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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Who Is the Patron God Of Matches?


Who is the patron god of matches?

While, on the face of it, this question may seem a frivolous one, it's actually asking something much deeper: What would a contemporary pagan society look like?

I recently learned the answer to both questions grâce à my longtime friend and colleague Prudence Priest, the newly-anointed official Ambasadress to the US of Romuva, the Lithuanian pagan movement.

Check out this box of matches that she brought back from a recent trip to the Baltics, which proudly sports the image of Perkunas, Lord of Lightning, the Lithuanian Thunderer. (Note the three leaves from the oak, His sacred tree; it is, of course, oak wood that feeds the ever-burning Fires in His sacred groves.) He drives His thunder-chariot drawn by a matched pair of horses, one black, one white.

This latter detail I find quite striking. Doubtless it refers to Thunder's ambivalent nature: Life-giving/Death-dealing, lord of both rain and lightning-blast. Thunder, after all, rides both by day and by night.

Now, you might think that the patron deity of matches might be whichever Fire god or Hearth goddess is worshiped locally. But, of course, these are the patrons of a fire already burning. It's the Lord of lightning who presides over the striking of Fire.

And as for our larger question—what would a contemporary pagan society look like?—we see here a pointer. To take another Baltic example, I'm told that in Latvia, boxes of breakfast cereal are printed with the symbol of Jumis, God of Grain.

My friends, consider a society in which—for example—the simple act of striking a match becomes the invocation of a god.

Now that's what contemporary pagan society looks like.





For P.P.

Troublemaker of the Gods










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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 Tuesday, 03 August 2021

    I once read that matches used to be known as Lucifers. Having read Ovid's Metamorphosis that didn't make sense to me. There is nothing in the stories about Lucifer bringing fire to mankind. If matches had been named after Prometheus it would make sense. I do like the matches named after Perkuno though, that also makes sense.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Wednesday, 04 August 2021

    I can't help but think here of Old Craft mythology, in which the Horned as Lighber ("light-bearer" = Latin lucifer) steals the Fire of the gods for his people.
    I suspect, though, that in this case the allusion is to the Christian God of the Underworld, who is mythologically associated with the Earth Fire.

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