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 Year Without a Bealtaine

I walk into one of the local witch stores a few days before Samhain. The owner, standing at the counter talking with someone I don't know, says: “Oh, here he is now.”

A story from my album Radio Paganistan: Folktales of the Urban Witches was playing on the sound system, and she'd been discussing it with an Australian pagan in town on business; in fact, he'd just bought a copy.

Mark and I introduce ourselves and swap talk for a while; turns out we even know people who know people (“the Wiccan world is a small place,” as Richard Grant observes). Was he going to be in town for the holiday? Yes he was. Did he have a ritual to go to? Yes, he did.

The conversation winds down, and I start to wish him good Samhain. “Wait a minute, do I wish you good Samhain or happy Bealtaine?” I wonder out loud. How does one deal with a situation like this? And what are the implications of a year without a Bealtaine?

“To Mark,” I write in his copy of the album, “In the Year of Two Samhains.”

Wherever this Bealtaine finds you, Mark, I hope there's a Year of Two Bealtaines out there waiting for you somewhere.


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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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