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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Minneapolis

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The Full Moon Reflected On The Lake Surface Stock Photo - Download Image  Now - iStock

 

Who is the divine patron/matron of your city?

 

The Secular City

 

She left her temple in Uruk to descend into the Underworld.

She left her temple in Larsa to descend into the Underworld.

She left her temple in Nippur to descend into the Underworld.

 

So begins the story of the Sumerian goddess Inanna's descent into the Underworld.

(If the prospect of the Goddess leaving her people to descend into non-existence seems harrowing, it's true: we've been there, and seen what comes of it. Consider, though, that we've gone through non-existence along with her and, along with her, come out on the other side.)

Long ago, I noticed that there are certain aspects of the original that just don't translate.

 

She left her temple in Cleveland to descend into the Underworld.

She left her temple in Peoria to descend into the Underworld.

She left her temple in Fresno to descend into the Underworld.

 

Laughable, isn't it?

Once cities were sacred places. Now we live in what theologian Harvey Cox called “the secular city.”

That's the problem.

 

The View from the Broom

 

It once happened that I flew into the city of Minneapolis on the night of the full Moon. It was then that I made a surprising discovery.

(I was flying in an airplane, as it happens, but the view from the broom would be the same.)

You could easily tell when we'd reached Minnesota: they call it the Land of Lakes. (So we have been since the end of the last Ice Age.) The very name Minnesota means “Sky Water.” We're said to be the Land of 10,000 Lakes; actually, there are more.

What I discovered that night is that there's a full Moon in each of them.

 

The City of Minneapolis, Her Seal

 

Years back, several of us sat down to discuss—as a matter of course—what the Seal of Pagan Minneapolis, City of Lakes, should look like.

(Why, you might ask, do we get to decide? Not hard. We get to decide because we were the ones that asked the question.)

The question is not so quixotic as it might seem on the face of it. There are many pagans here, and have been for a long time. Then, as now, we were convinced that the future is pagan.

 

Mermaid rises from lake, wearing mural crown.

In one hand, she bears an ear of wheat, in the other, a fish.

 

Which came first, Athens or Athene? In the old days, cities were themselves accounted goddesses, iconographically identifiable by the mural—city-wall—crowns that they wear.

Minneapolis was first (paganly) settled by witches, Children of the Moon.

This, then, from the City of the Moon Goddess, Mother of Witches. If, for us, she wears a fish's tail, what's it to you?

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 Organic Bananas, Bunch - Walmart.com

Why someone left a bunch of organic bananas on the wall beside the sidewalk, I don't know.

I look up and down the street: no one. Did they maybe fall from someone's shopping bag?

They're nice, fat bananas, just starting to speckle, and fragrantly ripe: too ripe for someone's liking, maybe.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, and especially since the Troubles following George Floyd's death a few blocks from here, folks in this neighborhood have been setting out boxes of food at the curb for anyone who might need it. People are capable of much, both for the good, and for the bad. Such acts of nameless generosity have been a ray of light in an otherwise dark time.

Humans are an opportunistic species. Like other predators, witches are territorial animals, and patrol our territories regularly. (You can be a witch, they say, without knowing anything about astrology, Qabala, or Tarot—3000 years ago, the ancestors knew none of the above—but you cannot be a witch and not know your territory.) Usually in my perambulations around the neighborhood, I've got a gathering bag or two with me, but today, heading to the post office to get some stamps, I neglected to bring one. I snag the bananas anyway, and carry them along.

At the post office, I set them down on the counter to take out my wallet. Seeing the clerk's curious glance, I quip: “You guys still take barter here, right?”

He's game. “Sorry, that was yesterday,” he quips back.

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In the early days of Paganistan, M and N were everyone's favorite couple. Even when the Witch Wars burned through and people weren't talking to people, everybody still loved them.

They were witches, Alexandrians, both fine-looking folks. Somehow, even that never created any hard feelings, they were just so much in love with one another. It was hard to think of them separately, so naturally did they fit together. A friend, in conversation, once referred to them as lovers, then corrected herself.

“You guys are so much in love, I keep forgetting that you're married,” she laughed, and we all joined in, because it was so true.

When M died, it came as a shock to us all. For one thing, she wasn't very old. For another, well...she was just so vital. She'd known that she was sick, of course, but hadn't wanted to darken her last days by spreading the knowledge around. N, of course, was with her to the end. It seemed utterly fitting that she should have died on Valentine's Day.

She hadn't been out to her folks; in those days, few of us were. The pagan community showed up en masse—no pun intended—for her funeral. There probably hadn't been that many witches in a church since the Burning Times. In the eulogy, the priest kept talking about what a good Christian she'd been.

