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Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Stoic Emblem

I've been learning about Stoicism recently. With graphic art and illustration my profession, I decided to make a Stoic Emblem. While it may seem a simple logo at first glance, I have imbedded many symbolic meanings within its form.

The general depiction is of the Primal Fire, or Logos - the Reason which governs the workings of the universe. The shape of the flame is based on three circles (see diagram at bottom of this post). The central circular flame represents the Divine Fire of the universe itself. The two circular clusters that spring off on the left or right side represent our individual minds (or souls), which are a part of the Divine Fire and spring forth from it.

There are four tips to the flame, representing each of the four elements in which Logos forms, according to the physics at the time of Stoicism's founding (fire, air, water, and earth).

The flame tips appear random at first glance but has been given an orderly structure. First, it's tips are at regular height intervals. From left to right, the first tip is the second tallest, the next is the shortest, the next is highest, and the last is third tallest. If you were to draw four horizontal lines at each tip, you would see that their heights are equally spaced. Secondly, each tip ends at the exact middle of the circular frame on which its lower portion was based. The reason for this is to symbolize the fact that, even in seemingly chaotic systems, there is an order and a Reason operating throughout.

The tips of the flame also point either left or right. There are two pointing left and an equal number pointing right. This symbolizes the balanced but opposing directions toward unity and division, order and chaos, which maintains the complex system that is the universe.

Behind the Fire are rays. These point both inward and outward, symbolizing the all pervasive nature of Logos in the universe. Finally, a circular border symbolizes the cyclical nature of the universe and the Greek key pattern represents the culture from which Stoicism was born.

Below are some other versions of the logo, for use on a white background, greyscale, or plain black & white. Please feel free to use the Stoic Emblem in reference to Stoicism. All I ask is that it not be modified (apart from proportionate scaling). It would also be nice if credit and/or a link was provided. Groups and organizations are also free to use this emblem, including in media forms such as web and print, as long as they don't give the impression that it is an emblem only for their particular group and as long as they don't try to copyright it (according to U.S. law, I hold the copyright simply by creating it). If anyone would like larger or higher-resolution versions of any of these files, please contact me and I will be happy to provide it.

(click to enlarge)



Update, July 2009:

This year I discovered that someone else has also been thinking of iconography for Stoicism. Erik Wiegardt, Director of New Stoa, has designed a symbol called the "Phenomenon of Existence" (POE), named after a phrase Epictetus used. It can be seen below. For a full explanation of the meaning of its components, you can visit NewStoa.com, see the Stoic Handbook, and toward the end there is a chapter called "Stoicism in 5 Minutes" which explains the elements in this image. There is also this video on YouTube. I created this fancy version of Erik's symbol in Photoshop...





Update, December 15, 2009:
Since posting and sharing my Stoic Emblem design, this page has been one of the most popular from among my websites, and I have received numerous compliments and comments. Several people have requested high-resolution versions of the Emblem for use on their websites, book covers, and even one music band has asked to use it. There have been at least three individuals who have told me of their intention to get the Stoic Emblem as a tattoo. If anyone does this I would appreciate knowing about it and getting a picture. Today, a fellow named Matt sent me a pic of his tattoo, inspired by the design - thanks Matt!...


Another thing I've been meaning to add here, is an image of what this emblem might look like in a simplified, hand-drawn form, as suggested by commenter miniaras. If drawing it by hand, a person could get as close to the detailed version or as simple as desired, but I would think the key thing to include would be a flame with four points, and a circle, as below...



Update, December 19, 2009:
Another person named Tiffany has sent me a picture of her Stoic Emblem tattoo, which she has on her upper right arm. Thanks Tiffany!

Update, August 3, 2010:
I wanted to share another symbol for Stoicism created by Michel Daw. Of the following symbol, Michel says this:

"Regarding my symbol. There are several element to it. It is, first and foremost, a representation of the Phi, the mathematical symbol for the golden ratio, where 'a+b' is to 'a' as 'a' is to 'b'. It is an irrational mathematical constant, approximately 1.61803398874989. Also know as the golden mean, the divine ratio etc. Biologists, artists, musicians, historians, architects, psychologists, and even mystics have pondered and debated the basis of its ubiquity and appeal. It is present in nature at a surprising level, appearing in the spirals of galaxies and of the humble nautilus shell. For me it is a constant reminder to live according to nature, and the rest of Stoic philosophy falls from that. The graph of phi in contained in the circle, which represents the universe and is superimposed by the the letter phi, which coincidentally is the first letter in the Greek word for nature, phusis." --Michel Daw


Update, March 15, 2012:
Matt (see above) has since added a circular area to his original tattoo with the wording from his favorite Marcus Aurelius quote...

