Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Little Odd-Shaped Pendant

Today as I was doing some last-minute Christmas shopping, I was cruising through Oakridge Shopping Centre, one of our more chichi malls in Vancouver. It has all the high-end stores such as Edward Chapman, DKNY, MaxMara, Michael Kors, Guess, Femme de Carriere, Birks, Rodeo Jewelers, Ingledews Shoes, and all the rest of the usual suspects. Oakridge Centre is large and airy, and all the ceilings throughout are made of skylights. At Christmas time there is a wonderful display with Santa and all his little reindeer, and the children love having their pictures taken there.

As I was cruising past one of the jewelry kiosks that was set up in the mall concourse, I saw a little necklace that caught my eye. It was made up of pink gemstones, and I thought it was quite pretty. I thought perhaps a little girl I know might like it for Christmas. It had all the prerequisites, it was quite dainty and it was pink. And the stones looked like quite good stones, not cheap looking, but rather nice. The pendant on the necklace had an odd shape, and I picked it up to have another look, and I quickly dropped it. I felt as if my fingers had been burned, and a feeling of revulsion went through me. The little odd-shaped pendant on the dainty pink necklace was a swastika.

I know the swastika originated centuries ago as a lucky charm in many of the Eastern cultures, and it has an ancient long-standing history with many other cultures as well. But in more recent history it has come to represent something else, something malevolent. It is banned in many countries, and it will never be able to be redeemed. I certainly hope the little odd-shaped pendant made out of pink gemstones doesn't end up under the Christmas tree of some unsuspecting little girl, who will wear it to school to show all her friends.


A human kind of human said...

The necklace sounded so dainty and then a swastika as the pendant. Why on earth? Is the designer someone with a twisted sense of humour or what? Hope you enjoyed the rest of your shopping though.

Sienna said...

That is weird Josie.It kind of gave me the shiver me timbers.

Actually I didn't realise the history of the emblem either, I'm not even sure if it is banned here, I do hope so.

I just wanted to pop around the globe and see how everyone was, say hello, or g'day...and goodnight!


The Bug said...

Yikes! I would have dropped it too.

kenju said...

That's terrible. Not that it would help, but did you mention that to the shop manager? They should be made aware of how offensive it is.

the walking man said...

some one will buy it and someone else will proudly wear it. *sigh*

Land of shimp said...

Holy cats, that would have startled me, too. I'm really surprised the mall allows that, as those kiosk spaces are rented. The Swastika isn't banned here, and I know this is a freedom of speech/freedom of expression issue but I've never seen what amounts to hate paraphernalia being sold openly in large retail settings, for obvious reasons.

Jo, I'm vaguely recalling something from several years ago. Here in the U.S. we have this absolutely dreadful, crazed "Preacher" who likes to show up at soldiers funerals with his followers (who are mainly just his relatives) with anti-gay slogans. Really nasty guy, who protests at soldiers funerals to gain attention, with just the vilest signs you can imagine. His actions have nothing to do with the soldiers being buried, he just figured out it was a way to get press for his nasty little agenda.

Anyway, he tried to take his hate show on the road to Australia at one point, and Australia denied him entrance when he showed up to take his act to something also unrelated -- their freedom of speech does not protect hate speech. The reason I'm bringing that up is the same thing happened when he tried to get into Canada to attend the court proceedings for a U.S. soldier seeking asylum in Canada (long story, but he was denied for some pretty good reasons).

So that's part of why this really surprised me. There is no way to disassociate a Swastika from the Third Reich and I was under the impression that Canada does not extend freedom of speech to hate speech (because hate speech encourages hate crime, is my understanding of the matter).

Just outlining that because I'm really, really surprised the mall would allow that thing in one of their kiosks.

Alissa said...

That is a bit strange. I mean I realize there is a whole neo-Nazi movement, but you don't expect to see something like that on a pretty pink necklace in an upscale mall.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...


Good and evil are always present, even at Christmas time. I would hope that whoever purchases the necklace sees only the goodness of its original meaning. Very interesting that you felt heat and revulsion when you touched it. You must be very perceptive. Perhaps there is a history to the piece that ties it to the evil side? Was it new or antique?

