Grazie!

I want to say thanks to whoever reported the link to my interview by The Wild Hunt on facebook. In the first 24 hours the interview has gone viral and my blog hits have skyrocketed.

Censoring artists is always a terrible thing for the artist themselves: on an emotional and personal level. That said,  it’s great publicity for them too. Some of the most well-known living artists are controversial, actually there was an art movement called the “Shock” that went out its way to cause controversy. Guess what? It worked.

I’m not going out of my way to do this, our art is devotional in nature, intended for the gods, but attempts at iconoclast in this era is only spreading the gods more.

So my sincere thanks to whoever reported me.

The Wild Hunt Interview 2: blocked from Facebook

In short, someone reported my sharing of The Wild Hunt interview, and facebook has blocked me for three days.

This is frustrating, but not really a concern. It annoys me because I mostly use facebook for spiritual mentoring and sharing our art / business related stuff. I regard facebooks reporting feature to be abusive, discriminatory and censorship.

What is bullshit is that the interview was published on a recognised news organisation, the content featured being acceptable by facebook’s community standards and laws in my country. What’s more, there is nothing I can do about it. Even if this is evaluated the block cannot be lifted.

This is the second time I’ve been blocked, the previous can be read here. From what I understand an account becomes blacklisted if reported and bans increase until the account is closed down.  What this means is whoever is reporting my profile can shut me up permanently. Effectively silencing me.


I have no proof of who is reporting me, but I have made enemies on the street. Especially Christian Fundamentalists that park their bike near the area we do street art. This bike is used for advertising their church, and when we work we cover it up because we don’t want to be associated with it. This has caused altercations in the past. The ‘owner’ is extremely aggressive and very unchristian. He has called our work shit and an abomination. Also related members of this group have called me an idolater and spawn of Satan.

Last Saturday I passed the guys that place these bikes around Melbourne. I noticed the guy who I’ve had a fight with point me out to his friend. Also the interview was published.

On Sunday the bike was placed at our worksite, I found some cardboard and placed it in front of the bike. That same day I saw what looked like the guy taking photos of our facebook page and the bike covered.

On Monday I was banned.

I repeat I have no proof, but I suspect I’m being attacked by these people on social media. I think the guy behind the bikes is linked to Desmond Hynes. Edited: Found out the bike owner is called Barry, but he has a young Indian cohort.

 

Tutorial: how to find image sources

Intro: As an artist it is annoying to see my work shared without credit. I don’t mind people sharing it, but giving credit should be a basic courtesy. Thus I strongly encourage people who share artwork online to include credits and link backs to the source.
For some reason many people claim that don’t know how to do this. Well, Google has three easy systems to find the source. If you’re too lazy to do this then don’t share the artwork!

1. If you’re on Google Chrome explorer right click the image and find “Search Google for Image”

 

2. Right click, see: “Copy image address” and go to Google, in Google images there is option to search by images, paste the image address into the search field and see the results.

Paste image address into here and hit search.

 

3. Same as above but instead save the image onto your system and search by upload.

Below is an example of searching an image from my own profile using Google Chrome.

The top four results are link back to my blog and credit info.

That’s how easy it is! So no excuses or “Artist unknown” laziness!

Graffiti is the Living Voice of our Ancestors

The Sisters Rocks, Stawell, Victoria, Australia.

Art is one of the few means for us humans to express Zoë, living eternal life. Sometimes this is done by constructing grand monuments like the pyramids of Gaza, beautiful sculptures found in Greece and Rome, sometimes it achieved at the base level of the street in the form of graffiti. In this manner common people of no class can go down in history just as pharaohs of Egypt and artisans of Greece. Graffiti is an equaliser that transcends boundaries of class and prestige.

A relative shared a local news story of monument rocks known as the Sisters Rocks that have been defaced with graffiti, some of which goes back to the 1800’s (in terms of Australian history that is old).  There is local debate wether the rocks should be cleaned. My relative and her friends are in consensus that they should be. I had to respond:

“Sorry, but I disagree. Graffiti is an ancient art form and goes back to the time where written language was invented, it plays a huge role in our understanding of history.
For example: Greece has important landmarks carved in stone that in essence is ‘tagging’ some say: “so and so was here” or “so and so had sex on this stone” (the latter case were both male names, an important note for the history of homosexuality) dating going back to 2,500 to 3,000 years ago.
Later with the Romans we get an idea of life by its graffiti especially in Pompeii, including wonderful insults and indications of the dangers of toilets. The Colosseum in Rome also has graffiti written by Gladiators.
The first image known of Jesus Christ is graffiti.
Later still Vikings invading the Mediterranean wrote graffiti on monuments in Venice and Constantinople (Istanbul), giving us a date to their raids and one of the few primary sources of their attacks.
In Australia’s case graffiti has been extremely important for tracking early pioneers, explorers, outlaws. This is the voice of our ancestors and has a valid place in history. The news report is a prime example of that. The rocks should not be cleaned.”

I also added:

“It’s also ironic that comments above are saying “Vandals”, the word itself comes from the Germanic tribe of Vandals, of whom ransacked, pillaged and *vandalised* monuments in Italy. Again putting their mark down in history via graffiti.”

The point of which graffiti is a valid art form, possibly the most ancient. It is one of the very few primary sources of life, the voice of our forbears. Just because we have the privilege to judge and clean something contemporary does not give us the right to erase future history. As one of the commentators on my relatives post said “We have technology where people can do this in their own home without defacing property.” That is very true, so did the people of Greece and Rome. However these civilisations fell, just as our will in time. The private art on our computers will be gone and all that will remain are names upon rocks. Erasing landmarks like the Sisters Rocks is erasing *our* history in the now. It is silencing our voices to our future and detrimental to our Zoë.

