Pagan Community Notes: Apparel company files to extend trademark on the term “heathen,” controversy over Nashville art college merging with Christian university, and more!

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A Thor’s Hammer pendant [Nyo, Wikimedia Commons]

TWH – Heathen Productions which produces the clothing line, Heathen Nation, has filed to extend its existing trademark that applies to clothing, footwear, and headgear to encompass stickers and a variety of beverageware and kitchen tools.

A number of Heathens and Pagans have posted on Facebook denouncing the application and urging others to sign a petition opposing the trademark registration.

The owner of the Heathen Productions, David A. Lancaster, filed for the original trademark of the term “heathen” in 2005 and it became accepted and registered 2006. That trademark only applied to apparel.

According to posts by others, Lancaster does not identify as following a Heathen spiritual path, but there have been accusations of him being a white supremacist. The Facebook page, Heathen Productions, does feature a couple of videos promoting T-shirts and tank tops with slogans like “Guilty of Being White,” and “Support Your Local White Boy,” but none of those items are currently for sale on their website.

Lancaster’s new trademark filing for the term “heathen” is broader. The new trademark was filed on September 20, 2019 and was published for opposition on January 21. The opposition periods run for approximately 60 days.

While under “goods and services” the filing lists only “stickers” and a variety of beverageware, the classification categories are very broad.

The sticker classification information under “international class” includes:

016 – Paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists’ materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); playing cards; printers’ type; printing blocks. – Paper, cardboard and goods made from these materials, not included in other classes; printed matter; bookbinding material; photographs; stationery; adhesives for stationery or household purposes; artists’ materials; paint brushes; typewriters and office requisites (except furniture); instructional and teaching material (except apparatus); plastic materials for packaging (not included in other classes); playing cards; printers’ type; printing blocks.

The beverageware classification information under “international class” includes:

021 – Household or kitchen utensils and containers (not of precious metal or coated therewith); combs and sponges; brushes (except paint brushes); brush-making materials; articles for cleaning purposes; steelwool; unworked or semi-worked glass (except glass used in building); glassware, porcelain and earthenware not included in other classes. – Household or kitchen utensils and containers (not of precious metal or coated therewith); combs and sponges; brushes (except paint brushes); brush-making materials; articles for cleaning purposes; steelwool; unworked or semi-worked glass (except glass used in building); glassware, porcelain and earthenware not included in other classes.

The Swedish company, Grimfrost, will file its own trademark application to protect the term “Heathen” in Europe. The situation is extremely complicated and Grimfrost issued a long statement on their blog about the situation and the action they are taking which are, in part, a response to Heathen Productions sending cease and desist letters.

TWH will continue to follow this story.

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Image credit: Tristan Mimet – CC BY 3.0,

NASHVILLE – Last week Belmont University announced that it was in the process of merging with the Watkins College of Art.

Belmont University is a Christian institution and has a policy of only employing faculty that embraces Christianity. In a town hall meeting last week, Belmont University provost Thomas Burns confirmed this when he said, “We do not hire people who are not Christian. So the ones who are not Christian will not be eligible to work at Belmont. That’s just part of who we are.”

On Saturday, Watkins President J. Kline sent an email to that seemed to be in direct opposition to earlier statements, “Because we recognize current Watkins employees could not control nor anticipate merging with a faith-based institution, it has been determined that special consideration will be given to current Watkins employees regardless of their position of faith.” 

Kline has received considerable criticism and pushback from students and the general community on the deal that has been struck with Belmont. A week prior a note had been circulated among faculty and students calling for a vote of no confidence for Kline due to him allegedly withholding information about the merger and the college’s financial issues.

An online petition was started by Quinn Dukes, an alumna of Watkins College and seeks answers to a number of questions, some of which were addressed at the town hall meeting, but also questions the sale of the property the school is on, and a number of other issues.

Students had a number of concerns, prominent among them were policies that might impact LGBTQ students. Jerrica Mayo, director of student life, asked a number of questions submitted to her by students. In response to concerns about protecting transgender and other LGBTQ students, Burns had this response: “Belmont University’s nondiscrimination policy states that we will not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. … Everybody — everybody — is absolutely welcome at Belmont University.”

Belmont has been in the news several times over actions that seem contrary to Burns’ statement. In 2010 the university forced out women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe after she announced she was going have a child with her same-sex partner. Initial reports said she was dismissed, then altered to say she resigned, and then finally in a joint statement with Howe and the university that stated her departure was neither a dismissal or resignation but reflected “the conclusion of Coach Lisa Howe’s employment at Belmont University.”

Students also had concerns about censorship and academic freedom. Burns responded with, “We do work with our faculty and our students to talk about appropriate presentations.” He continued, “As far as I know, we have never been accused of censoring our student work or our faculty work. We do engage in conversation about how we might modify language in productions or plays, for example, to make them appropriate for audiences. We do have children who come to plays, and we want to make sure they’re well-served as well as parents.”

And yet, in 2018 a theatre department production of the play, The Wolves, was moved off-campus due to Belmont administrators objecting to some of the profanity in the script. Administrators had requested two weeks before the play was set to open that the words of profanity be removed and replaced, but to do so would require written permission from the playwright.

The director, Jaclynn Jutting, rather than canceling the show, moved the production to Actors Bridge Studio, a longtime partner of the university. As a result, Jutting was not asked back the next year despite previously being on track to be tenured, and the university ended its long-standing relationship with the Actors Bridge Ensemble.

Other concerns are focused on the timing of such an announcement since students and faculty alike would be unable to enroll or find positions this late in the academic season.

Watkins’ closing adds to the growing list of art schools and institutes across the country that have closed in the past few years.

 

In other news:

  • Last month the Asgardian Heathen Festival announced it had canceled the event for 2020. This would’ve been the fourth year for the event which takes place in the United Kingdom. The group cited financial issues as the cause but has since taken down their event page on Facebook. No further details are currently available, but the group recommends another gathering, Sumarrblót Heathen Festival 2020, as an alternative.
  • Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England was searching for a new staff member for a fixed-term from March to October in the role of teaching imaginary students how to fly a broom, referee flying matches and even issue detention for those who misuse their magic. Sadly, the position has either already been filled or the response was so massive since the notice of vacancy has been removed from their jobs page.
  • Just two weeks after the murder of Homero Gómez, noted for his efforts to protect preserve Monarch butterflies and their sanctuary, the body of Raúl Hernández was found just five miles from the preserve. Hernández worked as a guide for the butterfly sanctuary and showed signs of violence. Authorities have not confirmed whether the two cases are connected. Amnesty International’s Americas director Erika Guevara-Rosas has cited the importance of environmental activists for preserving Mexico’s natural resources and is calling for the government and President López Obrador to guarantee safe conditions for those people working to preserve the environment.
  • After allegations of harassment of people of color by other concert-goers at their New York show was brought to their attention, the band Heilung issued a public statement on their Facebook page that said, in part: “Heilung is for ALL people, regardless of the color of the skin. And we are sorry that this happened at our show. We do not tolerate hate speech and racism. Anyone trying to fit the band into a political agenda of any sort has clearly not understood what Heilung is about. That includes but is certainly not limited to white supremacy. Heilung is none of it, and will have none of it. We do not tolerate display of divisiveness and hate in the audience at our rituals. Heilung is about something much older than today’s politics, which is why we do not include modern topics in our works. Heilung is about what brings us together. It’s about what we have in common, not what divides us.”
  • Penn State history and gender studies professor Dr. Martha Few examined the use of cacao by colonial Latin American women, and how they were frequently persecuted as “witches.” Few said, “I just noticed in the Inquisition testimonies chocolate coming up quite a lot.” Prof. Few noticed the connection while reading through Inquisition archives. Chocolate often appeared in the records as being described as a method for women performing magic spells.  According to Prof. Few this helped fuel European anxieties about ruling a majority non-white population, rife with women who were resistant to being ordered about. “It also became this flashpoint between social conflicts that were racial and gender conflicts,” says Few. The article details some of the history of Latin American culture and the role of chocolate and its connection to women and magic played.

 

Tarot of the week by Star Bustamonte

Deck: Triple Goddess Tarot by Jaymi Elford, artwork by Franco Rivolli, published by Lo Scarbeo

Card: Major arcana II (2), High Priestess

This week may offer opportunities to seek and experience a deeper connection with the Divine. It may also require listening to, and trusting, one’s inherent intuition to navigate the way forward. To ignore or disregard what is felt deeply this week would be foolhardy.

 

 

Decks generously provided by Asheville Raven & Crone.