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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In Which the Goddess Returns to Jerusalem

 Evarékhekha ve-Asherá u-ve-Yahvetá

"I bless you by Ashera and by her Yahweh."


A friend of mine emigrated to Israel. Where better to worship the gods of Canaan than in the Land of Canaan, right?

Israel is a hard place to make a living. Everything costs about what it does here in the States, but salaries are much lower. Just about everyone works three jobs: one to pay the rent, one for expenses, and one for discretionary income.

Among his other jobs, my friend made little ceramic statues of Ashera, Goddess-Mother of the Canaanite pantheon. A few of the tourist stores agreed to take them on consignment. Every now and then one would sell and bring in a few shekels.

Just as things were getting desperate, my friend got a call from a friend at Hebrew University.

“I've got a gig for you,” he said.

It turned out that an Italian film-maker was coming to Israel to make a film about the history of Judaism. The good news: they wanted to buy twelve of his little Asherot. The bad: they planned to film them all being broken, to represent the rise of aniconism in monotheist thinking.

My friend was torn. He desperately needed the money, but he just couldn't bring himself to sell his little goddesses, knowing that they were going to be broken.

“I can't do it,” he said. “These aren't just statues.”

His friend was relentless. “Look, you really need the money,” he said. “Scruples are scruples, but you've got to pay the rent.”

In the end, my friend had to agree. “I'm sorry, Lady,” he thought. “I have to pay the rent.”

On the day of the filming, my friend sorrowfully packed up the twelve little goddesses and took them to location. When the director took the first one out of the box, he called the rest of the crew over to see.

The crew oohed and aahed over the little statues. “These are too beautiful to break,” everyone said.

In the end, they made the film by breaking just one.

By filming simultaneously from multiple angles, they were able give the impression of breaking many.

All the rest went home with various members of the film crew.


One of the most common finds in excavations of Davidic Jerusalem, some 3000 years ago, are little Ashera figurines: Ashera, Wife of “God.”

Lady Ashera-of-the-Sea, our Mother, Mother of the Gods: any chance you can do something about that husband of yours?

He really has gotten entirely out of hand.



לאל אלה אשרה שמה׃

Le-El Elá: Asherá Shemá

"To God, a Goddess: Ashera is Her Name."




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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.


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