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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Are the Gods Archetypes?

If I could zap one word from the pagan vocabulary, it would be “archetype.”

Don't ask me what it means. When I press people for a definition, they're mostly hard-put to provide one. So far as I can tell, archetypes seem to be something like Platonic Ideas.

If so, what does it mean to say that the gods are archetypes?

Me, I'm an Old Style Pagan. I worship (to name only some) the Sun, the Moon, the Storm, Earth, Sea, the Winds. Whatever it is that They may be (when asked “What is a god?” the poet Simonides replied, “I find that the more I think about the question, the more opaque it becomes”), it doesn't seem to me to be in any way meaningful to say that they're archetypes.

Whatever that may be.

Craft historian Michael Howard has contended that the reductionist tendency to regard the gods as archetypes—essentially, as part of ourselves—has actually stood in the way of entering into any sort of real relationship with Them.

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  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thanks for this. I've been finding a lot resonating in your microposts about the profundity of basics and the ancestors. Modern pa

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Candlemas Carol

At first glance, Steve Ashley's Candlemas Carol might seem something of a downer.

Don't be fooled.

On Candlemas beware, old man,

the wind, gale, and the storm;

and if you think that Winter's dead,

it's barely being born.

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Her Hidden Children

If some Da'ish thug put a gun to your temple and hissed in your ear, Convert or die: what would you do?

Pagans have faced this choice ever since non-pagan religions gained political power. In our own day, alas, some pagans still face this hideous choice.

Which is better, to be true and die, or to hide and live?

The martyrs get all the hero-tales, it's true.

And indeed, I praise the sacrifice of those who kept (and keep) faith at the cost of their lives.

But ever, they say, the Craft must survive.

So I also praise the sacrifice of those who wrap themselves in the cloak of the conqueror, but keep the Old Ways in secret.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    This is wonderful! So important to remember. I'm gonna link it to Macha's FB page.

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What is the Symbol of Earth?

In Baltic lore, each of the Old Gods has his or her own sign.

For the Sun, it's the Sun Wheel. For the Moon, the Crescent.

Fire is the Fire Cross, the swastika, Thunder, the Thunder Cross, or compound swastika.

The Winds, since there are four of them, have the Cross, Heaven the Mountain. (How else would you draw a picture of the sky?)

But what about Earth?

My teacher, Tony Kelly, of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, used to say, “If we know anything at all about Earth, we know that she's Mother.”

At the time, as a good, doctrinaire second wave feminist, I found this statement reductionist and objectionable.

Since then, I've changed my mind.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm no historian of feminism and certainly can't speak for second wave feminism generally, but (in effect) yes. The feeling was th
  • Taffy Dugan
    Taffy Dugan says #
    Why would thinking of the Earth as a Mother be reductionist and objectionable? Was the 2nd wave of feminism putting down mothers?

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Do Gods Have Halos?

It's something of a problem in contemporary pagan iconography.

Do gods have halos?

Halo: a disk of light surrounding the head, in art the conventional indicator of holiness. (In Greek, halo means “threshing floor”; threshing floors were clean, shining disks of ground.)

To Western eyes, halos may have something of a Christian look to them. For some, that's a problem.

But look East and you'll see that buddhas wear halos too, and so do Hindu gods.

In fact, there was a time when use of the halo was forbidden to Christian artists. Sorry, Crispus, halos are for pagans.

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World Stag

They say that once long ago,

when the sky was in danger of falling,

he caught it up on his antlers

and held it,

and that way we weren't all crushed.

They say that it's him

as holds up the sky on his antlers

still, to this day.

So that's why they call him the World Stag,

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The Thirteen Towers of the Horned One

Stretching across Asia, from North Manchuria, through Tibet, west through Persia, and ending in the Kurdistan, was a chain of seven towers on isolated mountaintops; and in each one of these towers sat continuously a priest of Satan, who by "broadcasting" occult vibrations controlled the destinies of the world for evil. 

William B. Seabrook, Adventures in Arabia

In 1927, gonzo journalist William Seabrook became the first to write about the "Seven Towers of Satan," by which the priesthood of the Yazidis, the People of the Peacock Angel, secretly controlled the world.

So that explains it.

Seabrook's towers were fiction, but hey: a good idea is a good idea.

The Thirteen Towers of the Horned One.

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