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What does this symbol represent?

(Puzzle 022)

There are hundreds of crosses on this website, many of which share common features. This one is quite unique.

We didn't recognise it at all, until somebody kindly pointed out to us what it is.

Mystery item

Mystery item
Sorry - this is the sharpest photo we could get
(Click photo to enlarge)

The photo on the right was kindly sent to us by Amy, a copy editor from Massachusetts, who wondered what the symbol might mean.

Our expert in things alphabetical, Simon Ager, didn't recognise it as a glyph of any current writing script, which left us with the possibilities: either a symbol representing something, or just a pendant maker's whimsical squiggle.

There appear to be two main elements: a cross and an arc, and difficult to discern which element might be more significant.

Logo of a fraternity or some other association?

Markings on the reverse of the pendant show "OX" and "MMA © 1980", which led us to consider various acronyms for "MMA" that might be related to Amy's home town of Massachusetts...

Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Massachusetts Midwives Alliance
Massachusetts Military Academy
Massachusetts Mortgage Association
Massachusetts Motorcycle Association
Massachusetts Movers Association
Massachusetts Municipal Association
Massachusetts Mustang Association

...to name just a few, but none of these have a logo even remotely similar to our mystery symbol.

There are even more MMA acronyms outside Massachusetts, where the second 'M' stands for terms such as Marine, Medical, Military, Municipal, Music, and the 'A' stands for Academy, Alliance, America, Association, Authority or Anything else.

However, the pendant is more than 30 years old and many societies have changed their logo within the past 30 years, which makes identification all the more challenging.

Could "OX" be a Masonic reference? There is an Order of Buffalo in the UK (the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes) and no doubt an Order of the Ox somewhere. And this could be their emblem.

It might not even be a logo, of course.

Christian?

The cross looks a bit like an inverted cross. Amy tells us that the arc ends are not tapered and therefore it perhaps doesn't represent a pair of horns or a crescent moon.

If it were indeed supposed to represent a moon with a Christian cross, then it differs from the usual Crescent Cross that represents the Virgin Mary, which usually has a white and blue colours rather than red and gold.

Occult?

Somebody wrote to suggest this is similar to a sigil found in Austins Osman Spare's "Alphabet of Desire". They also said it is used by the Illuminates of Thanateros, but since that is a secret society, I guess we'll never know unless we join.

Pagan?

Just about every symbol we've listed in this website's Mystery Symbol section has provoked comment and suggestions from polytheists. And of course, we are delighted to hear opinions from anyone.

The acronym "MMA" could stand for "Merry Meet Again", as spoken by Pagans when they depart ("Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.") This symbol is unlikely to be a rune, since they usually do not include curved lines.

Commercial?

And the 'MMA'?

Ms. A. H. kindly wrote to say she has some jewellery with the same "MMA ©" marking. This came from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The answer

Somebody kindly contacted us (just three weeks after initially uploading this page) and told us what the symbol most likely represents. And that is, the planetary symbol of Neptune.


So we've closed the file on this puzzle. If, however, you have further information to share, please email us with your thoughts.

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