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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Our Lady of Paganistan

If genuine, she could well be the oldest human artifact in Paganistan.

From coiffed head to pointed toe, you can see the resemblance to the Lady of Willendorf immediately.

Articulate, enigmatic, she simultaneously merges with, and emerges from, the stone that is her matrix. At 5¼ x 2¼ inches, you could hold her in the palm of your hand.

And believe me, when you see her, you want to.

She now resides in the heart of the American Midwest at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. If the stories are true, her previous home was a cave in southern France, and she's 22,000 years old.

Located in France's Dordogne region, the cave of la Mouthe was first discovered and excavated in 1894. Known primarily for its animal paintings, it was the first site at which stone fat-lamps were found, thus solving the problem of how prehistoric painters managed enough steady light to paint by. The rock shelter in front of the cave proper was excavated in 1984.

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts had acquired the Lady of la Mouthe from a London art dealer in 1972, at a cost of $48,000. According to the dealer, she was discovered in 1964. If so, she must be the product of clandestine digging. It is difficult to understand how she could have got past the French authorities otherwise.

In a penetrating article, art historian Randall White traces both what is known, and what is not known, about her history, and suggests—while admitting that at this stage certainty is impossible—that she is probably the creation of a 20th century, rather than a prehistoric, artist.

Well. Her elegantly elongated, contoured body is entirely curvilinear, all legs, crotch, belly, breasts, and head. She is small yet monumental, impersonal yet intimate. Whether an ancient creation or a modern one, her power is undeniable.

Old or new, goddess or not, whether of her doing or no, around the Lady of la Mouthe has now gathered one of the largest, most vibrant pagan communities in the Western Hemisphere.

A community, interestingly, which began to take shape right around the time that the Lady first came to Minneapolis.

Ancient or modern: almost the point is moot. “New-made along old lines”: that's a principle that every modern pagan understands.

Well might we call her, our Lady of Paganistan.


Randall White, “Une Vénus problémmatique trouvée au Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.” Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française (1992). Vol. 89 No. 9.




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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.


  • Jean Pagano
    Jean Pagano Friday, 16 September 2016


    This is beautiful; thank you for posting this info.



  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 16 September 2016

    You're very welcome, Drum. She's definitely worth a visit.

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