The Swastika -or- How Cultural Appropriation Hurts

I know I’m a little late to the party in addressing Tom Swiss’ claim that cultural Appropriation does not exist from a couple weeks ago. While I do still stand by my comments that dreadlocked hair is a poor example of “cultural appropriation” of African-Americans (a claim which allegedly instigated his post), as locked hair does occur naturally on the Indian subcontinent and certain Eastern Europen populations, in addition to the African diaspora (it’s even been suggested that locked hair is the real-life origin of the Gorgon mythology of Hellas), I wanted to blog about possibly the most widely-known symbol appropriated in a harmful way by white people that very few people even acknowledge as appropriation:

Artemis as Mistress of the Animals, Boeotian vase, circa 650BCE

Artemis as Mistress of the Animals, Boeotian vase, circa 650BCE

The symbol of the swastika is literally thousands of years old, with the oldest example on ancient artefacts going back to paleolithic Ukraine, about 15,000 years, in a maiandros (“Greek key”) pattern on the torso of a bird figure alongside phallic symbols, suggesting it as a fertility symbol (thus it’s clearest relevance to this blog). Most of the history of the symbol has been relatively benign: It’s apparently decorative or ornamental, showing little indication of strong meaning.

Most defenders of the symbol point to Hinduism, where the Sanskrit name “svastika”, is often translated as “Be Well”, and used as a symbol of austerity, peace, happiness, positive spiritual power (especially when associated with Ganesha). It’s also been given solar associations, and in the States is often acknowledged as a symbol used in some Native American tribes. It probably entered use in Hellenic art from the cultural descendents of the Vinca.

The swastika has also been associated with the triskelion and triskele, common symbols in Pagan circles, with the Triskelion especially prevalent in Sicilian and Manx communities, as it’s a feature on their flags.

Greek Boeotian Kylix

Greek Boeotian Kylix

Appropriation.

While it’s been a long-established that the swastika is practically universal in its use, and one that has been established for having positive meanings and as a benign ornamental design for literally thousands of years, one thing that often gets ignored in defences of the symbol, is the fact that it’s only become so controversial in the West because of cultural appropriation. This fact is also often ignored in discussions of cultural appropriation and how it hurts.

While the symbol is practically universal to humankind, its use by the Third Reich was directly appropriated from its use in Hinduism. This is based largely on a bastardisation of linguistic connections between German and Sanskrit, and inherently racist misinterpretations of Sanskrit literature of the Arya. Hitler took the symbol most-directly from Indian culture as a symbol of political and military power, and with likely occult connotations that don’t actually exist in Hindu literature.

This is the very definition of cultural appropriation: Taking a symbol or cultural item from another culture, and inserting misunderstood, bastardised, or wholly invented meanings into it that the item did not possess, often while penalising the culture of origin.

In German, the Nazi symbol is referred to as the hakenkreuz, and I posit the use of this word to differentiate the Nazi symbol from the correct, traditional uses of the swastika, gammadion (“gamma cross” — a common name in the Anglosphere from the Victorian through 1920s, based on its resemblance to conjoined members of the letter Γ), and menandros symbols, and out of respect to Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain people, who successfully petitioned the EU to drop all plans to ban the swastika in its 25 nations — much like other polytheists have used the title “Daesh” to refer to the terrorist organisation out of respect to Kemetics, Graeco-Aegyptians, and others who honour the goddess Isis/Aset, Whose domains includes love and fertility, and Who is regarded as welcomming of all people, especially the persecuted. For the remainder of this blog, from this post onward, I will use this differentiating terminology.

The hakenkreuz was used less than thirty years as a symbol of Nazi power — less than thirty years! This is after centuries of use of the swastika by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains as a sacred religious symbol and good luck amulet. This is after centuries of use of the Whirling Log on Navajo blankets, and by other Indigenous tribes of the Americas for a wide variety of positive and benign meanings. This is after centuries of use of the gammadion and meandros borders in Hellenic and Graeco-Roman art. This is after centuries of use of the fylfot in heraldic European customs. In less than thirty years, Western people are willing to cave to cultural appropriation, take a symbol from its origins and meanings, and give it away to white Fascists.