Banned from using the name HERMES

(Note: I’m going through my old blog and republishing choice articles here. Eventually the old blog will be deactivated.) Addition: This is being saved for future ref. Originally published on 2nd October 2015. The issue is still unresolved.  

If you need a history lesson I’ve been making artwork dedicated to the Greek Gods for over 10 years. In 2006 I started a business called Hephaestian Studios selling idol statues on eBay, now I sell basic designs for print apparel, t-shirts and prints etc. This artwork is always related to mythology or associated subjects.

It’s my *thing*.

A particular god whom I’ve be devoted towards is Hermes, naturally I like making art for him, but his name is a big issue when selling online because it is trademarked. Meaning, I am not allowed to use the gods name in both his cultural context and religious context.

This first started with eBay. I owned a professional store on eBay with hundreds of listings paid in advance. One morning in 2007 I woke up to find my store closed and listings removed because I infringed on a trademark.
I was shocked, all my listings were original content written by me and the artwork made, by hand, by me. After two weeks of having my business closed down, effectively losing an income. back and forth exchanges between robotic eBay customer service via email and phone I had my store restored. All but the Hermes listing.

The statue that was banned by eBay because of the name Hermes was used.

That is how I found out that the name Hermes is trademarked.

Nowadays I’ve cut back on my business and just sell prints as a devotional hobby. Today I decided to try out Society6 which has a okay reputation between my artist friends. As a traditional and ritual thing I always upload my Hermes design first on these sites.

and lo and behold I get this message:

You can see in the description that this listing is related to the Greek god Hermes. The item title is Hermes B&W. The planned image to be uploaded is this:

Reminiscing my eBay days I thought I’d politely email Society6 and explain why I should be able to use the name in correct context:

Mark Gage, October 1, 6:16pm

New member attempting to upload an original design of the Greek God Hermes. Society6 won’t let me use the name “Hermes” because it’s association with trademarked brands.
I’m using the name in its correct context related to classical Greek mythology for a deity that has been part of western culture for over 3000 years.
Their response was prompt (condensed for ease of reading):

Michela, October 1, 7:26pm

Hi Mark,
Thank you for contacting Society6 Support.
We truly do appreciate your comments and questions.
Unfortunately, in an effort to respect the rights of intellectual property owners, we are not able to support the inclusion of certain words, names, phrases, or combination thereof in artist submissions. In this particular case the word “Hermes” was used and we are not able to support the inclusion. Please replace this word to your description accordingly. All words in your listing must be accurate and refer only to the item for sale.
We understand that this particular exclusion may be overbroad as applied to your submission, and we appreciate your patience as we continue to improve our policy and process for the benefit of the overall marketplace.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
Sincerely,
Michela
So now you see my dilemma, I am effectively banned from using the name Hermes in reference and correct context for devotional items designed for the polytheist / pagan community because the name is trademarked. I am having external corporate services recommending that I use alternative names in replacement of the deity that I have dedicated my work towards.

My art, my original work, my item listings are all in correct mythological, religious and cultural context. I’m not selling other people’s trademarked work, nor taking advantage of someone else’s copyright.

I am making my own art, giving devotion and hopefully making a couple of extra bucks on the side.

Like my writing, like my art? You can now support it on Patreon. I’m offering exclusive content, from articles, art previews, tutorials and more!

Devotional art and popular culture

Unfortunately, I cannot find the artists name and apologise for not given them credit (I did a search of the image but still cannot find it.)
Unfortunately, I cannot find the artists name and apologise in advance for not given them credit (I did a search of the image but still cannot find it.)

Anomalous Thracian posted an interesting discussion on art regarding a ‘comic’ depiction of the Celtic Pantheon on facebook. (His post is private and cannot be shared here, but includes screenshots with another commentator opposing his arguments and justifying the art in a popular context. )

This depiction of the gods has a lot of issues with living western polytheists, including what is classed as the seriousness of art. If it be ‘popular’ imagery or serious devotional icons…

Art is a really complex subject and admittedly it comes with a lot of pretention. Part of this pretention is the question “What is art” and less said, and nuanced, “What is devotional art”.

I strongly believe that all art before 1800’s was devotional in some form.  This is the result of a famous quote often attributed to James Whistler (and court case), but is actually from the French philosopher: Théophile Gautier, “Art for Art’s Sake”.  (Camille Paglia has a lot more on this topic, but I don’t want to divert my discussion).

In a sense creating art for its own sake was liberating, it was intended to free art to the public and turn it into an secular entity, unfortunately, it just made it more detached from society and wholly bourgeois. The seriousness of all art, including comedy, was devalued to just simple existence, we became incapable of appreciating something that was entertaining to the masses but also a profound religious experience.

In other words the existence of art became just for entertainment purposes, whereas in previous times, it meant much, much more to people. Even that we would regard as trivial.

This is a change in context, the view, with art. I’m both critical and understanding of it.

We’re saturated in art, over exposed, be it: billboards, TV, photography, the theatre itself. We appreciate art differently from our ancestors.  This has an impediment upon us now, especially with folk, including myself, who champion the old ways.

Now, I understand that few will realise (or comprehend) this, but I find myself in a perplexed predicament. On one hand I support popular art regarding the gods, on the other hand I protest its existence. Thus only justify arts place within a religious context as the intention of the artist.

