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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The Blessing of the Crows

With a sinking feeling, I hear the voices of hundreds of crows raised in pre-dawn “f**k you” chorus.

Oh no! We've received the blessing of the crows!

Crows are savvy. During the leafless season, November to April, they roost together by the hundreds and thousands every night. Lacking the camouflage of leaves, this gives them twice hundreds and thousands of eyes to watch out for potential trouble.

Being under their late afternoon flyway, as I was the other day, can feel pretty ominous. And at night, when the trees of a given block fill up with hundreds and thousands of cawing, excreting corvid bodies, the feeling is downright Hitchcockian.

And then, when they fly off, raucous, next morning, they leave their blessing behind them. Lucky us.

I try to keep a pagan attitude about it. Dung fertilizes. Last year the South Minneapolis murder avoided us all winter and, sure enough, the haul from the garden this summer was pitiful.

Even so, the acrid smell of guano lingers for weeks. Cars you can wash—I sometimes wonder if the crows are in league with the car-wash owners—but not sidewalks or roofs.

Fearing the worst, I look out the window. Sure enough, the cars parked on the street are painted, polka-dotted, with mutes.

I put on my shoes and go out to the driveway to check my car. I gasp.

One mute, one, a white-and-black target painted in the precise center of the windshield, as if to say: See? I really could have screwed you over, but I didn't.

I lift unironic hands to the heavens.

Thank you, Crow Mother, giver of fruitfulness.

Thank you for your mercy.






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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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