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

 

 

Merrymeet 1997

 

It's been hot work at Grand Council all day, so I head down to Gull Lake for a quick dip before dinner. What I see there astounds me.

Clearly, word of the wild witches has got out. Every fishing boat on the lake has—coincidentally, no doubt—just happened to drift over to our side, the prospect of naked pagans apparently outweighing that of walleye on this sunny late August afternoon.

Ritual robe hiked up to her knees, a woman sits at the end of the dock, dangling her feet in the water.

Gods, what's with these people? I say, taking off my shirt. I'm half tempted to wave. All this to see a little bit of skin?

Cowans, she commiserates.

Hey, screen me, would you? I ask, crouching.

Anything for a fellow conspirator, she says, raising her arms.

Screened by her back and generous hanging sleeves, I slip out of my kilt and over the edge.

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From my mound, I will bless you.”

 

As the excavations at Cadbury castle—reputedly the site of Camelot—were about to begin in 1964, the archaeologists were met by a local, an old man who had lived nearby all his life.

“Have you come to dig up the king?” he asked, anxiously.

 

The royal Ship Burial at Sutton Hoo has long deserved its own epic, and now—in its own understated, very East Anglian way—it has one.

John Preston's The Dig is a shining, masterful novel, but—speaking as a pagan—I can't deny that it raises some difficult issues.

The discoveries at Sutton Hoo have enriched our knowledge of the ancestors and their ways immeasurably, and for this I'm deeply grateful, but it can't be denied that excavating the Royal Mound there also destroyed something sacred, and very important.

Though reconstructed to its original profile, overlooking the River Deben, the Royal Mound now stands empty, stripped of its kingly treasure.

 

I think of the head of Bran, buried to ward the coasts of Britain.

I think of how Arthur is said, in his arrogance, to have removed it, and what befell thereafter.

 

The Museo del Oro in Bogotá, Columbia, displays the breathtakingly intricate goldwork images of the ancient Tairona: golden plants, animals, and people.

But the mamas—shamans—of the Kogi, the last surviving cultural heirs of the Tairona, are dismayed by the excavation and display of these objects. Each one was buried, they say, with full intent: as an offering, a prayer, a talisman. That golden ear of corn in the display case was originally a gift to Earth Mother herself, intended to enrich the fertility of the fields. Torn from its proper context, denied its due offerings, what now is to become of the crop?

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 Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe - BettyCrocker.com

 

In the normal way of things, you wouldn't expect to be glad to see soldiers on the streets of your city.

National Guard at Chicago-Lake, I text a friend, naming the major intersection in this part of town.

What happened? he texts back.

Nothing, I reply. That's the idea.

I live in Minneapolis just off Lake Street, the old Dakota trail that was the major artery of fire during the rash of arson and looting that stalked the protests after the death of George Floyd last summer.

During those four Nights of Burning, most frightening of all was the knowledge that, if you called for help, none would come.

The authorities—our incompetent and cowardly City Council foremost among them—were taken as much by surprise by the violence of the aftermath as anyone else, and waited far too long to act. My neighborhood, the pagan neighborhood, paid the price of their dithering. A year later, we still bear the scars: within a block of my house, four empty lots mark four buildings burned.

So, as the trial of Floyd's killer Derek Chauvin draws to a close—not to mention the nightmarish déja-vu of Daunte Wright's senseless death this weekend past—it's good to see, as I walk down Lake Street this morning, some actual preemptive action on the part of the Powers that Be.

Hey, glad you're here, I tell the group of Guards as I go past. Over their face-masks, their eyes smile. In their urban camo uniforms, they look cute and very young.

Well, let's hear it for thinking ahead for a change. Witches learned that lesson long ago, the hard way; that's why we're still here.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Prayer Before the Kill

 

Great Stag, our Stag, we hunger:

hunger, Lord, for you.

Our Life, our Food, our Beauty:

Father, will you feed?

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Guilty as charged.

Yes, I do occasionally post on non-pagan topics—Justin Trudeau's butt, for example.

(But is Justin Trudeau's butt a non-pagan topic? ”If you want to understand the gods,” said Socrates, “look at excellence.” ) Yes, I do occasionally get grief about it, mainly from myself.

Please find attached my pathetic collection of excuses, many of them mutually-contradictory.

You can draw your own conclusions.

 

Just because it doesn't have a pentagram on it, doesn't mean it isn't pagan.

I like to think that I'm writing about the Deep Paganism. Just because it doesn't look pagan on the surface, doesn't necessarily mean that there's no pagan there.

To the pagan, all things are pagan.

Sunsets, recycling, milk. Stupas, church architecture, the Qur'an. Beads, shoveling snow, men's bodies.

To the pagan eye, there's pagan everywhere.

Maintaining a healthy paganism means having outside interests.

To the Deeply Pagan, our paganism touches on everything that we do, think, and say.

Still, the healthiest relationships are always the ones in which all parties involved keep up their outside interests.

I may be a Paganism Bore, but so long as I can maintain interest in at least some non-pagan topics, I'm not completely hopeless.

Well, so I like to tell myself. You be the judge.

It's a test.

Aha! You think this is non-pagan? Look more deeply, my friend!

Everybody needs a break now and then.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

 To the tune of “O Canada

(well, the last four lines, anyway)

(well, kind of)

 

Justin Trudeau,

what do you know?

Who's got the cutest booty?

Justin Trudeau.

Who's got the cutest booty?

Justin Trudeau.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Gods, what was he thinking?1
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Prime Minister Trudeau's blackface indiscretions of yesteryear notwithstanding, I think the Canadian people are lucky

 

 

In the firelight, our call begins almost as a whisper.

Horned One...Horned One...Horned One...

Borne on the drums, it rises, insistent.

HORNED One...HORNED One...HORNED One....

The witches are calling to their god. Out of some primal core of longing, a hundred voices throb together as one.

HORNED! ONE! HORNED! ONE! HORNED! ONE!

 

From the woods, a horn calls.

He...Is...Here!

A second horn calls, answering the first, then a third. A clutch of people, men and women, emerge from the trees, bearing torches. Riding, unbelievably, above them....

As His bearers approach, their pace quickens. Soon they are running, running toward us.

 

At a distance of more than 30 years, I remember the horns calling back and forth to one another, the bobbing torchlight, the frenzy. I shake my head at the dangers. That wooden palanquin didn't even have edges for bracing the feet. We would never take such risks today, never. Truly, it was a madness, the madness of a god.

 

I know what I would see if I looked at the faces around me: wonder, incredulity, fear.

But I do not look. None of us do. Our eyes want nothing more than what they already behold, the longing of centuries.

On the altar, He shines, unbelievably tall. His naked male beauty catches the heart. Between His antlers, constellations wheel.

In the wondering silence, His voice is gentle.

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