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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Journey to the Driftless


Beads on a necklace, memory-amber


Call them Northern Songlines.

Some remember by books, but for us the Land itself bears memory. All landscapes are mythic, at least potentially.

I've traveled Route 61 south along the Mississippi to the pagan land-sanctuaries of the Driftless Area for so many decades now that it has become, for me, a pilgrimage-route.

So I've re-cast the journey along the lines of the list of place-names in the Táin that recounts the way taken by Medb's army to fateful Cúailnge.

Each place a bead on a necklace, memory-amber.


Journey to the Driftless


This was their route, east, south and east again from Minneapolis on the Mississippi, Father of Waters:


eastward through Pig's Eye of the Sow, called St. Paul,

southward through Newport of the Red Rock,

through Hastings,

through Red Wing of the Clays, under Barn Bluff,

through Lake City on Pepin, where the water-horse swims,

through Wabasha,

past Trempeleau, Rattlesnake Island, where the Horned came down from Heaven,

through Winona of the Firstborn,

through La Crescent,


eastward through La Crosse under Grandfather Bluff,

through Coon Valley,

through Westby of the Northmen,

through Viroqua,

through Viola of the Cranes on the Kickapoo, "goes here, goes there",


to Sweetwood of the People, where the Bull Stone stands.


Such was the route they took.




Ciaran Carson (2007) The Táin: A New Translation of the Táin Bó Cúailnge. New York: Viking



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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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