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.

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I worry about the sissy-boys of the Earth.

Call us whatever you like (gender non-conforming, non-binary...), it used to be that sissy-boys got shit from bullies, and from those who, when the world outside doesn't match the world inside their heads, respond with hate.

We still do, of course. But now, I fear, sissy-boys face yet another—if different—kind of violence.

I was a sissy-boy. I liked dolls and dress-up and imagining. I wanted to be a dancer. My friends were mostly girls. If you had asked me, Would you rather be a boy or a girl, I could easily have told you.

Goddess bless them, my family (mostly) let me be me. It was only outside the home that I learned that it was wrong to be who I was. Believe me, sissy-boys get shit from pretty much everyone, adults included.

That kind of opprobrium is in itself a motivator.

Now I worry that sissy-boys are facing a new kind of social pressure: not the pressure to conform, but the pressure to transition.

If, as a child, they had offered me hormones and the prospect of surgery, I would probably have taken them. Goddess help me, I would probably have taken them; and that decision would have ruined my life.

Why in the world does anyone care so much? Why are they so insistent that we change our bodies, or our souls, to meet their stupid expectations? We're part of the natural variability of things. Why can't they just let us be as we are?

The world is cruel to sissy-boys. Many of us don't survive.

But let me tell you something about sissy-boys, and what I tell you is true: those of us that do, somehow, manage to survive the hatred, the bullying, and the well-meaning but ill-considered attempts to “fix” us, are some of the strongest people that you will ever meet, anywhere.

We are, because we have to be.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Sissy-boys, Asian-Americans, Pagans, etcetera if people want to be heard they have to put out the art, music and stories that say
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    The day is coming when technology will allow people to be physically genderless. Some will chose this path in life and how will we
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Katie. It took me a long time to figure out that there's not just one way to be a man. To this day, in the pagan community
  • Katie
    Katie says #
    Beautifully written. It expresses so much that I’ve thought, over the years. Similarly, I worry that strong, independent girls, o

Golden Calf Cartoon (Page 1) - Line.17QQ.com

 

In some ways, the new paganisms and Evangelicalism have a lot in common: they're brash, impetuous, young religions, inexperienced, with poor impulse control and a strong Do-It-Yourself ethic.

So in these Latter Days, as Evangelicalism shows its true colors, what lessons can we learn from our successful, but callow, neighbors?

 

Be for, not against.

In the old days, I always say, Christians used to fight about whether the Spirit proceeded from the Father, or from the Father and the Son, or about whether or not the Son was equal to the Father: substantive issues.

Now they fight about gay sex.

Evangelicalism started out in the early “20th” century as a protest movement against modernity. A hundred years on, they're still reacting.

When you let yourself be defined by what you hate, rather than what you love, you become—by definition—a monster.

Q.E.D.

 

Embrace history.

Having largely rejected the historic Christianities, Evangelicalism's time-depth is shallow. For the Evangelical, there are two important times: Bible Times and Now.

A people without a history is a people without a memory, without identity. Lacking the lessons and precedents that history cannot fail to provide, you make the same mistakes again and again and again.

 

Support the arts.

Just look at all the great art, music, and architecture that Evangelicalism has produced.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    When I image-searched "trump golden idol," I was astounded at how many different images came up, absolutely astounded. Evangelica
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Such good points. All so very true. I especially like the one about choosing to defining ourselves positively, in ter

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Buy Dog Rose (Rosa Canina) 50+ seeds online :: Seeds :: HobbySeeds Store

Surely thine hour has come, thy great wind blows,

Far-off, most secret, and inviolate Rose.


(William Butler Yeats, "The Secret Rose")

 

In order to understand what I'm about to tell you, you need to know that the Witches' Goddess is known among witches, somewhat cryptically, as “the Rose.”

(If you can't see why that would be, then what kind of a witch are you?)

Hence the phrase sub rosa, “under the rose,” meaning confidentially.

When someone tells you something “under the rose,” it's not to be shared with outsiders. When told this, by listening, you thereby accede, as if you had sworn an oath.

