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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Fir Rune

Given its iconic centrality to the American celebration, it's always struck me as odd that the Yule tree has inspired so few carols. Off-handedly, I can think of only one, and that one is, shall we say... problematic.

William Sansome once remarked of O Tannenbaum that it's apparently impossible to make an English translation of this German children's song “that doesn't sound simple-minded.”

Listening to Alf Houkom's Rune of Hospitality the other day, it occurred to me that maybe we've been working in the wrong genre.

What follows is not a translation, but rather, let us say, a fantasia on O Tannenbaum. Nor do the words fit the tune, alas. For singing, I think I'll stick with the original German—for now, anyway. Somehow I just can't bring myself to sing a song that begins "O solstice tree...."


Maybe some things are just best left alone.

Fir Rune


Fir-tree, leaf-true

summer-green, winter-green



Fir-tree, joy of men

winter-joy of women


Fir-tree, rune-master

rune of daring

rune of strength

rune of steadfastness

rune of hope


Fir-tree, leaf-true

summer-green, winter-green







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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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