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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Broomstick Ghetto

 “Bast, you need to get out more and read some history that doesn't have witches in it.”

 

I live in the Broomstick Ghetto.

Now, some may think: Posch, you need to get out more. You're living in a fantasy.

Well, I disagree.

Denunciations of “retribalization” routinely miss a salient point.

People want a tribe. People need a tribe. People are looking for a tribe of their own to be part of.

And some of us are lucky enough already to have one.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Local historians generally date the start of Paganistan from Beltane 1976, when Minnesota Church of the Wicca held their first May
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    Amen. (Omen?) I've always been jealous of what you all had up there since, oh, I dunno, 1980?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Nothing is Ever Forgotten

 “Nothing's forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.”

(Robin of Sherwood)

“New ink,” I say.

It's the annual Beltane cookout, something of a family reunion here in local Pagandom. Catching up with a friend, I notice two staves of ogham on his forearm.

I can read nine different alphabets, including Phoenician, but (alas) my ogham is rusty.

He helps me out.

“'Nothing's forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.'”

I know the quotation, of course. It's the tag line from Robin of Sherwood, the BBC's overtly pagan iteration of the Robin Hood mythos, the 1980s series that brought Herne back to Sherwood.

“It's for N,” he tells me, naming a beloved and much-missed local priestess, now with the ancestors.

It's a fitting tribute. She loved the series well, and in fact came into the Craft because of it. (Discussing it with a friend at work one day, she happened to remark: “...but what's with the guy with the antlers?” “Ah,” said her co-worker, “I think I can help you out there.”)

Our conversation continues, but through the days that follow, I find myself thinking again and again of those words, the words of (among others) Herne.

Nothing's forgotten. Nothing is ever forgotten.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    +1 for the ROS reference. That show rocked. By the way, I very much agree with your comments.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Every Altar Is a Door

As keeper of the coven temple, it's my responsibility to make the daily offerings and prayers there on the People's behalf.

This I do twice daily, morning and evening.

(In an ideal world, with a full temple staff, there would be four offerings each day: at sunrise, solar noon, sunset, and solar midnight. Oh well. We do the best that we can with the resources available.)

A fortnight back I was staying at Sweetwood Sanctuary in the heart of Midwest Witch Country. While I was there, I made the daily offerings and prayers before the main altar in the Grand Circle.

There I noticed something very interesting indeed.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    So to light the candles is to pass through the doorway. Nice.
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    This is why I always put a pair of candlesticks on an altar (but not a shrine)...the candlesticks mark the doorposts.
Know Your Enemy: How the Quick-Thinking Pagans of Harran Outwitted the Caliph's Army

It's probably an apocryphal story.

Even so, it's so delicious that you really do have to relish it.

The people of Harran in Mesopotamia had managed to hold on to the Old Worship long after all the other cities in the area had been baptized.

But then, in late 639 or early 640, the Muslim army of 'Iyadh ibn Ghanam approached the city.

According to the Qur'an, all pagans are to be be given a choice between conversion to Islam or death. People of the Book, however, are permitted to retain their religion and live, under Islam, as second-class citizens.

Who, then, are the Peoples of the Book? Christians, Jews, and Zoroastrians, says the Qur'an. And in one passage it adds: “...and the Sabaeans.”

Who were the Sabaeans? Nobody knows. To this day, there's no scholarly consensus.

As 'Iyadh neared Harran, the gates opened and the city elders rode out to greet the caliph and his army.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Um...M. L. West's Indo-European Poetry and Myth counts, right?
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    To qualify, a community needs a book revealed by a prophet. "Um, yeah, our prophet is Hermes Trismegistos. And our book is anyth
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    There are always precedents for Living Together, always. In these days of deep division, it's important to remember.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I love the story of Harran, the last haven of Pagan religious freedom in the Middle East...ruled by a dynasty of liberal Muslims!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Once and Future Goddess

I wore the little silver goddess for years.

Then I lost her.

What struck me most was how much I missed her.

I own some beautiful jewelry, but—ritual aside—rarely wear it. The little silver goddess was the only exception: both symbol and reality, herself her own best symbol.

Then she was gone.

A coven-sib gave her to me (I think for Yule) years ago. Simultaneously unobtrusive and monumental, she's of no particular culture. Schematic, asymmetric, she beautifully embodies what singer-songwriter Sparky T. Rabbit once described as the perfect New Pagan aesthetic, managing somehow to look “both old and new at the same time.”

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White House to Host Beltane Celebration Sunday

AP: Washington, D. C.

The White House announced Wednesday that it will host the nation's first presidential Beltane celebration since the 1920s, on Sunday, May 7.

“Wiccans will be flying in from all over the country,” press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters. “On planes, mostly.”

“I ♥ Wiccans,” tweeted acting President Ronald Rump later in the day. "They're amazing people, amazing."

A White House spokesman later offered a clarification, indicating that the president was actually referring to Presbyterians.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Prince William Initiated Into Coven

AP: London

Palace sources confirmed today that Prince William, eventual heir to the British throne, was recently initiated into a local Windsor coven.

“The Duke of Cambridge's interest in the Old Ways is of both a long-standing and a deeply personal nature,” a spokesman said, while requesting that the prince's “spiritual privacy” be respected.

According to Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury, this initiation in no way conflicts with the prince's likely future standing as “Defender of the [Anglican] Faith.”

“He would certainly not be the first King of England to maintain the Old Faith along with the New,” he said on Friday.

Smiling, he added: “Haven't you ever heard of the 'King of the Witches'?”

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