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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Loki: Hokey or Schlocky?

How do you say “Loki”?

By far the most common American—and certainly the Hollywood—pronunciation rhymes with “hokey.” Thus, in his novel American Gods, Neil Gaiman (whose purpose as a storyteller is an entertaining story, not historical or theological accuracy) nicknames Odin's blood-brother “Low Key” Liesmith.

But that's not how the ancestors would have pronounced it.

In old Norse, every vowel is either short or long. Historians of the language all agree that the O in Loki is a short one.

Thus, in ancient, as in modern, Icelandic, Loki rhymes with “schlocky,” not “hokey”: LAW-key, not LOW-key.

So, the thirteen thousand sol question (pagan money = sols and lunas): Does that mean that short-O Loki-rhymes-with-schlocky is the correct pronunciation?

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  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Indeed. My Latin prof used to say, "The problem with languages is that people use them." But if these ethnic recon trads are about
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Well, that's a pretty big bag o' snakes you just opened up there, Murphy (maybe I should say, we opened up). My scholarly side (a
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Dont get me started on how the names of Greek deities are pronounced now.. ..oh, and enough with trying to phonetically pronounce

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Deeper Names

The great god of the Northern Bronze Age was the Sun, and His sign was the Wheel.

Happy were they who saw His sign standing in the sky.

Today, in the winter skies of the North, we see it there still.

“Parahelia,” they say, or “Sun dogs.”

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The Three Births of Yule

Now these are the Three Births of Yule.

The First Birth of Yule is the Primal Birth.

Long ago, in ages of ages, the fires of the Sun first kindled, since when He has royally burned in self-giving, sacrificial light.

The Second Birth of Yule is the Eternal Birth.

This is the annual birth of the Sun, Who daily and yearly goes down in darkness and rises up again: and unto ages of ages.

The Third Birth of Yule is the Earthly Birth.

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Is Vat-Grown 'Meat' Vegetarian?

We're not there yet, but I keep hearing that within a decade or so, the food conglomerates will be selling lab-grown “meat” that feels, smells, and tastes like “real” meat, but does not involve the slaughter of living animals.

So let me ask: is “meat” raised under such conditions “vegetarian”?

Semantics, semantics. How do you define “vegetarian”? The traditional diet of the Masai consists largely of dairy products and blood drawn from living cattle. For years I've argued that, technically, such a diet is indeed vegetarian. After all, no animals were killed to produce it.

For me, vat-grown “meat” raises serious ethical and religious issues. As a pagan, I feel that it behooves us to eat in as sacred a way as possible. At the heart of sanctity lies relationship. If you raise a steer to slaughter it for food, there's at least some kind of personal relationship there.

(That's why I feel that it's every practicing omnivore's obligation to participate—at least from time to time—in the killing and butchering of the animals that they eat. That's why I'm that paradoxical pagan animal, the pro-sacrifice vegetarian.)

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I try to say "Goddess, God and Great Spirit thank you and blessings on all the plants and animals that gave their lives to make th
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Yeah, as another longtime vegetarian, I'm with you on this one. The lab grown meat thing is a response to folks who know that a me
In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Confesses to Committing a Theft

Let me tell you the story of how, as a young man, I committed a theft. From a church, no less.

A friend had invited me to a service at his Lutheran church. Afterwards, during coffee hour, I wandered into the church library. There on the shelf, I saw it.

Of all unlikely things to find in a church library: a copy of Robert Graves' iconoclastic 1946 novel, King Jesus.

Don't be put off by the title, or the subject matter. This novel is Graves' revisionist Goddess history of that erstwhile Jewish prophet, and—Graves being Graves—it's matriarchy versus patriarchy in the Battle of the Millennium.

Spoiler alert: the Goddess wins.

(No big surprise there. Anybody that knows Her knows that, in the end, the Goddess always wins.)

Although it lacked a dust cover, the book was otherwise in pristine condition. I pulled it off the shelf and opened the cover. It was a first edition.

I checked the “Date Due” card in back. The book had belonged to the church for more than 20 years. (No doubt someone had donated it: unread, to all appearances.) In all that time, it had never once been checked out. So I stole it.

Ah, the things you do for love.

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  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    I found a hardcover copy at B&N for $3.95. The NOOK version is $10.99.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Happy reading!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I ordered a copy of King Jesus from Barnes & Noble. I also ordered copies of Jesus through Pagan Eyes, and Magic in the New Testa
The Pomegranate Tree: A Carol by Robert Graves

If you haven't read (or reread) Robert Graves' King Jesus lately, let me recommend it.

Don't be put off by the title, or the subject matter. This novel is Graves' revisionist Goddess history of that erstwhile Jewish prophet, and—Graves being Graves—it's matriarchy versus patriarchy in the Battle of the Millennium.

Spoiler alert: the Goddess wins.

(No big surprise there. Anybody that knows Her knows that, in the end, the Goddess always wins.)

Written at roughly the same time as Graves' “grammar of poetic myth” The White Goddess, King Jesus is equally filled with savory tidbits of lore, but—with its iconoclastic narrative to buoy it up—it's eminently the more readable of the two.

Among the riches that you'll find there is this delightful little carol. We generally sing it to the tune of the traditional Appalachian song The Cherry Tree Carol.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Anthony, I'm astounded. A well-read guy like you? Tell you what. If you can't find a copy at your local library, buy yourself a ch
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading about the book King Jesus in Drawing Down the Moon but I've never stumbled across a copy of the book myself. I

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tree with Suns

Check out this early 5th-century gilded silver pendant from West Gotland in Sweden.

If Stockholm University's Anders Andrén is right, this is an image of the ancestral universe.

According to Andrén, what at first looks like an abstract design—known to art historians as a pelta (“shield”) or mushroom-shaped design—is actually the World Tree (Andrén 140).

(Andrén does not say why it is that, if so, the World Tree's branching volutes should end in animal [=serpent?] heads, although the design has parallels in other contemporary art from Gotland [Andrén 141]. My own eisigesis [=”reading in”] would be that here we see the Tree of Life resolving into animal life.)

At the top, we see the long-rayed zenith Sun, flanked by the short-rayed Suns of Sunrise and Sunset.

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  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    What a beautiful way of looking at the world!

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