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 Other Side of Samhain

What's the first thing that you should do after you get home from a funeral?

You should make love.

And at any arval—burial feast (< “grave-ale”; cp. bridal, “bride-ale”)—while the rest of us are busy with the eating, drinking, and telling of stories, we should first send out some randy young couple with a cloak to make love on the grave.

That's the right way to do things, and a plague on all cowanish prudery.

Yes, Samhain is death, and the ancestors, but there's far, far more to it than that. There's Samhain in every Bealtaine, they say, Bealtaine in every Samhain.

Go out to the golden woods now, and listen. If you're lucky, you'll hear—as Summer dies—the snorting of the bucks. Here in the North, it's the Season of the Rut: Samhain rutting for Bealtaine fawning.

Immediately following the rites of Samhain, the Book of Shadows insists, emphatic: The Great Rite in true, if possible.

At Samhain, we listen for the voices of the ancestors.

Remember the Bealtaine in Samhain, they say. Remember the Samhain in Bealtaine.

 

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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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