What follows is my review of the work and additional commentary:

So after reviewing the art I agree with the OP and Thracians comments. The work is an illustration of the Celtic Pantheon in a ‘fantasy’ LOTR style. (Elf ears, exaggerated features, The Morrigan in ‘goth’ makeup, Cernunnos looking like a pretty Groot, etc.) The style is not bad, it reminds me classic fantasy artists like Larry Elmore (Dragonlance/Dungeons and Dragons) it’s maintained through each portrait and appropriate for a fantasy comic / novel context.
As the Dionysian Artist, Δ, I’m liberal in what classifies as devotional art, to summarise my requirement of “What is devotional art”, ANYTHING can be devotional art as long as the artists intention is dedication to the gods. Admittedly I don’t know the artists intention, but given the context of style I’d say this was made for some fan fiction and would not claim it to be appropriate representation of the gods in a religious context.
Now the issues being brought up is the lack of ‘seriousness’ of gods in media. Trust me I know what it’s like, with nearly everyone nowadays interested in Hellenic Polytheism coming off the arse end of Percy Jackson. I’m at odds with popular culture depictions of the gods. But I acknowledge that it can be extremely adverse to the polytheist movement in general. This includes how the public view us and grants additional material for outsider ridicule. Thus it merits some kind of discussion and even protest.

(After a commentator rejected the idea of religious work being “fanfic”)

Ironically, I somewhat agree with the fanfic statement. I’m approaching this in a classical context of art: the art we know of Greeks is purposefully designed to be popular culture. When one enjoyed the theatre it was a recreation and also a religious experience. It was ‘pop culture’ and at times, like in the Iliad it could be classified as a “fanfic” (especially the nationalism and name dropping in the Catalogue of Ships). Outside Athens, comedy, which included taboo subjects that can be regarded as hubris, were considered holy works. Satyr plays, comedic theatre was regarded as Mystery and the highest calibre of devotional art.
Now, however, we have secularised art, turned it into a ‘thing’ existing on itself. The whole concept of “Art for Art’s sake” has screwed up how we view art. This is really the issue here. A misunderstanding of the context of art that is appreciated in our current culture.
I.e. in the proper context of religion (which is in this case is free and beautiful) this artwork may be appropriate devotional work and also classified as a “fanfic”.

To conclude this I would say that my views are worthless. Popular art is popular because it is democratic. Being self-entitled enough to deem something that is otherwise innocuous to the popular audience is wrong. Yes, I agree that contextual style of this work may be considered inappropriate –but– in correct context it may also be okay.

When we defer to explore the ideas of “what is right in art” we risk diverging into arenas of fanaticism and shouting out “Shame, Shame, Shame!”. We need to judge art on a intention, contextual and technical basis to relate it to our traditions, if it doesn’t fit it should be simply discarded without further comment.

A Polytheist review of Battlestar Galactica

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Spoiler Free

Back in 2004 Game of Thrones was known only in book format and quality standards of television series were not on par with Hollywood blockbusters. When Battlestar Galactica first featured in its pilot miniseries it was astoundingly top quality with actors, Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Stand and Deliver) and Mary McDonnell (Independence Day and Donie Darko) playing leads. This quality was maintained throughout the four (five) seasons of this sci-fi series and despite its age, it is still up there with contemporary TV productions. Battlestar Galactica is on my must see list for sci-fi fans and also polytheists, it offers a refreshing and stark change from the norms in the genre of sci-fi.

Somewhat reminiscent of its 1970’s original, the premise is humanity lives in a decadent space-faring society that spans across twelve planets known as The Colonies. It is set forty years after a devastating war with robot creations called Cylons, who have maintained mysterious truce since the war. As the war becomes forgotten memory old style Battlestars (military spaceships), which intentionally lack automated computers, are being decommissioned. The Battlestar Glactica is the last of its kind. On the day of its ceremonial retirement the Cylons orchestrate a near perfect attack to wipe out humanity, disabling newer Battlestars with a computer virus and dropping nukes on each of the Twelve colonies, reducing humanity from many billions to only 40,000 survivors. Battlestar Galactica being one of the last military vessels remaining eventually discovers a civilian fleet and flee the old homeworlds in search of a mythical thirteenth colony, known as Earth. All the while being hotly pursued by the Cylons.

From the premise one would assume that this series follows sci-fi conventions. I.e. The Terminator meets Star Trek, however it dispels this with its realism and emphasise on religion. First off it deals with a society that is reeling from the shock of devastation, it’s impossible to not notice that this is a post 9/11 production. The society vainly attempts to maintain old idealist institutions like democracy, individual rights and crimes against humanity. But in the face of survival and war these ideals fall through, with each character being flawed and ultimately corrupt. This is a nice change from Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek utopian society of peaceful space explorers where even in the most devastating situations result in a strict inhuman rational and lack of emotion. It’s the realism of Battlestar which has drawn some criticism. It is reflective of the time of its production, when waterboarding was a mainstream term and images of Abu Ghraib were being published in newspapers. The lack of morals and struggle for survival likewise include torture, rape being used as torture, human-like creations being subjected to non-identities -labelled as objects, machines. A different form of racism with Cylons and racial abuse. It’s these themes that some viewers may be put off, but I find this bleakness to be very fitting for a show that is primarily focused on what is it to be a human.

