The Amorphous Squiggle
The polyamorous community is relatively small and very interconnected. Several of my partners and metamours over the years have built a name and a reputation for ourselves through our online and real life communities. Consequently, lots of people have heard of the name we use to refer to our romantic network. Our full "family" name is The Amorphous Squiggle, but we usually just shorten it to The Squiggle. When we first started using this name, some people thought it was a generic term to refer to any poly network, but this is actually a proper noun to refer to anyone who can directly trace a romantic connection to the three remaining members of the original group who first started calling ourselves by this name. It's what would be a surname or last name for a Western nuclear family, but rather than passed down through patrilineage, it's adopted through romantic connection.
We chose this name as a deliberate reminder that our network was going to change over time with different people coming and going and relationships morphing and flowing into and out of different configurations. It was a reminder built right into our name that nobody was the "gatekeeper" of our "family" and to accept and welcome others and to embrace the inevitable change that the universe would throw at us.
The Squiggle is intentionally an open, inclusive network, meaning that each member has the autonomy to add or subtract their own partners according to their individual agreements with their immediate partners and metamours. Not everyone is romantically connected to everyone else. Most members have only a handful or fewer romantic partners, with a small number of members being "hubs", or individuals that have numerous partners. There are more than 50 people who can be traced to the remaining original three members and the network spans 3 countries and 2 continents. Many of the members of the network are well-known activists in the poly community, although some prefer to maintain less of a public presence.
Often, several members of the network will feel a particularly strong affiliation with each other, separate from the larger, main network, as depicted by the colored blobs encompassing several people in the chart to the left. This usually occurs when several people share a household, or sometimes when a branch of the network is located in close proximity (relative to the rest of the network) such as the same city. But physical location such as sharing a house or residing in the same region are not the only times or criteria for when several members are grouped together to form a "branch", or what we call a House (so called because the first time a sub-group got a name, it was based on the name of their actual house where several members lived together). These Houses are typically identified when a sub-group or branch or nodule of The Squiggle identifies themselves by a collective name for just their group.
Many years after we chose the name The Amorphous Squiggle, I and several of the other members found that we had made our inclusion into this family name part of our identities. Through a rather complicated series of facetious conversations, we ended up styling ourselves (in the manner of cosplayers and LARPers and SCAdians everywhere) as part of a vast network using a hodgepodge of British peerage and fantasy book titles and affiliations. This also resulted in developing a Squiggle "coat of arms" with a collection of variations for personal or House use. My individual coat of arms is the Dragonshield in the top left corner of every room (page) here that takes you back to the main room (page) of the Inn (this site), which I've had for many years, and was the inspiration for another member to suggest creating a Squiggle coat of arms.
Below is my variation on our network's coat of arms, which indicates being a member of The Amorphous Squiggle with the copyrighted Polydragon© as our shield design, a member of the House of Tangle with the intricate Tangled Heart in the upper left disc (a branch of the Squiggle made up of partners and metamours that are particularly entertwined emotionally but not located in close proximity to each other, unlike most of the other Houses of the Squiggle), and a (sole) member of The Inn Between with the IB monogram in the upper right disc - a symbol of my solo poly nature that I am the only member of this House. Underneath our shield is our family motto in Latin: Amplectere Potentiam Verbi 'Et' which roughly translates to Embrace The Power Of 'And'.
Heraldry is a term that encompasses the design and display of one's "armory", which is the design and transmission of "heraldic achievement", more commonly known as the "coat of arms". The coat of arms usually includes a shield (escutcheon), helmet, and crest, together with any accompanying devices, such as supporters, badges, heraldic banners, and mottoes. We broke from historical tradition by not choosing one of the traditional forms of Marshalling (blending) multiple Coats of Arms such as via marriage, inheritance, or occupation. This is typically done by impalement (dividing the field into sections and putting one whole coat in each section), dimidiation (combining one half of one coat with the opposite half of the other coat), quartering (dividing the field into 4 sections and placing a coat in each section), or inescutcheon (placing a miniature shield somewhere within the field of the larger shield).
Instead, when a member of the Squiggle has a House logo or symbol or a personal symbol, a "charge" (any emblem or device found on the main part of a shield) can be added to the top center above the dip in the PolyDragon© heart formed by the two dragon noses meeting. Or, if more than one symbol is required either for inclusion in multiple houses or a combination of a personal symbol and a House symbol, charges can be placed on "badges" in the shape of discs located in the upper corners behind the shield, such as with my variation above. If no such extra charges exist, the discs are removed entirely. Another option for a personal or House variation is to change the color of the shield background or add a pattern to it.
The position of the charge, in our case a mythical animal in tribal stylization, on a coat of arms is called an "attitude". The Polydragon© includes two dragons in Cooperative position. In traditional heraldry, the term would be "Combatant" where two animals are facing each other in profile. But with the enwtined tails and the nature of polyamory, the term we are using for this heraldic attitude is "cooperative", and they are in Rampant position, meaning they are in profile standing erect, such as a dragon curved into the shape of a half-heart can be.
The Polydragon© is located in the fess point, which is the center of the shield. The field, or main body of the shield is party per bend sinister, meaning it has a diagonal dividing line going from top-right to bottom-left (from the viewer's point of view). The tincture, or background of the field, is a metal (argent or silver) and a colour (purpure or purple). This may change for an individual's or a House-specific shield. Some may have a different tincture or some may be patterned to denote their personal or House variation, rather than having additional charges.
The general Amorphous Squiggle Coat of Arms shield is described as Party per bend sinister purpure doubled Argent, sable Polydragon© cooperative rampant at fess point, with bordure argent, above motto "Amplectere Potentiam Verbi 'Et'". This means that the shield background is divided in half with a diagonal line and colored purple on the top-left half and silver metal on the bottom-right half (as seen by the viewer), with two tribal-styled dragons facing each other known as the Polydragon© symbol in black, centered on the shield, with a silver border. We chose not to include a helmet or a crest, but we do have our family name on a banner at the top in the place where the "slogan" or "battle cry" would normally go, and we did come up with a motto for the banner at the bottom.
My personal variation of the Amorphous Squiggle Coat of Arms is: Party per bend sinister purpure doubled Argent, sable Polydragon© cooperative rampant at fess point, with bordure argent, dexter badge party per bend purpure doubled Argent, sable Tangled Heart, sinister badge party per bend purpure doubled Argent, sable InnBetween monogram, motto "Amplectere Potentiam Verbi 'Et'" . This means the shield has a divided background with a diagonal line and colored purple on the top-left half and silver metal on the bottom-right half (as seen by the viewer), with two tribal-styled dragons facing each other known as the Polydragon© symbol in black, centered on the shield, with a silver border, with a disc for a badge in the upper left (as seen by the viewer) with the same background as the main shield and a heart made of Celtic-inspired lines to symbolize a "tangle" to represent the branch known as House of Tangle, and another disc for a badge in the upper right (as seen by the viewer) with the same background as the main shield and a monogram in black of the letters I and B with a "roof" symbol over the letters to represent the InnBetween.
In addition to a family coat of arms, we also have ID cards that indicate much of this same information, including name, "title", House, when we "joined" the network, and design elements that include the coat of arms and the symbol for the International Poly Justice League. The IPJL is another tongue-in-cheek sub-group within The Squiggle. Several members of The Squiggle identify as or take on behaviours of activists where we engage with the public to educate about polyamory, alternative relationship styles, gender issues, etc. We have taken on "superhero" and "anti-hero" personas and call ourselves collectively the IPJL. As such, we have a comic book-style shield logo that is also included on those ID cards for the members who align themselves with activism.
The Inn Between © 2002