The Wild Hunt recently published a column on Queer Pagan Men Australia (QPMA). I’m happy to say I attended their last meet up in September. I just came off the arse end of another mental breakdown (yeah, it’s a continued problem) and was heavily doped up on sedatives, but it was nice to chat and get some insight into the goals of the group. Especially with goals of moving offline and in person, also setting up groups interstate too.
It was a pleasure to meet Buck Agrios (of whom is one of the few in Australia who calls themselves a Dionysian). Also Ryan McLeod – I really appreciate the passion he has for paganism.
Overall I’m really excited by the plans and I hope to be more involved in future projects.
I’m very supportive of The Wild Hunt (TWH) and have been for many years. It is the only online, free, ad-free, non-profit Pagan News organisation, run by pagans for pagans. For better or worst it is a place within this vast internet where pagans have a voice that is officially recognised. Right now they running their annual fundraiser.
In support, my partner Wayne and I made a promotional video for the fundraiser. We tried to keep it lighthearted and slapstick… 😛 Please support the community that supports you.
If there is one thing I despise on a personal and spiritual level it is censorship. Dionysians have an ancient track record of being banned and censored. Pythagorean/Orphic texts were banned very early, the persecution of Dionysians by Romans in 186BCE and the Senatus consultum de Bacchanalibus. Hell, one of our most important text/plays is The Bacchae by Euripides about an impious king attempting to suppress and censor Dionysos himself.
With facebook, banning increase in length the more often they occur. I’m now on 7 day bans, which will increase to 30 days until my account will be permanently deactivated. I mostly use facebook to mentor and chat with fellow polytheists and for sharing our artwork, my posts are mostly tame, inane or educational.
Anyway, here is a list of times I’ve had my account blocked on facebook, each time was for no reason, and all fits within FB TOS.
October 23 2016
I was banned for sharing a photo of a “Modern Maenad“. I originally shared the photo in 2012. I shared it as a response of politicising ancient symbols in the now, as it is an image protesting Greek austerity. It was taken by Dimitris the Athens and published throughout the internet, including facebook, and in magazines and newspapers.
In 13th of May 2017 I was interviewed by the largest pagan news organisations The Wild Hunt. (By the way they have their yearly fundraiser going now!) For reasons which were never explained I was banned from facebook for sharing the article on my wall… I strongly suspect this was direct assault upon my religious beliefs.
The latest banning begun on the 10th of October 2017. With my partner being banned for three days, I protested to facebook staff about the removal of the image and they apologised and restored it on my wall, I reposted the image, after they approved it, and I was banned for 7 days. (I wrote about the symbolism of the Manticore and my interpretation of the images here.)
I find the excuse of algorithms and bot moderation by Facebook to be bullshit for these bans. This is a direct assault on my freedoms of speech, expression and religion as implied in the Australian Constitution and the universal rights granted by the UN Charter, which my country agrees to and applies. Facebook is breaching universal laws that are directly affecting my business, my reputation, my religious practice – including mentoring. These blocks are causing personal harm in the form of depression and harming my mental health.
After my ban is over, I’m going to limit my use of the platform and reserve it to mostly use it just to private chat to my students. (Why people refuse to use email or read my blog nowadays is puzzling to me!?) Anyway, I might be more present on other platforms that do not have such outrageous, ethically and legally unjust rules and regulations.
As with previous posts an artwork done by my partner was removed and he was blocked for three days. I contested the removal of the image and facebook approved the image as it fits into community standards.
So I reposted the image along side the screen shoot and within minutes I got this:
So I’m now blocked for 7 days. To my knowledge they will not remove blocks even if it is in the wrong.
I’m about ready to fuck off facebook altogether. It’s a fucking useless platform.
A Manticore literally means “Man-Eater” from early Persian and found a place in Greece/Roman mythos from various authors such as Aristotle, Pausanias, Pliny the Elder. Pausanias logically relates the Manticore to the Tiger, and really, given the reputation as hunting men and other predators and the intelligence of the tiger, it makes complete sense.
The Manticore makes a perfect monster, why? It embodies every fear of man, the lion, the scorpion and any other mix of terrible creatures, but nothing is more fearful than our fellow man, the face of the Manticore. The monster is humbling and a reminder that nature is a greater force than the human condition and the human is part of nature.
