Moving to Paganistan

I have had a surprising weekend. I was unexpectedly given notice that I have to move out of my current living situation by October 1st. Five weeks isn’t a lot of time to plan a move. Thankfully, some amazing people have come to my rescue with advice, huge favors, and words of encouragement and support. I am a bit overwhelmed by the kindness I have been shown. My crusty exterior has completely crumbled, and I have sobbed like a big baby more often than I care to admit over the past few days.

Not looking forward to this…

I’m a Georgia native and I really love the state. I like the mountains, the lovely coast, the people, the food, the music and the smell of the earth. To be honest though, Georgia has never really been very good to me. My family has all moved away, and year after year I find less reason to stay here. So when I found out I had to move, I decided to take it as an opportunity to do something bold: move somewhere completely different, far from my Southern roots.

For Pagans, it seems there are five major communities in the continental US. In the West you have the Bay Area, ringed by lovely green mountains, nestled by the sea and home to Reclaiming, Feri and other American traditions. In the South you have New Orleans, home of Vodou and down home rootworking. In the East is Salem, the tourist Mecca where Witches sell their wares every October, and New York is full of occultists who take the subway to Broadway shows. Then, in the cold, frosty North lay Paganistan: the twin cities of Ankh-Morpork Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Moving to Paganistan makes a lot of sense. It has excellent public transit, low unemployment, reasonable cost of living, and is chock full of amazing Pagans. A lot of Pagans. Rumor has it that 15% of the metro population identifies as Pagan.

As a Southern girl, the concept of snow freaks me out almost as much as moving so far so quickly. I’m trying to keep a level head and get things done, and to help I’ve come up with a list of things about Paganistan that are kind of awesome.

  • The term Paganistan was coined for the area by the amazing Steven Posch 23 years ago.
  • My spiritual ancestor via lineage, Lady Sheba, predicted a Pagan temple would be built in Paganistan. So far, no luck.
  • The Reformed Druids of North America was formed there in 1963 as a joke to get out of religious service attendance, and like Discordianism grew into a robust religious tradition.
  • Llewellyn is headquartered in Paganistan.
  • The fantastic PNC-MN is based in Paganistan.
  • There’s a significant German/Norwegian cultural influence, which should be a bit of a culture shock for my Anglo/Irish/Welsh/Scot self.
  • A Prairie Home Companion was created here by Garrison Keillor, and they once did a hilarious Pagan skit.
  • The average high in the summer is 83.3 °F, which sounds ridiculously cold to me.

I’ll be honest, I feel a bit like I’m moving to Winterfell, and I’ve already been advised to send my shorts to Goodwill rather than pack them. But I’m looking forward to exploring the Cities. The lakes and rivers will be something new, as they aren’t quite as plentiful in my neck of the woods, and most of the lakes here are not natural but man-made. I look forward to visiting the shops, and maybe even checking out the Coffee Cauldron meetup. Checking out a Gnostic Mass at Leaping Laughter Lodge. Perhaps I’ll get to hang out with some of the Harmony Tribe folks, and maybe once I’m settled, take a day trip down to Circle Sanctuary.

I don’t have all the details nailed down yet. Not 100% sure where I will be staying or what day I will arrive in town. I’ve got some options I’m sorting out, and I’ve had some kind roommate offers. Meanwhile I’ll be busy shuffling belongings into storage, and sorting out my warmest clothes. I have a lot of hope and optimism about this new move. I think I’m going to like living in Paganistan. Being a Paganistani. It’s a scary change right now, but it’s going to be fun!

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Seamus (James)

    The Midwest is… different. Personally, I love it, my family being from Wisconsin and always did plan to move up to Madison. But, it does get cold – really cold. Be prepared for the worst and then subtract 25 degrees. But the people are great, but not southerners. They are a bit more to the point. OK, a lot more to the point. I applaud your move, and wish you the very best – you are awesome and deserve it! 

  • Kauko

    I’m so jealous, it will probably be years before I’ll be able to move up there.

  • Erynn Rowan Laurie

    Good luck.

  • Dauneyshouse

    Sounds like a great, grand, adventure and sure to be beautiful with all of the natural waterways! Safe journey and Blessed Be!

  • Jason Hatter

    Good luck, Star.   As a native Michigander, I feel sympathy for your situation.  I wouldn’t want to move from the sunny warmth of the South  to the cold snowy depths of Minnesota!

  • Sherry Gilles

    I grew up in West Virginia and came up IN in 1974. While the snow can be intense in any part of the Midwest do NOT throw away your shorts and sundresses. You will need them sometimes. I live just south of Chicago now and it’s been so hot this year and yet the weather is just as likely in the cold season to be bitterly so. Just think… a snowy Yule and new friends!

