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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What Song Do You Sing When You See an Eagle?

 Union Bay Watch : An Eagle's IQ


Waiting for the light to change at 35th and Park, I see an eagle fly over.

My first thought (as always when I see an eagle): Gods, that's a big bird.

My second thought (craning my neck to see): It is an eagle!

My heart leaps up inside me, as it always does. I open my mouth to begin the song that you sing when you see an eagle; then I close it again, without singing.

Whatever that song may be, I don't know it.

That there should be a song that you sing when you see an eagle—an honor song, a song of soaring greeting—seemed to me in that moment, as it has ever since, utterly obvious.

That our people once had such a song also seemed—and seems—to me to go without saying.

Alas that so much has been taken away; alas that so much has been lost.

Straddling the Mississippi River, Minneapolis—the name, a Dakota-Greek hybrid, means the “Water City”—is truly a City of Eagles. In these past years, eagles have become an increasingly common—but still always uplifting—sight here.

So whatever the song that you sing when you see an eagle, my friends, we'd better start listening for it now.

Gods know, we're going to need it.




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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Saturday, 27 February 2021

    The only song that comes to mind is America the Beautiful. There should be a special song to sing when seeing an eagle but I'm not musically inclined and don't have words or tune to come up with one myself.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Sunday, 28 February 2021

    Back in the Paganolithic Era--as you may remember--we used to sing:
    I circle around, I circle around/the boundaries of the Earth/the boundaries of the Sky/wearing my long wing-feathers as I fly. Whether it's actually Native American in origin or just Native-American styled, I don't know.
    Anyway, that's what I'm singing for now.

  • Jamie
    Jamie Friday, 05 March 2021

    Mr. Posch,

    I've never had a song pop into my head when a bald eagle flies overhead. Favorite patriotic song, though? I'd have to say, "American Trilogy", by Elvis Presley.

    It doesn't glorify war or American "Exceptionalism". It reflects the heritage of Deep South Crackers and New England Yankees, and the horrors of slavery experienced by African-Americans. My mother grew up in Jim Crow-era Florida, and my father was a Boston math professor. I identify very much with New England my home, and the song reflects my difficult relationship with the Confederate sympathies of some of my ancestors.

    Plus it's Elvis and I think it's awesome. So from now on, that's what I'll hear in my head when an eagle flies overhead. The eagle is a good omen from Father Zeus, in my book, and the Gods know we Americans can use all the help we can get.

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