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 Lurker on the Threshold

Thresholds—doorsteps—are sacred. Neither inside nor out, both inside and out, the threshold is, like all other betwixt-and-between places (and times), a major locus of sanctity in any building.

In Old Craft lore, the Horned, preeminently god of the In-Between, is said to be seated on every threshold. Every passage through that doorway is (or at least has the potential to be) thereby a rite, an encounter with a god.

For this reason, they say, it's best not to tread directly onto a threshold; one should step over it instead. (It's old woodsman's lore never to step on anything you can step over.)

This is really a pretty subversive idea. Every building contains within its very fabric a place inherently sacred to Old Hornie: your house, the supermarket, the mall. Every building makes a place for Him. So there's a place sacred to the god of the witches in every synagogue, church, and mosque on the planet. Now that is subversive.

Although as a general rule I try to avoid stepping on any doorstep of any building, according to lore-master Cei Serith the threshold of a building's primary entrance is the major one to be concerned about. This makes sense to me. When religious observance becomes obsession-compulsion, it's time to reconsider. A superstition is not necessarily an incorrect belief, but rather a belief that takes over. As Ezra Pound observed, one should be content with a reasonable number of gods.


In traditional societies, thresholds are often places of ritual, especially rites of transition. Aptly enough, marriages often took place at thresholds; even during the Middle Ages, weddings were held at the church door rather than within the church itself. Among the Yezidis of Iraq, it is customary to kiss the stone threshold of the main sanctuary of the Peacock Angel—in which form, one may say, the Horned showed himself to them centuries ago—as one enters and leaves.

In virtually every human culture, the building is analogous to the human body, and in the human body, as in the building, the Horned One also has his seat: in males, the penis; in females, the clitoris.

Horned One, lord of the in-between,

bless my coming and going.






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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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