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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The Winter Peach

Don't get me wrong: I love apples.

But when's the last time that you bit into an apple and had juice run down your forearm and drip from your elbow?

A good pear is truly a full-body experience.

Pears. I just ate my first one of the season. OMGs.

The Witch Goddess's sacred flower is, of course, the Rose, but the Rose family is a large one. Apples are roses. So are pears. Cut one with the stem. Like an apple, it will show forth the Flower of Life. And cut across the stem, behold: the Fivefold Star of Rebirth.

We've been eating pears for a long time: since, apparently, the Neolithic, if not before. They ate them in the Lake Villages of Stone Age Switzerland. They're mentioned in Linear B inscriptions from Mycenaean Greece. The name pear comes ultimately from Latin, which got it from Greek, which got it from the Phoenicians (p'ri = “fruit”).

And every pear's a little goddess. Hold one in your hand. It's like one of those big-hipped Mamas that the ancestors made to make the garden grow. It irks me when people say that a situation has gone “pear-shaped” to mean that it's gone wrong. Is the implication really that perfection = round? Round things roll away and break. Low centers of gravity mean stability.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I clipped a recipe from the newspaper for apple kielbasa bake. The last three times I've made it I used pears instead of apples.
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    Unlike the proliferation of commercial apple varieties here in the US, you will find few varieties of pears at your local grocer.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Gods Are My Co-Workers

150,000 years of pagan history, and it took the so-called 20th century to reduce the gods to the level of co-workers.

“I work with [Name of Deity].”

How many times have you heard this expression?

Note who's the active agent. Note the nature of the partnership. Note the implied equivalence.

The ancestors would never have used the phrase “work with” to describe their relationship with their gods. They might have worshiped a particular god. They might have offered to a certain goddess. They might have made their prayers to said gods.

But—for the most part—modern pagans are afraid of worship. (Why? Another day, another post.) Mostly we don't offer to our gods. We're not particularly strong on prayer, either. I.e. we have rejected the spiritual technology of the ancestors.

So much the worse for us.

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  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Well said, Greybeard, the negative associations with "that other religion" were all a big part of my points. I also agree with y
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    I don't much like the terms "pray" or "praying." Praying for God(ess) to do something is a lot like acknowledging we don't have
  • Meredith Everwhite
    Meredith Everwhite says #
    Times change, Steve. People change, spirituality changes and, again, people have every right to define their spiritual relationshi
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I can't hear Sappho saying, "I work with Aphrodite." I can't hear Erik the Red saying: "I work with Thor." As a primary descriptor
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm actually quite comfortable with the gods as co-workers metaphor. I pray every day and I usually work 5 days a week. My relat

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Snow Flower

A philosophical lot, Northrons.

I was out this morning shoveling this winter's first inch. (Up here in the North Country, snow comes progressively: First Flurry, First Laying Snow, First Shoveling Snow.)

Every single person that went past had something to say, a continuing conversation. You could construct an entire philosophy from what they said.

Well, it's here.

Early or late, it always comes.

Sure is beautiful, though.

Northern fatalism? Not really. Fatalism is laying down and letting it cover you. If this is fatalism, it's a fatalism of honor, a fatalism that spurs to action. If we're going to go down, we'll go down fighting, shovels—like swords—in hand.

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  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    So beautiful, these words! We don't get much snow in Texas, perhaps every 3rd or 4th year, but it enchants our scorched landscape
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    My own thought was intimately shaped by the rites and mythology of the old Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland back in the 70s.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    My role playing games set in Japan or with an Anime theme mention the Yuki Onna (Snow Woman).
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    I've heard our winter attitude up here called "Nordic Zen"...you just do winter. It's a waste of energy to get upset if you hate i
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    During the snowy winter of 2011, I attended a Midwinter's Eve rite down at Coldwater Spring at new Moon: dark o' the Sun, dark o'

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Banned at PSG!

25 years ago, they wouldn't let me give this workshop at PSG.

"Too controversial," they said.

But you'll be able to hear it in full—new and improved—at next year's Paganicon 2019.

Lucky you.

 

Sacrifice Revisited

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Make Election Day a National Holiday

Election Day should be a national holiday.

This year, with its hotly-contested Midterm Elections, it certainly seemed like one, moreso than any other Election Day that I can remember. I even got an Election Day card from a friend.

And it's what the ancestors did.

In the Old Days, people from all over Ireland converged in Tara for Samhain. There they did what the Tribe always does when it gets together: they worshiped, feasted, and politicked.

Why is Election Day when it is? For the same reason that Samhain is when it is. The harvest is in, the animals are back from the summer pastures. With the work of the growing season over, there's time to get together to do the necessary work of the People before winter closes in and shuts down travel.

In this sense, I would contend that Election Day is, in effect, a latter-day descendant of Samhain.

There was no Halloween in colonial America. Halloween was a Catholic holiday, and there were few Catholics in early America. But there was Guys Fawkes' Day, the 5th of November, which replaced Halloween in post-Reformation England and inherited many of the older holiday's customs, such as bonfires. After the Revolution, Guy Fawkes' Day became a feria non grata in the United States, but Election Day took its place.

Back when, Election Day even used to be a Bonfire holiday.

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The Devil's Christianity: An Open Letter to the Evangelical Christians of America

Dear Nazzes:

During the 2016 US Presidential election, you voted overwhelmingly—against the recommendations of much of your leadership—for an immoral, lying cheat named Donald Trump.

At the apocalyptic climax of your co-religionist Chris Walley's Lamb Among the Stars novels, the Angel of the Lord explains:

Listen while I tell you the real truth....[Satan's] hope was not for the triumph of the Dominion [ = the Satanic kingdom], but for the rise of a fallen Assembly. An Assembly of hatred and malice; an Assembly of men and women...prepared to use any means and any power to win. He sought the Dark Assembly.

Note that the Greek word ekklêsía, “church,” literally means assembly. In Walley's novels, the Assembly is Christianity, the Church.

I.e. that's you he's talking about. You are the Dark Assembly. Yours is the Devil's Christianity.

So congratulations.

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  • Dragon Dancer
    Dragon Dancer says #
    HERE F*CKING HERE!

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Matriarchies of the Midwest

I had to laugh when, at the annual Mahle Lecture at Hamline University in “St.” Paul this weekend, I heard feminist theologian Carol P. Christ describe the ideal human society as a “matriarchal egalitarianism.”

Really, I had to laugh.

The coven that I'm part of has been going strong for nearly 40 years now. Next fall we'll be 39 (a significant number = 3 x 13). We're a group of friends who share a spiritual life. Most (but not all) of us are women.

This group is the center of my social life, and the center of my spiritual life. We're deeply engaged with one another's lives. I've helped raise our youngest coven kid.

Hence my laughter.

Here in the heart of the American Midwest, I've lived in a matriarchal egalitarianism for decades.

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  • Hearth M Rising
    Hearth M Rising says #
    Thank you for this. Raising children is the central work in matriarchal communities, important in everyone's life, not just a nucl
  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza says #
    Right on! And wasn't the Mahle Lecture blast! Such a thrill to get my battered copy of Weaving the Visions signed by both Carol Ch

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