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.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Peering through the Eye-Holes

It lies at the opposite pole from All gods are one god.

All gods are distinct.

So Thórr ≠ Perún ≠ Perkunas ≠ Zeus ≠ Jupiter ≠ Indra ≠ Ba'al ≠ Changó?

Yikes.

Although, in a History of Religions sense, I can see a certain merit-of-convenience to the hyper-Distinct school of thought, I have to ask myself: just how far does this extend? Is African Changó a different god from Brazilian? Is the Thunderer of my valley existentially distinct from the Thunderer of your valley next door?

If dreary monism is the danger of “All gods are one god,” is not the danger of “All gods are distinct” atomization? Personally, when I see gods getting smaller and smaller, I worry.

Looking at pagan history, I note a pronounced tendency to look for one's own gods behind the masks of other people's.

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  • Ian Phanes
    Ian Phanes says #
    You asked: Is African Changó a different god from Brazilian? This question has been carefully considered Sandra T. Barnes, though

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Teach Us Those Runes

 Geriht us þat geruni.

“Teach us those runes.”

(Old Saxon Heliand, circa 850)

 

Writing is a magical act.

The old North Sea ancestors had two words meaning “write.”

One was to scribe. That meant “to write with pen and ink,” as the Romans did. This was the newfangled way to write, with a newfangled Latin name.

But the old word, the ancestral word, was to write. This originally meant “to carve.” The first writing that the ancestors knew was the carving ("risting") of runes into wood.

Note which method they favored.

In our hyper-literate society, in which most of us write with light rather than with ink or with lead, we tend to take writing for granted.

We shouldn't.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Is the God of Witches the Devil?

Is the God of the Witches the Devil?

Is a tree the particleboard made from it?

One is a living being, the other a toxic product.

 

On the other hoof, he's a god. Gods show themselves differently to different people at different times in different places.

That he should don a Devil mask to some is not beyond conceiving.

In fact, considering both his sense of humor and his tendency to utilize available resources, it actually does seem like something that he might do.

The f**ker.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Admittedly, cross-pantheon identification is an inexact science, to say the very least. But it does seem to be something that paga
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Frey/the Lord has shown up to me as a medieval Orthodox saint once, with gold armor and a beautiful glow. His answer when I blink
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    LOVE THIS! One the one hand, very funny! "The f**ker." especially made me laugh. On the other, "Gods show themselves differently
A Public Service Announcement from the Paganistani Ministry of Culture

It's time to start saving onion-skins.

Seriously.

We're nearing the end of the Imbolc thirtnight. Here in Paganistan we're in Bridey's Spring: what cowans call the “February thaw.”

Look up and you'll see the buds on the trees standing out from their branches. Light lingers well after sunset. Male cardinals are beginning to sing their breeding-territory songs.

So start saving those onion-skins now.

It's a month and some to evenday, when we'll stoke up the dye-pots and boil eggs along with all the onion-skins we've saved.

Eggs that will emerge from those dye-pots robed royally in the colors of Dawn herself: yellow, saffron, gold, orange, deep Minoan red.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Postcard from Micklegard

To Oswin King of the Hwicce, from his brother Osred: Greetings!

Well brother, Micklegard is a fine town, and no mistake. No matter what (or who) you want to buy, eat, or screw, they've got it here. Strong ale for the likes of this honest Hwiccan lad. 

Check out this dome. It's the city's chief temple. They worship the Moon here, just like we do back home—she's the city's patron goddess, in fact—only they call her Hekate. This is her temple as Lady of Wisdom. (Sound familiar?) Quite a sight, though I still can't figure why they go in under a roof to worship the Moon. Strange folk, Greeks.

Turns out that wandering gleeman was telling the truth after all: the High King here really does keep a special war-band of Westerners as body-guards. He calls it his "barbarian guard." Funny: he can't trust his own to protect him, yet we're the barbarians!

Thought maybe I'd give it a try, though. Fighting's fighting, wherever you go. I hear the pay's good, and like I said: You want it, they've got it.

My love to mother and the girls. Wine's fine, but what I wouldn't give right now for a beaker of good, honest Hwiccan ale.

Be hale, drink hale, brother.

More soon.

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Witchbury

In the tribal territories of the Hwicce, the old Anglo-Saxon Tribe of Witches, stands a hill called Wychbury Hill. The name means “Hill-fort of the Witches.”

It was once our tribal capital.

The old Northern ancestors didn't live in cities. Most people lived dispersed on their own holdings, but in every clan territory there would be a burg or hill-fort (= Keltic dún): a hilltop fort surrounded by high earthen walls topped with a wooden palisade. At the foot of the hill stood the village, the thatched houses of the yeomanry.

In the burg itself stood the main hall of the drighten, the chieftain, and the homes of the dright, his war-band. The dright prided themselves on having been born within the walls; it meant that you were nobility. But during times of war, the entire village would take shelter behind those walls.

As, whenever we cast a circle, we still do.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Alas, Haley, the answer to your question is lost to the ages. Really, though, one has to imagine a certain amount of ribbing on th
  • Haley
    Haley says #
    So, then, would those born behind the wall in wartime be noble as well?
How Does a Coven Manage to Stay Together for Nearly 40 Years?

 It takes three witches to make a coven. Two witches is just an argument.

(Craft proverb*)

 

Come Harvest Home, we'll have been together for...well, for nigh on 40 years.

(“That's 90-something in cowan years,” my friend and colleague Sparky T. Rabbit would have quipped.)

In the fractious and ephemeral world of contemporary Witchdom, where covens tend to come and go, this is a pretty remarkable achievement.

So how have we managed to do it?

Well, every group is different. What works for us might not necessarily work for you.

But it might.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    So wise, you crafty old witch.
  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    All excellent points to remember. Thank you for sharing this!

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