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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

How Different Are Pagans?

Just how different are we, as pagans, from other people?

For the most part, I'd be inclined to say: Not very.

But sometimes I wonder.

In the introduction to his 2017 Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape, British archaeologist Francis Pryor talks about how the compartmentalization of modern life makes it difficult for us to understand how, for the ancestors, religion could imbue every aspect of existence.

Almost nobody in the modern West, he writes, would build or maintain an altar, let alone a chapel, at home. At most, a religious devotee might say prayers before going to bed. And of course the reason for this is that religion in the modern Western world has ceased to be a part of daily life (20).

I actually laughed out loud when I read this. Virtually everyone that I know has at least one home altar. For many of us, the real problem is altar-creep: the tendency of altars to sprout on every horizontal surface in the house.

And as for home “chapels,” well: in my community, at least, pretty much everyone who can have one, does have one. I maintain one myself here in my own home. Our local pagan realtor specializes in finding houses with that “extra” bedroom for her clients. Know thy community.

Now, it's true that I live in the Broomstick Ghetto and really should get out more. Still, my impression of Pagandom at large is that our religious identity does indeed enter—ideally, at least—into practically everything that we do. One could hardly find a better symbol of this cultural imperative than the household altar.

So in at least this one major way, we're more like the people who built and worshiped at Stonehenge than we are like many of our fellow “21st” century Westerners, even (for the most part) the religious ones.

Well, isn't that interesting?


Francis Pryor (2017) Stonehenge: The Story of a Sacred Landscape. Pegasus Books.


Cartoon: Warren Miller


Last modified on
Tagged in: home altars Stonehenge
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.


  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega Monday, 02 July 2018

    Very true in my experience. Some people bemoan the demise of an integral society whereas many NeoPagans are recreating one, on a far firmer basis than politically enforced monotheistic religious despotism.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Tuesday, 03 July 2018

    Over the course of the last (nearly) 50 years, I've watched old tribal institutions and ways of doing things reemerge--sometimes as the result of study, but often, I suspect, spontaneously--in the pagan community simply because they're effective ways of getting things done. That impresses me. It makes me think that what we call "paganism" is inherent in being human and that, given the freedom, the paganisms will always spontaneously arise out of human experience.

    As one lifer to another.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Tuesday, 03 July 2018


  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega Wednesday, 04 July 2018

    I think you are right. I think some form of Pagan spirituality is the natural way we tend to respond to the world and to spirit.

  • Please login first in order for you to submit comments

Additional information