Archives For Runes

There are lots of articles and essays of interest to modern Pagans out there, sometimes more than I can write about in-depth in any given week. So The Wild Hunt must unleash the hounds in order to round them all up.

That’s it for now! Feel free to discuss any of these links in the comments, some of these I may expand into longer posts as needed.

Offensive Runes?

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  November 7, 2007 — 1 Comment

Word has been spreading like wildfire through Heathen/Asatru Internet communities that the MySpace social networking site is now considering the display of runic symbols to be offensive and against the company’s terms of service.

“So this image is offensive, according to myspace. So its ok to have pornographic images and default pics of guys holding guns and masks? Please feel free to use this image in protest of these ridiculous regulations and REPOST so all can see this!!! Keep messaging myspace also; to show them we are still fighting the religion option…”

Old English Futhorc runes.

From what I have been able to figure out, the outcry started when a MySpace petition profile (now switched to a closed/private profile) to expand the religious labels for Pagan MySpacers beyond “Wiccan” or “Other” had its profile image removed by administrators due to its “offensive” nature. Since then there have been claims that other Heathen/Asatru profiles also had their runic symbols taken down.

“Recent whispers through out the Myspace Asatruar community, as of today, have several pictures removed from peoples profile where upon Runic symbols are present. Apparently it is now against the TOS here to use Runes to decorate the pages. I do rather suspect that this is due to those that use our symbols for hate agendas. With that said perhaps Myspace TOS staff need to educated themselves instead of pilfering intolerance based on ignorance!”

It is unclear at this point if this was a move solely on the part of MySpace administrators, or a response to individual user complaints (any MySpace user can report “offensive” content with the click of a button). The petition site has put its offending image back up (though, as I mentioned before, the page is now listed as “private”), and it remains to be seen if this was an isolated incident or if MySpace is now conflating the use of runes by some racist groups with the more benign uses by the larger Asatru/Heathen community. We will have to wait and see what develops in the near future.

A Few Quick Notes

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 28, 2007 — Leave a comment

A somewhat slow news day today, but there are a few smaller items that may be of interest.

The always-excellent legal blog “Religion Clause” has pointed out two recent legal cases of interest to modern Pagans. The first is a prisoner case involving an Asatru inmate:

“In Keen v. Noble, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69629 (ED CA, Sept. 20, 2007), a California federal district court refused to dismiss a federal prisoner’s complaint that his free exercise rights were violated when prison authorities refused to provide him with runestones for his Asatru religious practices. However the court agreed with a Magistrate’s recommendation to dismiss on qualified immunity grounds plaintiff’s complaint that he was denied a hof. The court also held that RFRA does not authorize the award of monetary damages.”

So it looks like Runes as a religious tool are allowed within prison (with qualifications for safety), opening a door for similar religious items for modern Pagans and Heathens. The second case, while not involving Paganism, does seem to settle a growing issue being pushed by some Christians.

“Rivera-Alicea v. Gonzalez-Galoffin, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69905 (D PR, Sept. 20, 2007), involves claims by a secretary in Puerto Rico’s Department of Justice that she was retaliated against for complaining that “pagan” office Halloween decorations offended her Pentecostal Christian religious beliefs. In rejecting plaintiff’s Establishment Clause claim, the Puerto Rico federal district court held: Halloween decorations, like valentines, Easter bunnies, and egg hunts are all secular displays and activities that neither convey religious messages nor constitute religious symbols. Halloween lost its religious and superstitious overtones long ago. It has become instead a commercial holiday enjoyed by communities in its many forms of entertainment.”

Secular Halloween decorations, despite the protestations of some conservative Christians, aren’t an endorsement of Pagan religion. Rulings like this may also protect Halloween decorations from the complaints of Pagans who find traditional Halloween decorations offensive.

Finally, for my academic-oriented readers, there is an open call for papers for a conference on the subject of religion in comic books and graphic novels. The conference, sponsored by the Luce Program in scripture and literary arts at Boston University, specifically points out that they are looking for works that explore Pagan forms of religiosity within comic books.

“We are particularly interested in the following works and topics, though others will be considered: … Pagan Missionaries: the works of Moore, Gaiman, and Morrison as mouthpieces for New Religious Movements.

So if you are an academic, and have been looking for a place to present that paper on Alan Moore’s “Promethea”, now is your chance.