Update, April 5, 2012:
Another person named Ben has chosen to get a tattoo of the Stoic Emblem. Ben informs me, "The sunflower is from the phrase "there is nothing new under the sun" from the book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, also, a translation of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius [by George Long]." Thanks for sending this in Ben!...

Update, June 6, 2012:
Matthew Zaucha sent in a picture of his recent tattoo of the Stoic Emblem. He says, "I have it blending out of my Flames of Passion tattoo on my arm to symbolize the taming of raw passion through stoicism.  I also changed the Greek border to an ouroboros to symbolize the infinity of the human psyche." Very creative!

78 comments:

  1. Wow... You did a great job with that! I am quite jealous.

    :P

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  2. Thanks Simplekiwi! :)

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  3. I'm a lurker from the Yahoo stoic forum. Stoic Emblem is a great idea. It looks real nice, I immediately imagined it on a wall, as a grafitti by a stoic revolutionary (quite unlikely, I know). My favorite is the background: the rays and the frieze - very elegant! I have one suggestion: you could also make a much simpler version that can be easily and quickly drawn in freehand, like a sign of recognition among stoics. Again, you did a great job!

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  4. Thanks much miniaras! I would imagine a freehand drawn version would just be a flame with a circle around it. Wouldn't have to be the same exact shape flame, but maybe just make sure it had four points and that would probably do it. :)

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  5. Wow, so much thinking into something that looks so simple. Where do you find the time?

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  6. Thanks Sillycrazyme. I DON'T have the time - I'm just terribly undisciplined! :)

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  7. I am a member of the Stoic Forum. I can think of no better emblem to represent Stoicism. I will with proper recognition to the designer proudly use this emblem as a signature on my Stoic posts.
    Iusta Sempronia Iustina

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  8. Thanks very much! I'm honred that you would wish to use it :)

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  9. Sir,

    With your permission, I would like to use the Stoic Emblem as a signature for my posts at the Jedi Realist Academy. I will note your blog address on my student journal so everyone will know what the emblem means.

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  10. Thanks Iaret Rai. Please feel free to do so, I'd be honored :)

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  11. I happened upon your site looking for ancient imagery to represent our like minded small group who ride motorcycles.I would like to use your deign (attributable)with your consent.

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  12. Hello anonymous :)

    Thanks much for your interest! I'm curious - are you folks Stoics? Are just interested in ancient imagery? If so, I just want to make clear that I made up this image so it's not actually "ancient" in origin. Anyway, that's just FYI. If you choose to use it, that's great - just so long as it's not represented as being anything other than representing Stoicism. Thanks again :)

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  13. Was looking specifically for imagery connected to Stoicism, especially that which would fit well witha small fraternity of sorts.

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  14. Ah I see. Well, good luck with it! :)

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  15. I'm going to start using the emblem on my specifically stoic posts. Thank you for the work on it.

    Yours truly,
    Mr. X

    ...student...

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  16. Hi. My friend and I are starting up a band called Stoic. So i googled the name looking for images that I could use on our myspace page. However, I am a graphic design student and appreciate your work, and do not believe in ripping people off. So, I was wondering if I could put it on out myspace page, with a link to this site, and decalre that it is not our work, but yours.

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  17. Hi Miniaras,

    Yes, please feel free to use this logo. As long as you link here and in any printed items (CD covers, posters, etc) you credit Daniel Strain and provide the URL address. And thanks for your interest :)

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  18. Sorry that last note I left was to Joshua Rawls, not Miniaras!

    Also, I should add this: if your band gets famous or something, you can use the logo as long as you don't try to promote it as exclusively a logo for your band. I want this to be a generic logo for anything Stoic and available to all Stoics to use. Thanks.

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  19. Colm M. of Derry City, Northern IrelandJuly 31, 2006 at 12:57 PM

    It's beautiful. A perfect symbol for Stoicism. Marcus Aurelius would have been proud. With your permission, I would like to use it as my avatar on www.legendofzeldaseries.com and maybe a few other places but just as my avatar. I really love it.

