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.

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Trump's Role in Capitol Riot May Figure in Criminal Probe - Bloomberg


Contains sexual content


Call it the “honor system.”

Most traditional societies were—and are—societies of honor.

In such societies, honor—also called reputation or name—is an important motivator of action. In these societies, one acts in such as way as to preserve one's honor, whether individual or collective, and tends to avoid acting dishonorably to avoid the resultant shame.

The opposite of honor is a state that the Old English-speaking Hwicce, the original Tribe of Witches, called níð: dishonor.* One who behaved dishonorably was known as a ðing or—even more cutting because it's diminutive—a níðling.

None of these words survived into Modern English, having been replaced by Norman French instead. (In any given society, the moneyed/ruling classes are the ones who can best afford to be preoccupied with matters of honor.**) If they had, we would today speak of nithe (rhymes with writhe), and know the nitheful as nithings (r. writhings) or nithlings.

For the ancestors, what was considered nitheful was frequently non-normative behavior. In societies with strong gender-role categories, the paradigmatic act of nithe for a man would have been to experience receptive sex, especially willingly. (Some, of course, would still see it this way.)

Nowadays our ideas of what constitutes nitheful behavior have changed in major ways; but in neo-traditional communities—like the pagan community—the concepts of name and nithe are still important.

What do other people say about you? If you give your word, do you keep it? Can others trust you?

Those seeking current examples of nithe and the nitheful will have not far to look.

  • Twice-impeached loser one-term president Donald Trump is a nithling of the worst sort. On current evidence, this is a man—to use the term loosely—who has never once, in his entire life, behaved with honor.
  • All those spineless Republicans (and Democrats, for that matter) who, throughout his mis-administration, have cravenly enabled this nithling president, are themselves despicable nithings and well deserve our opprobrium.
  • All those who broke into the American Capitol, who left their trash on its floors, who defecated in its corners: all are nithlings, one and all.
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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    The Bigger the Lie, the bigger the shame.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    There is no honor without honesty.

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Trump campaign attempts to remove satirical cartoon from online retailer |  Comics and graphic novels | The Guardian


n. pl. -ies

1. Showy but worthless finery; bric-a-brac.

2. Nonsense: rubbish.

3. Deception; trickery; fraud.

—adj.  Showy but valueless.

[Middle English trompery,

from Old French tromperie,

from tromper, to cheat.]

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Among all the hoodied and red-capped yahoos and yobbos who invaded the US Capitol on Wednesday, one stood out. You know which one I mean.

The one in the horns.

“Guy in horns Capitol” I image-searched. It was more than enough to find what I was looking for.

Horns, fur, paint, and skin. The eye automatically, as if by instinct, draws toward them. How could it not?

In long accordance with ancestral practice, I will not dignify said yob by naming him. Though he sports heathen tattoos and the regalia of the Horned God of Witches, he is (apparently) neither witch nor heathen.

No matter. He's not important. Soon the FBI will be hauling his saggy white ass off to jail, where it probably belongs anyway.

Horns, fur, paint, skin: in combination, instantly iconic. What is it about these primal elements that so draws the eye, that so draws the heart?

Who is it here that draws the heart and eye?

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Special coverage: White House coronavirus briefing for March 20 | WRVO  Public Media


AP: Washington D. C.

Twenty-four hours after being locked out of his Twitter account, the lifeless body of Donald Trump has been discovered in a White House bedroom.

“It would appear that the immediate cause of death was spontaneous cranial frangor,” said Trump's personal physician, Dr. Malachi Mavet, adding: “In short, his head exploded.”

Doctors at Walter Reed Medical Center suggested that the inability to Tweet may well have precipitated the explosion. Trump, of course, has long been known for his compulsive and logorrheic Tweetstorming.

“His last action as president was, literally, to paint the room red,” said a close personal aide, speaking on condition of anonymity.

While investigators found no evidence of foul play, the investigating FBI forensics team was mystified by the total lack of any cerebral material.

“There's blood, hair, skin, and skull here everywhere,” said one investigator, “but so far no brain matter.”

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Maybe it really happened, and he got re-animated by the Q-Anon Shaman...with his magical American flag spear. I can t

North Horse: 10/25/13


To the Pagans and Heathens That Took Part in Yesterday's Assault on Congress:


I don't know you, and I don't know who you are, but I know that you were there, and I have a question for you: Where is your honor?

Truly, is this how honorable people act?


By your actions yesterday, you have brought shame upon yourselves.

