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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All Five Quarters

 My random thoughts...: Story about why dog lift their legs while peeing

Some Thoughts on the Use of Urine in Magic


In the dream, the ritual is about to begin. Four of us are standing at the circle's respective quarters, ready to begin our quarter-calls.

Instead of summoning, stirring, and waving a knife at, though, the first quarter-caller cocks a leg up, like a dog leaving a scent mark.

Yes! I think gleefully, hoping that my friend at the next quarter will do the same. He does, as do I in turn.


Later, waking, I ponder this curious dream, and the vehemence of my gleeful response. In part, I think, it comes from the fact that at heart I'm a trickster, son of a trickster, and—given the opportunity—will almost always play any given situation for the laugh. In the dream, the leg-cocking was transgressive, clearly not to plan, and I've long been one for play, rather than solemnity, in ritual.

Deeper than this, though, lurks an underlying sense of the primal, which the best ritual always manages to evoke. Nothing is older in magic than scent-marking, nothing.

We've been doing it since before we were human.


To draw a cheap and wholly unfair dichotomy, wizard magic is head-magic, warlock magic body-magic. To cite only one hoary piece of warlockry, when you buy (or build) a new house, the first thing that you do is to go around and pee on all five corners of the house.

(If you know what I mean by “all five corners,” you know how to think like a witch.)


If you want to become a werewolf, first you go to the woods and strip off. Then you piss in a circle around yourself.

Bet they never taught you that in Wicca 101.

I've never tried this myself, but I see the point. To shift your shape, you've got to reach down into the primal. The skin-strong—what the ancestors called the hide-stark—need to be able to live in their pure animal selves.

Besides, I doubt that most wizards would have the bladder capacity.


Consider the humble Witch Bottle, an old folk talisman of protection and land-take. You fill a bottle with sharp metal: pins and razor blades. Then you piss into the bottle, seal it, and depose it in a place of power: under the threshold, hearth, or up the chimney. The “sharps” constitute a threat, the urine a territorial claim.

But unlike scent-marks, which can be over-marked and need to be renewed, the Witch Bottle is permanent.


Before my dream's canine-style quarter-calls are finished, I wake up. Unsurprisingly—such is the permeable membrane between dreaming and waking reality—my bladder is full.

Shaking my head in amusement, I climb out of bed, and go to call the circle's fourth quarter.




For the Warlocks of the Driftless

Partners in thought-crime




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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 19 May 2022

    I remember reading a newspaper article about a witch bottle found at a civil war site. Apparently some Pennsylvania soldiers had made up a witch bottle to help guard their camp from sneak attacks.

  • Jamie
    Jamie Saturday, 21 May 2022

    Mr. Posch,

    Thank you for neatly summarizing, as an occult practitioner who would know, the difference between wizards and warlocks in the modern sense.

    Interesting dream!

    I have also had dreams interrupted by Nature's call. It's funny when your subconscious interjects easter eggs into the dream, all reminiscent of get you to wake up. It's only happened to me once, many years ago, but it was amusing after the fact.

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