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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Steven Posch

Steven Posch

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.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Deer People Have Come

In the dream, the coven has gathered, ready to begin the Rite of Samhain.

Night has fallen. Turning, I see deer on the hillside: first two, then more, then many.

We have visitors, I say.

We watch them watching us. The Deer People have come to witness our sabbat.

As we watch, one by one, the deer take human form.

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Witches Now Outnumber Presbyterians in USA, Says Conservative Website

Well, no wonder the US is going to Hel.

Did you know that there are more witches in the US (1.5 million) than Presbyterians (1.4 million)?

Did you know that pagans now constitute .4 percent of the American population?

No, neither did I, until a friend sent me a link to a conservative website called Christian Post.

Are these figures to be trusted? Who knows? (Me, I'd trust the Pew Research figures over the rest, but maybe that's just me.)

What astounds me most about the article is its supposed concern for all those poor, lost witch and pagan souls out there.

Considering the fact that the Evangelical electorate of America has already sold its own collective soul to a devil named D-nald Tr-mp in exchange for political power, it seems to me an arch-hypocrisy to be worrying about anyone else.

Hey, nazzes: Maybe you should see to the log in your own eye before you start decrying other people's splinters.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Thanks for sharing!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Well that was an interesting read. I really enjoyed the comments at the end of the article.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Dolmen

The Archdruid was dying.

From all over Gaul, druids gathered to his bedside to ease his passage from this world to the next. As they stood around him chanting, a novice brought him a bowl of fresh milk, but the Archdruid refused it.

The novice took the milk to the hearth, warmed it, and stirred in some honey. As he poured the milk back into the bowl, he spied a jar of apple brandy that had been a gift from the local chieftain, and added a goodly amount to the warmed milk-and-honey.

He held the bowl to the lips of the Archdruid, who drank it down to the last drop.

“Old Father, do you have any final words of wisdom to guide us after you have gone Behind the Sunset?” asked a senior druid.

With difficulty, the Archdruid raised himself on his elbow. An otherwordly light shone from his eyes.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

What makes something truly distinctive?

The newly-designed Witches' Blood tartan, the world's first official Witch plaid, is largely black, with red and gray “piping.” From a distance, aptly enough, this reads as undifferentiated black.

In this, the witches' tartan is unlike other clan tartans, which are, of course, designed to be identifiable from a distance.

(In the warrior-driven Indo-European world, where plaids are an immemorial tradition, it's always best to know who is coming at you before they get within striking range.)

I think of the legendary thief who had his fingerprints removed with acid. Ironically, of course, the fact that he now lacked fingerprints gave him the most distinctive fingerprints in the world.

It's a nice, witchy twist to the tale. The mysterious Witches' tartan distinguishes itself by its very lack of distinction: this for the Craft known also as the Nameless Art.

What is't you do?

A deed without a name.

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The bad news: Those of you waiting for an official Tribe of Witches/Latter-Day Hwicce tartan will have to thole (= Witch for "be patient") a little longer.

The good news: The world's first official Witch tartan is now available.

Created by designer Jonathan Brown in January 2016, the Witches' Blood tartan was registered with the official Tartan Registry in Edinburgh at the Vernal Equinox of the same year.

Inspired by the Stratford Festival's 2016 production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, [the Witches' Blood tartan] was created to coincide with the worldwide celebration of the playwright's enduring legacy, 400 years after his death in 1616. Macbeth abounds in images of blood and the darkness of night, hence the tartan's striking use of red and black. The charcoal tone, equivocating between the polar opposites of black and white, evokes both the literal and moral fog of an uncanny world in which, as the Weird Sisters (or witches) proclaim, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.'”

Up close, the Witches' Blood tartan is darkly striking: red (the eponymous red thread of the Witch Blood, shed for you), gray (= mist, or our hill-fog witches' souls) on a largely black ground (no explanation needed). While beautiful when examined up close, it must be admitted that the Witches' Blood tartan does not read well from a distance, fading into an undifferentiated black.

Insofar as ease of identification was part of a plaid's purpose, some may find this aspect of  the Witches' Blood tartan unpleasing, though indeed the “clan tartan” trope is largely a creation of Victorian-era fantasts.

(In the old days, those of us from Loch X wore similar tartans largely because those were the patterns we'd learned to weave from our mothers.)

Some, however, may wish to view this aspect of the Witches' Blood tartan as a parable of the Craft itself: constantly changing, depending on where you stand. Certainly the new tartan makes a tasty addition to the seething cauldron of Post-Modernity's New Witch Identity.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Beautiful Russell hasn't lived next door for more than 30 years, and (sigh) we never did sleep together, much as I wanted to. Even so, I bless his name at this time every year.

Talk about your boy next door. (Boy, I say. He was probably my elder by five years, if not more. Five years more mature, anyway.) Lean, lanky, pretty face. (Woof.) Longish, straw-colored hair. (Woof woof.) Little round gold-rimmed John Denver glasses. (Woof woof woof.) Sweet-natured, smart, quirky sense of humor. Ah, the arrogance of beauty, the beauty of arrogance.

Still and all, my past is populated with beautiful guys that I never had the chance to taste, whose names I never bless.

(There's something about that longing-for-what-you-can't-have, though, that seems paradigmatically autumnal, no?)

No, I bless Russell's name for the sake of the raspberries.

Autumn-bearing golden raspberries, chieftains of the raspberry clan. During his time next door, Russell planted them along his side of the fence and, as is their way, the canes—disrespecters of boundaries, all, just like the rest of us—have migrated into our yard. Every year at this time they bear their autumn gold.

Red, black, and gold are the raspberry kindreds, but oh, the gold are the sweetest of all. Maybe, like autumn roses, they're all the sweeter for the knowing that they'll be the last.

I stand in the autumn sunshine, pricking my fingers and plucking the year's final fruiting. When my palm brims full, I gorge on harvest sumptuousness: one last, brief ecstasy, before the end.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Many come to the new paganisms as refugees from other traditions, hoping for a new life free from the burden of guilt.

Oh and woe, I've sorry news for you, my friend: pagans feel just as guilty as anyone else. We just feel guilty about other things.

Some things that pagans feel guilty about:

  • Using “disposable” diapers.
  • Not buying organic.
  • Not doing what you said you would.
  • Driving vehicles dependent on fossil fuels.
  • Driving instead of walking.
  • Throwing away the container of slimy mold from the back of the refrigerator instead of composting the mold, and washing and recycling the container.
  • Breaking an oath.
  • Using the cheap bottle of wine for the libation instead of the good stuff.
  • Wishing on “Hypocrite Mitch” McConnell a long, unhappy life full of suffering, instead of a clean, quick death.
  • Lying by omission.
  • Nuclear waste.
  • NIMBYism.
  • Not eating healthily.
  • Throwing stuff away. (Every pagan knows that you can't ready throw anything away.)
  • Buying stuff you don't need.
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