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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Deck the Goat

October waning away, Samhain coming on. That means it's time to deck the Goat.

Like most witches, I'm a full-fledged aigolator (< Grk. aix, aigo-, “goat”). Whence our folk's affinity for things caprine?

If you think that it has something to do with the Bible, you're probably right. The Bible famously prefers sheep to goats. Well, sheep are passive and stupid, goats smart and headstrong. As Dion Fortune says, Some love one, and some love the other, but let me ask: Which would you rather be?

But the witch's aigophilia runs deeper than this.

Long ago, when the tallfolk's red bronze broke our people's blue flint, we got pushed up into the unfertile hills that no one else wanted. There's not enough graze up there for a cow, but goats thrive on the spiny browse that grows from the rocks. That's how the witch-folk became a People of the Goat: like us, they're survivors.

In this, we are like the Kalasha of what is now NW Pakistan, the only Indo-European-speaking people who have continuously practiced their traditional religion since antiquity. They too got pushed up into the mountains, in this case the Hindu Kush. They too survived thanks to the Goat.

Along with their herds of domestic goats, the Kalasha also reverence the argali, the white Himalayan wild goat, which they call “the cattle of the fairies.” Interestingly, the Scots refer to deer by the same title. On deer's milk I was suckled, goes a fairy song from the Highlands.

If it should seem strange that a lifelong vegetarian should have an argali head mounted above his fireplace, let me hasten to add that it's an antique from the 1920s. Crowning the head, the magnificent horns spiral out horizontally on either side, like the ram-horns worn by gods in Egyptian art. (The Egyptian wild goat, a relative of the Himalayan species, went extinct in pre-Dynastic times but—Kemet being Kemet—the Egyptians portrayed their gods with its horns to the very end of pharaonic civilization.) That's my deckable Goat.

Every year as Samhain nears, I wind his horns with orange lights, and hang from them little bulb-shaped glass ornaments, orange and black.

Does the Goat mind? Of course he doesn't. (We've lived together for years, and I know his moods.) In fact, he rather enjoys the attention. Unlike sheep, goats are proud, and vain.

Listen closely now, friend, and you may hear me humming under my breath as I unpack the Samhain boxes.

 

Deck the Goat with black and orange,

fa la la la la, la la la la....

 

 

Above:

Daisy Jordan, Children of the Goat (lino print)

 

 

 

 

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Tagged in: goat man goats
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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Comments

  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Friday, 18 October 2019

    I remember seeing a YouTube video of baby goats on sheet metal. They were adorable.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 19 October 2019

    Although I've never seen it, I've heard for years about National Lampoon's Satanist Catechism for Children:
    "This is the Goat. We kiss His fluffy white tail."

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