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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In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Poses a Theological Question of Some Import



Help! I need an answer to a theological question, and I need it quick.

As I write this, the little terracotta goddess lies sleeping, wrapped in silk, on a shelf in the pantry.

But soon she'll be standing out in the corner of the garden, plunged to her thighs in the ground. Through the summer to come—night and day, rain and shine—she will watch over the growth of this year's tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, squash, beans, herbs, and greens.

So here's the question. Does the Garden Goddess go into the ground:

  1. when I till, or
  2. when I plant, and
  3. why?

Since both plowing and sowing are analogous to sexual intercourse, it seems to me that a case could be made for either.

(Received Tradition doesn't, to the best of my knowledge, specifically address the issue of setting out bedding plants—interesting term—but, for current purposes, let's include planting them along with seeding.)

So think quickly. Spring is upon us in good earnest, and I need to know soon!




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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.


  • Jamie
    Jamie Saturday, 08 May 2021

    Mr. Posch,

    Purely as a fellow Pagan offering my two cents, I would say that the best time to put the agalma in the ground would be the tilling.

    Honoring the Deathless Ones by acknowledging, "As Above, So Below", the garden implements are like the phallus of Zeus and the rich dark soil is the pudenda of Demeter. The presence of the agalma further aligns your soul with The Good, in the Platonist sense, because you understand and revere Demeter's holy power.

    Should She withhold Her sacred power from humanity, we die of hunger.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 08 May 2021

    That I have lived to see the day, Jamie, when someone can use a word like agalma in a sentence without having to define it, I thank all the gods. How happy are we!

    Opinions are running in favor of tilling at this point. Though I haven't done it that way in previous years, it certainly makes good sense.

    Not to mention that, of course, planting is when you screw in the fields instead!

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Saturday, 08 May 2021

    After you've turned over the dirt and before you start planting. Turning over the dirt is like putting fresh sheets on the bed. You want her in place while your planting so she can look over your work and listen while you talk to yourself and to the plants.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 09 May 2021

    Thanks, Anthony.
    It occurs to me to wonder to what degree the question that I've posed here is not so much a question of theology as it is of praxis.
    But we're the pagans: we think by doing. For us, theology is embodied theology.
    So I'll stick to my original formulation, and appreciate your duly theological response!

  • Katie
    Katie Tuesday, 11 May 2021

    I am in favor of having her in place for the planting... although I can see the benefit of either.

    On a purely practical note, tilling poses more danger to the terra cotta embodiment of the goddess than planting.

    The goddess is already embodied in the soil... the tilling is already a rite with the land.

    Although, now that I think of it, so long as she is in no danger, let her enjoy a good deep till before the planting happens.

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