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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Is There a Witch Culture?

Do contemporary witches have a culture of our own?

I would contend that we do.

Culture: the totality of transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions, and other products of human work and thought characteristic of a community or population.

I would contend that as witches, we're a people, or at least a people-in-the-making. (Look at the past: these things happen all the time.) As such, we have our own culture, whether or not we're fully aware of it yet.

True, our historic culture has not come down to us intact. That's why it's so important to be willing to learn from other people's wisdom. That's why it's so important, when we're borrowing, not simply to take from someone and somewhere else and plunk it down whole and all in our midst. That's why, when we borrow a story, a trope, or a way of doing from someone else, we need first to translate it into Witch.

That's why it's not enough to say (for instance): Yemayá.

Better to ask: What would the witches' Goddess of Waters look like?

Far more interesting to ask: What would the witches' goddess look like as mermaid?

Now that's What Witches Do.


Above: Halina Yermalovich, Take Me to the Moon


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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Monday, 26 March 2018

    I remember when I first read "The Horned Crown" by Andre Norton. The author used stuff I was reading in the witchcraft books from the library. I was thrilled to see the stuff that was important to me reflected back in the story.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Tuesday, 27 March 2018

    I remember well that frisson, Anthony. Mine came while reading L. M. Boston's Enemy at Green Knowe, from her series of teen novels about an 11th-century house in Buckinghamshire.

    There's a really wonderful wicked witch in the novel, set in 1960s England, who uses "the script known to us as 'Crossing the River'" (i.e. Theban). Boston mentions in a note that the alphabet is used by contemporary witches, states that she's used it in the novel according to her literary needs but does not actually know what it means, and apologizes to anyone who actually does know. Holy Shit! i thought.

    Interestingly--Theban aside--the form of contemporary Craft most reflected in the novel is not Gardnerian, but Cochrane-style Wicca. The book is actually the first in modern times to mention the Stang--i.e. horned pole representing Himself--although it doesn't use the word.

    It's a reference that historians of the Craft usually overlook. Now my dander's up, maybe I'll post about it.

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