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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Lady Free

Ye shall be free from slavery.

Witchcraft begins with a slave revolt.


C. G. Leland tells the story in his 1899 Aradia: Gospel of the Witches.


In those days there were on earth many poor and many rich.

The rich made slaves of all the poor....many slaves escaped. They fled to the country....[I]nstead of sleeping by night, they plotted escape and robbed their masters, and then slew them. So they dwelt in the mountains and forests as robbers and assassins, all to avoid slavery.


The Moon, as all-seeing Lady of the Night, witnesses her people's troubles and, in her mighty ruth (mercy), she sends her daughter Aradia to teach them magic and herbcraft, so that they can hex and poison their oppressors.


Strong stuff, especially for the “An it harm none” crowd. (Old Craft has a much more tribal ethic: Don't f**k with me, and don't f**k with my people or, believe me, you'll regret it.)


Freedom and liberty are not the same. We're all born free and live free until someone else owns us. When we cast off slavedom, we become liberated. You can't be liberated if you've never been in bondage.

Magic is the Moon's great gift to her people. She gave it to us—or, perhaps, renewed the gift—in a time of oppression. Magic is the natural response to oppression. Sometimes it's the only power of the powerless. If nothing else, it gives you the sense that at least you're doing something.

The torch-bearing Goddess of Witches is thus both Mother of the Free and Lady of Liberty. In this sense, She is also patron goddess of the United States. My ancestors gazed upon Her image on its sacred island as they sailed to these shores. Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let nothing stop you or turn you aside. Fine words; a noble goal. Well worth striving towards, for all that we don't always get there.

As the Tribe of Witches once again takes its place among the Free Peoples of the world, it's worth reflecting on the meaning of our freedom and on Her who is Guarantor thereof.

It's no accident that Free is one of the secret names of our Goddess.

As it is said: You are free, and your name is Free, and free folk call upon you.

Above: Diana Lucifera (Roman; 2nd century CE?)

Vatican Museum




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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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