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 Witch and the Midwife

Everybody knows that witches don't have leaders. Granny Weatherwax is the leader the witches don't have.

The knock came late. The boy looked scared when Granny opened the door.

“What?” she said.

“Mistress Weatherwax, come quick: the cow kicked Mrs. Brown and she's hurt bad and she's gone into labor early,” said the boy.

“You don't need me,” said Granny, “You need the midwife.”

“It's the midwife that sent me,” said the boy.

Granny Weatherwax can move quickly when she needs to. She did so now. Soon she was crouching next to the midwife in the hay of the Browns' barn.


Granny turned to the midwife. “Are you thinking what I'm thinking?” she asked. “I'm thinking we can save one or we can save the other, but we can't save them both.”

The midwife nodded.

Granny continued. “And I'm thinking that they've been trying hard for this baby for a long time, and that after this she'll never be able to have another.”

The midwife nodded again.

“And I'm thinking that what they've both always wanted more than anything else is a child to inherit the farm.”

The midwife nods and slowly gets up.

“Where you going?” asks Granny.

The midwife pauses. “To ask Farmer Brown what we should do, of course,” she says.

The look Granny gives her makes her feel like a bug on the end of a pin. She's never heard Granny hiss before, but she hears it now.

“What did that man ever do to you that you would ask him such a question? A question that no matter what he says to it, it will always be the wrong answer? How could you?”

The midwife shrinks. Granny makes up her mind.

 “Go boil up some water and sit with Farmer Brown. And tell him that I'm doing what can be done.” And she turns to her task.

As the midwife goes out, Granny calls back over her shoulder: “And don't let him kill the cow. They're going to need it.”

Some decisions are so terrible that no one should ever have to make them. But someone has to make them.

And that's why there are witches.


Terry Pratchett


In Memoriam






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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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