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.
An Invitation from the Temple of the Moon

Here at Temple of the Moon, we offer and pray twice daily to the Moon and the Horned for the health and well-being of pagans everywhere.

In numbers lies efficacy. No matter where you are, you can join your prayers to ours.

Here's how.

 

(Note: The Threefold Salute is a gesture of reverence and affirmation that takes several forms:

Threefold Salute

Touch heart, lips, and brow

or

Touch brow, lips, and heart

or

[if you're really pious and/or spry]

Touch brow, lips, and heart

Bow, touch ground

Rising, touch heart, lips, and brow)

 

Daily Offering, with Threefold Prayer

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Mother Root

As I'm walking into the store to get more onions and garlic (some hoard toilet paper; hey, we all have our own priorities) I think: While I'm here, I might as well pick up a couple bags of pota—.

I'm halfway into the thought before I realize my mistake.

Of course, there's nary a spud to be had. They've even removed the pallet where the bags of potatoes are usually piled.

Some love pasta, some love bread. I like both, but I'm a witch of the Tribe of Witches, and witches are potato-eaters from way back.

Why witches and potatoes? Well, they're survival food, as hordes of panicked potato-hoarding Americans can readily attest. Easy to store, easy to cook, they're nutritious, delicious, and excellent belly-fillers. But there's more to the story than that.

They say that back when they first brought potatoes into the village, they said: Hey, look at these goofy-ass tubers from the New World. They're called 'potatoes.' You can eat them, really you can: here, see?

The cowans all shrank back. Are you kidding? they said. Those are nightshades; nightshades'll kill you.

The witches, however, who knew their nightshades, came closer, intrigued.

You can eat these, you say? we said. Here, let me see that.

I grew up knowing that there are certain things that you always have to have in the house: bread, salt, onions, garlic, potatoes. Not to have at least a little of each is terrible bad luck.

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Covid Babies

I'm going to make a prediction: Nine months from now, we're going to be seeing a spike in births.

You could call them the Covid babies.

With the coming of this latest iteration of the corona virus, Americans are socially isolating. For the next few weeks, we're all going to be spending a lot more time at home than usual. Even Americans eventually get tired of movies and computer games.

That's how these things work. Back in the 60s my uncle Milton went back to the old family village in Staffordshire, in the old Hwicce tribal hideage, for the celebrations marking the 500th anniversary of its founding.

The Black Plague had swept through the area, decimating the population. What survivors there were burned down the old villages—fire purifies—and banded together to start a new one in a new location, now part of the greater West Midlands conurbation. That's our oldest family story: the memory of a collective trauma. Out of disaster, new beginnings.

Some things you don't need a crystal ball to foresee. Spring Equinox 2020, and Americans are going to be making a lot more love than usual in the days to come, may it be for a blessing.

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Paganicon Rescheduled to September: Hashtag Pagansmart

If the mullahs of Qom thought that their god was going to protect them from the newest corona virus, they were wrong.

Same with wingnut Christians who think that “No genuinely believing [sic] Christian can for one moment accept that the Holy Mysteries might bring or be the source of sickness or ill-health and therefore take no precautions when sharing a chalice.

It's good to know that pagans are smarter than that.

It can't have been easy for the organizers of Paganicon to decide to move this March's get-together to the Other Equinox, but kudos to them for doing it. It was really the only responsible decision to have made.

In a few days' time, pagans all over the Northern Hemisphere will be celebrating the Equinox and the coming (thank Goddess) of Spring. Well, we're the People of the Wheel, and that's our gods-given work.

How you go about turning your part of the Wheel is, of course, up to you. However you decide to do it, please: be smart and be responsible. There's no reason for the gods to look out for you if you're too froward to do it for yourself.

Here at Temple of the Moon, a core group of us will be getting together to descend into the Underworld and bring Spring back with us, as we have for almost 40 years now.

For those that choose not to foregather, it will still be Spring, and there will still be plenty to do. If you go out to the woods, even by yourself, you will surely find Her.

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'Whatsoever You Do, Do Sacredly': or, How to Begin a Public Ritual

Priest

(faces people, chants)

Let all cell phones be turned off now.

People

So mote it be.

 

Priest

Let all cell phones be turned off now.

People

So mote it be.

 

Priest

Let all cell phones be turned off now.

People

So mote it be.

 

Priest

(spoken)

And so we begin.

(chants)

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Actually, Just a Shower

Ah, the hazards of being pagan.

My friend is decrying overgrown vegetables. As by far the best cook in our group of guys, he's earned the right to opine.

“Best rule of thumb,” he says, “is never to eat a zucchini bigger than your own dick.” This gets him a laugh.

I ask the obvious question.

“Hard or soft?"

The two of us have known one another for years. We've been to lots of skyclad rituals together.

He grins.

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Elvish Spring

Our Equinox ritual is punctuated multiple times by call-and-response acclamations of Spring in many different languages, including (if you can believe it) Old English and Akkadian.

This year, we had a request for one in Elvish. Well, what's the point of ritual if you can't play a little?

Though not myself a Sindarin-speaker, I do (as my friend Magenta puts it) have contacts in the Realm.

So for those who wish to welcome Spring in the Fair Tongue, here you go.

 

Si cuielen i Híril o Coi! Ele, si cuielen!

See-kwee-ELL-en ee HEER-il oh koi. EY-ley see-kwee-ELL-en!

Lit. “The Lady of Life is living again!” “Behold: She is living again!”

 

i Híril = the Lady (hír = lord + il = feminine ending)

o coi = of life

cui = to live

-iel = participial ending

-en = again (suffix)

si = now

ele = behold (This word bears a particularly mythic resonance, having been the first word spoken by the Quendi [elves, lit. “speakers”] after their coming into being.)

 

Well folks, fun's fun, but—I'm sorry—as long as I'm alive, there will be absolutely NO KLINGON in this ritual! Really, one has to draw the line somewhere.

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