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Latin Cross cemetery

The Symbolic Meaning Of The Latin Cross

By Richard J Oldale,
May 3, 2020

It seems hard to imagine how rich in meaning a simple cross can be. But this most familiar of symbols has more esoteric meaning than you can shake a stick at – or even two sticks. 

The cross is one of the oldest known symbols in the world and predates Christianity by at least 5000 years. Probably more. 

Thus the cross has taken on several forms over the centuries. It is found on the walls of pre-historic caves featured as two crossing marks of equal length. When encased in a circle it is known as the solar cross. It represents the element of fire and was used by several cultures as a symbol to represent their Sun God.

The equilateral cross gave birth to the familiar Christian cross we find today with a longer lower rim. The ancient Egyptians rounded the upper portion of their cross to make the Ankh, and the pagan Celtic Cross was given a disc to centre the point where the two rods meet.

Latin Cross broken

The Symbolic Meaning of the Latin Cross in Christianity

The Latin Cross is the most recognised symbol used by the Christian Church today, but its origins pre-date Christianity by at least several thousand years.

The swastika is a far earlier form of the cross and is thought to have originated in India thousands of years before Christianity.

We also know the swastika was adopted by several European cultures and appeared on Greek ceramics as early as the 8th Century BCE. The English word was taken from the Sanksrit word svastika, which means “good fortune” or “well-being.”

Greek ceramic from the Archaeological Museum of Pithecusae, Ischia, Italy

The Judaeo-Christian religion adopted the cross in the second century “to ward off demons”. The pagans had used it for the same purpose. In Norse mythology, the symbol was also a magical symbol that diverted evil and brought good luck. 

“Warding off demons” and “evil” is, of course, symbolic language. Demons are our personal demons and evil is associated with things that live in the dark and do terrible things. Like demons, for example.

In esoteric symbolism, the unconscious is associated with “demons”, “evil” and the “dark” because it is in the unconscious where the aspects of our nature that we don’t see reside.

If we examine this on a deeper, esoteric level, the cross is a symbol of balance and harmony. In the human psyche, this can relate to either a balance of feminine and masculine energies, the self-ego axis or what Carl Jung called “superior” and “inferior” functions.

The superior function is an aspect of consciousness that we use most often and is thus the stronger energy; habitual behaviours and addictions, for example.

The inferior function is the least used aspect of consciousness but tries to spring forward to counterbalance the superior function and restore some equilibrium.

The inferior function may be an unexpressed aspect of our personality that has been repressed because it is frowned upon by society or we were led to believe our behaviour was bad. Or maybe “evil”.

“Many complexes are merely split from consciousness because the latter preferred to get rid of them by repression. But there are others that have never been in consciousness before and that therefore could never have been arbitrarily repressed. They grow out of the unconscious mind and invade consciousness with their weird and unassailable convictions and impulses.”

Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion

In Jungian psychology, the goal is to find a balance between the masculine and feminine traits of your personality and to develop a harmonious relationship between the self-ego axis.

This can often involve finding an equilibrium between instincts and intellect. Carl Jung stressed that it is necessary to explore one’s unconscious in order to form a harmonious relationship within the psyche. Alchemists called this process the “Alchemical Wedding”.

Alchemical Wedding
The Solar King and Lunar Queen represent the balance of conscious and unconscious

The Christian Cross as a sex symbol

It was during the time of Emperor Constantine at the Council of Nicaea in 324AD that Christianity adopted the Latin Cross we know today. It replaced the vesica piscis or ‘Ichthus’ fish as their principal symbol of Jesus. 

The cross went on to become the most widely recognised motif in the world today. It is sometimes found with a man nailed to it!

But the hidden meaning of the cross is not widely known. The two single shafts that make up the cross represent male and female – thus signifying the unity between man and woman.

Therefore, you could say the symbolic meaning of the Latin cross is a sex symbol.

But that would be misleading.

As mentioned above, the balance of masculine and feminine energies refers to the harmonious marriage between the conscious and unconscious minds. 

This is why you will also find the cross represents fertility and health.

Firstly, consider that the intimate union of males and females creates new life. This is fertility.

Secondly, when you integrate unconscious content into the conscious mind, the unlived aspects of your personality that were formerly repressed are reborn. They become alive. This is also fertility.

Moreover, depth psychology shows that the release of repressed emotions is a catalyst for healing mental health.

“Repressed conscious becomes accessible to the condemnation of the mature ego. Since the unconsciousness of a desire is the condition of the symptom, making it conscious must produce a cure.” ~ Wilhelm Reich, The Function of the Orgasm

An early form of the Christian cross was the Tau cross – shaped like a T. It is equal to the letter X from the Phoenician alphabet, also another way of depicting the cross in iconography. 

