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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At the coven meeting last New Moon we were talking (among other things) about different ways to come out of the closet.

Well, there are ways and ways, including the Annunciation: “Mom, Dad, I'm....” The big problem with the Annunciation is that it's a set-up for confrontation.

As a storyteller I find that, increasingly, as I get older, my favorite way to come out is by Stealth.

“So, my boyfriend says to me....” “At the coven meeting the other night, we....”

I like the Stealth Method for a couple of reasons.

First, it's flattering. It says to the listener: I assume that you're intelligent enough to understand the implications of what I'm saying. The hearer may not like what she's hearing, but everyone likes to be presumed intelligent. It's hard to get upset when someone has just paid you a compliment.

Secondly, the Stealth method models behavior. It presents the assumption that what you're communicating is just another part of daily life and nothing to get terribly excited about: which has the advantage, as we know, of being both entirely true and entirely deceptive at the same time. (Ah, that Old Gray Magic.) After all, if the Craft and gay love (insofar as there's a difference between the two, anyway) aren't exciting, I don't know what is. After all these decades, I (at least) still find this to be so.

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Three Three-Second Rituals for Daily Use

 DN = Divine Name


When you're outside and see the Sun for the first time after waking, kiss your hand and say:

Love to you, my [DN].

If you are not wont to address the Sun by Name, kiss your hand and say:

Love to you, my Light.


When you're outside and see the Moon for the first time after waking, kiss your hand and say:

Love to you, my [DN].

If you are not wont to address the Moon by Name, kiss your hand and say:

Love to you, my Light.


When you're outside and see the major River in your area for the first time after waking, kiss your hand and say:

[Name of River], I kiss my hand to you.

If you are not wont to address the River by Name, kiss your hand and say:

River of Life, I kiss my hand to you.

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After the worship of the many-named and many-hued Lady of Spring at this year's upcoming Paganicon, the priest will invite all those who wish to receive the special anointing of the Lady of Spring to come forward.

The rite having ended, the drums will be playing, the socializing will already have begun. Those who wish to will come forward and receive, painted upon their brows, a special Sign.

From the Sign's folk name, Egg-in-Basket, you would never guess its profound meaning, its deep mythic significance. Whether from affection, or from an inborn caution that instinctively cloaks the Great in the Less, the High in the Low, folk names tend to minimize. The great sign of the Triple Moon, for example, is generally known simply as the Goose's Foot.

So with the Egg-in-Basket: a simple crescent, horns upward , with a dot • between them. From the folk-name, one readily sees the connection to the Lady of Spring. But read more deeply: for this is the mighty Lunisol, the Sun-Moon itself, the sign of the Sun and Moon in Union.

It is the sign of the Great Rite. The Lady of Spring, goddess of Dawns both diurnal and annual, has long been known for her erotic connotations.

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Do Animals Have Religion?

A friend of mine insists that her dog is pagan.

Well, if one defines “pagan” as “following the thews (customs, life-ways, religion) of one's thede (= tribe, people),” I guess I could buy it. Witches (insofar as we follow anything) follow the Witch religion, dogs follow the Dog religion. I would imagine that the Dog religion is a pretty basic biological religion, with an ethical code strongly based on loyalty.

Rather like human paganism at its best, actually.

Then, of course, there's the Kitty-Cat religion. I'm certainly not privy to the inner mysteries here, but so far as I can tell, Cat religion is monotheistic.

There's one god, and it's Me.

Maybe that's where the Abrahamics got it from. This would fit with my theory that monotheism is essentially narcissism writ large.

I'm playing here, of course, but the question is a serious one: can animals—let me be specific and say non-human animals here—be said to have religion? The answer, of course, would depend on how one defines “religion.”

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Sun Run

In traditional societies as far removed as Zuñi Pueblo of the American Southwest and the Kalasha valleys of what is now northwestern Pakistan, the Winter Solstice is marked—among other activities—by footraces.

I've long wondered why this would be so, but this morning—watching the Sun leap up over the horizon—it suddenly occurred to me why.

It's sympathetic magic. The Sun is a runner.

Every day, the Sun walks across the Sky. Even on the day of his birth, he walks from one horizon to the other. Well, he's a god; he can.

(During the Bronze Age, when we became a Horse People, people began to say that the Sun drove across the sky daily in his chariot. In those days, nobles and warriors rode horses and drove chariots, unlike us common folks who walked; when we rode, it was in ox-carts. Surely, went the logic, the Sun was more like nobility and the warrior-kind: hence his chariot. These days, though, we understand that to walk is more sacred than to ride.)

Three-some weeks until the Evenday and his due Eastern rising. This morning he came up still considerably south of east.

“He'll have to run to catch up,” I thought.


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Courting the Pagan Vote

In the dream, Katie and I are at Paganicon when Pete Buttigieg walks by.

(Actually, the entire coven is there, but apparently the rest of them are somewhere else at the time.)

We're standing by the bleachers (!) when this happens. (Remember, we're in Dream Country. In real life, there are no bleachers anywhere near the P-Con hotel.)

Katie greets Buttigieg and, remembering us, he returns the greeting. Apparently we had encountered him previously and invited him to a coven meeting. As he's tendering his regrets and explaining why he won't be able to make it (too busy with the campaign), I slip my arm around his waist and sit him down next to me on a bleacher.

(Even in the dream, I can't imagine doing this to any other presidential candidate. That he's gay too, and kind of cute, lends a certain intimacy to our interactions, there's no denying it.)

I notice as I do so that he's getting pudgy. “Too much bad campaign food,” I think.

Well, dreams are dreams, and reality is reality. But mark my words, for what I say is true.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Only two more cycles? Anthony, you're an optimist. May time prove you right.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I figure about 8 more years before we grow large enough to be courted as a group demographic.

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OH-star-ah or oh-STAR-ah?

The many-hued Lady of Spring goes by many names. The ancient Continental German-speaking peoples knew Her as Ostara.

(The name itself has not been preserved per se in any surviving documents—although we do find it in the plural, Ôstarûn—but the original singular form can be confidently reconstructed on the basis of Her Old English name, Éastre or Éostre [depending on which dialect of Old English you grew up speaking]).

Among contemporary pagans, Her name is usually pronounced with the stress on the second syllable: oh-STAR-ah.

Well, I hate to break it to you, but the ancestors would have laughed to hear you say it that way.

Like the other Germanic languages, Old High German was (for the most part) a stress-initial language: i.e. the first syllable in a word gets the major emphasis. Historically speaking, the correct pronunciation is OH-star-ah (rhymes—kind of—with MOST o' ya).

Well, in language, use determines correctness, they say. So, you can either say it the way the ancestors did, or you can tag along like a sheep after everyone else. You decide. Really, what's so wrong with "Sam Hane"?

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