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
Talking Across the Hedge

There were pagans on both sides of the mess in Charlottesville this weekend.

Agree or disagree, they're still our tribe.

As the “Vote No” campaign here in Minnesota—which successfully defeated an anti-marriage equality referendum—proved, the single most effective way to change other people's opinions is by engaging: by getting to know them personally, and by letting them know you.

We're pagans. Whatever our politics, we have certain things in common. We still share a common language.

So here are thirteen questions to ask those pagans on the other side of the hedge.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    Because the biggest issue I've seen is Eurocentric paganism's anxiety about people of color, I'd like to offer a few points that s
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I live in a world, Marc, in which pagans perceive one another as holding something in common. I live in a world in which the singl
  • Marc
    Marc says #
    What kind of mayonnaise-slathered world do you live in?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Researchers Identify 'Witch Gene'

AP: Minneapolis, MN

Are witches born or made?

According to the results of a genetic study to be published in next month's Scientific American, the answer is: A.

Dr. Stephanie Fox of the University of Paganistan's Department of Genetics and Epidemiology, announcing the results of a 40-year study, told reporters yesterday, “The Great Witch Families of Europe have long contended that witchery runs in families. We can now say confidently that genetics back up that claim.”

Although the so-called “witch gene” is predominantly present in mitochondrial (maternal) DNA, the study found that it can also be transmitted Y-chromosomally (in the paternal line) as well.

Interestingly, the “witch gene” has been found to be present in every human population so far studied.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Eclipsomania

It's been heartening to see so much excitement about the upcoming solar eclipse. 

Across North America, hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of people will greet the eclipse just as we used to in the old days: with gatherings, with ritual, with parties.

Some years back I sat alone on my back steps to watch that intimate moment in the dance of our Earth and our Moon that we call a lunar eclipse.

As always, it was beautiful, moving, disturbing: a lunar month in unreal microcosm.

But at that silent moment of red totality, I thought: this isn't how it should be. There should be people in every back yard, in every park, watching this holy event.

And at that moment of totality, there should have been massive city-wide outcry: voices, drums, the ringing of bells. It could have been a ritual that united the city.

On Monday, August 21, 2017, people across North America will honor that awesome, beautiful Great Rite that we call a solar eclipse. At that moment of terrible Union, for a brief while we will become one, united people: Red with Blue, pagan with cowan.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
On the Reading of Omens

Tarot-Schmaro.

My favorite form of divination has always been reading omens.

Of course, there isn't always an omen lying around when you happen to need one. Hence the cards, the runes, the lots: systematized omen-taking.

What's so compelling about omens is the way that they offer themselves. There you are, in the middle of everyday life, and suddenly something out of the ordinary happens. Voilà: a sign!

Of course, omens aren't always favorable. Then it's good to have some counter-magic handy, usually spoken. Absit omen, said the Romans: May it not be an omen. Keinehora ("no evil eye") my grandmother used to say. Hornie avert, I say, making the sign of the Horns.

There was a hole in the pasture fence. That's the simple explanation for why five cows kept coming up to the wooded ridge in southwestern Witchconsin where the Midwest Tribe of Witches had gathered this summer.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Or that you can get a different kind of browse on a wooded ridge than you can in a pasture!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Let's see; five cows-five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Dream. I know most people would write spirit instead of dream, b
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Loved it, I like omens too and have always found them useful. Messages are all around us wherever we care to look. You are so righ

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Old Blood Calls

The Sabbat is the true paradise...where there is more joy than I can express. Those who go there find the time too short because of the pleasure and happiness they enjoy and, having once been there, they will long with a raging desire [un désire enragé] to go and be there again.

(Jeanne Dibason, 1630)

 

The Old Blood calls.

The Sabbat: the ecstatic adoration of the incarnate Horned God, the witch's True Paradise.

For nearly 25 years, the Midwest Tribe of Witches has gathered regularly—at the requisite irregular intervals—in immemorial Grand Sabbat.

Plans for Grand Sabbat 2018 are already under way.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Cow-Count

Well, it could have been a game that Indo-European children played 6000 years ago as they rode out in wagons with their families to conquer most of the known world.

Although I doubt it.

“Why don't you two 'count cows'?” my father would say to my sister and I in the car. He'd played the game himself as a child.

Whoever ends up with the most cows wins, of course. All cows on your side of the road belong to you. With herds, this can mean some quick tabulation. You have to count out loud, and you can only keep counting while the cows are still in sight. Don't even think of cheating: there are other eyes on your cows as well.

As for the bad news: whenever you pass a graveyard on your side, you lose all your cows, and have to start over again from nothing. Like most games, it enacts the story of life itself.

By its very nature, this game can hardly have preceded the automobile. I strongly suspect that my grandparents made it up to keep fractious children distracted during long road trips.

And yet. And yet: those primal, primal images. Cows and graveyards, life and death: prima materia indeed.

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The God That Wasn't There

I'd gone down to the clearing to make the morning offering to the stang.

But the stang wasn't there.

(It turned out later that the stang's keeper had moved it, but that doesn't really enter into this story.)

Now, it's always best to offer towards: in this case, towards an icon.

Well, I had the offerings and it was the time of offering, so I made the usual offerings and said the usual prayers to the Invisible Stang instead: to the stang that wasn't there.

Of course, every visible stang—and every icon—is (shall we say) overlain by the invisible stang anyway (or should be, at least).

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