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
Did Odin Hang from Yggdrasil?

It's a truism of modern mythography that Odin, Lord of the Runes, hanged himself from the branches of Yggdrasil, the old Norse Tree of Life.

But did he?

According to the famous passage from Hávamál:

I know that I hung

on the windy meiðr

all nine nights:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Other Cloaks

It's one of the more pressing questions of contemporary pagan theology.

What happened to the pagan gods during the centuries of the Great Interruption?

Did they fall asleep? Did they go away?

In the Baltics, the Old Ways lingered long. In Latvia, the Thunderer of the old pantheon—Perkons (= Perkunas, Perun, etc.)—came to be identified (among others) with “Saint” Martin.

“Martin carries nine Perkonses under his cloak,” was the saying.

Did the Old Gods abandon their people?

No, indeed. They've never abandoned us, and They never will.

They wrapped Themselves in other cloaks and waited.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    That's a great question, Anthony, with more than one answer. But one of those answers is surely the most surprising of all: They h
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm familiar with the notion that the Saints and Superheroes are the old gods in disguise. I kind of like that notion actually.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Peering through the Eye-Holes

It lies at the opposite pole from All gods are one god.

All gods are distinct.

So Thórr ≠ Perún ≠ Perkunas ≠ Zeus ≠ Jupiter ≠ Indra ≠ Ba'al ≠ Changó?

Yikes.

Although, in a History of Religions sense, I can see a certain merit-of-convenience to the hyper-Distinct school of thought, I have to ask myself: just how far does this extend? Is African Changó a different god from Brazilian? Is the Thunderer of my valley existentially distinct from the Thunderer of your valley next door?

If dreary monism is the danger of “All gods are one god,” is not the danger of “All gods are distinct” atomization? Personally, when I see gods getting smaller and smaller, I worry.

Looking at pagan history, I note a pronounced tendency to look for one's own gods behind the masks of other people's.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Teach Us Those Runes

 Geriht us þat geruni.

“Teach us those runes.”

(Old Saxon Heliand, circa 850)

 

Writing is a magical act.

The old North Sea ancestors had two words meaning “write.”

One was to scribe. That meant “to write with pen and ink,” as the Romans did. This was the newfangled way to write, with a newfangled Latin name.

But the old word, the ancestral word, was to write. This originally meant “to carve.” The first writing that the ancestors knew was the carving ("risting") of runes into wood.

Note which method they favored.

In our hyper-literate society, in which most of us write with light rather than with ink or with lead, we tend to take writing for granted.

We shouldn't.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Is the God of Witches the Devil?

Is the God of the Witches the Devil?

Is a tree the particleboard made from it?

One is a living being, the other a toxic product.

 

On the other hoof, he's a god. Gods show themselves differently to different people at different times in different places.

That he should don a Devil mask to some is not beyond conceiving.

In fact, considering both his sense of humor and his tendency to utilize available resources, it actually does seem like something that he might do.

The f**ker.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Admittedly, cross-pantheon identification is an inexact science, to say the very least. But it does seem to be something that paga
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Frey/the Lord has shown up to me as a medieval Orthodox saint once, with gold armor and a beautiful glow. His answer when I blink
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    LOVE THIS! One the one hand, very funny! "The f**ker." especially made me laugh. On the other, "Gods show themselves differently
A Public Service Announcement from the Paganistani Ministry of Culture

It's time to start saving onion-skins.

Seriously.

We're nearing the end of the Imbolc thirtnight. Here in Paganistan we're in Bridey's Spring: what cowans call the “February thaw.”

Look up and you'll see the buds on the trees standing out from their branches. Light lingers well after sunset. Male cardinals are beginning to sing their breeding-territory songs.

So start saving those onion-skins now.

It's a month and some to evenday, when we'll stoke up the dye-pots and boil eggs along with all the onion-skins we've saved.

Eggs that will emerge from those dye-pots robed royally in the colors of Dawn herself: yellow, saffron, gold, orange, deep Minoan red.

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Postcard from Micklegard

To Oswin King of the Hwicce, from his brother Osred: Greetings!

Well brother, Micklegard is a fine town, and no mistake. No matter what (or who) you want to buy, eat, or screw, they've got it here. Strong ale for the likes of this honest Hwiccan lad. 

Check out this dome. It's the city's chief temple. They worship the Moon here, just like we do back home—she's the city's patron goddess, in fact—only they call her Hekate. This is her temple as Lady of Wisdom. (Sound familiar?) Quite a sight, but I still can't figure why they go in under a roof to worship the Moon. Strange folk, Greeks.

Turns out that wandering gleeman was right after all: the High King here really does keep a special war-band of Westerners as body-guards. He calls it his "barbarian guard." Funny: he can't trust his own to protect him, yet we're the barbarians!

Thought maybe I'd give it a try, though. Fighting's fighting, wherever you go. I hear the pay's good, and like I said: You want it, they've got it.

My love to mother and the girls. Wine's fine, but what I wouldn't give right now for a beaker of good, honest Hwiccan ale.

Be hale, drink hale, brother.

More soon.

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