The images Wayne has created are to me, humbling. Both the male and female versions are frightening and disturbing, but that is what we need to see. Too often we put up these fantasies that we are above nature, that we rest within safe zones. This only serves to increase our fears of pain and death, to be confused when we actually experience what it is to be an animal. We shy from natural forces, when, at any time, the Manticore can strike us.
My partner Wayne is doing a series of Manticores, some are freaky and graphic, but still fall within realms of art. He describes them as satire, akin to something seen by Goya. Anyway something I want to make clear:
Facebook posting policy, TOS, allows artistic representation of graphic subjects and nudity.
These images are obviously artistic.
The pictures are fantastic and related to mythology.
The images are deliberately drawn in a non-realistic, cartoon-like fashion.
The picture in question (The Female version) was banned for “sexual violence”, sexual intercourse usually requires two humans. A Manticore is not human, it is a monster. Their names literally mean “Man Eater”.
For your viewing pleasure, I proudly post them here.
Doing street art is difficult, while I do enjoy it, sometimes it really gripes me. So I woke up today with questions that have been asked of me while I work on the street. Now, at the time I’m usually focused on art and in a mindstate that is unable to eloquently respond to these questions. Being in a mood today I wrote down a series of questions and my wishful responses (Originally posted on facebook.) I’ve put them here and also included an additional question, not asked on the street – yet asked a lot in the art world.
Art Wank Question No. 1: Are pastels drawing or painting?
Me: I don’t fucking care! If I was forced down and interrogated via torture though, I would have to say it depends on the application of pastels. When one looks at what makes a pastel. it’s actually no different from any other paint, it just lacks a medium to make it sloppy. So you can draw with it (just as you can draw with ink or acrylics) or you can paint with it (just as you can paint with ink or acrylics). My application of pastels is in layers, purposely designed to be built up. Sometimes between 2 to 10+ layers of pastel. Therefore I categorise *my* use of pastel as painting. But I use drawing/painting interchangeable because I DON’T CARE.
Art Wank Question No. 2: Is what I do on the street “Craft” or “Art”?
Me: I love Ancient Greece and look back to it a lot. They had no definition between a craftsman or an artist. The whole conception of an artist is very European and not really seen in other cultures, throw modern art theory into the mix… and boy… do you get a lot of pretentious philosophical bullshit. Like seriously… have you read the shit they say? I have, and I feel like doing a turd on their fucking faces after reading that blubbering diarrhoea.
A lot of folk say a reproduction of an artwork is “craft”, but the original is “art”. But I regard them as both. That said, in our case. as street artists and applying wank art theory, Wayne and I are being “artists” because of context of environment. Our street art is a performance, we are performance artists. That does not mean we’re faking it or anything, it means that the act of creating art (be it original or reproduction) is the art itself.
Art Wank Question No. 3: Do you consider your art kitsch?
Me: Okay, big fucking can of worms there, *cunt*. I get your subtle insult and it makes me angry, so I propose an art project: go lay on the tram tracks.
For one, kitsch art is an art movement, with a philosophical –art theory- backing. Do I agree with it? No. But if someone like Odd Nerdrum calls his art “kitsch”, it is (even though I would not regard it as kitsch). Second, I have two views on our art, our original art I do not regard as kitsch, because that is not the intention – in actuality the original art does not fall into modern art theory because it is devotional. But the reproduction art… maybe… it is designed and chosen to please people, however we do choose artworks that we like and will find entertaining for ourselves to reproduce… as art making can be *really* boring.
Anyways, in this Post-post-“Pomo” era, any art can be regarded as kitsch, modern art is old hat now and it got fucked over by Pop-Art and continues to do so ever since. I’ve never seen a contemporary piece which has truly made me feel awe or any emotion, (not even “shock” art) thus I’m pretty jaded towards art. Actually, if there is anything to say about this culture is that it is jaded as fuck. Everyone has the ability to see anything, read anything, do anything – people are over saturated to the point they can’t feel anything. The one fear I have is that Nietzsche will turn out to be a prophet with his “last-man” of nihilism, the cynic in me thinks that’s our next evolutionary step and maybe it should be.
