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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Do the Gods Act Immorally?



Do the gods act immorally?

I'm reading a series of essays by a number of pagan writers addressing this topic. Fancy names are bandied—Nietzsche, Schopenhauer—semantics parsed.

(The Christian Fathers frequently used the “immorality” of the pagan gods as a club with which to beat the traditional religions of the Mediterranean world about the head, though to my mind no one espousing the god of the Bible has any club with which to beat anyone on this account. Talk about gods behaving badly.)

It's a old question: Is man [sic] more just than the gods?

Of necessity, here, I find myself asking the question: By whose standards?


Witches have a saying: To each people, its own law.

Witches live by Witch Law. Deer live by Deer Law. Wolves live by Wolf Law.

I'd be a fool to expect a wolf to live by human law.


Permit me the liberty to recast an old story in rather more contemporary language.


The New Ager and the Rattlesnake


A New Ager was meditating on the bank of a river in spate one day when he saw a rattlesnake being swept along on the current. Filled with compassion, he used a fallen branch to fish the snake out of the water.

The snake was stiff with cold, and clearly near death. The New Ager tucked the snake into his shirt, and in a while and a while the snake was warmed, and began to move around.

Then he bites the New Ager.

Stunned by the snake's ingratitude, the New Ager cries out: Why did you bite me? I saved your life!

Says the rattlesnake: I'm a snake.


To each people, its own law. We'd be fools to expect the gods to live by ours.


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Tagged in: theodicy
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.


  • Jamie
    Jamie Wednesday, 27 October 2021

    Mr. Posch,

    Thanks for referencing one of my favorite of Aesopos' fables, "The Frog And The Scorpion".

    The Platonist perspective (which I share), is of course that the stories of the Deathless Ones are allegorical and reflect larger spiritual truths. These are hidden in plain sight, because most people are only somewhat inclined toward religion or philosophy.

    Ordinary folk can at least take away basic facts of Godlore, while listening to entertaining tales of Goddesses and Gods doing seemingly impossible/outrageous things.

    So said Sallustius, anyhow, and I believe him.

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Wednesday, 27 October 2021

    Reminds me of that song "The Snake" by Al Wilson.

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