Anonymous said...

in spite of the abuse the swastika experienced at the hands of the nazis, it is still a holy symbol to hindus, and buddhists, and at one time was even a holy symbol for jews as well.

regardless of what happens, it will continue being a holy symbol for these people, and nothing you can say will change that.

Jo said...

Anna, I was a bit surprised to see it, I must admit. And yes, I enjoyed the shopping. It's a beautiful mall.

Pam...! Wow, it's so nice to see you again. I didn't know if you still had a blog, and now I see you do. Yay!

The Bug, yes, I was quite shocked to see it.

Kenju, yes, unfortunately it is offensive. Perhaps someone will point that out.

Mark, yes, that's the sad thing, isn't it?

Alane, I'm sure the mall is not aware of it. A few years ago we had a similar case of "hate speech" in Canada, and it is not permitted here either. Our freedom of speech does not extend to "hate speech" or symbols representing hate.

Hybridelephant, I am familiar with the history of the swastika as a holy symbol for many cultures, but unfortunately I am not responsible for making the swastika a symbol of Nazism and white-supremacy, so there is not much I can do to change it. It will forever be stigmatized, and I'm sure it is no longer a holy symbol for Jews.

Mia said...

I'd want to know more about the makers and sellers before condemning them. Was it facing left or right? If it was facing left it could've easily been Buddhist. If it was facing right it could go either way. The NSDAP rotated it at an angle. Everybody else kept it flat.

It's easy to be horrified by this symbol of hate but it's important to remember it's been an important religious symbol to far more people in the world for thousands of years longer. It's still a common amulet in big parts of the world. I also like the idea of the original users taking it back but they can't do that if we never let them use it. I'm all in favour of letting it stand for its original purposes and leaving the evil connotations as a sidenote.

Russell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Land of shimp said...

I disagree, Mia. I think it is important to remember what occurred during the holocaust, and the moment we decide that the Swastika no longer has that connotation, we take a step towards allowing ourselves to forget.

I feel sorry for the people to whom that was an innocent symbol, but to others it is a symbol of hate and systematic murder. As I said, who knows how we begin to forget? I'm not willing to risk it.

Jo, I think Canada and Australia have a better approach to freedom of speech -- speech that encourages hate crimes ("hate speech") is dangerous stuff.


Yuk! What a waste to a perfectly good little, pink gemstone! Nice blog, by the way. :)

Jo said...

Mia, the pendant in the kiosk was the prototypical swastika as seen on the German flag. I know it has been an important religious symbol, and that is precisely why Hitler hijacked it as the symbol of the master Ayran race. He thought it represented his agenda, and would bring them luck. I have a friend who says, "You can't unring a bell." I don't think the swastika, which has been used by many cultures as a good luck symbol and holy symbol, can or should ever be redeemed. What it ultimately came to represent was just too horrible, which is unfortunate.

Russell, now tell us how you really feel. *heh* And yes, I agree with you. It wasn't just Jews that Hitler wanted to wipe out, it was anyone who wasn't perfect. He killed the handicapped, aged, sick, Gypsies, gays, Jews, Slavs, Serbs, Germans, Czechs, Italians, Poles, French, Ukrainians, and pretty much anyone he didn't like. And he did it all under the symbol of the swastika. That little symbol just gives me the creeps.

Alane, "I think it is important to remember what occurred during the holocaust, and the moment we decide that the Swastika no longer has that connotation, we take a step towards allowing ourselves to forget." I couldn't have said it better. Nature abhors a vacuum, and I think there are too many nut cases out there who would be willing to step in and take Hitler's place. That scares the tar out of me.

Sincerely, yes, I agree...! And thank you. :-)

Jo said...

I meant "Sincerity". Typo. :-) And welcome to my blog.

Mia said...

If you need a stolen symbol to remember the deaths of millions of people something's wrong.

Jo said...

Mia, oh goodness no, it's what it represents. Some things are going to be forever tainted. It's like the upside down cross in the Christian faith represents evil and a mockery of the Christian faith. It is offensive too. Unfortunately, in the western world, the swastika has become forever stigmatized. I don't think people need a symbol to remember the awful things that were done under its banner, but (in my humble opinion, anyway) wearing the symbol in pink gemstones is also a mockery, and it shocked me to see it.

