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 Witches' God, His Bread

Supposedly the word “pretzel” derives from Latin brachiatellum, “little arms.”*

During the German Middle Ages, pretzels—made from flour, salt, and yeast only—were considered a Lenten food, their signature shape said to represent arms crossed in penitential prayer.

Witches, of course, tell it somewhat differently.

For the People of the Wood, the arms crossed over the chest are a sign of sacrificial self-offering. (Some know this as the “Osiris position,” but I doubt that they called it that in medieval Germany.)


And everyone knows that when the God of Witches comes among his people in immemorial Grand Sabbat, he sits on the altar stone cross-legged, as chieftains have always sat.

Crossed arms, crossed legs.

Witchery has always tended to hide in plain sight. If you didn't know what you were seeing, you wouldn't know you were seeing it.

Hey, cowan.

Want a pretzel?

* I suspect we're in the realm of folk etymology here. Myself, I suspect "pretzel"  (German brezel) is a diminutive of brott, "bread." But a story's a story.








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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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