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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Three Fish

Have you been having weird dreams since this all began, dreams that seem somehow more mythic, more weighted, more charged with meaning, than usual? Me too.

Here's today's.

 

Every year my grandfather would drive up north to a particular lake in Canada.

When he got there, he would lay down on the shore of the lake, and his soul would leave his body through his mouth. For three days and nights it would fly, while his body lay unmoving on the lakeshore.

Where it flew off to he would never say, but this much I can say: when he awoke, there would always be three fish lined up on the ground beside him.

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Jack-in-the-Buff

A loving springtime tribute to the Spirit of Skyclad.

 

Jack-in-the-Buff

(Tune: Jack-in-the-Green)

 

Now Winter is over, and Summer's come in,

so it's finally safe to start showing some skin.

Our ski-masks and parkas we joyously doff,

to go about dancing with Jack-in-the-Buff.

Parkas we doff, parkas we doff,

to go about dancing with Jack-in-the-Buff.

 

Now Jack-in-the-Buff is a singular man

with sandals and beard and an all-over tan.

A pentagram pendant is more than enough:

“Adorn, but don't cover,” says Jack-in-the-Buff.

More than enough, more than enough:

Adorn, but don't cover,” says Jack-in-the-Buff.

 

Now Jack-in-the-Buff has a very strange power:

be they never so prim, in less than an hour,

wherever he goes (it amazes us all)

the clothes will start dropping like leaves in the fall.

Amazes us all, amazes us all:

the clothes will start dropping like leaves in the fall.

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The Sears of Death: An Urban Witch Story

Nowadays it's called Midtown Exchange and Global Market: a lively and successful gathering of lofts, restaurants, and ethnic specialty shops.

But more than 30 years ago, when I moved into the neighborhood, everyone in the area knew it as the Sears of Death.

A kind of shadow hung over the place. Inside, the light was always dim, the air always felt cold and kind of clammy, and everything, even new things, looked somehow tired, gray, and colorless.

Here's why.

 

Year: 1928. In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sears is proudly opening its newest landmark outlet: an Art Deco skyscraper, clad in shining golden limestone, carved in Celtic Revival style.

On opening day, a shabby old woman shambles up to the doughnut counter in the front lobby.

“Give me a dozen doughnuts,” she mumbles, carefully laying out twelve pennies on the counter.

The clerk looks at her a little askance: the woman is dressed in tattered layers of mismatched clothing and smells pretty rank. Nowadays we would assume that she's homeless.

Still, a sale is a sale. The clerk dutifully puts twelve doughnuts into the bag, closes the top, and holds it out to the old woman.

“That's only twelve,” says the old woman, “I want a dozen.”

She's missing a number of teeth, and it's hard to understand what she says.

“Twelve is a dozen,” says the clerk, with opening day primness.

“A dozen is thirteen,” the old woman tells her. “That's what they give at the bakery.”

“Well, this isn't the bakery,” says the clerk. “Here, a dozen is twelve.”

The old woman takes her bag and goes off, muttering.

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'There's Our Moon!'

On a walk with our coven kid, I spy the waxing Moon, pale in the eastern sky.

“There's our Moon!” I hear myself saying.

Now, that's probably not what most people would have said in the circumstance. (I'd expect something along the lines of “There's the Moon,” instead.) But we're pagans.

We're pagans, children of Earth, and the “our” here is not so much a language of ownership as of relationship, as in “our sister” or “our mother.”

What we say, of course, is no less than truth. The Moon, after all, does indeed, in a special way, belong to us—see above—just as we belong to (as we would say it) her.

As for those others, the Motherless, well...she's their Moon too.

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McConnell Spearheads Vote to Send Covid-Impregnated PPEs to Blue States

AP: Washington, DC

Along strict party lines, the Republican-dominated US Senate voted Friday to allocate $5 billion to send masks and gloves impregnated with Covid-19 virus to all Blue States.

The controversial initiative, spearheaded by Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R KY), was lambasted by some as a blatant attempt to suppress Democratic turnout in this fall's upcoming presidential election.