Oh, goodness, I do manage to get myself into controversies, don't I? I certainly don't mean to offend anyone or their particular faith.

Mia said...

You could always post recipes. They're not often controversial.

Speaking of Christians, should their crucifix be banned since it was an instrument of torture that killed countless people? It was a bad symbol until one particular person was executed and his people turned it around. Symbols are what we make of them. I'm siding with the billions of people in East Asia on this one.

Russell, I haven't read where anybody is telling you how to feel. I also don't see where I said the swastika shouldn't remind anybody of anything or that I worship any symbols. I don't think disagreement equates ignorance.

Russell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mia said...

I thought I was in a calm and civilised discussion. My mistake.

Jo said...

Oh, gosh...

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I would be offended by discovering I had inadvertently purchased something with a swastika on it - even tho I know it is an ancient symbol and represents more than fascism. However, I agree with Mia, that people who are repelled by a swastika, if they want to apply the same logic, should be repelled by a cross too. It was the symbol of many atrocities in the middle ages.

Jo said...

Bonnie, yes, I suppose that could be true of any symbol, but the swastika has a much more recent history -- at a time when folks should know better -- and continues to be a malevolent symbol.

I just found it shocking on a little girl's pendant.

Arley said...

WOW! Jo, look what you started!!!!LOL....I have no idea what to say in this reguard.

I'm Catholic and the crucifix means everything to me. I don't think anyone really took turning it upside down too seriously. In fact, I don't even know the story behind the "upside down crucifix" I'll look that up next, but my point is, people do remember and know what happened to all those killed under his rule. Unfortunately, he picked a symbol that did have good meaning to some, and turned it into a never ending sign of evil. In a perfect world, we could all get over the fact that Hitler used it as his "symbol" and return it to it's proper meaning. However this is far from a perfect world, and what's done is done. It WILL forever offend those who were hurt by its usage. It will forever be a sign of my opinion.

Jo- How you feel is your personal prerogative. Don't let others steer you away from expressing your feelings on YOUR BLOG! If they don't like what you print, they can go elsewhere!!

Jo said...

Arley, yes, I agree wholeheartedly. And more than that, I would challenge anyone -- ANYONE -- to buy a pink gemstone swastika and wear it. In western countries, it is a symbol of evil. I know it has a history of being a good luck symbol, but that was negated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. The swastika can never be redeemed, in my opinion.

Country Girl said...

Do me a favor, Jo and don't ever change. Don't ever pander to what you think your followers might or might not like. And always express your opinions. It's what I enjoy about you.
I'd have dropped it too. I don't care what religion still worships this sign, but in this country it is the symbol of evil. End of story.

Jo said...

Kate, yes. Yes, yes, yes...! I don't understand why people apologize for that symbol. It's hideous.


Sadly, I see the cross as an instrument of torture and death - so I wear NO symbols of anything nor do I put any meaning into any of them (except maybe the smiley face).

Land of shimp said...

Mia, you are, to the best of my knowledge (not having seen the deleted comment) in a calm, and rational discussion. I don't agree with you, and have stated why, but that isn't the same as believing you to be wrong in any meaningful sense.

I see where you are coming from, but hold a different viewpoint. I have reasons, you have reasons, we've both stated why. We may not be able to reach agreement, and that's cool. You have your convictions and I have mine.

There may not be a middle ground here.

But this:

"You could always post recipes. They're not often controversial."

Please don't. Jo didn't do even one thing wrong in expressing her thoughts -- just as you didn't.

Mutual respect involves both parties. If we want to be part of the calm, adult discussion? Then we (meaning all of us, you, me, the cat and the kitchen sink) have to hold ourselves to a standard of behavior.

If someone errs, or strays, I let 'em...but I do my thing without slinging barbs.

So that you will know, my husband and I sat around talking about precisely the point you raised, "What would it take for the symbol to be reclaimed after such a perversion?" for almost an hour, specifically because of the point you raised.