The sci-fi genre is often an outlet for atheism, if religion is featured it’s typically an exotic trait or not shared with the main heroes. For example: Star Trek where religion is considered a primitive quality of by-gone era of humanity, Star Gate which plays on the ancient astronaut theory that all gods are evil space alien parasites, Farscape and Firefly both feature religious type characters that are at odds with everyone else and/or weirdos compared to the atheist crew.
Battlestar instead presents religion as an active and important part of characters’ lives, thus a theme for the show itself. (This, naturally, has drawn criticism from sci-fi fans who typically abhor anything religious). In Battlestar humanity is a polytheist culture that worship the Twelve Lords of Cobol, in every sense –including names– the Twelve Olympian gods. Priests, sacred text, placenames like Delphi, prophecy and artefacts play prominent roles in the story that point towards finding earth.
The Cylons are monotheist and worship a One True God, later the Cylon religion becomes an aspect of some character arches, which are somewhat similar to Christ (though you could say, a parodied of Christ).
It’s with these themes I find interesting and why I recommend to polytheists.  There are events that occur which cannot be explained other than divine intervention, certain characters that feature throughout the entire series that cannot be anything other than some divine manifestation or holy guide. While watching the series I predicted that these themes would result in an atheist resolution, i.e. the gods are not real, they are some alien or archetype from forgotten history. At times the show even hints at this. However I was pleasantly surprised with the conclusion where questions of the divine were left opened and unanswered. Compared to sci-fi series this is totally refreshing to observe and welcomed.

So if you’re unfamiliar with this series, need something to binge watch, interested is positive depictions of polytheist cultures in media, check out Battlestar Galactica.

 

Additional Bonus: The unfortunately short-lived spinoff Caprica likewise deals with some of these themes. That series has a different attitude to the bleakness of BSG and at times a little silly. I liked the series too, but understand why it was not more popular.

Hunting Wisdom

hwfront

Of late I have had a lot of people, online an offline, request more info on divination. Guess what? now I have a go to for recommendations.

I’m thankful to know Sannion, and to be involved in a number of his divination classes. So I will happily recommend folk to buy his newest book dealing with this beautiful art form, a perfect gift for this festive time of the year!

Available here and here more info here: https://thehouseofvines.com/2016/11/23/available-now/

 

The Theatre and Politics

Over the weekend the internet has been alight by the tweets by Trump about the Hamilton’ cast statement to Vice-President Elect Mike Pence audience attendance. Trump calling for the theatre to be a “safe place” and demanding an apology from the cast.

I don’t condemn or condone the cast, but acknowledge they are serving a sacred, natural and inherent purpose of the theatre.  I always say that democracy was born on stage and that is because the ancient origins of the theatre was a revolution in culture. It gave a space for not politicians, nobles or royalty to speak, but common people, at times the lowest of the caste system, to freely discuss issues to the masses. Some of the first words spoken in the Greek theatre were politically motivated taunts, mockery, slapstick farce and satire of the ruling class. While concepts like free speech are relatively modern now, it’s first expression is found in the amphitheatre.

In ideal circumstances the artists are protected by the theatre (or laws of the nation), but there has been a long history of artists being punished, even put to death. The theatre has *never* been a safe place, for either audience or artists.

When artists are being forced to apologise for their expression by members of authority it is a very disconcerting sign and something that merits acknowledgement and watchful eyes.

vovolis20

11/11

In honour of my partners birthday on the 11/11 I thought I’d do a quick tribute.

Wayne is the funnest bastard I know, he is also magical and powerful. This year marks 13 years of fun, laughter, love, anger, tears, blood and adventures. Without him I would not be here today.

So fun facts:

Wayne was born on the 11/11/83 (8+3=11), at 11:11AM.

Part Australian Scotts/Irish and part Nauruan and spent time as a child on the isolated island republic. His Nauruan family are of the chief of chief family caste with his distant cousin being a previous president and his grandmother owning portion of the sole airport strip in the nation.

Everyone who has ever met Wayne says he is funny and scary… which is true… he’s been described as a hippopotamus, fun and playful at a distance, but up close he’ll eat you.

So happy birthday to my beloved!

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Through the Grapevine

concordgrapes

So… I did an idiotic thing and looked up my name on Google. Seeing what people are saying about me. Luckily nothing too abhorrent that I can see. I noticed one person calling into question my initiation status apparently, “claims to be initiate into an ancient Sicilian cult”.

I have never claimed anything of the sort.

Actually if one has that amazing and commendable ability to not be lazy and read my writing, including those from my previous blog, my initiation claims are definitely *not* derived from Italy or any lineage or fraternity. What I claim are newly ‘invented’ traditions passed on from spiritual experience.

And  know you what? I don’t care if you want to dismiss my ‘claims’. I underwent an intense experience last year that went over three months. This experience was made whole with physical private ritual, physical ordeal and confirmed by myself, people I know and outsiders who had NO knowledge of what I was going through.  (In fact one guy totally freaked out when he saw me…) This was an intensive period of divination and ritual.

Anyway, this gives me rights to claim an initiate in some sort of Dionysian mystery (I categorise it a the Dionysian Artist, hence the name!) If you don’t want to believe that… fine. I’m not forcing anything on anyone here unless someone wants physical mentorship into *my own* mystery tradition.

I doubt there will be any takers in soon as I believe the Mysteries must be a physical experience and I’m aware of exactly three Dionysians in my entire country and none to my knowledge are interested in what I have to offer.

So for the sake of ease here is summery of facts:
– I don’t claim to be initiate into an ancient lineage.
– I am indeed closely associated with The Starry Bull tradition. Right now, I am NOT initiated into that tradition.
– The Dionysian Artists mystery tradition is based upon the Guild of the Artists of Dionysos, found in ancient Greek history. However I am not seeking to entirely replicate this guild. (Although I wish I could.) Instead the idea is create a mystery tradition revolving around art, embracing all forms of art from performance, music, visual, writing etc. And also being inclusive of the differing views of what constitutes art in modern theory. The idea is encouraging members to create or admire art to bring them to states of ecstasy which invokes initiatory experiences. This is all a work in progress.