This surrender to cultural appropriation is most glaring when the Navajo, Apache, Tohono O’odham, and Hopi tribes of the Americas issued this decree in the early days of WWII:

Because the above ornament which has been a symbol of friendship among our forefathers for many centuries has been desecrated recently by another nation of peoples.

Therefore it is resolved that henceforth from this date on and forever more our tribes renounce the use of the emblem commonly known today as the swastika or fylfot on our blankets, baskets, art objects, sandpainting, and clothing.

This was referenced to me, earlier today, as a decree of solidarity with the Jewish and Romani and others persecuted by the Nazis (and implicitly made by “all” Natives, though a basic websearch has revealed that only four tribes had representatives sign this decree, but you know, people with white privilege making “Native monolith” racist assumptions are nothing new, to me), but in reading this decree, the populations persecuted by the Nazis are not mentioned. All that is stated is that a few hand-picked representatives of a tiny handful of tribes were going to relinquish the symbol and surrender it to cultural appropriation.

This is how cultural appropriation is so insidious: Reading the background on this decree, it’s said that white tourists to Navajo and Hopi and other reservations became nervous and apprehensive at the symbol on blankets and other items for sale. This was financially penalising Native tribes for their use of a symbol that they had used for centuries, that they had joyfully sold to those same tourists only a few years before, because the symbol had been bastardised in just the wrong way by powerful white people! The tribes were left with little choice BUT to surrender the symbol for their livlihoods!

Surrenders of the symbol to cultural appropriation are not limited there; Wikipedia has a very lengthy section of their page on use of the swastika in the West specifically about efforts, largely in the United States, to remove the swastika from historical structures. A search for “Hindu Swastika news” turned up an article about privileged soccer moms of Orange County pressuring a museum to remove a Hindu tapestry, lent by a local family, even though there was a plaque explaining the history of the symbol and its meanings in Hindu culture.

This is EXACTLY the thing that many have talked about over the last two weeks about the definition of cultural appropriation — penalising members of the culture(s) or origin for use of the appropriated symbol.

While it would be disingenuous to not acknowledge that, yes, the hakenkreuz continues to be used by Neonazis and Fascists (and the meandros even appropriated by Greek nationalist fascists), it is equally disingenuous to ignore the fact that it is cultural appropriation when they do so. The fact remains that cultural appropriation is a tool often used by racists, and side-swiping or even ignoring the fact that the Nazi hakenkreuz has been appropriated from Hindu symbolism is, at best, ignorant “accidental racism”, in that it’s giving preference to the white appropriators to the symbol that they stole!

When people reach a point where they are flat-out committing racism to avoid criticism of their ignorant opinions of the swastika, which they’ve decided is the same thing as the Nazi hakenkreuz, the surrender to cultural appropriation has become so insideous that I just don’t have words.

And, to make matters worse, in the West, that surrender to appropriation is so prevalent, that people who should know better, like people in the Pagan community, will avoid calling it the cultural appropriation that it is, either out of ignorance, or out of a useless sense of “white guilt” and fear of being accused, themselves, of being racists, when anyone with any sense will acknowledge that it’s the exact opposite.

The push to acknowledge that cultural appropriation does cause real harm to the cultures stolen from is, at its heart, a movement to avoid this again, but it really cannot be usefully addressed without acknowledging the appropriation of the swastika to the Nazi hakenkreuz as the most glaring example of how cultural appropriation is a tool of institutionalised racism that hurts people on an individual level and entire cultures outside of mainsteam Western whites.

By failing to defend the proper use of the swastika, and by failing to differentiate it from the Nazi hakenkreuz, one continues to surrender the symbol to cultural appropriation, and thus continues an act of institutionalised racism so insideous that one will fight tooth and nail to defend that racism.


About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

’tis the season to make art….

Like Dver at A Forest Door, winter has oddly been the time of the year I feel most tuned in to Apollon (or well, well, as she did before said devotional relationship ended). This regularly perplexes me, as I’ve made no secret of my seasonal depression (where Winter is my season), nor my chronic back pain (which gets worse in cold weather), but on the better days during the winter, I try to use that closeness to get some time with the Moisai of art. In fact, since my schedule tends to wind down a bit in winter, I’ve been making efforts to schedule in some art time.

