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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Overheard at Hairy Goat House


Hey, everyone has a stuffed Himalayan mountain goat's head hanging over the fireplace.

Don't they?


“So,” says the plumber, “all these symbols...are you into the occult or something?”

Goat's heads, Green Men, clay Goddesses. You don't have to be in my house for very long, or have much in the way of a flame between the horns, to realize that there's some pretty High Strangeness going on here. Still, when the kitchen drain became intractably plugged, this wasn't exactly the conversation that I had expected to be having.

“Not really,” I say, which is no more than truth. There's nothing arcane, or particularly esoteric, about the Craft. It's all completely natural.

“Oh, I thought you might be Wiccan or something,” he says.

“Now that I could tell you something about,” I say.

“Isn't that occult?” he asks.

“For me, it's largely a matter of tribal identity,” I say.

He looks thoughtful, and starts to tell me about about the novel, clearly a favorite, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, which for some reason—Terry Pratchett “gets” witches better than just about any other contemporary writer, including many who call themselves Wiccan—I've never read.

“ she publishes this book of prophecies, which doesn't sell very well, but really she just wants the free author's copy,” he tells me.

“Sounds right,” I say.


Clearly, he's been thinking. Several hours later, he asks in passing:

“So what you do, it's like Native American stuff?”

“Think of it as Native European,” I say.

He nods.


The plug is resolved. As master plumber Chris reloads his equipment onto the truck, I give him his check and thank him for the good work.

He chin-points to the proud-horned taxidermy over the hearth. “I'm not much good with addresses, but I'll always remember this place as the Hairy Goat House.”

“We'll take it,” I say.

“Be sure you check out Agnes Nutter, now,” he says.

“Already got it on reserve at the library,” I tell him.

He smiles and goes out.






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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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