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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Green Man Bellows

 

Unsurprisingly, the couple that sold handmade brooms at the Renn Fest turned out to be witches.

Now, Witch World is a small place, with three degrees of separation at most, so each year, I would make it a point to stop in, and we'd swap stories for a while.

One year I was absolutely wowed by a set of hand-crafted wooden bellows hanging on the wall, the surface beautifully carved with a Green Man face.

The symbolism could hardly be more apposite. Bellows = air = the breath of life. Whose image could they possibly bear other than that of the God of All Green Life, whose reciprocal breath gives life to all us Red-bloods. And bellows blow up the Fire, which burns....wood, of course, the Green Man's very flesh. Rendered in—what else?—wood.

Charmed, I took the bellows up to the till.

“Tell,” I said.

The Green Man bellows had been crafted by their coven woodcarver. “They're his first,” they told me. “He'll be delighted to hear that he's made a sale.”

I was in love, and the price was more than reasonable, so of course I bought the Green Man bellows. I've joked for years about how I seem to be redoing my house in Early Green Man, which is frankly no more than the truth. Walking through my home, you'll find more Green Men than you could...well, than you could shake a stick at.

Back at the Renn Fest a few weeks later, I naturally stopped in at Broomhilda to say “Blessed Be.”

Laughing, they told me the story. They'd called their coven brother to tell him that he'd made a sale, and asked if he wanted to carve another set.

“F*ck no,” he told them. “Making those was so much work, I couldn't possibly charge enough to make it worthwhile.”

That's how it is that I came to own what is—to the best of my knowledge—the world's one and only set of Green Man bellows.

As together the Green Man and I blow up the Imbolc Fire, I think of witches far flung, a craftsman's loving labor, and the Breath of a Living God.

I smile.

 

 

 

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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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