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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Some People's Gods

It is told in the Toledot Yeshu that as a young man Yéshu ha-Notzrí (called by the Gentiles, Jesus of Nazareth) studied with the sages in Jerusalem. Here he heard disquieting rumors about his paternity. Knowing that only his mother could tell him the truth of the matter, he conceived a plan and went down to Natseret (Nazareth), to her house.

“Greetings, my son,” said his mother, “How fares it with thee?”

“Alas, my mother,” he said to her, “I am grievously ill.”

“Alas, my son,” said she, “Would that I could cure thee of thy illness.”

“Indeed, thou mayest do just that,” said Yeshu. “It is known to the sages of Jerusalem that if a woman should place the nipple of her breast between the doorpost and the door, and a man shall drink from it, he shall be thereby cured.”

“Let it be even so,” she said, and she bared her breast and placed it between the doorpost and the door.


Immediately, Yeshu slammed the door shut upon her nipple and breast, thus holding her fast.

“Now mother,” he said, “Tell me, who is my father?”

Greatly suffering, the mother of Yeshu said: “You are the legitimate son of Yosef the carpenter.”

“Tell me a story I can believe,” said Yeshu.

“You are the supernatural son of the Most High,” said the mother of Yeshu.

“Tell me a story I can believe,” said Yeshu.

“You are the illegitimate son of my lover, the Roman soldier Panthera,” said his mother.

“This story I can believe,” said Yeshu, and immediately released her.

In this manner did Yeshu ben-Panthera, called by the Gentiles Jesus of Nazareth, learn of his true parentage.


The Toledot Yeshu (“History of Jesus”) is a collection of medieval Jewish stories about Jesus, most of them as scurrilous as the one told here. In some communities, it was customary to read it aloud on Christmas Eve. It is thought unlikely to contain any actual historical information.


Shown above:

Tombstone of Tiberius Iulius Abdes Pantera (circa 22 BCE – 40 CE)

Archer in the Fourth Syrian Cohort

Found at Bingerbrück, Germany in 1859














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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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