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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The Whole Pagan Project European Paganism (9780415474634): Dowden, Ken: Books

Hey N,

I'm absolutely delighted that you'll be joining us for this year's Midwest Grand Sabbat, and the enthusiasm with which you've taken on the preparations moves me deeply. The Sabbat really is the witch's true paradise, as anyone who has been there can tell you, but there's no denying that what you get out of it is very much proportional to what you put in.

I hope that you're enjoying Dowden's European Paganism. It's so much better than nearly anything else out there: a veritable hoard of pagan/heathen practice. It's definitely one of the Thirteen Books that I'd take to the desert island.

If you really want to understand the inner workings of the Grand Sabbat, pay close attention to Chapter 14. Cowan reviewers have felt that Dowden oversteps the evidence in his claims here, but the truly amazing thing is that he could well be describing our Sabbat—the whole tribe gathering in the tribal territory's central sacred place to enact the terrible sacrifice that renews the life of the people—even though the entire structure of the Grand Sabbat and its "time-stead" were already fully in place well before I had ever read Dowden.

This is one of the things that gives me hope for the future of the whole pagan project. Spontaneously we regenerate old practices and structures, not because they're historical—although they may be—but because they're practical ways to accomplish what we want, inherent in how we—as heathens/pagans, as human beings—do things together. There are large conclusions to be drawn here, and in a matter of weeks we'll be fully immersed in them. Gods, what's better than that?

Well, see you at the Sabbat. (Gods, I love being able to say that.) Have a safe flight.

(I also love that, even today, some of us still fly to the Sabbat!)




Ken Dowden (2000) European Paganism: The Realities of Cult from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Routledge.






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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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