At the moment I'm content to believe that the cross really was a pre-Christian symbol linked to the sun; but I think that there is another level of meaning. More significantly, it looks to me as if the cross is also a pre-Christian symbol meaning victory.
I think Constantine was well aware of the 'Pagan' victory meaning of a diagonal cross and centre stave, and that he used it to unite Christians and 'pagans'. As a consequence Constantine's Chi-Rho symbol works on several levels. It speaks of Christ to those steeped in Christianity and it speaks of war and victory at the same time.
Constantine's decision to recast Jesus Christ as a war deity helped to create a successful religion, but how Christian Constantine's religion is, is another question. Jesus Christ preached love and compassion. Constantine's symbol, as I shall show latter on, is far more fitted to a god such as Tiwaz or Thor. The uniting element is noble self-sacrifice. Christ and Tyr both exhibited this.
But first, the four arms of the cross.
One of the many examples of images people 'copy and paste' to prove that the cross is a solar symbol comes from Assyria.
Mesopotamia provides examples of some of the oldest uses of symbols, we have access to.
It is logical to look to the distant past.
In this image of Shamas Vul II- whose name links him absolutely with the sun (the sun god was Shamash)- he is wearing a cross on his chest.
The solar icon used in 'Mesopotamian' imagery is a four point 'star', often with wavy lines radiating out...
Therefore it is reasonable to think that the cross in this case really is a solar icon.
The next question is
Why chose a cross to represent the sun?
When I look at a star they really do have star-like, radiating points
Unless I wear my glasses!
But the Mesopotamian's were more inclined to use mathematics than I am, and the two 'stars' most often portrayed on Mesopotamian boundary stones (sun and Venus) have mathematical numbers inherent in their behavior.
Look for Mul Apin, and Enuma Anu Enlil Tablet 63.
Astronomy links Venus to the numbers five and eight.
Fibonacci numbers...but that's another story.
So in our time we have the five-point star, the pentagram, linked to Venus via Lucifer.
And the Mesopotamian symbol for Venus is the eight point star.
Meanwhile there are four 'stations' of the sun.
Minimum and maximum (solstice) sun rise and sun set 'stations'
The major solstice 'stations' can be drawn as a, X, a cross.
But Stonehenge proves that cruciform isn't the only way to build this solar reality into a stone structure.
So, is it the number 4 that symbolises the sun?
Maes Howe and Newgrange both capture light from the midwinter solstice sun.
Meas Howe is a four sided chamber
Newgrange is a cross-shape space enclosed by a mound
4 as the 'Celtic' number of the sun?
Note.My use of the word Celtic is a bit of a problem, I use it to mean European culture as opposed to Mesopotamian, Egyptian or Hittite. It is a very imprecise definition, but I'm sticking with it.During the British Bronze Age there was much trade with people from Continental Europe and it is likely that to a greater or lesser extent, we shared sets of meanings for symbols.
So the inner meaning given to the cross by Mesopotamian people probably isn't going to be the same as the inner, mythological meaning used by 'Celtic' people, there simply isn't enough contact or shared language.
What we do share is the common observation that the sun has four maximum and minimum positions of solstice rise and set.
Moving forwards a few thousand years; the Christian linkage of Christ's death with a cross may not be accurate.
The cross as a symbol of Christ's sacrifice was roundly criticised by John Denham Parsons in 1896.
But ultimately the shape of the 'stake' used by Romans practising Phoenician execution to evoke 'Shock and awe' is difficult to trace backwards. The Jehovah's Witnesses using their own translation of the Bible do not believe that the 'stake' was a cross, and there is no firm evidence to suggest that it was that shape...
Nevertheless we do have a Christmas link between Christ and the sun, with Christmas occurring just after the winter solstice.
And we have a solar and victory link between the sun and the cross preserved in legends, where victory in battle is promised by a sign of a cross in the sky.
The most famous is the story of Constantine and the battle of the Milvian Bridge (October the 27th AD 312.)
Though Constantine isn't the only one to see such signs.
(The stories that come after, may well be copies of Constantine's Milvian Bridge cross):
Angus mac Fergus, High King of Alba - and assisted by a detachment of Scots led by Eochaidh, King of Dalriada (the grandfather of Kenneth mac Alpin) - found themselves surrounded by a much larger force of Angles led by their leader Athelstan.
