2.18.2011

Phi Mu Sorority: Sir Fidel the Lion

Courage, Beth Hemmila (Hint Charms): sterling silver lion jewelry (phi mu sir fidel sorority merchandise)
The other day someone graciously included my sterling silver lion courage charm in an Etsy Treasury devoted to merchandise for the sorority Phi Mu. Never having been associated with the symbol of a sorority, I was intrigued by the idea that this strong image of a lion could be one of the symbols chosen for a community of women. I decided to learn more.

Founded in 1852 at Wesleyen College in Macon, Georgia, Phi Mu is the second oldest women's fraternal organization in the United States. Their creed is Love, Honor, Truth. Their interest in philanthropy is central to their mission for the first line of their creed states, "To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand." The spirit of this concept guides Phi Mu and has propelled them into becoming a corporate sponsor for the Children's Miracle Network.

It's hard to imagine what it was like to be female seeking a higher education in the middle of the 19th century because now the number of women who go to college to earn a degree is proportionally larger then young men, but it must have been a tremendous event to open Wesleyen College in 1839 as the first and oldest women's school in the United States.

To forge a bond, the sorority Phi Mu adopted several symbols that communicate their values and deeper messages they wanted to spread out into the world.  One of these symbols was a lion, which is found on their coat of arms and then later nicknamed Sir Fidel and adopted as their mascot in 1973. The name Sir Fidel grew out of their motto Les Soeurs Fideles (The Faithful Sisters). What I like best is that the two lions holding up the shield on their coat of arms, also seem to hold up a lantern with a flame. A beacon of light in the world is one of the most powerful ways to communicate our sincere interests in working for the betterment of humanity.

I was so touched by seeing the symbol of a lion in a new way and how it can represent the faith women have in each other to pursue their mission of good works together. Taken out of the context of a fraternity, I began to realized that many of the core beliefs found in Phi Mu's creed were one's that I hope to live by a daily basis. What a blessing to learn from the words of women who back in 1852 had the vision to set down their intentions and then work towards moving them out into the world.

Phi Mu's Creed 
To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand.
To think of God as a protector and guide of us all.
To keep forever sacred the memory of those we have loved and lost.
To be to others what we would they would be to us.
To keep our lives gentle, merciful and just,
Thus being true to the womanhood of love.

To walk in the way of honor, guarding the purity of our thoughts and deeds.
Being steadfast in every duty small or large.
Believing that our given word is binding.
Striving to esteem the inner man above culture, wealth or pedigree.
Being honorable, courteous, tender,
Thus being true to the womanhood of honor.

To serve in the light of truth avoiding egotism, narrowness, and scorn.
To give freely of our sympathies.
To reverence God as our Maker, striving to serve Him in all things.
To minister to the needy and unfortunate.
To practice day by day love, honor, truth.
Thus keeping true to the meaning, spirit and reality of Phi Mu.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful post. I am a Phi Mu alumni from Bethany College. Phi Mu is a big part of who I am today. I am going to purchase your lion pendant and wear it to remind me to stay true to love, honor and truth. Thank you.

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  2. Ah, the lion. Or, the Lyon, the mascot of the first women's college - Mount Holyoke College, in South Hadley, MA. Founded by Mary Lyon. Each class has it's own symbol (Lion, Griffin, Phoenix or Pegasus).

    Symbols are so powerful, and I've am so glad I found your blog via flickr!

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