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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The God That Wasn't There

I'd gone down to the clearing to make the morning offering to the stang.

But the stang wasn't there.

(It turned out later that the stang's keeper had moved it, but that doesn't really enter into this story.)

Now, it's always best to offer towards: in this case, towards an icon.

Well, I had the offerings and it was the time of offering, so I made the usual offerings and said the usual prayers to the Invisible Stang instead: to the stang that wasn't there.

Of course, every visible stang—and every icon—is (shall we say) overlain by the invisible stang anyway (or should be, at least).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Trouble with Lammas

Lammas < Old English hlæfmæsse, “loaf mass.”

“A harvest festival formerly held in England on August 1 when bread baked from the season's first ripe grain was consecrated.”

Blessing the harvest's first grain: something we've probably been doing since the end of the last Ice Age.

But (etymologically speaking, anyway) the name is inescapably Christian. What to do?

Well, there's always Lúnasa. (That's the simplified Modern Irish form of the feast known in Old Irish as Lughnasadh [and by many other spellings]).

But that name has problems of its own. For one, it's specific to a specific culture and a specific pantheon. For another, for English-speakers, it is and always will be a foreign import.

Some Old Craft folks that I know wouldn't be caught dead using a Pagan Revival term like Lúnasa. In the old days, under the radar was the only safe way to fly. Where they come from, it's Lammas all the way.

Here's one you probably haven't heard before: the Gule of August. We get Gule (rhymes with Yule, which is nice) from French, although there's a Welsh form (Gwyll) too; its ultimate origin may be Latin vigilia, “vigil.” Well, in the Wonderful World of Polytheism more is generally better; “Gule” is fine if you want to mystify your friends.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy says #
    This Gaelic polytheist/Druid/ is glad the pan-Pagan Celtic trend seems to be waning a bit. I'm happy to share Lunasa with anyone
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    So, your down home famtrad would have home made bread, preferably from home grown grain. The making of corn dollies, especially th
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Please, please, please, O gods: Please may every dish on the Lammas table not have zucchini in it. So mote it be!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Tasha, I love "Word to the Wise." Happy Lammas.
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Wonderful, Steve, as always. Thanks! Sharing on Macha's FB page.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Moon Bowl

The Moon-horns low as the full Moon clears the cattail thicket at lake's edge.

From among the standing reeds, three women emerge, arms around waists.

Their white skirts are identical, but their breasts are bare: the high breasts of youth, the round breasts of maturity, the long breasts of age.

The Young and the Old raise their outer arms.

Between them, She of the Round Breasts bears a silver bowl.

She speaks.

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Reborn to the People

What do you say when someone dies?

I've been rereading Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin's monumental The Masters of Solitude, a landmark of 20th century witch fiction. It's set 1000 years in the future, and eastern North America is largely populated by various witch tribes.

Among them, when someone dies, you express the wish—or is it a prayer?—that he (or she) be reborn to the tribe.

Reborn to the Shando. Reborn to the Suffec. Reborn to the Karli.

It's a deep witch longing: if I'm to be reborn, let it be among my own.

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The Five-Minute Rule

It's right up there in the pantheon of the good things that life gives us, along with good food, good sex, and good ritual.

Good conversation.

Singer-songwriter Sparky T. Rabbit (1954-2014) was one of the most brilliant conversationalists that I've ever met.

He strictly adhered to what I'll call the Five-Minute Rule.

If you've been talking for five minutes, it's time to shut up and listen.

One of the things that made Sparky such a supple and engaging conversationalist is that he was an active listener. While you were talking, he gave you his full attention, and he was thinking about what you said.

I try to be a good listener. Gods help me, I try.

That's how I've come to realize that much of what passes for conversation isn't actually conversation at all.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • WiseCrone
    WiseCrone says #
    I love this! Makes me want to look up more about Sparky T. Rabbit. Thanks for sharing about him.

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Messy Religion

Blood spraying, semen squirting.

Libations splashing, incense dropping ash.

Paganism sure is messy.

Well, the Old Ways are religions of life, and what life isn't, is neat and tidy.

One could say the same for pagan thought. Theology we have; systematic it isn't.

Messy religion. Not to everyone's taste, perhaps.

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Old Granny Nicburne

Old Granny Nicburne kept the Devil upstairs in an old black kettle.

Look on in, and you'd swear you were looking down an old, dry well.

And there at the bottom, looking back up, two eyes like a couple of fires.

 

They say one night a fellow broke into Granny's place, whilst she was up to the mountain at one of her jamborees.

Puzzled the sheriff no end.

Broke in, didn't steal nothing; just plain vanished into thin air.

Footprints in the dust led on up the stairs, and into an empty room, with nothing inside it but a deer skull in an old kettle.

Full set of prints going up those stairs.

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