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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You, Your God, and a Stick of Incense

You, your god, and a stick of incense.

That's all that you need to get a daily observance in place.

And—believe me—if you don't have a daily observance going, you need to start one stat. Every good garden requires regular cultivation. What would you think of a friend who only comes to you when she needs something?

Stand before an image of your heart-god.

(I'm using the word “god” inclusively here.) This can be a statue, a picture, or an aniconic symbol.

Stand, don't sit. (Sitting is passive, and this needs to be an act of active engagement.) Think of it as standing to attention. Think of it as rising when someone important enters the room.

Light the incense.

"The offering," they say, "bears the prayer." Actually, coals and a grain or two of quality natural incense would be best, but you can't beat the ease of stick incense. Here, as always in pagan ritual, the offering is the go-between, the mediator.

Be in the presence of your god.

What you do next is up to you. If you pray, pray. If you know a hymn, sing it. If you'd rather stand silently in rapt contemplation, do that. If a state of no-mind better suits you, that's fine. (Silent time with a friend is sometimes the most intimate time of all.) Always, you should be listening for the voice of the god.

End with a ritual gesture.

Bow. Salute. Blow a kiss. Touch your brow, your lips, and your heart. (Or heart, lips, and brow. Or just the heart.) Prostrate. Whatever.

Do this every morning, after you wake up, but before the activities of the day engage you.

Do it every day.

Keep it simple, keep it short, and keep at it. If it becomes a burden, you're doing too much. Simplify, and persist. The idea is to be doing something that doesn't demand too much of you. The elders all agree that once you start, it's bad to stop, so find something you can live with.

In time, you may find yourself adding things, or you may not. In time, you may find yourself doing it more often: perhaps twice daily, once when you get up, once before you go to bed. If so, that's all to the good. If not, that's fine too.

The daily offering is paganism at its most basic, but if you're serious about your paganism, you need to have one in place.

It doesn't take much.

And let me tell you, the pay-off is profound.








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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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