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 Little Horn of Ointment

Oh, he's a hard god, the Horned: he hurts, but then he heals.

His seal upon you is a scar, your witch's mark. (They say it's the mark of his teeth.) We are the Scarred, the witches: a people like our god. He, too, is Scarred; I know, for I have seen.

Make him unhappy, and he flogs: publicly, at the Sabbat. Back in the hills whence I come, they say that he uses rose canes to do this.

But to each, he gives a little horn of ointment. He hurts, but then he heals: the rose and the thorn. As the Basque witches told Inquisitor Pierre de Lancre (a curse upon his memory), after he flogs, or sets his mark upon you, he anoints you with his special salve, and heals you of your hurts (Wilby 115).

(This explains why, when examined, the Basque witches—confessions notwithstanding—showed no sign of tooth or lash: the Horned's ointment heals all hurts, they say.)

To my knowledge, anyway, it's been long and long since the rose canes came out at the Sabbat; but I've been there myself, and danced, and seen the scarring, and the anointing thereafter.

Nor should you think that what I say is only metaphor.

The Horned's love is a hard love.

But his ointment heals all hurts.

 

 

Emma Wilby (2019) Invoking the Akelarre: Voices of the Accused in the Basque Witch-Craze, 1609-1614. Sussex Academic Press.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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