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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"Summer in Winter, Day in Night": Our Yule

The Yuletide is our greatest feasting of the year, comprehending (to various degrees) nearly two months of the year, and these are its parts: Fore-Yule, Yule, and Aer-Yule (which is to say, “After Yule”). As they did for the ancestors, the Thirteen Days (or Nights) themselves form the heart of the celebration, what poet Richard Crashaw called “Summer in Winter, Day in Night”; together they are said to constitute the entire year in microcosm.

Sunday after Thanksgiving

Mother Berhta Guerrilla Wassailers' Guild Rehearsal Supper

Throughout the month of December

Wassailing, mumming


Thirteen Nights before Midwinter's Eve

Troll Night

These are the darkest nights of the year, inhabited by monsters. (If you don't believe me, check out the nearest mall.) We lay offerings for the trolls at the doorstep and Hammer-ward our doors.


Midwinter's Eve

We sing the Sun down from Witch's Hat Tower Hill.

At sunset, we kindle the Yule fire, which burns throughout the Thirteen Days.

Yule Log kindled from remains of the previous year's Log.

Ritual, feast, all-night fire-watch.

Dance of the Wheel.


Midwinter's Day

We sing the Sun up out of the Mississippi Valley.

Sunrise brunch with carols.


Thirteen Days of Yule

Wassailing, mumming, and feasting continue throughout all the Thirteen Days.


Thirteenth Night/Old Yule

Feast of Fools

The merry Monarch of Misrule presides over Yule's bittersweet (and raucous) farewell feast and party. Exchange of gifts.

Yule greens burned.


Twenty-Sixth Night

26 nights (2 x 13) after Midwinter's Eve

Festive pancake supper.


Thirty-Ninth Night/Up Helly Aa

Originally the 39th night (3 x 13) after Midwinter's Eve; now celebrated on the last Tuesday in January.

Bonfires and torchlight processions.

All Yule decorations must be taken down by this day.




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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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