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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Axis Mundi: The God-Pole Rite

After decades of juiceless talkie-talkie Men's Rituals at pagan festivals here in the Midwestern US, Sparky T. Rabbit (of Lunacy fame), Frebur Moore and I decided that we'd had enough. So we put together the kind of Men's Ritual we ourselves had always wanted to attend. The Rite of the God-Pole premiered at Pagan Spirit Gathering 2009 at Camp Zoe, Missouri.

One hot, steamy night in late June, some 60 men ceremonially bore an eight-foot phallic wooden menhir through the camp and together raised it on a sandy little spit jutting out into the creek that flowed through the valley. We anointed and garlanded the God-Pole, sang songs of praise, danced, and poured libations. I knew the Rite had been a success when immediately afterward many of the men tore off their clothing and dashed naked into the cooling waters of the creek. I'll tell you, they should all end that way.

Our theological point was that, like the Women's Mysteries, the Men's Mysteries are at heart biological: the Red Mysteries and the White, the Blood mysteries and those of Semen. Like women's bodies, men's bodies have their own cycle that every man knows in every cell of his body: the cycle of quiescence, erection, love-play, and ejaculation. The Mysteries, by their nature, express Primal Truths.

The Rite was good, but it got better. As I walked from the site after the ritual, I kept turning back to admire the view, and here's what I saw: the God-Pole had become a Pivot, an Axis Mundi. Our simple standing baulk of timber had now become a Center around which the entire valley revolved. Standing alone on its sandy spit, the God-Pole was in visual conversation with every tree trunk—in fact with every vertical line—in the landscape around it, and equally with every horizontal line as well, a conversation that flowed (as good conversation should) both ways. By our work, we had made a Center, a place of Contact. This is the power of the spiritual technology that we've inherited from the ancestors.

The God-Pole stood for the duration of the festival. Of course it became a shrine, with its own attendant priest. It also, naturally, became a place of offering.

If you build the candy cottage, they will come.


Note of clarification: The God-Pole Rite is a Men's Rite, not a celebration of the Men's Mysteries. None of the Secret Things were revealed.

Photo: Ray Bayley


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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.


  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Sunday, 13 April 2014

    That was really good. Men's rituals are often not very good. I had a similar experience organizing Men's Ritual at PSG back in the 1990s - at Eagle Cave. The details were different, but the results were about the same. In 3 years the Men's Ritual went from a poor afterthought to a primer event. In the 3rd year the palpable male energy we raised attracted about half of the women out of the concurrent Women's Ritual to join our procession. I'm glad you and your brothers are organizing similar powerful male events at PSG.

  • Grant
    Grant Sunday, 13 April 2014

    Oh the God pole Ritual, I fondly remember this ritual fairly often, when I had the pleasure of taking a role in it at PSG 2010 and 2011.

  • Wizard Garber
    Wizard Garber Monday, 14 April 2014

    This is good as far as it goes, but unfortunately you seem to have fallen into the same trap as most men -- that is to say that men's "cycle" is inherently different from women's, consisting of erection, love-play, and ejaculation. This is over-simplifying something at least as mysterious and impossible to define as a woman's cycles. Surely you are aware of the contradiction demonstrated by the case of a woman's love-play that initiates the erection? Or the fact that men can also be multi-orgasmic, or that men can cultivate a state of continuous arousal WITHOUT orgasm? By the way, all men are not like dogs, open to fucking whatever is easily at hand; and all men are not instinctively polygamous/polyamorous. Please strive hard not to reinforce the already stale stereotypes and look at ways in which you can encourage each of us to become more than human.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 16 April 2014

    I think, Wizard, that we're seeing here some of the semantic limitations inherent in symbolism and ritual. Over the decades, my experience has generally been that 1) good ritual tells a story, and 2) a ritual succeeds best when it tells one story. Of course, in the larger picture, one story is never enough. No one story can ever claim to tell all the truth; truth is much larger than that. In a polytheist universe, in fact, one story implies another.

    What we were attempting to address in this ritual was a perceived over-emphasis in men's rituals on defining men by what we do. This, of course, hearkens back to the tired old sexist truism that "Men are their professions, women their biology" (perhaps most succinctly stated by Robert Graves as "Men do, women are"). Men, too, are their biology.

    But, of course, we're not only our biology. Nor did this ritual claim that we were. One story is never enough.

  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell Tuesday, 15 April 2014

    We men are way behind to women when it comes to men mysteries and what to we want being a man to be for ourselves. Just like the women we need a men's lib, not to fight the women, but to free ourselves for those society imposed limits that have weighted down our spirits. We need to free ourselves from ourselves from our society inspired expectations, from our fathers expectation, from our coaches expectations, from our friends and co-workers expectation, even from our bosses expectation. We need to know who we really are and claim that as our manhood, developing a life that honors the real person inside and not the cardboard cutout we have been told to imitate. Heal ourselves and we end most of the serious problems in the world, because most of the world's problems are the problem of men.

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