Day 174:tree of life or symbol for peace?

Day 174 Feb 21 2016  limeps4doc

I saw the peace symbol in the lime I cut for my juice this morning and it lead me to research the origins of this international symbol; synonymous with the campaign for nuclear disarmament..a fascinating story

A brief summary from

Gerald Holton, the designer of the symbol, was a conscientious objector during WWII

The symbol was first brought to public attention in 1958 during a march from London to Aldermaston in Berkshire, the site of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.

It is widely believed that the symbol came from the semaphore for the letters N (both flags held down and angled out from the body) and D (one flag pointing up, the other pointing down), standing for Nuclear Disarmament.

But some years later in 1973, Holtom wrote to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News and described a more personal approach in the design of the symbol.

Holtom says, “I was in despair. Deep despair……..I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalized the drawing into a line and put a circle round it. It was ridiculous at first and such a puny thing.”

In Holtom’s personal notes, reproduced by peace symbol historian Ken Kolsbun, the designer recalls then turning the design into a badge. “I made a drawing of it on a small piece of paper the size of a sixpence and pinned it on to the lapel of my jacket and forgot it,” he wrote. “In the evening I went to the post office. The girl behind the counter looked at me and said, ‘What is that badge you are wearing?’ I looked down in some surprise and saw the ND symbol pinned on my lapel. I felt rather strange and uneasy wearing a badge. ‘Oh, that is the new peace symbol,’ I said. ‘How interesting, are there many of them?’ ‘No, only one, but I expect there will be quite a lot before long.'”

Shortly before the Aldermaston march Holtom has what he terms a “revolution of thought.” He realizes that if he inverted the symbol “then it could be seen as representing the tree of life, the tree on which Christ had been crucified and which, for Christians like Gerald Holtom, was a symbol of hope and resurrection.

Furthermore, that inverted image of a figure with arms stretched upwards and outwards also represented the semaphore signal for U—Unilateral.

After my research and just for pure interest sake, I cut another lime to see if the same segmentation occurred….it did not…..very interesting…..I must have been lead to research the story behind a symbol that now represents a broader message signifying peace (hence you can now understand the inversion of my original photograph of the lime to embody the tree of life)…..balance as always.



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