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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Of House-Gods and the Pork King

In the West Telemark Museum in Eidsborg, Norway, you can see numerous small wooden figures of “house-gods.”

Some of them date from antiquity, discovered, anaerobically preserved, in bogs.

Some are more recent.

In Norway's remote, rural Telemark region, house-gods such as these were kept at certain farms well into the 19th century. Associated with a specific farm and with the family that lived there, they were regarded not so much as gods, but as heirlooms, talismans that warded off misfortune and ensured good harvests and many offspring both to the family and its livestock.*

They say that one such house-god was called the Pork King. At holidays, it was customary to anoint this figure with lard or butter. At Yule, before the family took their traditional pre-Yule baths, the first to be bathed in the purifying waters was the Pork King himself. Only the mistress of the farm was permitted to be present for the bathing of the Pork King. Not even the farmer himself could witness this sacred ablution.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Counsel to One Seeking a Patron God II

Egads, Roberto, everything that I try to write on this topic seems to want to condense into poetry! Maybe that's just the nature of the topic.

Anyway, wishing you Luck of the Hunt.

 

What have you always loved?

Who are your people? Who are the gods of your people?

If you could live in any other time and place in history, when and where would it be?

Immerse yourself in the Lore: the stories, the art, the culture. Follow where you are drawn.

Make offering and Call. Say: I am looking for You; speak to me, I'm listening.

Look for patterns in your life. Chances are, you're already being Called. Chances are, you've been being Called all your life.

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Counsel to One Seeking a Patron God I

Gods make elusive prey.

Hunter, be relentless.

First off, know your forest. Learn the terrain, the trees, the watering-places. Look for where to look.

Then stalk. Note patterns. Hunt with every sense. Follow the spoor, read each subtle sign: the print in the mud, the broken fern, the hank of fur in the bramble. Listen for movement. Snuffle for scent. Trust your hunter's instinct: your feet will find the way.

At times, stalk actively.

At times, quietly wait. Choose the right spot, and your prey will come to you.

When it does, aim and shoot true.

When you do, brace for the arrow to your heart.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Flame Between the Antlers

Let me tell you a secret.

You know King Arthur, him we call Artos the Bear?

Well: at the heart of his story throbs the Witches' Sabbat.

Really.

I first read Rosemary Sutcliff's flawed amethyst of a masterpiece Sword at Sunset when I was still in elementary school—too young, really. It was my first Arthurian novel, and—quite frankly—it ruined me for anything else. Mallory's knights in shining armor, White's sly satirical anachronisms, Bradley's horrible nun-priestesses: none of them quite stack up in comparison to the real thing.

Because that's what you think when you read Sword: this is exactly how it must have been.

Sutcliff's Artos—our Artos—is a Dark Age Keltic chieftain in a gritty post-Roman Britain where Old Gods and Old Ways are still vibrantly, resoundingly alive, a world in which a grizzled old horse-herd, after a lifetime of work in the breeding-runs, can believe that the Horned One has finally sent him the perfect horse. A world in which Artos the Bear is raised to kingship in an impromptu coronation (after a resounding victory in battle against the Saxons) on the Eye of the White Horse of Uffington.

Sutcliff knows three things supremely well: the land of Britain, the history of Britain, and the Old Ways of Britain. In Sword at Sunset, these three knowledges, which are one knowledge, converge in one splendid, shining tale of fierce battles and piercing loves.

And at its very heart burns the blue-dark flame of the Witches' Sabbat.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I ordered a book. Haven't gotten it read yet. Thanks for the recommendation.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    While I've come to love Mallory for his language and mystery, despite his medievalism, I find both Stewart and Paxson's Arthurian
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I took a class in Arthurian Literature in college back in the 80's. I had read some of Mary Stewart's Merlin Trilogy as a teenage

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
You Are What You Worship

I would say, We're of the Old Religion, but that's not what the ancestors would have said.

The ancestors didn't even have a word for religion.

No; if they'd deigned to tell you at all, they would have said: We're of the Old Worship.

And that's much Truer.

Some people are what they believe. We're not.

We are what we do, and there's something else that we know.

You are what you worship.

Some of our people these days get squeamish around the word worship; to them, it's come to imply self-abasement and power-over.

But that's not worship at all. Or maybe it's one kind of worship, but it's certainly not ours.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Och, Robert, your question is so evocative that I want to reply with a post. Keep with me and I'll have it for you as soon as may
  • Roberto Pagliaro
    Roberto Pagliaro says #
    Thank you. Please don't forget me and if you have any more ideas please let me know. Someone has recommended Poseidon because I am
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    As I understand it Florida is having a problem with salt water encroachment into their water table. I can see how Poseidon might
  • Roberto Pagliaro
    Roberto Pagliaro says #
    I read your excellent RTicle. I am a novice and quite unsure of where I can find paganist groups in my location, though I am sure

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Young Elders of Paganistan

When you've been doing something for six months, and everyone around you has only been doing it for five, that makes you the elder.

Gods help us all.

That was the situation back in the early days of Paganistan. At the time, most of us hadn't been doing this for very long, but the fact that we'd been doing it longer than anyone else made us the de facto elders of the community.

Incredibly enough, the community survived anyway. It not only survived, but flourished.

You learn fast when you have to. When people around you expect you to be wise, it's surprising how wise you can actually be.

Well, sometimes.

It may well be that you yourself are in this same position: a premature elder in a young community.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Goddess Pockets

We call them Gettintaschen, “goddess pockets.”

“Pockets.” Yeah, right.

They're sweet, triangular cookies stuffed, traditionally, with fruit, nut, or poppy seed fillings. My covensib Kay generally makes a few with peanut butter-chocolate chip centers as well. Call it fusion.

I don't need to tell you what they represent. That's why they're served in the Spring, and at other fertility-related occasions, like Full Moons and First Bloods.

Needless to say, they're way better than your standard-issue B of S moon-cakes.

Edible little deltas filled with sweet, rich goodness. What could possibly be more goddess-y than that?

“Pockets.”

Yeah, right.

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