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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Wolf-Guard: A Traditional 'Imbolc' Game

It's Deep Winter now, the cold heart of the Winter, and the fireday known variously as Yeaning, Ewesmilk, and February Eve* is upon us.

It's time to mount the Wolf-Guard.

Snow lies piled deep, game is scarce. Hunger Moon shines.

Yet now comes the yeaning, the lambing. (In the Old Witch language, yeans are lambs or kids.) And where there are lambs, there are wolves.

Hunger and the smell of blood overcomes the wolves' innate caution of human beings. So the warriors take up their spears and go up to the lambing-pens to mount the nightly wolf-guard.

In most places, these days, the Wolf-Guard no longer happens literally; instead, it's become a game (also called Lambs and Wolves). Here's how you play.

There are three kinds of players: Lambs, Spears, and Wolves.

Lambs in the middle, Spears in a circle around them, facing out. Wolves on the outside, hungry, wanting those Lambs.

How rough things get is up to you. It might be a good idea to lay down some guidelines before you begin: it's Cabin Fever season, after all, and we're all a little testy.



*Also: Imbolc, Oimelc, Candlemas, Brigid, etc.


You can read more about the Wolf-Guard in Bronze Age Keltic society in Rosemary Sutcliff's remarkable teen novel Warrior Scarlet: a warm read for a cold time of year.


Last modified on
Tagged in: games lambs wolves
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.


  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza Wednesday, 30 January 2019

    So is it like tag? How do you determine who wins?...

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Thursday, 31 January 2019

    The Wolves win when they get a lamb. The Spears win if they kill all the wolves.
    This can also be done as a dance.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Monday, 11 February 2019

    Come to think of it, the way that we play it, it's a lot more like rugby than like tag.

  • Please login first in order for you to submit comments

Additional information