The year was allegedly 832 AD, although according to records, Angus ruled from 731-761 AD.
A short time before the battle, King Angus prayed to God that, in spite of their smaller army, he might lead his soldiers to victory.
His prayers for deliverance were answered - there in the sky could be seen a cloud formation of a white diagonal cross against a blue sky - the very cross-shape on which Andrew, the first disciple of Christ, was put to death.
The king made a promise that if victory were granted to him in battle through the help of Saint Andrew, then his name would for ever after be adopted as the patron saint.
Despite the overwhelming odds against them, the Picts and Scots won the battle and the Cross of St. Andrew became the flag of Scotland.And for Mortimer who sees a triple son before his battle.
Shakespeare records it in these words:
Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun;
Not separated with the racking clouds,
But sever'd in a pale clear-shining sky.
See, see! they join, embrace, and seem to kiss,
As if they vow'd some league inviolable:
Now are they but one lamp, one light, one sun.
In this the heaven figures some event.
|Constantine's Chi-Ro symbol.|
"In hoc signo vinces"- "In this Sign Conquer".
The recording and interpretation of the story changing peace-loving Jesus into a war-god, can be attributed to Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius, and Eusebius- who were both Christians.
But I believe that the cross had a pre-existent meaning that Constantine chose to exploit, one that the men fighting for him would understand.
The cross (stations of the sun: NE, SE, SW,NW( with the central line indicating North and South) can be found as a bind-rune (runes linked together)
In Britain, Tiwaz must have been regarded by the Romans as similar to Mars. The Romans left us with the names we still use for the days of the week and Tuesday becomes Tīw's Day.
In French Tuesday is Mardi the day of Mars.
In Iceland Tiwaz becomes the courageous, Tyr (who will sacrifice his hand to the wolf, Fenris at the end of this world system-Ragnorock).
In the Anglo-Saxon Rune poem:
Tiw is a guiding star; well does it keep faith with princes;Which is interesting, as the central line running through the solstice positions really does point to the north.
it is ever on its course over the mists of night and never fails.
The blessing of Tiwaz would lead to victory.
Tiwaz's rune cut into a spear turns it into a Sacred object, something of the god enters the spear. Tiwaz is a sky god, a god of war, a god to whom human sacrifices were made. The use of arrows, common in the Bronze Age had been abandoned in favour of the spear by 'Celtic', Iron Age times. But the significance of the 'arrow' symbol may have remained, and fitted in perfectly with the shape of the spear.
Yet the name, or word Tiwaz is very close to a word meaning god- 'De us', in other-words, another way to say Ze us (Zeus).
In Britain the name was Tiw, it is now writtain as Teu.
Te uw/ De ew/ De Us
In this verse from The Prose Edda
There the Týr of TriumphTyr in this verse, refers to Odin, indicating to me that sometimes Tyr meant Deus- god.
Himself inspired the terror
Of ships; the gods of breezes
That favor good men steered them
Sky god usually have thunder bolts...
Constantine's P running central to the cross, looks like the rune 'Th'
In English, Th looks like a capital D
D as in Donner
Th as in Thor.
If D becomes Th becomes P...
Perkunas is a Lithuanian variant of Thor.
In Slovakia his name is Perom.
Perom's sheild and cross.
But back to symbols in the sky...
In this folk tale linking Perom, sky-visions and victory
The golden balls are apples not suns..
"...He grabbed three golden apples
And threw them high into the sky...
...Three lightning bolts burst from the sky,
One struck at two young grooms,
Another struck at pasha on a horse,
The third one struck six hundred wedding guests,
Not an eyewitness left
Not even to say, how they died."
The thunder god still keeps his day
Ivan Kupala Day...
Curiously, Constantine's standard- the banner under which his troops marched- was known as the Labarum.
It has three golden balls...
I have no idea why Constantine has the three 'suns' on his flag.
It has been suggested that the name- labarum- comes from a Celtic word (ancient Cantabri dialect labaro) meaning 'four ends'.
In modern-day Basque the word is lauburu, with the same meaning.
So labarum refers to the X...
But in modern day churches it is an ecclesiastical standard or banner, as for carrying in procession.
The meanings move on...
So I stop