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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A Stonehenge Effort


In Praise of Arditti's Easter

Set in a fictional North London Anglican parish during Holy Week at the height of the AIDS epidemic,

Michael Arditti's masterful 2008 Easter, while also treating with larger, universal issues—doubt, belief, community, identity, love—is a novel profoundly Christian, with two great pagan moments.

Listen, and I will tell.


The Rites of Pan

Virtually everywhere, there are places where men go to have (mostly) anonymous sex with other men. Look for these places on the edges, in the places-between: parks, truck-stops, forests.

Here are enacted the true Rites of Pan. Here, I am deeply convinced, flows the power that makes the Sun to rise, the Rivers to flow, the Seeds to sprout. Power raised for no ulterior purpose but the raising thereof, is always power given to the Horned.

(A friend who spent some time in Jerusalem once told me, “The only place in Israel where it truly doesn't matter if you're a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim, is in the parks at night”: a “f*ckocracy,” he called it. Truly, Pan is the Great Leveler.)

If you've never been to one of these places—they're not really my style, either—Arditti will take you there vicariously. Welcome to Hampstead Heath at night.

Oh my, oh my.


Building the New Pagan Vocabulary

The second is a mere single phrase, an expression: but oh, what an expression.

Writes Arditti: move his lips would require a Stonehenge effort.

"A Stonehenge effort." You've been there yourself: in one of those situations in which to take action would require all the effort that it took to build Stonehenge.

No one, of course, would say “an Empire State Building effort.” Besides being (arguably) the most identifiably pagan structure in the world, Stonehenge is somehow approachable. It's something that we—we the people, we the unskilled, we hoi pólloi—could (and did) build ourselves.

We hauled the Stones. We shaped them. We raised them, lintels and all.

My friends, as we build the New Pagan Vocabulary—the repertoire of words, phrases, and concepts through which we understand our New Pagan World—it behooves us well to listen deeply, and to embrace the true, wherever we find it.

Thank you, Michael Arditti, for your Stonehenge effort.



Michael Arditti (2008) Easter. London: Arcadia Books.


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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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