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ANCIENT PAGAN SYMBOLS ADOPTED BY CHRISTIANS—THE
Cross, SACRED HEART, SACRED MONOGRAM, LAMB, FISH, TRIANGLE, AND TRIPOD-THE DOVE.
We would naturally suppose that what in modern days is known as the Christian symbol—the cross—would be found upon every tomb in the catacombs of Rome, which was the burying-place of the early Christians, as it is now seen in Christian cemeteries. But nothing of the sort, for the simple reason that it was not a Christian symbol in the early ages of Christianism, but a Pagan emblem; and was not adopted by Christians until the latter part of the seventh century, although it was adopted in the fourth century, in the form of the Labarum, by Constantine. The cross, too, is nowhere mentioned in the N. T. writings, though the translators have, for their own purposes, inserted the word, which is an erroneous rendering of the Greek word stauros—which, literally translated, is upright beam, or gibbet. The emblem of the primitive Christians was the Fish, from which they were called Pisciculi ; it was sculptured among the inscriptions on their tombstones, as a private indication that the persons there interred were Christians; and, though understood by brother Christians, it was an enigma to the heathen. The Christian Saviour was worshipped under the form of a LAMB pierced—the “Lamb of God” of ancient mythology and astronomy. The only approach to such a symbol as the cross to be found in the catacombs is the Buddhist sacred “swastika,” which is found in the old Buddhist zodiacs, and in the Asoka inscriptions. It was not till the Council of Constantinople (707) that symbols of a cross with a man swASTIKA nailed to it were ordered to be used in place (Buddhist).
of the lamb, or ram, which was formerly used to denote the victorious Sun as he passed through the sign Aries, giving new life to the world, when he was worshipped as “the Lamb of God.” From the decree of that Council, the identity of the worship of the astronomical “Aries,” the ram or lamb, and the Christian “Saviour," is certified beyond the possibility of a doubt; and the mode by which the ancient superstitions were propagated is satisfactorily shown. The cross was, like all the other emblems of Christianism, borrowed from previously existing Pagan religions, being used by the Egyptians, Phoenicians, ancient Akkadians, Babylonians, Persians, and Romans. It was the phallic emblem of generation and life. The Tau in ancient Hebrew was like the Greek letter T; and a tau cross, fixed erect on a circular base, was found on the breast of an Egyptian mummy. The Ethiopic tau was identical in · shape with the modern popular cross of Christianism. The Egyptian cross was nearly identical with the phallic Crux Ansata, the terminals of the tau being broadened out at the ends. The astronomical cross—the oldest form of cross-was identical with the modern“ St. Andrew's cross," and originated in the four-spoked wheel on which Ixion, the god “ Sol,” was bound to, when crucified in the heavens ; two spokes confined the arms (or, of the Dove, the wings), and two the legs. Criminals were frequently extended on this form of cross.
A cross was the symbol of the Hindu god Agni, “the Light of the World.” It was worn as a charm by Egyptian women, as it was later, and is now, by Christian women. The dead Osiris was represented with a sceptre and a crozier (both now Christian emblems), and stretched on a Crux Ansata. The Egyptian saviour, Horus, is represented sitting on the lap of Isis, his virgin mother; a large cross being carved on the back of the seat. On the breast of an Egyptian mummy (London University Museum) is to be seen a cross upon a “Calvary,” or “Mons Veneris” (Mount of Venus). The Egyptian images generally hold a cross in their hands. In S t the cave of Elephanta a figure is represented as destroying a crowd of infants, with a Crux Ansata, a mitre, and a crozier. The Egyptian priest wore the
Crux Ansata as a “Pallium,” the head passing through the vestment at the oval or “ yoni,” just as the priests of the Catholic Church wear their mass vestment. By the side of one of the inscriptions in the Temple, on the Island of Philæ, are seen a Crux Ansata and a Maltese cross.
The cross is also to be found, in some form, in the hands of Siva, Brahma, Vishnu, Krishna, Svasti, and Jama, on the figures of ancient monuments. The god Saturn was represented by a cross with a ram's horn ; Venus, the goddess of love, by a circle with a cross. Krishna was also represented suspended on a cross. On a Phoenician medal found in the ruins of Citium are inscribed the cross with a rosary attached, and a lamb—this last being the early symbol of the followers of Jesus. The priests of " Jupiter Ammon” carried in procession a cross, and a box containing a compass or magnet called “the ark of the covenant of God.” “There is reason to believe that the Chinese knew something about the polaric property of the loadstone more than two thousand years before the Christian era.”
