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Devolution of a Symbol: The Swastika Through the Years

Of all the symbols and marks produced by ancient and modern peoples throughout the centuries, the swastika is the most contradictory. For thousands of years it was a thing of mystery that surfaced as disparate cultural iconography throughout the Near and Far East, Europe, North America, and Africa, and was presumed by some scholars to be an ancient tool (a barometric pressure device perhaps) that over time was transformed into a sacred artifact and then reduced to a graphic form.

The mutation of this and otherwise benign signs and symbols is all too common. Take the runic alphabet. The old Norse word “rune” means letter or text. The earliest runic inscriptions date from around AD 150 and were ostensibly replaced by the Latin alphabet owing to the the religious shift in population from pagan to Christian in approximately AD 700 in central Europe and AD 1100 in Northern Europe.

Before assuming political power, the Nazis were terrorists, targeting civilian and government opponents alike . . .

Many versions of the swastika or parts thereof have emerged and give symbolic weight to ideologies, dogma and extremist views. There is nothing benign any longer whether it is the actual symbol of its devolved and mutated form.


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