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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in pagan-cowan relations

Posted by on in Culture Blogs



Merrymeet 1997


It's been hot work at Grand Council all day, so I head down to Gull Lake for a quick dip before dinner. What I see there astounds me.

Clearly, word of the wild witches has got out. Every fishing boat on the lake has—coincidentally, no doubt—just happened to drift over to our side, the prospect of naked pagans apparently outweighing that of walleye on this sunny late August afternoon.

Ritual robe hiked up to her knees, a woman sits at the end of the dock, dangling her feet in the water.

Gods, what's with these people? I say, taking off my shirt. I'm half tempted to wave. All this to see a little bit of skin?

Cowans, she commiserates.

Hey, screen me, would you? I ask, crouching.

Anything for a fellow conspirator, she says, raising her arms.

Screened by her back and generous hanging sleeves, I slip out of my kilt and over the edge.

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Zumwalt Prairie


After almost 50 years in the pagan community, I have yet to come across a better way to introduce non-pagans to the idea of living paganism

Alas, I can no longer remember who I learned this from; whoever it was, I'd never met him before. (I do remember standing shoulder-to-shoulder with you at Pan-Pagan, though, eagerly drinking up your words.) Whoever you were, you have my thanks. Your analogy is spot-on, and deftly avoids all the scary buzz-words; it's served me very well down the years.

“You know Native American religion, right?” you say.

They nod. Everybody knows Native American religion, or thinks they do. A lot of non-Native Americans even have a certain amount of respect for Native American religion. It's all about being close to “Nature,” right?

“Well, this is Native European religion,” you say.

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The 700 Club


Hey Pat:

Got a question for you.

You said that your god told you that Donald Trump would win the 2020 election. He didn't. Even you admit that now.

Given what you've said previously, then, that leaves us with several possible explanations.

  1. “God” was wrong.
  2. “God” changed his mind.
  3. You misunderstood what “God” told you.
  4. What you thought was “God” speaking to you wasn't “God” at all. (I'll leave aside the question of who, or what, it actually was.)
  5. Your god doesn't exist, and you're living in a fantasy world as much as Donald Trump.
  6. "God" exists, but he doesn't talk to you.
  7. Trump really did win the election; he just lost the presidential election.
  8. Some other god, more powerful than yours, intervened and changed the results.
  9. After all these years, you still haven't learned to tell the difference between "God"'s voice and the promptings of your own unconscious mind.

So, Pat, read me this oracle. In all candor, let me ask you: which one was it?

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I expect of any priest or priestess that he or she be able to tell the difference between the voice of the god or goddess and the
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I'm pretty sure that the only "God" that the Evangelical Christians have been listening too for the past four years is Mammon the

Let me tell you about the Yule that I considered becoming a suicide bomber.

Now, I'm as gay as the next guy but, for reasons that I won't go into here, I'm no fan of gay men's choruses. My housemate at the time, though, regularly attended concerts of the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus: more, I suspect, for the social opportunity that they offered than for the “music.” So I wasn't surprised to see, while bringing in the mail at the end of a November back in the 80s, an invitation to that year's TCGMC Christmas concert.

It wasn't until I read the description of the concert that I started thinking about explosives.

I can't remember the title of the concert, but the stated theme was: “Moving from the darkness of the Winter Solstice through the lights of Hanukkah to the true illumination of Christmas.”

There's so much wrong with this theme that it's difficult to quantify, but underlying it all is its triumphalist religious Darwinism. That lying old story has killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, down the long years.

And they thought they were being inclusive. The sheer cluelessness of it all—and the fact that this atrocity was being perpetrated by gay men on other gay men—just makes it that much more offensive.

Well, I didn't buy the suicide vest and (of course) I didn't attend the concert. But I can, nonetheless, tell you (why are these things so bloody predictable?) exactly of what that program consisted.

For the Winter Solstice, a secular Christmas carol of some sort. For Hanukkah, a medley of old Yiddische tunes guaranteed to include “Dreidel.” Then the gaggle of Christmas carols that everyone had really come to hear.

Hey, all you organizers of “Holiday” Concerts out there:

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I am blissfully clueless. When I want seasonal music I go to YouTube and listen to Weird Al Yankovic singing Christmas at Ground
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, I guess I just don't get triggered by Christian tokenism like you do. My take on it is this: Christians will always c
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Jamie, are you familiar with Rosemary Sutcliff's teen novel Frontier Wolf? The protagonist/hero is himself a young Mithraist, and
  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Posch, You're the best. Thank you for providing us with such interesting and humorous articles. I always look forward to rea
  • Chris Sherbak
    Chris Sherbak says #
    Hehehe ya well. I still cherish your Pro-Dea Solstice Song book. Drag it out every year. Merry Yule!
The One Thing Never to Say to a Cowan Man

Although as contemporary pagans, we spend much of our lives surrounded by cowans—non-pagans—there remains much about cowan thinking that pagans find opaque.

So, in the interest of maintaining grith—the old Witch word for “peace between communities”—I'd like to offer a point of inter-communal etiquette that might well save you from a potentially embarrassing situation.

Never compare a cowan man to a woman.

If you do, he will interpret it as an insult.

If you're thinking: But that doesn't make any sense; why would anyone find being compared to a woman insulting? please be aware that I share your bewilderment.

Even so, counter-intuitive as it may seem, this is how many cowans think, and as good pagan neighbors, it's our responsibility to be aware and to be respectful, even when we disagree.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Confessions of a Pagan Triumphalist

Yes, I'm a pagan triumphalist.

I believe that the ways of Abraham are an anomaly in the history of human religion.

I believe that eventually we will simply reabsorb them, as Hinduism reabsorbed Buddhism.

I believe that their envisioned apocalypses predict nothing but their own eventual demise.

I believe that everyone is born pagan. Anything else, you have to be made into.

I believe that paganism is intrinsic to humanity.

I believe that (unlike the rest) paganism is natural.

I believe that paganism is inherent.

I believe that paganism is instinctive.

I believe that paganism grows from the Earth like a tree.

I believe that paganism inheres in existence.

I believe that, where there is intelligent life, there is—and will always be—paganism.

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What Do You Say When a Non-Pagan Wishes You 'Good Samhain'?

If you're out of the broom closet, and it hasn't happened to you yet, it will.

A non-pagan wishes you “Good Samhain”* (or Beltane, or Yule).

What do you say in response?

It's an act of hospitality to wish someone joy of their holiday. When that holiday is not one's own, the act becomes even more gracious, an act of grith-weaving. (Grith is an old name for “peace between communities,” as distinguished from frith, which means “peace within a community.”) It says: I know you. It says: I accept you for who you are. It says: I care enough to keep informed.

When someone wishes you Good Samhain (or Beltane, or Yule), the automatic instinct is to return the greeting, but of course when the well-wisher is not pagan, it's bootless to wish her joy of a holiday that she doesn't celebrate. It also denies the difference that she has just so graciously acknowledged.

So what do you say in response to a non-pagan "Good Samhain"?

Best, as always, is to answer graciousness with graciousness, hospitality with hospitality, while at the same time acknowledging difference.

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