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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Cursing Isn't All We Do, or: Midwinter Morning at May Day Cafe

Winter wren populations show adaptation to local climate | BTO - British  Trust for Ornithology 

“We'd like to sing a Solstice blessing on the house,” I tell the barrista. “Is that cool?”

Her eyes sparkle.

“I'll go turn down the music,” she says.


Yule Morning 2022.

Having sung the Sun up from a snowy Powderhorn Park, the coven has adjourned to nearby May Day Cafe for Sunrise brunch. (Yes, that's the place's real name. Welcome to Paganistan.) The food was good, the talk as well, and it's the Yule of the year. Before we go, we'd like to give something back.

I'm a little concerned about interrupting meals or conversation, but when we turn at the door and begin to sing, people look up and listen.

We sing.

Joy, health, love and peace

be all here in this place.

By your leaves, we will sing

concerning our king.


The song is an old one, a quête-song that children used to sing going from door-to-door with the body of a wren, the King of the Birds. (Remind me some time to tell you the story of how he beat out Eagle for the title.) We don't have a wren with us, though, and I find myself wondering as we sing: who will they think we're singing about?


Our king is well-dressed,

in silks of the best,

in ribbons so rare,

no king can compare.


For me, the answer is plain, this Solstice morning: it's the Sun. Who else? Even the birds all agreed that whoever flew closest to the Sun would be their rightful King.


We have traveled many miles,

over hedges and stiles,

in search of our king:

unto you we bring.


Last night we sang the Sun down, lit the Yule fire, and danced the Great Dance of the Wheel, the man-woman dance that brings the Sun back up out of the dark.


We have fiddle and bow

to play as we go;

we have lantern and candle,

as light for us all.


There's an unspoken sense of rightness to what we're doing. In the old days, at the high tides—so say the stories, anyway—witches blessed. Now in our day, in our society, we're stepping back into our old accustomed role.


Bold Yuletide is here,

the crown of the year,

so we bid you adieu:

great joy to the New.


Our song ends. People applaud warmly, receiving the blessing. We turn and go out into the snow.

Great joy to the New.








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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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