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
Her Hidden Children

If some Da'ish thug put a gun to your temple and hissed in your ear, Convert or die: what would you do?

Pagans have faced this choice ever since non-pagan religions gained political power. In our own day, alas, some pagans still face this hideous choice.

Which is better, to be true and die, or to hide and live?

The martyrs get all the hero-tales, it's true.

And indeed, I praise the sacrifice of those who kept (and keep) faith at the cost of their lives.

But ever, they say, the Craft must survive.

So I also praise the sacrifice of those who wrap themselves in the cloak of the conqueror, but keep the Old Ways in secret.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    This is wonderful! So important to remember. I'm gonna link it to Macha's FB page.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What is the Symbol of Earth?

In Baltic lore, each of the Old Gods has his or her own sign.

For the Sun, it's the Sun Wheel. For the Moon, the Crescent.

Fire is the Fire Cross, the swastika, Thunder, the Thunder Cross, or compound swastika.

The Winds, since there are four of them, have the Cross, Heaven the Mountain. (How else would you draw a picture of the sky?)

But what about Earth?

My teacher, Tony Kelly, of the Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland, used to say, “If we know anything at all about Earth, we know that she's Mother.”

At the time, as a good, doctrinaire second wave feminist, I found this statement reductionist and objectionable.

Since then, I've changed my mind.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I'm no historian of feminism and certainly can't speak for second wave feminism generally, but (in effect) yes. The feeling was th
  • Taffy Dugan
    Taffy Dugan says #
    Why would thinking of the Earth as a Mother be reductionist and objectionable? Was the 2nd wave of feminism putting down mothers?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Do Gods Have Halos?

It's something of a problem in contemporary pagan iconography.

Do gods have halos?

Halo: a disk of light surrounding the head, in art the conventional indicator of holiness. (In Greek, halo means “threshing floor”; threshing floors were clean, shining disks of ground.)

To Western eyes, halos may have something of a Christian look to them. For some, that's a problem.

But look East and you'll see that buddhas wear halos too, and so do Hindu gods.

In fact, there was a time when use of the halo was forbidden to Christian artists. Sorry, Crispus, halos are for pagans.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
World Stag

They say that once long ago,

when the sky was in danger of falling,

he caught it up on his antlers

and held it,

and that way we weren't all crushed.

They say that it's him

as holds up the sky on his antlers

still, to this day.

So that's why they call him the World Stag,

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Thirteen Towers of the Horned One

Stretching across Asia, from North Manchuria, through Tibet, west through Persia, and ending in the Kurdistan, was a chain of seven towers on isolated mountaintops; and in each one of these towers sat continuously a priest of Satan, who by "broadcasting" occult vibrations controlled the destinies of the world for evil. 

William B. Seabrook, Adventures in Arabia

In 1927, gonzo journalist William Seabrook became the first to write about the "Seven Towers of Satan," by which the priesthood of the Yazidis, the People of the Peacock Angel, secretly controlled the world.

So that explains it.

Seabrook's towers were fiction, but hey: a good idea is a good idea.

The Thirteen Towers of the Horned One.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Rhymes with 'Art'

The ancestors were practical people.

When linguists discovered that, by comparing words from daughter languages, they could reconstruct a vocabulary for a language from some 6000 years ago, predating the invention of writing, they were ecstatic.

In our understanding of the past, archaeological artifacts will take us only so far. To really understand how a culture thinks, we need to know what it says.

To the scholarly world's everlasting disappointment, what we can reconstruct of the Proto-Indo-European language really tells us very little about the ancestors' society, culture, or religion.

What we do know is that they had two words for, shall we say, “breaking wind.”

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Can You Still Be a Heathen If You Don't Like Mead?

So: I'd like your opinion on a theological matter of some importance.

I know it sounds like a joke, but it isn't really.

I don't like mead. I've never met a mead I liked.

I'd rather drink bad beer than drink good mead.

I'd rather drink water than drink mead.

Hell: I'd rather drink goat piss than drink mead.

(Insofar there's any appreciable difference between the two, anyway.)

So, can I still be heathen?

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  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    I'm interested in the question Chris raised. Each time I try to fill in that blank of the sine qua non of a witch, I find someone
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I like to think that flexibility is inherent in polytheism: a world in which there's nearly always another option!
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Lots of Asatru kindreds provide an alternative beverage for non-drinkers. Sometimes there are two horns, with with alcohol and one
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    From my personnel perspective I hate being told "You've got to do this if you want to be that" or "You can't do that if you want t
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Gods, ya gotta love the Lore. "Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it." Well, that's quite a conundrum you pose there, sir,

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