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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Seer, What Do You Want?

Hey, I'm a storyteller. Ask me a question, and I'll tell you a story.

My students keep telling me: Posch, you can never die.

Well, thanks, I accept the compliment. I've been around the maypole more than a few times, I'm good at what I do, and I know my stuff.

But I keep thinking about the poor seer who, when granted a boon by the gods, made the mistake of asking for eternal life. Unfortunately for her, they granted her request.

Alas, not even the wisest can see all ends.

Eternal life without eternal youth: who would want it?

Down the long years, she just got older and older, but she could never die. Eventually, she shriveled up like a cricket. Finally they hung her in a jug from the ceiling, and the little shits from the local village would come to the temple to taunt her.

“Seer, what do you want?” they would ask. “Seer, what do you want?”

Her answer was always the same.

“I just want to die,” she'd tell them.

So when they ask me (not entirely jestingly), How could we ever replace you? here's the story that I tell.

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Ye Gods!

“Ye gods!” I hear myself say. “That's terrible!”

A neighbor had been telling me about a stabbing that had just taken place on the block. Such is life in urban America.

What she thought of my involuntary expostulation, I don't know. Probably nothing. If it registered at all, she probably thought I was just being precious.

But I wasn't, really. “Ye gods” has become my oath-of-choice.

The nice thing about “Ye gods” is that—unlike most pagan oaths—it's remained in current English usage for the past 400 years or so, so it doesn't have the “trying too hard” quality that mars modern pagan oaths of the “By Thor's hairy balls!” variety.

How that came to be so makes an interesting story. Back in Shakespeare's time, new anti-blasphemy legislation made it legally punishable to use the name of the Christian god(s) on stage. Playwrights responded by using the names of pagan gods instead. (That's when “by Jove!” entered the English lexicon.) Ah, the good old Renaissance: when the old paganisms saved Christian Europe from itself.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, When I'm around my friends, I'll usually say, "Gods!" When I'm alone and confronting some greater or lesser unpleasan
Five Good Reasons to Live in Pagan Minneapolis

“One would think you lived in Minneapolis.”

(Christopher Isherwood, to the residents of Berlin on their sang-froid following the division of their city in 1945)

 

Ah, fair City of Lakes: scrappy little Minneapolis, small town on steroids.

Minneapolis, where the winters are too cold and the summers too hot.

Minneapolis, where we have laws against everything.

Minneapolis, which routinely pays world-class architects first-rate money for second- (and third-) class work.

Why would anyone live here?

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Seeing with a Different Eye

Witches are popular with cartoonists. Of the thousands of witch cartoons that I've seen over the years, one stands out in particular.

 

  1. Rainbow. At one end, a big black pot of gold. At the other, a witch, hands raised, looks on with delight and surprise.

  2. Witch runs over to pot.

  3. Witch dumps out gold.

  4. Rainbow. At one end, a pile of gold, laying on the ground. At the other, the witch happily stirs her new cauldron.

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Witches' Thanksgiving: An Invocation

On this Equinox Day, a guest post by longtime Minneapolis priestess and liturgist Magenta Griffith: a Harvest Invocation first delivered at our coven's 40th Annual Harvest Supper last night.

After the invocation, those around the table chimed in, thanking specifically the lives that came to an end for the sake of our feast: “Thank you, lamb!” “Thank you, cabbage!” (The onions, of course, got a big cheer.)

It ends with a toast, and the feast begins: Witches' Thanksgiving, 2019.

 

Harvest Invocation 2019

 

Life feeds on life, life feeds on death

And some will die so all might eat

Greens are pulled alive from earth

Wheat is scythed to make our bread

Beans are boiled that we might feast

Grapes when crushed become our wine

Spuds are dug to make our soup

Barley roasts to make our beer

Eggs are taken from their hens

Cows are robbed to make our cheese

Cider comes from apples pressed

Sweetness comes from looting hives

Corn is ground to make our meal

We shall someday change into soil

And so the circle turns.

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Joan Sugarbeet Must Die

As always, we'll be singing this one just before the dessert course tonight at our Harvest Supper, courtesy of (who else?) those incomparable satirists of British folk idiom, the Kipper Family.

You can sing it to the standard Traffic John Barleycorn tune, but up the tempo some and think “cheerful” instead. And if you happen to have a squeezebox or accordion to accompany it, so much the better.

Joy of the Harvest to you and yours.

 

Joan Sugarbeet

 

There was three men come out of the East, their fortunes for to try;

and these three men made a solemn vow: Joan Sugarbeet must die.

They've plowed, they've sown, they've harrowed her in, threw clods upon her head;

and these three men made a solemn vow: Joan Sugarbeet was dead.

 

They let her lie for a very long time, till the rains from Heaven did fall:

then little Lady Joan sprung up her head, and so amazed them all.

They let her lie till Midwinter, till she looked both flaccid and green:

then little lady Joan, she grew a big bottom, and so became a queen.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Here's a nasty little piece of pagan satire along such lines. Some things deserve to be remembered. Down we go to the world below
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Sign me up on the list, lease!
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Once, back in the 90s, I made a comedy song tape of Pagan songs and chants, called "The Carcrashic Records". Someday I hope to col

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Why 'Goddess (Adj.)' Still Bothers Me

“Goddess temple.”

“Goddess religion.”

“Goddess people.”

After nearly 50 years in the pagan community, I have to admit: these phrases still set my teeth on edge.

It's not the content of any of them that bothers me: it's the delivery.

Goddess (adj.).

The Goddess is the great unstated fact of Western culture. “God” implies “Goddess,” and always will, so long as (and wherever) English is spoken.

The flexibility of English is one of the language's great advantages: nouns regularly change to verbs, verbs to adjectives, and the reverse.

But to my ear, there's something wooden about goddess (adj.), something inelegant. It has the advantages of being practical and comprehensible, but (let's admit it), it's utterly lacking in beauty.

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