Well. I suppose that this was bound to happen at some point.
As many of you are aware, I have been running an Etsy shop since August 2017* – so that comes out to just about a year now.
I had been planning on writing some sort of ‘shop anniversary’ post to that effect on my shop blog, along with promoting some new product offerings.
I’d also intended to spotlight my custom work option, as I had received my very first custom order back in June
Aside from it being my very first custom order, I was very excited for several other reasons –
- The custom order was going to feature runes! (Runes are – and have always been – one of my favorite subjects to embroider onto cloth, and my hand-embroidered rune cloths have continually garnered me a lot of compliments and have always sold well in the shop.)
- As well, the custom order was going to give me an opportunity to use my highest quality variegated threads, as the customer insisted that the item be hand-stitched entirely in organic cotton.
- And finally, in further discussion with the customer, I was told that this item – an embroidered altar cloth featuring a bindrune/sigil bordered by Elder Futhark runes – was being created at the request of a small Heathen kindred. The customer, it turned out, was not a Heathen himself; he informed me that he was a chaplain who claimed to be speaking in their stead, as this group of Heathen men wanted this devotional item to be created for their small worship space….in a halfway house in Kentucky. As a result, he implied that he was not familiar with their practices, he admitted to simply wanting to help ‘these fine men’ by finding ‘a skilled artisan to create something for their practice.’
So I emailed the chaplain the breakdown of my prices.
He had mentioned that he would be paying for the cloth ‘as a gift for them,’ as he implied that the men may not have their own means, so he was very concerned with keeping prices ‘affordable.’ He thanked me for understanding his position.
Having just gotten an embroidery machine, I offered him a deal that it might be cheaper – and a lot faster – to machine embroider the design on a cloth to keep the costs down.
But he insisted that ‘that they had insisted on everything being entirely hand-embroidered’ as ‘the men’ had especially liked [my] hand-embroidery work’.
In an effort to do this, he suggested that I simply customize an altar cloth with a hand-embroidered EF border that was already posted for sale in my shop (for $15 USD) by hand-stitching ‘the rune symbols [he’d] get from the men’ in the center.
So I told him that it would take me some time (about a week) to complete the hand-embroidering of an image of the size he’d specified (6″x6″) on the cloth, and I would charge him $25 for that, bringing the total cost to $40. I thought I was being fair
He said nothing regarding that price one way or the other, but he again reiterated ‘[his] position [that he] was ‘doing a favor for these men,’ and seemed to imply that I should see it as I’m doing a favor for them too, i.e ‘You are doing such a favor for these men – perhaps you will do me a favor too?’
Of course, I didn’t – and I still do not – have a problem with creating something for other Heathens to use.
So I asked him about thread colors and type – and he checked with the men – and responded that they’d specified that it should only be 100 organic cotton, in variegated blues, to match the border.
I told him that I would have to order a spool of 100% organic cotton in variegated blue…and reminded him that the already existing cloth he’d indicated that I customize was stitched in poly-cotton.
And I suggested that he might purchase that altar cloth for $15 as a start, or he could pay the $40 for it outright, and I would stitch the whole thing in 100% cotton once I received the thread (which would take another few days to arrive.)
And he seemed pleased with that. The custom order seemed a go, so far.
As a matter of fact, after going back and forth with the customer over the next few days after, his open-minded optimism was contagious, and I will admit that his rhetoric became more and more flattering. He thanked me for my ‘graciousness in taking on the custom order’, and he thanked me several times ‘on behalf of these grateful men,’ and he forwarded me the bindrune sigil that the men had requested be handstitched in the center.
I looked at it, seeing that Othala was the most prominent rune in the center of the bindrune
Now, while I know that Othala is referenced on the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Symbols Database, the website does recognize that runes are, by themselves, not racist symbols – but cautions that ‘the Nazis adopted this rune, among others, into their symbology, causing it to be a favorite symbol among white supremacists.‘ Therefore, the site does caution that many of the runic symbols should be considered in context with other symbols and phrases.
But, as Othala is a rune that is featured in the spelling of both Loki and Odin’s names – and I wear runic jewelry featuring their names – I would be hypocrite to be offended by Othala now, wouldn’t I?
