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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Where the Thunderbirds Nest


 The Old Covenant


The settlers called this anomalous outcropping of pre-Cambrian limestone the Three Chimneys, but the local Indigenous people—the Ho-Chunk—knew them as Where the Thunderbirds Nest. Here the youth and seers of the People would come in search of a vision.

Sometimes, by its very Selfness, a place proclaims itself sacred. The Three Chimneys are one such place.

Where the Thunderbirds Nest remains inviolate. A farmhouse stands nearby, but the rocks themselves, in their sacred grove, have never been altered by the hand of humanity, nor will they never will be.

A few miles away (as the crone flies) lies the quarry where this very same pre-Cambrian limestone is quarried. Many local structures are built from this stone.

This is why we need the sacred stones, inviolate. They are the price of the quarry. To use some stone, we must be willing to let other stone remain forever untouched. This is the pagan way.

So say the ancestors: Use, but never all. Where the Thunderbirds Nest remind us that all stone is sacred: that of the quarry as much as that of the Three Chimneys.

In pagan times—probably in Spring, at the beginning of quarrying season—we would have sacrificed a bull in the quarry every year, as offering and propitiation for what we take away and use. (Imagine the prayers for safety through the coming year, the voices raised in a hymn of thanks, the brows of the stone-workers painted red with blood.) I am bold to proclaim that some day we will do so again: and let us all say, So Mote It Be.

In the meantime, we pagans, as People of the Land, remember our Old Covenant with the Land and its gifts.

While the Three Chimneys stand, we will not forget.



The Three Chimneys stand 2 miles SW of Westby, Wisconsin.



Yet another

for Frebur,



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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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