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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People of No Honor

In Ireland of old, there was a practice known as “fasting on” someone, and this was the way of it.

If someone had wronged you, you would sit at his or her doorstep, and keep a fast. There you would sit, if needful, to the death.

This was accounted by the ancestors as a powerful tool of persuasion and justice, even against kings.

For Hospitality is chief of virtues, and it were accounted a grave breach of it, that an unarmed stranger should die of famine at one's very doorstep, and the shame of it upon the house forever.

Nor might one take up violence against the faster, for this also was held a grave dishonor to the house.

But in these days there is neither sitting-out nor fasting-on.

For those that rule are accounted by all as people of no hospitality, as people of no honor.

And the black shame of it be upon their house, forever.




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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.


  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza Wednesday, 10 October 2018

    Write more on this....

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Thursday, 11 October 2018

    I was writing from memory, Murphy; I'll see if I can pull together some sources for you.

    Meanwhile, for a paradigmatic example of fasting-on, see Irish Revival writer James Stephens' "The Story of Tuan Mac Cairill."

  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza Thursday, 11 October 2018

    Oh not on the Irish tradition...I know of that..
    ..I mean write more on what it means for us in the community to be hospitable and honorable...and what it means now to not sit out... :)

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Thursday, 11 October 2018

    So let it be written, so let it be done. ;)

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 13 October 2018

    Let me just add that the single best treatment of a virtue-based pagan ethics that I know of in the Literature is the chapter on the virtues in Ceisiwr Serith's 2007 Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. He focuses on Hospitality, but treats with many others as well. It's a relatively brief treatment (pp. 35-45), but Cei is a clear, compact thinker, and what he says can withstand a deal of unpacking.

    Best of all, he doesn't try to enumerate the Virtues, unlike so many who try to fit them into some heathen equivalent of the "Ten Commandments": the "Nine Noble Virtues," et al. (Of course, every list is different.) There are far more virtues than nine, and trying to count them is--if you ask me--like trying to count the gods.

  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza Saturday, 13 October 2018

    I'll look into that...thanks!

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