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  20. Thanks for the kind words Colm :)

    Yes, please feel free to use the emblem!

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  21. wow..Can I use the emblem? I also want to become a sage someday..
    -A stoic prokopton

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  22. Sure Epictetus fan, thanks for your interest :)

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  23. With your permission, I will soon be branding myself with this symbol. (tattoo) I'll make sure get all of the proportions right. may we all find the true meaning of stoic, and apply it's positives to our lives.

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  24. Hi Jon. Certainly you may do this if you wish. If the artist needs anything special from me to make it as good as possible, please let me know. Also, I hope you'll email me some pics once its done! :)

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  25. Hi Strain, just stumbled onto your design, and love it. I know this is out of left-field, but I'm in dire need of a logo/graphic/and or record cover for an unsigned band. After one look, and with all its meaning...I would be thrilled to get your blessing to use. If you'd consider, we can talk further about creditation, and compensation, etc...

    Repost here and let me know:)

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  26. Hi Chris. Thanks for your interest. I'd be ok with anyone using the emblem, as long as they don't try to claim it as their property, take undue credit, or claim it represents something it doesn't. Also, if you look up a few comments, you'll see that Joshua Rawls has left a similar one in search of something band related, and I've also allowed it there since I'm making the logo open access, with the stipulations outlined in the original post. I suppose if you don't like that other band using the image, that's between the both of you. But either or both is ok by me. -Thanks :)

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  27. You should enter that here:

    http://www.bungie.net/Forums/posts.aspx?postID=10683667

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  28. Thanks anonymous :)
    I went there and it just seems to be people talking about the contest. I didn't see anything actually linking to the rules or a place to submit.

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  29. absolutely magnificent

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  30. GENIOUS, GONNA HAVE IT AS TATTOO!! ~~

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  31. Thanks Rene! Please send me a pic if you do :)

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  32. Absolutely ingenious. I am so glad. Finally a logo that symbolizes the lost art of great, true and clear thinking. I only wish more people understood it's great value. S.

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  33. Thanks Skip :)

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  34. Hey, love the emblem, would like to use it for my desktop background. Can I have a high res copy of it? Thanks!
    Please send it to therobisino@gmail.com

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  35. I am impressed with your work and would like to use this emblem on my own blog (with the proper citation, of course). I am a Stoic prokopton myself.

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  36. Thanks JLA! Yes, please feel free to use it as stimulated in the post :)

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  37. can we use this emblem for our guild in valkyrie??

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  38. Hi L'ilith,

    Sure, as long as it's credited. Thanks :)

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  39. Powerful image dt. I was looking for something that expressed 'unity' for my blog http://www.eyeon2050.com/
    This will way do. The spirit in which it is offered is very much a part of it. Thanks. I'll link your blog. rm

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  40. Excellent design! Thanks for your great work in revitalizing the New Stoicism and your thoughtful use of symbols. For more alternative analysis of the Stoic perspective please check the following link where I have used your logo with a link back to you:

    http://www.malaspina.org/marcus.htm

    Russell McNeil, author of "The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained" (Skylight Paths Publishing)

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  41. I took a look at your nice site Russell - thanks for the comment and the link :)

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  42. Awesome symbol DT. I didn't think people could still make em like that anymore. It's old skool and full of depth like the kabbalistic tree of life, yet full of modern energy and spice, a true revelation and a magnificent creation.

    I'm sure it will endure for all eternity and men will be proud to bear it wherever they go.
    Speaking of which, I would also like to get it as a Tattoo. I have a couple of questions about it if you don't mind:

    1) Is there an apt stoic-related location on the body to get the symbol tattooed, where perhaps everyone who gets the tattoo can get it in the same place? Or else I was thinking it could go on the top part of my right arm, any views on this?

    2) I notice there are 32 rays and key pattern nodes. Is there a reason for using 32 of them in particular?

    I would like to say that it's very good and kind of you to freely share this with the world DT. Thank you very much and I'll be sure to send you some pics when I eventually get it done (Probably in the Summer).

    PS
    Although I've always held a Stoic viewpoint, I don't know anyone else who is one. Can you reccommend a good placefor me to start?

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  43. Hi Bario, thanks for your comments! To answer your questions:

    1) I only know of one other person who has expressed an interest in the stoic emblem as a tatoo, so there is no place on the body that would be considered standard.

