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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What Do You Shout While Leaping a Bonfire?

Most languages have a certain number of words-without-meaning called vocables, words that are all connotation, no denotation.

Hurrah would be one such, along with its variants: hooray, etc. Any native speaker of English can tell you about hurrah. It's a cheer, signifying enthusiasm, but it doesn't really denote anything.

So how do you say “hurrah” in Witch?

No, don't huzza at me. (Huzza is the Elizabethan ancestor of modern hurrah, derivation unknown.) I'm sorry: huzza stinks of Renn Fest. It's affected, hopelessly attainted, and there's simply nothing to be done about it. Next.

Open your Books of Shadows, please. Kindly turn to the Bagabi lacha bachabe chant. Read down to the very end. There.


That's hah-RAH-yah. Come on, roll those Rs. Let's try that again. Again! Come on, like you mean it! Now three times! Nine! With a clap in between! Now a stomp! Harrahya!

Now there's a fit cry for leaping a bonfire.

No, it's not an ancient language. It is most assuredly not a string of god-names.

It's a vocable. It gives us the freedom to speak without having to mean.

Harrahya! Harrahya! Harrahya!


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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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