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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Where Witching Begins


 Words Before a Skyclad Ritual


First skyclad ritual? Nervous?

I remember mine. Twenty years old, all jacked up on hormones and excitement. Oh, I was so afraid I was going, embarrass myself.

I didn't. Nobody ever does. I've been to a lot of initiations over the years, and I've never known it to happen. It doesn't happen, because that's really not what's going on here.

And even if it did, this is a men's ritual. Every single guy down there has an unpredictable male body of his own, with a mind, and sense of humor, of its own.

Believe me, we know all about it. If anything, we'd read it as an omen. A good omen.

Funny thing about skyclad: it's only an issue before you've actually done it. Once you have, everything changes. The world changes.

No, seriously. I'm going to make a prediction here. At some point this evening, you're suddenly going to come to, and you'll think to yourself: Holy shite! Here I am, butt naked in the forest with a bunch of other guys, and I'd completely forgotten that I'm naked!

That's Her gift to Her children. That's why we do it. Well, one reason, anyway. This first time is important because it teaches you things about yourself that you'll never learn in any other way.

Once you've seen that power of the mind—years of arbitrary social inhibitions, gone like that—you can't help but wonder: If it can do that, then what else can it do?

That's where witching begins.

So, here are a towel and a bag. Take them up to the bathhouse.

Strip off, and put everything in the bag: clothes, shoes, everything. Just hang it up there and leave it. We'll deal with it later.

Wash yourself thoroughly, get dried off, and come on down to the head of the path by the standing stones over there. Then wait.

We'll come and get you when it's time.




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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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