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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Tribe of Witches: A Tale of the Bear Clan

While discussing the origin-stories of the Deer and Seal clans of the Hwicce (Tribe of Witches) a few posts back, I was struck by the similarities between the two stories. In both—though circumstances differ somewhat—a human man takes a non-human woman to wife.

This made me wonder if it sometimes works the other way, too.

In fact, it does. Shame upon me, I don't know the origin-stories of all the clans of the tribe of Witches, whether elder (historical) or younger (reconstituted)—alas, I can't even name all the clans themselves, so much has been lost to time—but I can tell you that with the Bear Clan, it's the other way around: a human woman who marries a non-human man.

It seems that a certain woman of the Hwicce once took a bear to husband. Authorities differ on the degree of agency here. Some say that Bear abducted her; others, that she went with him willingly.

Whichever it was, the young woman's brothers were displeased by this out-match. They tracked down the bear, killed him, and brought their sister back to the family hearth-side.

Well, but by then she was already with child, and ever since, there has been kinship between our people and the bear people.

Her son, they say, was born with bear's ears, and he was indeed a mighty hero, strongest of men.

But that's another tale for another night.

 

Above:

Bear Mounds

(Late Woodland Culture, ca. 700-1000 CE)

Effigy Mounds National Monument

 Allamakee Co., