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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When Earth Was Young



Every culture needs an opening phrase that says: This story is set in mythic time.

“Once upon a time” says: folktale, not myth.

“In the beginning” is the wrong world, and (moreover) a mistranslation.

“In the Dreamtime” is profound, but it's someone else's profundity.

So lately I've settled upon “When Earth was young....”

It's a resonant phrase, this. Few are older than Earth, and surely none that we know (or love) so well. “Old as Earth,” we say. Surely when Earth was young means long ago, before things were as they are today, which is always a good way to begin a story.

I love that the phrase makes Earth a character in our story. We're the pagans; for us, Earth is a character in every story. Even if the story isn't directly about her, she's still a necessary character. If the story were directly about her, I would probably start off with a variation: Back when Earth was a girl....

I've even heard myself use the phrase in satire, as a way of making fun: In the early days of Paganistan, back when Earth was young....

Here's the best part of all, and the part that makes it mythic: we all know that time ourselves. We know it because we've seen it. In fact, we see it every year.

Happy Beltane, folks. What beauty is so beautiful as the beauty of your mother's own face, and she young, and first in love?


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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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