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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From: Invitation to the Grand Sabbat

This is a tribal gathering; as such, we operate as a tribe, under tribal thew (custom, law). If you attend, you are either a member, or a guest, of the tribe. This fact has certain implications. Everyone is expected to act responsibly at all times.

We police ourselves. If a situation arises, handle it. If you can't handle it, find someone that can.

There are many people in a tribe. Some you will like; some you may not. (Witches, of course, tend to be people with a lot of jagged edges, anyway.) It nonetheless remains everyone's responsibility to maintain the sacred moot-frith, the peace of the gathering, at all times. If you can't treat others with civility and respect, then you don't belong here.

At the heart of tribal democracy lies personal responsibility. If you don't like something that someone else is doing, it's up to you to say: Please stop. If someone asks you to stop what you're doing, please think seriously before continuing.

Note also that our people respect the power of intoxicants and regard them as sacred. If you're going to use, use in a sacred way.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Ask an Elder

Even in a community as richly endowed with characters as Paganistan, my dear friend “Granny” Ro Nicburne stands out.

At Twin Cities Pagan Pride last fall, she set up a shingle.

Ask an Elder

Free Advice

(And Worth What You Pay)

All day long, she fielded questions.

Some—from wise-asses like me—were joke questions. To these, she replied with the answers they deserved. Nobody does wry like Granny.

But there were real questions, too. If you build the candy cottage, the kiddies will come.

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You Find Community in the Strangest Places

I was seven. We'd never moved before.

Finally my mom kicked me out of the house. “Go and make some new friends,” she said.

I wandered aimlessly through the backyards until I came to a little knot of kids, playing Tarzan. The oldest girl, Debbie S., was Tarzan.

I felt a thrill of homecoming.

We played Tarzan all that afternoon: climbing trees, ape-dancing, chanting the war-chant of the Jujus (NA-na-na-na-na NA-na-na-na-na NA-na NA-na NA-na-na-na-na). I was Jane.

A year later, Debbie and her family moved away. I never saw her again.

Still, I have no doubt whatsoever that some day out there I'll run a dyke named Debbie S.

When we do, I know exactly what I'll say.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Beyond the Hedge

 I'm goin' to a meetin', do you want to come along?

I'm goin' to a meetin', do you want to come along?

I'm goin' to a meetin', do you want to come along?

We'll dance by the light of the Moon.

(Appalachian traditional)

 

We don't know whether or not the classic Witches' Sabbat—the Horned Lord enthroned on the altar, the frenzied dancing, the love-making in the shadows—ever existed anywhere but in the tortured imaginations of the witch-hunters.

But this much we do know: it exists now.

It doesn't much resemble what some call sabbats, safely indoors with their decorous quarter-candles.

The Sabbat-in-true is no indoor rite.

The Sabbat is a rite of the woods, the mountain, the island: what witches call the Outgarth.

And yes, there's the Horned Lord enthroned on the altar, and frenzied dancing, and love-making. It wouldn't be the Sabbat without them.

At the Sabbat, the firelight flash of a moving knife denotes no casting of circles.

It's the sacrificial blade, descending.

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Posch, You've Gone Too Far: In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Indulges Himself in a Thoroughly Tasteless—If Tasty—Bit of Satire

“Seriously, what is it about witches and cannibalism?”

(Sabrina Spellman)

 

As every witch knows, unbaptized baby is a delicious, nutritious, and—in this overpopulated and increasingly nonreligious world—readily available food.

These days you can even get organic ones at Trader Joe's.

But—you might ask—is it really worth all the effort? And—on a strictly practical level—who has a large enough oven any more?

Now, plenty of witches have oven issues, of course: completely understandably, let me say. But do remember that, when properly jointed, what is traditionally known as hornless goat* will fit quite easily—even allowing ample room for plenty of vegetables—into the average roasting pan. If it will hold a turkey, it will hold a baby.

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  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
'2019 May Day Parade Will Be the Last,' Says Heart of the Beast

Minneapolis, MN

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to publicly celebrate a pagan holiday in a pagan city, Bealtaine 2019 may be your last chance to find out.

Heart of the Beast Mask and Puppet Theater in Minneapolis announced yesterday that this year's May Day Parade and Celebration, the 45th, will be the last.

For 45 years, people of every religion and ethnicity have danced down Bloomington Avenue on the first Sunday in May to celebrate the end of Winter and the Coming of the Sun. It has become one of the signature celebrations of our year, to Minneapolis what Mardi Gras is to New Orleans.

For 45 years, May Day has been the one day a year when everyone becomes an honorary pagan.

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  • Jennifer
    Jennifer says #
    This sounds like something I really need to do before it is no more
  • Helga Hedgewalker
    Helga Hedgewalker says #
    The Heart of The Beast May Day Celebration is the very center of Paganistan! It is heart-breaking to think of this treasure of the
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Everyone loves the arts, but everyone forgets to support them...sigh... It would be a cultural tragedy to lose this tradition...le

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Who's Bringing the Hornless Goat?

 "What is it with witches and cannibalism?"
(Sabrina Spellman)

 

What's a coven to do?

We're pagans. We don't just like to eat; food is central to our religion. Maintaining a spiritual connection with our food sources lies at the very heart of who we are, how we see things, and what we do.

So, when we get together, we eat. Therein lies the rub.

In our coven of eight, we've got one vegetarian (me), one fishetarian, and six more-or-less practicing omnivores, but that's the easy part. We've also got numerous allergies, sensitivities, and just plain don't likes. How to accommodate everyone?

When I'm thinking about what to bring to the (ahem) cauldron-luck, I'd like to be able to feed as many as possible, so I try to bring dishes without major allergens. But once you add in all the “don't likes,” acceptable foods begin to vanish mathematically with each person that we add to the group.

So, in our usual pragmatic way, we've settled on two coven food policies:

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I think of Elizabeth Marshall who, as a teen back in the 50s, went with her anthropologist parents to the Kalahari to live with so
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    We had the same problem in my old coven. We couldn't even do cakes and ale together in ritual because of allergies and sensitiviti

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