As you all probably know by now, I write, paint, and make music, in addition to running my mouth on the Internet, updating a calendar by hand, pressing buttons (some of which I even design, myself!), and sculpting Hellenic Alphabet divination tiles out of polymer clay. Sometimes I also just get a thing of Sculpey and make about a dozen tiny penises. Oh, and if you were at the Polytheist Leadership Conference at Fishkill, NY, this last summer, you just might remember my bag that I took a Bedazzler and Polari to.

I bring this up now because I’m too excited by one of my luckiest finds I ever did find:

At my friend Kelly’s shop, I ran into an old acquaintance. I don’t think he recognised me, but it’s been at least five years (three-and-a-half of which, I was in Lansing) and one public appearance of gender ago, and while we saw each other in a lot of the same places, we were never really friends, but I digress. So, apparently he and his boyfriend are leaving for California tomorrow or something, so he was at Kelly’s shop to see if she wanted to buy, or at least do anything with a small bundle of vintage clothing and five or six mannequin torsos.

Kelly took the clothes, but really had no use for the torsos, as a few of them weren’t free-standing or were “too modern”. Lesley, the employee she had in today, bought the gold one, cos why not, right? And I offered all the cash I had on me (which was only $8) for this one, after it was suggested that he was just going to leave the box of torsos out by the kerb with a “FREE” sign. I knew from walking in at the middle of the convo that he and his boyfriend were going to be driving to California, so I figured the cash could be a help, even if it wasn’t that much, and honestly, while I could’ve waited a few minutes for her to go for free, I didn’t want to risk someone else snatching her up or some jackass student picking her out and smashing her (it may have only been about 6 in the afternoon, but that kind of shit’s been known to happen on a Monday in downtown Ann Arbor).

And I picked her out not just for the clear Erté-influence to her design, but because I got an immediate vision.

A lot of my paintings were planned exactly as they look (more or less), and this started when I went to the store for canvases and went looking through each one until I found one that I saw a painting on. I know that probably sounds nuts to a lot of people, but it’s how I work, and considering that I really love most of my paintings, I’m not going to argue with this process. That’s the sort of thing happened with this mannequin.

My acquaintance named her Prudence, but the vibe I got right away was Aphrodite Melainis. I know exactly what colours I’m going to use, which paints will be glitter and which will be satins or gloss. I know how many rhinestones I’m going to applique and in what patterns. The only thing I don’t know is how long it’s going to take me to find her a lower body and arms (but I know there are certainly mannequin collectors where I can eventually procure these parts from), nor do I exactly know how those parts look (she has sockets for them, so clearly she had them at one time, and can eventually have them again), but I know how I’m going to paint those parts and how I’ll embellish on them.

She’s a project that is probably going to take years, maybe even the better part of the next decade or two, to complete, but it’ll be worth it. It’s also brutally important, at this point, that I sell some paintings to help fund this project. It’ll all be worth it, of course, and the uncertainty of my abilities to complete her is obviously no reason to not start as soon as possible. After I clear her up some, I’m going to take a few clear images and do a thorough search for any identifying marks so I can make it easier to hunt down her maker and model names, if only to streamline my search for her missing lower half and arms. After I’ve got the photos and any other information that can help my search for an “official” identity, I’m going to start working on her transformation to Melainis. I’m also going to crack down on getting my room in order, if only so that I have space for her and her progress.

At this time, this is probably the most important piece of art I’ve decided to take on.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

i did this other thing

1416796998232-686027108

The Muse Whispers to Hesiod

I’m thinking of punching a few small, unobtrusive holes along the bottom and selling it with a printed calendar. I’d include four sets of Command strips to post it to the wall without damaging it. After the calendar is over, the painting itself would be suitable for framing.

ETA: You can’t tell from the photo (I’m going to wait until it’s completely dry to scan it), but the Muse’s colours are all mixed with an iridescent/sparkly medium, so She shimmers. I hope it shows up better in the scan, tomorrow.


If you love my art and want to see me be able to continue, please consider becoming a Patreon donor.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

hey, look at what I just did…

Pic 004

If you want to get this set, go here. Hey! Someone snatched them up, already! On the good side, I was planning to go to Michael’s and get more Sculpey, anyway (I have a coupon for there that expires this week), so after I make more, I’m going to post that set. 🙂

hermes

…and if you want my Hermes painting, go here.

