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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The Winter Peach

Don't get me wrong: I love apples.

But when's the last time that you bit into an apple and had juice run down your forearm and drip from your elbow?

A good pear is truly a full-body experience.

Pears. I just ate my first one of the season. OMGs.

The Witch Goddess's sacred flower is, of course, the Rose, but the Rose family is a large one. Apples are roses. So are pears. Cut one with the stem. Like an apple, it will show forth the Flower of Life. And cut across the stem, behold: the Fivefold Star of Rebirth.

We've been eating pears for a long time: since, apparently, the Neolithic, if not before. They ate them in the Lake Villages of Stone Age Switzerland. They're mentioned in Linear B inscriptions from Mycenaean Greece. The name pear comes ultimately from Latin, which got it from Greek, which got it from the Phoenicians (p'ri = “fruit”).

And every pear's a little goddess. Hold one in your hand. It's like one of those big-hipped Mamas that the ancestors made to make the garden grow. It irks me when people say that a situation has gone “pear-shaped” to mean that it's gone wrong. Is the implication really that perfection = round? Round things roll away and break. Low centers of gravity mean stability.

A pear is a study in contrasts: taut, leathery skin, lush, juicy flesh. And oh, that perfume.

Put those hard, green pears from the store into a brown paper bag. Every morning, take one out and smell. Your nose will tell you when it's ready to eat.

Then sit back and prepare to experience one of the great joys of winter.

And have you ever had pear cider? It's even got its own name: perry. They've been pressing pears since the Middle Ages, and there's really nothing like it. Fortunately, it's now commercially available. Good perry is like champagne.

Pears. Oh Em Jeeze.

And every one's a goddess.


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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.


  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz Tuesday, 13 November 2018

    Unlike the proliferation of commercial apple varieties here in the US, you will find few varieties of pears at your local grocer. Still, its wise to know the difference when making your choice. Anjou, or d'anjou are the staple variety that you will find without fail. They are thicker skinned than other varieties but do well slice fresh or most other preparations. Bartletts will become sweet and very juicy if left alone in a paper bag until they turn a delicate yellow, but sometimes disappear from the produce bins as winter ages. Bosc are russet colored and firmer of flesh. They will sweeten nicely even before turning soft which allows them to stand up to poaching in wine. Lastly, keep in mind that pears love cheese. So, the marriage of fresh pear and your favorite hard cheese is one the gods will bless you for eating.

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 13 November 2018

    I clipped a recipe from the newspaper for apple kielbasa bake. The last three times I've made it I used pears instead of apples. I've also used palm hearts and artichoke hearts instead of Brussel sprouts.

  • Tyger
    Tyger Tuesday, 13 November 2018

    I'm currently visiting family in Switzerland. More and better pear varieties than in the Southern US where I live. I am in pear heaven.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 16 November 2018

    I've long been struck by the absence--that annoying partridge aside--of pears in mythology/the Received Tradition.

    As my friend Volkhvy says, "There's no rest for the Wicca."

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