    2) The reason there are 32 of those rays is simply due to spacing and proportion considerations. If there had been more rays and keys, then they would have had to be smaller in proportion to the overall emblem and vice versa. So, it's just an aesthetic choice - that particular element of the emblem has no symbolic meaning.

    I look forward to seeing pics of your tatoo! :)

    Daniel

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  44. Dear Daniel:

    Your logo is just AMAZING, and the meaning you embbeded into it will ensure its inmortality.

    Hi there. I´m a Scout Master in Salta, Argentina. Lord Baden-Powell, the Founder of Scouting, recomended Stoicism as the philosophy that any Scout should cultivate.

    That´s why I would like to have your permission to use your design in a book I´m writing about Scouting,as an emblem to Stoicism, in the explanation of this matter.

    And, could you please send me the original files? That would help me to improve the printing quality.

    Yes, I´m linking back to you.

    Be Prepared!

    Scout Master Gustavo Solivellas
    Salta, Argentina
    gustavo_solivellas@yahoo.com.ar

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  45. I like the emblem, but I think that stoicism should not have one. The ancient stoics didn't have one, so why should we. This philosophy must not degenerate into some kind of dogmatism or even religion where people stop to think and praise idols instead. The symbolism you've put in this emblem does not really tell what it's all about...

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  46. Thanks for the comment George. I am also against dogmatism. I'm not sure how a graphic representation is connected with not thinking however. The word "Stoicism" is also a graphical representation. Both are shapes representing the concept, nothing more.

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  47. Hey. If you are still monitoring this, I was wondering if I could have permission to use this emblem on the College of Stoic Philosphers website. The College is the educational arm of the Stoic Registry, and both are non-profit, volunteer based organizations.

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  48. Hi Michel,
    I'd be honored if you'd like to use the emblem for that :)

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  49. Thank you, you are kind. I would like to request higher resolution versions, perhaps in vector format if they are still available.

    As a side note, your inspiration and graphic ability have lent what is typically an individual or at best small group effort (the restoration of a Stoic lifestyle) a unifying symbol.

    You will, of course, receive full credit for the image. How would you like to be recognized for this important contribution?

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  50. Michel,

    How about a 12 foot statue of me erected in the center of Zeno's hometown, with a sign reading, "DT Strain, greatest Stoic of the 21st Century"?
    ...ok just Kidding LOL
    You can credit me as "DT Strain" - thanks! :)
    They're not with me at the moment, but I'll email you those files asap.

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  51. I think I'll tattoo it to my body if that's ok with you...

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  52. Thanks Anonymous, I'm flattered. You're about the 5th or 6th person who has mentioned that. I always ask if I can be sent a photo of it after, but haven't received any yet. Please do send me one if you have it done. Also, let me know if you need any other files beyond those available already in the post here.

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  53. Actually, it would be helpful to have some of the larger files... and if I do go through with it I would definitely send you a picture, I just need to know how...

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  54. Sure thing, just send me an email (dtstrain@yahool.com) and I'll reply with the file attached. Also, I need to know whether you need color or if it will be a black-only tattoo.

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  55. @yahool.com???

    I've never heard of that. I hope I was right in guessing that you meant @yahoo.com...

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  56. That's very creative and nice.

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  57. There is always one critic so I guess I'm it. Just looking at the emblem without reading your explanation, it looks more Arabic than Greek. Your explanation shows that you have a great amount of creativity. I would respectfully request that you tweak your design to make it look more Greek.

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  58. That's interesting, thanks for the input. I'm not sure what sort of thing would be needed to make it more 'Greek', nor what exactly makes it look 'Arabic'. Not that I'm debating you, I'm just not sure I understand. I could make a version that looks like a more flat piece of Greek art on the side of some reddish-brown pottery or something, but that's more of a style representation (one incarnation) rather than a change in the base design itself.

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  59. Until now,(Findng your site) all that I had truly knew of the word Stoic was what it meant. It was an idea that I enjoyed and related to, related so much that I took it as a name for myself. I too am a graphic design artist. Any art work that I have drawn, which is strictly for myself and friends I sign with my real name and my alias; Stoic Edge.
    The fact that there is an entire philosophy dedicated to this idea is a perfect find for me now. A lot of trials and tribulations have come my in the recent years and I have been finding myself losing my cool for the most insignificant things. Your symbol has given me a hope for a way to get back in control of myself and my emotions.
    I too would like to show my gratitude for your hard work and effort put forth in this symbol by having it tattooed. Also, if you could advise me in any works literature that would be beneficial in me beginning my journey into Stoicism I would be greatful. I look forward to reading your reply, Thank you in advance.

