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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Name (Tribe)

There's a conventional usage in the First Nations press which I think, for various reasons, would be a good fit for the pagan community as well.

There it's customary to identify someone both by name and by tribal affiliation:

Winona la Duke (Anishinabe)

Arvol Looking Horse (Dakota)

This makes perfect sense. In traditional societies, you don't just need to know who someone is; you need to know who her people are as well. In traditional Dine (Navajo) culture, when introducing yourself to a fellow Dine, you mention not just your own name, but your maternal and paternal clans as well. This gives you not just an identity, but a context.

Since pagans come in different kinds, it seems to me that this makes sense for us, too:

Isaac Bonewits (Druid)

Alison Harlow (Feri)

As for the hyphenated pagans among us, go for it; some of us, after all, have feet in different camps.

Lord Moonwhistle (Wiccan-Bon Po)

Please, though, let's keep it to one hyphen, OK? Anything more than that is just plain taking up too much air.

As for the parallels between pagan affiliation and tribal identity, well, that's a rich and pregnant topic. Those of us who grew up in the West tend to think here along the lines of confessional denominations.

But that's not thinking like a pagan. All realized paganisms are, in effect, inherently tribal/ethnic. If, in the old days, someone had asked you what your religion was, you'd have told the asker your tribe (thede).

I'm Dobunni; [therefore] my gods are the Gods of the Dobunni.

On the topic of the New Tribalism, there's certainly much to be said.

But that's another story for another night.


Above: Lakshan Bibi (Kalasha)

"How did people live thousands of years ago? Come to my house, and I'll show you."


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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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