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.
A Few Friendly Tips on Choosing a Coven Name

Take your time. In the initial exhilaration of coming together, it's altogether tempting to want to name your new coven right away.

My recommendation is, don't. This is really far too important a decision to rush into.

Names are Wyrd-ful things. A coven name is aspirational, yes: but though it shapes what the coven will eventually become, it also needs to reflect what the coven already is. And sometimes that can take a while to "firm up."

So go slowly, and hold out for quality.

Avoid the humorous. Really, will the joke still seem funny 25 years down the road, after the ten thousandth repetition?

Probably not.

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The Horned One and His Ladee

Rewrites can be problematic.

They call for a certain delicacy of touch, and need to be rooted in respect for the original. You can't impose; you need to work with, matching style for style and diction for diction.

When done well, though, they can potentially both renew and transform the original.

Possibly forever.

 

 I Saw Three Ships

 

I saw three ships come sailing in

on New Year's Day, on New Year's Day

I saw three ships come sailing in

on New Year's Day in the morning.

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How Do You Say 'Religion' in Witch?

A friend once asked me why I don't capitalize 'pagan.'

Here's why.

 

Back in the old days, we didn't have a separate word for 'religion.'

We didn't know that we needed one.

In those days, religion interlaced with everyday life and behavior like intertwining patterns on a runestone.

In the language of the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce—the original Tribe of Witches—the word þéaw (today we say thew) meant “tradition, custom, usage, habit, conduct.” In the plural it meant “virtues, manners, morals, morality.”

But that was as close as we got to 'religion.'

That's why we had to import the foreign word.

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Fearless

Those two boys are walking awfully close, I thought.

As they came nearer, I saw why.

They were holding hands.

 

Beep beep beep.

As the car went past, I saw that it was our coven's newest member.

Witch said the sticker on the bumper.

 

I raise my hand in salute to fearless youth.

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What Pagans Do

Do you know the punishment for cutting down a sacred tree?

Did you know that, at a sacrifice, it's proper at the moment of the killing for women present to cry out?

Do you know why one should always end a funeral with a ring-dance around the grave?

Neither did I.

But now I do, and you will too, once you've read Ken Dowden's European Paganism: The Realities of Cult from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.

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Blow You a Kiss on the Wind

It's an ancient act of pagan adoration that anyone can perform anywhere, any time.

Kissing the hand.

In 158 CE the Roman novelist Lucius Apuleius, author of The Golden Ass, involved in a lawsuit against a guy named Aemilianus, is trying to make out his opponent as a model of impiety:

If he is passing by some shrine, he thinks it wicked to raise his hand to his lips in adoration.

(Apuleius, Apologia 56)

The Roman historian Pliny also mentions the prevalence of this custom in Roman practice (28:5).

The Hebrew Bible describes (and, of course, condemns) the act of kissing one's hand to the luminaries:

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What Do You Say When They Wish You 'Merry Christmas'?

What do you say when they wish you 'Merry Christmas'?

Well, it all depends on what you want to communicate.

Thanks, you too.

No thanks.

(Smile, shake head.)

Sorry, not my holiday.

You shouldn't assume that everyone's Christian.

And the broom you rode in on, baby.

Hail Satan.

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