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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Three Stag Carols for Yule

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

What is it about the Stag and Yule? Three traditional Midwinter's carols about stags from all over Europe, as charming as they are mysterious.


Nine-Tined Stag

Nine-tined stag a-running came

(Kalado, nine-tined stag)

came and into water gazed,

gazed and counted tines.


—Nine fine tines upon my brow,

a little twig makes ten.

On that twig, smiths hammering:

hammer, smiths, and forge!


Forge for me, my brother smiths

a little golden cup:

a golden cup for water

to sprinkle the green, green rue.



Kalado: Traditional refrain of Midwinter carols



Boy Stag of Wonder

Boy stag of wonder

(horns of a thousand

branches and tines

a thousand bright candles)


bears in his antlers

the light of the sun

on his brow a star

on his breast the moon


courses the banks of the shining

heavenly Danube

blue stag, bearer of news

what news?



Carol of the Stag

A stag stood singing in the forest

tra-la-lay, O come

Hunters heard and went to find him

tra-la-lay, O come

High on a mountain they found him singing

tra-la-lay, O come

Spare my life, O do not kill me

tra-la-lay, O come

I am never the night of nights

tra-la-lay, O come

I am chief to every shepherd

tra-la-lay, O come

Chief to ewes on every mountain

tra-la-lay, o come

Every single white-capped mountain

tra-la-lay, O come


Cintecul Cerbului, “Song of the Stag”



Translated by Steven Posch © 2010




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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.


  • tehomet
    tehomet Wednesday, 31 December 2014

    Fascinating. I knew about the carol 'O the Rising of the Sun' which has the line about the running of the deer in its chorus, but these carols were new to me. Thank you.

  • Jaime Johnson
    Jaime Johnson Thursday, 01 January 2015

    These are beautiful and mysterious. I couldn't help but sing along as I read them; loving them!

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