  • Rachelacton

    As a relocated Paganistanian, down to the Mid-south I can tell you the biggest difference you’ll notice is the winter. Summers here where I am no (N. Tn) are similar to those in Mpls. Winter, lots of snow and cold. The Pagan community is wonderful. I SO miss it. A Pagan does NOT belong in the Bible belt.

  • A Luloff

    Don’t get rid of your shorts…you’ll want them in the spring when the snow gets slushy and everyone is running around in flip flops and shorts. It will be a balmy 40 degrees at that point, but everyone swears it feels like 70 after weeks of subzero temps! 

  • wolfwoman

    I am from Michigan and this past winter we really didn’t have much snow at all. 1 or 2 semi heavy snowfalls that melted within 30 hours or less. We had more wind and cold, but not even snow for Yule at my place. Summers are getting hotter here so don’t be in to much of a hurry to rid yourself of your shorts and summer tops, lately we have been in the high 80′s to the 100 + degree temp since June. Too hot for me to work outside. But enjoy the weather where ever you end up. Blessed Be, Deborah and the pack.

  • Phoebe

    As a native Minnesotan (now living in western ND, where there are no pagans) let me say welcome!
    Try not to freak too much about winter. It’s our truly lazy time. I like to think of it as cuddle up in bed and read season.
    And if you need a warm coat, I would be happy to get ya one.

  • Marc

    MinneSNOWta, amirite?

    Seriously though.  Northeast here.  Your pain is our pain.

    Good luck with your move!

  • Daniel Castaneda

    Good luck! Sounds like it will be a blast, I know sometime in the future I might move north, small town Arkansas has its perks but I am a city boy at heart.

  • Matrinka

    You’re moving up where my friend JRob lives.  Look him up and you’ll have found a great guide to the local Pagan scene, and a fine friend, too.  

  • Nicole Youngman

    And if nothing else, you get megaextrabonus points for the link to that brilliant Solstice skit–I thought I was the only one who remembered that. :D

    • Star Foster

       I was a baby Pagan listening to it with my mom. She didn’t find it as funny as I did.

  • Boadicea35

    Thank you so much! I have been trying to locate that particular episode of Praire Home Companion for Years. I was beginning to think I hallucinated it. You have made my day, quite possibly my week.

    • Star Foster

       You did not! I had to dig for it myself. Can you believe that was over 10 years ago?

  • Gaddy

    Minneapolis is an amazing city with everything going for it but the weather. If you can get past that, you’re going to have a blast! Good luck on your new adventure, but please don’t forget us online while you are enjoying your new home. We love your blog!

  • Witcherygrove

    Good luck on your move, hope you soon feel at home there. 

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    Sounds like a good change.

  • Gosmr7 / sidra

    Star, Keep the shorts, but invest in boots. Very warm boots, when you hit town check out Magus book store. Great people it is down by the U of M. Great people. The Standing Stones have a seekers class there ( my coven). Look for them on Friday nights.(classes start after Samhaim) I look forward to meeting you in person. Welcome to MN.

  • Hathera

    Get here by mid-September and you can enjoy the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee!

  • sunfell

    Winter is getting wimpier up there year by year. Even Garrison Kiellor is noticing it. If I had a good job to take, I might consider moving up there- my Nord-O-Riffic features would peg me as a native pretty quickly, although my Southern habits (WTF are snow tires?!?) would not.

    Some advice: Try to store as little as you can. I was in a similar situation as yours 20 years ago, and I stashed stuff in storage, first in New Jersey for 3 years, then in various storage units. I finally dug most of the stuff out, and I wondered why I thought it was so important that I hauled it around and paid $40 a month to keep it. I ended up either recycling or donating most of it to charity. Do yourself (and your budget) a favor, and ditch the unnecessaries now.

    • PhaedraHPS

      I second the advice of not putting stuff in storage, especially if it is across the country from where you will be. Furniture, cookware, all that stuff is replaceable for a lot less than it costs to store or ship stuff. It costs a bloody fortune to ship stuff, especially with gas prices the way they are these days. You’ll wind up paying and paying and paying. Ask yourself (as I did before I moved) whether it’s really worth paying storage for possibly years on something, or could you just save the money and use it replace the item if you need it again.

      All I kept were a couple of pieces of furniture from my father and grandfather, magical stuff and books. You do not want to know how much it cost to ship cross-country. More than my highest estimate, more than the mover’s estimate. OK, books are too damn heavy, but those I just wasn’t ready to let go of yet.

      Also, if you need storage up north, it may be more expensive. There was more than $100/mo difference between the same size storage unit in NY State and in NC. Again, do the math. Do you need it? Would the cost of a year’s storage pay for the replacement? And remember, if you have stuff shipped, you will be paying not for the volume of the stuff, but for the weight.

      • Star Foster

         I’m estimating storage/moving costs will run me around $1,200 by the time I’m ready for them. Which I don’t think is bad considering I only have a little furniture but it’s good quality, but a lot of books, and neither could be replaced for that amount.

