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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Pagan Place, or: There Are No Generic Pagan Rituals

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

A local festival asked a friend of mine if he would write a ritual for them.

“We can't guarantee that it's going to be in any particular location,” they told him.

“Sorry,” was his reply. “If you can't give me a place, I can't give you a ritual.”


  • There are no generic pagan rituals.
  • All pagan ritual is place specific.

Take, for example, the kachina religions of the American Southwest. You couldn't really pick these religions up and practice them in, say, Minneapolis. They've evolved as a perfect unity of place, people, and religion: what in Witch we would call Land, Lede (“tribe”) and Lore. This unity constitutes the pagan ideal.

I look at my coven's Wheel of the Year. Nearly every one of our rituals has evolved to fit a specific place. You could, theoretically, enact them elsewhere, but it would require a re-envisioning and a recasting of the rites to fit the new location.

The Paganicon 2020 committee asked if I would be interested in crafting Opening and Closing rituals for the upcoming event. As you'll have gathered, I'm not much one for casting circles and calling corners in ballrooms, but if things were to go as I foresee, our rites would mark the tribal Ingathering with what heathens call a “land-take."

We'll process—with horns, drums, and fire, of course—through the hotel.

We'll then establish, and offer at, a Fire Altar, which will act as tribal sanctuary throughout. Prayers and offerings for the well-being of pagans everywhere will be made there daily.

At the end, we'll extinguish the Fire, undo our land-take, and disperse to our own homes, where we'll practice our own place-specific paganisms.

On Midwinter morning, the coven and friends will go out to the bridge from which, by tradition, we sing the Sun up out of the Mississippi River Valley at Yule each year.

I just received word that our daughter coven, the Rock River witches, will be singing the Sun up Sunday morning from their own bridge over the Mississippi, down south in the Quad Cities.

So, between us, we've got the Rebirth of the Sun covered for this stretch of the River.

How about yours?




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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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