My Apollon painting is still available here. You can also get a PDF download of the New Boeotian Calendar here.

Also, if you’re at all interested in the tiles I accidentally burnt, you can see them here. I’m only charging $5 to cover the P&P. If no-one claims them in a week, I’ll sell the first set I made, instead, and keep these ones. They’re still perfectly useful, they just aren’t as pretty as I’d hoped they’d be.

ETA: Did I forget to mention that there’s also a shit-tonne of Hellenic and other polytheist badges (and many more to come!) in the Religion & Magic section of my button shop?

Also: hey, did you see this Patreon thing?

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

So far, so good, for the calendar

So far, I’ve sold two copies of the calendar PDF! This is actually a lot better than I expected, especially in the first week.

The first of Boukatios starts 22 December 2014, so there’s still plenty of time to grab one, and at only $4, it’s cheaper than most eBooks.

My Nigel is due for his distemper booster this November/December, so the more I can sell before then, the better.

Also still seeking divination exchange with people. I’ll take any skill level, it’s just you read for me, I’ll read for you.

I overslept, today, and considering the bus being late every time since privatisation a few years ago, at this point I can either shower shower and get the bread and razor blades I need, *or* I can go to the radio station –and yesterday, I took the day off from the radio station to rest and sleep. So having two or three days of a week that I can set aside to paint would be great.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Anyone want to do a divination exchange?

I’m still trying to familiarise myself with the Hellenic Alphabet system, and I could really use a bit of Divinely-guided advice for 2-3 days of the week I could set aside to paint.

See, I cut a deal to land this place in downtown Ypsilanti, MI, and the deal was that I had to start painting again. While I totally intend to keep up my end of the deal, I’ve been having issues with budgeting my time for it, and while I’ve got another deal with Hedone to finally get around to doing many of the things I’ve been wanting to do for years (but just didn’t for lots of reasons), I gotta hold good on the deal to paint, cos I’m seriously starting to suspect that there’s a Divine conspiracy hatching to keep me away from the radio station so I have no choice but to paint. This is going on my second week in a row where I’m going to barely be at WCBN, which I’m not liking, so I want to see if my suspicions are correct, or if this is just one of those fortnights where everything just coincidentally happened. Either way, it’ll get me on a schedule to paint a few days a week, so I can plan most other things around that.

So if you think you could use some practise with a new system, or if you want to do a divination for me in exchange for an otherwise-free Hellenic alphabet divination from myself, let me know. I just want to know which two or three days a week would be best for painting, and I’m hoping to take up to four people’s divinations for this and take the top two or three days –meaning I’ll give an otherwise-free HAO divination for up to four people. I’ll get at least three days that should be good for painting, and I’ll get a bit of practise in for this system.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

All in the service of Eros’ radiant Daughter

So I’ve been doing things lately. Things that I have been wanting to do for some years now, but for reasons never went forth to do. Some of it was environmental depression, some of it was inertia, some of it was a touch of fear that i couldn’t, or perhaps shouldn’t.

One item is something that I’ve actually had planned out in my head for about ten years, but for reasons, never thought I could ever do, or should ever do until I moved back to the area and got the “go ahead” from Hedone. I’m currently hoping to raise funds for a quarterly event called The Tomb. I’m mentioning this here for two reasons: First, I’ve only got about a month left to raise the bare minimum of money needed, and two, if this event can take off, I will begin each night with a libation to Nyx and Hedone, seasonal deities, and local spirits and local heroes and ancestors.

I’m also now officially volunteering at the local Ann Arbor “uni station”, WCBN. It’s one of less than a dozen truly free-form radio stations left in the United States. The volunteer position I signed up for will eventually get me an on-air slot, probably very late at night, to start, and it’s encouraged that my demo tape (which has to be done on a compact audio casette —it’s *that* old-school) be as unstructured as possible, with a healthy selection from the WCBN library. I’m planning, once i get on the air, of letting Apollon guide my selections for the block. As I’ve wanted to do this for at least the last six or seven years, I’m also making an offering of incense to Hedone before i go to volunteer my time at WCBN.

