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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It's a Yule Tree, Sabrina Spellman

 Sabrina: Oh Ambrose, Aunt Hilda: what a beautiful Christmas tree!

Aunt Zelda: I wish you wouldn't call it, that, Sabrina. It's a Yule tree.


Well, I can die happy now: I've just seen television's first Winter Solstice holiday special.

Courtesy—of course—of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

And believe me, this isn't your mother's Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.

Come on, admit it: Sabrina's lots of fun. It's way campy and (unlike those silly Wiccans who want to protest how “inaccurate” it is) doesn't take itself too seriously. In fact, it doesn't take itself seriously at all.

And it did bring us TV's first Winter Solstice holiday special.

So what that it uses the Lore (“GRIE-lah”: ugh) for its own purposes (i.e. to entertain), and not for ours?

So what that the "Yule" special is filled with bad Christmas music?

So what that Harvey is (even for a cowan) the world's most boring boyfriend, and not even that cute?

Where else on TV do you see (and hear) witches joining hands and chanting the Solstice Blessing:


May the Yule Log burn;

may the Wheel turn.

May evil spurn;

may the Sun return.


Down the years, I've heard worse at plenty of Wiccan circles.

Far worse.

So let's hear it for The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. At heart, it's all about the pains (and pleasures) of being different, something every Witch (and Warlock) can understand.

On this Thirteenth Night of Yule, this Feast of Fools, let us join hands and say, together with Sabrina:


Satan bless us, every one.


Sabrina: Merry Christmas, Harvey.

Harvey: M—what do you guys say?

Sabrina: Good Solstice, Harvey.

Harvey: Yeah. [Leaves.]










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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.


  • Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker
    Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker Wednesday, 02 January 2019

    Nice article with one correction: as far as I know, the first fully-devoted winter solstice TV episode was "Northern Lights," a 1993 episode of Northern Exposure. It's gorgeous: you can check out the final scene on YouTube.

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Wednesday, 02 January 2019

    That was the one with the string of raven lights right? Where Marilyn told the story of how Raven brought back the Sun.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 04 January 2019

    I stand corrected, Susan, and happily so. Good old Northern Exposure. A friend who loved the series insisted that I watch the Raven episode at the time, and it was indeed well worth the watching.

    And well worth revisiting. Thanks!

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