The symbol you see above – a stylized rising Phoenix consisting of the letters X, J and W, for Ex-Jehovah’s Witness – is the final iteration of very interesting, crowdsource design process over the last few days. For me personally, it is a symbol I may be using in the future (for exampe on a t-shirt), a symbol for my heritage: That I found the strength to leave a cultish organization of undue influence. Being an Ex-JW does not define me – but having a survived a cult will always be part of my identity.
Last week I came up with the first version of above logo. I posted it to an Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Facebook group for feedback. Many liked the general idea of a symbol made out of the letters XJW, but I couldn’t ignore one striking critique: The first version of the design was far too close to a swastika (not my intention at all) and Nazi symbolizm in general for others to identify with.
So I went back to the drawing board (and no, I’m not a professional illustrator, I just like to play around with design stuff in my free time) and while I was going over the draft, I remembered a thought I had had some time back: The mythological Phoenix is a great metaphor for Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses. You see, the phoenix lives for some time, combusts and is born again out of its ashes. For me, leaving Jehovah’s Witnesses was quite the rebirth. In fact, I celebrate my birthday twice: My real one and the day I was disfellowshipped. Both have equal significance for me.
So, taking the Phoenix metaphor further, I feel we Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses were born from the ashes of the watchtower we burned and left behind, and are now rising to new heights – just like the Phoenix.
Also, a Phoenix is reborn every so often. Another similarity to Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses, who go through different stages following their excommunication or disassociation.
This is what I thought about. So I tried to mix the two concepts – a stylized XJW and a Phoenix – and, following one or two redrafts courtesy of the fine help of my fellow XJW in the Facebook-Group, this is the result.
Now, I’m totally aware some will like the design and others won’t. Also, no two former Jehovah’s Witnesses are the same, and I am not that presumptuous to assume that all Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses will identify with this symbol I came up with. We are too different, that a simple logo could represent all of us and our needs.
But here’s the thing: If you do like it and feel it’s something you align with, feel free to use it. Print it out, make a sticker, tattoo it (I might, actually), whatever. Or, if you’re down with the Phoenix metaphor but don’t like my design, use some other Phoenix. Or don’t. Totally fine.
But since I enjoyed the crowdsourced process so much and there were some people who showed interest in using it, I thought I’d just leave it here for you. You will be able to download the logo for your personal use at the bottom of the article.
And for those of you who expressed their wish to have a t-shirt with it on it (including myself) I put it up on teespring – so why not hop over and take a look at the designs there:
Here is a little preview:
As I said above, I am including the sourcefiles here under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license.
- XJW Phoenix (PNG)
- XJW Phoenix (SVG)
- XJW Phoenix Born Free Live Free Crest (SVG)
- XJW LGBTQ Rainbow Phoenix (SVG)
- XJW Colourful Phoenix (SVG)