Blog

The Cross — An Ancient Symbol of the Global Religion of the Sun

solar cross symbol usa

Petroglyph panel outside of Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah, USA, featuring large solar cross. Photo licensed from BigStock.

The cross is one of the most prominent symbols of the ancient Religion of the Sun, and it is also one of the most ancient known and nearly universally used religious symbols.1 Ancient prehistoric artifacts, rock art, and ancient sites incorporating the sun cross symbol can be found all over the world. In the modern day this solar symbol continues to be incorporated into traditional clothing, jewelry, various ornaments, and solstice and equinox celebrations.

Mesoamerican Tonalpohualli sun calendar, showing the cross in the yearly cycle made by the solstices and equinoxes. This solar cycle is the basis of sun cross and swastika symbols found in many cultures linked to the Religion of the Sun. Public domain image found here.

This symbol encompasses many cosmic principles. One main symbolism within the sun cross is the marking of the solstices and equinoxes, which are significant times of year in the path of the spiritual sun for practitioners of the Religion of the Sun. It also symbolizes the forces of creation, the union between the masculine (vertical line) and feminine (horizontal line) forces. The cross is also a symbol of selflessness and helping others spiritually.

One of the most interesting things about the cross is its widespread use. The most commonly used cross symbol in antiquity is the solar cross, an encircled cross where the vertical and horizontal lines are of equal length, and many variations of this symbol have been found across all continents, dating back many thousands of years.

The prolific use of this symbol also establishes remarkable connections between many ancient cultures, sometimes separated by vast distances, which highlights the wide reach of the lost civilization of the sun in ancient times and the diffusion of the symbols of the ancient Religion of the Sun throughout the world.

For instance, below are two examples of a simple solar cross (also known as “Odin’s cross” or the “sun wheel,” etc.) — one is from Scandinavia, the other was found as a petroglyph from pre-Columbian USA:

solar cross in scandinavia and north america

Left: solar crosses found on stone slaps inside the Bronze Age Kivik mound in Sweden. Right: a pre-Columbian solar cross found as a petroglyph at Fountain Bluff, Illinois, USA. Photo on left is by Schorle [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Another example is a variation of the sun cross, known as the “Maltese Cross”, which can likewise be found in ancient Mesopotamia, Europe, and North America:

maltese cross symbol

Left: ancient Mesopotamia, center: Spain, right: pre-Columbian USA.2

This symbol has now been added to the Symbols of the Religion of the Sun page, where lots of examples of its use all over the world can be seen:

The Cross Symbol Gallery


  1. “Cross,” The Encyclopedia Britannica (11th edition, 1910) volume 7, page 506. Accessed online on September 8, 2017 via Archive.org

  2. Photo credits: RIGHT: Photo by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped. CENTER: Photo by GFreihalter [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons. LEFT: pre-Columbian USA, center: ancient Mesopotamia, right: Spain.
    RIGHT: Photo licensed from Alamy

About the author

Jenny Resnick

Jenny Resnick is a researcher and practitioner of the ancient religion of the sun and the Managing Editor for The Spiritual Sun, where she also researches and writes about ancient sacred sites; spiritual texts and practices; the latest discoveries in archeology, archeoastronomy, and related sciences; as well as the exploration of various facets of the lost civilization of the sun.

22 Comments

  • Thanks Jenny for an amazing article. This makes me appreciate the cross even more. I didn’t know about all of the things it represents. I bought a necklace of Odin’s cross to wear and I love it. It feels like such a bright, strong and beautiful symbol….like the sun.

    I’ve been drawn to the cross for a long time. I bought the ankh when I was in Egypt as a teenager. And I even got a necklace with the Christian cross, though my fellow classmates teased me for wearing it. Being a Christian was not a very popular thing. I wasn’t religious. I just wanted to wear it for some reason.

  • Thanks Jenny for this excellent article and the impressive photo gallery. It’s incredible to see just how universal and timeless the ancient solar symbol of the cross really is. I recently came across this symbol of the cross (https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/488287426/large-niger-tuareg-cross-pendant-102×53) that from my understanding was used by the Tuareg people as a cross (pre-Islam) and is currently used as an amulet. At first glance it looks very similar to the ankh favoured by ancient Egyptians. I was wondering if you ever came across this during your research and whether it could possibly be connected with Religion of the Sun?

