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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Does the horned God of Witches = ha-Satan/Satan/ash-Sheitan of the Abrahamic traditions?

Pagans being as media-driven as anyone else, this question (most likely, as my friend Joni recently pointed out, driven by the popularity of a certain television series) has seen a certain amount of discussion in the pagan blogosphere of late. Just hear those Wiccan toes curling up backwards.

I'll admit right up front that the question doesn't interest me; it does not even strike me, frankly, as a meaninglful question. I have only one thing to say on the subject. Well, two things.

Firstly: Like the body of Osiris, the Old Lore has been rent in pieces, its fragments scattered everywhere, and (hunter-gatherers that we are) we have both a right and an obligation to hunt down and to gather up those fragments wherever we may find them.

Secondly: Of the Horned God we may say that he is also the Hoofed God; we know that he is preeminently a wanderer, a god that walks, the Walker-With. He goes everywhere, and all the world bears the impress of his hoof.


Even the Bible.

Job 1:7 And the Lord said unto Satan [ha-satán], Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said: From going to and fro [sût] in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

The Queen James Version cited above simply transliterates the Hebrew ha-satán as “Satan,” without translating the word. From the nature of the mythological character—this is his first known appearance in Hebrew literature—the word would later come to mean “accuser”; in Modern Hebrew, it even means “prosecuting attorney”!

But this passage puns on the original meaning of the name. Hebraist Ernest Klein derives satán (שׂטן) from the verbal root sût  (שׂוּט), "go about, go to and fro, rove” (Klein 653).

I would translate:

Yahweh said to the Wanderer: Where have you been? The Wanderer answered: Wandering the earth, and walking about there.


Ernest Klein, A Comprehensive Etymological Dictionary of the Hebrew Language for Readers of English (1987). Macmillan.






















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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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