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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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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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • 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,

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Who Do You Swear By?

Just before the last presidential inauguration, a petition made the rounds requesting that language referring to “God” be dropped from the presidential oath.

Me, I didn't sign it.

I think it's right and good that those entering public office should swear by the gods that they honor. It's a time-honored old pagan tradition.

But to each, his own gods. When the time comes—hasten, O hasten, the day—that it's a pagan taking that presidential oath, I want to hear those pagan gods called to witness.

Then I'll die happy.

Who among your gods witnesses oaths? Who would you swear by, if you were taking the oath of office tomorrow?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A 1st-Century BCE Gold Cernunnos?

The Horned God is hot right now.

So call me a skeptic if you like, but I'm sorry: some things are just a little too convenient. How do you say "Too good to be true" in Witch?

An item that turned up on E-bay some while back was identified by the seller as a 1st century BCE golden La Tène phalera (harness decoration) depicting the god Cernunnos. Unprovenanced, supposedly from a private collection, it was priced at $7400.

Sorry, I'm not convinced. How convenient that a piece of art—previously, so far as I can tell, unknown to any art historian—depicting this god and none other (arguably the most identifiable god in Keltic mythology) should just happen to turn up in a "private collection."

If genuine, it's a pretty significant artifact, of intense interest to scholarship. If not...well.

The supposed phalera depicts the god in bust, with raised arms and branching (and intertwining) antlers. In his hands the god holds two items identified by the seller as torques, but which look more like curvilinear swastikas. If what he's wearing around his neck is supposed to be a torque, it doesn't resemble any other torque that I've ever seen in Keltic art.

And there's something wrong with those antlers, with their wavy tines on both sides of the beam. Image-search "Deer in Keltic art" and see if you can turn up anything like them.

More than anything else, the piece looks like the famous Gundestrup Antlered re-rendered in the form of the god-busts on the same cauldron, made by an artist not quite fluent in Keltic style. It's an interesting coincidence that, of all the "Cernunnoi" known from Keltic antiquity, only this one and the Gundestrup god are unbearded.

Art forgery is a profitable business. Within months of the initial excavations at Knossos, Minoan fakes were readily available on the European art market. Demand was high, and money good.

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  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    The biggest giveaway is the squashed nose and right side of the face. Clearly that's an attempt to render the battered look of the

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Which Way to Hell?

Which way to Hell?

For some, the Land of the Dead is a place of fire, but here in the North we know better.

It's ice all the way.

Which way lies Hell? Norðr ok níðr, says Snorri: “To the north and down.” "North and nether," one might say.

Oh, she's beautiful but deadly, Winter. Whether she comes as screeching black hag or ice-blue maiden, her embrace withers and kills.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    You've shot to the heart, Mab, the very heart of pagan spirituality. Danger and reverence are close kin. A safe "nature" is a fals
  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    I wonder how much of the sacrality of that feeling of snow stillness springs from the potential danger? I'm in Savannah, GA, and t

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