(Actually, the central bindune itself struck me as possibly an attempt at making an almost-bindrune of Odin’s name, as it could almost pick out a Nauthiz in the angle on the left side – and of course, Isa as a straight vertical line could be said to appear in many other runes! – but I could find neither Thurisaz or Dagaz, so…hmmm)
So I looked at the phrase – for context – that arched over the bindrune.
It was in German.
How lucky of me to have been learning German, eh?
(I mean, I had just been winding my way through a module on ‘Spirituality words’ on Duolingo.)
It read Ehre und Treue
Upon Googling ‘Ehre‘….
‘Blut und Ehre‘ is the first entry to come up: “Blut und Ehre (English: Blood and Honor) is a German National Socialist (Nazi) political slogan used by Hitler Youth, among others.’
Um… there is no getting around that, I suppose. Ehre is always defined as honor... and it does seem to feature in a lot of white supremacist slogans, at least, according to Google.
(I double-checked with a few German speakers, just to make sure, and was told by a few that the exact words in that phrase, above -either spoken or written in German – are definitely frowned upon to a great degree.)
So. Honor and….
Now, Duolingo tags treue as translating to English as ‘faith’ as a primary definition in many of the word-lessons in the ‘Spirituality’
But again, Google has other ideas.
Treue is translated as loyalty.
Honor and loyalty.
First Google entry for German phrase containing ehre und treue?
*cross-references to a Wikipedia page about slogans pertaining to the SS*
*The ADL’s hate-symbols page – referencing variations on German phrases associated with the Waffen SS (the military wing of the SS) *
So that first custom order I was excited about?
Not so much.
Does the chaplain know?
He denies it. He denies knowing anything about the possibility that these men…could be white supremacists.
After all, he doesn’t know runes….and remember, he only wanted to ‘help these fine men.’
Perhaps I should be glad that he was reluctant to discuss payment.
He positively avoided it.
I think he might have been trying to convince me that I should give him a break and create this altar cloth for free, as a favor to him and as a favor to them.
Because they’re such fine men who like my work. And they don’t…have means of their own. Isn’t that enough?
But it’s just as well.
Because I’ll say it again:
I didn’t – and I still do not – have a problem with creating devotional items for other Heathens.
But some might take issue with the fact that, if given the choice, I am not keen on making devotional items for white supremacists.
1395 words later…thanks for reading!
* In case you did not know, I offer hand-embroidered (and now some machine embroidered) altar cloths and other devotional items, such as tarot bags, altar tokens, rune sets and the like.
The hate symbols! OMG, the list of what is not a hate symbol may be shorter than what is! LOL I had no idea about so many of them.
On the more serious note the symbol itself may giveaway the group. There was something on FB rune group you are also in, (not long ago) about Othala symbol. The one connected to Nazi was said to have the legs of Othala ‘hooked’ back up (not straight down). When you look the flags and stuff, that is what Nazi used.
I would to do the same, if not sure, stay away from it, not worthy of any money.
So, as you might imagine, I was really trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.
As well, in my excitement of receiving my first custom order, I was hoping against hope that they would not be white supremacists.
But yes – the Othala was ‘hooked’ – and that is why I looked to the ‘motto’ for context…again hoping against hope that these ‘fine men’ were not requesting that form of Othala on purpose. (I cannot tell you how often I have seen Othala jewelry being sold at Ren Faires and the like and the proprietor of the shops seemed shocked and distraught when I pointed out that that hooked form of Othala is not just a ‘fancy’ form of the rune)
So…it seems that they were/are white supremacists. But, according to the chaplain, they deny it vehemently. They claim to be former military men who just happen to be Heathens. But, because they have not paid for anything – and as I said in the post, I think the chaplain was hoping I’d just create this thing for them out of the goodness of my heart alone – I can refuse -and I have refused – to do it.
It still bothers me, though.
Thanks for your note!
Ugh, I didn’t see this until now… It is hard, the first custom order let go, I would be confused too, and the symbols…. I don’t know who is who any more. Take care
Good for you for sticking to your values. I’m sorry you had your hopes dashed, but at least you know you won’t be contributing your beautiful work to possible white supremacists.
Yes, thank you.
I felt ill considering that – before I saw that ‘custom bindrune’ – I was almost convinced to do the work as goodwill gesture for these ‘fellow Heathens.’ The chaplin was rather persuasive.
So glad that I did not fall for it.
Thanks for your supportive note.