The circled cross is the most ancient and universal of sacred symbols. Its first appearances date back to the Paleolithic era, predating written language, and it has been found in some form in the religious artwork of almost every culture. Among Germanic tribes it represented the sun, the hours of the day, and the cycling seasons of the solar year, which is the origin of its name.
To the alchemists of the Renaissance, it was the sign of the planet Earth. It can be seen as a compass with four cardinal directions, or a globe with four hemispheres. In a more mystical interpretation, the horizontal line represents the material plane, nature, and the vertical line represents the spiritual plane, the heavens.
To anthropologists, this is the penultimate sacred symbol: illustrating the concept of both time and orientation, this primitive sign could mark the birth of human consciousness itself.
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