*Bonus* Art Wank Question No. 4: What is an Artist?
Many of my gen are shying away from calling themselves artists, opting for stupid terms like a “creative”, like sit back for a moment and think on that: *in a dry, stiffy, jaded hipster voice*: “Oh, I am a creative”, how fucking stupid does that sound?! Whatever.
I can’t tell you want and artist is because an artist is someone who calls themselves that. That’s the answer, simple and flat out.
Art is a broad spectrum of topics and subjects. One of the very few things I agree with modern art theory is that anything can be art. On a personal level I think anyone that endeavours to make something is an artist and if they don’t want to call themselves that, or do – fine by me. With The Dionysian Artists of old, not only the actors, writer or the director were considered artists, (craftspeople in their sense, as mentioned above), but everyone was given credit towards the play and named a Dionysian Artist. This echoes in film today with the credit reel including everyone, even the caterers, the drivers, the first aid etc., all of these people are involved in creating the film, which is indisputably a piece of art, thus they are all artists in that sense. This is how art should be viewed and what I encourage with The Dionysian Artist guild today. It’s a matter of altering our way of looking at “what is art”, “what is an artist/craftsman” and fucking respect art.
I think about art a lot, a lot more than other artists. I’ve studied it, read about it and write about it. You know what? I just find it so fucking frustrating that these are serious questions! That books, entire books, are written on these subjects here. Art should be direct, confrontational, without consent. In these moments there should be no thought or questions only awe.
I’ve been trying to keep myself motivated and continuing to contribute to my blog, re: Dionysos Cyclopaedia and several other projects like a 111 divination card deck (first mention of that project here, more info soon I hope) and a massive public pastel drawing of Lord Shiva (who came to me in dream, even though I have little connection to Hindu gods).
Yet, things feel like I have come to a standstill.
I have suffered depression all my life, so much so, I don’t know what happiness is. This year has been a year where my mind has exploded. It begun on the 20th of February exactly a month after the Bourke Street Mall attack: where a mad man, on drugs, drove down the pavement I regularly work upon and killed several people, injuring many. This devastating event really hurt me and opened mental scars that had been lying dormant in my mind since I was a child. I have been suffering from severe depression / anxiety including agoraphobia and PTSD.
This has been the first time I have ever sort medical treatment and beginning to analyse and assess the things I hold dear. But most of the time I find myself physically crippled, I cannot do basic things to subsist as a human, like eating, sleeping, even going to the toilet. Most of these things link back to childhood trauma.
Ever seen 10 Cloverfield Lane? An awesome sci-fi film about a woman is ‘saved’ and locked in a bunker by a man named Howard who claims the world is ending (Howard is brilliantly played by John Goodman). Howard is a possessive domineering and damn frightening figure. I mention this film because Howard was my stepfather. He was authoritarian in every aspect of life. He would stalk me when I was walking to school and watch me during lunchbreaks, then confront me for not doing “manly” things. He’d listen to me go to the toilet and walk in on me when showering. He would abuse me with food, force me to eat half cooked or raw meat and offal. He would hit me and call me stupid for being unable to read. Call me a pansy for being effeminate. Force me to be alone, lock me in dark rooms, knock on doors during private situations, force me to run, attack me for watching TV without his permission, etc. This made it feel like he was an omniscient presence.
The results being regressive memory, much of my childhood is missing from my life.
With the 20th February mental breakdown it came back, all of it, at once, in fast motion and slow motion at the same time. All those emotions, fears, anger – pent up for 20 years started overwhelming my brain. Since then I’ve been having “aftershocks”, panic attacks. Everyday household items “triggering” me. Like just last week, I picked up a power cord and suffered a memory, like I was living in that moment, of a forgotten time my stepfather hit me with a power cord.
So it’s been really, really hard for me to do things. Yes, I am seeking medical treatment, yes I’m trying to work myself out of this, yes I’m considering getting disability pension (the first time I have asked for welfare). But it’s really fucking tough, not to mention physically straining (fasting for days, makes me physically weak.)
