There is an interesting documentary in the making: My Swastika. The director Dominick Crowley has said about the documentary that “My Swastika is a documentary dealing with the controversy, history and social impact of the symbol of swastika. The production itself is an academic production, non-sensationalized, and we are trying to be 100% factual and truthful about the image and we avoid any sensationalism; media, journalism, anything that kind of pop-culture or sensationalist”. I am really looking forward to seeing the final result of that project. Thus far there are out there the documentary’s trailer and behind the scenes clip. The project has also two Facebook pages, this one and especially this one.
The documentary made me think about the symbol again. The controversy about swastika is historically of course a fairly new one, thanks to the Nazis who tainted the general perception of this ancient symbol in the Western culture. Before the Nazis the symbol was used throughout the world for ages and it continues to be widely used in Eastern religions.
But what does the symbol stand for? Where has this universal symbol originated from? There are lots of ideas about these things. Generally, swastika seems to stand for a good luck and it is considered to be a holy symbol. The theories about the origins the symbol vary a lot. One theory about the origin of swastika that I haven’t seen to be pondered about a lot is that of a celestial origin, of Ursa Minor’s and Ursa Major’s rotational positions (equinoxes and solstices) around the pole star. I am somewhat surprised that this theory has not got that much attention.
If you look at the nightsky it seems to rotate around the pole star that stays in a fixed position. One of the most visible if not the most visible constellation that can be seen in the nightsky and that connects nicely with the Northern pole star is that of Ursa Major. I might get a bit poetical here, but thinking of the importance of a yearly cycle of life for people in pre-industrial, agricultural age, the yearly cycle seems to be very important. It is about a whole cycle of life here on Earth, and thus something holy, since holy refers to something that from a special angle covers all of life. You can find swastika right from the nightsky. This idea can be found nicely from Ph.D. Joscelyn Godwin’s The Polar Myth.
Here are some notes about what some present day Taoist practitioners have to say about the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), its origin and function in Taoism, and about its meaning in Taoist astrology. A to Z Japanese Buddhist sanctuary has some interesting notes about Northern Polestar and the Big Dipper as well. There are of course many sites about swastika in Buddhism too, for example here and here.