  • Very impressive gallery of solar crosses. This is a symbol I’ve been particularly drawn to since before I ever started to practice spirituality. I’m now happy to have a nice custom made pendant of a sun cross! I like all the symbology that comes with it, as Jenny has outlined.

    Also just thought I’d mention I took the photo of the solar cross at Fountain Bluff, Illinois USA. It was incredible to come across this site in person, which is little known, and unfortunately victim to graffiti, however there was definitely a nice energy to the place. There were a number of solar crosses, swastikas, birds, hands, people, and other motifs. Was a pretty uplifting experience and makes me keen to visit sites like this in the future.

    • It’s interesting isn’t it, the things we’re naturally drawn to. When I visited Egypt as a teenager I was very drawn to the symbol of the ankh. I even bought a necklace with it, that I still have. I was told it was ‘ the key of life’, which I loved, though I didn’t know what it meant exactly.

  • It’s quite powerful to see all these examples of the cross showing up around the world and throughout time. Thanks Jenny.

  • That’s quite a big collection of crosses from so many different cultures! It really is a universal symbol.

    These are some crosses from ancient Greece. It seems that the cross was quite widespread in the ancient world.
    The first one is now lost since the first world war. It look like Jesus on the cross but it is actually the god Dionysus (or Bacchus):
    https://www.diadrastika.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Orpheus-bacchus-etavromenos-01-min.jpg

    These two were found in Cyprus:
    http://www.fatsimare.gr/files/galleries_story/2013/07/26/stayros5.jpg
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_h9hbo1UREh8/TNhWVHJkPgI/AAAAAAAABIQ/sfnhwb3az1M/s320/1.jpg

    This is a traditional dance from one of the most ancient Greek nomadic tribes. Four people form a cross and dance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rgrXg38L-w

  • That’s a great gallery Jenny and I guess there are much more examples from different cultures from all over the world that I think makes this symbol so global like no other.
    The whole article gives a great overview. I didn’t know that also symbolizes selflessness and helping other spiritually, I guess that comes from the passion of crucifixion.
    The photo with the Bosnian women surprised me, who (at least nowadays) most of them are Muslims but I don’t much about them neither Islam.

    Thanks for posting it.

    • Hi Fotis. These specific tattoos are actually not done by Muslim women, and are believed to stem from ancient pagan traditions in the region. In the Bronze Age this area was apparently inhabited by the Indo-European Illyrian tribes, and has also been home to Slavic and Celtic tribes. It is believed the tattooing tradition in this region specifically goes back to the Illyrian tribes (and possibly also to the Celts), and many of the tattoo patterns contain different symbols of the sun, such as spirals, solar crosses, etc. This custom survived in the Balkans by various groups to this day. In more recent history, this tradition is reported to have picked up in popularity in the 19th century amidst the Catholic Bosnian population.

      • Great thanks!
        I think many different tribes passed from Balkans and left a cultural mosaic behind them. It makes sense what you say,

  • It is a remarkable collection of images – it really hits home how universally this symbol has been used, over a period of so many thousands of years.

    Makes you consider how enduring these symbols are as a way to convey something throughout the ages.

  • This is an amazing slice of the whole globe! Such diversity is amazing and yet the symbol endures. Thanks for sharing this.

    Looking through the gallery, the I couldn’t help but notice how the Cucuteni pottery (https://www.spiritualsun.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/cucuteni-solar-crosses.jpg) reminded me very much of Australian Aboriginal dream time artwork.

