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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What's Your Name?

What will they remember about you when you're dead?

1300 years ago, the Anglo-Saxon Hwicce—the Tribe of Witches—called it nama. 5000 years before that, it was *nomn. But they both meant the same thing.

As one whose concept of afterlife is the Grand Sabbat of the atoms, I've sometimes been asked: What, then, is your motivation for moral behavior?

The ancestors had a name for it: Name.

What's your name?

Call it name, or reputation. Name is what they know you by.

What do they say about you? What's your reputation among those that know you?

Are you trustworthy? If you say you'll do something, do you do it? Are you willing to help someone else out?


Or do people know you as a liar? A cheat? Someone who can't be trusted? It only takes one screw-up or misjudgment to blow a reputation you're spent years building.

For living by name is a long-sum game. Like the name that your parents gave you, the name by which you live is bestowed by others. You can call yourself whatever you please, but in the long run your name is a matter of how other people see you behave.

And, as the ancestors knew, your name will outlive you. What will they say about you after you're gone? What will they remember about you, for the good or the bad?

What have you done that will merit remembering, 100 years from now?

There may or may not be a Summerland. Whether we reincarnate, we don't know and can't know.

But name is sure, and it grows from what you do.

What's yours?

You can see some further thoughts on the subject, including the concept of collective name, here.




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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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