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 Was Otzi's Religion?

I first heard about Ötzi the Ice Man from a sermon.

I'd gone with a friend to Friday evening services at his synagogue. The rabbi began talking about a newly-discovered ice mummy “from the time of Abraham.”*

It really made her feel connected, she said, to her Jewish roots.

Well, that's a bit of a stretch, I can remember thinking.

But, stretch or no stretch, that was how I first met Ötzi.

We don't often get to come literally face-to-face with the ancestors. With Ötzi we do. I think that that's one reason why he's become such a celebrity. We look at him and of course we want to see ourselves.

So, what would Ötzi's religion have been?

Well, we don't know, and we'll never know. Nothing among his clothing or gear gives any indication of what Powers he may or may not have acknowledged.

But, given where and when he lived—Copper Age Europe—we can identify some likelihoods. Chances are, his gods were the gods of his tribe.

Chances are, he honored the Many.

Chances are, he honored both goddesses and gods.

Chances are, he honored these Powers with offerings.

Well yes, I'm stretching here too, though not quite as far, I think, as my friend's rabbi was.

But when, a few nights from now, the bonfires blaze, the drums throb, and the dance really gets going, I can't help but think that Ötzi the Ice Man—whatever his real name might have been—would (if he could be there) probably feel right at home.


*We now know that—assuming Abraham to have been historical—Ötzi would have preceded him by more than a millennium.






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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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