The symbolism of love in new and ancient forms
Iraq War Memorial
I've been working on new series of heart designs related to the war in the Middle East entitled, "Iraq War Memorial".
When any people cannot live in harmony and go to war, it represents a failure, not so much of the people of respective nations, but of the leadership of those people. In the Middle East there has been a great failure of the religious leaders and the basic ideology which preaches martyrdom. In the Western nations there has been a great failure to teach respect for all faiths, including Islam, such that acculturation might occur and a synthesis of ideas and beliefs as memes be acquired which would let Christians and Moslems understand and respect each other and be able to negotiate, to set aside differences and concentrate upon the higher qualities of their humanity, that instead of a state of war existing, people are engaged in harmonious exchange.
The Iraq War Memorial series consists of crucifix hearts. There are six star bursts inside each heart to form a crucifix. The number six was chosen simply because this makes a nice crucifix. Then sets of crucifix hearts were created. The way this is done is to make a set of heats in a row or block, then to multiply the number by a process of copy/paste. Thus I created sets of 4x4 = 16 and 8x8 = 64 hearts. In this particular case I wanted the final number of star bursts to represent the total number of US soldiers who have died in the war in Iraq. As this number is over 2,000 and is constantly changing I set each star burst equal to a company of 30+ people. As US soldiers include both men and women, I refer to them as "people" so as to be inclusive of females who are in the military service. Thus the Iraq War Memorial designs have a mosaic of crucifix hearts, each with 64 hearts, that 2,000/64 = 31.25, such that these crucifix star burst hearts each represent that sum of soldiers who have perished, the number not being a constant but increasing the size of the dead companies so represented.
Few people would probably look at this particular design and realize that such though went into its creation. This is one reason people should not conclude from viewing my works of art or design that it has the same meaning to me that it may bring to them. Symbolism is not written in stone, but in sand, and the meaning of any particular design may vary from person to person. Often the meaning of a design becomes associated with a cause, religion, political party and so may come to have an established meaning, even a corrupted meaning. A good example of this is the Swastika.
Originally the swastika, which is an ancient symbol that has enjoyed a long history or reverence, was a symbol of harmony or well-being revered by Hindu in India Both right handed and left handed versions existed. Also the swastika may have originated as an amalgam of the words Su and Asati. Su means 'good' and Asati meant 'to exist,' such that the combination would come to mean 'let good-prevail' which is in quite contrast to how the usage of the swastika by the Nazis perverted this religious symbolism.
It has also been suggested that the swastika may not only have been a symbol, but a design for a very secure type of fort such that an invading army which made a conquest of one wall would not gain access to the entire fortress. The American Indians and other primitive people also embraced the swastika as a symbol. To the American Indians the swastika was regarded as a symbol of sign representing the sun, the winds or the four directions. In the Celtic world which embraced many basic symbols to have spiritual significance the swastika was a cross motif having absolutely nothing to do with racism.
However, Adolf Hitler corrupted the swastika by turning its meaning around, such that the clock-wise version of the swastika has become associated with murder, death, darkness and evil. The Nazi party popularized the clock-wise version of the swastika on flags, banners, emblem and all manner of political, fascist propaganda, to represent the Nazi party, placing the swastika in a white circle surrounded by red. This was not done by accident. Hitler was an artist and he understood symbolism. Hitler chose this design himself and selected the color scheme of a black swastika inside a white circle surrounded by red to represent racial purity and the blood letting struggle necessary to achieve such purity.
In Mein Kampf, Hitler described his design for the Nazis' new flag and emblem: "In red we see the social idea of the movement, in white the nationalistic idea, in the swastika the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and, by the same token, the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anti-Semitic." (pg. 496-497)
Unfortunately and to the detriment of humanity this resulted in corrupting the meaning of the swastika that now and forever it is associated with the murder of over six-million people, including Jews, Christians, teachers, scholars and virtually anyone who opposed the Nazi party. Today, over half as century since the defeat of Nazi Germany, the swastika continues to be associated with the atrocities perpetrated by Adolf Hitler and the racial hatred promoted in the extreme form of genocide by the Nazi party.
One of my goals in life is to destroy racial hatred, to wipe it from the face of the earth. I want to bring all people together to love one another, to destroy hatred based upon race, religion or national origin. This is not an easy task and I believe must be founded upon reform of symbolism, those basic shapes which come to have meaning and are used so powerfully by religion and political parties around the world to gain authority and control of people, to thus enable whatever form of tyranny or rule said authorities are dictating.
