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.
In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Sees the Summer's First Bare-Breasted Bicyclist, or: The Minoanization of America

Saw my first topless female bicyclist today.

Now that's brave, I thought.

The Minneapolis authorities finally made the way-too-long-in-coming decision this summer to stop citing women without shirts in public. Time and high time, of course. Cowans and their weird body-shame: I'll never understand it.

Still, Portland and 25th isn't exactly the friendliest or, shall we say, most enlightened part of town.

I wanted to do something to show my support, but really, what is there that you can do in such a situation that won't come across as a**hole-ism? Sometimes the most supportive that thing you can do is nothing at all.

Well, blessings on the topless bicyclists of the world: one more step, if only a small one, toward the Way Things Ought to Be. Call it Minoanization.

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A Pleasant Disquisition Upon That Inveterate Haunter of Pagan Homes, Known Otherwise as the Altar Creep

We come now to that inveterate haunter of the pagan household, known since antiquity as the Altar Creep.

Authorities agree that the wight known as the Altar Creep takes the form, variously, of a small, round man (or woman) dressed in ritual robes. Whether seen or unseen, it manifests in its actions, to whit: the unfailing tendency of any otherwise unoccupied vertical surface in a house to turn into an altar.

It is said that a certain pagan family in Devon awoke one morning to find that, while they slept, every flat surface in their home had undergone such a transformation.

More often, this process of altarization is a gradual one, but the end is never in doubt: that in time, the house becomes unlivable, since no profane space remains on which to do the practical work of living: exemplo gratia, the preparation of food. This point reached, the sole possibility remaining to the unhappy inhabitants thereof, is to remove to another habitation.

It therefore behooves the pagan householder to avail him- or herself of these powerful prophylactics against said Altar Creep, to whit:

  • Item: The maintenance of a number of flat, unoccupied surfaces in the home, on which no item is permitted to rest for more than a brief time.
  • Item: That such altars as are to be found in the house be faithfully maintained: kept tidy and clean, and in good repair, with offerings duly made and cleared away.
  • Item: That such altars be not suffered to remain ever unchanging, but be constantly renewed and rearranged as the Wheel shall turn.
  • Item: Do not feed the Altar Creep. This is best accomplished by not acquiring more pagan  chatchkes than your immediate environment can bear.

This rune is said to be sovereign against the Altar Creep and is best pronounced while dis-assembling an unintended altar:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Antlers Forever

Gods know that I'm no great fan of Patricia Kenneally-Morrison's Kelts-in-Space series, The Keltiad, but that's not to say that, in her envisioning of what a pagan society might look like from the inside, she doesn't occasionally get things right.

Indeed, sometimes she gets them very right indeed.

PK-M's Kelts-in-Space know of a figure called the Caberfèidh, pronounced CAB-ber-fay. In Scots Gaelic, this means “stag's antlers.” In fact, he's no kind of fay at all—or maybe, on second thought, he is—but rather the pan-Keltic Antlered God Himself.

On Earth, Caberfèidh is the title of the hereditary chieftain of Clan Mackenzie. (“Clan” means “children”: hence, the “children of Mackenzie.” It's the Q-Celtic version of the word that's plant in P-Celtic Welsh, as in Plant Brân, the “children of Brân.”) A pretty felicitous image, this: the clan itself the stag, and the chief the very antlers thereof.

The metaphor is a profound one. That antlers are by nature deciduous, while the stag himself lives on, comments obliquely on the sacrificial nature of the chieftaincy.

Sure, and when it comes to the Caberfeidh, we're of one body with Him, indeed, and He Himself the Antlers.

And if you should hap to meet the Antlers Himself, be sure to say Him so.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Who knows? Isolated off-world settlements might be ideal locations for pan-Pagan enclaves. Maybe not the future city

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hating on Keto 'Pizza'

Help! All the other adults in my covid-pod are on (ugh) keto diets!

Argh!

