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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Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

 (Glinda the Good, The Wizard of Oz) 

Well, they call her Glinda the Good.


But she can't even tell the difference between a dog and a witch dog.

So obviously (I'm afraid I'm in a bit of a muddle, she says) she isn't, not very.

When it comes to witching, the difference between good and bad isn't the difference between help or harm.

No: when Tiffany Aching says of Mrs. Lettice Earwig (author of To Ride a Golden Broomstick) that she's “not really, when you get down to it, a very good witch” (Pratchett 99), it has nothing to do with helpful or harmful. Nothing at all.

When it comes to witching, “good” and “bad” tend to line up more along the lines of “competent” and “incompetent” instead.


Witching comes in a spectrum of styles, from the twinkly winkly (Pratchett again) to the boogity (Bruner Soderberg).

And neither is a place where I'd care to live, thank you very much.

But the hedge in between, now, where you can come down on either side as you need to...well, that's another story.

To straddle is to participate in both sides: to be able to function in either, but to belong wholly to neither. As a state of being, it's both blessing and curse.

The word “straddle” generally has bad connotations, implying unwillingness to commit.

But riding a broom is like riding a motorcycle. It implies motion, dynamism; sidesaddle isn't an option.

Nope. You've got to straddle, grip tight with both legs, and fly.


Terry Pratchett, The Shepherd's Crown (2015). Harper.




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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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