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.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

Running red lights a deadly practice that's becoming more common

 

I'm standing on a street corner, waiting for the light to change.

There's not a car moving for blocks in either direction. Back home in the US, I'd just cross the street, light or no light.

But I'm not at home; I'm in Germany, standing with a bunch of local people, waiting for the light to change.

Complicating the matter is the fact that, though I'm not a local, I look like one. Anglo-German on one side, Anglo-Austrian on the other: whatever it means to look German, I do. Here, people on the street automatically address me in German.

I stand and wait with the others.

Growing up as a little gay witch kid in a place where it wasn't safe to be either, I learned about inner freedom early on. Beneath your cloak of invisibility, you can be whoever you want to be.

Still, it's a disconcerting moment. If the SS had come to the door and started asking about the neighbors, what would I have told them?

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Nobody was walking along bent over a cell phone mindlessly texting without looking where they where going?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 

In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Climbs Out Onto a Branch

 

The famous Paris relief of the Gallo-Roman god Cernunnos is remarkable for many reasons, and perhaps the strangest is this: There are torques hanging from his antlers.

Virtually every description of the image mentions this fact, but few proceed to ask the obvious question: Why? What does it mean that torques hang from the god's antlers?

1. In the Classical world, the twisted metal neck-ring that Romans called a torque (the word means “twisted”) was known as a distinctively Celtic item of apparel. In Roman art, a Celtic warrior may not be wearing anything else, but he'll always be wearing a torque. This is no Romeburg import of a god, but a being of here and now: a god of this time, this place, and this culture.

Conclusion the first: Cernunnos is a Celtic—i.e. local, indigenous—god.

2. From its use in ancient art, we can intuit a number of probable meanings for the torque. As something made from a valuable material (metal) by a skilled craftsman, it represents wealth. It's certainly possible that, as in the contemporaneous Germanic-speaking world, torques were actually used as a form of currency.

Conclusion the second: Cernunnos is a wealthy god: Wealthy, and the Giver of Wealth.

3. Being themselves expensive, it follows that torques denote nobility or even royalty, since only the moneyed could afford such things.

Conclusion the third: Cernunnos is a noble, perhaps even royal, god.

Note that, while humans wear torques one at a time, the god wears multiple torques simultaneously. (Although now obscured by damage to the bottom of the relief, it is clear that the god once wore one around his neck as well: three in total.) All that the torque represents—indigenousness, wealth, nobility—the god has, so to speak, in spades.

 

I'm going to go out on a limb—one of the god's branching antlers, perhaps—and suggest that we see here a possible allusion to the giving of votive torques to the god.

Now, we have no evidence for the existence of life-sized statues of Cernunnos in the temples of ancient Gaul. If they did exist, one would expect them to have worn actual antlers inset into the carved head of the god (antlers being far too delicate a structure to free-carve in stone).

If this were so—going even further out on the antler here—I'm going to posit that votive torques may well have hung from the god's antlers in the temple.

Antlers—the fastest-growing tissue in the animal world—being calques for tree-branches, I'm also going to suggest that, in groves sacred to the Antlered, we might well expect to have found votive torques hanging from the branches of the sacred trees as well.

(I could readily envision a forest shrine in which the god's cult image was a standing post carved at the top with the god's head and face[s], and many-tined antlers—perhaps renewed annually—inset on the sides or top.)

OK: here I'll go out onto the very tip of the tine. Are we seeing here perhaps an allusion to a story? A story in which the Horned himself made the First Torque? A story in which, perhaps, wealth—represented by torques—grows from the very antlers of the god, as fruit grows from a tree?

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Can't wait to see!
  • Helga Hedgewalker
    Helga Hedgewalker says #
    Gods above, below and in-between! This is the most wonderful thing I've read in AGES!!!! This artist has definitely taken note.

 

 

What is men's magic?

Men's magic is magic specific to men, i.e. magic grounded in maleness both physical and psychological.

Is there a women's magic as well?

Trustworthy sources assure me that there is.

Is men's magic different from women's magic?

Yes, by definition.

Are there, then, shared magics as well?

Of course.

What is warlockry?

Warlocky is the magic specific to the men of the Tribe of Witches.

Where does warlockry come from?

The Horned our god, the Great Warlock himself, taught it to his sons long ago in ages of ages.

What is the basis of warlockry?

While it would be a vast oversimplification to say that warlock magic is dick magic, it certainly begins there.

Can a woman be a warlock?

So long as she has a functioning penis and testicles, yes.

Can a trans-man be a warlock?

This, to date, remains largely unexplored territory.

To speak for myself, I remain open to the possibility.

What is an example of warlock magic?

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PHOTOS: Mount Etna erupts in Italy, spewing smoke, ashes, and lava 

 

Europe's most active volcano, Sicily's Mt. Etna, is erupting again.

Today, therefore, let me tell you a story of a previous eruption: a true story, a story profoundly pagan.

It took place during the 1980s.

 

The old woman had lived in the house on the slopes of Mt. Etna all her life. She had been born in the house; there she was married, there she bore her children and, after her husband's death, raised them herself.

Now the lava was coming.

Her son had driven up from Palermo to take her to safety. The car was fully loaded. Now she stands alone in the kitchen, for what might well be the last time.

She opens a bottle of wine, wine that she made herself from grapes raised and pressed on the volcano's fertile slopes. She pours two glasses.

She salutes the mountain with which she has lived in relationship all her life. She drinks a final toast.

Then she leaves, perhaps never to return.

On the kitchen table behind her stand two glasses: one empty, one full.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room: ** Mount Doom ** - 3.  The Slopes of Mount Doom

 Pagan Spring

 

My friend and I are celebrating the break in the winter weather with a walk together.

The sidewalks, icy no longer, are wet with snowmelt. Talking about religious imperialism and imperialist religion, we pass first a church, then a mosque.

Straight-faced, he begins to chant.

One god to rule them all, one god to find them;

one god to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them:

in the land of Israel, where the shadows lie.

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 Union Bay Watch : An Eagle's IQ

 

Waiting for the light to change at 35th and Park, I see an eagle fly over.

My first thought (as always when I see an eagle): Gods, that's a big bird.

My second thought (craning my neck to see): It is an eagle!

My heart leaps up inside me, as it always does. I open my mouth to begin the song that you sing when you see an eagle; then I close it again, without singing.

Whatever that song may be, I don't know it.

That there should be a song that you sing when you see an eagle—an honor song, a song of soaring greeting—seemed to me in that moment, as it has ever since, utterly obvious.

That our people once had such a song also seemed—and seems—to me to go without saying.

Alas that so much has been taken away; alas that so much has been lost.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Back in the Paganolithic Era--as you may remember--we used to sing: I circle around, I circle around/the boundaries of the Earth/
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    The only song that comes to mind is America the Beautiful. There should be a special song to sing when seeing an eagle but I'm no

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In the glyptic art of ancient Northwestern Europe, each of the Old Gods and Goddesses—the gods of “Nature,” who Were before we were and Will Be after we are gone—had his or her own glyph, or symbol. (In the Old Language of the Witches, this was called a tácen or, as we would say today, a token.)

Sun, of course, has a Sun Wheel, shown above.

Moon's, of course, is the Crescent:

 

Fire's symbol is the Fylfot,

 

 

Thunder's, interestingly, the compound Fylfot (shown here in one of many variants),

 

and Earth's, of course, her sacred Delta:

 

But what about the Winds?

Unlike the other Old Powers, the Winds are invisible gods, with no obvious visual representation. How do you draw a picture of the Wind?

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