Published on March 17, 2013 by Amy
Native American Indians were a deeply spiritual people and they communicated their history, thoughts, ideas and dreams from generation to generation through Symbols and Signs such as the Cross in a Circle Symbol. The origin of the Cross in a Circle Symbol derives from the ancient Mississippian culture of the Mound Builders of North America and were major elements in the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex of American prehistory (S.E.C.C.). Some of the Native Indian tribes still retain some elements of the Mississippi culture and the symbolism of the Cross in the circle. The simple shape of the cross in a circle sign was easy to depict on any raw materials such as rock, stone, wood, shell and animal hides. There are many examples of of types of Cross Symbols in Native American culture. The traditional meaning of the cross in the circle symbol was that the four equal lines pointed from the center to the spirits of the north, east, south, and west and a representation of the Sacred Four elements, the great primary forces of Fire, Air, Water and Earth.
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A cross enclosed by a circle was a very important symbol to their culture and examples of a cross enclosed by a circle have been found at every Mississippian site excavated. It is believed that the cross symbolizes the cardinal directions and the sacred fire, and the circle symbolizes the sun. The cross in the circle symbol is referred to as the Solar Cross. The first explorers of North America included Hernando de Soto and his expedition (1539-1543). The chronicler of the expedition was a Portuguese gentlemen and he was not identified other than as the Gentleman from Elvas. This chronicler noted that a ceremonial standard with the cross was an emblem of rank and importance to these ancient people.
“…a sort of fan of deerskin…the size of a shield, quartered with black and white, with a cross made in the middle
…set on a small and very long staff….”
The sacred religious Solar Cross, or circle cross, is a symbol of the sun and fire and was adopted by many Native American tribes in various forms. The following Cross in a Circle Symbol, used by the Mound Builders, features in relation to the panther symbol, a fearsome creature from the Underworld. The Panther symbol is depicted as a ‘water monster’ with the body parts of other animals. The tail is colored to reflect snake or serpent like similarities and the feet have the claws of a bird of prey. The symbol shows four panthers revolving around a central cross in a circle symbol or motif – the Solar Cross. The Cross in the Circle Motif (Solar Cross) had solar connotations with the circle (the Upperworld) and the Cross in a Circle Symbol is believed to symbolize the sacred fire that exists in the Middle World (Earth).
Another example of a cross in a circle symbol, used by the Mississippian Mound Builders, is depicted in an image of the Feathered Serpent symbol or ‘skysnake’. The meaning of the Feathered serpent symbol was a benign spirit and represented life and the renewal of life. The serpents are depicted revolving around cross in the circle symbol, the Solar Cross.
The swastika is a broken cross symbol, a type of solar cross, with arms bent at right angles, suggesting a whirling or turning motion. The Swastika was a variation of the Cross in Circle Motif, symbolizing the creative, generative power of the Underworld.
The Feathered Serpent symbol depicts a cross circle as a swastika in which the right angles are depicted as gentle curves and the entire symbol is slightly slanted.. The broken cross symbol or the Swastika, is commonly known as the “whirling log” to many Native Indians, though the literal meaning in the Navajo language “that which revolves”.
The sacred, religious Solar Cross, or cross in the circle, is a symbol of the sun and fire and was adopted by many Native American tribes in various forms. The four elements is represented by Native American tribes, notably the Hopi, with the following “Solar Cross” or cross in a circle sign which means or signifies the world (also referred to as the Cosmic Cross). The four bars of the cross in the circle represent north, south, east and west.
The elements are the four great primary forces, or the Sacred Four, emanating from the Creator and these are depicted in the ‘Solar Cross’ or cross in a circle. The air symbol represents life. The fire symbol represents warmth and light. The water symbol represents the sustenance of life. The four small circles on the Earth Solar Cross Symbol represent the four nations (the first four tribes of mankind) which came to the world to keep balance.
The cross in the circle earth symbol is used as the icon of the Hopi Techqua Wheel. The Techqua Wheel symbol signifies the world to the Hopi and their representations correspond with the Earth Symbol. The Hopi Techqua Wheel symbol means “Together with all nations we protect both land and life and hold the world in balance.”
The most ancient Native American Indian symbols, like the Cross in a Circle Symbol, came from the Mississippian culture which was established in 1000AD and continued to 1550AD onward. The Mississippian Native Americans were the last of the mound-building cultures of North America in the Midwestern, Eastern, and Southeastern United States. The Mississippian culture was based on warfare, which was represented by an array of emblems, motifs and symbols. The Mississippian culture Cross icons like the Cross in a Circle Symbol provides interesting history and ideas for tattoos that include cosmic imagery depicting animals, humans and mythical beasts. The Mississippian Native Americans practiced body painting, tattooing and piercing.
Native American Indians of the Mississippian culture were sun worshipers and had a highly complex warfare culture. Their symbols, such as the Cross in a Circle Symbol, reflect the warfare culture and the religious beliefs and cosmologies of the different historic tribes who existed at the time of the first European contact.
Items displaying symbols, like the Cross in a Circle Symbol, from the Mississippian culture have been found in burial sites that contained war axes, knives and other weapons. This type of symbol was embossed in valuable materials such as rare shells, copper and lead and depicted on pottery and stone tools and weapons.