    The Stoic Edge.

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  60. Hi Stoic Edge :)

    If you're looking for something introductory, try "The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius" by Mark Forstater. For something a little more in depth, I'd go with "The Stoic Art of Living" by Tom Morris. And then for the really in-depth stuff, you'd want to go for original texts by Epictetus, with some Seneca and Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations". But understanding their lingo and terms is not as simple as it appears. For long term study, I'd highly recommend getting on the International Stoic Forum. There are lots of people there far more learned than myself on the topic, who are happy to share their knowledge. I also have some introductory level discussion on Stoicism on my philosophy site (see "About Stoicism"). Hope that helps!

    PS - if you do get the tattoo, please send me a pic - I'd love to see it :)

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  61. Nice image. I can't believe the stoics didn't have an image already. Way to fill a need that's been standing for awhile.

    Could I have a high res image for a desktop background?

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  62. I like the flame symbol, it looks really cool. But isn't the only likely symbol for Stoa an actual Stoa(pillar)? Or did you all think that it was just a funny word?

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  63. Actually I think the word refers to the painted "porch", which has pillars and a roof (such as the Stoa on which Zeno began teaching by the Athenian agora). In any case, that would be a legitimate alternative approach to creating an emblem. I chose instead to focus on the contents of the Stoic teachings rather than the origins of their name :)

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  64. From Diego, Rome, Italy.

    Nice your emblem, now just an information which may inspire your further work.
    As a Roman follower of stoicism (meaning I pass every morning close to Marcus Aurelius' statue on my way to my job) I use to wear a small, simple and living emblem of socratic way of life.
    I wear a small hemclock flower in the small top left hole on my jacket.
    Personally, I stress the countinuous socratic thread throughout stoic phylosophy.

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  65. Thank you Anonymous from Rome :)
    Wearing hemlock is an interesting practice. It makes me think maybe I should make an iconic emblem of the hemlock plant to represent the Socratic life. Hmm...

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  66. Hi again Strain!

    Two things:

    1. Your Stoic Emblem is better that the other one. The New Stoa Logo is very cool, but yours is definitively better.

    2. I wanted to share with you the Estoicism Chapter I developed for the Scouts (in spanish only, sorry) but I used your logo there, as we accorded to, so I wanted you to see it. I also added the explanations of your Stoic Emblem in spanish.

    Check it out here:

    http://www.guiasyscoutsdesalta.com.ar/filosofia_scout_estoicismo.html

    Or, go to www.guiasyscoutsdesalta.com.ar, then click on Cons.Provincial (orange tab) later on Filosofía, and then on Estoicismo.

    I hope you like it!

    MS Gustavo Solivellas
    Guías y Scouts de Salta
    www.guiasyscoutsdesalta.com.ar

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  67. Hi Gustavo :)

    Thank you for your comment and for letting me know about your website. I am unfortunately not a Spanish speaker but was still able to figure out the essence of the content. I'm pleased the emblem was of use to you and wish you the best in your efforts!

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  68. Way back when I asked if I could get your stoic emblem tattooed on my body... and now I did. If you like I could send you a picture or two when it heals up.

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  69. Hey Anonymous - Yes, I'd love to get a picture - thanks :)
    --Daniel Strain

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  70. Hi DT, great work!
    I'm thinking of getting a tatoo with the stoic emblem embedded in it - I like the black and white version, but the rays are missing from them. Could you please post the same pic as the one depicting the meaning, minus the red lines and text?
    Cheers, Richard

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  71. Hi Richard :)

    Thanks for your interest. Yes, I'd be happy to provide that, but I may need some time. Please email me directly so I'll have an address to send to.

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  72. Hi DT - I was hoping to email you directly but can't seem to find your address. I was hoping to get hold of a high resolution copy of your colour with white background for tattoo. Could I get your email address?

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  73. For those looking, please see the "contact" link in the sidebar to the right, thanks! :)

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  74. I really love the emblem. And it's cool you put so much thought and symbolism behind it.

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