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.

 Wiccan (character) - Wikipedia

“You'll be working the wedding party,” they tell me when I arrive at work that night.

That was fine with me. The couple getting married were regular customers at the little Warehouse District jazz club where I worked at the time, and I liked them both well enough.

I check the timeline, and set up the bar and the buffet. The couple arrives; the guests start to show up. But there's a hitch. Everyone's there but the officiant.

5 o' clock: no judge. 5:15: no judge. At 5:30, they call the judge at his chambers: no answer. They call his home: no answer. (This was B.C.: Before Cell.) The groom looks furious, the bride like she's ready to burst into tears.

Meanwhile, my boss is freaking out. Two regulars are paying a fortune for this event, and it's going to be a total disaster.

The solution is obvious. Feeling like some sort of pagan superhero with a secret identity, I go to my boss. When the news finally breaks through, the look on her face is almost risible.

“There is a God,” she says.


That's how it is that I got the opportunity to use what was probably the single best line of my entire wait career.

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 FIREWORKS in North East - North East Chamber of Commerce

A Pride Moment


There was once a woman who had three sons, each more handsome than the next.

It sounds like the beginning of a fairy tale, doesn't it? In fact, it's a true story, and one of my favorite Pride moments: up there, in fact, with my first dorm-room kiss from my first boyfriend.


Scene: The community Beltane Pancake Breakfast.

(I live in Paganistan; things like that happen here.)

I'm sitting at a table, talking with the woman with three beautiful sons. Across the table from us, her youngest sits in his boyfriend's lap. They're kissing.

The room is filled with festive pagans. No one even notices the passionate same-sex lip-lock.

A bubble of happiness expands to fill my chest. “I've worked my entire life to get us to a place where two boys can make out in a crowded room, and no one so much as blinks an eye,” I think. “And here we finally are.”

Of course, in the gold of the human heart, there are no unalloyed emotions.

Oh, that lucky, lucky boyfriend.


Out of the blue one night I get a call from my first boyfriend. We haven't spoken since our explosive break-up decades before.

(A convert to Catholicism, who would eventually enter the priesthood, he told me once, “I love you more than I love God,” and then promptly freaked, because it was true. Poor benighted Christian, it never occurred to him that one best does the one precisely by doing the other.)

As we reminisce about our times together, he confirms something that I had long thought I remembered about that very first wine-fueled kiss.

There really were fireworks going off in that room that night.

He saw them too.

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 Fire Island (2022) - IMDb

Not a Review of Kim Joel Booster's Fire Island


I am pagan. Therefore, I support the right to discriminate

As pagans, we understand the importance—not just the importance, but the value and, in fact, the cultural necessity—of any given self-selected group's right to exclude non-members while associating freely within itself: with the necessary proviso, of course, that such a right cannot be universal, but always (by necessity) time- and place-bound.

If this is so, then Kim Joel Booster's Fire Island may well be the most pagan movie of the summer.


Can't stand feel-good movies. Don't like rom-coms, especially gay ones. No big fan of Jane Austen, whom I really can't help but suspect would, if she weren't a woman, be read today only by English Lit grad students.

Here's what I really liked about this summer's gay feel-good rom-com, the newest iteration of the Pride and Prejudice franchise, though: with the exception of one nightmarish flashback scene, there are no straight people in the film. None.

A group of gay friends go to Gay Island for one last dizzying swirl of what passes for gay male “culture”, in all its shallow, abs-obsessed dysfunctionality.

Gods: how incredibly refreshing.

One lesbian. (Margaret Cho's character, though, is anything but token.) No straight characters. No (current media darlings that they are) trans characters. Not even any bisexuals. Just men for men telling our own story, for a change, with lots of gratuitous nudity, sex, and good-looking guys.

The Horned One be praised.

Not that I have nothing against trans folk, straight folk, or lesbians, mind you. Those stories, too, I value. It's just that everyone deserves a chance to talk about themselves every now and then. Enough about you: let's (finally) talk about me for a change, OK?

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 Inverness school affected by maggots infestation - BBC News


While having an old filling replaced the other day, I had occasion to remember this 4000 year-old tale from ancient Sumer.

All praise be to Father Enki!


Father Enki and the Worm


In the beginning, all creatures came before Father Enki, Lord of Wisdom, and to each, he assigned its own proper food.

To the cow, he gave grass. To the lion, he gave the gazelle. To each creature, he gave its own proper food.

Finally, the worm came before him.

To you, worm, I give this to eat, said Father Enki.

No, no, I don't want that, said the worm.

Well then, worm, I give you this to eat, said Father Enki.

No, I don't want that, either, said the worm.

Father Enki was displeased. Well then, what do you want? he asked.

I want people's teeth for my food, said the worm.

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 Many Firearm Buyers and Sellers do not Comply with Assault Weapons Bans


Five words. That's all it would take to get Senate Republicans to support gun control.

Really: five. (Well, six, but “the” doesn't count.) You wouldn't necessarily even have to follow through: in this case, the mere prospect should suffice.

When, in this Summer of Mass Shootings, I heard a friend float this proposal, I was (OK, I'll just say it) blown away by its elegant simplicity.

Five words, you say? And just what are these five magic words?

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Solid gold! I used to be so hostile to the very idea of White privilege, having come from a poor, rural, and overwhel


 Sexual Content


The Marinos Poems

Three Lost Epigrams from Book Twelve of the Greek Anthology


You turned down Marinos?

Marinos the Golden, heart-throb of Athens,

muse to ten thousand epigrams, this one included?

Well, Daphne fled from Apollo, they say,

gayest of gods, for whom boys dance naked.

More the fool her.



"Bet you a blow job," said Marinos.

Now that's what I call unfair.

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Some Thoughts on the Craft of the Wise


How do you know when someone is one of the Wise?


My friend grew up speaking Polish with his immigrant grandmother. When, as an adult, he visited Poland, he wondered if people would be able to understand him.

Oh, they understood him, all right. They also laughed hysterically whenever he said anything.

He was speaking Hillbilly Polish.

My friend, a successful professional with a PhD, laughed as he told me about this.

“I never knew we were hicks,” he said, proudly.


I learned Old Norse from a man named Anatoly Lieberman, one of the most brilliant linguists that I've ever met. Born in the USSR, he spoke—not read, but spoke—seventeen different languages, both ancient and modern. He came to America because no Soviet university would give him tenure, so deeply-entrenched is Russian cultural anti-Semitism.

He told me once that the quickest way to get a laugh out of a Russian is to say something in Ukrainian.

Ukrainian sounds like Hick Russian.


To the English-hearing ear, there's something slurred and lazy-sounding about the Slavic languages, as if the speakers can't be bothered to enunciate clearly. To my American ear, at least, Russian always sounds like English played backwards.

It's easy to make assumptions about other people based on how they sound to us.

It's rarely wise to do so.


When you meet someone who is absolutely confident that they've got everything figured out, you can be virtually certain—regardless of what they may call themselves—that you're not speaking with one of the Wise.

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