Friday, November 2, 2012

Goddard Mandala Series and the Cross

Goddard Mandala by U.C.
This is our second post in about United Catalysts' Goddard Mandalas series from the Skywheel Project. As discussed in previous posts, this series draws its inspiration from Robert Goddard's mandala-esque patent drawings for rocket engines, as well as traditional mandalas. The five basic shapes or universal symbols found in sacred mandala drawings are the circle, the cross, the square, the triangle and the spiral, and they each can be found in many styles, depending on the culture to which they belong. In this drawing from the Goddard Mandala series, the most noticeable of the five symbols are the circle and the cross.

Of the five basic symbols, the cross is unique in that it is the only one in which two points or elements intersect. It commonly symbolizes relationships. In Christianity, for example, the cross represents Christ as the connection between mortal man and God the Father. As the World Tree or Tree of Life symbol, the cross represents the connection between heaven and earth. As the Native American Medicine Wheel, it represents creating order and balance between the four directions: North, South, East and West, and as the Indo-European Sun Cross, it represents the balance between the four elements, found at the core of Neopagan practices. In West African religions, these intersections take the form of a crossroads as a powerful physical space.

Mayan World Tree
While the cross it is most commonly associated with Christianity in mainstream Western culture, the symbol predates Christianity. No one is certain when exactly the image first cross images appeared, the oldest known images date to neolithic times.

A popular variation of the cross motif is the combination of the circle and the cross. The neolithic cross, which was later adapted into the Celtic cross, and the Sun Cross are two examples of this. The sun cross is best known as the Native American medicine wheel and as a symbol of neopagan beliefs. It has also notably been seen throughout Europe since the neolithic era, and was adopted by Bulgarian Tzars as a symbol of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church in early Christian history. The cross within a circle also appears as the cruciform halo worn by Christ in medieval art, as well as in some images of the World Tree, an important motif used to represent many cultures' spiritualities and mythology around the world. This world tree, or tree of life, is recognized primarily in Indo-European, Siberian, and Native American religions. The ankh, an ancient Egyptian symbol predating the Christian cross, represents fertility and life -primarily eternal life.

Sun Cross or Bolgar Cross
Another common variation on the cross is the satire, a cross with slanted arms, sometimes seen as an "X," shape as in the Greek cross. ( a fun fact -- the Greek cross is rumored to be an inspiration for the term "Xmas," an abbreviation of Christmas.)

Even as the cross has a universal meaning that spans across cultures worldwide, it can represent many different things depending on its context. Depending on ones cultural heritage, it can represent life, fertility, perseverance and endurance, self sacrifice, protection, bravery, martyrdom or memorial, heroism, heraldry, or the balance of life and its elements.

To see more pictorial versions of the cross symbol, we recommend this very inclusive Wikipedia article:

Other References: