Scottish Academic: Runes are Hate Symbols, also Anti-Celtic

A free download from the journal Temenos: “Pagans, Nazis, Gaels, and the Algiz Rune: Addressing Questions of Historical Inaccuracy, Cultural Appropriation, and the Arguable Use of Hate Symbols at the Festivals of Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Society”

The abstract:

Although Beltaners – members of Edinburgh’s Beltane Fire Society (BFS) – can trace the immediate origins of their society’s festivals to the collaborative efforts of anarchist performance artists and folklorists reacting against the Thatcherite government policies of the late 1980s, the ritual celebrations they routinely re-enact in the present ultimately derive from much older traditions associated with Scotland’s highly minoritised Gaelic-speaking population, a cohort to which few modern Beltaners belong. Performers at today’s festivals often incorporate runes into their regalia – a practice which does not reflect Gaelic tradition, but which is not unknown among ideologues of the far right. This paper interrogates rune use at BFS festivals, asking whether the employment of Germanic cultural elements in Celtic festivals by non-Celtic-speakers represents a distortion of history and debasement of an embattled ethnic minority, and whether it is ethically acceptable for an explicitly anti-racist organisation to share a symbolic repertoire with representatives of known hate groups.

Based on data derived from fieldwork consisting chiefly of participant observation and on the consultation of relevant academic literature, this paper evaluates the potentially problematic nature of BFS ritual performers’ rune use and related behaviours by analysing the intentions that underlie their actions, the consequences that have resulted from them, and the historical interaction of runes, ethnonationalism, and the occult that has shaped perceptions of runic meaning among those who use runes in modern times.

The runes may be part of your spiritual practice, or maybe you enjoy their literary history, but watch out: Adam Dahmer thinks that they are “problematic.”

4 thoughts on “Scottish Academic: Runes are Hate Symbols, also Anti-Celtic

  1. Kalinysta

    Runes are not hate symbols, but they can be USED as hate symbols, just as the Roman alphabet, or any alphabet can be used as hate symbols.

  2. Allegra DiNetta

    Maybe I’m interpreting this wrong but it seems like his desire for cultural purity is kind of at odds with his supposed dislike of Nazis.

  3. My impression after reading the whole paper was that he jumped on the brakes at the conclusion. He realized that he could end up offending some of the Edinburgh “Beltaners,” and so his conclusion can be read as “But the Beltaners are cool people, anticapitalist and all that, so there really is no problem with what they do.”

    1. Kalinysta

      Sounds like he should’ve had an editor read the paper before it was published to point that out.

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