Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth

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Postmaster Announces New Pagan Holiday Stamps

AP: Washington, DC

The Postmaster General announced today the upcoming release of a series of stamps commemorating the eight holidays celebrated by the vast majority of contemporary pagans.

"Pagans have been an integral part of this nation since its founding and before," said Postmaster Tamar Penrose, acting head of the US Postal Service. "It's time and high time for such a public acknowledgement."

The stamps will be released later this year on November 1, the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, celebrated by many contemporary pagans as their New Year.

The release coincides with the opening of the Smithsonian's new exhibit, "Pagan America: The First 400 Years." The exhibit will include the unveiling of the original prototypes for the stamps.

The prototypes were created by the Minneapolis Collective of Pagan Artists (MCPA) which, since its founding in 2013, has spearheaded the mainstreaming of pagan art and culture into American consciousness. It was the MCPA that first vetted the idea to the Postal Service.

"The initial inspiration came from an obscure pagan blog," says Paul B. Rucker, spokesman for the MCPA, "but once the spark hit the collective, it caught like wildfire."

The proposed stamps created their own firestorm of controversy in the pagan community when rumors began to circulate concerning which names for the holidays would appear on the stamps—and which would not.

"Pagan community, thy name is diversity," said Magenta Griffith, high priestess emerita of Minneapolis. "The eight sabbats, being so old, are known by many different names. But in the end, we're the People of the Many. Such differences only enrich us."

Griffith acknowledged the magnitude of the event. "It's not so long since we were having our children taken away from us. My thanks to the Postmaster General for having taken this courageous step: it's truly momentous."

Smiling, she added:

"Now can she please do something about how long I have to wait in line every time I go to the post office?"








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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.


  • Karen Avelis
    Karen Avelis Thursday, 28 July 2016

    Blessings, Steven Posch. I resigned myself to the tedium of registering at this site simply to tell you thank you for making Tamara Penrose the Postmaster General. She has the experience having been postmistress in Cornwall Coombe 43 years ago. I can not express how delighted and charmed I am to run into her after all these years. If anyone is baffled by my joy, please, read the amazing Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon then watch the excellent miniseries that has Bette Davis.(!) (She does NOT play Tamara.) Steven, you are forever in my blessings. My wish for you is that sometime you are as charmed by something as I was this.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Thursday, 28 July 2016

    I'm honored and moved by your response, Karen: so mote it be. Also delighted that someone got the joke!
    From Cornwall Coombe to Washington, D. C.: not a bad vocational trajectory!

  • Diana Troldahl
    Diana Troldahl Friday, 29 July 2016

    Smithsonian website shows no sign of this show (and they have info on exhibitions schedule well into 2017) also, the stamp shown is in pence. REALLY hope it is true, but can find no back up information anywhere. (USPS site also has no mention of them)

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 29 July 2016

    "When something seems like it's too good to be true...."
    Good on you, Diana, for not taking my word for it and checking the original sources.
    Alas, I'm afraid this piece must be categorized as "speculative fiction." Or perhaps we could say, "prediction."
    In fact, I'm convinced that we'll eventually get there, if only we can manage to stick around long enough. And part of getting there is forseeing what it might be like.
    As pagans we're so often on the Outside; my intention here was to give us all the experience (even if only momentary) of feeling what the Inside might be like.
    Blessed are the fact-checkers.

  • Taunya
    Taunya Friday, 29 July 2016

    Steven Posch hi I recognized your name & picture. It's Kathara from Avalon. My maiden name was Taunya McEroy, now is Taunya Wren on Facebook if you want to message me or friend request me. Nice to see you hope your well. This is great that your involved in this!

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 29 July 2016

    Great to hear from you, Kathara. For a long time now I've wanted to write a piece about Avalon and its significance; it has certainly left a strong Avalon nostalgia among those of us who were there. (By way of explanation, Return to Avalon was a regional, private festival for Craft elders that ran for 13 years during the late 90s and early 00s.)
    I'm afraid I don't do Facebook; if I did, I wouldn't have the time and energy to write what I do here. But my thoughts and blessings with you; hopefully we'll reconnect at some point.

  • Hex
    Hex Friday, 29 July 2016

    Hello Mr. Porch.
    I apologise for asking this, but is this actually happening in the US? I see there was a joke of sorts with the postmaster name being "Tamar Penrose" rather than Megan J. Brennan Or even Ronald A. Stroman of the USPS. I also see that the stamp is for UK currency, but also note that it may just be a photo of one of the "prototypes" with the intention for international distribution. As a Pagan and Witch activist, I was elated to read this article, and have shared it with hundreds of people who are also very excited. Please tell me I didn't let them down for falling for a mean gag.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 29 July 2016

    Yikes. Sorry to disappoint, Hex (if only!), but I'm afraid this post is fiction. A "gag"...well, maybe. "Mean"...well, I hope not. That was certainly not my intention.
    But it's not just play; it's a spell. (Most of my posts are.) If as pagans we're to have a future, we need to think and think well about what that future will look like. And then work as hard as we possibly can to get there.
    Clearly there's a deep hunger in the pagan heart for acceptance and "normalcy." It's worth asking, How do we make this happen?
    Me, I think we'll get there. We'll get there in the same way that the Marriage Equality folks got there: by one-on-one personal contact, by being the best that we can be.
    I don't doubt for a second that we'll get our stamps and Smithsonian exhibit eventually.
    Just not, alas, this year.

