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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My Long, Lean Pagan Life



Interesting Writing Assignment


Well, now: there's an interesting writing assignment.

A brief autobiography for a forthcoming volume about pagan elders.

Flattering to be asked, of course. Everyone's favorite subject: me, me, me.

Still, there are good bios and bad bios. What makes one biography worth the reading—memorable even—and another not?


The Life and Times of Lord Moonwhistle


“Lord Moonwhistle was born in Peoria in 1942 and graduated from Hot Springs High School in 1960.”

Gee: do you want to read more of that? No, of course you don't.

What makes the story of a life worth reading? Not just the facts, oh no my precious.

What you want is a story.

You want a story that gives you a sense of encounter with someone else. You want a story that amuses, entertains, and is about something larger than just another person and their experiences.

Really, what you want is myth.


My Big, Fat Pagan Career


So I wrote a biography. I started by leaving a lot out.

For the biography of a pagan elder, non-pagan data can be of only tangential interest, insofar as it relates to the life's larger pagan trajectory. So you won't learn much about my career(s), degrees (or lack thereof), or relationships. Those things all happened, and they're all of formative importance, but not here.

Stylistics: I decided to go with third, rather than first, person narrative. When someone is the hero of all his own stories, I usually think: Gods, what a stuck-up jerk. (Cp. AC's "autohagiography.") Somehow or other, a “he” narrative sounds more objective than an “I” narrative.

Yes, it's all smoke and mirrors—in effect, a con job—but that's show bizz, folks.

What you will learn about is my pagan career.

That's way more pertinent than all that other (secular) stuff.


A Good Biography Is Like a Necklace”


Surely a good biography is like a necklace: not just a collection of beads, but of beads arranged into a larger whole.

What we have a right to expect from a good pagan bio:

  • A few good, retellable stories.
  • A sense of humor, especially self-referential humor.
  • A few good, memorable quotes.
  • A sense of mystery. As in ritual, mystery inheres in what is hinted, but not told.
  • The sense of a life lived mythically. Hey, that's the pagan narrative, no?
  • Connection to a larger narrative. Surely any one life is of interest largely insofar as it participates in the life of the community, not to mention the overarching issues of the age.

That's a lot to ask from one brief, two-page biography.


So, have I succeeded?

You be the judge. Stay tuned.




Jet necklace, Salisbury Plain

Neolithic, circa 2500 bce



















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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.


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