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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A Forgotten Samhain Classic

It's the Eve of Samhain in the Royal Hall at Cruachan.

The fires burn, the mead flows freely; already people have begun to draw indoors. For this night, of all nights, is indeed dark and full of terrors.

While waiting for the feast to be served, Aillil proposes a feat: Who will dare to tie a withy around the ankle of the corpse that hangs from the gallows on the hill of Cruachan?

One by one the heroes try. One by one, they return in fear and failure.

Then Nera mac Niadhain says: I'll do it.

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  • Haley
    Haley says #
    Wonderful recommendation, Steven, thank you.

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Satanic Panic

Really, it was a turning point in the life of the local pagan community.

It was back in the Bad Old Days of the Satanic Panic.

A conspiracy (really, one can't call it anything else) of nazzes sent out their evil missionaries, so-called “occult experts,” to spread their lying gospel of sacrificed babies, multi-generational “ritual abuse,” and “recovered memory syndrome.”

To their everlasting shame, the media, psychologists, and police departments all over the US were taken in by this claptrap.

Several rituals in local parks had been disrupted by the police. Following an incident that has (jocularly enough) gone down in local pagan lore as “The Great Lammas Massacre,” people had had enough.

Writer Paul Tuitean and a couple of other guys who had personal connections with local law enforcement set up a community meeting with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks for the heads up, D. R., I'll keep an eye out for your novel. (What's the title?) I hadn't heard of Dark Places before, but
  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette says #
    Thank you so much for posting this. I have a novel (in the process of being published) that is set in 1986, and the Satanic Panic

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Coat of Many Colors

All summer long, he has been our bonny god in green, and we have loved him for it.

But now come the days—so poignant, so bittersweet—for which he is called in the Old Language of the Witches Wulder, for his splendor.

His festive coat of colors he dons now, different each day: Earth's yearly gift of favor to her first-born and (they say) best-loved child.

Alas, such gifts of favor are apt to be preludes to deeds of blood.

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Body Time

In a world meted out by clock time, it's easy to forget body time.

When the initiate stands on the threshold, you could tell her: “Come in five minutes.”

And she will spend her time watching the glass.

Or you could tell her: “After a thousand heartbeats, come.”

And she will spend her time listening.

Listening, and drawing in.

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Was the Keltic "Tribe of Witches" Originally the "Two Tribes"?

According to archaeologist Stephen J. Yeates, the original Tribe of Witches was the Anglo-Saxon people called the Hwicce, who inhabited the Cotswolds and Severn Valley of what is now southwestern England.

These were previously the tribal territories of an early Iron Age Keltic people known as the Dobunni. Both genetics and archeology suggest strong demographic and cultural continuity from the Keltic to the Anglo-Saxon periods.

The name Dobunni, known from inscriptions and Roman historians (Yeates 2-3), is of uncertain etymology. Yeates himself does not discuss a derivation.

It may be, though, that this ethnonym preserves a memory of the origins of the tribe itself.

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When Statues Speak

 They have mouths, but cannot speak.


So wrote a dyspeptic 7th century Hebrew poet concerning the so-called “idols” of the pagans.

But of course (as anyone who has ever actually lived with one for very long can tell you), he was wrong.

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  • Molly
    Molly says #
    I make goddess sculptures for a living and I totally identify with this experience. I'd modify the quote for mine to: "they do not
Father of Church of Aphrodite Founder Canonized by Russian Orthodox Church

Even by pagan standards, it's an incredible story.

On February 3, 2016, Dr. Yevgeny Botkin (1865-1918), personal physician to Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church, 98 years after he was executed by the Bolsheviks along with the tsar, and the tsar's wife and children.

Known as “Righteous Passion-Bearer Yevgeny the Physician,” his son Gleb Botkin (1900-1969) was later to become the founder of the Long Island Church of Aphrodite, which in 1938 became America's first legally-recognized new pagan organization.

“It's better than worshiping Mary Baker Eddy [founder of Christian Science],” quipped the New York judge who granted legal recognition.

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