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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In the Age of the Red Hag

hag, v. trans. 1. to torment or terrify, as a hag; to trouble, as the nightmare 2. to ride ruthlessly, as a witch a “night-borrowed” horse


Back around the onset of the pandemic, I posted a piece about Shitala Ma, “Mother Smallpox,” the Hindu goddess of infectious diseases, who “possesses” those who offend her.

It turns out that, at the opposite end of the Indo-European diaspora, Shitala Ma has a Celtic analogue.

In Ireland,certain diseases were at one time traditionally known as “hags,” frequently distinguished by colors. The Yellow Hag was the name for a fever accompanied by jaundice. Starvation was known as the Black Hag. I've heard of others as well, though I can't offhand remember what they were.

Making use of this traditional metaphor, we may say that we live now in the era of the Red Hag. Just why it is that the covid-19 virus has become associated with the color red, I'm not sure—there's certainly no molecular reason for it—but there we are.

 Cowans say: she has covid.

The Red Hag has her, we say.

A small difference, maybe, but significant.










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Tagged in: covid 19 Covid-19
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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Thursday, 25 June 2020

    Covid-19 causes blood clots in capillaries causing skin to take on a reddish color. That's why they've started treating patients with blood thinners. I think you can find some videos on YouTube to give you some examples.

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