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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Witches Thole

 “There's more to the Craft, my dear, than is written in your Book of Shadows.”


Witches use a lot of old words that others have long since forgotten (athame, widdershins...), and here's one of my favorites among them: thole.

In elevated English, one could translate thole as “endure.” Colloquially, we'd say “put up with.”

Believe me, with our history, witches know a lot about tholing.

“What can't be changed, must be tholed.” There's an old witch proverb for you. Thole is close kin to patience, but patience is something that you have (whatever that means) while tholing is something that you do.

Thole differs from endure in that endurance is passive. Tholing, however, is an active response, and I'll leave you to suss for yourself just what that might look like on the ground. But this much let me say.

Thole isn't just a concept; it's a way of life. Some things you can change, and witches have our own ways of effecting change. Witches aren't much for frontal assault. Often there's a way under, or over, or around instead.

But if there isn't, there's no point tearing your heart out over it. Witches don't fret.

We thole.

In this time of plague, when so much is new or uncertain, there's much to be said for this old witch virtue. Magic works in its own time.

Meanwhile, witches thole. It's what you do while waiting for the magic to kick in.




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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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