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.
Saturday Pagans, or: Paganisms-of-Convenience

 O do not tell the priest of our rite,

for he would call it a sin:

but we've been out in the woods all night,

a-conjuring Summer in.

 

An e-mail went around to the coven: Can anyone attend the NoW Zoom meeting on Friday?

(NoW—National Organization of Witches—isn't the organization's real name.)

Now, wait a minute: let me get this straight. A national organization of witches is holding a business meeting on Midsummer's Eve?

Well, I suppose that one could find a certain amount of precedent for such a thing in Received Tradition. According to the Lore, most successful mythological invasions of Ireland took place either at Samhain or at Bealtaine. It makes a certain amount of sense to begin an important endeavor on a Day of Power.

I wish I could believe that such logic underlies NoW's Midsummer's Eve business meeting. Alas, though, I fear that the main motivator here is the logic of pragmatism: in our time and place, most pagan holidays get deferred to the nearest Saturday.

Well, the pagan world is a world of graduated values. It's better to do than not to do. Accordingly, the holiday waits until it's convenient for people to get together.

You'll gather that I don't wholly approve of such Paganisms-of-Convenience. There's something about such a cavalier approach to timing that seems to me, frankly, un-pagan. Is our paganism something that we do in our heads, or does it connect us with Something Real Out There? Is three nights into the Wane really still Full Moon?

Last modified on
Sesame Asparagus in a Tamari Reduction

This is a good recipe for big, horsey, late-season asparagus, served either chilled or at air temperature: just the thing for a Midsummer picnic.

 


Sesame Asparagus in a Tamari Reduction

1 bunch asparagus

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

¼ cup tamari

¼ cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Does a Building Have a Spirit?

In the wake of the epidemic of arson and property destruction that accompanied the first George Floyd protests in Minneapolis—currently estimated at some $26 million dollars worth—we've heard numerous voices raised to justify (or at least soft-pedal) such destruction.

People are more important than buildings, they say.

But I'm a pagan and, because I'm a pagan—as the ancestors did—I think that (in effect) buildings are people, too.

Now, the notion that a building could be a person falls pretty far outside the general overcultural definition of what a “person” is, so (without committing myself to metaphysical specifics) let me rephrase the question: Does a building have a spirit?

Speaking experientially, I suspect that most of us would answer: Yes.

This has implications.

Note that I'm not necessarily talking here about “spirit” in the sense of something separable from physical reality; what I mean here is a matter of integrity-within-self, of (as it were) “being-hood” or “self-ness.”

In this sense, as pagans, we recognize personhood in non-human beings as well.

Animals are people. Plants are people. Rivers are people. Mountains are people.

Looking at Received Tradition, we see that made beings are also considered to have spirit: think of the swords and spears wielded by the heroes of epic, for example. Would anyone, anywhere, actually contend that, for example, Stonehenge does not have a spirit?

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Still-Life with Face Mask

Heading out in the morning, my eye falls on the assemblage of items on the table by the front door: a white cotton face-mask with long ties, stubs of sidewalk chalk in various colors, and a mottled black cow's horn, point trimmed for blowing.

Well, that sums it up pretty neatly, I think to myself.

 

Face Mask

In these months of the pandemic, face-masks like this one have become more or less de rigueur. As Minnesota slowly opens up again, everyone is expected to wear them in enclosed public spaces. Certainly the vehement explosion of protests following the public murder of George Floyd is in some part pressure-cooker effect following the months-long covid lock-down.

Sidewalk Chalk

I don't go to demos myself, but I'm a big believer in sidewalk activism. (Hey, I'm a writer.) The sidewalk in front of my house speaks, and what it says it true.

Murder is Murder, it says.

Justice for George Floyd Now, it says.

Silence = Complicity, it says: Speak Out!

Blowing Horn

My neighborhood has borne the brunt of the Twin Cities' epidemic of riot, arson, and looting. (We were the sacrificial goat that those in charge threw to the wolves in order to buy themselves time to get their act together.) When the authorities don't, or can't, come through, it's up to us to look out for ourselves.

At our Block Watch meeting, we agreed that if you need help, the best thing to do is to make noise. For most of the neighbors, that means banging pots and pans, but I'm a pagan, and we do things with style: pagan style. Hence the horn, just like in the old days.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Uncle Hugo's 1974-2020

An empire of the imagination, Uncle Hugo's Science Fiction Bookstore, the US's oldest (and only surviving) independent science fiction/fantasy bookstore was not only a well-loved local landmark, but a site of pilgrimage for readers all over the Midwest as well.

Now it's gone.

(It also had the grungiest men's room in the Midwest, which—on the evidence of it—had never once been cleaned since the store was founded in 1974. Ah, fandom.)

An unknown arsonist or arsonists burned it to rubble and ash on the night of Friday, May 29, in the arson that has stalked the first George Floyd protests here in the Twin Cities like a withering shadow.

I stand on the sidewalk before the hollow cave of the ruins. Strata of burned books carpet what was once the basement floor.

Touchingly, some people have left flowers. I, however, am here for another purpose.

Last modified on
Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz says #
    If I could have levitated my body off this cruel and inexplicable world yesterday, even if it would have meant a cold and breathle

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Secret Temple

The secret temple stands in the heart of the war zone.

Few people even know that it is there.

Through the chaos, the mayhem, the uncertainty, the liturgies continue.

May the people have life. May the people have food. May the people have beauty.

Twice daily, the priest makes the offering and prays on the people's behalf.

May the people have life. May the people have food. May the people have beauty.

In all times, year in, year out, the liturgies continue.

May the people have life. May the people have food. May the people have beauty.

Now, in time of conflict, to the three traditional prayers, the priest adds a fourth:

Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Now Where Did I Put That Woad?

As the Block Watch meeting is breaking up, one woman asks: Does anyone on this block actually own a gun?

We all stand around like a bunch of shamefaced kids caught with our hands in the cookie jar. Just as I thought: we're all a bunch of pansy-ass South Minneapolis liberal wussies.

No wonder this is such a good place to live.

We talk available weapons. The folks with kids have baseball bats, and a couple of beanbag guns. Me, I've got a sword and a spear, neither of which I've ever used in anything but ritual contexts.

We laugh and head home to supper. Curfew doesn't start for a couple of hours yet. Deescalation is mostly the way we do things around here. Real violence is for cowards.

Still, you know what they say: the most powerful weapon of all is intimidation.

Last modified on

Additional information