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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Nine Nights Spell

I'm not usually much one for spells and such, but a dear friend of mine is in a very dark place right now. If we lived in the same city, I'd mow his lawn or cook his dinner. But we don't; so I'm making him magic instead.

My friend is heathen, and Frey is his heart-god. Heathen is for me a second language, but the (admittedly controversial) identification of Vana-Frey with the Horned God of Witches gives me a port of entry. And indeed, at least one 17th-century Swedish witch confessed that she and her coven called the Devil “Frö (= Frey) (Runeberg 81). The trial is late enough that we cannot rule out the possibility of literary “contamination,” but even if this is the case, precedent is precedent. Interpretatio wiccana, anyone?

The spell is based on the famous passage from Hávamál about Óðinn's nine nights on the tree. While as a poem this may mark the piece as derivative, as a spell it sets up powerful resonances, like a jazz improvisation on a known tune.


Nine Nights Spell


I know that I poured   to the offering-god

nine full nights   raised a horn

for the Rider of Boars   Frey poured to Frey

as the moon turned   I poured it


nine to the Rider of Mammoths

nine to the Rider of Bears

I took up the horn

the mead poured down


singing I poured it down




For more on Frey as God of Witches, see Edred ("Bad Boy of Heathenry") Thorsson, Witchdom of the True: A Study of the Vana-Troth and the Practice of Seiðr (1999). Smithville (Texas), Rûna-Raven Press. Basically, his thesis is that those seeking Keltic origins for Wicca are barking up the wrong world-tree, and that the Craft is Germanic all the way down; Wicca's Lord and Lady = Frey and Freyja. Don't say I didn't warn you.


Arne Runeberg, Witches, Demons and Fertility Magic: Analysis of Their Significance and Mutual Relations in West-European Folk Religion (1947). Helsingfors.








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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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