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.

 Are Kentucky Farms Under Attack from Flocks of Ravenous Vultures? Not  Quite. | NRDC

 

If you're wondering what Minneapolis, home to one of the US's largest pagan communities, is like on the eve of the trial of the white policeman that murdered George Floyd here last May, I can tell you in one word: tense.

Everyone fears a reprise of the violence, arson, and looting that stalked last spring's protests.

Local activist groups have pledged peaceful protests, but everyone here knows that their pledges mean nothing. For four nights of terror in May, we watched our city burn around us as the peaceful protests were invariably followed by destruction and violence at the hands of bad actors from out-of-town and out-of-state.

That the vast majority of these bad actors came here, cowardly-wise, from elsewhere to work their morth-work and then leave again, is no consolation whatsoever to those of us left behind to sweep up the shards.

The scale of violence last spring caught everyone by surprise, and the arsonists and looters ran rampage here in the pagan neighborhood—my neighborhood—for four days before the authorities finally intervened. On one night in particular, four buildings burned within a block of my house. Most terrifying of all was the knowledge that if I were to call for help, none would come.

Some have accused city government of over-reacting in their pre-trial preparations. I'm not one of them. I, for one, have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that opportunistic bad actors, on both the Right and the Left, are already gathering from out-of-town, ready to work their havoc wherever, and whenever, they can. Call it vulture tourism.

Virtually everyone that I've spoken with seems to accept the likelihood of violence, which is in itself a bad sign. From what I'm hearing, the assumption seems to be that the best that we can hope for is that the destruction will happen somewhere else, probably downtown. That's not good news for the tens of thousands of people that live, or own businesses, near the trial's venue.

“I suppose we're all going to be sitting out on our front porches again all night,” my next-door neighbor, who's African-American, said to me today. She just turned 70 last year; she's lived in this house her entire life.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Jamie. Here's hoping.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Stay safe, brother.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

This is Steven Posch, the pagan blogger.

This is Stefan Posch, the Austrian football player.

The Posches are an old Viennese family. (Back in the days when there were such things, the Vienna phone book had pages and pages of Posches.) Looking at the two of us, you can see something of the history of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Me, I look very Germanic. (When I'm in Germany, people on the street automatically address me in German.) Stefan has that square, south Slavic face. Ah, Central Europe, cauldron of nations.

Needless to say, we don't know one another, but I know about him, and I'm guessing that—the internet being what it is—he probably knows about me, too. (Such is the nature of being a public person.)

One wonders what Stefan thinks of his gay, pagan counterpart. If anything, I'm guessing that he probably finds our shared identity (such as it is) amusing. In his place, I probably would too.

Well, Stefan, if ever you should happen to read this: my greetings, brother, one to another. Next time you're in Minneapolis, let me know, and I'll happily stand you a beer.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I do have a tendency to equate the two, the old "Original People" trope: so much so that it sometimes seems difficult not to talk
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Well, they are certainly human things, anyway...
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Ancestors, kinship, connections: all those things seem very pagan to me.
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    In all honesty I am very puzzled and have to ask what is the point of this and what does it have to do with Pagan culture?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

A priestess friend of mine once took a class in Writing Your Personal Theology at the local UCC* seminary. Back in those days, if you wanted to expand your pagan academic horizons, that's pretty much what you had to do.

(Today, not so much: thank Goddess for Cherry Hill Seminary.)

As one would expect, some of what she learned was applicable, some wasn't.

“'What's my Christology?'” she laughed, looking over the list of seed-questions that they'd given her. “I don't have one!”

(In Christian thought, Christology is the study of Christ's person and role in spiritual ecology.)**

Me, I'm with her. Still, taking a step back—translating into Pagan, so to speak—I ask myself: Well, who—as I see it—is god of humanity? Who, among all the gods, is most like to us? Who stands between—in the sense of connecting us to—ourselves and the other gods?

For me, a witch of the Tribe of Witches, the answer is clear: this role is filled by Him that we call the Horned.

The other gods are who they are, but he's the animal god. (I would see Him as the collective body of fauna/animal life here on planet Earth.) As animals—as human animals—he's likest to us of all the other gods. Like us, he knows what it is to love, to suffer, to die. The other gods may (or may not) know these things too, but he knows them as an animal—and, in particular, as a human animal—can know them.

That's what makes him ours, ours to us.

That's what makes us his, his to him.

That's what makes him our god, our Horned, of all gods likest us: “like us in animality, like them in divinity.”

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Running red lights a deadly practice that's becoming more common

 

I'm standing on a street corner, waiting for the light to change.

There's not a car moving for blocks in either direction. Back home in the US, I'd just cross the street, light or no light.

But I'm not at home; I'm in Germany, standing with a bunch of local people, waiting for the light to change.

Complicating the matter is the fact that, though I'm not a local, I look like one. Anglo-German on one side, Anglo-Austrian on the other: whatever it means to look German, I do. Here, people on the street automatically address me in German.

I stand and wait with the others.

