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.
The Male Nipple in Myth and Ritual (!)

 

Gentlemen, why does Pickering's Moon go around in reverse?

Gentlemen, there are nipples on your breasts: do you give milk?

And what, pray tell, Gentlemen, is to be done about Heisenberg's Law?

Somebody had to put all of this confusion here!

 

Thus did the goddess Chaos reveal herself, with acid-etched revelatory clarity, to two young Californians in the 1960s (Younger 1968).

 

“About as useful as tits on a bull,” goes the folk expression, but—as any cattleman can tell you—bulls actually do have nipples. All male mammals, including humans, begin our existence as females. It is to this fact, gentlemen, that we owe our nipples.

 

In the language of symbolism, the nipple—from its basic biological function—means nurturance.

 

The nurturing male is a presence little addressed in the modern paganisms, but the ancestors, of course, knew better. So I'd like to explore the surprising role that the male nipple, that paradoxical female presence in the male body, plays in ritual and lore.

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Different

Leaping Lucifer!

The witches of the world have gathered for their annual meeting, Boss Witch (Martha Ray) presiding. Doesn't she look absolutely hideous in her hornëd hennin?

And who else could belt out the witches' anthem like the incomparable Witch Hazel (Mama Cass Eliot)? Now is that a witch or what?

Über-kitsch, you say? Not quite your cup of hemlock tea, perhaps?

Well, it managed to get this little gay warlock boy through the horrors of junior high, thank you very much.

So you can just go to Heaven.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Land of the Lost, H. R. Puffinstuff, Lidsville, Sigmund and the Seamonsters, Lost Saucer I guess all those Sid & Marty Kroft shows
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    "Surreal" would be a fair description, I believe. An adolescent boy's best friend is a talking golden flute. He just loves to play
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    H. R. Puffinstuff, I used to love that show. Sometimes the opening theme song still plays in my head when I'm at work.

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Obsession X

Oh gods. Yet another ex-Christian wants to tell me who Jesus really was.

(There's no mistaking them. Oh, they may call themselves something else now, but their first and foremost identity is Ex, with a capital X: the Jesus obsession gives them away every time.)

I've seen the scholarship. (It's hard for anyone in the field of religion to avoid seeing it.) The scholars agree on virtually nothing. Over the years, I've drawn three conclusions of my own.

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Afternoon of a Gay Faun

Reader discretion advised. Contains material of a sexual nature.

In October 2001 I was privileged to see Joffrey Ballet's Domingo Rubio in the title role of the reconstructed Nijinsky-choreography Après-Midi d'un Faun. It was an unforgettable performance: the queerest faun ever.

You know the story. (You can see it here, danced by Rudy Nureyev.) A faun wakes up in mid-afternoon, after, presumably, sleeping off the night before. (You know fauns.) Enter a group of nymphs, come for an afternoon bathe in the river. The faun shows himself. The nymphs are frightened. He singles out one and dances with her, flirtatious. Finally she runs off with her girlfriends, but in her panicked flight she drops part of her outfit. The faun rushes over, picks up the wrap, and cradles it in his arms, kissing it. Then he spreads it out lovingly on the ground and slowly lowers himself onto it. With a single convulsive thrust of the pelvis, he ejaculates all over the fallen shawl. You can practically smell the squirting semen.

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  • Arthur Freeheart
    Arthur Freeheart says #
    Encore, encore!

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Midsummer Madness

Och: my sleep is all messed up. Too. Much. Light.

6:11 a. m. as I write this, and the Sun's already up. When I woke at 4:30, the cardinals were singing their dawn songs. (Like roosters, they have special receptors in their brains that register even the slightest increase in light.) CST: Cardinal Standard Time. Whtt whtt whtt: cheerio! Yeah, and the broom you rode in on, too.

When I went to bed at 11 last night, there was still light in the western sky. Where I live, it's about 8 hours from sundown to sunrise at the summer sunstead, but as any Northron can tell you, just because the Sun's below the horizon doesn't mean it's dark. In Shetland they call it the simmer dim: the long, slow twilights of summer's solstice-tide.

Nor am I the only one. Here and now we're all walking around in a collective state of chronic sleep deprivation. Add heat and voilà: the proverbial Midsummer Madness. Small wonder I've heard more sirens and seen more car crashes during the past two weeks than in the previous two months put together.

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Taking the Ash

You're walking down the street and there, sure enough, under the same tree as this morning, sits the holy man, stark naked, blue with ash.

Rishikesh? Benares? No.

Turtle Creek, Wisconsin, USA.

I've always wondered what it would be like to live in a place where, in the natural course of things, one encountered the blue men (and women) as part of everyday life. I've also wondered what it would be like to be one of the ash-clad, given to the gods, wandering like ghosts through the world: in it, but not of it.

Well, I'll soon find out.

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Thinking Third Thoughts

Robert Cochrane (1931-1966), father of the contemporary Old Craft movement, was wont to say that the true name of the witch goddess is Fate (Cochrane 25). Yet he writes to Joseph Wilson in 1966 that the “prime duty of the Wise” is to “overcome fate” (Cochrane 23).

What is one to make of this?

Permit me to draw on the traditional vocabulary of the Elder Witcheries and to reframe the discussion in terms of “Wyrd.” Wyrd was anciently seen both as a goddess and as the inherent pattern of things: what Is, the sum total of everything that has happened until now, and the cumulative momentum towards the future inherent in that pattern. In the most abstract sense, one could say that the witches' goddess is Being, as the witches' god is Duration: in effect, Mother Nature and Father Time.

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