Ancient Pagan and Modern Christian Symbolism
by Thomas Inman, M.D. (1874)
Pagan and Christian symbolism
Figures 35, 36, are Maltese crosses. In a large book of Etrurian antiquities, which came casually under my notice about twenty years ago, when I was endeavouring to master the language, theology, etc., of the Etruscans, but whose name, and other particulars of which, I cannot now remember; I found depicted two crosses, made up of four masculine triads, each asher being erect, and united to its fellows by the gland, forming a central diamond, emblem of the yoni. In one instance, the limbs of the cross were of equal length; in the other, one asher was three times as long as the others. A somewhat similar cross, but one united with the circle, was found some time ago near Naples. It is made of gold, and has apparently been used as an amulet and suspended to the neck. It is figured in plate 35 of An Essay on the Worship of the Generative Powers during the Middle Ages (London, privately printed, 1865). It may be thus described: the centre of the circle is occupied by four oblate spheres arranged like a square; from the salient curves of each of these springs a yoni (shaped as in Figure 59), with the point outwards, thus forming a cross, each ray of which is an egg and fig. At each junction of the ovoids a yoni is inserted with the apex inwards, whilst from the broad end arise four ashers, which project beyond the shield, each terminating in a few golden bead-like drops. The whole is a graphic natural representation of the intimate union of the male and female, sun and moon, cross and circle, Ouranos and Ge. The same idea is embodied in Figure 27, p. 86, but in that the mystery is deeply veiled, in that the long arms of the cross represent the sun, or male, indicated by the triad; the short ones, the moon, or the female (see Plate xi. Fig. 4).
The Maltese cross, a Phoenician emblem, was discovered cut on a rock in the island from which it takes its name. Though cruciform, it had nothing Christian about it; for, like the Etruscan ones referred to above, it consisted of four lingas united together by the heads, the "eggs" being at the outside. It was an easy thing for an unscrupulous priesthood to represent this "invention" of the cross as a miracle, and to make it presentable to the eyes of the faithful by leaving the outlines of Anu and Hea incomplete. Sometimes this cross is figured as four triangles meeting at the points, which has the same meaning, Generally, however, the Church (as may be seen by a reference to Pugin's Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament) adopts the use of crosses where the inferior members of the trinity are more or less central, as in our Plate xi., Figs. 2, 8, and as in the Figures 40, 41, 42, infra. When once a person knows the true origin of the doctrine of the Trinity—one which is far too improper to have been adopted by the writers of the New Testament—it is impossible not to recognise in the signs which are symbolic of it the thing which is signified.
It may readily be supposed that those who have knowledge of the heathenish origin of many of the cherished doctrines of the so-called Christian church, cannot remain enthusiastic members of her communion; and it is equally easy for the enlightened philosopher to understand why such persons are detested and abused by the ignorant, and charged with being freethinkers, sceptics, or atheists. Sciolism is ever intolerant, and theological hatred is generally to be measured by the mental incapacity of those who indulge in the luxury. But no amount of abuse can reduce the intrinsic value of facts. Nor will the most fiery persecution demonstrate that the religion of Christ, as it appears in our churches and cathedrals, especially if they are papal, is not tainted by a mass of paganism of disgusting origin.