But its original interpretation is quite different. The swastika’s true meaning is given as being “conducive to well-being” or more often with “good luck” and “prosperity”.
The modern English word has roots in the ancient Sanskrit, su, meaning good and asti, meaning to prevail.
The origins of the swastika have been traced back as far as the 13th BCE. Britannica Encyclopaedia reports:
“The earliest known use of the swastika symbol—an equilateral cross with arms bent to the right at 90° angles—was discovered carved on a 15,000-year-old ivory figurine of a bird made from mammoth tusk.”
To this day, the swastika is an auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The first use of the word was in Panini’s Ashtadhyayi sometime between the 4-6th centuries BCE. Scholars can’t agree on more accurate dating.
What we do know is the swastika was adopted by Europeans and is found all throughout Eurasia and as far as Italy and Spain.
The symbol has also been discovered in South America as evidenced by the vase in the feature image of this page. That vase dates back to the early Sican civilisation (750-1375) in Peru.
The symbolic meaning of the swastika remained a symbol of prosperity into the early 20th century before it became demonised.
To understand the true symbolic meaning of the swastika, we should analyse the meaning given to it by the ancient civilisations of the Indus Valley.
The swastika is believed to have been a symbol of peace, fertility and health. When the arm in the top-right is facing towards the right, or east, (卐), the symbolic meaning of the swastika is symbolised by Surya, the sun god who represents good luck and prosperity.
A deeper, esoteric meaning of the sun is vital energy – or as the eminent psychoanalyst Carl Jung describes it – “libido”.
Although libido is most often related to sexual energy today, its true meaning is the psychic energy that emerges from the subconscious into the conscious mind:
“To anyone who understands libido merely as the psychic energy over which he has conscious control, the religious relationship, as we have defined it, is bound to appear as a ridiculous game of hide-and-seek with oneself. But it is rather a question of the energy which belongs to the archetype, to the unconscious, and which is therefore not his to dispose of. This “game with oneself” is anything but ridiculous; on the contrary, it is extremely important. To carry a god around in yourself means a great deal; it is a guarantee of happiness, of power, and even of omnipotence, in so far as these are attributes of divinity. To carry a god within oneself is practically the same as being God oneself….”~ Carl Jung, Symbols of Transformation
In Hindu iconography, Surya is pictured carrying water lilies which depict the nurturing nature of the sun. Without the sun’s vital energy, Mother Earth would not receive the nourishment she needs to grow her flowers, trees and plants.
Here we see how the swastika is used as a symbol of fertility and peace. The harmony between the sun and the earth is central to life, positive growth and evolution.
“Libido” is also symbolised by the sun.
The psychologist Herbert Schilberer described libido as “expressing emotions or using energy by doing and activity to create something”.
From a psychological standpoint, the sun represents vital energy which emerges in your conscious awareness. It is your experience of life and the energy that sinks into your subconscious.
This is vitally important to know because your quality of life is largely determined by subconscious programs. Psychologists say that 90-95% of our decisions surface from the subconscious – the habitual mind.
Your subconscious mind is programmed by your experiences in life, your environment and your self-talk; desires, attitudes, beliefs, aspirations, self-image etc.
You must understand that your subconscious mind responds to what you instruct it through the conscious mind. When you know this it becomes clear that you are in control of how you feel, how you experience life and how you create your experiences in life.
“Your subconscious mind behaves to the nature of your thoughts. You think with your conscious mind, and whatever you habitually think sinks down into your subconscious mind, which then creates according to the nature of your thoughts. Your subconscious mind is the seat of your emotions. It is the creative mind.”~ Dr Joseph Murphy, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind
This is how good will prevail.
Before good can prevail, you need to eliminate the bad. Bad is also referred to as “evil”, “darkness”, “demons”, “poison” and the vast array of fierce animals that kill in mythology.
In psychological terms, “bad” is the unseen, or unconscious energies, that cause problems in your life. Bad is a psychological complex, for example.
When you transform subconscious programs that are “bad” you can integrate archetypal energies that are “good”. These are the energies that enable you to grow – to become fertile, develop inner peace and have a fulfilling and fruitful life in good health.
When the top arm of the swastika is facing left, or west (卍), the symbol is called sauwastika, and reflects the attributes of the goddess Kali.
Kali is well-known as the Hindu goddess of death. But it is the death of the programmed ego that she destroys.
In other words, this energy eliminates old patterns of behaviours, attitudes, desires and intentions that do not serve your best interests or the best interests of others.
Old patterns of behaviour that are programmed in the subconscious have to die before they can be reborn. I explain this in more detail in the symbolic meaning of the Latin Cross which shares similarities with the symbolic meaning of the swastika.
It is only when you eliminate the bad energies in your subconscious that good (life experiences) can prevail.
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.