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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
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

 Prophecy or Chemistry? The Mystery of the Oracle of Delphi | by Paul  Halpern | Medium

 

“How long will I be emperor?” the emperor Nero asked the Delphic Oracle.

“Beware the seventy-third year,” the Oracle told him.

 

You are the Hierophant, the high priest and guardian of the Mysteries of Eleusis.

You receive a command from the Roman emperor to mount an out-of-season celebration of the Mysteries, in order that he may attend while he is in Greece. That emperor is Nero.

What do you do?

 

At the time of his visit to Delphi, the emperor Nero was 34 years old.

Needless to say, the Oracle's response delighted him.

 

Shockingly, but unsurprisingly, the then-Hierophant of Eleusis acceded to Nero's demand and—for the only time in their 1000-year history—the Mysteries of the Grain Mother were enacted out-of-season.

Alas: knowledge of mystery does not necessarily entail courage.

 

His whirlwind tour of Greece completed, Nero prepared himself to return to Rome.

Last modified on

 Portrait Head of a Philosopher | The Art Institute of Chicago

"An Outstanding Mediocrity"

A near-contemporary of Plato, Mediocrates was a fourth-century BCE Athenian philosopher best-known for his controversial teaching that one should avoid all extremes.

Mediocrates apparently taught that a balanced life requires conscious effort to avoid standing out from the norm: in fact, the deliberate avoidance of all extremes, even extremes of virtue. In this, he differs from virtually all of his contemporaries, from whom the pursuit of aretê, “excellence”, was the ultimate goal of life.

For his doctrine of deliberate non-striving, he came to be known as the “Philosopher of the Middle”; indeed, his very name itself may be translated “halfway up the mountain.”

If Mediocrates wrote down his teachings, none of his writings have survived. He is, however, credited with originating a number of common sayings, including “Keep your head down,” “Just go with the flow, man (voc. ἄνερ, áner),” and "The higher up the tree the monkey goes, the more of its bottom you see."

According to the only known story about Mediocrates, a student of Aristotle once quoted him in the course of a debate.

“Who?” replied Aristotle.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

If you want to make a pendant shaped like the crescent Moon, you've basically got three options: two horns up, one horn up, or two horns down. If you wanted to over-interpret, you could read these as Moon rising, zenith Moon, and Moon setting, respectively.

In that case, this one is Moon Come Down for sure.

 

The silversmith who, during the Baltic Bronze Age, made the original on which this little silver amulet is based chose the third option. What makes this lunula (“little Moon”) unique is its Double Moon shape. From one crescent grows another. One Moon holds another in its arms.

If you want, paradoxically, a static symbol of change, you'd go far to find one better than the Moon. This double Crescent redoubles that symbolism. It's a pregnant Moon, one Moon giving birth to another, to itself: Moon within Moon, as seed within seed, forever.

 

The dotted circles that dapple, crater-like, its surface intrigue me: their irregular distribution lends a certain visual dynamism, even a kinetic quality, to the piece. Do we see here merely the proverbial horror vacui of the Bronze Age craftsman? Or is there meaning to be derived?

Are they, perhaps, Suns? Shining with mirrored light, the Moon contains the Sun.

(Circles within circles, crescents within crescents.)

Or are they Full Moons, which every Crescent contains within herself?

I count twenty. If they're intended as Full Moons, along with the two Crescents, that makes twenty-two: a number of no obvious lunar (or, for that matter, solar) association. Either there's some symbolism here too recondite for my learning, or—this would be my guess—they're simply the number required to fill the space.

As I said, over-interpretation.

 

Witches, of course, have always been a people of the Moon. I kiss the little silver pendant and hang it around my neck.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Europa - World History Encyclopedia 

An Open Letter

 

Dear Andras Corban-Arthen,

I'm looking forward to hearing your presentations at Paganicon 2023 this year; I've long been an admirer of your work.

Really, though? “Indians”?

