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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The Green Man | Pub | Signage | Stride

 

They say there are thirteen—thirteen, count 'em—Green Men down at Merlin's Rest.

Can you find them all?

 

How Merlin's Rest became the pagan pub in town, I'm not sure.

(Because it's British, and pagans tend toward the Celtophilic? Because you can kilt up there, and any self-respecting pagan guy will happily don his nine yards at the drop of an athame? Because it's adjacent to the pagan neighborhood?)

For whatever reason, it's been the local pagan pub for years, which here in Paganistan is saying something. Go there, and you'll pretty much always see other pagans.

Actually, pagans being pagans, you'll probably hear us first.

 

For a long time, the local Druids met-up there weekly. (In fact, modern Druidry got its start at a public house in London, in 1781. Draw your own conclusions.) Whether or not they still gather there post-covid, I don't know.

Heathens, witches, Druids: Merlin's serves them all.

(No, not that Merlin: this is merlin the falcon.)

If pubs have secret Craft names, Merlin's must be The Green Man.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Why are Minneapolis and St. Paul going another year without 4th of July  fireworks? - CBS Minnesota

 Dear N,

In the dream, you and I have gone to see the opening night of Paganistan: The Musical.

(The performance has been held in an outdoor theater, of course, which, for some bizarre reason—dream logic—you and I have been watching from the front seat of my car.)

The play honors the Fiftieth Anniversary of the founding of the Twin Cities pagan community. For two hours now, we've watched a stylized musical retelling of the joys and sorrows, the triumphs and failures, of the community to which, for better and for worse, we have both given our lives. Witnessing the reenactment of events that we ourselves were part of has been both a hilarious and a bittersweet exercise.

Now the entire cast has gathered onstage for curtain call.

The reception is rapturous, the applause thunderous. On the horizon behind the cast, fireworks explode.

You and I join in. Sitting there in my car, I have the strange sense that you are both yourself and, somehow, a personification of the local community: Paganistan in person.

I pull you to me, give you a big hug, and kiss the top of your head.

“Thanks for everything,” I say.

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 Deer Tracks vs. Other Animal Tracks: What Do They Look Like?

In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Comes to Paganistan and Finally Meets Some Pagans

 

Q: Why did it take a pagan to invent mathematics?

A: Because monotheists can't count any higher than one.

 

I emigrated to Paganistan in 1979: ostensibly to attend grad school, but in reality looking for my people.

It took me a year to find them.

Things moved more slowly in those pre-internet days than they do now. Back then, basically, you had to know someone to get in.

The first lesson every hunter must learn is persistence. For a year I looked, finding the occasional trace, but no real trail.

Then, one unforgettable evening, I walked into Lind Hall and saw, posted on the wall across from the door, the blue-stenciled mimeograph sheet that changed my life.

 

Are you interested in Wicca?

Paganism? Druidism?

 

Children of the Night

Student Pagan Organization

 

Month/Day/1980

7:00 p.m.

2XX Lind Hall

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Fossekallen 12C27 – Helle Knives

When America's witches gather...who will live, and who will die?

 

August 1997.

In Paris, Princess Di, newly divorced from the heir to the British throne, is killed in a tragic auto accident.

Meanwhile, in Paganistan...

 

The Festival

...the local pagan community hosts the annual gathering of the nation's largest organization of Witches and Wiccans. But tensions run high...

 

The Ritual

...as the Ritual Committee plans a national first: a daring, and shocking, central ritual, the Dance of the Stags.

Two Stags clash in what appears to be a battle for dominance, but ends in a Great Rite. The Three Veils bless the Union as the Stags chase each other off into the words, naked and dripping cream.

 

The Players

The local council's First Officer, furious that, as she sees it, her beloved Goddess is being sidelined at her own festival, vows not to attend the ritual, while...

the First Stag finds himself increasingly unsure where ritual ends and reality begins, and...

the Young Stag struggles with an unexpected passion, as...

his Partner wrestles with anger at what she herself has helped to create.

 

Merrymeet 1997. Who will live...and who will die?

 

...hottest ritual ever.” (Bruner Soderberg)

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Witch's Hat Water Tower - Pictures- ProspectProspect Park Neighborhood  Minneapolis

 

As the unofficial chronicler of Paganistan, I often find myself telling stories that record the life of a people-in-the-making. Not infrequently, these are stories in which I myself played a part, or at least witnessed.

