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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How Do You Say 'Amen' in Pagan?


None of the ancient pagan languages with which I'm familiar had a word for 'amen', but after a thousand-some years of Christianity here in the West, we've gotten used to having one. So it's well worth asking: How do you say 'amen' in Pagan?

Amen. Yes, Robert Graves uses it to end a prayer in Seven Days in New Crete, his dystopian novel of the Goddess-worshiping future, but otherwise—so far as I can tell—there's consensus across Pagandom that we need a term of our own. (Consensus among pagans. Fancy that.)

So Be It. Well, if you must. Colorful, though, it isn't. Sorry, folks, I think we can do better than this.

Ho! No. No. No, no, no. Ripping off a Lakota verbal affirmation is not the direction we want to take here. As pagans, First Nations/Indigenous people are our spirit-kin. We are the last people that should be pillaging Native culture of anything. Learn from Native people, yes. Be informed by Native people, yes. Steal from Native people, no.

Blessed Be. I've met a number of Wiccans who use 'Blessed Be' as other folks use 'Amen'. Well, OK, but it seems to me that this phrase already means so many other things in the context of Wiccan culture—Hello and Good-bye among them—that it might be nice to have something a little more, shall we say, situationally specific.

So Mote It Be. First off, some back-story. Gerald Gardner took the term from the vocabulary of Masonry, which uses it pretty much as Wicca does: as an emphatic phrase of final affirmation. Think of it as a verbal capstone, or seal.

Yes, it's Wiccan, right out of the B of S. I know non-Wiccans who eschew the term for this very reason. Here's what I like about 'So mote it be'.

  • It's forceful. Form fits function.
  • It's specific. 'So mote it be' doesn't mean Hello or Good-bye, or anything else, really, just 'So mote it be'.
  • It's old, dating back more than 1000 years (at least). Throughout human history, we've pretty much always dignified the gods with archaic language, so that's perfectly fine in this situation.
  • It's colorful, with a nice, witchy feel to it. (The 'witchiness' comes from the fact that it feels old and that 'mote', not exactly being an everyday usage, has a rather mysterious quality to it.)
  • It's native. All four words go as far back into the history of the Germanic languages as we can trace them. That gives it a kind of verbal authenticity that no borrowing from someone else will ever, ever have.
  • To most English-speakers, it already makes sense even though they may not specifically be familiar with the word 'mote'. (It's an archaic preterite/subjunctive form of 'must'.)
  • You can play with it for emphasis. SO mote it be. So MOTE it be. So mote it BE.
  • It fills the 'Amen' slot very well. I find myself regularly using the phrase in non-ritual contexts to mean: I agree! Let's hope so! Amen to that!

How do pagans say 'Amen'? Well, I'm in no position to legislate, although as a language-guy, I do think my informed opinion is worth a consideration. But for me, unless and until we find something better, my mind is made up.

Can I get a 'So mote it be', somebody?


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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 05 January 2021

    I'll stick with Amen. If I'm feeling cantankerous I might say Amen-Ra, but that's it.

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