One of the symbols I want to reform is the swastika. I wish to return the swastika to its original meaning as seen by American Indians and primitive cultures, as a symbol of harmony, not a symbol of race, segregation, white power or Nazi genocide. In this regard I wish to note that the meaning of the swastika as good or evil is not a mater of the orientation of the legs of the cross, but of how the swastika is used by people. Even in ancient times both versions of the swastika existed; i.e., both the clock-wise or right handed swastika, and the counter-clock wise or left hand version of the swastika existed. The meaning attributed to the swastika has always been a matter of subjective association. As a symbol the swastika is neither good nor evil. The meaning of the swastika or any other symbol is only in how users of the symbol define that symbol. In this regard certainly the version of the swastika as created and defined by Adolf Hitler is evil. Yet this does not mean it need always remain such. Should those using this symbol reform and adopt universal love as their ideology, certainly this would go a long way in restoring the symbolism of the swastika as a good, rather than evil symbol.
To return the swastika to its original meaning and bring it to have a good connotation rather than a negative connotation will not be an easy task. But the reason I want to do this is to educate and inform people that such symbols have a powerful meaning and that we the people of the world who believe in love can control the meaning of those symbols we cherish and adore. This also means we can obtain power and control of our own fate, rather then letting tyrannical governments control our fate.
It is also my belief that the way the mind works and stores information is based upon a set of basic symbols. These involve circles, squares, triangles and other basic geometrical shapes. The mind learns how to recognize such shapes. Then the mind learns to recognize more complex shapes based upon fundamental shapes. These basic shapes and sets of shapes then become recognized as letters, hieroglyphics, cuneiforms, or other forms of picture writing and may be associated with sounds or tones to give meaning to language and enable writing. Thus an oriental symbol may not have any meaning to one who understands how to read Greek or Arabic letters and vice-versa. But a basic symbol like a circle, square, triangle, sun symbol or stick human figure may be recognized by all people. Hence fundamental figures that are easy to recognize, due to their association with figures and forms in nature, have a universal quality. The swastika has a universal quality and therefore is a very powerful symbol. Its corruption by the Nazi party needs to be corrected in order to help heal humanity.
The symbol I have adopted to correct the perversion of the swastika is an original twisted cross with counter-clock wise running legs (not a mirror image of a twisted cross) set inside a heart. The heart is red, the swastika is black or white and this is set inside a neon green or grass-green, earth colored field. In some designs these colors may be varied such that the swastika may be black inside a red heart or a heart which has a more complex mosaic scheme. But the basic design of a counter-clock wise running broken cross inside a heart is intended to correct the perversion of the swastika. As the creator of this design I forbid its usage by hate groups or any political parties which advocate hatred, segregation or genocide. This new symbol is meant to be used by those who preach and promote love among all people!
Certainly the creation of this design which I shall call "The Love Swastika" will result is debate and controversy. Those who identify with the swastika as a hate symbol or a symbol of white power will undoubtedly profess that "The Love Swastika" is a hate symbol. But this is NOT true. The Love Swastika is a love symbol. Its usage by any groups which promote hatred, segregation, prejudice or genocide is strictly forbidden. I retain all rights to The Love Swastika and will take legal action against any hate groups which attempt to use The Love Swastika, such that I will sue them out of business.
The mere creation of a design and the definition of that design as a symbol of love does not make that design such in the hearts and minds of humanity. To establish a symbol as a symbol of love it must be embraced as such by humanity. Therefore a campaign is needed to establish the meaning or adoption of a symbol as a love symbol. The fact that the Nazis adopted the swastika and through their acts of genocide the symbol became associated with evil is a difficult association to over come. Just putting a swastika inside a heart and saying it is a symbol of well-being or harmony does not make it viewed as such. Nor does revelation of the 3,000 years of history associated with the swastika the majority of which defined the swastika to be a positive rather than a negative symbol. Also confusing the issue is the fact that Nazi certainly look upon the swastika in a positive light.
One might put a swastika inside a Celtic cross and say that the resulting symbol is a symbol of life and divinity. Does that make the swastika seen in such light? In fact the Nazis incorporated the swastika into many designs including the crucifix which was use in metals given to good citizens and soldiers. During the rule of the Third Riche the swastika appeared upon postage stamps and was sculpted into monuments to adorn buildings. In fact after the defeat of the Third Riche a campaign was conducted to destroy all such usage of the swastika, to the extent of blowing up monolith structures featuring the swastika. The Nazis so perverted the meaning of the swastika through the crimes they committed against humanity that no effort to correct that defiling of swastika may be successful.
