Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.

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Steven Posch

Steven Posch

Poet, scholar and storyteller Steven Posch was raised in the hardwood forests of western Pennsylvania by white-tailed deer. (That's the story, anyway.) He emigrated to Paganistan in 1979 and by sheer dint of personality has become one of Lake Country's foremost men-in-black. He is current keeper of the Minnesota Ooser.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Those Wacky Non-Pagans

 

Who you callin' 'cowan'?”  (Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin, Masters of Solitude) 

Every community has one: a name for Them. You know, those “Not Us” People. In this, pagans are just like everyone else. Who are they, those mysterious non-pagans?

Non-Pagans. A term for when you need to sound neutral (or polite). Most non-pagans that I know are pretty amused to learn that they're non-pagans. Long-time resident in the pagan ghetto that I am, I appreciate the educative value of “non-pagan.” (Let's hear it for paganonormativity.) Mostly, though, this is an “inside-looking-out” term; I don't generally use it when speaking with fellow normos.

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  • Linette
    Linette says #
    I'm loving the "Darrens" idea. Thanks for the smiles this is bringing me.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Goat-Man of the Hindu Kush

The Kalasha are the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush. Numbering about 4000, in three adjoining valleys in northwest Pakistan, they are known for their proud polytheism, the freedom (and beauty) of their women, and their wine-drinking.

The Kalasha are a transhumant society. In the spring, the young men take the herds of sheep and goats up to the high mountain pastures, where they spend the entire summer and autumn. In late October, they return, just in time for the Prun, the three-day harvest festival that marks the end of the growing season, the return of the flocks, and the first drinking of the New Wine, led by a mysterious figure called the Budálak, the Goat-Man.

The Budálak wears horns and goat-skins, and on the third and final night of the festival, as drums throb around the bonfires and wine flows freely, the women garland him and he joins their wild dance. He is the embodiment of the purity, fertility, and rampant maleness of the high mountains, the realm of the peri (“fairies”), and his role is to transmit this fruitfulness to the entire community.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Zap the World!

65 years ago the number of new pagans in the world was negligible. Now we number (possibly) in the (low) tens of millions, in (probably) every country of the world. (Did you know that there are New Pagan movements in virtually all of the Turkic-speaking countries of Central Asia? G****e Tengrism.) (Tengri = Blue Father Sky.) In the course of the history of religions, that's really pretty remarkable. How in the world did it happen?

According to Sparky T. Rabbit, it's a spell.

Yes, folks, Gerald Gardner cast a spell and zap! Here we are.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    A tale lyrically told, Linette, and all the better for being true. I join my voice to yours.
  • Linette
    Linette says #
    When I was a kid, even a very little kid, I had this "thing" I did with the Universe. This very wonderful innate relationship wher
The People of the Black-Handled Knife: A Folk-tale of the Latter-Day Hwicce

They say that back in the dawn of days, She of the Moon conceived a desire to divide This from That.

She went to the stag and said, "Stag, give me your antler, that I may divide This from That."

The stag gave her his antler, and from this she made a knife. But when she went to divide This from That, lo! the knife broke in her hand. 

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Stang-Smith: An Interview with Tveir Hrafnar's Aidan Wachter

The stang as icon has been around the Old Craft neck of the woods for decades (if not centuries) now, but the first (to the best of my knowledge, at any rate) to translate it into jewelry is silversmith Aidan Wachter of Tennessee. As even the most cursory glance at his on-line atelier Tveir Hrafnar (that's “Two Ravens,” for those of you who didn't happen to grow up speaking Old Norse) shows, his jewelry and sigils are characterized by bold, minimalist design and precision detailing.

Aidan, how did you come to silver-smithing?

I lucked into meeting and becoming good friends with symbolic jeweler Mark Defrates when I moved to New Orleans in the early 90’s. At one point he needed help in his shop and that is where I first learned the craft.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Aidan. I've made the correction above as well. And just to add: if you think the picture above is beautiful, folks, just
  • Aidan
    Aidan says #
    Hi, this is Aidan Wachter- a friend just pointed out that the link above is broken. The address is: www.tveirhrafnar.com Thank yo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Osculum Infame

Warning: Contains material some readers may find offensive.

You've heard the stories. Do you know what those wacky-ass witches do at their sabbats? They actually kiss the Devil's hairy bung-hole: the Kiss in tergo, as the chroniclers coyly put it.

Ah, yes: the osculum infame, “the notorious kiss,” as it's known. You might think that this is one of the parts of medieval witchery that didn't quite make it to the modern witchcraft revival, but I think that you'd be wrong on that count. Twelve'll get you thirteen that the good old Kiss from Behind is ancestral to the Book of Shadows' Fivefold Kiss. Breathes there a Wiccan who would admit it, though? 

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  • Perimede
    Perimede says #
    Well, I've certainly been colder than the North slope of one. Can't wait.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Perimede, I'm going to be quoting you on that one: thanks. Wait till you see the one on "witches' tits"!
  • Perimede
    Perimede says #
    (lol) Opening your blog in the morning is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. Ya' never know what you're going to get. But i

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witch Bread

In her 2004 novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke cites a proverb of her alternate-history 19th-century, Napoleonic Era England:

The priest plants wheat, the witch plants rye.

Clarke reads this as meaning that "Some people just can't agree on anything." But I think there's more to it than that.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Yeah, white bread's for gentry, not for the likes of us wart-charmers. Wheat is finicky and has a long growing season; rye is basi
  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    There was another factor involved, cost. For those that lived in town, wheat bread was more expensive than rye bread, and white br

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