    I also came across these images on an Australian Aboriginal rock art gallery (undated):
    A solar cross: http://www.outbacktravelaustralia.com.au/images/gallery/aboriginal/ab-rockart-1.jpg
    Concentric circles (symbol of the Absolute): http://www.outbacktravelaustralia.com.au/images/gallery/aboriginal/ab-rock-art-18.jpg

    • Thanks for sharing those pictures Craig. I wonder how ancient that rock art in Australia is? Were the aboriginals once visited by wisdom bringers after the flood like other regions were, or since they have been living in Australia for 40,000 years or more, did they have this knowledge from an even far more distant pre-flood time, and the knowledge faded over time as it did elsewhere? There is also some evidence that Australia was visited by people from India three and a half thousand years ago, however this rock art is perhaps much older than that. There is at least one site in Australia that aligns to the sun called Wurdi Youang, and that is thought to be 11,000 years old. That might suggest a visit from wisdom bringers after the flood, but I think it needs further research.

      Some people have also noticed a similarity between Cucuteni pottery and other regions across the world too. Jenny posted this blog about a study into that. Some other neolithic cultures in China whose pottery looks similar is the Majiayao culture, Dawenkou culture and Majiabang culture, which seem to have spiral patterns and swastikas. Here’s one piece of pottery with a spiral pattern and here is one with a swastika. (another example)

  • Thanks for sharing that Jenny – great gallery! It’s amazing the similarities between those crosses in different cultures and how widespread the understanding of its significance seems to have been.

  • Thanks Jenny, the new gallery and overview of the cross illustrates beautifully how widespread this symbol was in the ancient world and the profound meaning it has. It’s really nice to see the diversity of examples.
    It’s interesting to me that while many other symbols of the sun are not as common or widespread today as they once were, the cross has continued to hold spiritual significance throughout the modern world thanks largely to Jesus, although of course it has a history of religious use stretching back long before his time.

  • That is such an impressive gallery/article Jenny. Seeing all of those crosses together from so many different cultures is just astounding. It really drives it home for me just how prevalent this symbol was for those practicing the Religion of the Sun.

    Also, some pretty nice ideas in there for pendant designs. 😉

  • Thanks Jenny, I spotted the added page a few days ago :-). This widespreadness of this symbol is such a beautiful and moving thing!

    And the symbol itself of course so powerful and wonderful. Something that can be explored and experienced on deeper and deeper levels.

    Looking forward to going through the image gallery again soon.

  • Very thoroughly researched and explained article Jenny! Thanks very much.

    There’s this beauty in looking through the gallery and all the different designs the sun cross has been expressed throughout cultures and regions and ages. I found the illustrations of the sun cross symbols especially fascinating as it shows the richness of the different forms of it.

    I feel connected or drawn especially to the Scandinavian expression of this symbol. The Åby petroglyph for example has a stillness and strength to it somehow. Like what the person/persons who carved it had within them was transferred onto the rock and the carving. There’s something especially appealing to me in the Slavic solar cross symbols as well, such as the ‘ancient Slavic charm with a cross in the middle’. How fascinating as well that the yurt incorporates the symbol into its design. I didn’t know that. Really shows how very widespread the lost civilization of the sun was.

    • This intrigues me, Laura. The thought that we bring our energy to what we create, and that it can last throughout time. When I visited a place in Norway with solar petroglyphs I almost felt I could connect with the people who had made them, or feel an energy that was very different from anything else around me. It almost felt like a small spiritual haven that had lasted from an ancient past, and into the craziness of modern time.

  • Yes, Richard, that is a good question. In the environments that I have worked in I have seen many times when the symbol of the cross has carried a lot of negative symbolism and connotations for lot of people. It is such a shame that this negative perception exists as it is not the symbol itself that is at fault, but, as we know, the actions of people that committed crimes and other negative actions in its name.

    If only more people understood the deeper meaning, but also the fact that this symbol is much more ancient and widespread than what we have been taught to believe and understand.

    I am grateful therefore that TSS exists to bring this knowledge to the fore now at a time when humanity needs hope and a reason to not continue to lose it.

    Thanks very much for this article Jenny, really informative as always.

  • Thanks Jenny the cross is such a universal symbol used in lots of religions and different groups, I never really considered the symbolic meaning of it until I started looking into Belsebuub’s work, its very interesting and important I think to understand these deeper symbolic meanings, I wonder how many people are aware of the meanings of the cross considering how often it is used.

Leave a Comment

error:

Send this to a friend