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At time of writing The Wild Hunt’s yearly fundraiser is only at 48% raised, with 8 days left!

The Wild Hunt is a non-profit, free. without ads News source of the pagan / Heathen / polytheist / Wicca communities. It is our voice on the internet.

What’s more it pays for its writers, of whom many are members of our colourful communities.

I understand that many are struggling with money right now, I’m included in that category, but I implore my readers to contribute something to this fundraiser!

Support the community that supports you.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-wild-hunt-fall-fund-drive-2016#/

Facebook banning

I have been banned from facebook over an image I shared a few years ago. As these things work: someone must have reported me.

Honestly I can’t remember what I wrote about this, I’m supposing it was a rejection of the nationalism and appropriation of classical symbolism for modern day politics.

As I *despise* censorship I’m re-posting the image here. Right now I hold no feelings for it, nor opinion. Artistically, it has merits in making a good image. Politically, my only concern is using sacred classical themes and terms as a means of promoting secular modern day concepts.

Regardless, I would point out when this image was first published it went “viral”, it was shared by millions of people and featured in newspapers, magazines and facebook.

Yet…. suddenly I am banned from facebook for something I posted years ago (Like many other people at the time).

Thumbs up to censorship.

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s7mikro

 

Edit for more info:

The photo above was taken by a photographer called Dimitris the Athens in 2012. Some interpretation of it as a response against austerity efforts, “cutting the umbilical cord of austerity”. It spread across facebook at the time by Greeks, often using the image as a rallying call. European nations have a long history of bare breasted woman as revolutionary symbols, i.e. Marianne of France.

I shared this image to discuss the phenomenon especially as it was using a title for a sacred role played by women of the Dionysian cults. I certainly was not sharing it for sexual gratification or being obscene.

I’m not naive enough to think that facebook gives a shit, I understand that they have blanket bots that look for nudity and censor it, but based upon my countries law, (laws I have to adhere to as a “citizen”, even with my use of the internet), this image would be regarded as genuine art. The image has cultural, historical and social importance and has gone down as an icon for it’s time.

This is a quote by facebook TOS:

We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks. We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures. Restrictions on the display of both nudity and sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless the content is posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes. Explicit images of sexual intercourse are prohibited. Descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail may also be removed.

So… in terms of law in Australia this image is regarded as genuine art. In terms of facebook’s own TOS it falls into he category of artwork for its: “educational, humorous or satirical purposes.”

No, kids. This is the future

Disclaimer: The Dionysian Artist, Δ, is apolitical unless the arts are under attack.

thefuture

[Keating joking about establishing a museum of Australian culture under Liberal leadership] “We thought we could basically make the changes and put some of the cultural icons of the 1950s down there. […] The Morphy Richards toaster, the Qualcast mower, a pair of heavily protected slippers, the Astor TV, the AWA radiogram. And, of course, the honourable member for Wentworth and the honourable member for Bennelong could go there as well. When the kids come and look at them they will say, ‘Gee, mum, is that what it was like then?’. And the two Johns can say, ‘No, kids. This is the future’. Back down the time tunnel to the future—there they are.”
Prime Minister Paul Keating, famous ‘Cultural Cringe’ speech , 1992.

The Australian political right has had a long history of attacking the arts. They are known to openly assault funding to museums, galleries, artists and art work purchases, art censorship and classification, film and theatre, music, dance… the entire spectrum of art. No amount of protest by the public and experts in the Arts and also economists has hindered their vile and unmerited fund cutting. This behaviour is referred to as The Cultural Cringe.

This was exemplified last year with a proposal to dismantle the Australian Arts Council, an independent organisation that administers government grants to artists in all fields. The Liberal’s suggestion was to consolidate a new arts organisation run directly by the government, in effect creating an Orwellian Ministry of Truth. Since the previous government was removed by itself this never came to complete fruition. However full funds have not been returned to the Australian Arts Council.

Instead was an announcement last week of fund cutting to the Tertiary education loan repayment system known as VET. Adding insult to injury saying that the government only supports “Legitimate education pursuits.” Labelling arts a “lifestyle choice”. Almost 60 arts related courses are to have VET eligibility suspended and a total of 478 courses.

When one looks at the list (below) it is apparent that this is targeting the film and performance industry the most. The biggest arts industries and in fact one of the biggest money making industries the world over, grossing higher revenue than the mining sector and agriculture.

In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s Australia was next to New Zealand in producing large scale Hollywood movies, for example: the Star Wars prequels and The Matrix films, Moulin Rouge!. This prompted investments into new movie studios in Sydney and Melbourne. Of which are now rarely used. The movie industry in Australia has completely died because lack of support from the government and the GFC. (Not to mention that John Howard, another Liberal, literally sold our culture to the US.)

However when one looks east to our cousins in New Zealand their film industry is thriving, with its citizens considered experts of modern movie production, they are often subcontracted for US Hollywood movies like Avatar. How do they do this? The New Zealand government invested in arts and as a result it has become one of the country’s major exports, this also influences other sectors like tourism and hospitality.

Let’s look at some of the other courses being cut, they include Jewellery design, Floristry, Journalism and Professional Writing.  All of which are valid careers paths. Of note: I did Dip. of Professional Writing in 2008, at the time it was FREE! This blog would not be what it is without the course. So since 2008 the government has made these courses paid, via student loans, to denying the loans altogether.

In regards to writing courses it’s interesting to note that Australia is a reading culture, reputed to be one of the biggest consumers of books in the world. Ever wondered how a media tyrant Rupert Murdoch rose from a hick nation of Australia? Because we read a lot, we are world’s largest newspaper readers. Obviously writing, journalism is a locally supported arts industry.