  • Hex
    Hex Friday, 29 July 2016

    I apologise for mispelling your name. Auto correct. No disrespect was intended.

  • Brook Hubbard
    Brook Hubbard Friday, 29 July 2016

    Very disappointing that this wasn't real, as it had a number of friends and family excited.

    Perhaps a retraction or update should note that the information in here is fiction, and who we could contact to encourage it into reality?

  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener Friday, 29 July 2016

    I hope everyone realizes that they actually can make their own postage stamps like this, and they're perfectly legal and usable in the mail. Not officially released by the USPS, but it's the next best thing:

  • Hex
    Hex Friday, 29 July 2016

    Great idea.

  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell Friday, 29 July 2016

    Steven as to the Pagan postage stamp story, "Postmaster Announces New Pagan Holiday Stamps." I can't find out any more information on it. One place that I checked had it listed as Satire. The stamp shown is listed as pence. American stamps no long list prices on them. We have what are called Forever Stamps, so that they don't have to change stamp when we change stamp prices of them.

  • Nicole Bales
    Nicole Bales Sunday, 31 July 2016

    It's a hoax.

  • Beth
    Beth Friday, 29 July 2016

    I appreciate the satire, but I'm begging you to label it as such right up front, or at least at the end of the article. I've seen this article shared far and wide as if it is the truth. Organizations are sharing it now. I'm happy for your page count, but this has become harder to debunk than Ishtar=Easter. Sadly, most people don't check sources. I was excited by the title until I saw the name Tamar Penrose. Harvest Home is a good book that more Pagans should read. For those who don't already know, the actual Postmaster General, Megan Brennan, is the first woman to ever hold the post since Ben Franklin created it.

    Please, please, please label this as satire. Thank you for the fun read, and possibly the start of a movement to include Pagan holidays in our philatelic world.

  • Nicole Bales
    Nicole Bales Sunday, 31 July 2016

    I agree completely. It's a cruel thing to do, writing this piece as if it were the truth. Most people have no idea who the real postmaster is, let alone that this is a fictitious name. Myself and many other pagans in our community have never heard of this Tamar Penrose, and this viciously cruel article has been shared as the truth multiple times over, and it wasn't until I read the comments that all of our hopes were dashed to pieces.

  • Nicole Bales
    Nicole Bales Sunday, 31 July 2016

    You should be ashamed of yourself for writing and spreading such a blatant lie to the Pagan community. My friends and I were actually quite excited about this, until we started to do some research and discovered it was nothing but a giant hoax. As a small group who have been severely discriminated against in our community, we were hoping that our time for recognition had finally come, only to have our dreams and hopes crushed with the realization that this was a joke to you. This was cruel, sir. Very cruel. Shame on you.

  • Dawn Love
    Dawn Love Monday, 01 August 2016

    The "joke" is funnier when everyone is in on it. Using a reference so obscure that newer Pagans possibly won't understand it is exactly why many other commenters are as upset and disappointed that this post is a fabrication. It feels like being excluded from the club for not being old enough or as well-read as the rest of the group. :(

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 01 August 2016

    First, my thanks to everyone who took the time to read and comment.

    Clearly, I need to get out of the Broomstick Ghetto more (but then I already knew that). One of the dangers of being a long-term insider is the amount of presumed knowledge that one comes to take for granted. That said, the notion of the US post office having anything to do with pagan holidays seemed to me so patently absurd that it needed no further direct comment. Clearly, I was wrong on that account.

    Still and all, this is the internet. Caveat lector: let the reader beware. The wise take nothing on authority: not nobody, not nohow. Even when that voice (as I like to think that mine does) generally speaks knowledgeably and authoritatively. Take no one on authority; certainly not me.

    Clearly, I've struck a cultural nerve. Marginalized groups like pagans hunger for “mainstreaming” as a manner of course.

    So, let this obscure pagan blogger (see above) ask: Whyever not? Why shouldn't there be pagan holiday stamps? Why not museum exhibits on pagan history and culture?

    Now that the issue has been raised, the operative question remaining is: So how do we get there from here?

    And dreaming it is the very first step.

  • Lokisgodhi
    Lokisgodhi Monday, 01 August 2016

    Steven Posch,

    I must protest! It's just sick and wrong to ever apologize for duping feeble minded morons who were taken in by a good satire. That's kind of the point of a satire, isn't it? The duping feeble minded morons. The noted author, George Hayduke once said, never apologize, it's a sign of weakness. Words to live by.

    One should even go further than that. I'll have go with yet another quote. This time legendary sportsman Lee Wulff, a trout is too valuable to be caught only once. Their names and personal information should be collected and sold to mass marketers so others can enjoy duping them as well.

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