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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Not Just for Pies Any More

 Pie Pumpkin Cut in Half Picture | Free Photograph | Photos Public Domain

Of Pumpkins, Perichoresis, and the Triple Goddess


Lot o' good eating in a pumpkin, there is.”

(Nanny Ogg)


Halfway through the container of squash puree, the rich, velvety texture, the round, meaty flavor, and the simultaneous sense of novelty-familiarity that I'm experiencing suddenly halts my mindless shoveling. This isn't the butternut squash puree that I'd thought it was.

I taste more thoughtfully. I've seen this diva perform before, but only robed in sweeteners, salt, and spices. Now she stands before me in all her skyclad glory, and I'm thoroughly in love.

Turns out, Nanny Ogg was right. She usually is.


I'm trying out a new recipe: a Chilean bean, corn, and pumpkin stew.

(New to me, that is. Given its origin and ingredients—the Triple Goddess of New World cookery—this is likely a very old recipe indeed.)

I retrieve a pie pumpkin from cold storage on the back stairs, halve and clean it. Since I need only half the pumpkin for the stew, I oven-roast the remainder, puree it, and put it in the refrigerator to await some unspecified future use.

That's what I've been mindlessly shoveling down: delicious even without benefit of salt.

Move over, butternut squash.


Maiden, Mother, Crone. The Triple Goddess has become such a Wicca 101 commonplace that it's sometimes easy to overlook the richness, the depth, the Inner Life, of this abiding Mystery.

Consider, for instance, that in Old Craft lore she is/they are known as the Three Mothers.

Consider, for instance, that in Iroquoian lore she is/they are known as the Three Sisters.

The Triple Goddess is a perichoresis: a dancing-together.


Corn, Beans, Squash, the far-famed Three Sisters of the Seven Nations of the Iroquois: Three Sisters who love one other deeply, and flourish best together. Plant a seed of each of the Three in the same mound, and watch them thrive together.

The Corn drinks up the nitrogen that the Beans fix in the soil. The Bean vines spiral-climb the Cornstalk into the Sunlight. Spreading around them, the leaves of the Squash vine shade out competing weeds.

As anyone of the Frances Moore Lappé Diet for a Small Planet generation knows, together, the incomplete proteins of grain and legume combine in our guts to provide us with the complete proteins that our bodies need. The squashes round out the tally of vitamins and minerals which our bodies also need.


Cross-pantheon god-on-god correlation is an imprecise science: more an art than a science, perhaps. I'll leave it to you to map the Old and New World Triplicities onto one another.

Rest assured, though, that there is, indeed, a correspondence.




Three Sisters Stew

Porotos Granados


Surprise the coven with this one this Samhain: it's utterly delicious, and holds well in a crock pot until after the ritual. The chunks of pumpkin dissolve into the stew to give it a mysterious fragrance and a haunting, smokey sweetness.


1 cup dried pinto beans or 1 can cooked pinto beans, drained (but reserve the liquid)

4 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons paprika

2 large onions, finely chopped

2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped

kernels from 2 large ears of corn, or 8 oz. frozen corn

2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped, or 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes

½ pie pumpkin, cleaned, skinned (use a potato peeler), and cut into chunks

½ teaspoon dried oregano

salt, pepper to taste

vegetable stock, if needed


If using dried pintos, soak in ample water overnight. Drain, and cook with 2 cups water until tooth-tender. Add water, if necessary.

In a soup kettle, heat oil until fragrant; add paprika, and fry until it begins to darken.

Add remaining ingredients, and mix thoroughly. Simmer 30 minutes, or until chunks of pumpkin dissolve. Add bean liquor and/or vegetable stock, as needed.

Serve hot with corn tortillas.










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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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