Perhaps the most disturbing and racist is the cancelling of VET for the Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts Industry Work. Aboriginal people are seriously underclass in Australia. When compared by ratio of Aboriginal deaths in police custody to the deaths of blacks in US it is frightening and disturbing that there is no mainstream, international, Black Lives Matter movement for Aboriginals.  So we have one of the most vulnerable, discriminated and poor groups being denied financial support for education. What’s more, arts is very important to Aboriginal communities, with Indigenous art being one of the main commodities that supports their culture and peoples, international sales of Indigenous art is a major Australian arts export.

In short I can go through each of these courses and demonstrate how these are not “hobby courses” but a legit vocational training. This is speaking from experience. I can not afford university and instead opted for TAFE (Technical college) Diploma of Visual Arts and partial Diploma of Professional Writing. These two courses helped me become who I am today, without them I would not be here. If I was born a generation later it would be impossible for me to get this necessary training to pursue a career in the arts to the capacity I have today.

I’ve been warning folk about this nihilism in Australian politics for a long time, I’ve been pointing out the constant erosion of Australian culture by the Neo-conservative right-wing government. Yet the public keep voting for these degenerates. It looks like Keating’s vicious rhetoric has failed and instead he has become a prophet: ‘No, kids. This is the future’.

The list of Courses being affected by the cuts: (Source)

Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance)
Diploma of Musical Theatre
Diploma of Live Production Design
Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts Industry Work
Diploma of Ceramics
Advanced Diploma of Dance (Elite Performance)
Diploma of Floristry Design
Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design
Advanced Diploma of Jewellery and Object Design
Diploma of Broadcast Technology
Advanced Diploma of Performance
Graduate Diploma of Classical Ballet
Diploma of Performing Arts
Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts
Diploma of Fashion Styling
Diploma of Screen Acting
Diploma of Screen Performance
Advanced Diploma of Acting
Diploma of Circus Arts
Diploma of Social Media Marketing
Advanced Diploma of Acting for Contemporary Screen Media
Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts
Graduate Certificate in Entrepreneurship for Creatives
Diploma of  Stage and Screen Performance
Diploma of Arts (Acting)
Advanced Diploma of Arts (Acting)
Advanced Diploma of Professional Screenwriting
Graduate Diploma of Elite Dance Instruction
Advanced Diploma of Stage and Screen Acting
Diploma of Visual Communication (Design Communication / Photo Communication)
Advanced Diploma of Visual Communication (Design Communication / Photo Communication)
Advanced Diploma of Music Theatre
Diploma of Cinemagraphic Makeup
Diploma of Styling (Fashion, Image and Media)
Advanced Diploma of Commercial Song and Dance Performance
Diploma of Journalism
Advanced Diploma of Art (Musical Theatre and Commercial Dance)
Advanced Diploma of Film, Television and Theatre Acting
Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Acting)
Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing
Advanced Diploma of Photography
Diploma of Theatre Arts
Diploma of Product Design
Advanced Diploma of Screen and Stage Acting
Diploma of Creative Arts in Christian Ministry
Advanced Diploma of Creative Arts in Christian Ministry
Advanced Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing)
Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing)
Diploma of Mass Communication
Advanced Diploma of Photography
Diploma of Performing Arts
Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts
Graduate Diploma of Photography
Diploma of Fashion Products and Markets
Advanced Diploma of Performing Arts (Musical Theatre) (Commercial Dance)
Advanced Diploma of Animation

 

The “S” Word

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Image source (link) <– this is a really cool educational website. Check it out.

Most likely a response to the New Age Movement many call out the identifier of “Shaman” as cultural appropriation. I understand the contention, especially being aware of the origins of the word, it’s history and overuse in spiritual circles, academia and popular culture. However as it stands it is an apt word to describe certain spiritual practices found around the world that share a “common core” in their ecstatic actions and traditions, some of which are open to the West. This is my current definition of it:

“There is no definitive definition of shamanism used by anthropologists, rather, it used as a catch-all term for local ethnic beliefs and practices around the world that has a common core of members communicating with spirits and deities through ecstatic rituals. How one reaches these states vary greatly, but in general shamans utilise dance, drumming, mask donning, identity transference / acting, substance use, etc. A secondary aspect of shamans is initiatory rituals which simulate or physically enact a near-death experience. This experience gives the shaman insight into the afterlife.”

Many traditions perform these shamanic acts, often with their own cultural titles to describe the spirit workers. Without intentionally inciting insensitivity it is it’s overuse that allows the general populace to understand what a writer is discussing, without providing additional context.

An example of this is the common misunderstanding of The Dionysian Artists. Many, including friends and family assume that I identify with the guild because I am an artist. However, it is conceivable for a member *not* to identify as an artist in the sense we know now. The Western view of a shaman may be applicable in describing the acts and mysteries of The Dionysian Artists.

This is a subject I explore in an essay written for the next issue of Walking the Worlds (submissions close in Nov. ‘16.) In brief I explore the various themes found in the cults of Dionysos, especially the theatre. For the sake of ease I use shamanism as an adjective in describing the expression found in the theatre. Likewise I have a strong belief that ALL Western art originates from shamanic-like practices performed in pre-history.

I am fortunate because I have a lot of theory and research for the Dionysian Artists, I am privileged in using Shamanism as an adjective, others, however, may follow a different path and use it as a noun because there is no other descriptor for their practices.

In these instances I think it’s fine, “Neoshamanism” as it’s called, may draw upon closed ethnic traditions, but from what I have observed of it, it is totally different. They may utilise similar themes and actions that may be found in ethnic Shamanism, but adapt it to the point that these themes are general and common in open belief systems. They are themes, acts which can be traced in many world religions, including the Abrahamic and related fringe sects.

