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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The Anvil of the Horned One

“That's the anvil of the Horned One,” a friend wrote to me recently, meaning a hard, but ultimately formative, situation.

As regards the situation, his analysis was bang on, but in the days that followed I've found myself reflecting again and again on that resonant phrase: the anvil of the Horned One.

In Old Craft, the God of Witches is (inter alia) a Smith-God: among his many by-names is Coal-Black Smith.

Back in the day, goes the story, when you had to cloak everything in the Church's names and stories, he came to be called—and so still is, by some—by the name of the Biblical smith, Tubal Cain. “The Clan of Tubal-Cain,” Bobby Cochrane (father of modern Old Craft) called his Royal Windsor coven: one clan in the Tribe of Witches.

The point here is that, as god of animals, he's also god of culture: the originator and teacher of the civilized arts. (Humans aren't the only animals possessed of culture, of course.) Hence smithery: the anvil, tongs, and hammer are his tokens.

Yet there's more than mythology here.

Those of us who love him well have felt the blows of his hammer and the unyieldingness of his anvil, where static and dynamic meet. That's the kind of god he is. He'll forge you into someone keener and stronger than ever you thought you could be, or even wanted to be. He's no easy god: what he wants from you is yourself, and then some. (As he gives, so he takes.) You yourself will become the tool—or the weapon—to his hand, you will, and that's the keenest joy of all.

Oh, but the Making is hard, so hard.

Know that on his anvil, you'll be made free. He'll break you, and he'll make you. The thrall ring, the shackles: he strikes them off for good and all, and thereafter you'll be nevermore a slave. For this, they call him Liberator.

Oh, he's a one, our god, and he'll use you hard, so hard. You'll know what the red-hot sword on the anvil feels beneath the hammer.

And then, when your heart is well and truly broken: then you'll know for sure that you're his to him.


For KM


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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.


  • Kile Martz
    Kile Martz Monday, 28 May 2018

    KM is honored to be your muse for this particular post. ~ O, let me suffer on the anvil of the horned one so that he might forge me for a finer purpose. ~

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