Auseklis symbol

The Auseklis symbol is seldom seen in a Christian context and usually referred to as Auseklis Star rather than an Auseklis Cross

Auseklis symbol






The term auseklis is derived from the Germanic aus-. ('east') and the Latvian: sēkla - ('seed', 'semen'). The meaning can be understood as the rising sun, rising star or rising moon. (See also Why the East is so mystical)

Auseklis was the name of an ancient pagan deity representing the appearance of new life. In human reproduction it has, until relatively recently, been more or less universally believed that only the man's seed produced life, and consequently Auseklis was a male deity.

Latvians are now predominantly Christian (mainly Roman Catholic, Evangelical Lutheran, and Orthodox) and only a tiny proportion of Neopagans (Dievturi) base their religion on pre-Christian Latvian mythology.

WELS logo
8-pointed cross in the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod logo

The Danes introduced Roman Catholicism to Western Latvia in the 10th century and the Russians brought Greek Orthodoxy to Eastern Latvia. But nationwide, conversion was glacial and paganism retained a grip on the largely peasant population until the Middle Ages. Then came Lutheranism, which forged ahead, spreading the Gospels in local languages.

Even so, many of the ancient pagan ideas have remained; in art, fairy stories and folksongs. From these we have quite a clear idea about some of the old deities. These include:

DievsSupreme God
MēnessMoon (son of Dievs)
AuseklisVenus / Morning Star (son of Dievs)
PērkonsThunder (from which we get the term pērkonkrusts (cross of thunder) a local name for the swastika)
LaimaFate (with her sister goddesses Kārta and Dēkla)
MāraHighest-ranking goddess, named curiously similar to the Christian's Virgin Mary. 
…plus a few dozen others

As far as we know, the above list is in order of popularity and importance, and Auseklis is clearly a significant god. He is sometimes associated with both Mēness and Saule, which is rather incestuous since Auseklis is also the bridegroom of Saules meita, the daughter of Saule.

An image of a rising star (although not the same Auseklis symbol) became the emblem of the third Latvian National Awakening.

National Guard (1937-1940)

The Auseklis symbol itself was, however, adopted by the Latvian National Guard (1937-1940). A white saltire was superimposed on this to avoid confusion with the Red Cross Symbol.

National Guard Air Force
National Guard (1937-1940)

There is slight similarity with the German Balkenkreuz. More poignant, however, is the strikingly close similarity in the types of emblem. The Luftwaffe used a Christian cross yet was not a Christian organisation and the Latvian Air Force used a pagan emblem yet they were not a Pagan organisation.


National Guard
National Guard (present)

The current National Guard (Latvijas Zemessardze), established in August 1991, is a volunteer military force, part of the Latvian army and a regular force reserve. Their insignia includes a version of the same cross where the limbs of the cross are so broad that the entire symbol becomes a voided form of saltire.

Udmurtian flag

Mordovian flag

Two other civic flags also incorporate the design: those of the Russian Republics of Mordovia and Udmurtia

As in Austria, so called for being on the eastern edge of Charlemagne's empire

No need to wonder about this too much – Mary, and variations, has been a pretty popular name for millennia


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