Hammer. As described by Eitel in his Hand-Book of Chinese Buddhism: (1) it is "found among Bonpas and Buddhists"; (2) it is "one of the sixty-five figures of the Sripada"; (3) it is "the symbol of esoteric Buddhism"; (4) "the special mark of all deities worshipped by the Lotus School of China". Finally, and in Occultism, it is as sacred to us as the Pythagorean Tetraktys, of which it is indeed the double symbol.
from Working Glossary: Svastika, any lucky or auspicious object; a sign shaped like a Greek cross, with the extremities of the four arms bent at right angles in the same direction.
from Sanskrit Keys to the Wisdom-Religion: Swastika A mystical cross with its arms bent at right angles suggesting a whirling motion; also, a symbol of good fortune and blessing. Swastika is a compound of su -- a particle meaning 'auspicious,' 'blessed,' 'virtuous,' 'beautiful,' and 'rightly'; and astika derived from the verb-root as -- to be; hence 'that which is blessed and excellent.' The Swastika is a very archaic and sacred symbol which can be found in the religious relics of every ancient nation, for it depicts the whole story of the cosmos and man, their contrasting dual aspects, the four directions of space, the revolution of worlds, cyclic progression, and the union of spirit and matter at the heart of things. In H. P. Blavatsky's words:
Within its mystical precincts lies the master-key which opens the door of every science, physical as well as spiritual. It symbolizes our human existence, for the circle of life circumscribes the four points of the cross, which represent in succession birth, life, death, and IMMORTALITY. -- The Secret Doctrine, II, 556-7
from The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects: Gammadion, a short-armed swastika, taking its name from the fact that it is composed of four Greek gammas. It was one of the most widely distributed sacred signs…Gammadions appeared on coins…Christians copied it and used it liberally on tombs and catacombs. Like its relative the swastika, the gammadion probably presented the solstices and equinoxes, or the four directions, four elements, and four divine guardians of the world.
from The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects: Swastika, Named from the Sanskrit "so be it," or "amen," the swastika has been a religious emblem of worldwide occurrence since at least 10,000 B.C. It appeared on the oldest coinage in India, on images of Buddha in Japan, and on Greek and Roman figures of the Great Goddess. On artifacts dating from the thirteenth century B.C. onward, the swastika has been found in Asia Minor, Greece, China, Persia, Lybia, Scandinavia, Britain, and Iceland. It was still used as a magic sign in Europe up to the beginning of the twentieth century. A swastika with arms pointing clockwise was generally regarded as a solar emblem. A counterclockwise one (sauvastika) represented the moon, night, and the feminine principle. The swastika was much used in medieval church decoration and heraldry…It was adopted by Hitler's Third Reich on the supposition that it was a "pure Aryan" sign. This was not true, although a variant eight-armed swastika had long represented German anti-Semitic secret societies like the Vehmgericht. A twelve-tailed German swastika appeared in magic books as a victory charm.
from Symbol Sourcebook: Swastika, the fact that an ignominious fanatic placed a Swastika on his battle flag is insufficient reason for ignoring this symbol's historic significance. The Swastika has been whirring around since prehistory and used in widely separated cultures as a favorable symbol representing many things to many people: the supreme diety, infinity, the sun's power, the four winds, well being, the succession of generations. Swastikas face clockwise or counterclockwise. in India the former relates to the masculine and signifies leading to the outer world; the latter represents the feminine and indicates leading to the inner mind of man. Time is bound to erase the association of the Swastika with the Nazi holocaust. Then one of the most distinctive of graphic symbols will be absolved of its latter-day stigma and its early meanings will again be known.
from The Secret Language of Symbols: Swastika, this widespread symbol is particularly revered by the Jains, the Buddhists and followers of Vishnu. It is essentially a cross spinning at its centre, with the angles at the end of each arm representing light streaming as the cross turns. Spinning clockwise, it symbolizes male energy; anticlockwise, female. In Jainism, the four arms represent the four levels of existence. The anticlockwise form has been debased into a symbol of black magic and negative energies.
from Signs, Symbols and Ornaments: Swastika was an ornamental sign known to the old Chinese, the Babylonians, and the Mayans in America.
