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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Now the falling of the leaves, now the short'ning day:

for Summer is a-going out, and Winter's on the way.


I've been to lots of Harvest Suppers down the years, but I can't think of another that ended with a spontaneous (and heartfelt) invocation of Old Witch Winter.

Usually, we're hoping to stave Her off for as long as possible. This year, we can't wait.

It's been a long, dark Summer here in Minneapolis since the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day.

First came the opportunistic looting and arson that stalked the initial protests.

Then came the dithering of our gormless City Council, whose major strategy for bringing about systemic change seems to consist of waiting for someone else to come up with an idea.

Then came record levels of shootings, carjackings, and break-ins, while the authorities wring their hands, and do nothing.

So I guess it isn't surprising that after the feast's closing song, we should suddenly all rise to our feet and start shouting—shouting—to Old Witch Winter to come and put an end to it all. Shut it off! Close it down! Summer be gone; Winter, come!

As you know, spontaneous magic is always the most powerful of all.

Well, that's the thing about Old Witch Winter: invited or not, She always comes.

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Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But someday.

Someday—may it be soon—we'll hear the news that the Most Hated Man in America, the Hypocrite of Hypocrites, Obstructionist of Obstructionists, the Slaveholder of the Senate, has met his entirely natural, but long overdue, demise.

And bells of freedom will ring out across the land.


Ding! Dong! the Mitch is Dead!


Ding dong the Mitch is dead.

Which old Mitch?

The wicked Mitch.

Ding dong

the wicked Mitch is dead!


Hi ho the merry-O!

Sing it high,

sing it low:

wake up,

the wicked Mitch is dead!


He's gone where the nazzes go,

below, below, below,

yo ho!

So let's all dance and sing

and ring the bells out.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Eminent historian, Christopher Browning, refers to him as the, "Gravedigger of American democracy." 'Nuff said.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    May said Gravedigger be buried in the grave he dug for himself.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I keep getting E-mails that Mitch is tied with his opponent; I think her name is Amy McGrath. I am doing that 40 day prayer ritua
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    So mote it be.

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Pretty much all of my pagan life, I've wanted to belong to a men's coven.

So when I decided to sing the Warlocks of the Driftless into existence, I naturally enough brought the idea to my (mixed) coven first. It's what I tend to do when I'm thinking something through, and I invariably come out the wiser for having done so.

Magenta, our coven's founder, pretty much spoke for everyone when she said, laughing: So long as you're not discussing how to subvert the matriarchy or disempower women, you have my blessing.

And so it was.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that, when men get together, there's one topic that's pretty much guaranteed never to come up. Most men spend their lives surrounded by women and (truth be told) putting women's needs first. So when we get together, naturally we want to talk about something else.

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Call it unexpected affirmation.

A warlock friend of mine was driving through Ames, Iowa the other day. Amusingly, his route took him along Stange Road.

Locally pronounced stang, Stange (in two syllables) is originally a Norwegian surname; in this case, presumably the name of some City Father of days gone by.

But of course stang is also the name that witches give to the furca or forked pole that represents the Horned God. So you can't help but feel that there's something special—or amusing, at least—about driving down “Stang” Road.

Then he came to the intersection with Thirteenth Street.

“Meet me at the corner of Thirteenth and Stang.” Sounds like a line from a bad Witch novel, probably by some hack like Steve Posch.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    You're a troublemaker, Anthony, but then, we already knew that. Good advice, duly taken on board. Stay tuned.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Well Steven you've told a lot of stories over the years. Perhaps this is a call to gather the stories and put them in a book. Th
In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Makes an Outrageous Claim

Hwæt, we seax-Hwiccum   in síð-dagum...
"Lo, we knife-Witches   in these latter days..."


Many peoples worship the Horned God—as god of all Red Life, why wouldn't they?—but to the Latter-Day Tribe of Witches, he is ours, our god in particular.

Why so? Easily answered.

The Horned is especial god of witches, ours to us, because we are his offspring.

As we see it, we are literally the Children of our God.

This is why the Swedish witches called him Antecessor: goer-before, ancestor.

Many tribes trace descent from a common ancestor. Scots Gaelic clann (pronounced klawn), the source of the English word clan, literally means “children (of).” In this, the Tribe (in Witch, that would be Thede) of Witches is no different from any other.

Why are some people witches and some not? Easily answered.

The Horned overshadows our fathers at the moment of our conception.

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Our last group ritual here at Temple of the Moon was the Eve of the Equinox this Spring. After people went home with their eggs and pussy willows, I extinguished the candles in the wrought-iron chandelier that (inter alia) illuminates the temple.

In retrospect, I'm not sure why I did that. Generally after a ritual I let the candles burn down, an offering for the holy tide. But this year, for some reason, I didn't. That the Equinox also marked the beginning of the Great Covid Lockdown here in Minnesota may have had something to do with it.

Since then, the half-burnt candles have stood unlit in the chandelier. The offerings that take place twice daily in the temple don't require so much light, and through the Season of Light our group rites have unfolded outdoors.

But now comes the Other Evenday, the Waning Equinox, with no immediate prospect of indoor gathering through the Winter to come.

I ask myself: should I leave the half-burned candles until they can once again light our next indoor rite together?

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I like the circular symbolism, but I prefer a light in the darkness. Yes, I know that's a reference to The Rocky Horror Picture s

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Miss Squeak grew up in a house of many cats, and all of them picked on her. When she first came to live with me, you could see the incredulity on her face: You mean I can just lay down anywhere, and nobody will try to jump me?

With such a background, Squeak didn't like to be held. That was OK with me; she was plenty affectionate in other ways.

Then, about a year and a half ago, as I was laying on my bed one day, reading—the sleep hygienists all say you shouldn't, I know—she hopped up on the bed and stretched out on my chest.

Here I am, she said, looking me in the eye.

And that was that. Since then, she's even taken to climbing up on my lap, the ultimate act of feline trust: Squeak, the cat that didn't like to be held.

On her last night, when I got home from work I found that she'd curled up on the pillow on my bed. Well, everyone has the right to die where they want to.

Although by that point moving was difficult for her, when I woke in the middle of the night I found that she had crawled under the covers and snugged up to me: the primal mammalian comfort of skin-to-skin contact that, in the end, is maybe the best giving that we have to offer one another.

So the cat that everyone picked on managed to find a territory of her own, and someone to snug up to. There are worse lives to be had.

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  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    awwww kitttyyyyyy

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