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.

 

 

Lady Moon, Lady Moon

 

Lady Moon, Lady Moon,

shining so bright:

where are the little stars

hiding tonight?

Ask the old owl

that lives in the tree.

Who's that behind you?

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What do you do when you're stuck with a liability?

Gods know, it wouldn't be Harvest Home without a few pumpkin pies—our Equinox feast is basically Witches' Thanksgiving, but with better food and better music—so I opened up a couple of cans of organic pumpkin and set to work.

Ugh.

You'd think that I would know by now: “organic” is no guarantor of anything. The pumpkin looked downright nasty: watery, stringy, brown.

Well, you can only play the hand that you're dealt. I whipped up the eggs with a little brown sugar and added the pumpkin. (It looked a little better once I'd pureed it.) On a whim, I substituted a can of coconut milk for the usual sweetened condensed milk. Taking a page from a friend's playbook, I used Chinese Five Spice powder instead of pumpkin pie spice.

When the pies came out of the oven, I couldn't help but grimace. Pumpkin pies should be an appealing orange-brown color, not greige. To call them “unappetizing” looking would be an understatement.

Next day, I tried a piece for lunch, dreading—in case they weren't good enough to serve to the coven—the prospect of having two whole pies to dispose of.

Much to my relief, it was actually pretty tasty. I even had a second slice, just to make sure.

What do you do when handed a liability? In the Art Magical, we call it Metamorphosis: you transform the liability into an asset.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Most commercial pumpkin pies are way over-nutmeg-ed for my taste. Alas, making things at home is no guarantor, either.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I once had a store bought pumpkin pie that had no flavor at all. It looked pretty, but I couldn't taste it, all I got was texture

 

 

Honest to Goddess, I am not making this up: I actually did overhear this.

Oh, those pagan kids.

 

Overheard at a Witch Store

 

"I'm a pagan,

and daddy's a pagan...

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Every pagan should read Vine Deloria Jr.'s groundbreaking 1973 God is Red: A Native View of Religion.

In it, he contrasts two overarching religious cultures: the place-based spiritualities of Indigenous Americans, and the deracinated (literally “uprooted”) Book religions of incoming Europeans.

White people, he says, need to lose the Book and learn the Land.

He poses the question: does this mean, then, that European-Americans need to embrace the Red Way? and answers his own question: decidedly not. White people, he says, need to find their own way.

Pagans, take heed.

(Although Deloria himself does not touch on the issue, I'm going to posit that one factor driving the horrors of European colonialism has been the collective generational trauma of Christianization. Europeans, too, once had their own Land-based Indigenous religious cultures, which were—for the most part—violently uprooted.)

(Let me add also that, in the early days of American Ásatrú, Stephen McNallen approached Deloria with information about heathenry. “Here's our Indigenous Way,” he said. Deloria responded well, and—in an autobiographical essay—McNallen reports the fact proudly.)

In her 1993 Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, poet and writer Kathleen Norris tells of an interview that she heard with First Nations writer Paula Gunn Allen. [The] longer Europeans remain in America, Allen says, the more Indian they will become (Norris 128).

What makes an Indian an Indian, she says, is a deep connection to the land, built over generations, that imbues their psychology, and eventually their spirituality, and makes them one with the spirit of the land.”

My friends, Mr. McNallen: she's talking about us. We, the pagans, can lead the way on this. Long Ago and Far Away won't make us the pagans that we need to be, and that our battered, brutalized world needs us to become.

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  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    I so completely agree! This is why I encourage people embracing the Atheopagan path to design their own wheels of the year, with i

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

An aspiring young warlock named Gwydion

would sleep through the ante meridian,

but then spend his hours

weaving garlands of flowers,

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 Classic Potato Pancakes Recipe Recipe | Epicurious

 

I was born in a time (and place) where men didn't learn how to cook.

Here's the story of how I did.

Now, let me mention from the outset that raising men incapable of preparing their own food violates ancestral precedent. In the old tribal days, every war party or hunting party would take along a few youths—men-in-training—to cook for them. These would already have learned to cook in the Boys' House, where you made your own stew, stir-about, and oat cakes, or went without.

For numerous reasons—personal affinity foremost among them—I became vegetarian at 18. (It is, admittedly, a very freshman year kind of thing to do.) In those days, that made eating out difficult.

One night as, for the umpteenth time, I was cobbling together (at a steak house, no less) a meatless meal for myself from the “Sides” menu, sitting with my baked potato, tossed salad, cottage cheese, and glass of tomato juice in front of me, I had my Scarlett O'Hara moment.

“As the Goddess is my witness,” I vowed, “I'll never piece together a meal out of 'sides' again!”

So I learned to cook.

Even my father, who (you could tell) for years felt kind of ambivalent about his gay son who liked to cook, learned—after my mother stopped cooking (surely after 50+ years, she'd earned the right)—to love the fact. When I came to visit, he would always have suggestions.

“So, how about potato pancakes on Friday?” he would say.

Friday it was. Indeed, my potato pancakes are some of the best.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Round about the cauldron go...
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    There is a Methodist church north of the James river that sells homemade Brunswick Stew for a few days each year. My parents love

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

WHITE TAIL COUNTRY.: John Ozoga & Daniel J. Cox.: Amazon.com: Books

 

Forget Starhawk and Penczak. Screw Hutton, Halstead, and Posch.

Check out John Ozoga's White Tail Country instead.

It doesn't mention mythology, or the gods. (Not directly, anyway.) It never uses the P-, H-, or W-words, not even once.

But it's still the most pagan book that you'll read all year.

Ozoga's four-season paean to that iconically pagan animal, the white-tailed deer, will teach you the kind of things that the ancestors would have taken for granted, but that few pagans these days—even the hunters among us—know.

Daniel J. Cox's stunning photographs—150 of them—will teach you even more.

Reading about Whitetail society and—one can hardly avoid using the word—culture can't help but give the sense that somehow we're seeing here into our own tribal past (I'm Deer Clan myself, on my father's side) and—realistically—future.

You can be a witch and not know anything about Tarot.

You can be a witch and know nothing about astrology, Qabala, or the Golden Dawn.

But you cannot be a witch and not know your own territory: its seasons, its plants, its animals.

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