(As an aside, especially if you haven’t clicked on the link to WCBN’s official site, yet, you can listen online, and if you have an Android phone, they also have a free app to listen.)

Things have also mostly settled down after the move and I can finally schedule in time for writing and painting and even music!

Also, i know I’ve been going on about it for some time now, but tomorrow I’m going to set aside some time to post all the art I have for sale, and maybe later in the week I can go through some ritual items and see what I want or need to sell and what I want or need to keep, and get those things up, too. I haven’t accumulated much, mostly cos money, but I have reached a point where I might have more than I need right now.

Off to go do my weekly 90 minutes of work! Whee!

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

You look like a lady….

Adonis and Phoenix, 2006, Ruadhán J McElroy

Adonis and Phoenix, 2006, Ruadhán J McElroy

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 5 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) :
“Adonis, having become androgynous, behaved as a man for Aphrodite and as a woman for Apollon.”

My head is bad(?) my mind’s all through
Ain’t been so stoned since i was new
The streets are cold the people are too
Ah but you look like a lady, let me sing my songs to you

can’t find a place to lay me down
can’t find a face without a frown
can’t find a hand i can hold to
ah but you look like a lady, let me sing my songs to you

there is no love that i can find
there are no friends to share my wine
tomorrow’s dead and yesterday too
but you look like a lady let me sing my songs to you

if i could live my life again
a yellow bird i would have been
flying high and flying true
ah but you look like a lady let me sing my songs to you

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

The Moisai and My Creative Process

I’m a creative person, as I’m sure several people who read this already know. I’ve made music, I’ve painted, I’ve written both poetry and fiction, and I will continue to do all of that in the very near and long projected future, if I have anything to say about it.

I’m still not very sure how this works for me: Do the Moisai whisper me directly, or send spirits? Do They break out Their Holiest Hand-Puppets and put on a show for me? and then I’m compelled to writ it out? Maybe a mix of things, depending on what I’m doing. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to go with the latter assumption than any former assumption; it just makes sense.

When I’m making music, I just let the Moisa take over. Whether it’s completely improvised (like with “music for Un Chien Andalou) or carefully crafted with guided intentions (like with any of the bands I’ve been in), I surrender. Music, any music, is sacred to me in that way. It’s best approached, as a musician, by letting the Moisa take over, letting Apollon conduct the instrument that is that sacred orchestra of Their voices and Their hands on instruments, and letting myself become a vessel for that din glorious. Considering the music that I’ve earned a few listens on Last.FM for, or even my approach to performing when I’ve been in a real band, I don’t know this austere, “classical music only” Apollon that the pagan community seems to have a raging boner for (I largely blame Nietzsche, and more importantly, Joseph Campbell’s and Isaac Bonewits’ citation of influence from Nietzsche), I know the real musician, the one consumed by His craft —and I’ve talked about this before— and I digress. My Moisa, the Moisai, She or They just take over when I’m doing music. I prefer not to negotiate the experience, and that may be one of the reasons I can be hard to work with in a band, but my favourite fellow musicians are also notorious “perfectionists” who demand that they craft under their preferred conditions, unwilling to compromise the integrity of the work in order to maintain a single line-up throughout their careers (except for Pete Townshend, but he’s kind of an anomaly to all this).

Picture 015When I paint, it starts with “the itch”. This isn’t a physical itching, but the Moisa itching at my brain, telling me to paint. I go to the store for a canvas, and look through them all —every single canvas, not just the variants in size— until I can see the painting. It’s somewhat literal, at times. My Hyakintos painting was detailed down to the tiniest detail; Eros I saw on the canvas only slightly different from how He ended up there, but those differences were guided as I painted. I’m sure I look half crazed looking at every blank canvas at Jo-Ann and Michael’s, sometimes more than once, looking for my painting before I’ve even painted it, but that’s just how it works out. I don’t allow myself much say in paintings, as far as composition of elements is concerned; I will negotiate colours, when I feel like it (that’s why my Hekate ends up coloured like The Afghan Girl, cos I’d been reading about that photograph earlier in the day and found it really striking, and wanted to pay subtle tribute), but for the most part, that’s it.

