What Is the Origin of the Sign of the Cross? Should Christians Make the Sign of the Cross? (Part 2)


In the last Q&A, we pointed out that the cross is of pagan origin and that its worship did not start with Christianity, but that it was used by many non-Christian cultures long before the birth of Christ. We pointed out that in all probability, Christ did not even die on a Tau-cross, but that in its long history, the Tau-cross was the symbol of the Roman god Mithras and the Greek god Attis and that in Norse mythology, the hammer of Thor was seen as a Tau-cross.

In this Q&A, we will continue showing the remarkable similarity between the “Christian” Tau-cross and Thor’s hammer, and we will discuss the origin of making the sign of the cross. Is it also of pagan origin, or was it “invented” by early Christians after they had incorporated the pagan symbol of the cross into their worship?

Previously, we saw that the Roman Catholic Church connects the making of the sign of the cross with the unbiblical belief in the Trinity.

While it can be easily established that the worship of the cross is of pagan origin, the history of making the sign of the cross is more sketchy.

We are given the following general information by sabbathcovenant.com:

“The cross is a tradition of the Church which our fathers have inherited… The evidence for its pagan origin is so convincing that the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that ‘the sign of the cross, represented in its simplest form by a crossing of two lines at right angles, greatly antedates, in both East and the West, the introduction of Christianity. It goes back to a very remote period of human civilization…In later times the Egyptian Christians (Copts), attracted by its form, and perhaps by its symbolism, adopted it as the emblem of the cross.’…

“Further proof of its pagan origin is the recorded evidence of the Vestal Virgins of pagan Rome having the cross hanging on a necklace, and the Egyptians doing it too, as early as the 15th century B.C.E. The Buddhists, and numerous other sects of India, also used the sign of the cross as a mark on their followers’ heads. The cross thus widely worshipped, or regarded as a ‘sacred emblem’, was the unequivocal symbol of Bacchus (Tammuz), the Babylonian Messiah, for he was represented with a head-band covered with crosses. It was also the symbol of Jupiter… in Rome. Furthermore, we read of the cross on top of the temple of Serapis, the Sun-deity of Alexandria.  This is Tammuz, whom the Greeks called Bacchus, with the crosses on his head-band.”

In this context, the worship of the Nordic god Thor is very important (who was worshipped by the Romans as Jupiter and by the Greeks as Zeus). We will show in this article that making the sign of the cross, in some way, was practiced by the followers of Thor. This is not to say that it originated with the belief in and worship of Thor; but it is to be understood that those pagan rituals and practices existed PRIOR to the advance of Christianity.

The mystical figure of the pagan god Thor is still quite dominant in today’s Western world. We have a weekday, called Thursday, which is derived from the words, “Thor’s day.” Thor was the god of thunder. In Germany, the day is known as Donnerstag (the day of thunder); in Scandinavia (Denmark, Norway and Sweden), it is called “Torsdag” and in The Netherlands, “Donderdag.”

Thor seems to have been part of a Trinity. He was worshipped together with the pagan god Odin and Frey or Freyja (the pagan goddess of love and fertility).

The similarity between Thor’s hammer and the crucifix is pointed out in the following article in the ThorNews, dated March 17, 2014:

“The attack in 793 AD at the English monastery at Lindisfarne did not only signal the beginning of the Viking Age, but also the beginning of a nearly 300-year period of widespread trade and assimilation between Norse pagans and Christian Europeans. The Vikings were pragmatists, and let themselves be marked with the sign of the cross to be able to form alliances and trade agreements in a Catholic Europe. The silver pendant found in Iceland can be interpreted as either a Thor’s hammer, also known as ’Mjölnir’, or a crucifix. The similarity was convenient for the Vikings who had to deal with a Europe that was under the powerful influence of the Catholic Church…

“Some Vikings let themselves be prime-signed (Latin: prima signatio; to receive ‘the first marking with a cross’ – implied the sign of the cross), to be accepted among Christians… A Viking who worked for a Christian king and was prime-signed, had a big advantage: He was accepted as a Christian among Christians and at the same time could keep his pagan beliefs. He switched religion if the situation demanded it, and could continue to follow the custom of sacrificing to Odin when he came back home.”

