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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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The Pagan Paradox

You and I are both standing in the temple, gazing upon the face of the god.

You are really tuned in. For you, the god is entirely present. You're seeing the god himself.

Me, though, not so much. For me, I'm just seeing the statue: a masterwork, true, but still only a statue.

Two worshipers, standing side by side: for one, the god is present; for the other, not.

Call it the Pagan Paradox: in the same image, at the same time, the god is both present and not present simultaneously.

I can only shake my head. Come next year, I'll have been doing this for 50 years.

Sometimes, though, I still feel like a beginner.

 

 

Above:

Chryselephantine Apollo (detail)

Ivory and gold leaf

Delphi, Greece

ca. 550 BCE

 

 

 

Last modified on
Tagged in: idolatry idols
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.

Comments

  • Jamie
    Jamie Tuesday, 01 September 2020

    Mr. Posch,

    It's my belief that a tiny bit of divine essence is refracted through the agalma (holy image). Failing to sense that god-power is like refusing to open your eyes on a sunny day, and trying to convince yourself that the sun no longer exists.

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 01 September 2020

    I'm reminded of a story I once heard about Orthodox Icons. Most of the time they are just painted wood, but sometimes there is the feeling that someone is behind the image looking out at the viewer.

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