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Debunking Myths About the Peace Sign

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 Letter D

The Letter N

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.

However, the upside down cross has been adopted as a symbol of Satan and this false meaning has been perpetuated in many horror movies.

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.

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User Comments
  1. Annie Hintsala

    On July 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Fabulous article, very well done. I have had similar arguments with parents about various symbols some children have put up in ‘art’ in art class and what they actually mean. Wish there was more stuff like this out there.

  2. papaleng

    On July 28, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    That was so enlightening. learn new things today. BTW nice to see you again.

  3. George W Whitehead

    On July 28, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Great article, Sharazad.

  4. DynamicLethargy

    On July 28, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    I am very interested in the origin of symbols. I enjoyed this story.

  5. Alina Beck

    On July 29, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I must admit, I’ve never come across any concerns in Christian circles about the peace symbol – maybe that’s a more common complaint in the US? As for the Ankh, those who relate it to the cross of Jesus are confused. I’ve heard Christians talk about it relating to the worship of another religion (the polytheism of the ancient Egyptians) and more recently being adopted by various neopagan groups as a symbol for life/immortality/the occult.

    I guess an interesting question is to do with our shifting perceptions of symbols and words. If a symbol used to be completely neutral, but now has different connotations, like for example the swastika, then surely it’s the meaning of it now that matters as that’s how people will interpret it if we wear it on our t-shirts. As with words – many can remember when ‘gay’ meant ‘happy’. Things change.

  6. Daisy Peasblossom

    On July 29, 2009 at 5:09 pm

    Good article. And peace be unto you, also. :)

  7. revivor

    On July 30, 2009 at 4:37 am

    I remember when gay meant homosexual – it now seems to mean “pathetic” or “lame” amongst this generation. eg “that’s a really gay excuse”

    Back to the subject in hand – I saw a peace emblem with 2 extra lines out to 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock with the slogan:

    Give pizza a chance!!

  8. Mr Ghaz

    On August 2, 2009 at 8:41 am

    Great post! nicely done..I LIKED it..Thanx for sharing

  9. Funny That

    On August 7, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    Funny thing about Satanists is you don’t see them getting together and screaming about bombing this Middle Eastern nation or that one. You don’t see them bombing abortion clinics of getting hundreds to drink cyanide-laced Kool Aid for that matter. I don’t think it’s the Satanists (which are virtually all high school kids) we need to worry about.

  10. Chris Stonecipher

    On September 17, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    Very interesting article. I did not know there where myths about the peace sign. I learned something new. Thank you

  11. Rimpala

    On March 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

    Interesting article, I remember when I went to a religious shool one of my middle school teachers believed the peace symbol to be a “chicken foot” and that it was a sign of witchcraft (which by proxy ment Satanism amoung that crowd). Some people see evil around every corner I guess…

  12. FightIlluminati

    On July 8, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    This arcitcle is New Age propaganda designed to yet mislead more sheeple into the lie that human reason trumps God …..
    Keep in mind, just because a symbol exsisted before Christ & was used, in a ubiquitous” & somewhat “stylized fashion” in a particular culture or society- doesnt mean it wasnt Satanic in origin, intent and/or meaning. EVERYTHING since the creation of man (which was certainly; prior to Christ), during & since has been infused with Lucifirian influence & ideals (hence the reason Jesus was sent & is needed to this day). In the true Christian spirirual realm, if any concept originates from peganism, it is Anti-Christ & dangerous (no matter how much the well evolved modern-day “logical humanist” tries to reason away Divine Wisdom & faith; it can\’t be done). Pop-culture & New Age “do as thou wilt” thinking abounds in our society.

    @ “Funny That…On the contrary; Please Google/Wikipedia or YouTube – “Bohemian Grove, MK Ultra, Operation Paper Clip, Predictive Programming, & Aaron Russo Reflections & Warnings Full Movie”…you will find that the elite who are “bombing the Middle East”…bombing abortion clinics….inducing cyanide suicide & createing high schools murders are ALL (in some facet stem from the Illuminati World Elite & are involved in our government & indeed infact ARE SATANIST) …Don’t forget Satan has been “shaping our perception” since God told us to follow him in the Garden; yet we used free will to allow ourselves to be lead astray …Please, don\’t allow this article to do it yet again! ….

  13. FightIlluminati

    On July 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Also do research on Tavistock Institutue (Mind Control) & British Operative Intelligence

  14. Olivia Reason

    On July 12, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    FightIlluminati, are you saying that the rune is Satanic simply because non-Christians used them?

    I wonder how you feel about the symbols that make up our Latin alphabet, since those letters–like the German rune for ‘elk’- originated with pagan people.

    Is it bad to use these symbols? What about the days of the week, which are named after pagan gods (Odin, Thor, Frigg)?

    How do you reconcile your use of these symbols, words and names with your belief that “if any concept originates from peganism, it is Anti-Christ & dangerous”?

    That assertion isn’t ‘Divine Wisdom”. It’s just fuzzy logic. This isn’t about “do as thou wilt” thinking. This is about *thinking* period.

  15. TyrantX

    On July 11, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Really? How is it then their are NAZI SS officers with the “peace” sign on their graves?

    This article is a flat out LIE.

    The peace sign is to tell others you reject and HATE Jesus Christ

  16. Olivia Reason

    On July 14, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    TyrantX, Nazi’s wore crosses too…
    What does this mean?

    You obviously didn’t even read the article in full. You missed the part about people adopting symbols for their own causes and giving symbols their meaning. Symbols don’t have an inherent meaning. The swastika itself was a benign symbol until the Nazis adopted it.

    Oh wait…don’t let me forget my NEEDLESS CAPITAL LETTERS

  17. MM

    On December 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    So if I adopt a swastika and say my reasoning for wearing it is because it means that I like pepsi with my pizza then thats what it means.

    C’mon people C’MON. The damn symbol was used by wiccans, by the founder of the Satanist church it was called the Nero cross and used to let people know what side they’re on as far as Jesus and the AntiChrist and you fools still buy into the “PEACE” meaning, please wake the hell up. You guys are killing me.
    “It means whatever you want it to mean” get real.

  18. Olivia Reason

    On January 27, 2012 at 11:35 am

    MM- The Swastika in East Asia was a symbol of eternity and Buddhism long before the Nazis adopted it. Now it means hatred and racism, at least in the US. Proof that meanings can change. Why does that concept keep flying over your head?

    The universal meaning that most people read in the Peace sign (which was designed in ‘58) is peace.

    Even if it ever meant “Satan”, which it didn’t, it clearly doesn’t mean that now. So why be hysterical about it? So you can go around seeing demons everywhere and pretending you’re superior to all the people who aren’t raving mad schizophrenics?

  19. tomjoad

    On October 19, 2012 at 10:42 am

    you seem to forget, or don’t know, olivia reason, that the nazis reversed and tilted the hakenkreuz to represent the black sun. new symbol, new meaning. it’s not the same symbol found on hindu statues or in china, for instance.

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