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.

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Pagan Pride (or: We Did It First)

A while back I had a call from my friend and colleague, Macha Nightmare. She'd gotten a new book deal and was looking for reasons to feel good about being pagan. As is usual in these situations, she was consulting with her peers. That's kind of how elder-ocracies like the paganisms tend to work.

“Well, we did a lot of things first,” I said.

 “Like what?” she asked.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Oses and Osern and Aesir (Oh My)

The English language is an amazing inheritance: every word a story.

In Norse thought we find the fascinating idea that, as with humanity, there are different tribes of gods. One of these tribes is known collectively as the Aesir. This is a plural form; the singular, unfortunately, is áss. In Icelandic, this rhymes with house, but there's no denying that it's jarring to the eye of the English-reader.*

The English-speaking ancestors knew these gods as well, but unlike the good old pagan word god, ôs came to refer specifically to a pagan god, and so fell out of common usage. Eventually the word became extinct.

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Proverb from the Pagan Future

Confession: pagan post-apocalyptic fiction is one of my guilty pleasures. You know: civilization as we know it falls apart and it's up to the witches to rebuild. There's a surprising amount of it (for a sub-genre of a sub-genre of a sub-genre), and it offers us as a community a way to reflect on what a pagan future might look like.

I'm currently reading the latest installment in what is surely the most successful of the entire franchise: S. M. Stirling's Dies the Fire series. (Premise: on All Snakes' Day—March 17—1999 all the machines stop. Everything falls apart. The witches—among others—rebuild.) Ignore the title-by-Disney (The Golden Princess, wince. Not to mention the cover art: not just cheese, but stinky cheese. It's hard to be reading a book I'm ashamed to be seen with in public); as popular fiction goes, this is actually well-written, nicely-observed, and thoughtful stuff (on which, more in the future).

Our story so far: It's 2044. Our three principles have been having the same dream for the past three nights. One remarks, as if citing a quotation known to them all, “Once is coincidence, twice can be happenstance....” and her friend finishes, “The third time is either enemy action, or someone sending you a message” (245).

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Post-apocalypse scenarios strike me as worth exploring because they're a very real likelihood. As oil runs out and we see the incr
  • Stephen M. Stirling
    Stephen M. Stirling says #
    Post-apocalyptic pagans make a lot of sense. When the going gets weird, the weird get going, as one of the characters says... 8-)
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Hmm, define "legit." Still, it surprises me just how many books fit into this genre. I'll post a list of what I've found soon. The
  • Lee Pike
    Lee Pike says #
    "pagan post-apocalyptic fiction" is a legit genre? WOW! I am a sucker for stinky cheese covers. Adding this to my to-read list and
  • Stephen M. Stirling
    Stephen M. Stirling says #
    Alas, I'm totally powerless about the covers. I agree certain aspects were unfortunate -- the mail bodice, holding the katana edg

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Of the following rituals, which would you rather attend?

a) Main Ritual or b) The Passion of the Harvest.

c) Beltane Ritual or d) The Marriage of Earth and Sky.

e) Men's Ritual or f) Men's Ritual: The Wild Hunt.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My friend Stephanie, who's in advertising, always tells me, "A good ad is about one thing." The same could be said of ritual. Havi
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Right you are Steven. Giving a title to the ritual helps those who prepare and lead it as well as those who attend.

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The Deer Wife

Here’s a tale, the story of the Deer Wife, and well it might be the oldest tale in the world.

One day a man takes his rifle and goes off into the woods, where he sees a pretty little doe. He takes aim, shoots, and hits her in the shoulder, but he doesn’t kill her outright. So he follows the blood-trail into the forest until he comes to a clearing.

But there’s no doe in that clearing. Instead there’s a woman standing there, naked and bleeding. Her hair is like red fire and her skin like apple blossom, and she’s got a bullet lodged in her shoulder.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Seal Clan for sure. Have you seen David Thomson's People of the Sea? The single most lyrical book I know about seals and selkies.
  • Carol Leary
    Carol Leary says #
    Oh, just prophetic in the sense that I have never liked getting out of the water, all the way from the time my mother would call
  • T-Roy
    T-Roy says #
    So mote it be!
  • Carol Leary
    Carol Leary says #
    So cool. For me, it was the story my grandmother told me when I was six, of the Selkie. She is the seal who took human form &
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Prophetic in what sense, Carol? It wasn't until my nephew was born that I found out that in my mother's family it's not uncommon

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Remembering Sparky: The Memorial Service

 

A Rite of Memorial

and

Crossing the River

 

Peter Bruner Soderberg

February 3, 1954 – June 1, 2014

Order of Service

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Thunder Cross

How do you purify a desecrated symbol?

Some friends of mine who own a Baltic imports store had just come back from a buying trip to Latvia. “Come see this,” said Sean, when I walked in the door. “It's very special.”

He was right. The Thunder brooch was beautiful, bronze, big and solid enough to heft in the palm of a hand. A Sun Wheel, but this was a Sun filled with lightnings: Sun and Thunder in union. “It's a wonderful piece,” he said, “but I can't put it out on the floor.” I was on the verge of asking why not when suddenly I saw why not.

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  • Piper
    Piper says #
    Yeah, I wear sterling bracelets my great uncle made in the early 1900s for the Harvey house trade. Both have whirling logs all ove

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