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 Wearing of the Green

Me, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing a Santa hat in public (or in private, for that matter: sorry, not my mythos), but even so, you won't have any problem picking me out in a crowd by my headgear.

I'm the one that's wearing a sprig of holly tucked into the roll of his cap.

Every morning, on the way out of the house, I snap off a fresh twig from the bush that grows by the front gate and don it for the day.

Let the cowans think what they may. (Probably: Gods, what a geek.) So what if it makes me look like a plum pudding? I'm a pagan, and pagans wear our holidays.

Tonight, when together we dance the Great Dance of the Wheel for the Sun's rebirth, the men (inside, facing out) will be wearing holly, the women (outside, facing in) ivy. Holly and ivy, male and female: that's the custom.

For the Kalasha of what is now northwestern Pakistan, the only people of the entire Indo-European diaspora who have practiced their traditional religion uninterruptedly since antiquity—the Winter Solstice (surprise!) is the greatest feasting of all the year. Throughout the nearly month-long celebration, both men and women alike tuck sprigs of juniper into their headgear: juniper of the mountain fairies, whose fragrance is beloved of the gods: juniper, the “winter flower.”

Old, new: pagans are pagans, and—wherever we may be—we don't just celebrate our holidays.

We wear them.






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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.


  • Donna Swindells
    Donna Swindells Saturday, 22 December 2018

    A great salute to the Pagan Gods & Goddesses at Yule.
    Your article is spot-on.

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