However, I have a plan for how the swastika may be resurrected. This in no way means that I advocate the resurrection of Nazi beliefs or ideology which sickens me to the heart! I am as offended by ideology professing Aryan supremacy as would be any Jewish person.
I love Jewish people and reject antisemetic ideology. But I do not believe that the swastika is an inherently evil symbol any more than I believe a firearm is inherently evil. It is people who are evil. Symbols and inanimate objects or tools are not in and of themselves evil. It is people who make evil use of symbols, objects or even ideas who are evil. In other words, knowledge is not evil. It is not evil to know how to make a bomb or how to make culture pathogenic bacteria. But it is evil to construct a bomb and in an act of terrorism blow up a building containing men, women and children. Likewise it would be evil to brew up a batch of biologically toxic agents, put this in envelops and mail it at random to people as an act of terrorism. It is such acts which hurt and harm people which are evil. The fact that a person or group of people committing such acts may adopt and use a particular symbol does not mean that symbol is itself evil. What is evil is the people using the symbol to promote hurt, harm and/or hatred.
Unfortunately hate mongers can adopt any symbol they wish. Even Christian symbols have been adopted by hate groups. Quite often hate groups have used Christianity as well as national flags to promote their ideologies. This is a typical mode of operation of groups which preach white supremacy and separation of the races, such as the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups. My awareness of this fact is why I retain copyrights to The Love Swastika and forbid any hate groups from using this symbol or any graphics that I or others may incorporate into this particular, unique and original design.
Given that I am aware of the fact that the swastika is regarded by many people in Western society in a derogatory manner, I am not going to rush out and put Love Swastikas upon merchandise and try to market it. Quite frankly the swastika has receives so much negative publicity and press that its usage in almost any form labels someone as a Nazi. As soon as you put a swastika on anything, it produces a feeling of revulsion. The only way to restore the swastika as a symbol of well-being is to educate people regarding the long history of the swastika and gradually reintroduce the swastika as a symbol of harmony and love, that future generations will not associate the swastika with evil but with good.
This may be an impossible task; it certainly represents a challenge. In my own design work I plan to present the swastika in motifs and background art, blended with hearts, stars and crucifixes, such that together symbols of God and love appear, that the swastika is illuminated and restored to its original glory as a positive focus symbol. Of course some may say that this effort will tarnish other symbols, that the swastika has been so corrupted by the Nazis that it can never be restored to the collective conscience of humanity as a symbol of harmony and well-being. I understand this position but as a graphic artist and one who does not like to see symbolism perverted, I must meet the challenge to restore the swastika to a place of reverence in the human psyche.
One of my first efforts in this regard shall just be to publish my new Love Swastika design used as a motif upon Indian type art and American Indians designs, given these appropriate represent the original intent and expression of the swastika as historically used by these cultures, that others may become aware of its meaning. Then I will over time use the new Love Swastika subtlety in other designs, with the objective to produce beautiful designs, designs which evoke good feelings, and so associate the Love Swastika with love rather than hatred, murder and death. I am aware that some will say that in this effort I am tarnishing the meaning of good and righteous symbols, but that is merely their misinterpretation of my actions. My intent in using swastikas as symbols is to restore their original meaning as harmonious symbols, as a symbol of well-being, and anyone who states that I am doing otherwise is simply telling a lie.
The Taj Mahal Harmony Carpet is a good example of how the Love Swastika is appropriately used as a symbol of God's love, that God is Love and in the graphic shown below this is well depicted. The Taj Mahal was built as a mausoleum at Agra, India, by Shah Jahan for his favorite wife. This most beautiful of buildings is therefore an expression of love, the divine inspiration of God's love, and is certainly a representation of harmony and well-being, if not eternal love. Therefore it is most appropriately framed in a mosaic of broken Love Swastikas. This design was created by setting the Taj Mahal inside a tile carpet of 64 Love Swastika hearts that were then fractured to symbolically represent a departed or lost love and a much broken heart represented by that lost love which inspired the building of the Taj Mahal.
The Taj Mahal Harmony Carpet
As you can see, this is a very beautiful creation and illustrates an appropriate usage of the left handed swastika in a motif or mosaic. It is inappropriate and a perversion for the swastika design to be used by political parties or religious groups in such a manner as to promote hurt, harm, hatred, prejudice, genocide or other forms of man's inhumanity to man. Such designs, as is the case with all symbolism, are best used as an expression of God's love and enlightenment; any alternative usage may correctly be viewed as a perversion.