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.
Post-Apocalypse Pagan Fiction II: The 70s, 80s, and 90s

Marvin Kaye and Parke Godwin, Masters of Solitude (1978)

After an invasion from China destroys the US, the megalopolis that covers the East Coast walls itself off from the wilderness to the West, where deer-like witches breed for psychic skills and create a genuine American witchery. Part of the fun is seeing what witch vocabulary might turn into in a few hundred years or so. (I don't need lep or a thammy to wish you a happy Grannog.) But those nasty coal-digging Kriss just keep cooking up toxic bugs to kill off the evil devil-worshipers. What to do?

Favorite line: “Who you callin' 'cowan'?”

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Two Seasons

Rating: PI (Contains Politically Incorrect Language)

There's a whole genre of Minnesota jokes that begin: “Minnesota has two seasons: Winter and....” Winter and Road Repair. Winter and Winter-is-Coming. Occasionally there are variations: “...two seasons: Shovel and Swat.” Whatever one calls its partner, though, Winter is the central fact of existence here in Lake Country. Spring and Fall aren't really seasons in the North; they're occasional delightful visitors, all the more beloved for their poignantly brief stay. Our year really is a bi-seasonal one.

This would have been utterly familiar to the ancestors. The ancient Germanic speakers knew a two-season, Winter-Summer year: etymologically, the “windy” and “sunny” seasons respectively. The great holidays of Proto-Germanic culture were apparently Midwinter and Midsummer, associated even then—between 3000 and 4000 years ago—with the winter and summer sunsteads (solstices). We know that this goes back to the time before the Germanic languages branched off from one another because the terms are preserved in all surviving daughter languages.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Good rant. Every year our media insists that Midwinter Night is "The beginning of winter." That is completely wrong as anyone w

Gerhard Hauptmann, The Island of the Great Mother (German Edition: Die Insel der grossen Mutter) (1925)

A boatload of women, but no men, are shipwrecked on a tropical island paradise. Together they create a flourishing women's civilization. One by one, by some mysterious property of the island itself, the women begin to become pregnant. Catch: half the children are girls, half boys. What to do with the boys?

A troubling, insightful, and prophetic novel.

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The Old Worship

The morning after our first Grand Sabbat, a friend approached, a little hesitantly.

“That was you in the horns and the paint up on the altar last night?”

I pause, then smile and nod.

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The Jewish year 5775 begins at sundown tonight (Wednesday). In Hebrew, “new year” is r'osh ha-shana: literally, “head [of] the year.” Interestingly, the Arabic term for “new year” is the same: r'as as-sana. Clearly this expression goes back a long, long way, possibly even to Proto-Semitic times. In any event, the phrase long predates monotheism. One should probably posit an Arabic—possibly Moorish—origin for the Italian word for “new year,” capodanno. Three guesses what that means literally.

New Moon” in Hebrew is r'osh hodesh, literally (you guessed it) “head of the month.” Why would the head of something come to mean its beginning?

I can think of two possibilities.

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Thinking in Story

If you ask those who practice it, “Why skyclad?” twelve will get you thirteen you'll hear something along the lines of 1) energy flow, 2) social equalizing, and 3) a sense of separation from the ordinary.

Those may all be good answers, and they may even be true answers, but they're modern answers. They're not the answers the ancestors would have given.

If 1400 years ago you had asked a priest of the Hwicce tribe, “Why do you go naked to your worship?” had he been disposed to give you an answer at all he may well have said, “The Lady of the Hwicce instructed us so.”

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    If only we would listen, indeed. Blessings.

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Sunsteads and Evendays

English: the sacred language of the Witches.

“Solstice” and “equinox” are fine old words with a rolling, Latinate solemnity to them, but to my ear they have a rather clinical sound. Wishing someone a happy Equinox always sounds a little stilted to me. When I'm snugged up in bed with another guy, we're probably not going to talk about “penises.” Chances are, if we're talking, we'll use something a little more intimate instead.

A while back I sat down with my friend Ro (“Granny”) NicBourne to see what we could come up with. We pulled my old grad school Anglo-Saxon dictionary off the shelf and gave it a look-see.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks Archer, I'm glad you like it. Tell your fiends [sic]. And since we're within the Evenday Thirtnight, I can still wish you a
  • Archer
    Archer says #
    I always enjoy your work Steven and I especially appreciate your love of language. "Sunstead" and "evenday" do sound so satisfying

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