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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Are Pagans Necessary?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Down the years, I've heard the same warning time and again from tribal elders all over the world--the Americas, Australia, Africa--as they contemplate the potential end of their own traditions.

If ever the Old Ways were to cease, the world itself would end.

think that the elders are right.

Oh, Earth would not stop her endless dance of summer and winter, no more would Sun cease to shine. Moon would not forget her monthly courses, nor Thunder his seminal rains.

But the wer-öld, the "age of humanity," the human world: this would surely end. If ever humanity were to lose its immemorial religious relation to the rest of existence, our man-age would be over and done. Without its pagans, humanity would die.

My initiating priestess always used to say: "Earth needs her witches. If they killed us all today, she would raise up more tomorrow, and why? Because we love her and serve her and she needs us." And indeed, in our own day we have all seen her do this very thing.

I am not one of those who was born to the Old Ways, but it was my wyrd to come to them early in life, and down the course of (gods help us) nearly 50 years on this road, it has invariably been my experience that when the elders of many traditions speak with one voice, it is time, and high time, to listen.

The elders' message does not end with this warning, though. A warning is useless unless there's something that can be done. In every case, they add a hope.

But the world will not fail so long as even one keeps the Old Ways, even one.

One person to keep the world alive.

One person.


Last modified on
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.


  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Thursday, 18 September 2014

    Kinda what I belive too.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy
    Ruadhán J McElroy Saturday, 20 September 2014

    I'm not sure what this is actually about.... The title asks if "pagans" are necessary, but then you describe your initiating priestess as saying the world needs "witches" --which isn't the same thing as pagans.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 21 September 2014

    I do have the bad habit of speaking of the two as if they were synonymous, which of course (as you point out), they're not. (Not all pagans are witches, nor are all witches pagan.) I think that she was viewing witches as one kind of pagan, as one did in those days. Ah, the 80s.

  • Ruadhán J McElroy
    Ruadhán J McElroy Sunday, 21 September 2014

    Ah yes, the 1980s... Thatcher, and Reagan, and AIDS denialism (until the very latest point in the decade) OH MY!

    "I wouldn't wish the eighties on anyone, it was the time when all that was rotten bubbled to the surface. If you were not at the re ceiving end of this mayhem you could be unaware of it. It was possible to live through the decade preoccupied by the mortgage and the pence you saved on your income tax. It was also possible for those of us who saw what was happening to turn our eyes in a different direction; but what, in another decade, had been a trip to the clap clinic was now a trip to the mortuary." --Derek Jarman

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