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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Lady Svetlana's Potato Salad


I've long admired Svetlana Butyrin (1934-2010), Lady of Feraferia: ace ritualist, pioneer visionary, who could treasure the most minute detail without losing sight of the overarching trajectory, and never feared to follow an idea to its logical conclusion.


The Colors of the Year


For instance: If Samhain has black and orange, and Yule red and green, she asked, what about the other holidays?

Here's her list.

Samhain: black and orange

Yule: red and green

Imbolc: electric blue and purple

Ostara: pink and blue

Beltane: hot pink and turquoise

Midsummer: chartreuse and gold

Lunasa: yellow and beige

Harvest Home: light orange and light brown


Agree or not, one has to admire the sheer daring of such an endeavor.

(Incidentally, lest you think this mere Martha Stewartry, let me hasten to add that we see here a deep, and deeply sophisticated, Goddess-God theologizing. Pagans see theology everywhere, color included.)


The Ostara Horror


One of Svetlana's un-good ideas—haven't we all had our share?—was to color-code the foods of said holidays accordingly. You can well image what horrors the pink-and-blue Ostara table held.

(Macaroni dyed blue. Shudder.)

The real sacred foods of pagan holidays, of course, are what's newly in season. By rights, the Beltane board—around here, anyway—should hold fresh cheeses, asparagus, baby greens, stuffed eggs, sorrel soup, strawberry-rhubarb pie....


 Quintessence of Summer


Looking, though, at her list of green-and-gold Midsummer's offerings, I was struck by her suggestion of a potato, green pepper, and green olive salad. “That sounds good,” I thought. So I made one.

Potato salad, of course, is quintessential Summer food anyway. (I usually serve the year's first at Beltane.)

Meanwhile, I had some red potatoes from last year's crop that desperately needed to be used, a yellow pepper ditto, and a partial jar of green olives that had languished at the back of the fridge for months. After boiling and peeling the potatoes, I cubed and dressed them, still warm, with a classic French lemon vinaigrette, and tossed the results with chopped golden pepper and green olive slices.

Garnish with some parsley and some chives fresh from the garden—no fresh dill yet, alas—and voilà: both beautiful and delicious.




Svyeta, to my regret, we never met. No doubt there are matters on which we wouldn't have seen eye-to-eye, but that's all by-the-by.

Thanks, and a thousand thanks, for everything that you've given me over the years. You enrich my life, you continue to enrich my life, every single day.

You make one fierce potato salad, too.



Svetlana Butyrin


Reborn to the People














Last modified on
Tagged in: Feraferia Fred Adams
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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