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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Samhain in the Forecourt: The Rite of Three Crones

When the horns of sunset sound, we gather with unlit candles and lamps in the great mound's forecourt. Between its tall stones, the gateway gapes.

Then he is among us, singing. I am here, I am right here among you. He shines, his antlers shine. We light from his torch and gather around him in a great wheel of fire. We sing.

Shadows slip between us and our song. Three? Nine? One by one, they snuff out our lights.

One by one, until only the god's torch still burns. They converge from all directions then, like silent hounds on a stag. He struggles, but they bring him down and kill his light. He falls. He is dead.

We lift him onto our shoulders. In the dark, the crones lead us in through the great stone gateway, down the long passage, to the echoing chamber with its great beehive roof. We lay him out on the ground and compose his limbs. We shroud and mourn him. We pass once again down the empty passage, out to the forecourt where the people wait. We wait.


At first the glimmer is so faint that we can hardly see it.

Out of the dark, it nears. He nears.

Standing in the gate, he is naked, stripped of his finery. The little fat lamp in his hand barely lights his sad-eyed face.

He looks, we look. He raises a hand: Farewell. He turns and is gone. The gateway gapes.

Winter has come, a new year begun.

The Wheel turns, and keeps on turning.


The Rite of the Three Crones was first enacted in Minneapolis at Samhain 1985.

Photo: Paul B. Rucker, Veil


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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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