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 White Goddess: Her Seal

It's an icon of the new paganism, really, known to millions all around the world: the Triple Goddess sigil on the cover of Robert Graves' White Goddess.

It's also a prediction.

It could almost be a Minoan seal, although it's not. In fact, it was designed by Graves' gifted friend and secretary Kenneth Gay ( Karl Goldschmidt, 1912-1995) to Graves' precise specifications; Graves stood at his elbow throughout the making of the image.

In it, we see the Triple Goddess herself: three bare-breasted women in flounced Minoan skirts, their arms intertwined around each others' shoulders. But this is the Three that is Nine, Graves' Ninefold Muse: above her, three cranes, below her, three linked spirals. In each of the Three Realms, She is sovereign: Heaven, Earth, the Sea.

Standing before her in adoration and supplication, we see a long-haired youth, naked (except his for belt) and ithyphallic. He is her worshiper, her consort, her poet. Above him, we see the signs of his twin natures: the fivefold star of life, and the spotted serpent of prophecy and death, the light and the dark together. For he is his own twin and contrary.

But this is no simple scene of adoration that we see before us: it is the making of an agreement between the Goddess and her Poet. The seal seals the deal. For she bestows upon him a gift, the reception of which marks his fealty to her: an eye.

For love, she gives insight: the age-old covenant.

Graves has carefully constructed this modern icon from bits and pieces of old lore. (Those who wish to understand further the genesis of this image can do no better than to read Philip Hunter's exhaustive analysis here.)

Graves himself calls the process iconotropy: the reinterpretation of old icons. In his "Grammar of Poetic Myth," he accordingly reinterprets the lore than has come down to us as the fragments of an ancient worship.

And in this sigil, this Neo-Minoan seal, he reassembles these fragments into a single, compelling image.

Nor is it coincidence that as such, it both embodies and foretells the Threefold Goddess and the Twinned God of the Younger Witcheries.

In The White Goddess, Graves proclaims humanity's Old-New Covenant with humanity's Oldest-Newest Love.

And this is that Covenant's very sign and seal.



For Slippery Elm



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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.


  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien Friday, 21 July 2017


  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 21 July 2017

    Remember when, if you wanted more about the Goddess, The White Goddess was the only place to turn? Yikes.
    Talk about Memory Lane!

  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien Friday, 21 July 2017

    I do indeed. Since this past Spring when I was helping Jo write and design the Green Pulse Oracle based on Fred Adams' work, I've been lured back to Graves. Not that I ever went away.:D

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