I still don't agree with you, the Crusades, under which people were murdered and tortured were hundreds of years ago. The Holocaust was within the memory of people I personally know.

The time for the symbol to be reclaimed would seem to be when we know better, and it is still the symbol of hate groups everywhere, sadly.

It's not the symbols fault. Nor is it the fault of the people who believe innocent, positive things in conjunction with that symbol...but in a contemporary setting, that symbol has been changed for the worse.

Just as in the Christian faith, there was a move away from icons, crosses, depictions of saints in the Protestant religions, because of misuse of symbols (among many, and other varied things).

Paula Slade said...

It is most unfortunate that the swastika symbol elicits such a feeling of revulsion, as at one time it was considered good luck. I fully understood how you felt when you discovered the design of the necklace - the thought of it made my skin crawl.

Pouty Lips said...

Honestly, I don't like either swastikas or crosses. I found them both offensive. It makes little difference what they mean to others; I only care about what they mean to me, without apologies to anyone.

Jo said...

Alane, "It's not the symbols fault. Nor is it the fault of the people who believe innocent, positive things in conjunction with that symbol...but in a contemporary setting, that symbol has been changed for the worse." Bravo! For me, it seemed almost obscene to see that symbol done up in pink gemstones for a little girl to wear around her neck. It will take a long time -- if ever -- for that symbol to be redeemed, in my opinion at least. Unfortunately, it is still used today as a symbol of oppression of one group of people over another. All symbols have a strange history to them. I read the following on the Internet: "Some conservative Christians object to the peace sign because they claim the centre image looks like an upside down broken cross, and as a result, mocks their religion. The peace sign has also been related to Satanism, as well as general immorality, since the peace sign was often worn by hippies in the 60's era of free love and drugs." This does not equate to the swastika, however.

I'm flattered that my post created a discussion in your home. That's wonderful...! That's what I like to hear.

Paula, it made my skin crawl as well, and I was shocked to see it designed as a pretty, pink necklace.

Pouty Lips, the cross is also used as decoration in what I consider inappropriate ways too. Ozzy Osbourne wore it on his shoes.

kenju said...

All this reminds me of the time I went to a Unity Church funeral. There was an Egyptian symbol above the altar; I don't know the name of it, but it was the sun disk, with unfurled wings. A woman who accompanied me was most offended by it being there in a church, because as she said...."That is a Nazi symbol." I tried to remind her that before the Nazi's took it over - it was a revered and holy symbol of ancient Egypt. She was having none of that and wanted to leave. I just shook my head. Some people refuse to see the forest for the trees.

I know there is a difference here, since the swastika became such a symbol of horrific violence, and the winged sun did not. I'm just saying......

Jo said...

Kenju, the swastika is so much more than just a symbol. It is what is represented, and continues to represent to this day. The generation who lived -- and died -- under the swastika are now all passing away, or have long passed away. I have a good friend whose mother escaped from a concentration camp. She showed me her tattoo and told me stories of how her husband was killed there. We need them to remind us
the swastika doesn't belong in pink gemstones on a little girl's necklace.

I know in time the horror of the symbol will fade in future generations, but right now it is too fresh.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Ewwww, how awful. I know, too, that the swastika is an ancient symbol which predates the Nazi German era by many centuries, but I am of the 20th Century and that is what it suggests to me.

I hope you can find a sweet rose quartz bead necklace for Marigold without evil omens.

Jo said...

Susan, yes, I think I will leave that particular on on the shelf. *sigh* Ghastly thing!

Bill said...

Should Christians have found themselves a new symbol after crosses became associated with the Ku Klux Klan?

Mia said...

But the KKK was in another part of the world so why should I care about it? I'm saying that to make a point. I guess I should mention that before anybody talks about sodomising people with objects.

Land of Shrimp, you disagreed with me civilly. It's the comments that have since been deleted that I was referring to.

My comment about recipes refers to an earlier discussion with Jo that she probably remembers.

I don't have any problems whatsoever with people hating this symbol. It was used by purely evil people in the context you all see it. I just think it would be helpful if the Western world could see it in the same context as the rest of the world. I think that would be better for everybody.

