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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Of Apples, Deep Gods, and Witches

Consider the apple tree and its ways.

Early in summer, it sets as much fruit as it can.

Later on, it drops many—even most—of those hard little unripe apples.

With what it can draw from Earth, Sun, and Thunder—the Deep Gods of the witches—the tree has only so much main—energy—at its disposal. The resources available to the tree to nurture its apples are limited. With what it has, it can produce either many small, or a few select, apples.

As I rake up fallen green fruit, I reflect. The Craft is an apple tree. Why do so many leave?

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Slavic Irony

The traditional Polish name for cucumbers in sour cream is mizeri, “misery.”

Call it Slavic irony.

In these first hot days of summer, we're not getting much from the garden yet besides herbs and greens. Still, we've got the first baby cukes—you want to get them young and tender, before the seeds set—and we've got dill, and that's all you need to make summer's most cooling and delicious salad.

Sure, you could go the sweet-and-sour route—vinegar and just enough sugar to (barely) take the edge off, but for my sols and lunas (= pagan currency, gold and silver pieces respectively), nothing cools like cucumbers in sour cream.

Slice those cukes as thin as you can get them. Dress them with plenty of sour cream, a little splash of vinegar, salt, and pepper. Don't forget that good, healthy handful of chopped fresh dill: that's what raises this common summer salad to ambrosial, food-of-the-gods status.

Chill for an hour (at least), then grab a spoon and tuck in. Good old summertime.

If you're wondering what any of this has to do with paganism: Begone, foul cowan!

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The Two Flags of Paganistan

Unlike most other nation-states, Paganistan has two national flags.

(Paganistan being, of course, not so much a state as a state of mind.)

No doubt you've seen it: Tower, gray, on a field of (from the top down) blue, yellow, green.

The tower, of course, references Paganistan's iconic “Witch's Hat” tower, which graces the Water City's highest point. Witch hat aside, Dion Fortune once remarked that “the standing tower is one of the symbols of the Old Gods.”

For this reason, of course, the flag is proudly known to Paganistanis as the “Witchtower.”

As for the field, well, no pagan needs to have that explained. Blue, yellow, green: Sky, Sun, Earth.

That's the Summer Witchtower, which flies from Beltane to Samhain.

Then, of course, there's the Winter flag, flown from Samhain to Beltane: Standing tower, gray, on a field of blue, yellow, and white.

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Why the Term 'Wiccaning' Doesn't Work, and What to Replace It With

I always cringe when I hear the term “wiccaning.”

Moral of the story: Let the borrower beware.

...
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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Wiccaning makes me think of weaving a wicker basket. Naming sounds right.

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The Dance of the Green Men

In the clearing, the drums throb.

Suddenly he's here among us, the Green Man: stark naked, green all over, shockingly green. The green leaves of his crown, his wristlets, his anklets, rustle as he dances.

Then there's another, a second, dancing among us. The two Green Men meet, dance together, and spring apart again, laughing.

From the woods, more hooting laughter. A third Green Man leaps into our midst, then a Fourth, but this one's a Green Woman. Her green breasts bob as she dances.

The Green Ones join hands, circling the fire. Then they peel off outwards and suddenly we're all dancing, dancing with the Green.

What, after all, is life but a dance with the Green Man?

Our dance reaches its thunderous climax. Suddenly, they're gone. The drums crash to a halt.

From the woods, one final hooting peal of laughter, mocking, fades into the distance.

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Daughter of Two Fathers

It must be the oldest gay joke in the world.

Q: Is it possible for two men to have a baby together?

A: Theoretically no, but they sure do keep trying!

But for gods, now: well, that's another matter.

***

Earth's two Husbands, Sun and Thunder, have been together (so far as we know) nearly forever. You could say they're an unlikely couple. You could say they're well matched. Whichever it be, they're very different from one another.

Sun is hot and dry. He comes from the east, and he's always going west. Steady, predictable, he's all about the rational.

Thunder, now? Cool, wet, comes from the west, always going east. Volatile, unpredictable: with him, it's all about emotion.

Theirs is an explosive relationship: with all their differences, how could it not be? Oh, the fights. But, in the end, they always make it up.

They have a daughter together, born of their love: Rainbow, gentlest of goddesses. To see her is to love her, she's that beautiful.

In these latter days, they've named her the patron of same-sex love. Well, how could she not be?

After all, she has two fathers.

***

These days, Twin Cities Pride is a matter of corporate sponsorship and hundreds of thousands, but back then it was just a few hundred of us, marching down Hennepin Avenue.

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Mask Song

Diane Don Carlos and I wrote this song for Merrymeet 1998, the year of the first-ever official male-male Great Rite at a pagan festival. It's set to the tune of Gula Gula, a hymn to the Earth Mother by Saami singer-songwriter Mari Boine Persen.

The chant explores the depths of the mysteries of the Mask, and, ultimately, the complex and layered nature of the Self.

 

The Mask Song

 

With these eyes, what are you seeing?

With these ears, what are you hearing?

With this heart, what are you feeling?

Who are you, the mask or me?

Who are you, the mask or me?

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