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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Greenways

i.

They call them the greenways.

They're prehistoric trackways that thread their way across the landscape. The famous Ridgeway, which follows the line of ridges across the heart of southern England, is said to be more than 5000 years old. It is part of the old Icknield Way, named for the Keltic Iceni tribe of more than 2000 years ago. (Boudicca was queen of the Iceni.)

In fact, such greenways exist all over the world. I live just a few feet from one myself.

These days Lake Street isn't very green. It looks pretty much like any four-lane main drag in America, lined with mom-pop eateries (where these days you can get tripe soup, corn fungus tacos, and whole roast guinea pig), convenience stores, and halal groceries.

But beneath the pavement runs the old Indian trail that led from the Dakota summer village on Bde Maka Ska ("White Earth Lake," latterly known as Lake Calhoun) down to the Mississippi. The old tracks often lead to water.

The greenways were the true ley-lines of old. Beneath the asphalt, they still pulse with ancient power.

 ii.

For at least the past 5000 years—the metaphor was already current among speakers of Proto-Indo-European—what we today call “religions” have been known as "ways."

It's an easy metaphor to understand.

The ancestors made this path with their walking; we follow in their footsteps. Track, after all, still means both "path" and "footprint." 

iii.

The Old Ways are still among us. 

You could call them the greenways.

They were already old back before cars, back before pavement, back before the wheel.

And some of us still walk them.

Spencer Gore, Icknield Way (1912)

 

 

 

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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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