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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Three Medusas, No Waiting

 Gorgon Medusa part 4 - My Favourite Planet People

A principle of effective ritual-planning from my friend and colleague Robin Grimm: Do the math.


Question: If each participant at your ritual is to have a two-minute personal experience—an encounter with a deity, say—and there are 60 people in attendance, how long will that take?

Answer: Way too f*ckin' long.


The premise of the Medusa Ritual was a good one, addressing a need that goes largely unaddressed by contemporary pagan liturgy.

None of us live up to our values all the time. All of us have things that we'd like to get off our consciences.

So, the premise of the ritual was: you confess your (to use a good old pagan term) sin to Medusa. She turns your sin to stone, it crumbles into dust, and falls off of you.

Unfortunately, the ritualists hadn't done the math.


One hundred people. A maybe five-minute encounter each with Her Snakeyness.

It was excruciating.


A principle of ritual attendance from my friend and colleague Sparky T. Rabbit: Vote with your hooves. When ritual becomes ritual abuse, get out.

Alas, more easily said than done. I really wanted to vote with my hooves—politely, unobtrusively—at a recent Samhain ritual during which we waited interminably while people had their private “word with the Crone.” Irritable with boredom and low blood sugar, I really wanted to head off to the feast tables.

But I was a guest. To have walked away would have been a rejection of those who had so kindly welcomed me to their circle, and the very real community that our shared presence in that circle constituted.

So I didn't do it. More the fool me, maybe.


When the torture that was the Medusa Ritual was finally over, we sat, soul-numb, around the campfire. The definitive word on the experience was spoken by Gandalf, a much-beloved community elder known for his kindness and generosity of spirit.

What that ritual needed,” he said, “was Three Medusas, no waiting.”

Mistakes are only bad if we fail to learn from them.


Good ritual needs to be experiential, yes. But the notion that experientiality necessarily means a personal, face-to-face private encounter is sadly, grievously, mistaken.

A principle of effective ritual-planning from ritualist Steven Posch: Good ritual is something we do together.

Give us something to do together—a dance to dance, a song to sing, a story to hear—and we will, each one of us, come away from it having had our own personal experience, I promise you.

Good ritual doesn't isolate; good ritual joins together.


Ritualists of Pagandom: Next time you're thinking about making people stand in line for a two-minute private experience which (trust me on this one) can't possibly be worth the wait, think again.

Remember: Three Medusas, no waiting.

Remember: Do the math.




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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.


  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz Tuesday, 01 November 2022

    (Knowing wink.)

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 02 November 2022

    And you, and you...and you were there.

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