The website of norse-mythology.org states the following about Thor’s hammer:

“Of all of the symbols in Norse mythology, Thor’s Hammer… is one of the most historically important, and is probably the best known today… The hammer was [Thor’s] primary weapon. Thor (whose name goes back to a Proto-Germanic root that means ‘Thunder’) was the animating spirit of the storm, and thunder was experienced as being the sound of his hammer crashing down on his foes. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the Old Norse name for his hammer, Mjöllnir, probably meant ‘Lightning.’ …

‘Thor’s hammer was certainly a weapon… but it was more than just a weapon. It also occupied a central role in rituals of consecration and hallowing.  The hammer was used in formal ceremonies to bless marriages, births, and probably funerals as well. In one episode from medieval Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda, Thor once killed and ate his goats, then brought them back to life by hallowing their bones with his hammer…

“The medieval Danish historian Saxo Grammaticus records that huge hammers were kept in one of Thor’s temples in Sweden, and that periodically the people would hold a ritual there that involved beating the hammers against some kind of drum that would resound like thunder. This could have been a ceremony to bless and protect the community and ward off hostile spirits.

“Historian Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson provides an excellent summary of the uses of the hammer:

“‘It would seem indeed as though the power of the thunder god, symbolized by his hammer, extended over all that had to do with the well-being of the community. It covered birth, marriage, and death, burial, and cremation ceremonies, weapons and feasting, travelling, land-taking, and the making of oaths between men. The famous weapon of Thor was not only the symbol of the destructive power of the storm, and of fire from heaven, but also a protection against the forces of evil and violence…’

“Of all of these consecration ceremonies, the use of the hammer to bless a marriage is especially well-established… A Bronze Age rock carving from Scandinavia apparently depicts a couple being blessed by a larger figure holding a hammer, which indicates the considerable antiquity of this notion. Historian E.O.G. Turville-Petre suggests that part of this blessing consisted of imparting fertility to the couple, which would make sense in light of Thor’s connections with agriculture and the fertilization of the fields…

“Christian missionaries were arriving in the northern lands who attempted to convert the Norse to their own monotheistic religion and worldview… The Christians often wore necklaces with cross-shaped amulets, and they raised crosses over their dead when they buried them… So close was the relationship between the cross and the hammer that some enterprising blacksmiths took to forging both types of pendants at the same time to cater to both religious sensibilities…”

We read the following on the website of people.uncw.edu:

“Thor was… worshipped extensively and proved to be a great challenge to Christianity. Children were baptized in his name and the sign of Thor was placed on them (this sign is similar to the sign of the cross). He also wore a halo of fire, his element. Replicas of his hammer were used to bless funeral pyres, associating him with death and cremation. The Yule-tide was Thor’s biggest festival and our modern Christmas now takes its place… Thor was Christ’s biggest adversary…”

In addition to many interesting observations, likening Thor’s hammer with the swastika, the direct linkage between making the sign of the “Christian” cross and making the sign of Thor’s hammer (the “pagan” cross) is explained in “Myths and Legends–Thor, Viking God of Thunder,” by Graeme Davis:

“The swastika… was … originally associated with Thor. It has been variously interpreted as a stylized thunderbolt or a symbol of Thor’s hammer…  Adolf Hitler chose the swastika as the symbol for his new party because of its alleged Germanic heritage. Although the design was used by many ancient cultures, most significantly for Hitler it represented Thor and his thunderbolts in Norse tradition…

“Pendants in the form of Thor’s magical hammer Mjolnor have been found across the Viking world. It seems to have been as popular among pagan Vikings as the cross was among Christians…. Pagan Vikings sometimes made a gesture indicating Thor’s hammer as a sign of blessing or purification, in much the same way that Christians made, and still make, the sign of the cross.

“The Heimskringla tells us that Hakon the Good, an early Christian king of Norway, was bowed by pressure from his people into making winter sacrifices during a pagan festival at Hlader. When the drinking-horn was passed to him, he made the sign of the cross over it to protect himself from the heathen nature of the proceedings. When eyebrows were raised one of his friends defended him, saying that he was actually making the sign of the hammer, as they were all accustomed to doing.

“In the legends, too, Thor’s hammer is shown to have the power to deliver blessings. In the Thrymskvida, Thor is forced to disguise himself as a bride to recover his stolen hammer, which he does when it is laid upon the ‘bride’s’ lap to sanctify the wedding. This suggests a similar practice to the Christian one of using crosses to confer blessings upon rituals and individuals.”

The similarities between making the “pagan” sign and the “Christian” sign of the cross are too many than to ignore their common origin. God prohibits us to worship Him in the way in which pagans worshiped their gods (Deuteronomy 12:29-32). As true Christians, we are to abstain from using crosses in our worship and from making “the sign of the cross” in any way.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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