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 Witchiest House on the Block

When I'm giving directions to my place, I always say: “Witchiest house on the block.”

No pentagrams on the door, no, nothing quite so overt. Maybe it's the tall Addams Family fence of iron pickets in front. (All the better for impaling heads.) Or the big, creaky gate into the yard. (I put jack o' lanterns on the pilasters every Halloween.) Maybe it's the tree-dark yard. (As Gay Urban Pioneers 25 years ago we way over-planted.) Maybe it's the “Three Faces of the Moon” stained glass in the dormer window upstairs watching all comers.

The little boy from across the street is waiting for me when I get out of the car. He's maybe four years old. “That's a spooky house,” he tells me.

“Why do you think it's spooky?” I ask, unloading groceries.

“I'll show you,” he says. He leads me to the front door. “There,” he says, pointing to the face on the Art Deco door knocker.

“That's the Door Lady,” I tell him. “I think she's beautiful. She guards the doorway; that's her job.”

“And this,” he says, pointing at the black plastic raven that stands hunched and staring in one of the planters lining the front stairs. Sparky T. Rabbit sent it to me for Samhain one year, and somehow I've never quite gotten around to putting it away. “He looks at me,” the boy tells me. “I'm afraid he's going to eat me.”

I'm not sure whether this says more about the neighborhood I live in, or the human condition generally. Maybe it's just one of those childhood fears.

“Well, he only eats bad kids,” I tell him. “I sure you don't have anything to worry about. Do you?”

Then I shoo him off and bring the groceries in.

Where I live it's actually pretty good policy to inspire a little day-to-day fear. Fear and respect keep close company, they say.

As pagans, we're going to be a minority in this country for the foreseeable future. My opinion is that inspiring a little fear every now and then is probably sound strategy.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Witches make good friends, neighbors, and co-workers. If we say we'll do something, we'll do it, and we'll help you out when you need it.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be afraid of us.

"The Three Faces of the Moon"

Design: Laramie Sassaville

Stained Glass: Arthur Knowles

Photo: Paul Rucker


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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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