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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A Tribe of Deicides

The world began with a sacrifice.

That's how the ancestors saw it, 6000 years ago.

6000 years later, that's still how witches see it.

Throughout Indo-Europeandom (and beyond it as well), one finds tales of the Primal Sacrifice. A divine or semi-divine being is killed; from his body, the world as we know it is created.

And so sacrifice becomes the central rite of public worship. Every sacrifice reenacts—reembodies—that primal, cosmogonic sacrifice.

Every sacrifice recreates the world.

Moreover, this is a true story. Truly, life lives on life. No matter what kind of -vore you are, others die so that you can eat them and live.

In the modern world, public animal sacrifice is simply not practical. (As a result, those who eat meat mostly eat food killed in an unsacred way: surely, a terrible state of affairs.) As a result, Gerald Gardner, in an act of audacious creativity, saw fit to replace animal sacrifice with the Great Rite.

And this also is a true story. The world began with an act of love. As witches, of course, we embrace this truth: the truth of Bealtaine.

But there is also the truth of Samhain. Our god wears horns for a reason. Lord of all life, he lives with our life: every killing is an act of deicide. Why is the witch's foremost tool an athame? My people, we are a tribe of deicides.

Late this summer, when the Midwest Tribe of Witches foregathers in immemorial Grand Sabbat, the Lord of the Sabbat, as he has for ages of ages, will once again mount the altar.

Flashing, the blades will fall.

And, once again, as so often before, the world will be made anew.


For more on the cosmogonic sacrifices of Indo-Europeandom, see:

Ken Dowden (2000), European Paganism: The Realities of Cult from Antiquity to the Middle Ages. Routledge.

M. L. West (2007), Indo-European Poetry and Myth. Oxford.


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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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