This is where the history of the cross gets really interesting.

Note how the serpent wrapped around the cross is similar to the staff of Asclepius and the caduceus of the Greeks. They all share the same meaning – healing.

Asclepius is said to be the Greek god of healing. The staff of Asclepius is a symbol that has been adopted by today’s medical field. Globally.

Tau Cross: Image credit – Chris Light

The Tau cross was borrowed by the early Christian Church and dedicated to St. Anthony who was part of the St Franciscan Order – and the patron saint of pregnant women. (Remember my reference to giving life earlier).

It also appears the members of that particular brethren were into psychedelics.

I say that because whenever I visit a Franciscan church I find artefacts which appear to be crack pipes and various instruments used in chemistry – which may have been used for brewing crack to ingest through said pipes.

Crack pipes? Castle of Aragon, Ischia, Italy

Psychedelics with active ingredients like psilocybin and dimethyltryptamine (DMT), as you may know, are Mother Nature’s medicines that can, and are, used for healing emotional traumas and psychological complexes.

The Latin Cross and The Chakras 

Christians are familiar with the cross representing salvation. When Jesus is sacrificed and resurrected, he essentially overcomes death. Thus, we are told, the cross represents immortality.

But another meaning we can draw from the crucifixion of Jesus is the concept of death and rebirth. Here we see the law of physics known as the Law of Thermodynamics.

The Law of Thermodynamics says that energy does not die, it transforms.  Yes, this means that energy is immortal, but it also means that it changes from one form to another.

Consciousness also transforms, and when our conscious awareness transforms so can our life. But we have to sacrifice old beliefs, attitudes or behaviours before we can transform our conscious awareness.

So isn’t it interesting that the Christian authorities tell us that the cross is a symbol of salvation used for warding off evil?

Salvation means the “preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss.”

Doesn’t this description sound as though it can be applied to health matters?

In Hindu traditions, yogis proclaim that balancing your chakras is important for maintaining mental, physical and emotional health.

Could there be any relation between the Hindu chakra system and the Christain cross?

The cross has four edges representing the four lower chakras, and the three nails used to pin Jesus to the cross represent the three higher chakras. Bringing the chakras into balance enables you to reach a higher state of consciousness and ‘ascend into heaven.’

It is when Jesus dies and is resurrected that he becomes the supreme being and reconnects with the ‘Father’. In esoteric symbolism, the Father is the Mind.

The Mind expands beyond the body. It is not limited to the brain. Quantum physicists think we could be connected to a universal mind which is a storehouse of memories of humankind – which Jung called the collective unconscious

Eastern philosophy describes the Universal Mind as the Akasa and the process as integrating the collective unconscious into the personal unconscious as the ‘Absolute Truth.’

Hindus describe this scenario as Samadhi in which the “kundalini serpent” is said to wind up the spine and open the third eye.

This image describes the process of “spiritual awakening” or, for want of a better term a moment of enlightenment – self-awareness.

If you repeat this process often enough, you eventually recover all the repressed attributes of your personality whereby you no longer feel suffering or desire and are released from the karmic effects of death and rebirth.

“Man becomes whole, integrated, calm, fertile, and happy when (and only when) the process of individuation is complete, when the conscious and the unconscious have learned to live at peace and to complement one another.”

Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols

The similarities between the Christian tradition and the Hindu seem very closely related, don’t you think? The Latin Cross was inspired by the swastika, “warding off evil” brings “good fortune” and the crucifixion story shares the same concept of ascension which is achieved by balancing the chakras which awaken kundalini energy.

Kundalini energy feels like a serpent winding up the spine. This image is seen in the caduceus and written in the Bible.

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up… (John 3:14).

Caduceus esoteric symbolism
Just a few of the medical institutions that use the caduceus symbol

Just saying.

You can read more about how Jesus represents the “Eye of Knowing” or “Third Eye Chakra” in this article titled: The Symbolic Meaning of Jesus Christ as the Third-Eye Chakra.

Master Mind Content offers online symbolism courses. We have several in-depth guides that explain how symbolism relates to the body-mind-energy connection. Understanding symbolism can help you make important decisions, improve your quality of life and understand more about the world.

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Richard Oldale
Master Mind Content is a leading authority in decoding ancient symbolism . Our research unveils the secrets to understanding and taking control of the the subconscious mind, channeling energy to self-heal and effectively using universal laws to fulfil your potential.

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