The Egyptians marked their sacred cakes with a cross, from which ancient Pagan custom comes our Good Friday custom of “hot cross buns.” Many Egyptian sepulchres are cruciform in shape, and the ensigns and banners of the Persians were cruciform. Bas relief crosses have been found, of very great antiquity, at Nashi Roustain. One of these represents a combat between two horsemen, with a standard-bearer carrying the cruciform ensign. Another, belonging to the next century after Alexander (more than two centuries before our era), shows also a standard-bearer carrying a cruciform ensign. A third was found at the foot of Mount Nakshi-Rajab, coeval with the first, and with a similar representation.
Ana or Anu, the chief deity among the Babylonians, and the sun-god Bel or Bal, had the cross for their sign. A cross hangs on the breast of Tiglath Pileser, in the colossal Nimrod tablet in the British Museum ; another king, from the ruins of Nineveh, wears a Maltese cross on his breast. It is frequently found on ancient coins of Asia Minor, several having a ram or lamb on one side and a cross on the other. The Latin cross, rising out of a heart, like the Catholic emblem, the “crux in corde,” was also used by the Egyptians ; it represented goodness. We have seen that the heart was a very old Pagan emblem, and was an outgrowth of erroneous impressions with regard to the physiology of the body; the heart being supposed to be the seat of the affections—the organ of love.
Under the foundations of the temple of Serapis, at Alexandria, were discovered a cross and phallic emblems, which caused the shocking murder of Hypatia by Cyril's monks. We thus see that the cross was used as a religious emblem many centuries before Jessæanism, or even early Christianism, by nearly every nation of the earth. “Few cases," says the Rev. C. W. Cox, “have been more powerful in producing mistakes in ancient history than the idea, hastily taken by Christians, that every monument of antiquity marked with a cross, or with any of those symbols which they conceived to be monograms of their God, was of Christian origin.”* Neither the Jessæanism nor early Christianism, which was old enough to develop conflicting sects, had any knowledge of a cross except as a symbol attached to a faith which they were gradually leaving behind.
The Labarum, which the imperial murderer Constantine saw in his dream, was the emblem of the crucified sun-god of the Romans, and, in fact, of the Pagan world, by which he subsequently attempted to blend the new religion with the old. The great weekly festival of “Sol the Invincible" became the new and only festival of the Christians. The festival of the adoration of the crucified sun-god in the heavens became gradually the festival of the crucified Jesus. The Labarum was the sacred monogram of Jupiter Ammon and the Egyptian Osiris, and consisted, as we have seen (p. 179), of the two letters Chi and Rho (X and P), which, in old Samaritan (as found on coins), stood for 400 and 200. There is a medal at Rome of Constantius-Constantine's predecessor—with the Labarum, and with a similar inscription attached—“In hoc signo victor eris," so that
* Myths of the Aryan Nation.
Constantine saw in his dream nothing new. It was also found on the coins of the Ptolemies and of Herod the Great forty years before our era.
Notwithstanding the destruction of MS. which might be considered detrimental to their religion by the Christian fathers, the following admission from the holy father Minucius Felix in 211 C.E. has, by some oversight, been preserved. He says, in a retort to a Pagan opponent : “We neither adore crosses nor desire them ; ye Pagans it is who......adore wooden crosses......for what else are your ensigns, flags, and standards but crosses gilt and beautiful ?” The victorious trophies of the Romans not only represented a simple cross, but a cross with a man on it—a crucifix. The cross of Constantine, which was adopted by the Christians at the Council of Constantinople in 707, as we have seen, was not the same as the Christian cross of the present day.
The monogram of Bacchus—the god of wine—seen in the temple dedicated to him in Rome, and now a Christian church, consisted of the Greek letters YH= Hues, or IHE= Ies, which had its origin in phallic and planetary worship and represented generative vigour. These letters were surmounted by a Roman cross, and the whole was surrounded by a halo, representing the sun's rays="glory.” Ies, pronounced Ye-es, was the Phoenician for Jeshua or
Yesua, and constituted the first three letters of the Greek name for Jesus—Iesous. The Christian sacred monogram is IHS, a survival of the above, which is now represented as meaning “ In hoc salus” and “Iesus hominum salvator"; but no one seems to know which of these two it is really intended for ; the Greek capital Eta, or long –H, being either designedly or ignorantly mistaken for the Roman H.
The Lamb and the Fish were both of zodiacal origin. When Aries was the vernal equinoxial sign, the Lamb or Ram was worshipped, and when Pisces was the vernal equinoxial sign the Fishes were worshipped. The Lamb was represented stabbed and bleeding, and was addressed as “The Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world,” and “slain from the foundations of the earth," typifying the crucified sun, and representing his passage through the sign Aries, which sign was called the “lamb of God”; and this was addressed in the Pagan Litany, with frequent