The Craft is hedged about with roses. (I mean here, of course, the original rose, the rose of five petals.) The pentagram, of course, is known as the “witch's rose.”

Some things are of the Rose, not meant for others' ears. You may be told “This is under the Rose.” In season, a rose in bloom may be held up silently, and laid upon the table. A rose may be drawn with the finger in the air, or over the lips. All these forms are binding.

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 Puck (folklore) - Wikipedia

12 + 1 = 13.

12 Jurors + 1 Judge = 13.

12 Witches + 1 “Devil” = 13.

Here in Minneapolis, during the lead-up to the Derek Chauvin trial, we've been thinking and talking much about juries. I had never spent much time thinking about the jury as a cultural institution before, but suddenly I'm seeing some interesting parallels with, shall we say, yet another institution.

Think of that next time you get together with the coven.

The twelve-person jury in the US is an inheritance from English Common Law. A deliberative body, the purpose of which is to determine truth—truth, at least, for legal purposes—it ideally constitutes, in effect, a microcosm of the society.

Why twelve to make a microcosm, and not ten, you ask?

Easily told. There's evidence that early Germanic-speaking societies were duodecimal—twelve-based—rather than decimal. That's why to this day we count “...eleven, twelve...” and then get to the teens.

To the Hwicce, the original Anglo-Saxon-speaking Tribe of Witches, twelve was the “long ten,” just as 120 was the “long hundred.”

Think of that next time you get together with the coven.

To those used to reckoning on fingers, a ten-based mathematical system seems more “natural” than a twelve-based one, but of course it's perfectly possible to count to twelve on your fingers as well.

 

How to Count to Twelve on Your Fingers

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A Hymn to the Mississippi

 

Many-colored River,

Father of Waters,

to you I sing my praise.

 

I sing the White Mississippi,

iced-over, clad with snow.

 

Many-colored River,

Father of Waters,

to you I sing my praise.

 

I sing the Brown Mississippi,

heavy with silt of Spring.

 

Many-colored River,

Father of Waters,

to you I sing my praise.

 

I sing the Blue Mississippi,

son of the Summer Sky.

 

Many-colored River,

Father of Waters,

to you I sing my praise.

 

I sing the Golden Mississippi,

Sunset liquid fire.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Jamie. I quite agree with you that ignoring gods is a pretty major act of impiety. (How did piety ever get such a bad name?
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, That's a fantastic prayer! I frequently pray to the local river God, and give thanks whenever I walk past. Pagans oft

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

 

Early one Spring morning, I open the back door and burst into sudden laughter.

Overnight, my yet-to-be-planted vegetable garden has sprouted a fine crop of several dozen life-sized—and life-like—phalli.

In the early light, they thrust up through the dark, fertile soil like mushrooms after a storm.

 

Several days previously, one of my crazy pagan friends had given me a latex ice-mold in the shape of an erect penis: just the thing for the Beltane punch-bowl, we agreed. Of course, we'd made the obligatory jokes about cocksicles.

Clearly, my friend had bought a mold or two for herself as well.

Good old plaster of Paris.

 

Needless to say, my Baptist next-door neighbor was not pleased.

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1500 years ago, the English-speaking ancestors worshiped (or at least, knew of) a Goddess of Spring and Dawn Whom they called (depending on which dialect of Old English you spoke) either Éostre or Éastre.

(Their Continental cousins, of course, called Her Ôstara.)

So: let us say that Her worship had continued, unbroken, down to the present day. If Her Name had remained in constant usage and undergone all the usual sound changes, what would we call Her today?

The question is easily answered. We would today call Her Easter.

Personally, I think that we still should.

 

I know, I know, that name has been co-opted and misused by others. For some, Her modern Name is too tainted by association to be taken back.

I don't agree. The Name is Hers, and—as Her people—it's ours to know Her and call Her by. When I hear non-pagans use the term, the sheer irony of it delights me. If only they knew.

It also rather delights me that, around here, we have (in most years) Three Easters (Ôstarûn, the Old Germans would have said): Pagan/Heathen, Catholic/Protestant, and Orthodox.

Guess whose comes first?

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