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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Living With Human Sacrifice

“Well, if that doesn't work, we can always try human sacrifice,” says the boiler repair guy.

Cold has finally come to the Upper Midwest, which means that it's time to turn on the furnace. The same technician had been here a few days previously. In my house, you don't have to have much light between the horns to know that you're in a pagan home.

And what do pagans do? Well, we sacrifice people, of course.

Thing was, within recent memory I'd heard the same joke from several other non-pagans, both of them strangers alluding to my (perceived) paganism.


There's no use denying that the paganisms are sacrificial religions, and that sometimes in the past those sacrifices have gotten a little—um—extreme.

Still, jokes on the topic from outsiders strike me as (to say the very least) in poor taste, like ribbing a Hindu about worshiping cows or a Muslim about terrorism. From an insider, it's a joke. (Witches just love baby-eating jokes, for example.) From an outsider, not so much.

Of course, we don't really still perform human sacrifice. (Most of the time, anyway.) I know that, you know that, everybody knows that. So, I suppose, for an outsider it's a way to say: I get you, and I can joke about this because I know it's not true, right?

Well, no, not really. But—I suppose—it's a not-right I can live with.

“I'm sure we'll manage to find one somewhere,” I tell him.


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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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