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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Lady of the Thrice-Plowed Furrow

You could call them the Clay Ladies.

The ancestors made them by the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands: little naked women, poised on pointed toes to stand calf-deep in the good tilled soil of our gardens and fields.

We've been doing this since the end of the last Ice Age, and we still do. No one needs to be told why we put them there.

The best magic explains itself.

There they stand, graciously bestowing their gift of fruitfulness, looking as if they are rising from the Earth.

They are Earth itself, formlessness rising into form. The goddess rising from Earth was a minor (but not uncommon) motif in ancient Greek art, and rightly so. The furrow parts: the goddess is born.

They say that the Lady Demeter lay with the hero Iasion in the “thrice-plowed furrow” (tripólos). By him, she became the mother of Ploútôn: wealth.

Why “thrice-plowed”? The simplex plows of the ancestors—the pre-mold-board variety—basically scratched a single furrow into the ground. Archaeologists have discovered that in order to break up the ground more effectively, it was customary to plow each field three times: once to break the soil, the second time at a 90º angle to the first plowing to further break up the soil, and a third time along the original furrows to give the plowed soil a good mix.

I.e. exactly the same way that I rototill my own backyard garden every year, some 12,000 years later.

And then, of course, before you sow, you sow.

Making love in the fields to make the crops grow is something else we've been doing since the end of the last Ice Age.

And again, no one needs to be told why.

The best magic explains itself.

Sculpture: Joanna Hajduk, Glinka Design

Photo: Magda Kielar


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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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