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.
Keeper of the Book of England: Tracking Down a Pioneer of the Horned God Revival

Today, he's almost entirely forgotten.

But he was one of the pioneers of the Horned God revival in the 20th century.

Hans Holzer's 1969 book The Truth About Witchcraft was my second book about modern witchery. (The first was Sybil Leek's Diary of a Witch.) In it, he treats mostly with witchcraft of the Gardnerian and Gardnerian-derived varieties.

But A. Damon was different.

Damon lives with his wife upriver, writes Holzer, “within the frame-work of witch law,” as he put it when he invited me to drop in for a visit, and his “logo” or symbol is an interesting combination of the Horned God's horns and sex organs within a triangle (150).

My 14-year old's ears pricked up immediately.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    From your lips to Old Hornie's furry, pointed ear, Mike. Holzer mentions his pagan film-in-the-making in practically every one of
  • Mike W
    Mike W says #
    Huson, Holzer, Leek. Some of the early influences on me as well. I corresponded with Mike Howard also, he was a real scholar as
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    When I saw Fred Addams' Apple Kore on the Jacket of New Pagans, it was love at first sight. Nigh on 50-some years later, I still
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember reading Holzer and Leek back in the 70's along with Journey to Ixtlan and Sacred Mushroom and the Cross. I don't think
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    Oh yes - I was very influenced by them as well. (Darkover too! And Kurtz's Deryni.) I highlighted "New Pagans" because I started o

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Ramadan? Bah, Humbug!

Just before last New Moon I ran into my neighbor.

“Hey, Ramadan coming up,” I said. “Are you looking forward?

She frowned.

“Too much work,” she said.

Ramadan, ugh. It's as bad as Christmas.

Like Christmas, Ramadan is an old pagan holiday dressed up in motho clothing. (In this case, a hijâb.) This year it's almost back to where it started in the first place: the moon of the Summer Solstice. A fast every day, a party every night: sounds pagan to me.

Ramadan is a hot item these days. True, there are lots more Muslims in my neighborhood now than there were a few years back. But it's not just demographic. Since 9/11, Ramadan actually makes national news. (Before that, of course, although a quarter of Earth's population—including millions of Americans—were observing the holiest time of their religious calendar, somehow the American media never found this a newsworthy event.) But in these days of unthinking Leftist Islamophilia, non-Muslims fast “in solidarity.” (A friend's husband calls this “religious tourism.”) The yards of the terminally liberal sprout Blessed Ramadan to Our Muslim Neighbors yard-signs.

Well, kumbaya to you, too.

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  • Mab Nahash
    Mab Nahash says #
    So with you on this. I like that Americans are more religiously tolerant than in the past, but the liberal Christians have yet to

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Sun Cup, Moon Cup

You stand before the Sun.

He is tall and shining, golden.

In his hands, he holds a golden cup.

He offers, and you take, the burning vessel.

You meet his eyes.

You drink his fiery liquor.

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Urban Coven: Strawberry Moon

If you didn't know it was a ritual, you wouldn't know it was a ritual.

An hour before moonrise, we gather at the coven bench in the park.

We swap news, laugh, eat fruit and cookies. Our newest member is just now back from five months in the Middle East; it's Sun and Moon to my eyes to see her again. She's giddy with the freedom of it all: public paganism. Being second generation, she'd never experienced the broom closet before: the pagan generation gap.

We toast her return with (ahem) iced tea from the thermos.

Somewhere behind the tree line, the full Moon is rising unseen. We sing to her, then go downhill to the lake.

Each has her own intent. Silent, we circle the already-dark water, its surface stippled with south wind; soon the Full Moon will shine from its midst. The power builds as we go.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I hope so too, Thesseli. Thanks.
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    For women, going outside into the open on our own for this kind of thing is dangerous...for us, we need others to come with us, fo
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    Utterly lovely. I wish I could ever experience something like this.

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Horned Hammer

As pagan bumperstickers go, it was really pretty subtle.

A Thor's Hammer with antlers.

What it meant to whoever owned the van, I don't know. I could imagine several possibilities.

But I know what it meant to me. Hey, I've heard the stories.

They say that Old Hornie—but he would have been Young Hornie then—used to live up in the sky, in the House of Thunder, to the West.

Well, they say he didn't just live there.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Best of luck in the learning, Anthony. Bwa ha ha.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Well now I have an image of Deerper from Monster Falls with Journal 3 in his left hand and Thor's hammer in his right hand in my m

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Hanging Joan Prentice

They took down the gallows in the park today.

In some ways, that's too bad.

Sculptor Sam Durant's 2012 wood and steel installation Scaffold had been acquired by the Walker Museum for its newly-renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Intended as a commentary on racial inequities in capital punishment throughout American history, it sparked protests among traditional Dakota, who found it offensive.

So they took it down.

The entire mishandled situation has been, frankly, a tragedy of errors from beginning to end, starting with the fact that the sculpture garden has long been known locally for—how shall I put this charitably—its “content-free” nature. What the Walker was thinking by plunking down something with actual serious content into the midst of its half-acre of vacuity, like some farmhouse crashing down out of the clear blue into Muchkinland, I honestly don't know.

But controversy aside, I've been thinking about the piece itself.

You could say that it's put me in touch.

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In Praise of Guys Without Shirts

A friend of mine has a chalkboard: Things to Be Thankful For.

Yesterday, going past, I took up the chalk and wrote:

Guys Without Shirts.

It's the kind of weather that they named the Summerland for, and finally, after a long winter of visual deprivation, the shirts are coming off.

Thank Goddess.

Don't get me wrong: I appreciate rippling pecs and box-grater abs as much as the next (gay) guy.

But they're not required. Young or old, rounded or taut: it's all beauty to me, and yes, I always look. As the sage once said: The contemplation of beauty is its own reward.

When peonies bloom and shirts are shed, it means that Summer, our beautiful, poignant Summer, is come: burgeoning, urgent, and always O so brief.

And so with poet Dan Pagis I see, and I say:

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  • Haley
    Haley says #
    Hear! hear!

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