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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In Which Our Intrepid Blogger Regrets Not Having Killed the Baby Bird

 Picking up baby birds can do more harm than good | Oregon State University


Featherless, looking like a tiny pterodactyl, the baby bird lay on the sidewalk, dying.

I knew what I should do. I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

I was maybe eighteen, wrestling with the Big Issues. For various reasons, I'd just turned vegetarian; I'd vowed myself to non-violence.

The bird was suffering. I could have ended that suffering. I didn't.

Decades later, I still regret that moment of self-indulgent turning-away.

As lovers of life, pagans do what we may to ease suffering. “Kill cleanly,” says the law of the hunt, meaning: When you must cause suffering, cause as little as may be. To relieve the suffering of another is an act of generosity, and worthy of the great of heart. To end suffering is always virtuous.

I like to think that I'm wiser now. I like to think that I would be willing to set aside my compunctions to do the harder thing, for the sake of something larger, for the sake of ending another's pain.

In retrospect, I owe that broken little nestling a debt of gratitude.

Of the gods that we know, two suffer: the Red and the Green, Animal and Plant. Suffering is constituent of life.

That's why it's up to us to do something about it.








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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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