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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If There's a Hammer Under the Table, It Must Be Yule

If there's a hammer under the table, it must be Yule.

Yule being the microcosm of the coming year, we have it from the ancestors that it's a good time to take precautions, what in Anthropologist they would call apotropaic (literally, “turning away, averting”) behavior.

So if in Ukraine you look under the table while enjoying the Thirteen-Course Midwinter's Eve feast (one course for each moon of the coming year), you'll see some unusual things.

  1. A hammer. In the old days,this was said to ward off lightning-strike during the coming year. (Like wards like.)
  2. A red ribbon tied around each leg of the table. In the old days, this was said to keep your fruit trees from being broken by wind during the coming year.

  3. A pair of scissors, tied shut. In the old days, this was said to prevent anyone in the family from being drafted into the tsar's army, which (as everyone knows) would have been pretty much a death sentence. (How do you say "cannon fodder" in Ukrainian?)


One might ask: do these precautions work?

Well, come autumn evenday, my coven will have been together for 36 years.

During that entire time:

  1. None of us have ever been struck by lightning.
  2. None of us have ever had our fruit trees broken by wind, not even during the big Midsummer's Day blow of 2013. 
  3. None of us have ever been drafted into the tsar's army. 

You decide.


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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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