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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Tama Witch

What is written in Earth, endures.

What the Lake receives, she keeps.

 

At 14, he climbed down the cliff. On the beach, he built a fire.

He stripped off his clothes.

I AM A WITCH, he wrote, in capitals: in the wet sand between shore and water, for the Lake to take.

He swam out, into the wind, as far as he could. Then he turned and swam back to shore.

He dried himself at the fire. He dressed and climbed back up.

He went back home.

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Elf-Shine

They call it “elf-shine.”

I've seen it; I'm sure that you have, too.

It's the beauty that shines from someone in those moments of great joy or deep understanding: an illumination from within.

The ancestors of Northwestern Europe accounted the elves as the most beautiful of peoples, and so this beauty is named for them: for the shine of elf-shine—in Old English, ælf-scýne—is kin to German schön, “beautiful.”

“Beautiful as an elf,” the ancestors used to say.

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Clean of Body, Clean of Spirit

If you were covered with sweat and dirt, would you walk into a ritual?

If you were seething with rage, would you walk into a ritual?

If you had just killed someone—accidentally, say—would you walk into a ritual?

Probably not, I'm guessing, And rightly so.

States of ritual purity—and impurity—were important to the ancestors. Very important. While these are not something that the new paganisms have (for the most part) spent much time thinking about, I'm going to argue that, without being consciously aware of it, we generally observe such purity laws ourselves. If that's really so, then we as pagans can only benefit from becoming more consciously aware of what we're already doing unconsciously.

In some ways, I think that language often gets in the way. “Clean/unclean,” “pure/impure”: this kind of language seems alien to us. We've had it used against us so often—and against women in particular—that we've largely excised it from our thought and our practice.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    That's right, I'd forgotten about the old Hebrew practice. If you were Dinee, your family would hire a hata'ali to sing an Enemy W
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When we had some Shinto priests visit our church from Tsubaki Grand Shrine the minister showed us a film of some boys standing und

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Good Ritual/Bad Ritual

Good ritual...

...we do together.

Bad ritual...

...is done to you.

Good ritual...

...lets you experience.

Bad ritual...

...tells you what you feel.

Good ritual...

...connects.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    Um, YEAH.

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A Night on Witches' Hill

I'm not sure what the police were expecting, but it clearly wasn't us.

Midsummer's Eve. There we were, with our sister coven, up on Witches' Hill.

We'd had our picnic, we'd danced and sung the songs. Everyone else had gone up to the top of the hill to sing the Sun down. Typically, Uncle Steve was still down in the park, running around with the kids. In fact, the youngest was sitting on my shoulders.

The police car came hurtling up over the curb, tearing up turf as it went. It slammed to a stop midway up the hill. Simultaneously, in a choreographed move, both doors fly open. A cop leaps out of each and immediately crouches behind it, taut, as if expecting a barrage of bullets from the hilltop.

“Hey officer,” I say. “Midsummer's Eve, what?”

They give me the eye. Hands on guns, they move cautiously up the hill.

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  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    lol!

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Die Now

“Die now!” chanted the crowd as Diagóras of Rhodes circled the stadium.

They meant it as a compliment.

Olympia, 448 BCE. Two of Diagóras' sons had just received Olympic crowns. "Die now!" chanted the crowd as his sons raised him to their shoulders and bore him aloft.

Meaning: you might as well die now; you're never going to get any happier than this.

 

In my long and rich life, I've been fortunate enough to have several “Die now!” moments.

Here's one.

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Daughter of Two Fathers

Being daughter of two fathers (gods, being gods, can do that sort of thing), it makes sense that she should be patron of same-sex love.*

Rainbow was a goddess known to the ancestors, but in our day she takes on new meaning and new importance.

As Lady of Many Colors, she protects the times and places when peoples of different kinds, of different colors, come harmoniously together.

She gathers beneath her wings the gender-nonconforming.

And of course, the men for men, the women for women, and those who move creatively between, are her special people, hers to her.

When her namesake flowers bloom, during the month of June, we see her banner prominently displayed.

Interestingly, for meteorological reasons, during this same month we often see her standing, in her own person, there between Earth and Heaven.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    *It intrigues me that when, in mythology, two males have a child together, that child is often a daughter. The meaning here seems

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