Some would say that's impossible but it's very possible and happens every day throughout Asia. Those billions of people aren't ignorant to what happened 80 years ago.

Mia said...

But what I think we all really want to know is what gift did you find instead?

Russell said...


I apologize to you and to Jo and to anyone else who was offended by my remarks -- the ones you refer to that were deleted were posted by me.

My father was in World War II. He was stationed in the South Pacific and the Japanese shot at him long after the war was over because they did not know the war was over and/or because they did not wish to surrender to the Allied Forces.

My father had friends who were killed and wounded by the Nazis. It was a terrible time and such symbols as a swastika bring only sad and difficult memories to me and my family.

But that is no excuse for me to critize you or others who find the symbol enlightening. You should be free to say what you wish and do what you wish without people like me standing in your way.

It is sometimes best for people to keep their feelings to themselves and perhaps in my case that would be best.

I wish you and yours only the best and, again, apologize to you for my insensitive and uncalled for remarks.

Jo said...

Bill, in the south where the cross was representative of the Ku Klux Klan, a lot of churches did ban the cross. You won't find the cross in many southern churches. But you cannot equate that with the atrocities that went on under the swastika. Why is everyone defending the God damned swastika? Pardonnez mon fran├žais.

Mia, "I just think it would be helpful if the Western world could see it in the same context as the rest of the world. I think that would be better for everybody." I respectfully disagree with you. I'm glad the Western world will never forget. As George Santayana said, "Those
who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
There are too many people today who still use the swastika as a symbol of oppression.

Russell, you should not apologize, and you should not have deleted your comments, and I feel very bad that you felt you had to do so. I apologize to you...! What this world is lacking is more people who have the courage of their convictions. Everyone is so damned nice to each other. I always agree with everything you say, and I agree with you that there is no defense for the swastika. It is an ugly symbol that represents something even uglier, and there is no defense for the swastika, especially in pink gemstones on a little girl's necklace...!

Bill said...

I don't think it's a question of 'defending' the swastika. It's more a question of reclaiming it from those who perverted it.

Suppose some organisation took an existing symbol and used it to represent the antithesis of what it originally meant. Would the traditional meaning of the symbol be wiped out? Would everyone have to let the evil side define the symbol's meaning? Especially in a culture that allows people to wear the Japanese rising sun as a fashion statement and fly the Confederate flag?

The Nazis don't get to define what a swastika represents because they lost. If we let them define the culture in any way, that gives them a power they don't deserve.

They stole the symbol. Why not steal it back?
I can see why you wouldn't in European and American societies and that's fair enough, but why do we have to drag Asia along with us? They didn't do anything wrong.

Mia said...

Russell, apology accepted. You can take my word for it that I understand why people are emotional about this particular symbol.

Jo, we don't need any symbols to remember the murder of millions of innocent human beings. Those people will be remembered as long as we keep talking about them, honour them in prayer, visit some of the wonderful memorials throughout the world.

The NSDAP had thousands of active members for a little over 20 years. Billions of people have used it as a religious symbol for thousands of years. Millions of Europeans used it before the Second World War. Even the American military and the Boy Scouts used it. You can't unring a bell so why unring billions of good bells in favour of one very bad bell?

I don't often side with the majority but I'm going with the billions of decent people over the very few horrible people with this one.

What did that city in Canada say, "to hell with them, we came up with the name first"?

Jo said...

Bill and Mia, I know the swastika is an ancient symbol used by many cultures, including the Celtic culture and the Slavic culture, amongst many others. But unfortunately I believe it has become unredeemable.

I know there is a movement to reclaim the swastika. However, Canadians died in World War II and in my opinion the swastika does not belong in any of the countries where this symbol and what it represented where a real threat.

It is still used to this day to represent racism and the "white supremacy" of neo-nazis. "Google" the names George Lincoln Rockwell (deceased) or David Duke. They have a real following, and they use the swastika with the motto "In Hoc Signo Vinces" (In this sign we conquer)

It is unfortunate that this has happened to this symbol, but it has. In my opinion, it does not belong in pink gemstones on a little girl's necklace.

Mia said...

Why let the lunatic fringe set the rules? David Duke's not in charge. Not even close.