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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Thunder Snow

Sleet chitters against the panes as I write this. Our all-too-brief Bridey's Spring is, it would seem, well and gone, alas. Cold air masses are sailing down from the north towards us (they call them “Alberta Clippers” here), driving snow before them, with deep cold in their wake. Today they're predicting Thundersnow.

Thunder-and-lightning snowstorms aren't something that we see here very often. To hear the very Voice of Summer in Winter's cold midst cannot fail to feel uncanny. Thunder and snow just don't keep company much.

We last heard Thunder's voice on October 6th. Perhaps, like other birds, the Thunderbirds fly south in the winter. The First Thunder of the year is always a sure sign of spring. In Russia they say that Perún is breaking up the ice with his hammer. Snorri, no doubt, would have it that þórr is smiting the Frost Giants.* According to our local folk wisdom, spring's First Thunder is a sure predictor of future weather: six months later comes First Frost. Apparently the climatological evidence (here in Minnesota, anyway) actually bears out this correlation. Today is February 10. Oh dear.

First Thunder last year was March 16, in the evening. I remember being rather caught out by it. At the very moment of that first, ground-shaking peal, I was fully engaged in offering to Another. Suddenly Thunder made Himself known. What to do? You're talking with a friend, and another friend shows up unexpectedly. Do you finish the conversation first and then greet the new arrival, or greet and assume the first friend will understand?


At the time, I chose to complete the offering and pour to Thunder later, on the principle that it would be rude to interrupt an offering already begun. In retrospect, this was the wrong decision, and I'll know better next time. One can face West** and pray to Thunder at any time, of course—there's always, at any given moment of the day or night, a Thunderstorm underway somewhere on planet Earth—but in my experience it's generally best to offer to present gods.

Well, this year, at least, I'll be prepared. So help me, I'll make that pouring whenever I hear the spring's First Thunder, later today or whenever.

August 10th, though. Oi.

*With all due deference to the Master of Hvammur, I tell a different story. The dual or divided self is a central concept in Old Craft thought, and it seems to me that in Thunder and Frost we see Storm's twin natures, the young and the old respectively.

**In this landscape, at least, Thunder lives in the west and moves to the east, unlike Sun who lives in the east and moves to the west; and that's very much the nature of Their relationship. The daughter and sealing of Their concord, though, is the Rainbow.


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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.


  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Tuesday, 10 February 2015

    Oi, indeed. What a great post -- I love your work!

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Tuesday, 10 February 2015

    Thanks Anne, I'm honored. Around here the spiritual and the meteorological just naturally seem to go hand-in-hand.

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