Raelian Symbols

The Controversial Use of the Swastika as a Religious Symbol

Claude Vorilhon's (aka, Rael) standing in front of a Raelian building.

Corbis  / Getty Images

The current official symbol of the Raelian Movement is a hexagram intertwined with a right-facing swastika. This is a symbol that Rael saw on the Elohim spaceship. As a point of note, a very similar symbol can be seen on some copies of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, where a swastika sits inside two overlapping triangles.

Starting around 1991, this symbol was often replaced by a variant star and swirl symbol as a public relations move, particularly toward Israel. However, the Raelian Movement readopted the original version as their official symbol.

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The Official Raelian Symbol's Meaning and Controversy

The Official Raelian Symbol

 Sarang / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

For Raelians, the official symbol means infinity. The hexagram is infinite space, while the swastika is infinite time. Raelians believe that the universe's existence is cyclical, with no beginning or end.

One explanation indicates the upward pointing triangle represents the infinitely large, while the downward pointing one indicates the infinitely small.

The Nazis' use of the swastika has made Western culture particularly sensitive to the use of the symbol. To intertwine it with a symbol today strongly linked with Judaism is even more problematic.

The Raelians claim no association with the Nazi party and are not anti-Semitic. They often refer ​to the various meanings of this symbol in Indian culture, which include eternity and good luck. They also point to the swastika's appearance all over the globe, including in ancient Jewish synagogues, as evidence that this symbol is universal, and that the hateful Nazi associations with the symbol were brief, aberrant uses of it.

Raelians argue that the banning of the swastika because of its Nazi connections would be like banning the Christian cross because the Ku Klux Klan used to burn them as symbols of their own hate.

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The Hexagram and Galactic Swirl

Raelians symbol necklaces for sale.
David Silverman / Getty Images

This symbol was designed as an alternative to the original symbol of the Raelian Movement, which was comprised of a hexagram intertwined with a right-facing swastika. Western sensitivities to the swastika led the Raelians to adopt this alternative in 1991, although they have since officially returned to the older symbol, believing that education was more effective than avoidance in dealing with such matters.

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The Tibetan Book of the Dead Cover

The Tibetan Book of the Dead symbol

 Public Domain

This image appears on the cover of some printings of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. While the book has no direct connection with the Raelian Movement, it is frequently referred to in discussions about the official symbol of the Raelian Movement.