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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
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
Blood on the Sill

Silly cowans.

Back around solstice I went over to a friend's house to put her air conditioner in the window. She lives on the first floor of a big, solid old place, built back in the 1890s.

The first item on the agenda was to prop open the big, heavy oaken sash. It has a tendency to crash down unexpectedly when unsupported.

Last summer someone tried to break into her house. When she got back home, she found the air conditioner on the floor and the sash slammed shut.

There was blood on the windowsill.

Ouch.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
God of Both Ways

They say that the god of the witches has two faces.

Bifrons, they call him: old Two-Face.

Ianiformis, they call him: shaped like Ianus, the old Roman god of Time.

Two faces, fore and aft. But of course what's before and what's behind is all a matter of where you're standing, isn't it?

For this, Margaret Murray named him Dianus = Ianus, lord of beginnings and endings, like the month that bears his name.

Two faces, and when you arrive at the sabbat, you greet him with a kiss on both sets of lips.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Neanderthal Goddess

In The Inheritors, William Golding tells the story of the last Neanderthals.

For Golding's Neanderthals, Earth is goddess. They call her Oa.

Oa.

Novelist William Golding (1911-1993) is probably best known for his novel Lord of the Flies. Pagans might perhaps be aware that it was also he who named the Gaia Hypothesis.

It turns out that scientist James Lovelock was expostulating to his longtime friend and neighbor concerning his ideas about Earth as a self-regulating system.

His Earth-as-single-being needed a name. “What about 'Gaia'?” suggested Golding.

It's hard not to see metaphor here: Science and Literature as friends and neighbors, grabbing a pint together down at the local, maybe.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
World's Shortest Ritual

In ritual, it's always best when words and action reinforce one another.

Here's one of my favorite libation formulas: quick, no nonsense, easy. In English and her sister languages, to refer to someone as "my + (name)" is a gesture of affectionate intimacy.

 

Drink this (name of libation) with me,

my (name of deity),

and I will drink with You.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tama Witch

What is written in Earth, endures.

What the Lake receives, she keeps.

 

At 14, he climbed down the cliff. On the beach, he built a fire.

He stripped off his clothes.

I AM A WITCH, he wrote, in capitals: in the wet sand between shore and water, for the Lake to take.

He swam out, into the wind, as far as he could. Then he turned and swam back to shore.

He dried himself at the fire. He dressed and climbed back up.

He went back home.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Elf-Shine

They call it “elf-shine.”

I've seen it; I'm sure that you have, too.

It's the beauty that shines from someone in those moments of great joy or deep understanding: an illumination from within.

The ancestors of Northwestern Europe accounted the elves as the most beautiful of peoples, and so this beauty is named for them: for the shine of elf-shine—in Old English, ælf-scýne—is kin to German schön, “beautiful.”

“Beautiful as an elf,” the ancestors used to say.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Clean of Body, Clean of Spirit

If you were covered with sweat and dirt, would you walk into a ritual?

If you were seething with rage, would you walk into a ritual?

If you had just killed someone—accidentally, say—would you walk into a ritual?

Probably not, I'm guessing, And rightly so.

States of ritual purity—and impurity—were important to the ancestors. Very important. While these are not something that the new paganisms have (for the most part) spent much time thinking about, I'm going to argue that, without being consciously aware of it, we generally observe such purity laws ourselves. If that's really so, then we as pagans can only benefit from becoming more consciously aware of what we're already doing unconsciously.

In some ways, I think that language often gets in the way. “Clean/unclean,” “pure/impure”: this kind of language seems alien to us. We've had it used against us so often—and against women in particular—that we've largely excised it from our thought and our practice.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    That's right, I'd forgotten about the old Hebrew practice. If you were Dinee, your family would hire a hata'ali to sing an Enemy W
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When we had some Shinto priests visit our church from Tsubaki Grand Shrine the minister showed us a film of some boys standing und

Additional information