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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Wisdom from the First Pagans

American anthropologist Wynne Maggi had gone to Pakistan to study the bashali, the Moon-House, of the women of the Kalasha, the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush.

She kept trying to get the Kalasha women to generalize about Kalasha men.

They wouldn't do it.

“Some men are one way, some another,” the women kept telling her. “Can't you see that for yourself?"

“A fools around, B doesn't. C takes care of the kids, D doesn't. Men are all different, just like everyone else” (Maggi 152).

In this election season, we've heard much about categories of people.

I think about how irritated I feel when I hear broad generalizations about categories to which I theoretically belong, but which don't even begin to describe me accurately.

The fact is that the demographic categories by which we tend to think of one another are basically useful social fictions.

Some people are one way, some another.

Well, fancy that.


Wynne Maggi, Our Women are Free: Gender and Ethnicity in the Hindu Kush (2001). University of Michigan.






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Tagged in: Kalasha
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.


  • Thesseli
    Thesseli Monday, 14 November 2016

    It's nice that their men (as a whole) don't mistreat them.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 14 November 2016

    Kalasha society is a deeply traditional society, with clearly-defined sex-roles, and maleness and femaleness define much of the culture's conceptual structuring.
    But for all that, anthropologists have remarked again and again on how everyone, women and men both, enter into this with flexibility, a sense of humor, and a sense that "we're all in this together."
    I might add that Pakistan's first and (so far) only female pilot is Kalasha.

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