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.

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Wearing the Hat

Now where is that Witch-English dictionary? I know I left it here somewhere.

Copintank, n. A sugar-loaf hat.

On the off chance that you've ever wondered what the technical name for a witch's hat is, well: now you know.

I'll take Witch Words for a thousand, Alex.

Also known (mostly by cowans) as a “steeple hat” (!), the copintank has been associated with English witches since some of the earliest woodcuts of them were made during the 16th and 17th centuries. Not surprisingly, this was also the period during which the copintank was considered fashionable. We witches have always been dressers.

Don't ask etymology; even the experts don't agree. It seems likely that the first syllable reflects the archaic word cop, “head” (= German kopf), but the rest is a mystery. One thing we can be sure of: it has nothing to do with either vats or vehicles. That word comes from the Subcontinent, and didn't enter English until centuries after witches were already sporting our signature headgear with its distinctive name.

If ever you've wondered why we wear them (no, Virginia, it doesn't have anything to do with the cone of power), well: let me tell you a story.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    During the Yule baking last year, I ended up grating a block of old dry brown sugar. I guess there's something to be said for maki
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Over at colonial Williamsburg they sell sugar cones and tell the tourists that that is the way sugar was sold in colonial times.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Message Found on a Cell Phone

Hey Anita, it's Steven.

I can't remember whether or not there's reception down where you guys are camped. I know that Iacchus has a signal up top at the Big House, so presumably you'll get this sooner or later.

As you'll recall, my original plan was to get to the festival tomorrow—Wednesday—but I'm afraid there have been a few, ah, developments around here.

In fact, you're not going to believe this, but at the moment my house is surrounded by a mob of irate villagers, complete with pitchforks and torches.

Seriously, I am not making this up. You may even be able to hear them in the background. [Muffled shouting.] Like you say, life imitating art.

Gods, with all the kids around here, you'd think they could spare one or two every now and then. I mean, a guy's got to eat, right?

But no.

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In Which the Minstrel Roastbeef Invokes the Devil

Around 1261, the troubadour Rutebeuf (“Roast Beef”) published an early French miracle play, Le Miracle de Théophile.

Little did he know that he was about to make Wiccan history.

Based on 11th century Christian legend, the play tells the story of Theophilus (“god-lover”) of Adana, who sells his soul to the Devil. The Devil is called up, by a sorcerer named Salatin, with a mysterious chant:

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Z-Word

Last week I attended an opening at a local art gallery.

Someone was handing out zucchini.

No, it wasn't some abstruse performance piece. What it meant was: it's July in Minnesota.

Oh gods, it's that time of year again. Overabundance, thy name is zucchini.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Always the zucchini, never the tomato.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Way back when my family had a vegetable garden we grew yellow crookneck squash. We had enough for a family of six but I don't rem

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Cicada Song

Well, it's almost here: the time of year that they named the Summerland for.

The apples ripe and fragrant on the branches, and overhead in the trees, that unmistakable, piercing, electric drone.

Welcome to the Season of the Cicada.

Around here they say that the cicadas call only when it's 80° or warmer: clothing-optional weather. To judge from my own experience, this may well be true.

The name comes from the Romans, by way of the French. Before that, say the etymologists, it was a “Mediterranean” word. Who knows? It may even be Minoan.

Because cicadas, like snakes, shed their skins as they grow, and because their nymphs incubate in the earth and pop forth whole and all, they're associated in the Received Tradition with rebirth and immortality. Fittingly do they sing to the dead in the orchards of that Other World.

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Move the Olympics Back to Greece. Permanently.

 Caution: Rant Alert.

 

Och. The Olympics just haven't been themselves since the barbarians took them over.

Every four years, the International Olympic Committee—the world's third most corrupt international body (after the Vatican and FIFA)—rakes in billions in bribes and awards the quadrennial Summer Games to a municipality which then bankrupts itself building white elephant sports venues that will never be used again.

I say, move the Games back to Greece. Permanently.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
And When They Ask You...

And when they ask you,

Why do you worship

the creation, not the creator?

ask in return,

Why would you separate them?

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