(urth) Pas's gammadion and the voided cross

Matthew Groves matthewalangroves at gmail.com
Sun Jan 21 18:27:57 PST 2007

Well, it turns out the answer was right in front of me if I'd had a little
more imagination or more knowledge of heraldic crosses.  I just started
leafing through the Long Sun novels in search of the first mention of the
gammadion.  The "voided cross" and the "gammadion" are indeed the same
thing, as proved in this passage (on p. 172 in the omnibus edition "Litany
of the Long Sun") when Silk is warding Teasel's window from the return of
the creature that had preyed upon her in the night.  Silk leans out the
window to reach outside wall above it, and...

"With the pointed corner of the one of the four gammadions that made up the
cross, he scratched the sign of addition on the bricks."

When I first read this, I struggled to imagine a voided cross each of whose
four arms was itself a swastika, and I was more confused than ever.  But
it's much simpler than this, as I learned after a little poking around on
the internet:

If you take a Greek cross (whose arms are of equal length) and you void it
*all the way through the ends*, then you end up with four gammas in four
different orientations.  (I wish I could draw this for you, but no doubt you
all know this already and are wondering why it ever puzzled me in the first
place; but I was imagining an outline drawing of a cross (i.e., with
*closed* ends), and so I couldn't pick out any satisfactory gammas.)
Apparently, any such symbol, being made up of gammas, may be called a
"gammadion," not just those that are pinwheel-like (although I'm guessing it
has to be symmetrical).
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