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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Pagans Killing Pagans

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 File:Put ratnika by Andrey Shishkin.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

In Andrei Shishkin's neo-Romantic painting Put' Ratnika, “The Way of the Warrior,” a youthful blonde soldier in camo fatigues, with backpack and a machine gun slung over his shoulder, stands on the edge of a stone circle gazing—respectfully, one gathers, to judge from his removed helmet—upon the statue-menhir of an ancient Slavic god.

The god is himself a warrior, with helm and sword. Before him burns a sacrificial fire; behind him, a cloudy army rides across the sky.


As Mariya Lesiv describes in her 2013 book The Return of Ancestral Gods, contemporary paganism in post-Soviet Russia and Ukraine tends to be characterized by both a profound social conservatism and a pronounced nationalistic character. In the ongoing Russian-backed war in Donbas—the two break-away provinces in south-eastern Ukraine where fighting has continued since 2014—there has been a noteworthy pagan presence on both sides of the conflict, including one all-pagan battalion named for Svarog, the ancient pan-Slavic god of Fire. To judge from the kolovrat patch on his shoulder, Shishkin's soldier may be a member of one such. Perhaps we are to understand that it is he who has lit the sacrificial fire.

If Russian President Vladimir Putin goes through with his proposed invasion and annexation of Ukraine, we can be sure that there will be pagans fighting among both the invading and the defending forces.

Gods help them all.


You can read about the proposed pagan temple in the Ukrainian city of Zviinets here.



Mariya Lesiv (2013) The Return of Ancestral Gods: Modern Ukrainian Paganism as an Alternative Vision for a Nation. McGill-Queen's University Press






















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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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