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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
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
Leaf Man Rise Up

This autumn children's game, a variant of "tag," comes from the old Hwicce tribal territories in England's southwest Midlands. Like many traditional children's games, it is circular, self-replicating, and orally transmitted. The game's ritual structure and deeply mythic resonances will hardly be lost on anyone likely to be reading this post.

Players gather in a circle, hand-in-hand, around a mound of leaves. (In some versions, they circle.) They chant:

 Leaf Man Rise Up Leaf Man Rise Up Leaf Man Rise Up

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Samhain Song Everybody Knows

For all its liturgical and cultural importance, Samhain has yet to inspire much popular music.

So when we end our big public Samhain ritual by joining hands and announcing, “Let's finish with the Samhain song that everybody knows,” you'll see eyebrows go up all around the circle.

When you first start in, you'll get a nice laugh, and then folks will belt it out like they mean it. After all, what's Samhain for, if not for Old Long Ago?

Last modified on
The Holiday that Dared Not Speak Its Name, or, Samhain: The Correct Pronunciation

Sam Hane. Sam Ane. Rhymes with coven. Rhymes with towin'. Rhymes with plowin'.

The first New Pagans of America mostly started off by reading books. In the absence of an oral tradition, we made do. With pronunciation of weird words, for instance.

Sam Hane. Good old rule of thumb for American English: pronounce it like it's spelled. What, you've never heard of Sam Hane, Druidic god of the dead?* (Not to mention his consort, Belle Tane, goddess of life. Sounds like quite the couple.)

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Internal polyvocality. You make me jealous, MPC! I suppose one could draw up a dialectal map of the pagan community according to
  • MizPixieChris
    MizPixieChris says #
    This was the first post I found at this community - and it pushed me to sign up and join, so thank you! In my area people seem to
  • Anne Forrester
    Anne Forrester says #
    This whole Samhain pronunciation issue, as well as the "Which God of the Dead is this? I've never heard of him..." issue are 2 rea
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I've been playing around with Summer's-End and Winter's Eve myself. I don't see any reason to canonize one name. We're the people

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Do You Speak Pagan?

Paganism is a language.

It is, for many of us, a language that we are still learning to speak. We may have been speaking this tongue for many years--decades, in some cases--but it is still, nonetheless, not our mother tongue.

This fact has implications. We may have mastered the grammar and have a large vocabulary. We may, over the years, have become fluent speakers of Pagan. But we are still not native speakers, and we never will be.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Egyptologist Jan Assmann says (in his Price of Monotheism) that (in effect) paganisms can be polytheist, monotheist, monist, or (f
  • Gregory Elliott
    Gregory Elliott says #
    Being primarily of an Indo-European slant, I feel compelled to listen to Hinduism to help me 'speak Pagan', but I will agree that
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thorny the question may be, Gregory, but well worth the asking. There's certainly much about Hinduism (I'll use this as shorthand
  • Gregory Elliott
    Gregory Elliott says #
    I realize this could get into the thorny issue of defining 'Paganism', but as briefly as possible why do you not 'regard the Hindu

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Different Beat

Witch Hazel is having an existential crisis.

Despite the assurances of her magic mirror, she's worried that she's getting prettier as she ages.

The doorbell rings.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Minoan Salute

As we search out a vocabulary of gesture—articulate action—with which to embody our old-new worship, we turn both to the ways of the ancestors and to our own experience.

A gesture of reverence that occurs again and again in the glyptic art of Minoan Crete is the gesture known to scholars as the “Minoan salute.” The worshiper stands before the deity with right fist raised to brow, elbow held high. Generally the left arm is held at the side.

The gesture is clearly a formal act of reverent attention, perhaps of greeting. Sometimes the fist is held with the thumb up, sometimes with the thumb to the brow. The standard reading of the gesture is that the worshiper is shielding his or her eyes from the radiance of the deity. Try it out and see what you think of this interpretation. I do not find it personally convincing because one shades one's eyes with an open hand. This, I suspect, is something else.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    No offense taken, Steven. I'm just so used to people assuming I'm a fluffy bunny that I tend to take comments that way. Sorry I mi
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    No offense intended, Laura. If anything, my critique was directed both at myself and what I perceive as a general tendency to idea
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    So where do you draw the line between 'accurate reconstruction' and 'projecting our own visions of the ideal culture onto the past
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I find the salute increasingly natural when greeting Sun, Moon, River...even geese in flight, a tree in full, flaming color, or (s
  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    I love the way you're working with this gesture. I can't say I agree with many of Nanno Marinatos' assumptions in the kingship boo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Grand Sabbat: Naming

The Horned One holds the baby in his arms.

He sits on the altar, cross-legged, shining in the firelight, each tine of his branching antlers tipped with its own delicate bud of flame. He holds the child to his chest, as if suckling him. Not everyone is privileged to drink from the breast of the witches' god. It is a promise, the ancient gesture of adoption.

He rises to his feet, towering—his horns reach up to heaven—and holds the infant out to the assembled people.

Last modified on

Additional information