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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Sunk to Her Thighs in Soil, or: What You Do, Do Sacredly




A few weeks back, I asked my friends and readers: Should I put the little terracotta Garden Goddess out:

  1. when I till, or
  2. when I plant, and
  3. why?

Interest in the question has been keen, and discussion lively: my thanks to everyone who took the time to consider, and to reply.

So let me tell you what I ended up doing, and why I so chose. Here's a teaser: the Great Pagan Sin.


Although for years now I've always planted the Goddess at the same time that I planted the garden, this year—in accordance with the rede of the vast majority of respondents—I broke with longtime personal precedent and took Her out at the tilling instead. My friend Jason asked the question that prompted my final decision.

“Why do you put her there?” he asked. “For a fertile harvest, or for some other reason?”

Well, yes, it is for her fertilizing and protective powers that She stands now, sunk to her thighs in the soil, in the corner of the planted garden.

But there's another reason too.

Our kind—humanity—lived most lightly on the Earth back when we hunted and gathered.

Then came agriculture, which changed absolutely everything and which, surely even the least objective observer must admit, has through the course of history been immensely destructive. In a sense, you could call agriculture the Great Pagan Sin.

It's no small thing to break the soil, to penetrate the Mother and Her mysteries.

So, when I till, I bring the Goddess out and pour out the due libations as—you could call it—an apotropaic.

To keep our agriculture as non-destructive as possible, it's our obligation, as Earth's children, to practice sacred agriculture: agriculture than gives back, in exchange for what we take.

So as reminder, as guarantor, I till the garden under Her watchful Eye.

What you do, She says, do sacredly.


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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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