The majority of the events that these stories narrate have, for the most part, gone otherwise unrecorded. One hundred years from now, if any account of these events survives at all, it will be mine. Mine will be the voice of historic record.

This fact gives me a certain amount of power. And you know what they say about power.

Often, while framing a story, I ask myself: is this really what happened?

The answer to this question is generally: Yes. Well, mostly.

Here and there I may streamline. Every storyteller goes for effect. You leave out irrelevant details. (Why mention the five other people in the room if they have nothing to do with the point of the story?) You rearrange events so that the narrative builds. You tend to restructure so that things happen in threes, as in most jokes, in which the first two things that happen create a pattern, and the third breaks that pattern in some unforeseen way.

I give you my word: very little that I chronicle here is entirely fictional. That said, I'm a storyteller first, historian second.

No, better make that: storyteller first, educator second, historian third.

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In the early days of Paganistan, a certain witch named Sandra was walking down Summit Avenue one evening.

(If ever you've wondered why Paganistan is in Paganistan, and not, say, somewhere else, I can pretty much tell you in one word: Llewellyn. Carl and Sandra Weschke ran Llewellyn Publishing at the time, and lo! the pagan world in-gathered around them.)

So there she was, dressed to the nines, on her way home from dinner out with some friends.

Just then, a couple of purse-snatchers darted by, deftly nabbing her shoulder-bag as they went past.

Knowing that she wouldn't be able to run very fast or very far in her heels, she called out to a couple of football players from the local college, who just happened to be nearby:

Fifty bucks if you take 'em down!

They did, right there on the pavement. Ouch.

Now, that's what I call witching.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Back in the mid-80s, a local priestess, wanting (for a change) a holiday entertainment focused wholly on the Winter Solstice, put together a show called Summon the Sun.

The Saturday before Yule, pagans and other friends of the Solstice filled a local gymnasium.

The lights went down and the show began.

A local sword-dancing team performed Northern English sword dances traditionally performed at Yule.

The Latvian singers, in traditional clothing, sang ancient dainas of the season.

Then came the Mummers' Play.

Our mummers' play was not the typical combat/death-and-resurrection play performed at this time of the year all around Britain. Called “How Winter Came to Minnesota”, it was based on a story of the same name from my album Radio Paganistan, which our friend Ruth Temple had recast along the lines of a traditional Yule mummers' play.

 

How Winter Came to Minnesota

 

Enter Goodman Jane, played by Ruth herself, our storyteller for the evening.

Our story so far:

Long, long ago, Minnesota—instead of being the frozen wasteland that it is today—was a terrestrial paradise where the temperature never dipped below 80.

Enter (as EveryMinnesotan) Yours Truly, all 118 pounds of me, dressed in the skimpiest pair of Speedos you ever saw.

(Gods, was I ever a boney boy. My boyfriend of the time refused to let me lay on top because my hip-bones poked him too much. “You're like a bag of deer antlers,” he said. Seeing the expression on my face, he emended this to: “A cute bag of deer antlers, mind you.”)

Unfortunately, with weather like that, the mosquitoes just got worse every year.

Enter Mosquito, in a commedia del' arte mask with a proboscis that went on for miles. Mosquito chases EveryMinnesotan around stage.

(Laughter.)

In desperation, EveryMinnesotan calls on Mother Berhta, an obscure, washed-up old goddess of nobody-can-even-remember-quite-what-anymore.

Enter Mother Berhta, with sack.

In comes I, old Mother Berhta, ready or not.

I hope old Mother Berhta will never be forgot.

Mother Berhta makes it snow. Mosquito dies. Happy ending, right?

Wrong. The terrestrial paradise that once was Minnesota has now become a frozen Hel instead. In his skimpy little Speedos (really, they were about as concealing as a hand held over the crotch), you can practically hear EveryMinnesotan's boney knees knocking together.

Teeth chattering, he calls once again on Mother Berhta, pleading for mercy.

And you know what? Mother Berhta relents.

She agrees to send Winter away and let Summer come back. Well, eventually.

She reaches into her sack and gives EveryMinnesotan the world's first Yule gift: the longest scarf you ever saw. In gratitude, EveryMinnesotan wraps it around (and around and around and around) his neck. I must have looked utterly absurd, standing there in a scarf and a pair of Speedos.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Not to brag or anything--modesty not being a pagan virtue--but I can still fit into that same pair of Speedos. Can't say I look a
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Thank you for sharing. That makes a nice story. Do you still put on that play or have you come up with another one?
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    It's been years. Maybe it's time for a remount.

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