Melissa Cody's Whirling Logs: Don't You Dare Call Them Swastikas

August 07, 2013

In its European historical context, the swastika is a hard symbol to love, seeming so inextricably tied to Nazi Germany. But its use as a sacred symbol, by various cultures, dates back centuries before the rise of Adolf Hitler and the comparatively brief reign of terror known as the Third Reich.

In Navajo iconography, it's called a "Whirling Log," and can denote abundance, prosperity, healing, and luck.

Navajo weaver Melissa Cody is interested in reinstating the Whirling Log as a sacred symbol (this puts her on the same page as the Raelians, a kooky UFO cult, as we covered in a previous story), and has used it extensively in her work. "I feel that it’s important to reclaim our traditional tribal imagery and not sway from instilling it into our everyday viewing," she told ICTMN's Alex Jacobs in an interview. Here are 17 examples of her Whirling Log art—visit her at to see numerous other permutations of her innovative approach to one of the most traditional Native art forms.  



chahta ohoyo
Submitted by chahta ohoyo on

sorry...just cant do it...fully cognizant of its native american symbolism, however, i was born close enough to wwii to know the meaning that hitler bastardized it into...knowing his history, i would guess he took it from native american roots and made it into something horrible....melissa's rugs are beautiful, but nix the 'swastika'...

stevef's picture
Submitted by stevef on

I agree with Chahta....that argument is way to close the the same as what the Redskins say; 'that's not what I intended the meaning to be...'
Beautiful work!

Joesph P Nightrain
Joesph P Nightrain
Submitted by Joesph P Nightrain on

Hey Melissa, nice work. Might I suggest weaving the Arecibo Message (look it up in Now that would be cool! Give it away free to the first person that knows what it is.

Submitted by hammertime on

the symbol has been around for over 5 thousand years...
the meaning has something to do with the spinning of universal enegeries.
In another culture or another time this symbol was ok.... before the war it was totally acceptable and seen all over the west..
You are dealing with a lot of very small minds brainwashed by what they
see on TV every day ... and you know who gets to write the history of the past