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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Now The Green Blade Riseth

Down the years, it's become the leitmotif of our spring evenday (equinox) celebration.

Now the green blade riseth from the buried grain:

wheat that in the deep Earth many days hath lain.

Love lives again, that with the dead hath been:

love is come again, like wheat that springeth green.


The tune is a 17th century French noel, with lyrics written by an early 20th century Anglican clergyman. Now the pagans sing it when, having descended into the underworld, we find Spring and bring her back. As a round we sing it, vining, intertwining, calling forth the green.


The tune has a delicate poignancy: joy with sorrow beneath. It's spring and we're glad, but it's a gladness tinged with the sadness of the winter now just past; winter is always hard, and maybe we haven't all made it through. The greatest joys of life all grow from a seed of sorrow. (That seed of sorrow is what makes Ostara different from Bealtaine.) The bittersweet tune tells a powerful truth.


And once you know the tune, for gods' sakes, don't miss Marcel Dupré's masterful 1920 Variations on a Noël (Opus 20), in which the tender strength of a sprouting seed grows into a thunderstorm, a tornado, an earthquake.

And this too tells the truth of our Northern spring: which comes, as Suzanne Massie has observed, not gently, but as an explosion.









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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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