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Peace Sign as Satanic? Myth Busted!

Updated on November 14, 2014
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Nero's Cross
Nero's Cross
Crow and his foot
Crow and his foot

Satanic Theories

Although I initially believed the conspiracy to be fueled by hysterical Christians, I found a lot of logical information. Author of one Word Press blog Michelle Santos points out that sans circle the symbol has different allegations. A long time ago in B.C. a man named Nero crucified the Apostle Peter on a cross, his head downward as a disrespect to Christ. Santos also explains that using this sign is a common ritual in cults: “During the Dark Ages it was used in Druid witchcraft…they would draw the magic circle and give the initiate a cross. The initiate would then lift the cross and turn it upside down. He would then renounce Christianity…and break the horizontal pieces downward."

Besides the association to Nero, the symbol without the circle is called the “crow foot” and “witch foot”. I’m not sure what a witch’s foot would look like, but the symbol bears resemblance to an actual crow’s foot. Even though crows have bad reputations all over the world, mostly because of their color and scavenger status, the crow has been ranked as the smartest animal. Instead of depleting corn, studies have shown that many eat “significant numbers of the corn borer larvae overwintering in corn stalks." The bible has scriptures glorifying black birds. In 1Kings 17:6 some ravens, which are similar to crows, send Elijah bread and meat. To tie these animals to Satan seems unnecessary [Have you noticed crows in cartoons, they are usually awesome! Think of Dumbo and Secret of the NIMH].


Nuclear Disarmament via Semaphore
Nuclear Disarmament via Semaphore
Goya's 1803 painting of a peasant before the firing squad
Goya's 1803 painting of a peasant before the firing squad

History of Peace Symbol

The peace symbol was originated by professional designer and artist Gerald Holtom in 1958. Holtom, a graduate of the Royal College of Arts, presented the symbol for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Britain, who used the design in marches thereafter. In visiting various sites I found different sources of inspiration for the sign, the most consistent being the symbols for “N” and “D” in Semaphore. A testimony from Herb Greer, editor of Peace News, also solidifies the Semaphore inspiration, insisting that he saw Holtom’s sketches.

Many sources explain that Holtom wanted the drooping arms upward or really wanted to use a cross, only to be reprimanded later. One source from the artist himself sheds light on yet another inspiration, a Goya painting in which a man had his hands up in surrender: “I was in despair…I drew myself: the representative of an individual I despair with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad.” Although I questioned this description a lot during my research because of the surprised look of the peasant in the painting—I thought, would the peasant have posed this way before putting his hands up in shock? Picturing the description in my mind over and over—I think Holtom’s description makes sense for someone completely in anguish.

Regardless of all this evidence, there was one loophole I found, a small possibility for a conspiracy theory in which the people making the peace sign POSSIBLY had malicious intent.

Bertrand Russell, Possible Satanist?

Bertrand Russell supported Holtom’s symbol designs, specifically as a member of the Direct Action Committee which was a smaller organization included in the CND. He was recognized for his many roles as a philosopher, mathematician, and historian; however, because of his questionable opinions he is accused of being a communist in addition to a Satan idealist.

A lecture he presented in 1927 via the National Secular Society, “Why I Am Not A Christian” certainly doesn’t help his case. For the most part his beliefs are logical as he presents the downfalls of Christianity, particularly from a scientific perspective. Even with an agnostic-like view, some statements in the lecture are cringe-worthy, primarily this one: “You could, of course, if you liked, say that there was a superior deity who gave orders to the God…that as a matter of fact this world that we know was made by the devil at a moment when God wasn’t looking. There is a good deal to be said about that, and I am not concerned to refute it.” Although I believe he is emphasizing that anything is possible, why he mentioned the devil first leaves the possibility open.

Despite the small loop, I don’t believe that someone arrested two times for anti-war views worshipped Satan. Russell personally dealt with a skeptic during the time, H.Pickels, who wrote in to say he was concerned for the ND badge (or peace symbol) being a death symbol. Russell replied: “I cannot follow your argument that the ND badge is a death symbol. It was invented by a member of our movement…designed from the naval code of semaphore.” If Russell secretly pushed his satanic ideals onto Holtom’s designs, it would be one of the greatest conspiracies. With so little evidence, however, the facts still remain.

Final Thoughts

My final point is that regardless of the past associated with the peace symbol, it is now associated with harmony. I mean to say, the majority of our society is under the impression it is good and not evil. The fact that it is still being banned, such as a case with a school in the Netherlands having to remove $20,000 of school agendas with the sign on them, baffles me. I will always think of that sign with love and admiration.

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    • NateB11 profile image

      Nathan Bernardo 2 years ago from California, United States of America

      That is all very interesting. I heard about the semaphore one before. Much of what Bertrand Russel said was spot on, so if he was a Satanist, he was a spot on smart Satanist.

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