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 Promise to the Ferryman, or: How I Ended Up Sitting (Literally) Bare-Assed in the Snow One Midwinter's Eve

At the big public Samhain that year, everybody had paid a coin to the Ferryman to cross the River.

Obviously, money collected under such circumstances can't be put to just any use. After the ritual, we donated the bulk of it to the local AIDS hospice. (That seemed appropriate.) But the foreign coins and the gaming arcade tokens (talk about cheap) called for a different—if still respectful—disposal.

As it happens, one of the great rivers of the world flows through our city, so I volunteered to take the coins down to the Mississippi and throw them in.

Well, I put it off and I put it off. (It was a snowy year, if you want my lame-ass excuse.) Suddenly it was Midwinter's Eve, and I still hadn't disposed of the coins.

“This can't wait,” I thought. “It really has to be done tonight; tomorrow will be too late.”

So after our Mother Night ritual and feast, I drove down to the site where, 1000 years ago, a summer village once stood on the East Bank of the River. Like the ancient Egyptians, the Old People who lived there buried their dead across the River on the West Bank.

Being a warmish Yule that year, I was wearing my kilt: commando, of course. (You know what they say: With underwear, it's just a skirt.)

The warm weather had given the snow a slick crust. Just as I was negotiating the last snowbank down to the River....

Whoosh! My feet slide out from underneath me.

Flap! The back of my kilt flies up.

Whump! I'm sitting there literally bare-assed in the snow, looking (I'm sure) utterly sheepish. If any land-wights, or First People from that old village, happened to be looking on that night, they sure must have busted a gut laughing.

Moral: When you make a promise to the Ferryman, don't wait to pay.

 

Above: Arnold Böcklin, Isle of the Dead (1907)

 

 

 

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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.

Comments

  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale Saturday, 02 November 2019

    lol. I really enjoy your sense of humor.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 03 November 2019

    Thanks, Erin. I think of it as ham on wry.

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