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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Fire in Water

Midsummer's Eve 1940, German-occupied Denmark.

For the first time in perhaps 3000 years, no Midsummer bonfires burn in Denmark.

The Nazis have forbidden them.

Throughout Scandinavia and the Baltics, Midsummer's Eve is the greatest summer feasting of the year. Bonfires burn on every hilltop. In the countryside, one can see them literally from horizon to horizon.

In Denmark, a nation of islands and coastline, it is long-standing custom to build these solstice fires on the beach, where, in their reflections, one may behold the mythic fire that burns in water.

But a surprise awaits the occupiers.

On Midsummer's Eve, all Denmark, as ordered, is dark.

But across the Kategatt, the Swedish coast is lined with fire.

In an act of defiance and solidarity, the Swedes have built their Midsummer bonfires along the shore.

Sweden remained unoccupied throughout the War years, and along the Swedish coastline on every subsequent Midsummer's Eve of the conflict, the fires of hope and freedom burned unimpeded.

On Midsummer's Eve, opposites meet. The heights embrace the depths with a passionate kiss. The Sun and the Moon come down with a blessing to bathe.

And fire burns in water.


For more on the mystical Fire-in-Water, see:

M. L. West, Indo-European Poetry and Myth (2007). Oxford.










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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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