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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Snow Flower

A philosophical lot, Northrons.

I was out this morning shoveling this winter's first inch. (Up here in the North Country, snow comes progressively: First Flurry, First Laying Snow, First Shoveling Snow.)

Every single person that went past had something to say, a continuing conversation. You could construct an entire philosophy from what they said.

Well, it's here.

Early or late, it always comes.

Sure is beautiful, though.

Northern fatalism? Not really. Fatalism is laying down and letting it cover you. If this is fatalism, it's a fatalism of honor, a fatalism that spurs to action. If we're going to go down, we'll go down fighting, shovels—like swords—in hand.

You learn to do what you can, whatever the odds, whatever the ends, one shovelful at a time. It may or may not be enough, but that's no reason to stop trying.

With winters like ours, you learn to think ahead. The firewood's cut and stacked (under a tarp, of course), the pantry, freezer, and back steps are as full as I can make them. Yesterday I picked the last of the kale and collards from the garden. Everyone knows that “frosting” makes them sweeter and more tender.

Yesterday was dark. Night comes early now, and lingers late. The ivy outside still holds its leaves, keeping out what little light there is. Rising before sunrise, I fumble around in night.

But this morning, the house was full of light. Every silver snowflake is a crystal mirror.

At Samhain She comes, gaunt screaming hag, the black frost by night.

Now She's youthful again, the Maiden Snow, in all Her blue-crystal beauty.

Do not be fooled: Her embrace is just as deadly.

Winter's Eve, they call Samhain hereabouts, and—sure enough—She's here.

Early this year, they say, but that's by our time, not Hers.

And every flake's a flower.








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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.


  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza Friday, 09 November 2018

    I've heard our winter attitude up here called "Nordic Zen" just do winter. It's a waste of energy to get upset if you hate it..just scrape.the windshield and brush off the car and get along. We dont all love winter up here, but theres no point in hating it..

    And its.true..the cure to the winter blues is snow cover..all that reflected light is such a gift in the darkest time. Bless the snow.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 10 November 2018

    During the snowy winter of 2011, I attended a Midwinter's Eve rite down at Coldwater Spring at new Moon: dark o' the Sun, dark o' the Moon. Everyone was going on and on about how this was the Darkest Night.

    In fact, because we'd already had so much snow that year, there was so much ambient snowlight that one could practically have read a newspaper by it.

    Unconscious irony is my favorite kind.

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Friday, 09 November 2018

    My role playing games set in Japan or with an Anime theme mention the Yuki Onna (Snow Woman).

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 10 November 2018

    My own thought was intimately shaped by the rites and mythology of the old Pagan Movement in Britain and Ireland back in the 70s. Here's their Samhain, with a terrifying theophany of the Queen of Ice:

  • Tyger
    Tyger Saturday, 10 November 2018

    So beautiful, these words!
    We don't get much snow in Texas, perhaps every 3rd or 4th year, but it enchants our scorched landscape, frosts our bare trees, and captures all our hearts when it falls.

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