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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Ask Boss Warlock: What Does the Lore Say About Suffering?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 About This Site | Red Thread Broken


Hey Boss Warlock:

What does the Lore say about suffering?


Once two witches were taken. “Deny the Horned,” they told them.

One refused, and went steadfast to the gallows. Seeing her faithfulness, many took heart and were made resolute to resist. In this way did the Craft survive, and the Red Thread go unbroken.

The other denied the Horned with her lips, but in her heart she remained firm. She lived to a ripe old age, teaching the Old Ways all her days, and in this way did the Craft survive, and the Red Thread go unbroken.

Both suffered. Which did better?


Life is full of pain. So Boss Warlock is wont to say, with no little irony, in the face of inconveniences and minor obstacles, meaning: It could be worse.

(For this he was once accused of closet Buddhism. “No need to get insulting,” said Boss Warlock.)

As lovers of life, we pagans do what we may to ease suffering. “Kill cleanly,” says the law of the hunt, meaning: When you must cause suffering, cause as little as may be. To relieve the suffering of another is an act of generosity, and worthy of the great of heart.

As pagans, we live by the virtues. Winston Churchill once said that of all the virtues, the chiefest is Courage, because Courage makes all the others possible.

So when we meet with suffering, we do our best to do so courageously, and better it be if we can make that suffering serve some larger purpose. While we may, we thole: endure. When suffering becomes unendurable, we make, if need be, an end. To end suffering is always virtuous.

This is our people's way.


In the old days, when one of our own was condemned, we did our best to see that drugs reached them before the end.

Thus does the Craft survive, and the Red Thread go unbroken.








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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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