Pre-Christian Gods on Crosses or in Cruciform

Although Christianity claims the cross only took significance with Jesus's placement on it, the fact is that the god-on-the-cross or in cross-shape is a pre-Christian sacred motif. Numerous ancient figures in many parts of the world were depicted on a cross or in cross-shape/cruciform, with arms outstretched. Moreover, crosses as divine beings or gods continue to be prevalent in Mayan areas, a custom that predates Christianity by centuries to millennia.

The cruciform or cross-shape motif is frequently a solar symbol, used in many places globally for thousands of years. Divine crosses conveying protection have been placed, logically enough, in cross-roads, while Egyptian goddesses in cruciform at the corners of coffins likewise conveyed protection and salvation.

The Maya perceived their crosses as the World Tree, as well as the Milky Way. Cross symbols have also been used to denote Venus, as in Mesoamerica.

The most common concept is the sun as the ruler of the four directions. At times it also represents the sun and the solstices and equinoxes. Overall, it's a solar symbol for the most part. Hence, sun gods were placed on it or in cross-shape/cruciform.

Hence, when we say that a god has been "placed on a cross," we are referring not to a person being thrown to the ground and nailed onto a wooden cross but to one of these cruciform artifacts with multiple meanings.

Here's a neat image from Babylon from The Venus of Milo by Paul Carus:

There are many such images on my "Was Horus Crucified?" article:

Human in cruciform with cross around neck from Cyprus, Chalcolithic period (3900-2500 BCE)

Andromeda crucified using chains in a wall painting from Pompeii, c. 79 AD/CE

Winged goddess (Isis) in cruciform on King Tut's sarcophagus.

Horus with arms outstretched in vault of heaven, from Samuel Sharpe's Egyptian Antiquities in the British Museum (143). This image was originally on a papyrus and is here and in Christ in Egypt depicted upside down for purposes of more readily illustrating the point.

Osiris as personified djed pillar holding the sun, surrounded by the two sisters Isis and Nephthys - called the Merti - found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Ani Papyrus, plate 1, c. 13th-15th cents. BCE.

Christ on the cross, surrounded by the three Marys, per John 19:25

Tayau - Huichol sun god

Does the mythological Ixion count?


Museum Collection: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Here are some more images that I included in my book Suns of God.

Egyptian god Anubis (Lundy)

Minoan "lord of the wild beasts" (Kerenyi) Notice how this figure, like others, is depicted between two others, like the gospel motif of the "two thieves"

"Lady Bird," 4th millennium BCE (Gadon)

"Cypriot Crucifix" (Lundy)

Nubian god in cruciform (O'Brien)

Quetzalcoatl on the cross (Kingsborough)

Trypillian figurine

Here is a 4,000-year-old "bird woman" in a crosslike pose:

Nepalese/Buddhist god in cruciform - according to Christian missionaries, cruciform figures are or were common in Nepalese crossroads:

Another crucified savior is the Aztec god Yiacatechutli, "Lord of the Vanguard":

For more information on the mythical motif of the god on a cross, see Suns of God.

Here's the "Krishna crucified" image from my "Was Krishna Crucified?" article, which is excerpted from my book Suns of God.

Note that this image not is meant to convey that in the myths Krishna was killed by crucifixion, as in the gospel story. It is apparently one of many such cruciform objects discovered in Asia, including Nepal, Tibet and apparently India.

The image below was also purportedly discovered in India, labeled by one Hindu priest an image of Wittoba, an epithet of Krishna. This "crucifixion in space" is Platonic, not originating with Christianity.

See Rev. Dr. J.P. Lundy's discussion of this "crucifixion in space" image.

Below is a Maya World-Tree cross. When the Spanish arrived in the Yucatan, they found crosses all over the place, including on sacred monuments and graves. These crosses are unquestionably pre-Christian.

Many of the Mesoamerican traditions that were so similar to Christianity must have been in existence long prior to the European invasion. Quetzalcoatl is a solar deity or sun god in significant part, so the motif of him on the cross is likely the same as it was elsewhere: To wit, representing various natural phenomena such as the sun at the equinoxes and so on.

Regarding the Druidic images, I don't know the history of these particular artifacts, so I can't say their age, but I would suspect that they date to several centuries into the common era, so an argument could be made for them having been influenced by Christianity.

What is "pre-Christian?"

Indeed, it is always wise to remember that even though something occurred after the purported or real founding of Christianity does not mean that it has necessarily been influenced by that ideology. Contrary to popular delusion, Christianity did not suddenly spring upon the world and start influencing life everywhere. It was adopted very slowly in many places - and only with great force that utterly destroyed the native culture.

In fact, Christianity was resisted mightily for centuries in many parts of the world. The country of Lithuania was only Christianized in the 14th century - it remained Pagan through great effort until that time. Hence, up to that point Lithuania was pre-Christian.

Thus, even many centuries after Christianity was created there were still places that were pre-Christian. In reality, there remain places in the world where Jesus Christ has never been heard of. These locations continue to be pre-Christian, despite the passing of nearly 2,000 years.

For example, the "Orpheus Bakkikos" crucifix:

This image of Orpheus is evidently "post-Christian" in that it is claimed to date to the third century AD/CE, but we must keep in mind what I said about the illusion of pre- and post-Christian designations. I have read that this artifact was destroyed during one of the World Wars and that it was a forgery in any event. Without doing more research on this particular artifact, I can't say if those contentions are true.