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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Satanic Panic

Really, it was a turning point in the life of the local pagan community.

It was back in the Bad Old Days of the Satanic Panic.

A conspiracy (really, one can't call it anything else) of nazzes sent out their evil missionaries, so-called “occult experts,” to spread their lying gospel of sacrificed babies, multi-generational “ritual abuse,” and “recovered memory syndrome.”

To their everlasting shame, the media, psychologists, and police departments all over the US were taken in by this claptrap.

Several rituals in local parks had been disrupted by the police. Following an incident that has (jocularly enough) gone down in local pagan lore as “The Great Lammas Massacre,” people had had enough.

Writer Paul Tuitean and a couple of other guys who had personal connections with local law enforcement set up a community meeting with the Minneapolis and St. Paul police departments.

The boys in blue showed up, expecting, no doubt, a few ranting wackos.

Instead, what they found was a room crammed full of educated, articulate, middle-class people, all of us fully cognizant of our legal and Constitutional rights.

And were we ever angry.

The police learned an important lesson that night.

So did the pagans.

And (for the most part) things have been pretty good between us ever since.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

Witches make good friends and neighbors.

We'll help you out when you need it, and if we say we'll do something, we'll do it.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be afraid of us.


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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.


  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette Wednesday, 19 October 2016

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have a novel (in the process of being published) that is set in 1986, and the Satanic Panic plays a part in the plot. (Gillian Flynn's "Dark Places" has a similar motif). I think we need to to keep this knowledge from sliding down the memory hole. Many people's lives were shattered due to this witchhunt. Thank you again, and blessed be!

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 19 October 2016

    Thanks for the heads up, D. R., I'll keep an eye out for your novel. (What's the title?)
    I hadn't heard of Dark Places before, but I'll definitely check it out.
    My own favorite Satanic Panic novel is Richard Grant's In the Land of Winter, about a New England witch whose daughter is taken away from her. It's poignant, funny, and filled with pagan in-jokes.

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