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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Who Are the New Pagan Heroes?

Some people have saints. Pagans have heroes.

But you don't have to slay a dragon to become one.

To the ancestors, heroes (the term is gender-neutral) were those who had done such outstanding things that they deserved to be remembered for them.

You found a city, you're a hero. You teach the People something important that makes their life better, you're a hero.

Who are our modern pagan heroes? Well, they differ from group to group. Some would number Gerald Gardner among them. Doreen Valiente, Robert Graves, Robert Cochrane: they weren't perfect people, they weren't gods.

But they each did something remarkable, something that we, their inheritors, have benefited from, and therefore they deserve to be remembered.

The Kalasha of NW Pakistan are the only surviving Indo-European people who have practiced their ancient religion uninterruptedly since antiquity. In their valleys, there's an altar to the hero who taught the People to make cheese.

His festival is in the fall. When the shepherds bring the flocks down from the summer pastures in the mountains, they bring with them all the cheeses that they've made through the summer grazing season. This is the food that will sustain the People through the coming winter.

They sacrifice a goat at the cheese-hero's altar, and offer to him the first cheese of the season.

Then everybody sits down and feasts on cheese.

Imagine life without cheese. Praised indeed be he who first taught us to make it.

No, we can't all be heroes, but that's not the point. The heroes give us something to strive for, something to emulate.

Live heroically, they say.

Live so that they remember you, they say.

A blessing: May they still be speaking your name, for the good, 100 years from now.


For Freyber,

for asking.






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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Monday, 19 March 2018

    I love this story. I happen to be one of those people who enjoy cheese. I think a festival in honor of the cheese hero is a great idea. Unfortunately I don't know who the American Cheese heroes are.

  • Keith Ward
    Keith Ward Wednesday, 21 March 2018

    You’re my hero!

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Thursday, 22 March 2018

    So, how's about a libation, already?!

  • Keith Ward
    Keith Ward Thursday, 22 March 2018


    ‘Ave Maestro!’

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