Anyway, I hope this brings things up to date on my current situation. I have no idea how long this will last or when I will be feeling back to my normal self.
Being Out and proud is not a privilege I have. I have told reporters and film makers to be cautious of elaborating on my relationship with my life partner (13 years now!) because of the dangers of the street.
I worship the street, it is our Agora, a bustling mix of sanity of madness. On one side of the street is a multimillionaire dealing in the stock exchange, on the other is a homeless man openly smoking meth in a crack pipe. The extremities of the street is something I have to deal with every day, it is something I deeply respect and really it does take a toll upon me emotionally. I quite literally sit in the middle of it and draw pictures upon the ground. Not only am I in the middle of it, I soak it up like sawdust on a pile of vomit.
Now with that in mind, I hope that one can understand how vulnerable I am on the street. On the ground, hunched over, back turned to the mob itself, meanwhile exploring the alternate reality of Art, (which is transversive of the universe and mind in its mere function).
Being Out and Proud is not a priority, nor a concern. I don’t consider myself a gay artist, nor do I really don’t care about the whole subculture. I am gay. It’s as simple as that, it is how my brain works and what appeals to me. In actuality, this fact should not affect anyone, I’m a monogamous dude and dedicated to The Wayne, my beloved.
Australia is still one the few Western countries that has not legalised gay marriage. A topic I don’t actually care about, but it inadvertently affecting me as it’s now going towards a postal vote. The first serious attempt to deal with the subject.
On Saturday I was working by myself. Some thirty meters, on a amp, is a preacher. I know the guy, his name is “Dusty” and is a former alcoholic, gambler and abusive parent. He was an orphan and suffered from sexual abuse from Catholic priests when raised in a mission. Now that he has found God he transfers his self-justified anger and hate upon the masses on the street every Saturday. His offenses against me have included calling me an Idolater, a pervert, “semen spitting abomination” (which is a titled I take pride in!), telling people not to give me donations because, “I worship the devil”, that my art is “rubbish and should be destroyed” – you get the point. Anyway, he’s a fucking nuisance nutcase I have to put up with every damn Saturday.
Well last Saturday was naturally topical, on the “Wrongs of Gays” and “Gay Marriage”. How homosexuals are unnatural sinners before god – blah, blah – how voting Yes on gay marriage is a sin before god and an insult to our Christian nation.
Here I am *trying*, like really trying, to draw this beautiful reproduction of Bouguereau and being forced to listen to this shit. This same shit I’ve had to put up with my entire life. So I cracked it, I unplugged his amp and threatened the guy if he doesn’t shut the fuck up I’m going to knock his fucking teeth out.
He did shut up, but called the cops on me. I told them to fuck off, but explained to them, I am gay, I suffer from PTSD and a long list of mental problems because of people like that preacher, (a truthful statement: I suffered another severe mental breakdown a few days after this event). Being reduced to animals, child abusers, being told I’m not untitled to basic human rights is what is called “Triggering”, used in its proper context, not in the way the term is thrown around online flippantly.
What “straight” people reduce to a political topic is an actuality to gays. Being gay is not being political. Expecting to be entitled to the same rights of others is not political.
Now, as my religious role dictates, I must be apolitical. It’s a really hard task. But I do not believe this is a political subject.
In my own religion marriage is a sacred act, it is holy and universal, it’s literally like death. Sex, gender does not even compute in the equations of what is marriage. So male/female only marriage is actually against my religious beliefs. By Australian laws on freedom of religion, I should be entitled to be married to my partner for religious reasons, regardless of if it is commonly recognised as being legal or not.
Anyway, being exposed to this garbage from this preacher, this despicable man, I came out on the street. I wrote in big bold letters “I am gay!”
As I mentioned at the start, this is a statement that can have serious repercussions to me. I’ve already been gang bashed, and Wayne has had his jaw broken for less. So it’s dangerous for me to do this. But fuck it. It needs to be said and I did.
I’m fucking proud of being homosexual, I think it is a sacred thing, it brings me closer to my god, to my love for life and to my partner. It’s about time for this backwater country stolen by whites and called “Australia” to embrace the universal rights of homosexuals.