Growing up as a little gay witch kid in a place where it wasn't safe to be either, I learned about inner freedom early on. Beneath your cloak of invisibility, you can be whoever you want to be.

Still, it's a disconcerting moment. If the SS had come to the door and started asking about the neighbors, what would I have told them?

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    This was B.C.: Before Cell.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Nobody was walking along bent over a cell phone mindlessly texting without looking where they where going?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Climbs Out Onto a Branch

 

The famous Paris relief of the Gallo-Roman god Cernunnos is remarkable for many reasons, and perhaps the strangest is this: There are torques hanging from his antlers.

Virtually every description of the image mentions this fact, but few proceed to ask the obvious question: Why? What does it mean that torques hang from the god's antlers?

1. In the Classical world, the twisted metal neck-ring that Romans called a torque (the word means “twisted”) was known as a distinctively Celtic item of apparel. In Roman art, a Celtic warrior may not be wearing anything else, but he'll always be wearing a torque. This is no Romeburg import of a god, but a being of here and now: a god of this time, this place, and this culture.

Conclusion the first: Cernunnos is a Celtic—i.e. local, indigenous—god.

2. From its use in ancient art, we can intuit a number of probable meanings for the torque. As something made from a valuable material (metal) by a skilled craftsman, it represents wealth. It's certainly possible that, as in the contemporaneous Germanic-speaking world, torques were actually used as a form of currency.

Conclusion the second: Cernunnos is a wealthy god: Wealthy, and the Giver of Wealth.

3. Being themselves expensive, it follows that torques denote nobility or even royalty, since only the moneyed could afford such things.

Conclusion the third: Cernunnos is a noble, perhaps even royal, god.

Note that, while humans wear torques one at a time, the god wears multiple torques simultaneously. (Although now obscured by damage to the bottom of the relief, it is clear that the god once wore one around his neck as well: three in total.) All that the torque represents—indigenousness, wealth, nobility—the god has, so to speak, in spades.

 

I'm going to go out on a limb—one of the god's branching antlers, perhaps—and suggest that we see here a possible allusion to the giving of votive torques to the god.

Now, we have no evidence for the existence of life-sized statues of Cernunnos in the temples of ancient Gaul. If they did exist, one would expect them to have worn actual antlers inset into the carved head of the god (antlers being far too delicate a structure to free-carve in stone).

If this were so—going even further out on the antler here—I'm going to posit that votive torques may well have hung from the god's antlers in the temple.

Antlers—the fastest-growing tissue in the animal world—being calques for tree-branches, I'm also going to suggest that, in groves sacred to the Antlered, we might well expect to have found votive torques hanging from the branches of the sacred trees as well.

(I could readily envision a forest shrine in which the god's cult image was a standing post carved at the top with the god's head and face[s], and many-tined antlers—perhaps renewed annually—inset on the sides or top.)

OK: here I'll go out onto the very tip of the tine. Are we seeing here perhaps an allusion to a story? A story in which the Horned himself made the First Torque? A story in which, perhaps, wealth—represented by torques—grows from the very antlers of the god, as fruit grows from a tree?

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Can't wait to see!
  • Helga Hedgewalker
    Helga Hedgewalker says #
    Gods above, below and in-between! This is the most wonderful thing I've read in AGES!!!! This artist has definitely taken note.

 

 

What is men's magic?

Men's magic is magic specific to men, i.e. magic grounded in maleness both physical and psychological.

Is there a women's magic as well?

Trustworthy sources assure me that there is.

Is men's magic different from women's magic?

Yes, by definition.

Are there, then, shared magics as well?

Of course.

What is warlockry?

Warlocky is the magic specific to the men of the Tribe of Witches.

Where does warlockry come from?

The Horned our god, the Great Warlock himself, taught it to his sons long ago in ages of ages.

What is the basis of warlockry?

While it would be a vast oversimplification to say that warlock magic is dick magic, it certainly begins there.

Can a woman be a warlock?

So long as she has a functioning penis and testicles, yes.

Can a trans-man be a warlock?

This, to date, remains largely unexplored territory.

To speak for myself, I remain open to the possibility.

What is an example of warlock magic?

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PHOTOS: Mount Etna erupts in Italy, spewing smoke, ashes, and lava 

 

Europe's most active volcano, Sicily's Mt. Etna, is erupting again.

Today, therefore, let me tell you a story of a previous eruption: a true story, a story profoundly pagan.

It took place during the 1980s.

 

The old woman had lived in the house on the slopes of Mt. Etna all her life. She had been born in the house; there she was married, there she bore her children and, after her husband's death, raised them herself.

Now the lava was coming.

Her son had driven up from Palermo to take her to safety. The car was fully loaded. Now she stands alone in the kitchen, for what might well be the last time.

She opens a bottle of wine, wine that she made herself from grapes raised and pressed on the volcano's fertile slopes. She pours two glasses.

She salutes the mountain with which she has lived in relationship all her life. She drinks a final toast.

Then she leaves, perhaps never to return.

On the kitchen table behind her stand two glasses: one empty, one full.

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