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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From the Sacred Songs of the Yezidis

Much like the European Old Craft, the religion of the Yezidis, the people of the Peacock Angel, is an oral tradition transmitted largely through the medium of songs. These songs, called qewls, are sung at gatherings by a caste of itinerant musicians, the qewwals.

This excerpt (stanzas 1 and 16-22) from the Qewlê Šêxubekir (“Hymn of Sheikh Obekr”) relates the generation of the Heptad, the Seven Holy Powers (“angels”), of whom Melek Tawus, the Peacock Angel, is Chief (cp. the seven yazatas of Zoroastrianism).

Qewls are notoriously difficult to translate and interpret, due to their obscure vocabulary and densely allusive nature, but these stanzas shine with a simple jewel-like clarity in their contemplation of the Great Mystery of Something from Nothing.


Song of the Seven Powers


We need, O Beloved, a friend to explain:

did King come forth from Pearl,

or Pearl from King?

Before either Pen or Tablet was

—who can explain it, who?—

there was One; the One became Two.


By order of the King

—we search for an answer—

there were Two; the Two became Three.


My King is the All-Powerful;

from him came the Command.

There were Three; the Three became Four.


My King is the Almighty:

there were Four; the Four became Five,

 in qualities all alike.


My heart rejoices for this:

there were Five; the Five became Six,

all Six, Powers of the Throne.


My King made pleasant his speech

—they were seated together in love—

there were Six; the Six became Seven.


The Seven, at their creation,

were all exactly alike.

With love they gazed on each other,

and thus they passed their time.


From the Kurdish

Based on a translation by Phillip G. Kreyenbroek




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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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