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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Amo Ergo Sum


It's a byword in New Crete, Robert Graves' Goddess-worshiping utopia of the future: “Nothing without the hand of love.” Love is the culture's central value.

In New Crete, love's opposite is not hatred, but unlove: self-interest disregarding of others. “How utterly unloving!” say the New Cretans of such actions, shuddering.

In 1961, W. Holman Keith—protegé of Gleb Botkin, founder of the Long Island Church of Aphrodite—observed in his ground-breaking Divinity as the Eternal Feminine that any Goddess-based religion must necessarily adopt love as its central principle.

Doreen Valiente would seem to have felt the same when, in the late 1950s, she drafted her well-loved prose “Charge of the Goddess”, in which the Lady of Witches tells her people: “My law is love unto all beings.”

Doubtless this intriguing dictum restates the Thelemic principle “Love is the law, love under will”, but let us ask: What does the Lady's Law of Love mean? What are its implications for the actions of Her People?

Does she mean that we should love viruses and flatworms? Does she mean that we should all become vegan? Does she mean that we should love the deer as we shoot it? If the latter, what does it mean to love what you kill?

In a sense, the statement is a commonsense observation about all living things that reproduce sexually.

More broadly, though, I think that she's talking about a general approach to life. Taking love as your central principle and prime motivator will change the way that you think about what you do. Next time you make a decision, ask yourself: What is the loving thing to do here?

The Lady's Law of Love governs not only our behavior toward others of our own kind, but those not of our kind as well: other humans that we perceive as not being like us, as well as our larger family of kin, animals, plants, and ultimately the entire “non-living” world.

Lest you think the concept of a Love Culture redolent of hippie-dom or naiveté, let me cite another proverb of New Crete:

 When the water stinks,

I break the dam.

In love, I break it.

So says the Goddess. Love wears many faces.

And the deer? In love of my family, I need this deer in order to feed them. But I also have a responsibility of love toward the deer that I kill, so I need to kill as quickly and cleanly as my skill will allow. That, too, is love.

Make no mistake, the Goddess' words are a challenge. Action in self-interest only will often seem a sensible short-term investment.

Friends, let us eschew unlove. Let us make for ourselves, and for our Goddess of Love, a Culture of Love. In what we do, let there be nothing—nothing—without the touch of its hallowed hand.




Five beringed fingers of Creation,

Five candles blazing at a shrine,

Five points of her continuous pentagram,

Five letters in her name, as five in mine.

I love, therefore I am.


(Robert Graves)


"Quinque" is Latin for "five."










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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 31 March 2022

    I think it was in an issue of Natural History magazine that I read an article about St. Hubertus. It mentioned that traditionally there was a prayer to say after the deer was killed. I later read about a Cherokee story of a spirit called Little Deer. When a hunter kills a deer Little Deer comes and makes sure that the hunter said the right prayer, if not Little Deer strikes the hunter with arthritis. I don't have a copy of "Myths of the Cherokee" by James Mooney so I don't know if the later story is accurate, but it feels right.

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