        • PhaedraHPS

          Are you talking about approx. a 10×10 unit’s worth of stuff? Be prepared to double or triple that. Or more. It cost me around $1200 to move just what I had left (which filled less than a 10×10 unit) the roughly 600 miles from NY to NC in a 14-foot U-Haul. You are going from GA to MN, which is twice as far. And gas wasn’t that high two years ago.

          If you have someone ship it for you, they charge by the pound, and by the mile, and there are extra charges for everything, including fuel surcharges and “extras” such as a driveway or path longer than so many feet, or up a flight of stairs. Every estimate I got was way, way under what it turned out to be. And that was after I did some fancy negotiating because of how far off the estimates were. The trucker told me that he lost money on my move, even though it cost me a mint.

          Even if you do a rent-a-truck and do it yourself, the gas costs and per-mile charges are astronomical. I know from where I speak. Really, really consider what you are keeping!

          Hah! I sound like a mom giving advice. But I hope you can take away something useful.

          • Star Foster

             I appreciate the advice. Maybe I will give a bunch away then. Just keep the absolute basics.

          • HRM

            Yard sale. Tag sale. Better yet, label it estate sale and raise the prices accordingly.
            what you decide to keep, check in to shipping USPS – book rate is still reasonable and overall I’ve found it less expensive than moving companies. You just need an address to send it to.

  • Songdragon99

    You will find plenty of opportunities to wear your shorts in Paganistan.  I have family in North Dakota and they got warm enough this summer to wear tank tops and shorts.  I just visited last week and brought nothing but shorts and tanks and was perfectly fine.  Enjoy the new place!

  • John Beckett

    I grew up in Tennessee and now live in Texas, but in between I spent two years in South Bend, Indiana.  Not quite as cold as Minnesota, but more snow.  While I didn’t like the cold, it didn’t bother me nearly as much as the bad job I was stuck in.  Or perhaps the job was so bad the cold didn’t register.

    Good luck with the move.  Indiana didn’t work out for me, but getting away from “home” was the best thing I ever did.

  • John H Halstead

    While perhaps not one of the big-5, Chicago also has a rich Pagan history.  It was home to the first Pagan Way grove,
    eventually called the Temple of the Pagan Way,  formed by Donna Cole-Shultz and Herman Enderle in 1969.  W.I.T.C.H. protested in front of the Chicago Federal building in 1969.  Margot Adler describes her experience with the Sabaean Religious Order in Chicago in 1975 in *Drawing Down the Moon*.  Crista Landon and Phaedra Christine Heyman (later Bonewits) founded Panthea in Chicago in 2003, a public Pagan temple
    and the first Pagan congregation of the Unitarian
    Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA).  In 1993, the Covenant of the Goddess was represented at the Parliament of the
    World’s Religions at Chicago.  The then-First Officer, Phyllis Curot,
    requested permission of Roman Catholic Archbishop Bernardinto to hold a
    circle ceremony at a nearby park, which was graciously granted,
    resulting in national press coverage for Pagans.  Oh, and the Chicago Board of Trade building is topped by a statute of Ceres.  These are just a few examples.  There’s a great new blog I discovered called “Occult Chicago”

    • PhaedraHPS

      Whoa– we founded Panthea way back in 1986! We joined the UUA in 1990, the first Pagan-centric congregation to do so.

      Yes, Chicago has a rich occult and Pagan history. I remember my sister and I pressing our noses against the window of the Occult Bookstore a good 50 years ago. Of course, it was a few years later (and a few location changes later) before we had the nerve to go inside.

      Christa Landon, as it happens, now lives in (drum roll) Minneapolis!

      • Johnhhalstead

        Phaedra, thanks for correcting my timeline. I don’t recall where I got those dates from.

  • Isadora Vega

    This is apropos of nothing, but just from reading through the archives I think we’re meant to be best friends.  Too bad I don’t live in Paganistan. I live around Olympia, WA, which is very Pagan friendly but also kind of a small town.

    • Star Foster

       Ha! If I make it that way maybe we can grab coffee!

      • HRM

        If you make it to Olympia I’ll even drive down that way.

  • Crafters22001

    ‘when you have an address in Minnesota, please email me at  I’m around 165 lb and I have a spare overcoat and thermal top I can spare that I’d be happy to mail  to you.  They served me well during my winter in Rochester ny where average winter temp was 20 degrees f and often went down to zero.  Best of luck, blessed be.

    • Star Foster

       That is so sweet of you! I doubt it would fit me, but I will pass the word along if I hear of anyone who could use it!

  • Mollisol_mn

    We barely had a winter here last year, but invest in long johns anyway! Welcome — the summers are wonderful! (And in winter, I recommend grabbing a friend’s kid and going sledding, if we get any snow.)