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 Stones Won't Like It


A Tale of Avebury


In the days of King Ethelred the Unready, a priest was sent to the village of Avebury in Wiltshire to build a church. This priest's name was Willibrord.

Now, this village stands within the great henge of Avebury, the world's largest stone circle. Though the villagers were Christians of a sort, they were not sanguine about Willibrord's project.

“The Stones won't like it,” they said.

(Th' Stons wont lahk't was what they actually said. Willibrord was a foreigner, a Frisian, and often found these English stubborn, and difficult to understand.)

“Nonsense,” he said. “These old pagan stones should all be thrown down, anyway. They are mere, dumb earthfast stones; they have no true power.”

He picked out a fine spot for his new church at the crossing of the two roads that meet at the center of the Stones. Since the villagers refused him even the slightest assistance, he was forced to bring in workers from elsewhere, at great expense.

But day after day, their work proved fruitless. Each morning, newly-arrived at the site, they would find the work of the previous day cast down.

“The Stones don't like it,” said the villagers.

“This is the work of demons,” said Willibrord.

The outlander priest prayed every prayer in the prayerbook, and sprinkled holy water by the gallon, all to no avail. Day after day, the builders' work was nightly undone. For more than a year, this went on.

Finally, priest Willibrord conceded defeat. Today, when you visit the Great Henge of Avebury, 5000 years old and more, you will see there also the 1000-year old Saxon church of St. James where it now stands, just outside those old pagan Stones and their monumental ditch.

All over Christendom, tales are told of churches that stand where they do because demons cast down the original walls.

Myself, I can think of a rather more likely explanation.












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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 21 June 2022

    My parents went to England once. They went to see Wimbledon. They took a look around and liked Avebury. They said that Stonehenge was fenced off, but that they could get around and touch the stones at Avebury.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 22 June 2022

    I spent one fine Beltane in Avebury myself, years ago. On May Eve I sat in the Devil's Chair (a hollow in one of the larger stones) and made a wish. They say that if you sit in the Devil's Chair on May Eve and make a wish, it will come true.

    It did, of course.

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