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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'Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair': Witches Get Official Tartan


The bad news: Those of you waiting for an official Tribe of Witches/Latter-Day Hwicce tartan will have to thole (= Witch for "be patient") a little longer.

The good news: The world's first official Witch tartan is now available.

Created by designer Jonathan Brown in January 2016, the Witches' Blood tartan was registered with the official Tartan Registry in Edinburgh at the Vernal Equinox of the same year.

Inspired by the Stratford Festival's 2016 production of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, [the Witches' Blood tartan] was created to coincide with the worldwide celebration of the playwright's enduring legacy, 400 years after his death in 1616. Macbeth abounds in images of blood and the darkness of night, hence the tartan's striking use of red and black. The charcoal tone, equivocating between the polar opposites of black and white, evokes both the literal and moral fog of an uncanny world in which, as the Weird Sisters (or witches) proclaim, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.'”

Up close, the Witches' Blood tartan is darkly striking: red (the eponymous red thread of the Witch Blood, shed for you), gray (= mist, or our hill-fog witches' souls) on a largely black ground (no explanation needed). While beautiful when examined up close, it must be admitted that the Witches' Blood tartan does not read well from a distance, fading into an undifferentiated black.

Insofar as ease of identification was part of a plaid's purpose, some may find this aspect of  the Witches' Blood tartan unpleasing, though indeed the “clan tartan” trope is largely a creation of Victorian-era fantasts.

(In the old days, those of us from Loch X wore similar tartans largely because those were the patterns we'd learned to weave from our mothers.)

Some, however, may wish to view this aspect of the Witches' Blood tartan as a parable of the Craft itself: constantly changing, depending on where you stand. Certainly the new tartan makes a tasty addition to the seething cauldron of Post-Modernity's New Witch Identity.

As for those of you still waiting for the official Tribe of Witches/Latter-Day Hwicce tartan: all in good time, my little pretty.

All in good time.












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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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