February is a windy, cold month in Minnesota. A stiff, bitter breeze blew in off the prairie as we stood in the cemetery. Still—M would have loved it—there was something playful, even carnivalesque, about that graveside service. Someone, incredibly, had brought along a bouquet of helium balloons: bright colors against the stark, white snowscape. After the prayers, they released them. Watching those balloons soar up and away into they sky was heartbreaking, the perfect metaphor. As they flew away, the tears flowed.

Afterward, the pagans gathered over food and drink for our own remembrance. N looked devastated.

Sorrow had made me bitter. The priest's words still rankled; I complained about them to a friend.

But he was wiser than I.

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 Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe - BettyCrocker.com

 

In the normal way of things, you wouldn't expect to be glad to see soldiers on the streets of your city.

National Guard at Chicago-Lake, I text a friend, naming the major intersection in this part of town.

What happened? he texts back.

Nothing, I reply. That's the idea.

I live in Minneapolis just off Lake Street, the old Dakota trail that was the major artery of fire during the rash of arson and looting that stalked the protests after the death of George Floyd last summer.

During those four Nights of Burning, most frightening of all was the knowledge that, if you called for help, none would come.

The authorities—our incompetent and cowardly City Council foremost among them—were taken as much by surprise by the violence of the aftermath as anyone else, and waited far too long to act. My neighborhood, the pagan neighborhood, paid the price of their dithering. A year later, we still bear the scars: within a block of my house, four empty lots mark four buildings burned.

So, as the trial of Floyd's killer Derek Chauvin draws to a close—not to mention the nightmarish déja-vu of Daunte Wright's senseless death this weekend past—it's good to see, as I walk down Lake Street this morning, some actual preemptive action on the part of the Powers that Be.

Hey, glad you're here, I tell the group of Guards as I go past. Over their face-masks, their eyes smile. In their urban camo uniforms, they look cute and very young.

Well, let's hear it for thinking ahead for a change. Witches learned that lesson long ago, the hard way; that's why we're still here.

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 Are Kentucky Farms Under Attack from Flocks of Ravenous Vultures? Not  Quite. | NRDC

 

If you're wondering what Minneapolis, home to one of the US's largest pagan communities, is like on the eve of the trial of the white policeman that murdered George Floyd here last May, I can tell you in one word: tense.

Everyone fears a reprise of the violence, arson, and looting that stalked last spring's protests.

Local activist groups have pledged peaceful protests, but everyone here knows that their pledges mean nothing. For four nights of terror in May, we watched our city burn around us as the peaceful protests were invariably followed by destruction and violence at the hands of bad actors from out-of-town and out-of-state.

That the vast majority of these bad actors came here, cowardly-wise, from elsewhere to work their morth-work and then leave again, is no consolation whatsoever to those of us left behind to sweep up the shards.

The scale of violence last spring caught everyone by surprise, and the arsonists and looters ran rampage here in the pagan neighborhood—my neighborhood—for four days before the authorities finally intervened. On one night in particular, four buildings burned within a block of my house. Most terrifying of all was the knowledge that if I were to call for help, none would come.

Some have accused city government of over-reacting in their pre-trial preparations. I'm not one of them. I, for one, have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that opportunistic bad actors, on both the Right and the Left, are already gathering from out-of-town, ready to work their havoc wherever, and whenever, they can. Call it vulture tourism.

Virtually everyone that I've spoken with seems to accept the likelihood of violence, which is in itself a bad sign. From what I'm hearing, the assumption seems to be that the best that we can hope for is that the destruction will happen somewhere else, probably downtown. That's not good news for the tens of thousands of people that live, or own businesses, near the trial's venue.

“I suppose we're all going to be sitting out on our front porches again all night,” my next-door neighbor, who's African-American, said to me today. She just turned 70 last year; she's lived in this house her entire life.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Jamie. Here's hoping.
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, Stay safe, brother.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Witch Watch

Alley scene in Paganistan.

Warning with enforcement clause.

...
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In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Comes to Paganistan for the Very First Time

The omen could hardly have been clearer. I guess you could say that a wall spoke to me.

It was spring break of my junior year in college. I'd come to Minneapolis, ostensibly in search of a graduate program. Actually, I'd come in search of a community. In search of a people.

My friend had picked me up at the train station. Driving home down Lake Street, I saw it.

Minneapolis is a City of Murals. There it was, covering the entire side of a building.

Flowers, butterflies. (Hey, it was the 70s.) These words:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Well, speak of the Horned, Chris! I was thinking of you fondly just the other day. Hope this finds you happy and in health.
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    And who'd'a thunk that just a little while later you'd join in at Paul's magickal place for a weekend hosting amazing men from all
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Eli, the feeling is entirely mutual. How did we get so lucky?
  • Eli Effinger-Weintraub
    Eli Effinger-Weintraub says #
    Y'know, it's funny: when I moved here from Michigan for college, I never expected to stay here. I had no intention of going back t
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    It's a weird place (in both senses of the term), in some ways a hard place, a cold place. Not everyone manages to fit in. Just ma

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