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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Meeting Maenads

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Well, I can truly say that I've met the maenads now.

It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

Let's do it again.

The god of witches is (ipso facto) god of women, so before the witches' sabbat the women fetch the man, the mask, and the makings of the sacrifice, and bear them off to the sabbat-stead, where they strip and paint the man. The man dons the mask, the god mounts the altar, and so the sabbat begins.

This year the procession was spearheaded by Iowa's redoubtable Prärie Hexen, a veritable force of nature. It was something like riding a tornado: wild women, wildly chanting the ecstatic praises of the Horned. It felt as if at any moment they might tear him limb from limb. (But of course they didn't; that comes after.) It also felt like a cultural turning point.

Discussing the experience the next day, it became clear to me that when I hear women talking about men, or men talking about women, generally what they say is something disparaging.


That's terrible, maybe even pathological. It's certainly not culturally sustainable.

Yet here were women of undeniable power, ecstatically praising the divinely Male.

I think that oftentimes, from without, the men of the pagan community seem weak because we're surrounded by women of power. And, of course, that's not the case at all. But that's how it can look to outsiders.

Whereas in fact, precisely what we're
striving for as a community is men and women meeting in power and mutual respect.

That's the kind of culture that I want to live in, dammit.

And we were there. That's what we're building together.

Well, f**k.

So I can truly say that I've met the maenads now.

It was one of the most beautiful—and terrifying—experiences of my life.

For gods' sakes, come on: let's do it again.




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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.


  • Michele
    Michele Wednesday, 30 September 2015

    Yes, let's do it again! The sooner the better!

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