By your actions yesterday, you have brought shame upon your kin.

By your actions yesterday, you have brought shame upon your people.

By your actions yesterday, you have brought shame upon your ancestors.

By your actions yesterday, you have brought shame upon your gods.


I hereby declare your shame before all the people.

I hereby declare before all the people that you are nithings, beings of no honor.

I hereby raise this nithe-stang against you.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Hear, hear! There is a silver lining to the dark cloud of the past 4 years for me, though. When Sarah Palin declare


In Which, After Experiencing an Infestation of Flies, Our Intrepid Blogger Muses on the Old Ways, the New, and What the Abrahamics Just Don't Get


Beelzebub, arch-demon of the Bible.

In Hebrew, that would be Ba'al Zvûv: literally, Lord Fly, or Lord (of a) Fly. Usually, of course, this gets translated, “Lord of the Flies,” which strikes me as rather gratuitous. Insofar as an individual can stand for a kind, I suppose it's marginally acceptable as a tertiary—not to mention counter-intuitive— rendering.

(Bear in mind, though, that I'm a speaker of modern, not biblical, Hebrew, so my ear is not necessarily attuned to every nuance of older forms of the language.)

One of the things that's endearing about the Old Hebrew writers whose works were later compiled into what we know as the bible is that many of them are inveterate punsters. Ba'al Zvuv is one such pun.

In fact, it's what's technically known as a cacophonism: an intentionally nasty deformation of a name. (Like, say, Ronald Rump.)

In fact, it's a pun on Ba'al Zvûl: Prince Ba'al. (In Old Hebrew and Canaanite mythology, El—Heaven—is King of the Gods, Ba'al—Thunder, his junior colleague—Prince.) Here we see one of the decidedly un-endearing sides of the Old Hebrew writers: their sheer, unremitting nastiness when it comes to other people's sacredness.

He's not Prince Ba'al, he's Lord of the Flies! Well ha very ha.

Over Yule this year (the solar year begins at the Winter Solstice, so I can say that), I had a household infestation of flies. Well, in the pagan world, you're never more than a half-step away from the sacred: the Otherworld—call it Faerie, if you like—is always speaking to you from just behind your shoulder.

So it is that I find myself thinking about the Lord of the Flies.

To those nasty old Abrahamics, of course, this was a major diss. Not being pagans, naturally, that's exactly what they would think.

As a pagan, though, I can appreciate our kinsman Fly for the honorable (and necessary) work that he does. As a pagan, I can see the beauty of decay.

Imagine a world in which there was no decay. (Go ahead, just try.) Eventually, we'd all be buried in our own waste. End of story.

Thanks to Lord Fly, the end of the old story becomes the beginning of the new. Thanks to Lord Fly, the Wheel keeps turning. Thanks to Lord Fly, the Eternal Return.

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None of the ancient pagan languages with which I'm familiar had a word for 'amen', but after a thousand-some years of Christianity here in the West, we've gotten used to having one. So it's well worth asking: How do you say 'amen' in Pagan?

Amen. Yes, Robert Graves uses it to end a prayer in Seven Days in New Crete, his dystopian novel of the Goddess-worshiping future, but otherwise—so far as I can tell—there's consensus across Pagandom that we need a term of our own. (Consensus among pagans. Fancy that.)

So Be It. Well, if you must. Colorful, though, it isn't. Sorry, folks, I think we can do better than this.

Ho! No. No. No, no, no. Ripping off a Lakota verbal affirmation is not the direction we want to take here. As pagans, First Nations/Indigenous people are our spirit-kin. We are the last people that should be pillaging Native culture of anything. Learn from Native people, yes. Be informed by Native people, yes. Steal from Native people, no.

Blessed Be. I've met a number of Wiccans who use 'Blessed Be' as other folks use 'Amen'. Well, OK, but it seems to me that this phrase already means so many other things in the context of Wiccan culture—Hello and Good-bye among them—that it might be nice to have something a little more, shall we say, situationally specific.

So Mote It Be. First off, some back-story. Gerald Gardner took the term from the vocabulary of Masonry, which uses it pretty much as Wicca does: as an emphatic phrase of final affirmation. Think of it as a verbal capstone, or seal.

Yes, it's Wiccan, right out of the B of S. I know non-Wiccans who eschew the term for this very reason. Here's what I like about 'So mote it be'.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'll stick with Amen. If I'm feeling cantankerous I might say Amen-Ra, but that's it.

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