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.
My email: firstname.lastname@example.org
My twitter handle: @DionysianArtist
My tumblr: https://dionysianartist.tumblr.com
I have Instagram but don’t like it much, plus it is owned by facebook. My handle is markos.gage
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.
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.
(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, 6:16pmNew 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.
Michela, October 1, 7:26pmHi 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 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.
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.
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Recently I was made aware of Chicago Antifascists shutting down “Neo-folk” performers they have deemed as fascist. As such I think this merits a quick statement:
The Dionysian Artist known as Δ is apolitical unless art, especially forms of devotional art, is under attack by any party. The art presented may be something that Δ does not support, nor appreciate, but any form of censorship is unacceptable. This is as political as Δ gets.
This is simple to understand. Art transcends time, it represents cultural epochs and history, without it we cannot learn and educate ourselves for betterment.
One of the worst WW2 cultural atrocities was the Nazi destruction of “degenerate art”, and likewise, one of the worst post WW2 cultural atrocities, performed by US soldiers, was the destruction of many Nazi artworks, especially the work by Arno Breker.
Both instances of destruction are as bad as each other.
Therefore I condemn the actions of the Chicago Antifa and instead recommend that they commit their energy, passion and time to counter these so-called “Neo-folk fascists” with their own art.
EDIT: I’m part of an on going conversation on facebook, with most agreeing with Antifa and their actions. I did some digging around – because I don’t just go with antifa hyperbole statements – this is my conclusion:
“Late last night I attempted to do some research on this, as it’s topics of personal focus – art censorship and paganism. First off the bat, I don’t know their music. However Blood and Sun fans claim it is NOT neo-nazi, but pagan music. I’m curious if any commentators here have actually listened to the band’s music?
-Other than some comments and two photos (being described as “a lot” by antifa, when no it’s actually just two photos being cited) the lead singer appears to have no links to neo-nazi, nor claims to be one. He even released a statement saying such.
-I am as a profession a public performer and have countless people pose with me, they request I put my arms around them and look like buddies, I don’t know these people. Maybe they are neo-nazi? But being photographed with them does not mean anything. A performer has no control of the ideologies of their fans and in the Heathen demographic there is always some bad eggs.
-The valknut tattoo being pointed out in the article as a nazi symbol is a religious symbol of heathens, it is not a nazi symbol. It is commonly used by many heathens today. Including those who identify as antifa heathens.
-From what I can see, (it’s really hard to read through the hyperbole of the antifa,) it appears the tour was cancelled because antifa groups were threatening violence against concert goers and the band. One audience member claims that antifa assaulted the band on stage earlier in December. Performance venues here in Australian, and I’m supposing definitely in the US, are very cautious of any threats of violence due to the extreme terrorism culture we live in now, so it’s their responsibility to cancel shows they deem dangerous to participants.
If commentators here want to just read the statements from the antifa groups and run with it, fine. But what I’m seeing here is bullying, harassment, loss of income, doxing and encouraging violence against a pagan artist. This has been a concerning feature of the pagan community for the last few years, I’ve seen the same form of harassment happen to friends I’ve known for many years and know for a FACT that they are not neo-nazi, but are being labelled fascist because they have some opinion contrary to antifa pagan groups.”
In October 2015 I encountered an issue with Society6 effectively banning me from using the name Hermes due to automatic censors. This unresolved issue is related to the trademark of the name, possibly from the French clothing and accessory brand Hermès. This was reported on The Wild Hunt.
Over on facebook, a friend and a co-owner of The Vodou Store, Caeli D’Anto has also been dealing with a similar problem. PayPal blocked a transaction because the item description used the name Isis.
Terrorism is a valid fear in our communities, especially these morons blowing up sacred spaces, destroying history and killing the living. However we have to be aware of how much power they have over us through our own actions. Banning commonly used words and names from important internet infrastructure like PayPal is crippling our way of life and preventing honest, non-deviant business owners and customers from basic services agreed upon by PayPal’s TOS.
Words/names like Hermes and Isis are blacklisted and processed by an unthinking machine that cannot differentiate the complex and contextual meaning of words. What’s more they are sacred names, names of deities that have been used for thousands upon thousands of years. Names that are still used by Pagans and Polytheists to worship and honour their gods. It’s only in the last two years that the name Isis has been stigmatised by the Western Media.
Lastly, I admit I’m no anti-terrorist adviser but given that the Daesh cut out peoples tongues for speaking or referring to them as ISIS I seriously doubt they’d be stupid enough to use the acronym for terrorist online fundraisers… This all seems so nonsensical it’s making PayPal look dumber than the Daesh.
EDIT more info: Caeli D’Anto gave more insight into this issue:
Great post! Although it was actually 3 transactions that were declined. The worst part is that we would have never known had it not be for one of our customers contacting us letting us know that they couldn’t make a purchase. When I contacted PayPal, the rep mentioned that it “might be” because of the word Isis. They issued a ticket and they came back stating that they already declined the transaction so there is nothing they could do. They wanted to approvals of transactions on a per order basis which would have been an impossible task as we wouldn’t have known that people weren’t able to place orders. PayPal was the only one that had access to that information but only after the transaction was declined. It took many calls to get this resolved.