Flags trimmed with a cross
The cross on the flag
The origin of the cross symbol dates back long before the conversion to Christianity. It is sufficient to look into the pre Colombian society to find traces. This origin is overshadowed today to such an extent that only Christian countries are displaying the cross on their flags.
The cross drawn on the flag can be represented with branches of equal lengths (Greek cross) or unequal lengths (Latin cross). It is nevertheless present under these two forms on one of the flag of the Channel Isles, Guernsey (See the picture below).
The red cross with unequal branches in the background comes obviously from the English flag. The golden cross with equal and splayed branches finds mischievously its place, among others, on the shields of the warriors fighting alongside the England conqueror, the Duke William of Normandy, as shown by the opposite detail of Bayeux's embroidery.
The following presentation contains a whole set of flags sporting a cross of one or the other form:
Flags trimmed with a Greek or Latin cross
The colours of the flags
The various flags presented above are painted with the following colours: white, red, blue, yellow and green.
- White represents the visible light, the spectrum of which covers all the other colours. It symbolizes in that capacity the Principle, the Unity, source of the colour manifestation in particular and of beings and things in general. Interesting to note that only the Swedish flag only does not bring in this essential colour. As for the other colours, they constitute as many facets of a same Principle viewed from different angles.
- Red, usually assimilated to courage, personifies also the love of the Principle symbolized by white, the divine love, the Knight's love. No wonder that Malta flag sports these colours.
- Symbol of the spiritual force, blue evokes the conscience of the Principle of indestructibility, such an intense conscience that this colour is just as well attached to the Finnish or Norwegian cross as to the field of the Greek, Swedish and Icelandic flags.
- Yellow depicts the spiritual radiance (of the Principle or the one who identifies himself with It) made in the image of the cross of the Guernsey or Swedish flags. It symbolizes the true wisdom.
- Green represents hope in all its fullness, i.e. the deep aspiration to bliss, to the Principle knowledge. It is acknowledge, on the Dominican flag, with the appearance of a parrot standing motionless at the centre of a ten star belt. This symbolizes the “cosmic wheel” or the Principle manifestation.
The meaning of the cross trimming these flags differs not only according to the colour, but also the respective lengths of the branches.
Flags trimmed with a Greek cross
The cross with equal branches is often associated with the wind rose representative of the four cardinal directions. This aspect is particularly reinforced by the squared shape of the Swiss flag. As for the cardinal points themselves, they are usually grouped under the light/shadow complements. A complement rather than an opposition for there is no shadow without light or light without shadow. That operates at the level of each branch (South and North, East and West) and between the branches (South and West, East and North) as well.
The light/shadow complements take on various words according to the traditions: Purusha/Prakriti (Hindu tradition), yang/yin (Chinese tradition) or feminine masculine (Hermetic tradition). These complements find their balance in a point where none of them predominates. Neither to the North or to the South, to the East or to the West, but in the centre symbolized by the branch intersection point. In the Hermetic tradition, rejoining the centre means to realize the reintegration in the indistinct state where masculine and feminine aspects are in perfect harmony. The being centred in himself becomes then a full human being, an individual in the strict sense of the word (from “individuum” or one), i.e. a unified being.
The banner under which a population is gathered reflects the unity of the human being represented by the Greek cross centre.
Flags trimmed with a Latin cross
Within the cross of unequal branches, the horizontal branch represents any being's state, human or other. The intersection point of this branch with the vertical portrays the centre of the corresponding state. The being centred in that state stands consequently on a point of the vertical from which he can perceive the centres linked to the other states, insofar terrestrial as celestial, insofar inferior as superior to his current state.
Moving along the vertical means knowing all the other states and becoming a total being. The being then definitively leaves the human world for the supra-human world. Situated beyond the centred being, he identifies himself with the Centre of all worlds and become the universal Being. He is henceforth at the crossing of all ways symbolized by the branch intersection. Made in the Christ image, He represents the mediator par excellence between Heaven and Earth under the banner of spirituality.
- René Guénon:
- “The symbolism of the cross”. Sophia Perennis Publisher 2002;
- This work deals in details with the cross symbol.