from An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols: Swastika, one of the oldest and most complex of symbols, prehistoric and universal except for parts of Africa and Sumeria…The swastika did not occur in Egypt until a few centuries BC and not at all in Central Africa and Lower Mesopotamia, but it has been suggested that the four-faced gods were a swastika symbol, while Count Goblet D'Alviella suggested that the swastika and the crux ansata and the winged disk were basically the same symbol…[Its symbolism] has variously been suggested as the revolving sun; the radiate wheel of the noon sun; the sun chariot; the Pole and the revolution of the stars round it; the four cardinal points; the four quarters of the moon; the four winds and the four seasons; a whirlwind movement; the motion of revolving round the world; the Centre; creative force in motion; the generation of the cycles; the revolution of the wheel of life; the cross as the four quarters over which the solar power revolves converting it into a circle; the cross as the vertical and horizontal lines depicting the spirit and matter and the four grades of existence. It is also suggested that the swastika is a conventionalized human form of two arms and legs, or the union of the male and female principles; the dynamic and static; mobility and immobility; harmony and balance; the two complimentary phases of movement, centrifugal and centripetal, inbreathing and outbreathing, going out from and returning to the centre, beginning and end…In all circumstances it is the symbol of good luck; good augury; good wishes; blessings; longevity; fecundity; health and life. There are two forms of the swastika taken to symbolize the male and female, solar and lunar aspects; movement clockwise and anti-clockwise…The swastika appeared frequently as a symbol in the catacombs signifying Christ as the power of the world. In medieval times it was the gammadion, used to symbolize Christ as the cornerstone, also the four Evangelists, with Christ as the centre…Hindu: The origin of the word Swastika - 'It is well."…
from A Dictionary of Symbols: Swastika, Right-handedness is characteristic of all symbols of natural life…Similarly, the right side takes on an extra implication of birth and life, while the left side acquires an association with death. Another consequence, apparent in allegories and emblems, is that the right side corresponds to higher virtues…The swastika, being an intermediate sign between the cross and the wheel, is similarly regarded by some as a solar and by others as a polar sign. This sign is to be found in almost every ancient and primitive cult all the world over…The implications of the swastika are very wide, for it is a synthesis of two symbols of independent force: the (Greek) cross with four arms of equal length and the cross with four arms appearing to rotate in the same direction. The tetraskelion, or swastika with four arms at right angles, is also called the gammadion because it can be formed by joining up four gamma letters…There are in fact two swastikas: the right-handed Swastika and the left-handed Swavastika.
from The Seal of The Theosophical Society: Swastika, A Sanskrit word meaning "well-being," "auspicious" -- the perennial symbol of good fortune found in the cradle of ancient cultures of India, China, Japan, and the Americas, as well as Greece and Rome (including the early Christians). In Scandinavia it was Thor's hammer and in India Vishnu's discus and the Jaina cross. In Buddhism, it expresses the "wheel of the Law." Symbol of evolution and perpetual motion, the swastika denotes the ever-churning "mill of the gods," in whose center is the soul, while the bent arms suggest the ceaseless turning of the wheels of life throughout universal existence. When we look at photos of faraway spiral galaxies, we are wonderstruck to see that they clearly resemble swastikas in their vortical motion.
from The Men Behind Hitler, by Bernard Schreiber: The idea for the use of the swastika by the Nazis came from a dentist named Dr. Friedrich Krohn who was a member of the secret Germanen order. Krohn produced the design for the actual form in which the Nazis came to use the symbol, that is reversed, spinning in an anti-clockwise direction. As a solar symbol, the swastika is properly thought of as spinning, and the Buddhists have always believed the symbol attracted luck. The Sanskrit word "svastika" means good fortune and well being. According to Cabbalistic lore and occult theory, chaotic force can be evoked by reversing the symbol. And so the symbol appeared as the flag of Nazi Germany and the insignia of the Nazi party, an indication for those who had eyes to see, as to the occult nature of the Third Reich.
from Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99: Swastika, an even cross, the arms of which are bent at right angles. Since all four bars point in the same direction (either clockwise or counterclockwise), the form creates an impression of perpetual rotation.
The origin of the swastika symbol is unknown. For thousands of years, it has been used as a symbol of the revolving sun, fire, infinity, or continuing re-creation, as well as a decorative motif in the Americas, China, Egypt, Greece, and Scandinavia. Swastikas have been found in the catacombs of Rome, on textiles of the Inca period, and on relics unearthed at the site of Troy. The swastika has also been important in Eastern religions: to Buddhists, it represents resignation; to Jains, it represents their seventh saint; and to Hindus, a swastika with arms bent to the left represents night, magic, and the destructive goddess Kali.
In the mid-20th century in Germany, a swastika with arms bent to the right became the symbol of the Nazi party (see National Socialism). Some members of the German Free Corps, who later formed the nucleus of the early Nazi Party, are believed to have brought the swastika to Germany from Finland and Estonia, where it had been an official and decorative emblem. In 1920 many troops wore the swastika on their helmets when they occupied Berlin in their abortive attempt to overthrow the German Republic.
From March 1933, a few weeks after the ascent of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany, the swastika flag flew side by side with the German national colors. From September 1935 until the downfall of the Nazi regime in 1945, the swastika flag was the official flag of the Third Reich and was prominently displayed. The swastika is still used as a symbol by supremacist and separatist hate groups. See also Cross.
Right-handed motion / Clockwise
Gammadion or Tetraskelion