The Sheaf Of Wheat: What Were The Founders Thinking?
By Mary Matarazzo Bryant, Delta Omega (Murray State University), Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee
Do we know why our Founders’ choose the sheaf of wheat to be used in many very special ways in AOII? We have some answers, largely thanks to writings of Founder Stella George Stern Perry.
A new academic year will soon reunite collegiate and alumnae chapter members. Many will work together during recruitment to bring New Members into AOII. Soon after recruitment, each New Member receives her pin, which is a small sheaf of wheat. It symbolizes the bond of individual members and the harvest of a fruitful life, thus continuing to strengthen the chapters of Alpha Omicron Pi. The New Member pin also represents the collective guiding of women in AOII. Stella reminded us in 1954 of the importance of nurturing the New Members:
“In the pledging it expresses our gathering and gleaning of seedlings — a harvest of young accomplishment and especially of young hopes, and our responsibility for their cultivation, stability and worth.”
AOII Ritual publications also give us insight into the symbolism and purpose of the sheaf of wheat in other uses in the Fraternity.
- The sheaf of wheat also is represented in the name of the Fraternity magazine, To Dragma, which means “the sheaf” in Greek. The name was given to the official magazine of Alpha Omicron Pi for three reasons:
- It is a reminder of the common interest which unites all AOIIs.
- It is a record of accomplishment, or harvest.
- It fittingly describes the purpose of such a publication, the uniting of members by bringing them information and interesting articles about the Fraternity and its members.
Stella shared the importance of supporting and encouraging one another: “And all bound together the magazine is plainly the record of each season’s harvests, the goodly crops we bring to and in the name of AOII…”
- In AOII Memorial Rituals and Services the sheaf of wheat represents the harvest of a fruitful life, as well as the regeneration of fallen wheat.
- The design of the alumnae Rose Award is the combination of the sheaf of wheat and rose. This award honors devoted and continued service to AOII.
- The sheaf of wheat also appears on the Collegiate President’s and the International President’s rings. The first is mounted on onyx, the latter on a ruby-like jewel. Could the sheaf of wheat on the rings of these leaders have been chosen as a reminder of the responsibilities they have to lead by gathering members together in our common core values and purpose?
There are still some mysteries in all the “whys” the sheaf of wheat is used in Alpha Omicron Pi. Whether we know everything about “what the Founders were thinking,” we do know the sheaf of wheat has important meanings throughout our journey with AOII for a lifetime