Friday, March 1, 2019

Gules, Three Lions Passant Gaurdant, Or

Even though I have some knowledge of the language of heraldry, I always want to ask "Or what?"  Gules = red. Three lions, easy enough, but passant means not rearing and gaurdant means looking towards you rather than forward.  Or = the lions are gold in color.

Since I have to wear a hat - 'cause bald in Winter = COLD! -  I figured I might as well have some fun with it.  I've been sticking pins that represent my ancestry on my favorite one.

Left to right would be my clan badge, the US flag of course, the thistle of Scotland, and the harp of Ireland.  My latest arrived in the mail today.

Yes, it's part of the arms of England.  But specifically it's the arms of the House of Plantagenet.  I'm a descendant of  Henry III Plantagenet, King of England.  Born 1207, died 1272.  I have, last I checked, about 26 million cousins world wide.   I'm having a brain fart right now:  I can't remember whether my line is from Edward I or his sister Margaret of Scotland.  I need to dig The Big Book out of storage and check.

The pin isn't quite right:  the rest of the blazon is "armed and langued azure", which means the claws and tongue should be blue.  But it's a small pin so that's forgiven.  And I can never remember that part anyway.

I need two more pins for the majority of the rest of my heritage:  Switzerland and the Alsace-Lorraine.  Switzerland is easy:

But I ran into a problem when searching the Alsace-Lorraine:

Oh, great.  Mostly French but right up against Germany, so they share search key words.  And the Alsace-Lorraine didn't even exist as an entity when that branch of my family came to America.  They arrived in Philadelphia in the 1740s:  the territory was created in 1871 when it was ceded to Germany after the Franco-German War.  So a little digging online, since I remembered that I'd seen a family tree following the line in question.  We're from the Duchy of Lorraine part.  That I can find, but the pin's a bit big.

And turns out the Swiss line is the Canton of Bern.  Bet I can find a pin for that.  Somewhere.

I  would also like to find one for my Felton line, since that's the branch I'm heavily involved in.

Gules, two lions passant ermine, crowned or.  Oddly, I've found dog tags but not a pin.  But somebody has to make them.  I just haven't found the website.

Running across the pins carrying a swastika reminded me of an irony concerning a symbol now viewed in a good chunk of the world as representing evil:  the swastika is a good luck symbol that has been around for thousands of years, and is still viewed as meaning good fortune in several eastern religions.   The word itself is from ancient Sanskrit, and in our time people would probably be surprised at its meaning:  "well-being."

3,200 year old swastika necklace from northern Iran

Greek helmet from 350-325 BCE Herculaneum, Greece
As the gammadion cross, it was widely used as a Christian symbol:

From a 4th century Byzantine church excavated in Northern Israel
Effigy of Bishop William Eddington (died 1366) at Winchester Cathedral
Which would be why visitors are probably surprised to see swastikas in the floor tiling of the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling, WV.  The cathedral was built in 1926, and I wonder if their presence caused the renovation committee heartburn when they hit the floor restoration point in their planning a few years ago.

The pre-Nazi years of the 20th century saw a swastika boom that appears to have been driven by fascination with Heinrich Schliemann's discovery of the symbol at Troy and his theories concerning it.  Everybody and his brother appropriated the design.

And then, for just a very few years, the swastika was appropriated for something so evil, so opposite what it has meant for thousands of years that I wouldn't consider wearing anything carrying it even if no one else could see it.

To quote the narrator of a trivia moment on a radio station I stream:  "Weird, huh?"


  1. Canton of Bern pin

  2. Yep, all it takes is ONE asshole to screw it up... sigh