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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It's Your Name, Pagan

 We've got the honor of the coven to uphold, after all.

Magenta Griffith


There's the name that you're given, usually by your parents.


And then there's the name that you earn.


And, as the ancestors knew, living by name—reputation—is a long-sum game.


Name is vulnerable. Everybody screws up or makes a bad decision now and then. One mistake can destroy a name that you've spent years building.


But that isn't necessarily the end. It all depends on what you did before and on what you do after. Name is about consistency.


Oh, they'll remember the screw-ups, of course. The bad generally makes a more interesting story than the good, ochone, ochone. 


But if you handle it right, they'll remember the bad as the stand-out exception in a life otherwise well-lived.


Posch was generally a pretty good guy, but this one time....


Thing is, name isn't just for individuals. There's collective name as well.


How individual pagans act affects how non-pagans perceive us generally. Fair or not, what you do personally reflects on your people as a whole.


That many—including, alas, some pagans—perceive pagans as flakes is a shame and a sorrow to us all.


But it's not necessarily the end of the story.


Human life is a fabric of social interaction, and there's no escaping it.


We can live for ourselves alone if we like, as if the thoughts and opinions of others somehow don't touch us.


Or, in our quest for name, we can strive to live excellently, heroically. To live as Beowulf lived: lof-geornost.


Eager for honor.


To live with honor or not is a choice that we all make daily.


So it's your name, pagan.


What do you choose to make of it?


What is it that never decays beneath the earth?

The name.

(Lithuanian folk riddle)




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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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