In summer of 2018, the Atheopagan community went through a process of selecting a symbol for our path. Many designs were submitted, and after several rounds of voting, we settled on this: the Suntree.
I’ve been wearing a Suntree now since last August—the very first example of the beautiful laser-cut wooden versions created by community member James Morganstern (which you can still order, if you’re of a mind). I get compliments on it often–it’s a friendly design, apparently, and I’m not the only one to think so.
I’ve found new meanings in the Suntree since we chose it–happy coincidences, if you will, or apophenia (seeing meaningful patterns where they were never intended, which is a major perceptual foible of our human brains).
But they make me happy, and I thought I’d share them.
First, there is the green tree of the Earth and the golden rays of the Sun: the two most significant presences in our lives. I love that our symbol embodies the Sacred Earth and Cosmos, the Great Below and the Great Above.
Next, there are the numbers. The Sun has eight rays which equate to the eight Sabbaths of the Wheel of the Year. And when you add the five branches of the tree, you get 13: the number of Atheopagan Principles!
Of course, all of this is just pattern-projection onto a symbol for which few, if any of these meanings were originally intended. But that doesn’t make the symbol any less meaningful for me. In fact, it kind of tickles me that the very phenomenon that leads people to believe in supernatural phenomena helps me to see meaning in our symbol.
I found it heartwarming to see so many people wearing Suntree buttons at Pantheacon last year, to smile in the hallways at each other, even if we didn’t recognize one another otherwise.
Small as we are, we’re a community and an identity, and we have a symbol that captures much of what we’re about.
That makes me smile.