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
A Contract with Death

Life is a contract with death, annually renewed.

At Samhain, we renew the contract.

At Samhain we stand before the great black void of Non-Existence.

She offers us an apple.

Others die; we eat. Some day, we will die and others eat.

The ancient story: feed and feed.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Good eye, Tasha. It's based on the Samhain ritual that we've been doing for...well, decades now. Which in turn is based upon one o
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Interesting...Apples and symbols, bobbing for apples, Snow White and the apple...lots of interesting stuff there. Love myths and t
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Oh My! Is this based on an actual myth or is it simply a metaphor? Just curious. Very special! Thanks for sharing, Blessed Be, Tas

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Imperfect Canes

As we learn—or relearn—our native paganisms, the lessons sure do come from some strange places.

After surgery, a friend needed a cane. He told me what he wanted and I went down to the store to get it for him.

It soon became clear to me that his dream cane didn't exist. Eventually I bought the one that was closest to what he wanted, on the principle that, when you need a cane, it's better to have an imperfect cane than not to have the perfect one.

Planning this year's Samhain, we needed a song to call the ancestors.

In a traditional society, of course, we would call the ancestors with the song that they themselves had handed down to us. We'd all know this song, and it would have the quality and the worthiness that centuries of honing can give.

Alas, that song—along with so much else—is now lost to us.

Instead, we have a new song which, frankly, isn't as good as I would like it to be: the dilemma of much modern paganism.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Warning to All Students of the Craft

 Caveat discipulus.

(“Let the student beware.”)

There may be some things that unquestioning obedience can teach you.

The Craft isn't one of them.

The Wise take initiative. The Wise know how to say No.

Alas, it needs to be repeated in every generation.

If your teacher wants you to do something that you don't feel right doing, Grab your broomstick and get out of there.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Changing Minds

The fact is, people do change their minds.

The question is, how to get there.

I came across an interesting story recently in Leonard Zeskind's 2009 Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream.

Zeskind was interviewing a heathen who held to a staunchly folkish position: i.e. that the Northern Way is exclusively for those of Northern European descent.

Well, but.

There's a man who has been part of the informant's local heathen community for years. Decades ago this man decided to make heathenry the center of his life, and he's done so ever since.

He knows the Old Lore thoroughly. He does lots of work in the community.

He's a committed Thorsman who offers to the Thunderer every day.

He's black.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Studies show that when people change their minds, it's usually the result of personal relationships. It's a long, slow work, a wor
  • James H. McCoy
    James H. McCoy says #
    I like the post. Also being a Heathen who is black... just have to go the extra mile to show that the hammer around our neck is no
In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Bites His Thumb at Robert Graves

You may recall the scene in Romeo and Juliet in which a servant of the Montagues publicly twits servants of the Capulets with a rude gesture.

SAMPSON [to Gregory]: ...I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it. [Bites thumb.]

ABRAHAM: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON: I do bite my thumb, sir.

ABRAHAM: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON [aside to Gregory]: Is the law of [on] our side if I say 'Ay'?

GREGORY: No.

SAMPSON: No sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir. (1.1.43-52)

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  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Too funny and interesting too. Thanks! Tasha
Why the Oak King/Holly King Story Doesn't Work for Me

Ah, Yule coming up. (Or Midsummer.)

Time to take the old Oak King/Holly King trope off the shelf and dust it off.

No offense intended if they're friends of yours, but the Oak King/Holly King just don't work for me.

It's not that they're a modern creation. Robert Graves had some good ideas: the Triple Goddess, for one...or three.

Gee, two guys in never-ending combat over who gets the girl. Gets her for the next six months, anyway.

Is that really the story we want to be telling the kids?

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks for the reminder, Anthony: I remember trying to read it when it first came out, but not managing to get very far. Maybe it'
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I read that book Oak King, Holly King and the Unicorn about the Unicorn tapestries. As I remember the argument the Unicorn is Jes
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Hello and thanks for this commentary. I like what you have to say and think it makes lots of sense indeed. Is it reflected also in
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I thought that Andy Gosling's treatment of the theme--the illustration at the head of this post--captured that aspect of the story
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    I prefer the one Feri version, where the two are lovers.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Witch's Most Important Tool

I haven't taken many students over the years, but—let me tell you—I couldn't be prouder of those that I have.

Here's why:

They all disagree with me.

You can be a witch and not know anything about Tarot.

You can be a witch and not know anything about chakras.

You can be a witch and not know anything about astrology, Qabala, or I Ching.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Clever,you are!

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