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.
Paganistani Children's Games (Winter): Wheel-Tag

It's Deep Winter, and we're well into the holiday thirtnight known variously as Yeaning, Ewesmilk, and February Eve*. If where you live is anything like where I do, the snows lie piled deep.

Ergo, it's the perfect time to play Wheel Tag.

Wheel Tag is just like regular tag—non-binary “It” and all—but you play it on a track in the snow.

Here's how you play.

Lay out a Wheel in the snow and tromp it down well (or, if you're ambitious, shovel it out). If your track is relatively small, make a Wheel with four spokes. If you've got room to spread out—the snow on top of a frozen lake is ideal for this—go with eight spokes.

Then pick an It, and away you go. Remember: you have to stay on the Wheel. Anything that happens off-Wheel doesn't count.

Like most traditional kids' games with a grounding in ritual, the purpose of the game is to play itself through and start over again, around and around: like the year, like Life. Like a Wheel.

In Witch Country, even games are profound.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The God You Rode In On

My friend Sirius is Kemetic. I call him my “effete shaveling.” He calls me his “vile Asiatic.” We get along just fine.

Sirius works at a hospital. He's completely out to his co-workers there.

The hospital chaplain began to tease him.

“How's Ra workin' for you?” he'd say.

Me, I was furious when I heard about this. Issues of professionalism aside: well, just consider.

Ra: the Sun, that massive and ineffable star of heartbreaking beauty and profundity around which our lives literally revolve, without which we would not, and could not, even exist.

Then there's the chaplain's god: some dead Jewish guy who's basically (let's be frank) a fictional character.

Really, I ask you: just who should be making fun of whom here?

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  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    Ra, like the other real gods is dutiful and supportive. He comes up each day to warm the earth, unconcerned about want or need. T
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    I love it!!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Dealing with Governor Blackface

Well, well. The mills of the gods may grind slowly, but they grind exceeding fine.

The political future of Governor Blackface of Virginia now lies in the hands (O happy irony) of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

Of course, I don't get a vote here. But if I did, here's what I would be tempted to say.

Dear Governor Blackface:

Your callous actions in the 1980s were despicable in their casual racism, and you are right to be ashamed of them.

We take you at your word that you regret your actions. For this reason we will continue to work with you as governor, to make the best decisions that we can for the people of Virginia.

Please be aware, however, that as we do so, we will be watching you closely.

Extremely closely.

Yours most sincerely, etc.

Then, of course, he'll owe them bigtime.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm from Virginia; the story isn't over yet, it just keeps coming. Not only did the governor do blackface according to yesterday'
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    This is turning out to be a more complicated issue than it looks. I was listening to a Public Radio show discussing this blackface

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Pagan Prayer

Broom in hand, my neighbor stands looking mournfully at his snow-mounded car.

"Another lovely day in sunny Minneapolis," I deadpan.

(This is irony: we haven't seen the Sun for days.)

Steve shakes his head. "I just got home from ten days in Jamaica, and this is what I come back to."

"Welcome home," I say, wryly, then add: "More coming, I hear."

He begins to sweep the snow off of the car.

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Every Spell Works Two Ways: In Which Our Coven Casts Its Very First Hex

We started by turning off every light in the house.

Every coven worth its wood* has a story to tell about its first hex.

Here's ours.

The group had been together for not quite a year when we decided to move in together. The next nine months were some of the most difficult—and also some of the most gratifying—of my life. Much of what we've been doing together ever since was first gestated during those nine fateful months.

One cold day in January I got a call at work. There'd been a break-in.

That night was Hex Night.

First we went through the house and turned off every light.

Then, in the dark temple, we pounded out a slowly mounting cacophony of rage.

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  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    for a good hex, you require only two things: Great need, and powerful intent. Well done.
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Great, as always. Love to Prodea.
'Snowdrop, Snowdrop': A Magical Little Children's Song for Imbolc

As its alternate name, Candlemas Bells, would suggest, the snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis, "milk-flower of the snows") is the floral signature of the festival of Imbolc.

Check out 'Snowdrop, Snowdrop,' a charming (and magical) little song by the prolific and thoroughly unpretentious writer of children's songs, Dany Rosevear. Of such humble fieldstones is the temple of modern pagan culture built.

Of course, I've been unable to resist tampering with the lyrics.

Just a little.

 

Snowdrop, Snowdrop

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    "Snow bells." Thanks for the link!
  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    You're welcome!
  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    I remember a Schumann song called 'Schneegloeckchen,' sung here by the lovely Edith Wiens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oOsXVX

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witches with Their Feet on the Ground

As a movement, the modern Old Craft has tended to be characterized by a verbal style that I can only call “opaque.”

Anyone who has ever tried to work her way through the letters of Robert Cochrane (1931-1966), Father of modern Old Craft, will know what I'm talking about. Cochrane hints, but rarely tells. He's very good at dropping a few evocative details, then drawing the veil back over. He writes, as my friend and colleague Bruner Soderberg once rather acidly observed, “to impress rather than to inform."

His would-be successors, alas, have often tended to follow suit. Particularly notorious for the opacity of his prose was mage Andrew Chumbley (1967-2004), whose books have got to be among the most-collected and least-read titles on the shelves of modern Witchdom.

Chumbley seems immune to clear exposition. He will never say “mystery” when he can possibly say arcanum, “flying ointment” instead of unguentum sabbati. Maybe there really are people out these who are impressed by high school Latin, but personally, I'm not one of them.

Old Craft thrives here in the American Midwest. What both intrigues and impresses me about Midwest Old Craft is its very lack of opacity. Rather, the standard Chumbleyian style of “I know something you don't know” obfuscation seems to us a pomposity, a bore: in fact, an admission of poverty. It strikes us—whether rightly or wrongly—as a ploy to cover lack of substance.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    By its very nature, Old Craft defies clear exposition. It's best transmitted through evocation: story, dance, song. And surely it
  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    Can you recommend any Old Craft books that are "crisp, clear, succinct"?

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