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.
On the Sex Scandals in Christendom, or: Why Religions Need Goddesses and Priestesses

To misquote Euripides: Alas, ill-rule in Christendom.

If you were thinking that the ongoing (and systemic) sexual abuse in the “Catholic” Church was a product of a misguided policy of clerical celibacy, think again.

As it turns out, the Southern Baptist Church, the US's largest Protestant denomination, has the same problem.

Particularly disturbing here is the fact that both churches have routinely acted to protect the organizations themselves rather than the victimized. Equally disturbing is the routine failure of both organizations to report sexual criminals to secular authorities. Christians have a long history of thinking that they're above the law.

One point is only a point. Two points make a line.

Christians of the world: the rest of us are really starting to wonder if this kind of thing is built into your religion.

Abuse of power—and, in particular, sexual abuse of power—is not, of course, only a Christian problem. Given power, human beings have demonstrated again and again their capacity to abuse that power, and by male human beings, alas, such abuse is all too often enacted sexually.

That's why societies—and religions, in particular—need built-in checks and balances.

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Why I Don't Call the Horned God 'Cernunnos'

The Horned God is assuredly one of the preeminent (and, I would contend, patron) gods of the Pagan Revival, and I would be willing to hazard a guess that in English-speaking Pagandom at large, He is named by the majority of His votaries as “Cernunnos.”

(Writer and thinker Ceisiwr Serith once remarked to me that an image search for “Cernunnos” turns up mostly modern, and very little ancient, art.)

But though the Horned is my heart-god and I offer to Him daily, I myself never call Him Cernunnos.

Why not?

To me, names are culture-specific—one could even say culture-bound—material. “Cernunnos” is a specifically Gaulish name, bound to a particular language, place, and people. I'm not a Gaul, I don't live in historic Gaul, and I don't speak Gaulish. Therefore, though I honor the Name and recognize it, I don't use it.

The same with “Herne,” “Pan,” or most other historic Names that you'd care to mention.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Well, of course how you, or anyone else, conduct your spiritual lives, Greybeard, is no business of mine. But if one accepts my pr
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Wait. What? We can't say Cernunnos because we aren't Gaulish? Can we say Ishtar if we aren't Babylonian? Can we say Diana if
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    Indeed, I don't think of him as antlered, but horned. I was born under the sign of the ram, was raised around cattle. I see the ho
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Joanna. Personally, I'm a big fan of precision in language. If that's pedantry, so mote it be. The issue that you raise is
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Plus, Cernunnos is an antlered god, not a horned god Am I the only pedantic when it comes to this lol? Great blog post, great b
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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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • 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.

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