According to a popular medieval legend, the spear that pierced the side of Jesus of Nazareth during his crucifixion, wielded by a Roman soldier named Longinus. Since Christian belief considers Jesus’ blood the medium by which the sins of the world were taken away, anything that touched that blood took on special importance in medieval legend and folklore. The lively medieval industry in forged relics responded by manufacturing many allegedly authentic relics of this sort – fragments of the cross, nails used in Jesus’ crucifixion, shrouds in which he was buried, and so on. A “spear of Longinus” appeared through these channels and, along with many other relics, became the property of the Emperors of Austria. See Christian origins; Jesus of Nazareth; Shroud of Turin.
This particular relic was of little interest to anyone until 1972, when English author Trevor Ravenscroft published his bestselling book The Spear of Destiny. Ravenscroft borrowed ideas from several occult traditions to back up a claim that Hitler’s quest for world power had been focused on the spear of Longinus, which he had seized after the German takeover of Austria in 1938. Ravenscroft’s book has since been shown to be a complete fantasy, but it is still frequently quoted by popular writers on the occult dimensions of Naziism. See National Socialism.
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies : the ultimate a-z of ancient mysteries, lost civilizations and forgotten wisdom written by John Michael Greer – © John Michael Greer 2006