The above photograph was taken at the Totem Heritage Centre in Ketchikan and they are original examples dating back to the end of the 19th century.
Totem poles are typically carved from the trunks of Thuja plicata trees (popularly called "giant cedar" or "western red cedar"), which decay eventually in the rainforest environment of the Northwest Coast.
A totem is a being, object, or symbol representing an animal or plant that serves as an emblem of a group of people, such as a family, clan, group, lineage, or tribe, reminding them of their ancestry (or mythic past). In kinship and descent, if the apical ancestor of a clan is nonhuman, it is called a totem. Normally this belief is accompanied by a totemic myth. They have been around for many years. They are usually in the shape of an animal, and every animal has a certain personality.
When we write we are often dealing in symbolism. Dan Brown has made a fortune with his 'Da Vinci Code' which is centred around explaining symbols - and sometimes being quite creative doing that! So symbols are often part of the world we live in for a variety of reasons. You can't go anywhere without seeing examples, trademarks for example. When we write we are creating symbols ourselves, if you like creating new belief patterns or systems in a variety of guises.
The Steele novels are a version of a moralistic way of dealing with the world and if I manufactured a symbol by which the work of Patrick Steele could be recognised I would be joining the fraternity even more fully. Batman, Superman,Zorro and so on all have their symbols linked to the pursuit of justice. The one below, in some stylised way, may be suitable for Patrick. One difference between my lead and the others is that he isn't squeaky clean and quite happily deals in the ultimate punishment for his targets.