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 Man Who Loved the Goddess

In this season of the ancestors, I remember W[illiam] Holman Keith (1900-1993), the Baptist minister who fell in love with the Goddess and so became one of the pioneers of the New Paganism in the United States.

From the jacket of his book Divinity as the Eternal Feminine, the first (1960!) American book of self-consciously pagan theology:

W. Holman Keith, born June 11, 1900 at Vincennes, Indiana, began his “pilgrimage of faith,” to use his own words, with evangelical Christian Protestantism. After taking a BA degree at Franklin College...he went on to earn the degrees of Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Systematic Theology at Newton Theological Institution...and an MA in Theology at the University of Chicago. His subsequent career included two brief pastorates at Baptist churches in Massachusetts and New York. However, he writes, “I was progressively disillusioned in the two theological schools I attended,” and he subsequently abandoned his vocation as a minister. His search for faith “at last found its haven in a small chapel in West Hempstead, Long Island, New York, known as the Church of Aphrodite, of which the Rev. Gleb Botkin was the founder, and the priest of Aphrodite.

Presently, the author writes, “the challenge of this truth commands all my loyalties of mind, heart, and will.

And so it would be to the very end of his life.

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Whatever Happened to Animal Sacrifice?

At one time, animal sacrifice was the most common form of public worship in the West.

So what happened to it?

We tend to think of Judaism as mother and Christianity as daughter, but in fact Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism are sister religions that arose at the same time in response to the self-same trauma: the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 CE.

In ancient Hebrew religion, anyone could build an altar anywhere and offer up sacrifice there, but with the rise of the Jerusalem temple, a hard-fought process of centralization set in which eventually banned sacrifice anywhere else, on the logic of “one god, one temple.”

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The Divine Economy

If I had to characterize Kirk S. Thomas' Sacred Gifts: Reciprocity and the Gods in only two words, it would be: “accessibly profound.”

Don't be put off—as I initially was—by his bantering tone, hyper-colloquial diction, or home-spun analogies. This book speaks as an incisive work of contemporary pagan scholarship and philosophy, and (best of all) points the way forward for future pagan thought.

There can be no relationship without communication. How, then, do we communicate with the gods?

In Sacred Gifts, Thomas answers this question elegantly and authoritatively by beginning with a careful examination of ancestral precedent. From these specifics, he deduces the general principles of the divine economy.

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Meeting Maenads

Well, I can truly say that I've met the maenads now.

It was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

Let's do it again.

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  • Michele
    Michele says #
    Yes, let's do it again! The sooner the better!

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Call of the Horned God

Blessings be with our ancestors!

May it be so!

Mother of Witches, Lady of the Moon!

I adorn my King!

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I've made the change accordingly. I think we'll be hearing a lot more of this one. The instinct to edit is deeply embedded. I rar
  • Michele
    Michele says #
    for some reason this website tacks on stuff to the front of the link at the bottom of the article. It's just http://13knots.blogs

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Polytheism: The Solitary Vice?

It's a Golden Age of polytheist publishing.

To incisive works such as John Michael Greer's World Full of Gods and Steven Dillon's A Case for Polytheism, we can now add W. D. Wilkerson's Walking with the Gods, in which 24 (counting Wilkerson herself, 25) contemporary polytheists tell their own stories. It's a pioneering, and invaluable, study of Polytheism-as-Lived in the modern world.

Sigh. If only the news were better.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    We have several ethnic churches in my area. Lebanese, Greek, and Armenian; all of them hold annual food festivals that are well a
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you. Insightful and helpful to me as someone working in a multi-faith/interfaith institution. Both as a writer and theologi

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Jack in the Sheaf

That Jack guy sure does seem to get around. First there was Jack in the Green (you can hear his song here), soon to be followed (to the same tune) by Jack in the Heap and Jack in the Drift.

Here's a harvest version that we usually sing later on at our Harvest Supper, after we've all had a few and the kids have gone to bed.

Earthy folk, pagans.

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