Writing poetry is Moisa-guided, but highly disciplined and I work a lot of it out, myself. I get flashes of imagery, and ideas of what to say, but how I say it, I work out on my own, and I can spend weeks on a few lines, coming back, even after i’ve written more, and tweak them just a bit at a time, for not only metre but nuance. It’s about saying the exact words I mean to say; this has also seeped into other writing I do, and why I can get so annoyed when people would rather argue with what they think I’m saying, and not what I actually said; I said it the way I did for a very good reason, so pay attention to that, and leave your assumptions out of it. Again, I digress….

Jace Hanvey and Henri

by Susie Beeca

My stories, my fiction, that’s where it can seem to get weird. It’s guided, but I treat each character as its own spirit; at some point in the writing, the character definitely feels like an entity outside myself, that I can sit down and talk to about what needs to go into the story and what can be saved for later. At some early, but not usually initial stage of writing that character, I get very clear mental images of how the character looks, and I don’t think these are people i’ve seen before; some faces, at best, are composites of many faces. Each “spirit” gives me the character’s birthday, and something of a family history, though sometimes details of that family will come later. As I write, I get to know each one, their hopes, their dreams, their favourite films and bands and books —sometimes things I’ve never read nor watched nor even really listened to, but I usually will shortly after learning this, just to get a better idea of who this character is. Sometimes personalities are clearly things that were born of certain elements of myself, but to write the characters best, I have to behave as if this character’s “spirit” is no longer simply an aspect of myself with other interesting things thrown in, that whether it’s a unique spirit, or some puppet show of the Moisai orchestrated to make me a better writer, I neither know nor care, cos at this point, it’s clear to me that this is simply how I have to treat the character to write about them.

This, obviously, is where I have some sympathy of the “pop culture pagans”, cos really, at some point, it sure as hell feels like I’m writing about things I have little say in, that these characters develop something of their own spirit outside myself, cos to best write about them, I have to treat them like that. Sometimes I can try like hell to call them up, and they won’t show up until I’m in the shower or out for breakfast with friends, or otherwise doing something where it’s too inconvenient to write. On the other hand, I gotta side with Alan Moore about the “gods or superheroes” topic, cos well, for starters, look at him, would you argue with Alan Moore?

alan-moore1

…and secondly, and most importantly, it’s most-like the conclusion I’ve come to, myself, after years of experience. Fiction can very well create entities that are greater than the work of fiction itself, but then there are “entities” created by fiction that exist only to make money for big corporations that exist for making money. And there is a BIG difference between an entity worthy of worship and an entity that exists only as much as Capitalism wants it to. I don’t know if Jace Hanvey is some new god in his infancy, or if he’s just a spirit that manifested from some writing I felt compelled to do, or if his existence is, literally, some metaphysical hand-puppet of the Moisai, but I know I’m supposed to tell his story as it’s been told to me. And i have to tell Henri’s. And Dougan’s. And Pyee’s. And Dubhan’s. And all these other characters that I feel compelled to write about.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Before I get to work on the calendar….

Would anybody buy a calendar that’s hand-painted?

I was thinking, if I were to do this, it would be like how Dver used to offer tear-off calendars with the looped binding, only more like:

So, I’d punch holes into a discrete location at the bottom of the painting (I do my watercolours on heavy paper), and then through the calendar top. To save on shipping, I’d throw in some of those little button-style paper fasteners, so it would be “some assembly required”, but you’d get a calendar and a one-of-a-kind painting.

What would be a fair price on something like this be? more importantly, what would the shipping be like? I’m thinking $45 for the base price of the calendar and painting, but shipping arrangements and costs are stumping me, and I think international shipping might prove prohibitive to anybody below an upper middle class income (for clarification, that would be like the Huxtable parents on The Cosby Show). If anybody’s done something like this, advice is totally welcomed. Ideas for paintings would be nice, too, but unnecessary, as I’ve got plenty of ideas already. Ideas like:

*Hesiod
*Phoenix
*Corinna of Tanagra
*Hedone

Just cos of time constraints and upcoming surgery on my painting hand, I won’t do more than two, and that’s even assuming I get any done. This is more just putting a toe in the waters to see if there’s much interest, and if there is, it’ll be a swift kick in the pants to get something done. And like I said, i want to get an idea what shipping should be, before I actually do it, so I know what to put in the Etsy listing.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.