What Is That Thing?

January 2009

Beginning with our January 2005 issue, we made a big change to our front cover -- big, at least, for us. We replaced our old emblem, a plain and simple candle, with something more dynamic and robust, the emblem you see on our front cover now. We announced the change and our reasons for doing it in an editorial in that issue. This "new" symbol not only emblazons the front cover of our magazine, it holds a position of prominence on every page of our website, and appears on our promotional advertising mail pieces. It is one of the top sellers in our Gear Shoppe. We consider it to be our calling card, our "brand logo."

But over the past four years it has elicited more than a few "huh?" and "ewww!" responses. Admittedly, it is an odd, unusual piece of art. People are alternately ebullient, perplexed, or horrified by it. One fellow inquired about putting it on a flag so he could fly it in his front yard, which faces a major highway. A lady later phoned in to ask if it were some sort of Masonic symbol. Egad! That old candle never elicited such reaction.

So we thought it appropriate on this "anniversary" to explain our emblem again.

First of all, the creature on our cover is not a phoenix or a mere eagle or a winged fish with legs. It is a griffin -- a hybrid animal with the head, wings, and claws of an eagle and the body of a lion. The griffin, in its earliest forms, dates back to the second millennium B.C., and has been used in various ancient cultures to represent various things. Most recently, as early as the 14th century, the griffin began to be employed in Christian iconography to represent the dual nature of Christ. It was around that time that the griffin gained currency as a heraldic crest, and began to appear in different renderings on the armor of crusaders. This was how we discovered the one we chose for our cover.

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New Oxford Notes: January 2009

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