The Symbolic Meaning of the Crossed Swords

The sword is an alchemical symbol representing the power of thought, purification and transformation. The former has a direct impact on the latter two.

Crossed swords Austrian Military Merit Decoration
Austrian Military Merit Decoration


How you think determines whether you purify your mind and subsequently what you transform into. If you do not purify your mind, the things you manifest in life will not change.

Thus the saying “double-edge sword” simplifies the complex nature of the mind and ultimately of what we manifest in our lives.

Positive thoughts lead to positive actions lead to positive results.  And vice-versa.

In alchemical symbolism, the sword is associated with air which rules the matters of mind and the navigation of thought. The ancient sages that developed esoteric symbolism likened thoughts to the air we breathe…

…as we inhale, air fills our lungs. Then we exhale and empty our lungs. The air disappears. Thoughts come into our minds and leave in the same way.

The human mind is an extremely complex weapon. We use our brains to solve complex issues, analyse concepts, create and form otherworldly ideas. We can even surprise ourselves with the wonderful thoughts we have sometimes.

But the mind is also highly destructive and can drive us to self-sabotage, moments of craziness and acts of stupidity. At times the mind can be difficult to control.

What we have to learn about the power of our mind is told in an ancient Zen proverb:

Zen Proverb

Mastering the mind

To gain mastery over the mind, you need to carefully watch your thoughts and try not to let them stray. The ability to concentrate on constructive thoughts that serve you will bring about the transformation you desire.

However, this is not easy to achieve and the crossed swords are an indication of the battle you must face to conquer your thoughts. In Celtic mythology, King Nuada carried a “sword of light” into battle with him.

The sword of light is a metaphor for reaching enlightenment – or gaining an understanding – by using the power of your mind. It is the capacity of every human being to master their mind…

…and once you can control your thoughts, you can control your emotions and subsequently your actions.

The swords crossed in fighting represent the most highly concentrated mind. The symmetrical X-shape they create symbolises the balance of male and female energies; analytical thinking with emotional values.

This concept is described in Buddhism and Hinduism as cutting through the ignorance of illusion. To free yourself from the bondage of the suppressed mind, you must purify your mind and strive to achieve a higher level of understanding.

Meditation helps to achieve this, but so too does intense levels of thinking. This in itself is meditation. After all meditation is not merely sitting crossed legged and chanting as the practice has become, it is concentrating the mind on one single focus of thought.

Increasing your powers of concentration involves consciously training the mind to wield its power. So by all means sit cross legged. Otherwise sit in a chair and stare at the wall.

It does not matter what form of practice you take to fine-tune your powers of concentration. But once you master your thoughts and learn how to receive answers, you will solve many problems and face fewer challenges.

The spot the X marks

The crossed swords forms the letter X – or as we also now it a cross, often used to denote something which is wrong. And the symbol of the crossed swords does have dual meanings; positive and negative.

The cross represents the male and female energies which are essentially the crux of creation. The X has long been used in ancient symbolism to simplify the concept of spiritual – or psychological – transformation.

The X symbol was used as early as ancient Babylon. It is the symbol for Nimrod, the cursed descendant of Abraham. He represents the demonic nature of man who is enslaved to his subconscious mind.

X is still assigned to products of man’s animal instincts today. X-rated movies appeal to our sexual desires. The flag of Amsterdam where prostitution is openly touted has three XXX’s.

Amsterdam coat of arms
Image credit Wiki Creative Commons

You could also consider The X Factor – a so called ‘talent show’ viewers are addicted to despite it being utter shite (only my opinion of course.)

Author and researcher, Barbara Walker describes the X as the “tumbling Cross” in her book The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. The X is considered to be the anti-Christ of the upright cross.

In Masonic circles, the X represents Lucifer. Although Christianity denounces Lucifer as evil, the translation from Latin means the “bringer of light.”

This concept again illustrates the dual nature of the mind; the ability to understand through higher consciousness and the tendency to self-destruct by being enslaved by the basic instincts of our animal nature.

Like every symbol the X has a positive as well as negative meaning. In Egypt, the Sun God Osiris was also denoted with the tumbling X. Osiris is the personification of enlightened men and bears a direct resemblance to Jesus.

Both Osiris and Jesus are also directly linked with the third eye chakra, the source of which thought to be the pineal gland by some researchers. This is our mind’s eye from where we can visualise our future and create it as reality.

The X therefore – and thus the cross swords – symbolises illumination and the ability of mastering the mind.

Through purification of thought we are able to transform ourselves from the animal instincts of our base consciousness and gain a more profound understanding of ourselves by tapping into the higher conscious mind.

To do this, we must free ourselves from the entrapment of the sub-conscious mind and realise we live in an illusion generated by our perception.

When the crossed swords is been drawn to your attention on several occasions, it is your sub-conscious reminding you of the dual nature of your mind. It could be a warning to be mindful of how you think and act.

3 thoughts on “The Symbolic Meaning of the Crossed Swords”

  1. I don’t have any tattoos, but I had a dream with my dad in it. He past away 5 months ago. He wanted me to get a ‘sword with an eye in the middle.’ The sword was facing vertical. My dad wasn’t pressuring me to get it, but it was something he wanted me to have. My father and I’s relationship before he past was loving and caring. The dream it-self was calm and relaxing. Do you know anything about my dreams symbolism? If so, please email me. Thank you for reading. Have a great day.

    1. Hi Geoffrey, thanks for the advice. I wasn’t aware of Astreas Circle, but yes, it has the same meaning as the goddess Kali in Hindu. Kali is the consort of Shiva, another name for Parvati, and is a symbol of positive thinking over negative thinking to help overcome addictions and attachments (demons) and purify thoughts, emotions and actions. Symbolism crosses cultures in many similar ways. I think its brilliant how the writers divulge this knowledge in mythological stories. Have a good day!

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