Farewell auspicious nod to good fortune

Last night, my husband watched the Indiana Jones movie where Sean Connery plays the father. The little bit I saw showed Indiana Jones in the catacombs of Venice. I’ve seen this movie perhaps a half dozen times or more. For the first time it hit me — there were no catacombs in Venice. How could there be ancient tunnels? It’s a city built on marsh and flooding is a constant problem. I guess if you need a boat chase scene for your movie, the canals there will do it up nicely. Never mind the resultant churning water undermines the city. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Before I go off on a historic preservation tear, I’ll leave that thought hang.

gammaAnyway…I noticed the symbols on the catacomb walls and crypts. It occurred to me that any one symbol can have multiple associations. That’s very true. There are symbols around the world whose meanings we understand today but those same symbols held far different meanings in centuries past. Take the Greek letter Γ. Known as the gamma, this letter of the Greek alphabet is the main construction piece in the symbol known as the gammadion. It’s thought the gammadion represents the auspicious fours — the four winds, the two solstices/two equinox, the four elements, the four divine guardians of the world.

The gammadion has a long assorted history as a religious emblem around the world. It first shows up around 10,000 BCE.  As one of the most widely distributed sacred signs attributed to goddess ornamentation, it shows up in Ancient Rome, Troy, Crete, Cyprus, Rhodes, and Greece. It graces the coins of Macedon, Lycia, Corinth, Crete,  and the Etruscans, as well as appears across Italy in various forms.

It was a popular motif in central Europe, especially to the Gauls and Ancient Britains. To the Gauls, this was a tetrascele, the L-shaped arms presented as the curving bodies of animals. Often seen with four horse heads, it represents the four fiery steeds of the sun god Helios. It has also been found embedded in the earth square, the design on the shield often held to the chest of  the Celtic nature deity known as Cernunnos the Horned God. It’s seen all across Asia from Libya to China, from India to Japan. It frequently shows up on ancient Buddha figures. It even shows up on ancient Christian catacombs and tombs.

On ancient Scandinavian graves, there are runic versions of the gammadion used to symbolize man’s re-absorption into the mother earth — part of a magical regeneration. From burial mounds of the ancient Native American Mississippian culture a version depicts the heads of the Sunbird to form the Γ. In gnostic teachings, this symbol is presented on end to suggest movement as an emblem of the inexorable passage of time.

In the Vehmic courts, those medieval courts of Austria and Germany, the gammadion doubled its gammas and became associated with the Inquisition.  From there, it was stripped of its extra gamma’s and reversed. Today this symbol, once revered by so many and steeped in auspicious nods to good fortune, is instantly recognized as a symbol of hatred. We call it the swastika.


swastikasWhat a way to ruin a perfectly good symbol.


Another 100 Things Blogging Challenge! For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Words on the Verge of Extinction. There are 55 entries to come.

Here’s one for today:

Cagastric (adjective 1662-1753)

of diseases, originating under an ill star


91cb7-bee1Oh writer’s block, thou art a wretched thing. Where is spring when you need it? In an attempt to keep writing beyond the blogging, I’ve been dabbling in flash fiction with word limits. It doesn’t come easy to the Wordie I am, but it’s very good practice for my future plan of writing a book of short stories.

A week or so ago, I stumbled across a great group of writers on Facebook and they have weekly memes to write for. Today is Flasher Fiction Friday.

4 Us iconToday is Author Marianne Stephens’ blog day.

The February contest is on Romance Books ‘4’ Us and it’s all about Cupid. Find the little cherub hidden all across the site to win. This month’s contest will have 2 winners who’ll each receive a $50 gift card for Amazon/B&N, then split the remaining prizes (randomly chosen by RB4U). Be sure to check all our pages for news about authors and their books, publishers and their books, and industry representatives. http://www.romancebooks4us.com/


Several promotional opportunities for romance authors can be found on my Exquisite Quills group blogs. Meet the founding authors and our guests. http://exquisitequills.blogspot.com/

Exquisite Quills Yahoo Group

Free to join in each week
Wash Line Monday ~ share your descriptions of clothing in your novel.
Tickle Us Tuesday ~ Share fun and funny snippets from your novel.
First Kiss Wednesday ~ share your best 300 word kiss.

Set the Scene in Six~ share your backdrop or lead-up on Sundays.

Book a spot
The Genesis of a Book ~ share the spark that ignited your novel.
Author Interviews ~
We’re booking late spring now.


all7books-smallLove Waits in Unexpected Places – Scorching Samplings of Unusual Love Stories

Sample my love stories for free!


Coming soon~



About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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6 Responses to Farewell auspicious nod to good fortune

  1. melissakeir says:

    It’s interesting how the symbol has become known for the hatred and not for what it originally stood for like with the other cultures.

    • It is interesting. It can symbolize good for thousands of years and *poof* now look at it. Perhaps as more distance is but between that awful connotation and society, the symbol will come around. In eastern lands they have no trouble displaying it. In the west..still too fresh.

  2. Ray G says:

    Thanks for explaining an almost universal symbol. I knew it was used by Native Americans, but if I knew any of the others it was a fleeting knowledge that left when my memory became unreliable.

  3. Seriously, Rose, you are going to have to start charging me for the richness and quality of what I learn daily on your website. I heard when it was hijacked, it was also fashioned in the opposite direction to its traditional direction. Is that true according to your research?

    • I’m just glad you come back!

      I read some time ago that the idea the swastika was backwards was an urban legend/analogy. In one direction it was positive and in the nazi direction it was negative. The gammadion actually turns up in both directions throughout history.

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