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 Good Year for Trolls

Gods, the trolls are bad this year.

Been down to the mall lately?

Trolls.

Felt unaccountably grouchy or angry?

Trolls.

Trolls hate light, and fear it. They come out when it gets dark. For obvious reasons, Yule always brings them out.

On Troll Night—the thirteenth before Mother Night—you can hang out the troll-cross, set out offerings at the doorstep, and hammer-sign the door: Here, and no farther.

But, really, at this season keeping them at bay is the best one can hope for. Only Thunder and Sun can make the trolls go away for good.

And this year they're particularly bad.

Anishinabe activist Winona Laduke writes about “Wendigo Politics”: the crushing, ravenous politics of those who care only for themselves.

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Ardane

When I was taking my first steps on the Old Way, the books all said: don't try this alone; that way lies danger.

Well, they were right about the danger, but, as for the rest, there were no other options.

So I'd go down to the woods by myself at night, light the fire, and make the magic.

And it was the real thing.

That's how we all started off in those days: by breaking the rules. It's not a bad way to start. If you survive, you can't get better training than that.

In time, I found my tribe, and Witch Hazel was right: together we're stronger.

But still I'd go down to the woods by myself at night, light the fire, and make the magic.

And it was still the real thing.

One of Wicca's great weaknesses is that it's all about the group; it makes no provision for individual practice. 'Thou mayest not be a witch alone,' says the Book of Shadows.

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The Mystery of the Golden Goddess

Many are the mysteries of the Russian land.

But of these, none is greater than the mystery of the golden goddess.

They say that long ago in a sacred grove on the banks of the Volga was kept a golden goddess.

Far and wide spread the fame of this golden goddess, and from far and wide did people came to see this wonder, and to offer to her.

And this was the manner of their offering: that they would hang all manner of gold from the branches of her grove.

And when the priests who tended this goddess had gathered to themselves sufficient offerings, they would melt them down and make from them yet another goddess around the first, the former enclosing the latter.

In this way, the golden goddess grew ever greater down the years, goddess within goddess within goddess, and with her grew her fame.

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Dark Stranger

There's a Dark Stranger standing in the living room.

He who, yesterday, stood between Earth and Heaven, now stands between ceiling and floor.

The son of the forest now comes indoors.

His fragrance fills the house.

Soon we will bestow him with lights, and all the royal heirlooms of the feast: every one a prayer.

But for now he stands in shadow, and naked beauty.

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The Witchiest Number

Call it triskaidekaphilia.

Lucky thirteen.

Thirteen is an oddball number, which is why witches like it so much. The ideal coven: the god and his twelve companions.

“Six and seven,” witches used to say: a greeting, back in pre-Blessed Be days. For reasons obvious to those in the know, this was a covert expression of Craft identity. In Italy they said “Five and eight” instead, for the same reason.

The ancestors counted in tens and twelves. Twelve was the “long ten,” as 120 was the “long hundred.” That explains why the teens don't start til thirteen; it used to be “three-ten.”

So thirteen means, “the cycle begins again.” Thirteen is both an end and a beginning.

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  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    We used to have Triskadelaphilia parties in our homw every yoear on any Friday the 13th. It was fun! I wrote an article on it just

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The Great Rite of the Moment

In the end, the goddess and god of the witches are Being and Being-in-Duration: Mother Nature and Father Time, one might say.

And we live in the Great Rite of the Moment.

We think of Time as composed of Past, Present, and Future.

But that's not how the ancestors saw it.

Their archaic world-view is preserved in the English tense system.

The Old Language of the Hwicce—the original Anglo-Saxon Tribe of Witches—had only two “tenses”: past and non-past.

That's why we say I was and I am, but when we want to talk about what has not yet happened, we have to say I will be.

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Winter is Icumen In

Winter is icumen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm.
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.

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  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Too funny, Thanks for sharing! Tasha

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