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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On First Meeting Old Hornie in the Woods

Yes, it's true: I first met Old Hornie in the woods when I was 16.

And no, I'm not going to tell you about it.

I suspect that many (if not most) of us have experienced something like this: the Encounter that changes everything that comes after.

You might think that more of us would talk about these Meetings. In a community like the pagan community, which lacks (for the most part) central accreditation, such narratives would serve to establish credibility.

But in my experience, people mostly don't want to talk about these things. A holy silence surrounds them. For me, that unwillingness to talk is precisely one of the hallmarks of authentic encounter.

Those who have had such experiences can testify that these are some of the most intimate moments that any life can have. They're much like sex. Most of us don't go on and on about our most intimate sexual experiences, either.

And that's not just coyness. Such things are, in many ways, ineffable. If describable at all, the naked experience is approachable only clothed in metaphor.

It happened. It changed me forever. Really, what can you say?

That's the way it is with Mysteries. There are the apórrhêta, the things you don't tell; and the árrhêta, the things you can't tell.

In my youth, I met Himself in the woods; nor was I the first. So too have many, many, down the years.

The stories live in holy silence.

To read them, only look into our eyes.


Baroness Kessler: I have more than 10,000 volumes in my collection, all of them dealing with just one subject: the Devil.

Corso: Why the Devil?

Baroness: I saw him one day. I was 14 years old, and I saw him in the garden justly as plainly as I see you now. It was love at first sight.

Corso: You know, three hundred years ago, you'd have been burned at the stake for saying something like that.

Baroness: Three hundred years ago, I wouldn't have said it!


Roman Polanski, The Ninth Gate (1999)






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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Saturday, 28 October 2017

    In the book "The Wind in the Willows" there is a chapter called piper at the gates of dawn. I believe that the author had his own encounter with the horned one and that is the only way he could express it. I think the arts exist to convey the things that can't be told, but must be conveyed.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 29 October 2017

    Just so.

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