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 Real Leys

Pagans can be a notoriously credulous lot, but me, I don't come from believing people, and I'm not a believer myself. Among the things that I don't believe in (astrology, an afterlife, Christian charity...) are leys.

I simply don't see the point of believing in ley-lines that exist only in imagination when, in fact, virtually all of us are surrounded by real-world lines on the landscape.

They're called trackways, or greenways.

I live on one such myself. These days it's paved over and called Lake Street, South Minneapolis' major east-west artery. But originally, it was an old Indian track that led from the winter village at Bde Maká Ska—White Earth Lake—down to the Mississippi River. And back again, of course.

Pretty much everywhere has old trackways of this sort, contouring along the Land from one important place to another. Probably most of them were old animal trails first and became human trails later.

“Much has been written of travel, far less of the road.” So begins Edward Thomas' lyrical book The Icknield Way, his biography of the ancient greenway that runs NE-SW across England from Norfolk to Wiltshire. Named for the Iceni—Boudicca's people—the Icknield way leads Thomas on a lyrical journey through history, lore, and Land. First published in 1930, it has never since been out of print.

Like the ancestors, modern pagans love the Land and, as the ancestors did, we walk the old greenways. Like all predators, witches are territorial animals and, like the others, we patrol our territories regularly.

Forget the New Age claptrap. There are real-life ley-lines somewhere near you, waiting for you to walk them.

You're a pagan. It's your job.




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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 Tuesday, 21 January 2020

    As it happens, the house I grew up in sits atop one of the highest points in the county on the farm my elders bought when they moved to Missouri. In my younger days, it became my habit to set out north along the farm paths to the back of the property. This would bring me to Hinkson creek, the farthest border of the farm, and perhaps, as importantly, to the lowest point of the property. I am sure that man and animal have been traveling that direction for food and water since the land was made. For a young warlock, it was the most natural of journeys to make.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Thursday, 23 January 2020

    Back in my angst-filled days as a teen warlock-in-training, I used to go down to the woods by Lake Erie and walk the deer-paths in the dark. For a while, Steve and all his problems would disappear, and I would be one with the woods.
    Those deer-paths probably saved my life.

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