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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Osculum Infame

Warning: Contains material some readers may find offensive.

You've heard the stories. Do you know what those wacky-ass witches do at their sabbats? They actually kiss the Devil's hairy bung-hole: the Kiss in tergo, as the chroniclers coyly put it.

Ah, yes: the osculum infame, “the notorious kiss,” as it's known. You might think that this is one of the parts of medieval witchery that didn't quite make it to the modern witchcraft revival, but I think that you'd be wrong on that count. Twelve'll get you thirteen that the good old Kiss from Behind is ancestral to the Book of Shadows' Fivefold Kiss. Breathes there a Wiccan who would admit it, though? 

Supposedly, it's a diabolic perversion of the church's Kiss of Peace. Back then it symbolized blasphemy and depravity. These days, it's just another form of foreplay, if not necessarily to everyone's taste. Of course, those were differently-sanitary days.

Upper mouth meets nether mouth: there's something mammalian about the Kiss, primal. Watch how dogs (as my grandmother would have put it) schniff im tukhis. Meanings and meanings: greeting, recognition, trust, intimacy, eros, even nurturance. In tergo barely begins to cover them all.

Years ago I read a novel set during the Burnings. Title and author escape me. What I do recall is this: our heroine is unwilling to kiss the Devil's arse, but the others tell her: “All parts of the Master are sweet and good.” So she does it.

All parts of the Master are sweet and good. Later she falls out of the Devil's good graces, and he demonstrates it thus: he offers the rest of the coven the Kiss Between the Horns—explained earlier as a sign of great favor—but when it's her turn, he turns and offers her the tail end instead.

This novel, about which I remember so little, was classic Witchsploitation, playing up all the salacious and sensationalist bits. Thoroughly forgettable, all but that one phrase.

All parts of the Master are sweet and good.

And in the realm of the Animal God, is not the Body always ultimately master?

And unto ages of ages.






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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.


  • Perimede
    Perimede Sunday, 16 November 2014

    (lol) Opening your blog in the morning is like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates. Ya' never know what you're going to get. But it's always interesting.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 16 November 2014

    Perimede, I'm going to be quoting you on that one: thanks. Wait till you see the one on "witches' tits"!

  • Perimede
    Perimede Monday, 17 November 2014

    Well, I've certainly been colder than the North slope of one. Can't wait.

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