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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
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.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Green Breath

In medieval art, the Green Man is frequently depicted (as here) exhaling vegetation.

I'd always taken this as a symbol of death—someday you'll be dead and plants will grow out of your mouth—but while reading a book about ancient Maya art, I realized that I was missing something important.

In Maya culture, nothing was more valuable than jade. Jade (being green and permanent) = life; when you live in a tropical rain forest, how not? In Classical Mayan art, nobles were frequently represented with a jade bead suspended in the air between their mouths and noses: the breath of life.

That's why the Green Man exhales vegetation: he's the giver of the breath of life. This, of course, is literally true: that incredible reciprocal arrangement that we Red-Bloods have with the Green-Bloods called the Oxygen Cycle.

If we take the Green Man/Green God as the collective embodiment of all the flora on Planet Earth—a reading utterly in consonance with Received Tradition—we may indeed say that from Him comes the Breath of Life.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pareidolia "Nature looking back."
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    When I was much younger I could look into the leaves of a tree and after a while I would see a face among the leaves. there is so

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
ONE TERM prezzy-DENT

There are three things I've learned never to discuss with people:

religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.


(Linus von Pelt)

 

You may remember the chant from the demos following the last presidential election here in the States:

 

NOT MY presi-DENT!

(clap-clap clap-clap-clap)

NOT MY presi-DENT!

(clap-clap clap-clap-clap)

 

As chants go, it's really pretty good: focused, succinct, a nice alternation of verbal and non-verbal, words and percussion. And it certainly beats Hey hey! Ho ho! — — has got to go!

Unfortunately, they were wrong. If you're an American, the Troll-in-Chief is your president.

But it doesn't have to stay that way.

So I'm choosing to look on that chant, not as a statement of fact, but as a prediction which we know—and may it be sooner rather than later—will eventually come true.

So, riffing off the old chant, here's the new one that I'll be chanting:

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Dog Named Yahweh

Back in the 80s, a friend was thinking about getting a new dog. She planned to name him Yahweh.

People, of course, name their pets for gods all the time. (Whether or not this is a good idea lies outside the parameters of this post.) Still, naming your dog Yahweh seems a little...well, let me at least say that I wouldn't do it. Do you really want to use someone that you love to even a score?

For this was the Reagan Era, and the Age of the Culture Wars. The danger of a full-blown theocracy in the US seemed like a very real possibility at the time. (The Kreesh-chun Reich certainly seemed to think so.) So you did what you could to strike a blow—even a symbolic one—against the theocrats and their triumphalist ways.

One can, of course, readily appreciate the idea's humorous potential.

"Yahweh bit me!"

“Bad Yahweh! Bad boy!”

“Yahweh really stinks; I'm afraid he needs another bath.”

“Oh no, Yahweh peed on the carpet again.”

Still, when it comes to Yahwehs, one has to admit that one—even one that only exists in people's heads—is bad enough.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I think of Romero's Dawn of the Dead, with the shopping mall zombies, the zombie Hare Krishna and the zombie nun among them. Satir
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I remember the 80's too well. Ronald Reagan Antichrist, Nancy Reagan the Scarlet Woman, Milton Freedman the False Prophet. I had
“The Only God Worth Worshiping is the Great Mother, Source of All Life”

You know the feeling: the words leap up off the page and seize you with such force that you know you're never going to forget them.

Years ago, I was reading an article about German Expressionist painter Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876-1907).

“The only god worth worshiping is the Great Mother, Source of all Life,” she was quoted as saying.

(I should mention that I've since tried to track down this quotation, so far unsuccessfully; but since her words smote themselves into my heart at the time, I'm willing to trust my memory on this one.)

To look at her paintings, you could certainly believe that she would say such a thing. Her secular madonnas, many of them self-portraits, radiate a serene and luminous sanctity of their own.

***

The wand beeps over my breastbone. With a jerk of his head, the TSA guy indicates: Show.

By her chain, I pull the little silver goddess up out of my shirt.

“Who's that?” he asks, surprised.

(Interesting: not "what?" but "who?")

“The Great Mother, Source of All Life,” I tell him. Then I hear myself adding: “I have it on good authority that She's the only god worth worshiping.”

Last modified on
Procession of the Equinoxes, or: Some of Our Best Rituals Are Processions

For far too long now, contemporary pagan ritual has been imprisoned in the magic circle. There's more, far more, to liturgy than Summoning, Stirring, and Pointing Knives At.

Consider, for example, the common Procession.

When I'm teaching the Art of Ritual, I generally draw on the Procession as an example of a successful ritual-form that doesn't require a magic circle.

As a ritual, a Procession has a lot going for it.

  • It's something that we do together.
  • It's self-explanatory.
  • Everyone already knows what to do without having to be told: the ritual itself leads us (literally) in the direction that we need to go.
  • It has a single focus and a clear goal.
  • It felicitously combines formality and informality.
  • Without words, it says: Something non-ordinary, something significant, is happening here.
  • In it, we engage our environment in a sacred way.

(Note that these same criteria characterize virtually all good ritual, not just Processions.)

I often cite the Procession as an example of ritual that can't go wrong. But at one workshop a woman spoke up, a priestess well-known in her area.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    If I'm remembering my archeology correctly both Stonehenge and Woodhenge had processionals to walk on before getting to the circle
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    I love processing. The ADF Core Order has a procession and I normally include it in our Grove rites. Coming from LA, where you had

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Pagan Thing to Do

I was raised up Congregational,

never found it too sensational;

I'd rather be libational.

That's good enough for me.

(Old Time Religion)

 

Among the historic paganisms, the libation, or drink-offering, was probably the most frequently-performed act of worship, both public and private.

Today, it still is.

Whenever you're about to drink something, you pour out a few drops first: by way of thanks, by way of honoring, by way of making consumption a sacred act.

Outdoors, you do this directly onto the ground. No matter which god you're offering to, the ultimate recipient of all libations—as of course is only right—is Earth, giver of all good gifts.

Indoors, you use a libation bowl.

When pagans get together—as we did the other night for Full Moon—there will be eating and drinking.

Among the bottles and cans on the drinks table, you're likely to find a bowl. There you'll pour your libation when you're serving yourself. It's the pagan thing to do.

“Has this bottle been libated?” you'll hear people ask, before they take some.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Lying Icons

Hey Pagan Artists (You Know Who You Are),

WTF?!?

What's with the circumcised dicks on those Horned Gods?

What could you possibly be thinking, to portray the god of Wild Nature in a state so profoundly unnatural as circumcision?

I realize that—in this land of routine MGM (male genital mutilation)—many Americans have never actually seen a human penis in its intact, natural state.

Ye gods, folks, what do you think (inter alia) internet gay porn is for?

I realize (difficult as it may be to believe) that, aesthetically speaking, some actually do find circumcised dicks more beautiful.

But that's no excuse. A Horned God with a circumcised dick is a contradiction in terms, a lying icon, self-falsifying.

Infant circumcision = violence against boys. Portraying our gods as circumcised sanctifies this violence.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    We tend to think of Him as the Two-Horned, but, of course, He's actually the Three-Horned; the Phallos is Him-in-small.
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    So mote it be!

Additional information