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 People of the Black-Handled Knife: A Folk-tale of the Latter-Day Hwicce

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

They say that back in the dawn of days, She of the Moon conceived a desire to divide This from That.

She went to the stag and said, "Stag, give me your antler, that I may divide This from That."

The stag gave her his antler, and from this she made a knife. But when she went to divide This from That, lo! the knife broke in her hand. 

So she went to the Mountain and said, "Mountain, give me blue flint, that I may divide This from That."

The Mountain gave her blue flint, and from this she made a knife. But when she went to divide This from That, lo! again the knife broke in her hand.

So she went to Fallen Star and said, "Fallen Star, give me black iron, that I may divide This from That."

Fallen Star gave her black iron, and from this she made a knife.

The Volcano was her forge-fire, the Winds her mighty bellows;

her anvil was the Mountain, and her quenching bath, the Sea.

And this was the First of all Smithcrafts.

She took up the iron knife, and with it, lo! she divided This from That; and the knife was still whole in her hand.

So fain was she to this Dividing that she took up the knife with her hand still sooty from the forging. The hilt was made black with her touch, and so to this day we are called the People of the Black-Handled Knife.

But the knife she named: Athame.*

*Where I come from, this rhymes with Hathaway. But maybe it's different where you live.





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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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