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Origins of the Symbolism of the Cross

Updated on December 27, 2012

While one particular secular religion may be responsible for the monopoly use of this particular symbol, the cross itself is actually a very ancient symbol that was given meaning well before it's current fame.

Let's take a look at the symbolic meaning of the cross from various spiritual paths around the world and through the ages.

A Meeting of Energy

Many ancient Pagan and Native American spiritual paths believe that the cross symbolizes a meeting point for energy. An easy way to imagine this, is that the Equator and the Prime Meridian cross each other in only two places around the earth. At these points, your longitude and latitude are at absolute zero, and it is thought that these areas are filled with intense energies of the electromagnetic and spiritual sorts.

Similarly, trees were considered to be natural examples of crosses, because they connect the earth to the sky and have limbs which stretch towards each ocean. This is part of the logic behind why most crosses are made from wood.

The Five Elements

Earth, Air, Fire and Water, joined in the middle to create Spirit.

The stability of the North, strength of the South, knowledge of the East and intuition of West, joined in the middle to create navigation.

Ancient Celtic and Egyptian peoples held the belief that the cross represented five elements that come together to create balance. The ways in which this symbolism can be played out, are way too numerous to cover here in this hub, with quality and detail, though that same fact is why this concept is worth noting.


Numerologist and many kabbalic spiritual followers see the cross as a simply manifestation of the number 4, which holds a large amount of symbolic meaning inside of it's little corners.

The number four is seen as a practical number that contains a balance of masculine and feminine energy. It is the number of logic, organization and durability. In many pagan and wiccan religions, it represents the Watch Towers, Guardians, Elements and Winds.

Outside of numerological thoughts, the number 4 permiates our lives in plenty of ways, which is where these meanings were derived from. Think about, there are four seasons, four directions and four weeks in a month.


The ancient Egyptians had a very specific cross known as the Ankh. To them this was a simply of feminine energy and fertility, as well as a concentration of power.

It is believed that the very same symbol evolved into the sigil we know see representing Venus, the sign of a woman.


From ancient Native American Medicine Wheels to the more modern flat cross that we see with nearly every medical advertisement, the cross has long since represented the sign of the healer. It is because of many of the above meanings that the cross is seen as a point of balance where any being can achieve true wellness.

What meaning do you give to the simplicity known as a Cross?

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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 5 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Very interesting article. Crossroads comes to mind.