 

Indians of Old Europe

European paganism never died out completely – to this day, ethnic survivals of traditional pagan practices can still be found in remote areas of Eastern and Western Europe. Andras has spent over 40 years seeking out such surviving traditions, and in this workshop he will discuss the nature and scope of some of those practices, how they managed to survive, and the striking similarities they share with indigenous spiritualities from other parts of the world. The presentation will also include slides of people and places, as well as a short video.

 

I get it, I get it. As “Indians” are to the Americas, so “pagans” are to Europe. Indigenous Americans, Indigenous Europeans. For all its inherent limitations, it's a useful analogy.

Still, “Indians”?

Well, I don't know about the Berkshire highlands of western Massachusetts, but around here in the Paleozoic Plateau's upper Mississippi Valley—historic Dakota country—there are still lots of Indigenous/First Nations people, our elders in the Land. These folks are our friends, our neighbors, and our kin, and I think you should know that at least some of them—for reasons that should be pretty obvious—find the term “Indian” more than a little objectionable.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

I'm dishing up the last of the kimchee out of the jar.

That will put the fear of the gods into 'em,” I say.

As kimchee matures, the red pepper just naturally migrates toward the bottom of the container. This is going to be Hot-with-a-capital-H.

 

Pagan, do you fear the gods?

Well, maybe you should.

Charged language, I know: uncomfortable. Redolent, maybe, of places where we've been, and don't want to go again.

Fine. For “fear”, then, read “respect.”

 

In my travels, I've met a surprising number of folks who seem to think—at least, they talk—as if they have the gods in their back pockets.

(“Hey, the gods are my buds.” Shudder.)

If you believe this, you're deluding yourself. Gods are not a tameable species.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 Is Polytheism the “Highest Form of Evolved Theology”?

 

An Early 20th-Century Apologist for Polytheism

I'd heard of Viennese intellectual Franz Sättler (1884-?1942) and his overtly polytheist Adonismus (“Adonism”) before, but was pleased to renew the acquaintance recently in Stephen Flowers' The Fraternitas Saturni: History, Doctrine, and Rituals of the Magical Order of the Brotherhood of Saturn.

Let me quote from Flowers' appendix, “An Outline of Adonism”:

Adonistic doctrine advocates polytheism—as opposed to pantheism or monotheism—as the highest form of evolved theology. Pantheism views everything as divinity, and thus is impotent to see and act effectively for any sort of transformation or betterment of the world. Everything simply is. Monotheism, on the other hand, requires that evil be ascribed ultimately to the divinity itself, which is philosophically repugnant. But polytheism correctly ascribes the good to divinity and evil to other forces. All these forces participate in one way or another to the shaping of the world we live in now (Flowers 173).

 

 Kicking the Theological Can?

Well, now: heady stuff indeed. Personally, I would acknowledge the justice of Sättler's critiques of both pantheism and monotheism; notoriously, theogony—the problem of good and evil—has always been the rock on which the ship of monotheism (JCI-style monotheism, anyway) founders.

Several contemporary apologists for polytheism—notably Steven Dillon and Gus diZerega—have argued a greater philosophical coherence for a worldview based on many gods on precisely these grounds. Whether or not blaming evil on “other forces”—trolls and etins, say—rather than the gods themselves, does not ultimately constitute a mere kicking of the theological can down the alley, I leave you to decide for yourself.

(Personally, I can't help but wonder if the so-called “problem of evil” is not at heart largely semantic rather than ontological, but maybe that's just me.)

 

Not to Mention Distasteful

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A Life in the Craft

 

The Craft isn't for everyone. For many, it's a step on the Way.

But for some of us—the lifers, bred in the bone—the Way of the Wise becomes a home. Oddly, though, a life in the Craft is a matter little addressed in the current literature.

So it is with acute pleasure that I welcome today's guest blog by my friend and colleague, Frebur Hobson of Branch and Bone, a man Wise from the ground up.

"Times fallow and fertile": weigh well his words.

 

Seasons of the Craft

A Guest Blog by Frebur Hobson

 

When we first find the Craft, it fulfills a need: a need for a home, a need to live with ways that speak to our hearts. We meet the Craft, and we see in it what we don’t have in ourselves or in our community. We see magic and romance and validation, and we are in love.

First degree.

Last modified on

Additional information