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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Then the Rope Broke


1,053 Breaking Rope Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from  Dreamstime


The rope broke just as we were moving the standing stone up the steepest part of the slope.

It had taken us the better part of two days to move the ton-and-a-half pillar of sandstone from its bed in the wall of the coulee—that's what they call a ravine around here—down into the coulee, across it, and then up the hill on the other side toward the shrine that we were building for it.

That's when the rope broke.

Hopefully, in years to come, we'll be moving more standing stones, probably larger ones than the Bull Stone, here at Sweetwood Sanctuary in southwestern Witchconsin's Driftless Country, and we haven't necessarily ruled out the use of modern machinery to do so. But we had decided that, for the first stone, we wanted to use the old ways to move and raise it.

So it was with ropes, poles, and the strength of our bodies (and minds) that we began moving it up the hill. At the top of the slope, we'd rigged up a pulley around the trunk of a tree. With its aid, we had already brought the Stone most of the way up.

As it happened, I was top man on the pull at the time. When the rope snapped, I had been tugging with my entire weight braced against it, so naturally when it went I flew, ass over teakettle, down the hill.

My first thought was for the guys behind me, now in the path of my momentum as I went rolling downslope. “Pull in your arms and legs!” I thought frantically; I was afraid of kicking someone in the head.

I was going way too fast for the other guys to stop me, but they grabbed at me as I went past, and that was enough to slow my descent. Thanks to this, when I finally fetched up against the tree at the bottom of the slope, I only bruised my ribs instead of breaking them.

One wonders if such things happened while they were building Stonehenge. I'll be willing to bet that they did, though of course they knew what they we doing, and we're having to figure it all out as we go.

Afterward, wincing as I hefted a well-earned beer, I thought of the old saying that every temple takes a life in the building: shades of old foundation sacrifices, perhaps. I'm grateful that, this time around, it wasn't mine.

If it had been, though, at least I would have died happy.


The Bull Stone will be raised in June 2021.

The consecration will follow during the Summer of 2022.






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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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