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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A Bloodline Thing, or: Cowaning Out


Hindu Red Thread Evil Eye Protection Stunning Bracelet Luck Talisman A –


“What's with the yarn?”

(Gandalf: that's the name of the buck-goat whose wool I'm wearing around my wrist: hand-sheared, hand-spun, hand-dyed.)

I've stopped to get ice on my way home from the Grand Sabbat of the Midwest Tribe of Witches. One's first time back in non-pagan space after a sojourn in Witchdom is invariably a little disorienting.

(“I'm cowaning out,” I'd joked earlier that afternoon, putting on a shirt for the first time in days. Folks laughed and assured me that I could pass or, at least, probably wouldn't get arrested.)

I tie this knot in Old Hornie's name: aye 'til he fetch thee home again. That's what they say as the thread is tied on. Then you don't take it off again until you get home safely. Leave it on until it falls off of its own accord, they say, and the God of Witches himself will grant you a favor.

People of the Red Thread, we're called. All of us have the Blood that goes back to old times—His blood—witch and non-witch alike. Some of us know it, though, and some of us don't.

Oh, the Sabbat and its weird glories. (That's “weird” in both senses.) Some day we'll die and rejoin that never-ending dance on the Sabbat-Field of the Buck. To some—his beloved children—he gives the unutterable gift of tasting this ecstasy, this state of simultaneous Being/Not-Being, while in life.

How do you explain all that to someone asking what is, after all, nothing but an idle question? As usual, I take the easy way out.

“Family reunion,” I tell the cashier. “A bloodline thing.”

Nodding and looking bored—just as I'd intended—she gives me my change, and I leave.






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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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