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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The Food Court of the Gods

 The District: Oakbrook Mall Food Hall near Chicago | Oakbrook Center

I swear, books like this put the “neo” in “neo-pagan.”

How to Get What You Want by Stealing Other Peoples' Goddesses.

That wasn't the title, but it might as well have been.

I riffle through the pages. It's much as I expected: twelve chapters, twelve goddesses, twelve different cultures. Heavy on the European and Asian goddesses, of course. Each chapter headed by a colorful picture of said goddess (or quasi: Kwan Yin is a boddhisatva, the Guadelupana technically receives hyperdulia—whatever that means—not worship), then continues with a brief description, and finally—most importantly—concludes with how you can use her power to get what you want.

(Sedna. Of course there's a chapter on Sedna.)

Welcome to the food court of the gods.

My mind fills with questions.

You've been pagan for 40 years, and you're still doing this beginner-ass kind of sh*t? I think.

What's the matter, don't you have any gods of your own to cozy up to? I think.

Twelve different cultures, and not one of them yours: don't you feel even the slightest bit morally dubious about this? I think.

That's it? “It's female, therefore it's mine”? That's your spirituality? I think.

How does spiritual imperialism differ from other kinds of imperialism? I think.


Sometimes I feel like I'm still learning this “pagan elder” business.

Maybe some day I'll be the kind of pagan elder who can ask these kinds of questions. Maybe some day I'll be the kind of pagan elder who knows how to phrase questions like this in ways that they can be heard. Maybe some day I'll have the wisdom to know what to say in a situation like this.

Meanwhile, my friend's wife seems completely happy with her new acquisition. I hand the book back to her.

Thanks for showing it to me,” I say.






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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Friday, 26 May 2023

    I actually like that food court of the gods image. Each little shop run by a different goddess where she sells her product and takes your offering. How would it look if you modeled a suburban temple after a food court with a bunch of little shrines each dedicated to a different goddess?

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 27 May 2023

    Interestingly, diaspora Hindu temples tend to be set up this way, since members of the temple honor different deities, so that instead of (as back in the Old Country) one major sanctum with smaller shrines around it, there are usually multiple altars of roughly the same size.
    Good old polytheism. Infinitely adaptable.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 28 May 2023

    "Would you like some dharma with that?"

  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton Sunday, 28 May 2023

    I'm with the first commenter. "I'm going straight to Tacos Tlaloc -- not spending money anywhere else until we get some rain."

    (Actually, el buen señor sent 6+ inches of rain this month, and the bottle of tequila reposado for offerings is almost empty.)

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 29 May 2023

    I hear the hummos at Astarte's Kitchen is the best in town.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 29 May 2023

    Even us purists admit that purism is its own punishment.

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