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
The Devil's Cross

Did you ever wonder why the Devil carries a pitchfork?

Give a quick eye-over to any book of medieval art, and you'll soon know why.

In Hell, it seems like every devil has some sort of tool of torture in hand: meat-hooks are common.

The Afterlife as torture-chamber. Yikes.

The creators of modern Witchery made clever, and creative, use of their sources. Wicca's Fivefold Kiss (“What is the five that is eight?”) originated as the Trial Era's osculum infame. (In plain English, that's “kissing the Devil's bunghole.”)

The witch's ability to “draw down the Moon” originally referred to her unholy power, not to embody a goddess, but to disrupt the course of nature.

Likewise with the Devil's pitchfork. In Old Craft, it became the symbol, and sometimes the embodiment, of the Horned God.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
What Is a Witch?

What is a witch?

Is a witch something that you are, or something that you become?

Is witchhood from within or from without?

Can anyone be (or become) a witch, or only certain people?

Do you have to undergo initiation to be a witch?

Can you stop being a witch?

From whence does witchhood derive?

Is witchcraft a religion?

If not, does the Craft have religious implications?

Are witchcraft and Wicca identical?

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Every Shrine Needs a Keeper

Every shrine needs a keeper.

Shrines are busy places. Someone needs to sweep away the ash, compost the wilted flowers, remove the food offerings before they go bad.

In a timely manner, mind you, but not too soon. Part of the joy of shrines—part of the encounter that takes place there—is the evidence of the worship of others.

Another part of the keeper's job is to decide. Not all offerings are, shall we say, worthy.

The plastic, the cutesy, the distracting: they've served their purpose. (The worth of the offering is in the making.) Off with them to the favissa. (The Romans had a name for everything.)

After all, they've been given: they belong to a god now. Worthy or not, they still need to be treated with respect.

That's why there's a special pit for sacred garbage.

You can be a shrine-keeper, too.

Last modified on
When the Wights Are Angry, Everyone Suffers: Mythologizing Climate Change

Imagine that we were to discover an ancient Keltic tribe living in three isolated valleys up in the Alps.

Imagine that, through all the intervening centuries of the Great Interruption, they had, nonetheless, somehow managed to hold on to their Old Religion.

Amazingly enough—specifics aside—this not an imaginary scenario.

As the Indo-European-speaking peoples first entered the Indian subcontinent, groups broke off the main migration and settled along the way.

That's how the Kalasha, the last surviving pagans of the Hindu Kush, came to live in three isolated mountain valleys in what is now NW Pakistan.

Their religion, practiced continuously since antiquity, strongly resembles the religion of the Rig Veda, modern Hinduism's oldest scripture; some of the gods are even the same.

Alone among the Indo-European peoples, the religion of the Kalasha has never been subsumed by one of the Big Name religions. This small tribe of 4000-some people is as close as we will ever come to touching the old paganisms of the European ancestors.

As such, they have much to teach us.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Coven in Question II

So, you've had a sennight to mull over your own answers to these questions.

Here are mine.

 

What's the minimum number needed for a coven?

Traditionally, three.

It takes three witches to make a coven; two witches is just an argument” (Terry Pratchett).

This seems reasonable to me.

 

Is there a maximum number?

Yes.

Last modified on
Why Did We Lose in the First Place?

Once everyone was pagan.

Today we're not.

So: if paganism was so great in the first place, why did we lose out?

It's a question that every thoughtful contemporary pagan wrestles with. Most often, our answers present us as having been victims, of coercion or of out-maneuvering.

These are stories of agency from without.

The Kalasha—the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush—tell a different story.

A story of broken taboos and failed leadership.

A story from within.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    I think the failure from within is more complicated than leadership. What I see in my own religious communities is failure of iden
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, You are totally correct about the sweeping generalizations and oversimplification. I was very tired. I still believe
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks, Jamie. We've both made some pretty big generalizations here, and vastly oversimplified a complex situation. Realistically,
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Honestly, I think that most people generally give less thought to spiritual matters than they give to more pressing da

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Horning

 Stand astride Earth,

from whom the power:

magma, sap, the fire.

Up through soles,

ankles, knees, thighs:

at your loins, it joins,

torso, shoulders, neck,

and fills your skull,

from which erupt

your horns,

Last modified on

Additional information