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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Steven Posch

Steven Posch

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.
Stations of the Descent: A Call to Wiccan Artists

The truly puzzling thing is, there's no dearth of Wiccan artists out there.

That's what makes the absence all the more striking.

The story of the Lady's Descent into the Underworld is, arguably, Wicca's foundational myth.

Where, then, is the art depicting it?

It's a profoundly visual story. One could readily envision sequences of the Descent à la (if you'll pardon the comparison) Catholicism's Stations of the Cross.

Where are they?

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In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Reviews a Book on a (Gasp!) Non-Pagan Subject

This is Not the Resurrection You're Looking For

Resurrecting Easter would be a better book if it knew what it wanted to be. Art history? A husband-wife travelogue? A mystery novel à la Da Vinci Code?

Unfortunately, it never manages to decide.

In it, Jesus Seminar rockstar John Dominic Crossan and his wife Sarah travel to the ends of Christendom to tell the story of the emergence of the iconography of the Resurrection. (He writes, she takes the pictures.) This important topic has received surprisingly little attention from art historians. Apart from Anna Kartsonis' magisterial 1988 Anastasis: The Making of an Image, there are virtually no monographs on the subject. The Phaidon Press series of anthologies on the art of Holy Week—Last Supper, Crucifixion, and Descent (i.e. deposition from the cross)—does not, surprisingly, devote a volume to the art of the Resurrection. Somehow, when it comes to art history, it's always Nativity, never Pascha.

So I praise the Crossans for perceiving this lack and attempting to address it. It's a pity they couldn't do so more successfully.

Oh, they do manage to chronicle the emergence and development of Christendom's two major visual representations of the Resurrection, with some attention to various dead ends and roads-not-taken along the way. Unfortunately, the art-historical material is interspersed almost randomly with pointless tales from their travels, including local-color details about what time they caught the cab and what T-shirt the driver was wearing. The quest—and narrative—are driven by forced cliff-hanger questions about the iconography (“What happens to the universal resurrection tradition in Eastern Christianity during that same fateful period?”) that are meant to seem urgent but mostly fall flat.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I can go onto Bing images and type in resurrection to get a whole bunch of pictures. If I haven't run out of ink in my printer I

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Time of We

The ancestors thought in generations.

They didn't say: One hundred years ago. They said: Four generations ago. They measured time in human lives. They measured time in story.

Generational time is time-as-lived, time-in-relation. This is collective time, the time of We.

“Many, many years ago,” says the old lore-master, “maybe 500 generations back, when the land shook and all the goats were wild, Sikander Julkhan marched his great armies east.” So begins the saga of his people (Bealby 218).

Thinking in generations makes us part of the story. Thinking in generations saves us from isolation. Thinking in generations makes us take responsibility.

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One Advantage of Hosting the Ritual... that you get all the leftovers.

My festive First-Day-of-Spring breakfast:

  • Steamed asparagus
  • Toasted sesame egg bread
  • Fresh farmer's cheese with garden chives
  • Ostara eggs with hot sauce
  • Fresh strawberries
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Who Are the New Pagan Heroes?

Some people have saints. Pagans have heroes.

But you don't have to slay dragons 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.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    [Chortles.] So, how's about a libation, already?!
  • Keith Ward
    Keith Ward says #
    Always! ‘Ave Maestro!’
  • Keith Ward
    Keith Ward says #
    You’re my hero!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    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 grea
An Open Letter to the Editor of 'City Pages'

Dear Editor,

This concerning your coverage of Paganicon 2018 (“The Twin Cities—AKA Paganistan—Will Host a World Gathering of Witches”).

In the vocabulary of modern Witches, the word cowan (rhymes with plowin') refers to a non-Witch. It is not necessarily a derogatory term.

Not necessarily.

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Survival Secrets of the Long-Lived Covens

Statistically, the average coven has a lifespan of three years.

But let us not make the mistake of taking this as normative.

In fact, the history of the modern Craft is studded with examples of long-lived covens. In a year and a half, the group that I'm part of will have been together for 40 years. Our daughter/sister coven is still going strong after almost 35 years. Gardner's original Bricket Wood coven has been up and running for some 60-plus years now. Across the wide and many-colored world of modern Witchdom, there must be hundreds—if not thousands—of similar examples.

Long-lived covens may be a minority in the Craft, but they are neither outliers nor anomalies. They are, rather, the heart of who we are and what we do.

Each of these covens is a success story: a success story in which we all share. Each one is a triumph for us all.

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