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
How Do You Say 'Yemaya' in Witch?

I'll just say it: Wiccans have pantheon-envy.

The gods of the Wicca are Twofold: the Lady and the Horns. Instead of viewing Them, however, as the gods most specific to witches within the framework of a larger (but lost) pantheon, most Wiccans (unfortunately) have chosen to prefer Dion Fortune's 'All gods are one god, all goddesses are one goddess' bitheism, a choice which (frankly) has not only retarded Wicca's mythological and theological growth, but has opened the gate to the much-vexed problem of cultural appropriation. If all god/desses are one god/dess, then we are entitled to steal Anyone we want from someone else, and it's all grist for our mill.

It's easy to understand why, when encountering the vibrant pantheon and living culture of, for example, Santeria, witches feel envious. What Santeria is now, the Craft used to be. Alas, how much has been taken from us.

But our choices are not limited to either cultural sterility or cultural appropriation. There's another way to navigate these waters.

If, instead, we regard the Horns and the Moon as Two among a larger (if lost) pantheon, then (to take an example) let us ask: How do you say 'Yemayá' in Witch?

Allow me to rephrase the question: What does the witch Goddess of Waters look like?

Let us start with the Moon. The witches' Lady of the Living Waters is—essentially—the reflection of the Moon on Earth. What Moon is in the heavens, She of the Waters is on Earth.

Moon, of course, was born from Sea. (Where She came from originally is what we now call the Pacific Ocean. For witches, there's no gap between science and religion, just a difference in framing the language.) Who has not seen the image of the full Moon floating on the waters of a lake, or the sea, and thought: ah, yes.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    In Latvia, they used to say that "St. Martin has nine Perkunases under his cloak." Perkunas, of course, is the old name for the Th
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Way back in the 1980's there was a TV show called Night Court. I had a dream in which two characters from the show; Dan Fielding

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Spatial Anomaly

On our way back from a trip to the Jeffers Petroglyphs in SW Minnesota, a friend and I passed a road sign: New Ulm 5.

New Ulm is a historically German town at the confluence of the Cottonwood and Minnesota Rivers, best known for its fine local beers and its "Herman the German" Memorial.

“I've always wanted to check out New Ulm,” said my friend.

“We'll have to go some time,” I replied.

A few miles later, we passed another road sign.

New Ulm 5.

“That's weird,” said one of us.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Rede for the Uncovened

I know, I know. More than anything else, you want a coven, but either there are none, or none of them will have you.

Believe me, I understand your pain. I remember it well.

I'm one of the lucky ones. For nearly 40 years now, I've been part of one of Witchdom's oldest and most stable covens. So what could I possibly have to say to the uncovened?

One thing that I can't do is to invite you in. A coven simply doesn't have the resources that a nation-state does; we can't take in refugees. At least, we can't take in many.

But I was a refugee once myself. In fact, we all were: refugees from the Island of Misfit Toys. We were the ones that nobody else wanted.

So we banded together, our little coven of misfits, and here we are today: still going strong four decades later. Meanwhile, all those groups that wouldn't have us have fallen by the wayside.

What do you do when you need a coven and you can't find one?

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    In "The Goodly Spellbook" there is a recipe to attract witch friends on page 358. Interested parties might find it at their local
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My bardic advice to those considering joke names for things is generally: Ask yourself if the joke will still be funny 25 years fr
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    There actually is a Coven of Misfit Toys in Wisconsin...

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
On Being Called a Fag

 Reader Alert: Homophobic Language

 

I've been called "fag" many times in my life, but probably the last place in the world where I would have expected to have it happen again was the “Paganism and the LGBTQ+ Experience” panel discussion at Paganicon.

It always hurts more when your defenses are down.

Let me hasten to add that this hate speech was no fault of either the panel's organizer or the panelists themselves. It came, rather, from an audience member who stood up to speak during the post-presentation discussion.

(Since I don't know pronoun preferences for this specific individual, I'll use “3.”)

This person, who self-identifies as Third Gender, talked—inter alia—about how, although it wasn't 3's real identity, 3 used to pass as a “fag” because it was easier.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Hearing one well-fed American voice after another listing his/her/their preferred pronouns, I have to admit that I couldn't help b
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    From the chair I sat in, it was very Orwellian. In hindsight, I think much of what was said in that workshop was couched in desper
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    "what he calls Faggot Witchcraft." This is how I've referred to it in the past. "I'm guessing that that would probably have piss
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    P.S. I don't find your question untoward at all. If we can't use the specific as a springboard into examination of the general, it
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm not quite prepared to offer a general rule-of-thumb for quoting offensive--or potentially offensive--language yet (as the Wiza

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Live from Paganicon 2019

Plymouth, MN

Greetings from the Hotel of the Pagans.

We've got the whole place, with the exception of a few poor, unsuspecting cowans with preexisting reservations.

Now there's some sociology just waiting to happen.

Here's something interesting: I've been through every drawer in my room, and—Lady be praised—there's not a Gideon Bible in a single one of them.

(The Gideon Society is a group of spiritual imperialists with the motto “A Bible in every hotel room.”)

I can think of several possible explanations.

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  • Helga Hedgewalker
    Helga Hedgewalker says #
    Hooray! I also noticed the lack of pre-existing offensive religious literature in my room as well.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Sacrifice Revisited

So: here was my evil plan.

Step 1. To lay the groundwork, as it were, the first year we'd do the presentation: “Sacrifice in Theory and Practice.”

Step 2. The next year, we'd bring in the cute little lambie and let the kids get to know it through the course of the festival.

Then at the big ritual we'd kill it and eat it.

Needless to say, we never even got to Step 1.

***

Thirty years ago, they wouldn't even let us talk about sacrifice at PSG. “Too controversial,” they said.

Well, that was 30 years ago, and this is Paganistan.

Moral of the story: Don't wait for Step 2.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Oh Happy Day

 Oh happy day

Oh happy day

Oh happy day

Oh happy day

when She came back

when She came back

when She came back

when the Lady came back

when She came back

when the Goddess came back

when She came back to stay

Oh happy day

Oh happy day

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