McConnell denied such claims, while admitting that the action could have that effect. “We're only trying to level the playing field,” he told reporters. “With so many Red States deciding to prematurely lift anti-Covid stay-at-home orders, the effect on mindless idio—I mean, staunchly Republican voters—is virtually guaranteed to be devastating.”

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D CA) called the Senate's actions “cynical" and "disgraceful.”

Citing the recent decision of Wisconsin's Supreme Court—dominated by Republican-appointed judges—to force a Democratic primary election with the clear intent to endanger Left-leaning voters, McConnell retorted, “There's ample precedent for this kind of action in American history.”

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks and good strength to you in your work, Anthony. And let us all say: So mote it be!
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    From Jan. 24, 2020 until March 2, 2020 I did a 40 day prayer ritual asking that my fellow citizens embrace their civil rights and
A Sprinkling for the May Queen: Nine Songs That It Wouldn't Be Beltane Without

Lady be praised for Beltane: after Yule, the singing-est of holidays. Winter's finally over: the spring peepers are singing, the birds are singing, and so are we.

Forthwith, nine songs that it wouldn't be Beltane without. Really, we all should know them all.

 

Hal an Tow

If Beltane has an anthem, Hal an Tow is it. This English folk classic—Shakespeare even cites it—has a million different covers, but the hottest, sexiest, rocking-est of them all has got to be the Oyster Band version.

As for the title: yes, haul means “Sun” in Welsh, but there's no need to go looking that far. “Heel and toe”: it's a dance song.

So get up and dance, already.

Padstow Morning Song

Also known as Unite and Unite and The Merry Morning of May, this carol from the Cornish village of Padstow is yet another indispensable May folk classic, with some surprising depths: it's one of the few May songs to treat—inter alia—with war and death.

It's Beltane and we should all be out in the woods, making merry together. But some of our boys (and—these days—girls) are off fighting someone else's wars.

O where are those young men that now here should dance

(for Summer is a-come unto day)?

O some, they are in England, and some, they are in France,

in the merry morning of May. 

Ever since the beginning of Bush 2's ill-considered Endless War in the Middle East, here in Paganistan we've been singing:

O some are in Afghanistan, and some are in Iraq,

in the merry morning of May.

But doubt not the power of May. The Hobby Horse rises again, and our brave boys (and girls) will come back home, hale and whole.

And let us all say: so mote it be.

Sumer Is Icumen In

Forget the embarrassingly bad update version from Wicker Man: Sumer Is Icumen In is the oldest (circa 1350) song in English to which we have both words and tune, and limns the beauties of Spring incomparably. Really, there's no need for updates: the 700-year old Middle English still reads (and sings) refreshingly comprehensibly.

I'd never understood just what a he-goat farting had to do with Spring, until an uncle of mine who hunts explained it to me. After a winter diet of bark and dried grass, the deer gorge on fresh greens and they all get diarrhea: a sure sign of Spring.

Oh, those earthy ancestors.

Bird in the Bush

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    You wouldn't just happen to have a playlist of these songs up on YouTube would you?
The Cartoon That I'd Draw, If I Could Draw

Jainism is India's religion of ahimsa (non-harming) par excellence; in fact, it's probably from Jain (that's Jine, not Jane) practice that both Hinduism and Buddhism got their commitment to non-violence and vegetarianism. Jainism is so committed to non-harm that, as with Catharism, it's considered meritorious to starve oneself to death, since to eat necessarily deprives others of life.

(Known as sallekhana, this would seem a pretty harmful act to me—self-harming is still harm, yes?—but, hey, I'm no Jain. In my opinion, the Dharmic religions parted company from their natal paganisms when they became world-denying.)

So deeply rooted is Jain reverence for the sanctity of non-human life that some Jain monks wear face masks constantly, even when they're not wearing anything else (and Jainism is also where Wicca got the term skyclad from), lest they inadvertently inhale some flying insect and so take life.

All this by way of prelude. So, in this Covid-19 Era—you can see where this is going—here's the cartoon that I would draw, if I could draw.

Gods, I love high-context humor.

 

Street scene, with wall-posters detailing covid protocols, and people wearing facial masks.

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