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
Cauldron Quest

The good news: there's finally a good (i.e. historically trustworthy) book about the Grail.

The bad news: if you're looking for deep pagan mysteries, there aren't any. The Grail is entirely a product of the Christian imagination.

To put it differently: in the seething cauldron that is the human imagination, Grail lore is a stew made from Christian ingredients, with only the merest hint of pagan seasoning.

In medievalist Richard Barber's masterful The Holy Grail: Imagination and Belief, Barber traces the origin of the Grail, term and motif, from its entirely orthodox Christian beginnings in late 12th century northern France to its transubstantiation into a secular (and, latterly, new pagan) symbol in the 20th and 21st centuries. It's a fascinating ride.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Living cultures have the wisdom to learn from one another. So far as I can tell, that's how we've always done it. Come to think of
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Well, that's actually quite refreshing. I thought it was a stretch to link the grail to Cerridwen's cauldron. Why not Dagda's ca

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Colder Than a...

“It's colder than a witch's tit out there,” said the new arrival, closing the door.

If somebody else had said it, it would have been offensive.

In a roomful of witches—most of us already naked for the evening's ritual—it's high-context in-group humor instead.

The high priestess tucks her hand under her breast and looks thoughtful.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Making the Gods a Priority

When's the last time that you went out of your way for the gods?

Hospitality, Courage, Generosity: even in our times of political incivility and social dissolution, we find these ancestral virtues admirable.

Piety, not so much.

Piety: making the gods a priority in your life.

Piety is a little-valued virtue in our day. When you look at the way that many supposedly pious people act, one can certainly see why we've come to view piety as ostentatious, restrictive hyper-religiosity.

But the ancestors felt differently. For them, piety was among the foremost of virtues.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Letter to Nancy Pelosi

Representative:

I don't know whether or not you follow the series Game of Thrones.

Regardless, you should know that we're going to rebuild the Wall.

And we're going to get the White Walkers to pay for it.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Archaic Smile

Back when I was trying to figure out my tastes, I would compare pictures of men.

OK, which one do you find more attractive?

Then the harder question.

Why?

One of the things that I learned about myself is that I really like guys that smile.

One of the things that I learned about Americans while traveling abroad was that Americans smile a lot. As a people, that says something about us.

I smile a lot myself. Hey, I've waited tables; my waiter's smile has had miles of practice. When you read to others as different—and when you look at me, you tend to think “gay” right away—a smile is a useful tool.

Call me a Philistine if you like (see if I care), but when it comes to ancient Greek art, I've always prefered Archaic to Classical. Classical art I admire; Archaic art I love.

Some of it is a matter of relationality, to be sure. Perfection is cold. But stylization, the schematic, simultaneously creates a distance and bridges that distance. Beholding it—by which I mean participatory seeing—you sense essence.

And then, of course, there's that mysterious smile—it's even known as the Archaic Smile—that plays about the lips of Archaic figures like a flickering flame. What are they smiling about? you want to ask. What do they know that I don't?

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, "O happy people, children of happy gods." And that made me smile.
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Brand Spanking New

Brand spanking new.

A curious expression, certainly: what does one have to do with the other?

In fact, it's birth imagery. Birth imagery? you might think.

Ah, but this was birth the cowan way.

Back in the Bad Old Days of the Cowan Era (CE), it was customary to hold newborn babies upside-down by their feet and give them a good, solid swat on the behind. Supposedly, this was to get the newborn to take its first breath.

In fact, of course, most newborns breathe automatically, and for those that don't, there are much less violent methods available.

But for cowans, the gesture held deep meaning. At the very moment of birth, it subjected the newly-born to the life of indignity, violence, and subjugation that most people then could expect to live.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    I delivered all three of my boys at home with a midwife, and believe me, there was no spanking involved! It hadn't occurred to me
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Unfortunately, Steven, it hasn't. Not if you enter a typical maternity ward rather than a birth center. I deeply appreciate your a

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witch's Teats

Hey you: witch.

How many nipples do you have?

Back in the Bad Old Days, the received wisdom was that witches have more than two. That's so we can suckle our imps.

Those of us with a Classical education, of course, think immediately of Diana of Ephesus, goddess of witches, with her ample endowments (polymasteia: the state of having many breasts). Of course, Many-breasted Earth feeds us all to this very day.

But I highly doubt that that's what the witch-finders had in mind. Humans have two nipples, animals have many. It's a comment on the witch's intrinsically bestial nature.

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Tasha Halpert
    Tasha Halpert says #
    Giggle, giggle!

Additional information