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.
A Midsummer Invocation to Earth and Her Two Husbands

Midsummer dark, Midsummer bright:

the longest day, the shortest night.

 

(Horn)

Let us lift up our hands.

 

On this Midsummer's Eve we call

to Earth, mighty mother of us all,

and we praise you for your great good gift of fruitfulness.

We ask that through the summer to come

our gardens may bear abundantly,

so that through this season

and through the winter to come

we, your people, may have plenty to eat.

So mote it be.

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We the Free

They call us pagans, but we know who we are.

We are the Free Peoples of the Earth.

We are the free peoples, our gods the gods of the free.

Free is our goddess. Being her people, we bear her name.

Let the shackled call us what they will. In the end, they are slaves.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    "As a sign that ye are truly free, Ye shall be naked in your rites." Very few pagans are truly free any more. Almost all slavi
13 Traditional Things to Do for the Shortest Night

Light a fire at sundown (and better it be if you light it in the old way: flint and steel or, best of all, wood on wood). Keep it burning all night.

Stay up all night. (If you sleep at Midsummer, you'll be sleepy for the rest of the year.)

Go to the highest point in your area. Sing the Sun down. Sing the Sun back up again in the morning.

Build a bonfire.

Deck the house with boughs of green leaves.

Have a picnic.

Eat the sacred foods of the season: fresh greens, radishes, strawberries, rhubarb, fresh cheeses, stuffed eggs, new potatoes, asparagus, cherries.

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Red Thread

Back when our youngest coven kid was first learning to talk, the two of us went over to the park one day to watch the rehearsal for the big May Day ceremony. As the costumed performers came in one by one, we played Name the Animal.

“Who's that?” I ask.

“Bear,” he says.

“Who's that?” I ask.

“Wolf,” he says.

“Who's that?” I ask.

“God,” he says.

It was Deer.

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The Dance of Oak and Linden

If you're looking for a magical dance with which to crown your Midsummer's Eve, here's a new one made of ancient parts: the Dance of Oak and Linden.

In Baltic lore (in the Baltics, Midsummer is still the biggest holiday of the year, bigger even than you-know-when), Oak is considered a male tree, Linden a female: two trees, two genders of beauty and strength.

The Midsummer connection is strengthened by the fact that Oak is also held to be the tree of Thunder, most virile of gods, and that the Linden—known as Basswood in the US—perfumes the White Nights of Midsummer with her spicy flowering. You could think of them as the Midsummer equivalents of Midwinter's Holly and Ivy.* 

The Dance of Oak and Linden is a simple round dance, and better it be if danced around a bonfire, or one of its eponymous trees. At its most basic, men bear oak sprays, women linden. (I'm sure that you don't need me to tease out the various possible permutations for you.)

Bearing your oak and linden, then—or whatever the equivalent trees in your landscape are—you join hands and dance.

Here's a song to go with it, dating from circa 1300, the oldest song in English to which we have both words and tune.

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Blood Pact

Registrations are coming in for this year's Midwest Grand Sabbat.

(The firelight on the trees. The Stag That Walks On Two Legs, come down from the altar. The frenzied dancing. The love-making in the shadows.)

Yesterday one arrived that had actually been signed in blood.

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Fathers and Sons

My father watches me approach. The look on his face is complex.

He shakes his head, wondering.

“You look so much like my father,” he says.

Sometimes one single sentence is the very best gift you can give.

He's right: the rangy build, the jaw, the widow's peak. Right now I'm about the age that my grandfather would have been when I first remember him.

He was born in Vienna. I'd always thought that his name was Frank, but recently I found out that his parents named him (for the kaiser, I suppose) Franz Josef.

I'd be willing to bet that he chose Frank himself. Except for songs, he always refused to teach his children any German.

“We're Americans,” he'd say.

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