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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in stang

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Call it unexpected affirmation.

A warlock friend of mine was driving through Ames, Iowa the other day. Amusingly, his route took him along Stange Road.

Locally pronounced stang, Stange (in two syllables) is originally a Norwegian surname; in this case, presumably the name of some City Father of days gone by.

But of course stang is also the name that witches give to the furca or forked pole that represents the Horned God. So you can't help but feel that there's something special—or amusing, at least—about driving down “Stang” Road.

Then he came to the intersection with Thirteenth Street.

“Meet me at the corner of Thirteenth and Stang.” Sounds like a line from a bad Witch novel, probably by some hack like Steve Posch.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    You're a troublemaker, Anthony, but then, we already knew that. Good advice, duly taken on board. Stay tuned.
  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    Well Steven you've told a lot of stories over the years. Perhaps this is a call to gather the stories and put them in a book. Th
Crossing the River: L. M. Boston's 'An Enemy at Green Knowe'

It's a tribute to the evocative nature of the modern Craft that, even as the Craft itself was taking shape, it had already begun to influence contemporary popular literature.

Anthony Gresham has remarked on the thrill that those of us reading our way into the Craft at the time would experience when encountering these literary confirmations of what we were already knew from the “nonfiction” of the time. (I remember this experience with nostalgia myself.) Not to be overlooked, of course, is the confirmational nature offered by this cross-referencing as well. The more wide-spread the information, the more authentic it appeared.

One very early (and frequently-overlooked) example of the modern Craft's influence on contemporary popular literature is L. M. Boston's 1964 An Enemy at Green Knowe.

Boston's acclaimed Green Knowe series of young readers' books revolve around a young boy—Tolly—his great-grandmother, and an 11th-century house in Buckinghamshire called Green Knowe. (Knowe, interestingly, means “barrow” or “burial mound,” although the mound as such does not figure into the books.) The series is beautifully-written, subtle, and filled with magic, featuring the young hero's encounters with previous inhabitants of the house, so delicately drawn that one can hardly call them ghosts.

Although magic figures in all the books, it comes to the forefront in An Enemy at Green Knowe.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The God That Wasn't There

I'd gone down to the clearing to make the morning offering to the stang.

But the stang wasn't there.

(It turned out later that the stang's keeper had moved it, but that doesn't really enter into this story.)

Now, it's always best to offer towards: in this case, towards an icon.

Well, I had the offerings and it was the time of offering, so I made the usual offerings and said the usual prayers to the Invisible Stang instead: to the stang that wasn't there.

Of course, every visible stang—and every icon—is (shall we say) overlain by the invisible stang anyway (or should be, at least).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Devil's Cross

Did you ever wonder why the Devil carries a pitchfork?

Give a quick eye-over to any book of medieval art, and you'll soon know why.

In Hell, it seems like every devil has some sort of tool of torture in hand: meat-hooks are common.

The Afterlife as torture-chamber. Yikes.

The creators of modern Witchery made clever, and creative, use of their sources. Wicca's Fivefold Kiss (“What is the five that is eight?”) originated as the Trial Era's osculum infame. (In plain English, that's “kissing the Devil's bunghole.”)

The witch's ability to “draw down the Moon” originally referred to her unholy power, not to embody a goddess, but to disrupt the course of nature.

Likewise with the Devil's pitchfork. In Old Craft, it became the symbol, and sometimes the embodiment, of the Horned God.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tree of Sacrifice

The stang, or “Devil's Cross,” is the forked pole that, in Old Craft usage, represents the Horned.

It's a Tree of Life.

It's also a Tree of Death.

At the great temple of Uppsala in Sweden, they used to hang the bodies of sacrifices—strange and terrible fruit—from the trees of the sacred grove.

If you've ever seen the gutted carcass of a deer strung up from a branch to bleed out, you'll understand.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Stangmen

They call them the Stangmen.

They also call them the Witchmen, though generally out of earshot.

A bunch of grizzled old farmers that look just like anyone else, though everyone knows who they are.

Everyone knows that at the Old Times they go up to the Hill—the one that everyone still calls Old Baldie, though the trees grew back long since—and there they do their work.

Back before the trees grew back, you could see every field and pasture in the district from up there.

They call them the Stangmen because they keep the four old stangs, handed down since no one knows when.

Different stangs for different times and different purposes: Ram, Bull, Stag, Goat.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Of Oosers, Stangs, and Garlands

The stang is the standing forked pole that represents the Horned in Old (“Traditional”) Craft practice. I've written elsewhere about the custom of “dressing” the stang with seasonal garlands, and theorized about the meaning of this practice. It now occurs to me that the garlanding of the stang has an even deeper resonance.

It is universally acknowledged in Old Craft circles that the stang in-stands for the Master Himself. By Robert Cochrane's time (1931-1966), the personification of the “Devil” by the “devil” (i.e. of the god by the priest) had as a practice become moribund, so that the lore associated with it has been passed down only in fragmentary form.

That does not mean, however, that it has not been passed down. The ooser* (rhymes with “bosser,” not “boozer”) is the horned wooden mask worn by the priest when he personifies at the sabbat. Here in the American Midwest, as elsewhere, it has become customary for the ooser, when worn, to be accompanied with a “ruff” or collar of live greenery around the neck which, of course, varies in make-up with the season, just as the stang's wreath does.

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