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 Comes Across Something Unexpected in a Gay Porn Mag

 Reader alert: Explicit gay sex

 

My friend hands me the open magazine.

“Steve, you have got to see this.”

I've never much been one for written erotica, but when I see the title of the story, my jaw drops.

The Cult of the Horned God.

So: our hero, a studly young anthropologist fresh out of grad school, has gone to rural France to study contemporary survivals of the Cult of the Horned God.

He's been staying in a farmhouse owned by two brothers: one blonde and one dark. Don't worry, you'll find something, they keep telling him, but the entire summer has gone by and he has turned up absolutely nothing. Watching the brothers swim naked at the beach, he can't decide which one is hotter, but really, what does it matter? he thinks: Just another disappointed hope.

On his last night in France, the brothers say: Hey, it's your last night: come with us. We have something we want to show you.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Do You Say When a Witch Dies?

What do you say when a witch dies?

Well, witchhood is a kind of tribal affiliation.

Those who have no tribe often find it difficult to understand the depth of the sense of belonging that comes with tribal identity. Those that do, know that, naturally, when you die, you don't want to come back just anywhere; you want to come back to your people, to those that you love.

Uncle Gerald got it absolutely right when he says in Witchcraft Today (140) that our hope beyond death is for rebirth among our own.

Once a witch, always a witch, they say. Not even death takes that away.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Well now it's odd. Today at work an idea popped into my head of a group of witches at a funeral all dressed up in black robes and
  • Helga Hedgewalker
    Helga Hedgewalker says #
    I think it's true. I have many times in this life met people who became important future coven-mates and just KNEW they were impor
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'll note with amusement that in the WT passage cited above, the witches tell Gardner that to be reborn among one's own is a rewar
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    From what I've read in books on past life regression we do have a tendency to reincarnate in groups. Apparently a lot of American

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Kiss the Earth

When's the last time that you kissed the Earth?

I mean: got down on your hands and knees and actually kissed the Earth? Kissed Her, and really meant it?

The Kiss of the Earth has nothing to do with abasement. It's an act of love, of worship.

All that we know, all that we love, our very selves: all these are gifts of Earth.

That's why we do it.

 ***

In one of the “20th” century's greatest pieces of pagan art, Sacre du Printemps, we see the Spring Rites of an ancient Slavic tribe. In the original Nijinsky choreography, at the end of the first act, the Day Rites climax with the moment of utmost sanctity, the Kiss of the Earth.

The youths lead the tribe's Oldest Man into the midst of the people. With their assistance, he lowers himself to the ground and kisses the Mother of Us All.

On our behalf, he kisses Her.

***

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Shit on the Altar

What would you do if you came down one morning and found shit on the altar?

Literal shit?

It happened to a friend of mine.

She'd recently moved the household altar, with its antlered Grinnygog* and photos of the dead, from a wall-shelf upstairs to a beautiful painted alcove downstairs. By aesthetic standards, the move was a quantum improvement, and yet, there it was: desecration.

What do you do when there's shit on the altar? Well, first you wash everything as thoroughly as you can, and strew the altar with salt.

Then you figure out what's going on, and what you need to do about it.

It turns out that the shit wasn't actually shit, but—hardly an improvement—spew.

The kitty had jumped up on the altar, eaten the food offerings, and then puked them back up. Yuck.

Well, kitties will be kitties. Still, when it comes to the sacred, these things don't just happen.

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Lose the Chocolate

Ostara's the time when many would say: Loose the chocolate.

But me, I say: Lose the chocolate.

For religious reasons, lose it.

***

I live in Minnesota. It is wrong—wrong—that, in the stores here, apples should be expensive, and bananas cheap.

Wrong.

 ***

Chocolate, like copal and bananas, is an exotic visitor from the fabled Southern lands of Ever-Summer. There's the connection with Ostara: think of it as sympathetic magic.

In a few years, most of the world's cacao trees, grown unsustainably in inappropriate places where—as a cash crop—their cultivation has helped to destroy sustainable local agriculture, will be dead from cacao blight, anyway.

By then, of course, oil will be running out in good earnest, and it will no longer be economically feasible to move foodstuffs over large distances.

Then chocolate will once again become the expensive exotic that, by rights, it ought to be.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Birch beer is an old northern drink. I once split a bottle of it with a friend while standing under the tower on Glastonbury Tor i
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember back in the 80's they kept trying to pass off carob as chocolate. It never tasted right to me. Then back in the 00's

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Mandrakes: Remembering Raven Grimassi

Conversations around the presenters' breakfast table at Pagan Spirit Gathering are generally pretty good, but things really kicked up a notch when someone mentioned mandrakes.

“Oh, I raise them,” said Raven Grimassi.

It turns out that raising mandrakes in New England is no easy feat. It's too cold for them to overwinter in the ground, so you have to dig them up every year. Raven used to winter his in a barrel of sand, until it was warm enough to replant them in the spring.

A lot of work, to be sure, but the up side is that, handling them so often, and watching them grow as you do, you develop a very special kind of relationship with your mandrakes.

“Do you want to see some pictures?” asked Raven.

Everyone laughed. Did we ever.

In a life spent in the Craft, some moments stand out.

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The Will to Resist

 Witches' Sabbat, n. the ecstatic adoration of the embodied Horned Lord

 

Although it has analogues among the rites of antiquity, the Sabbat is not, in and of itself, an ancient ritual.

Viewed as a genre of ritual—like the Seder or the Mass—we can say quite specifically that the notion of the Witches' Sabbat first emerged at a particular time in a particular place: in fact, in the western Alps during the mid-15th century.

In his book Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches' Sabbath (1991), historian Carlo Ginzburg traces the socio-cultural forces that drove the rise of the Sabbat. What he does not document—how could he?—were the Sabbat's internal driving forces. What is the inner theological meaning of the Sabbat?


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. So said French witch Jeanne Dibasson in 1630.

 

The Horned gave us the Sabbat as an earthly foretaste of the Witches' “Paradise,” where one experiences the simultaneous dissolution and expansion of self, the very state of being out of which we emerge and to which, in the end, we shall return.

Nor need we wait to die to partake of this joy; for by His Main and Mercy, we may join the Eternal Dance on the Sabbat-Field of the Goat, the Grand Sabbat of the atoms, here and now.

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