Really, it's almost enough to make me believe in karma. Whatever I did in my previous lives to deserve this, it must have been awful.

Me, I don't need to be ketoid. I've been vegetarian since I was 18: long enough to see the long-term health benefits which accrue to plant-based eating. (And to be insufferably smug about the fact.) What I've achieved by long-term, my keto-eating friends are trying to get on the quick.

Leave aside the long-term health risks of a high-meat, high-fat diet. Let's not mention that the single most important thing that you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to become vegetarian: i.e. keto diets are just about the most Earth-unfriendly—really, almost anti-ecological—way that it's possible to eat. Don't bring up the fact that virtually all the evidence shows that the most successful diets in the long run—like, for instance, vegetarianism—are all flexible, and that over-restrictive diets (e.g. keto) have proved to be unsustainable and have a high rate of failure.

The issue here is pizza.

Keto pizza crusts are, without exception, nasty. Oh, some may be less nasty than others, but even the best are still nasty, nasty, nasty.

Keto crusts are for pizza maximalists: people who believe that pizzas are about the toppings.

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The Trouble With Gurus

My pagan identity was already fully formed when, in 1988, I visited New Vrindaban, a rural Hare Krishna community in West Virginia, so I never had any intention of joining or staying. I went, rather, to learn about temple ritual and Indian cooking, and I did. This learning turned out to be formative and, years later, I'm still grateful for the experience.

I learned a few other valuable things too.

While I was there, I heard a lot about the NV guru, Kirtanananda Swami ( Keith Ham).

Guru-ji stands in the place of 'God.'

Guru-ji knows everything.

Guru-ji knows you better than you know yourself.

I saw people prostrate themselves when KS drove by. I saw them kiss his 'lotus' feet.

During my visit, I stayed in the men's dorm along with the other unmarried guys of the community. One day I went with them to a meeting at Guru-ji's office. There I learned something interesting about Kirtanananda.

While describing the community's next building project, he was eying me over.

He wasn't just noticing a fresh new face, that much was obvious. Every young gay guy gets this look from older men, and knows what it means.

Well, I thought, and got out of there as quickly as I could.

Keith Ham liked young guys, and later got in trouble with the law over it. I'm sure that he had some sort of religious excuse justifying his exploitation of all those young men, probably along the lines of Krishna's love-play with the gopis. Some guru.

Pagans don't do gurus. Guru-ship, along with its accompanying lack of accountability, is a system crying out—pleading—for abuse.

Pagans have teachers; we have elders. They don't stand in the place of the gods; they don't know everything. They certainly don't know you better than you know yourself.

Over the years, a few have tried to give me the guru treatment. I've always been careful to throttle such attempts at birth. Any pagan leader with any integrity will do the same. Nobody deserves that degree of trust. Nobody.

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As the Way of the Serpent Among Reeds:  A Political Fable for the Covid Era

Concerned about the rise of China, the Senate Republicans sent a question to the Great Oracle of Paganistan:

What will happen if Donald Trump becomes president?

A week later, they received their answer.

If you elect Donald Trump, a mighty nation will fall.

Whew, said the Senate Republicans, and they all voted for Trump.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sometimes an Omen is Only an Omen

At exactly 12 midnight last night, the wire broke on the Thunder icon that has hung over my bed for the last 25 years, and the whole heavy panel of painted wood slid down the wall to where I lay sleeping below.

If it had clobbered me on the head, it would have been painful, at very least, if not downright injurious. Instead it wedged neatly between the edge of the futon and the wall, and I woke to the sound of rattling bed-slats.

To the best of my knowledge, that's the first time I've ever woken up with a god in the bed.

All's well that ends well: I'm fine, the painting's fine. I put things right, read for a while, and go back to sleep.

Moral of the story:

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, That is indeed why one of Apollon's epithets is, "Loxias"... "The Oblique". Glad the Deathless Ones saw fit to spare

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