Last point, the critics I have seen mostly argue in favour of Native American tribes rights to the word… Given that the word originates from the East / Eurasia this is a wrong argument and is as insensitive as a Western person using the word to describe their practices.

So to critics of the used of the word I point my middle finger. This is an aspect of our overall culture. Being hung up on a word diminishes the spiritual acts and devotion one performs to their gods.

The Irony of a Dionysian “Fascist”

If you are a reader of Sannion’s blog you may have noticed a theme that has been continuing for a while related to Heathens United Against Racism director Ryan Smith and his targeting of Sannion’s wife Galina for her ‘controversial’ commentary and opinion on the AFA.

I’ve read through most the commentary and find it mildly entertaining, but otherwise completely useless in terms of progressing in art, education and devotion. However Sannion’s previous post, We are pariahs. is really beautiful and truthful. I’m a proud member of The Bacchic Underground and it has become an awesome secluded area of the internet where I can talk to fellow polytheists and Dionysians.  It really is a place where you shrug off the self-generated ‘controversies’ of the pagan community and engage with people.

Sometimes it’s silly, sometimes it is damn serious, but it is always respectful. This balance is something I have not seen anywhere else online. Ever.

The reason for this is that Dionysians are accommodating, they should ideally be hosts at all times. This is very important aspect of our religious structure and a key to know Dionysos himself. The Dionysian cults of ancient times were very popular because they were accommodating to everyone. They embraced women, slaves, elderly, races, children, physical ill, mentally ill etc. – there is no minority or majority which would be denied by the cults. And yes, they have been historically targeted, tortured, abused and executed because of this, (well before Christianity I might add!)

We *are* pariahs. We are the outcasts, the rejects. We are Dionysians.

Teaching Devotion

One of my favourite TV shows is Rome. It has faults as in simplification of historical events and for dramatic purposes expanded on real characters which boarders on fantasy, but in general it is an entertaining and beautiful TV series. What I really enjoyed is the depictions of Roman religion, how it was not something that was enforced by a doctrine of rules (well not always) but how it was pervasive in their culture. Every breath, every word, every action was given to the gods. This concept is presented in the show intro, with Roman graffiti and murals coming to life on the streets, illustrating the myths.

In the first episode one of the lead characters ,Titus Pullo, is thrown in prison. He makes a series of prayers for his release while drawing a phallus on a board as a foci. This is a naturalistic ritual, he is performing an act of devotion in a situation that is dire.

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The themes of causal personal worship continue throughout the series, we see examples of household worship, casual communion, crafting one’s own icons etc. We also see formal rituals, the long tedious forms of cleansing and devotion. Therefore ritual protocol changed between circumstances.

Nowadays in the Hellenic polytheist community, we attempt to replicate devotion as it were in Ancient times,  however the sources we go by are what was expected by priests, initiated and nobility / royalty.  These are highly formulaic with set expectations. They were so important to ancient authors merited recording them.

This is the issue with us today. We get bogged down with recorded sources and begin establishing doctrines and protocol based on formal ritual. When in reality of ancient people their forms of devotion would had been a lot more casual, relaxed and personal.

The major issue here is with new comers. Often mentors prescribe a set of ritual acts, of how to give prayer that is based upon known formal ritual. Whereas for the ancients it was ingrained in their culture, it was a natural language to them, which just like every day conversation changed in manner depending on circumstance. This is not something that can be taught easily to newcomers and presents a challenge to mentors. Thus they go with formal methods.

I have mixed feelings about this, it’s better to play it safe, but also I fear we are setting the bar to high and ultimately intimidating the new. It’s unintentionally establishing an orthodoxy when it does not belong in our religion.  Lastly, a common complaint from newbies is that they are scared that they  will “do it wrong” and don’t do anything at all! This is sad and a sign of failure on the mentors part.

What I strive to do as a mentor is encourage a personal development first. I encourage those I’m teaching to first establish their own method of communicating and progress from there. Core concepts of spiritual cleanliness, ritual gesturing, mediative thought, ritual protocol etc., should be set aside for later date. I instead give suggestions of what you *can* do, not what you *should*. Then proceed from there.

All of it is true, we do have a praxis, a manner of speaking to address the divine that is important to give respectful devotion. Yet to start out I believe we should first establish a platform for casual communication and teach one step at a time.

Art for God’s Sake

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Many polytheists have an identity or a ‘theme’ for their personal cultus, some are devoted to a particular god/s, others include sexuality and gender, some use politics. My main focus is art, all art, I quite literally worship art. It serves as the foundation for everything I do and is an expression of my relationship with the gods. It does not matter if I’m making art, writing about art, enjoying art or criticising art, everything is devoted to it as a language between my gods. Thus I see all art as sacred, regardless of if I think it is trash or if it is offensive to me, I will never attempt to censor, destroy or limit art.

This is not a view shared by many today, even within my own community of polytheists and Dionysians. It is a trend, long running now, to not only censor, but destroy art, to limit artists and their possibilities.

At The House of Vines Sannion has been discussing this, first a comment from G&R where they have linked Neo-Folk “and other artistic movements” to the “New Right” and then an article on the ban of traditional Black Faced Morris dancers in England reported by The Wild Hunt. The latter critique from Sannion reminded me of something I read last week with the trans community being upset at a Cis-gay actor Matt Bomer playing a transgender role. The discussion being furthered by including the history of straight actors playing trans, and calls that only gays should play gay roles too.

