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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The Secret Heart of Witchdom

Deep in the heart of every modern pagan lives the longing for the Pagan Place, where the old fires burn undiminished.

For 13 years, here among the hollow hills of the Midwestern US's Driftless Area, for one week a year, the mists would part, and we would enter into that place, the secret heart of Witchdom.

We called it Avalon.

In 1995, priestess Lhianna Sidhe dreamed of a gathering where those of deep experience in, and dedication to, the Craft could come together and collectively Turn the Wheel.

And turn it we did.

Friendships sprouted; covens came together. From the womb of Avalon was born the Midwest Tribe of Witches.

Those of us privileged to drink from her breasts now remember that time with nostalgia.

With so focused an aim and population—it truly was a gathering of elders—the sense of collective momentum was intense. Avalon was a seedbed, a laboratory, a place in which to try the new, the old, the risky, the dangerous. There you could do the things that simply couldn't be done at a come-one-come-all festival. I myself, long-time student of ritual, there gained mastery of my craft.

In Avalon, down in the Big Valley, was reborn one night the Grand Sabbat in the Old Style: the Old One Himself standing astride on the altar with constellations wheeling between his antlers, the frenzied dancing, the love-making at the edges of the firelight.

As these things will, Avalon went through its cycle and came to an end.

But there's no shame in an ending. Sorrow, yes, but sorrow is an honoring.

For deep in the heart of every modern pagan lives the longing for the Pagan Place, where the old fires burn undiminished.

We know that this place exists, for some of us have been there.

And still every year, with the corn grown ripe in the field and the rowan berries red on the tree, we remember.

So thank you, Lhianna Sidhe: your accomplishment was epic.

And we tell the tales to this day.




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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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