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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Are You a Better Pagan Now Than You Were a Year Ago?

This beautiful Common Carder bumblebee on a 'Scarlet Runner' bean flower,  Central Scotland : bees


To be quite honest, I was really worried about us when this pandemic began.

Compared with other religions, contemporary pagans just don't have the resources to draw on to get us through times of crisis. We don't have the institutions, we don't have the time-depth of lore and precedent to draw on, we don't have it all in one nice, handy little book that you can take with you anywhere. Stories aside, we're a family of new religions with not a whole lot of collective experience of trauma.

Are we going to make it through? I wondered. Do we really have the depth and resilience to keep us going through the dark? Tribal religion being premised on—well, the tribe—will it keep us going when the tribe cannot gather?

I'll admit that I'm luckier than many. My coven of 40-some years has been a source of strength and inspiration to me all along. May Thunder strike me if ever again I take our meetings for granted. Throughout the pandemic, we have continued to meet, and we've done it safely. Sometimes we had to get creative, but we've kept the Wheel turning, and we've all managed to make it through.

Are you a better pagan now that you were a year ago?

Well, if crisis doesn't destroy you, it makes you stronger. When I ask myself this question, I have to answer: My paganism is the deeper and the wiser for it. The past year has taught me many things, foremost among them the eternal wellsprings from which my paganism, like all genuine paganisms, arises, and always will arise.

The Sun coming up right there on the horizon.

The bees droning in the scarlet runner-bean flowers.

Those two squirrels, mating there, on that particular branch.

I can honestly say that being pagan has given me the resources to get through what by any standards has been one of the worst years of my life.

I've been pagan for a long, long time now, long enough to take it all completely for granted.

Gods grant that I never, ever, do so again.


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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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