A new menu on my blog is Dionysos Cyclopaedia, the idea is to have a space to record my notes, references and whatever else in one space that is easily accessible to myself and others. I’ll be slowly developing this, so check back whenever. Hopefully it will result in a massive resource dedicated to Dionysos.
In the last week fellow devotional artists have been complaining about criticism directed towards them because of their depictions of gods or for not following ‘proper’ methods of tradition. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa has even stated (publicly on facebook) that there has been threats and personal attacks against him for depicting Set…
This is really disturbing, especially in that these criticism and threats are sourced from supposed ‘pagan’ / polytheists. So I thought I’ll put forth some recommendations when dealing with divine art.
1. Foremost anyone who threatens an artist or encourages destruction of divine icons should be ostracised from the community. Iconoclastic behaviour should never be tolerated.
2. Regardless of skill, technique, manner, style, medium – so on, if a devotional artist calls there art that and is intended as a holy icon, it should be treated as such. It does not matter if they do not follow ‘traditional protocol’ or style, these works are sacred and free of criticism or personal opinion.
3. (Artistic) Constructive criticism is different from criticism and personal opinion. This is criticising the material side of art, how it is created, it is not criticising the content/context of the art. This form of criticism is to *better* the art and artists. To help in the future. In no way is this to be used as means to hurt the artist or diminish the sacredness of the work.
4. Regarding Graeco-gods and art. Greeks were unusual in terms of culture in that they broke from traditional protocol of icon making. One can see this in examining Greek art history, in the Archaic period they had symbolic styles akin to the Egyptians (who maintained their traditional expression for over 3,000 years!) Greeks, however, broke away from this and started “progressing” in terms of humanism and realism. This is usually divided into three epochs of Hellenic art: Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic – the latter usually merges and continues with Roman art. It is interesting to note that throughout history they went back in forth in terms of style, e.g. there are examples of Archaic style cult statues made in 1CE. This is to address the fact that art was not for viewing pleasure or entertainment, but holy expression. This expression was limitless, thus tradition gave way to expression – gods were/are depicted according to cult and artistic inspiration. Although we have plenty to look back too, I encourage free expression of the divine, even that which breaks artistic aesthetic of the Greeks, e.g., nude goddesses. The only authority of what is “proper form” is gods and the artist, if one does not like the depiction do not buy it or subscribe to it. It is that simple.
5. In many (most) polytheistic cultures there is no concept of *evil* like that found in monotheistic traditions. There is no black and white divide, good versus evil etc. Though there instances in religion when gods suffer some terrible event, even death at the hands of some adversary, this event becomes an important aspect of the god’s cultus, thus in such instances it may be acceptable to depict, and even give cultus to this adversary. A good example of this is The Toys of Dionysos that lead to the terrible death and cannibalism of my beloved Dionysos. In some variations of the myth Dionysos later learns to control and command the Toys and also the Titans that consumed him. Therefore the Toys and Titans become part of Dionysos’ retinue… to ignore this is to ignore an important aspect of the Mysteries and limits the gods’ teachings. The same can be said of other deities such as Set and Loki.
In the end only the artist and gods they are dealing with have authority on their art. Not the viewer, nor other artists, nor their mothers or fathers, nor the public or political authorities, nor fellow religious folk or rival religious folk. It is one of the very few forms that mortals are able to communicate with divine and to bring them forth into ‘reality’. No opinion or human insight can discount this holy act, in other words: Shut the fuck up!
I live a strange life and mostly rely on the donations of strangers to pay my way. Everything I do I try to make free for everyone. I do this by bringing our art out to the public and publish it online. I dedicate my time to art, religious and artistic mentoring and writing with no expectation of reward. I thank everyone that does contribute, you have my sincere gratitude.
If you’d like to contribute I have a patreon account (money I find myself reinvesting into the polytheist community) and have updated my Redbubble store with some new designs (I dare say they look super neat!) I also have art for sale and am accepting commissions.
As for my patreon I’d like to turn that into a kinda community, so I’m open to requests and questions!
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.
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.
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.
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.
That’s how easy it is! So no excuses or “Artist unknown” laziness!
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.
(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.
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
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 â€œHermesâ€ 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.
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.
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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.