I have long been a supporter of the trans community, I am usually included or categorised into the LGBT community. I am damn proud of the inclusiveness that T in that abbreviation, but I draw the line here. This is limiting art, this is destroying art. BOTH WAYS. A good actor regardless of sex should be able to play a character regardless of sex. This means a male should be able to play a woman or trans, a woman should be able to play a man or trans, a trans should be able to play a man or a woman or trans.

My god wears woman’s clothes and over his dress he dons armour, he pins his hair in female fashion and sports a beard. He is a god that transcends gender and guess what? The theatre is his temple. The theatre therefore reflects him, it is a fluid domain where masks are removed to be replaced by other masks. The actors are the ones that does this divine act, they are the expressions of Dionysos regardless of what role they play and what sex they as individuals identity as.

Forcing limits on gender roles based on the “real-life” identifiers therefore impends art, it shackles something that should be free. While I personally strongly encourage producers and directors to hire Trans actors to play Trans, enforcing that *only* trans, or gays, (or any other role, including disability, and yes even race), typecasts actors based *only* on who they are in “reality”. It limits their ability to produced good art, it destroys the fantasy and impedes art.

The actual sex, gender of the actor should never determine the role.

 

Medusa meme

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Over on facebook in a private group is this meme being shared relating to Medusa and her apparent African origins. The meme is extremely questionable, especially considering it is completely lacking sources and any reference to where the info is coming from. However it has likewise caused protest amongst some Hellenic Polytheists who appear to be misinformed about the cultural exchange between the Greeks and nations south of the Aegean.  Below is my response, due to facebooks nature I couldn’t include links or images which I have done here and merits a proper blog post:


This meme is very misleading and questionable but there are some interesting notes in this regard. The iconography of the Gorgon is extremely old, like pre-historic old, some historians suspect it was the first depiction of the face. (Marija Gimbutas) The oldest depictions are actually questionable in terms of sex, with the gorgon having both male and female features. They also share similar characteristics with The Master of Beasts iconography found in the Minoan culture. Universally Gorgons are apotropaic, warding off evil which can be connected to early shamanistic concepts. The mask-like quality of the gorgon also hints at other apotropaic deities like Dionysos. (Who likewise shares connections with the Master of Beasts, intersex nature and shamanic ties).

Part of the Aegina treasure. This golden pendant is called "Master of Animals". It is interpreted as showing an Cretan god in a field of lotus flowers. In each hand he holds a goose, while the background is composed of two unidentified objects that are considered to be either connected to "cult horns", the sacred horns of bulls, or maybe composite bows. British Museum Catalogue Jewellery #762.  (wikipedia)
Part of the Aegina treasure. This golden pendant is called “Master of Animals”. It is interpreted as showing an Cretan god in a field of lotus flowers. In each hand he holds a goose, while the background is composed of two unidentified objects that are considered to be either connected to “cult horns”, the sacred horns of bulls, or maybe composite bows. British Museum Catalogue Jewellery #762. (wikipedia)
Gorgon_Kameiros_BM_GR1860.4-4.2
Winged goddess with a Gorgon’s head, orientalizing plate, c. 600 BC, from Kameiros, Rhodes (Wikipedia)
black_d_vector
digital tracing of a Greek pot, illustrating Dionysos tearing a dear apart.
EyeDIonysos
A painting of Dionysos directly inspired from “Greek eye cups

Blacks were present early in Greece, some were slaves, but also some were free, meaning that they were not regarded as a specific ‘slave race’. (See slavery in ancient Greece). Blacks likewise did influence ancient Greek religion, a Dionysian hero -claimed to have introduced the Dionysian cult to Greece by Herodotus- is Melampus, referenced as being a black African that presented a Hellenic variant of Egyptian religion. We also have Aesop establishing tales that are regarded as Hellenic but share a cultural connection with his African origins. So yes, Greeks were influenced by Africa in some sense.

Blacks were depicted in Greek art too, in some instances they are illustrated with satyr like features or examples of satyrs, relating to Dionysos. Also there are curious pottery from Thebes celebrating their variant of the Samothracian mysteries. The meaning of these pots are contestable, but modern research concludes that they may have been used for apotropaic purposes. Therefore illustrating a possible link between blacks and gorgon imagery.

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An example of Africans in Greek pottery with apotropaic features.
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Thebean cup featuring the Greek gods Hera, Aphrodite, Hermes (Paris?) as Africans. The fact that Hera is looking at the viewer suggests an apotrpaic element.

 

Only Your Donations keep this Art Alive

Do you have any idea how long it took me to come up with that?

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Source Wayne (foreground) and me,

Over two years!

I claim the coinage of the phrase“Only Your Donations keep this Art Alive” Yep, it was me. It has become a modern slogan used by many other buskers and street artists, akin to “All my own Work” (a traditional slogan from the 1800’s). It is not unusual to see ‘only your donations’ or some variant on the streets, it’s even been used in other languages!

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Variant in French by my dear friend, Francois Pelletier.

I don’t get annoyed at people using a variant, but it does shit me if folk copy it in the exact same format, text, lettering and even height of lettering!!! (I’m a trained graphic designer, for fucks sake, I *know* when you are copying me.)

Otherwise, go nuts. 😀

What I love about this phrase and why I religiously repeat it over and over again is because it is truth. Only your donations keep this art alive is a literal truth. I’m not fucking bullshitting, I’m not pulling this out of my arse. The art presented to you would not exist without your support. You are enabling art to be freely giving. You are as vital and important as the artist.
To which I can only bow. It’s your power that make me who I am and I am eternally grateful.

Donatings can be sent via paypal: markos.gage@gmail.com