Is the classic 1960’s Peace Sign an anti-Christian symbol?
A popular myth among Christians about the classic 1960’s peace sign says that the symbol is actually an upside down,broken armed cross invented as a mockery of the Christian faith. Some say that it was used by Emperor Nero to mock the Christian faith. Others assert that the “chickenfoot” part of the symbol is a symbol of satanism, devised from an ancient German rune that was called “the dead man’s rune”.
The peace sign actually was invented on February 21, 1958 by a British WWII conscientious objector named Gerald Holtom as a symbol for the nuclear disarmament movement. The chickenfoot part was made by super-imposing flag semaphore signs for the letters “n” and “d” on top of one another and enclosing them in a circle. The symbol became popular during the protests in the 1960s, particularly during opposition to the war in Vietnam and marches for racial harmony.
The rune mentioned in the myth is said to be the “deadman’s rune” because the character itself meant “life”. When turned upside down, the symbol is said to mean”death”. Actually, the rune (called “algiz”) means “elk”. The upside down cross is the symbol of St Peter. According to tradition, St Peter was about to be martyred during the vicious slaughter of Christians by Emperor Nero. St Peter, seeing he was to be crucified, begged to be crucified upside down so as not to be equated with His Lord. Because of this, the inverted cross became a symbol of humility.
Image via Wikipedia
Some signs are ubiquitous. The cross, the circle, the zig-zag, the swastika- these are examples of signs that are found all over the world in cultures that had no contact with each other. The fact is that these patterns are easy to draw (children often doodle them) and are found in nature. The swastika,for example, often occurred in basket-weaving cultures long before Hitler made it one of the most evil signs in history.
Unfortunately, the demonization of a symbol is easy. Nazis, pagans and satanists adopt symbols (such as the upside down cross). Hysterical Christians are quick to ban such signs (for example, many Christians claim that the Egyptian ankh is a perversion of the cross as well- even though it was around hundreds of years before the Crucifixion of Christ).
The peace sign,however, is also a symbol of the ’60s counter-culture, being “anti-establishment” or at least being really, really stoned. Most teenage girls say it’s “cute”. Teenaged boys say it’s “cool”. It’s all over the place in national stores like Claire’s and Spencer’s.
But,this symbol was given it’s own meaning. It was devised for it’s simplicity and for a purpose. The symbol says in a few simple lines: peace.
And we like peace. In the end, what matters about a symbol is: what is it’s meaning to the person who wears it?
Peace, brothers and sisters. Peace.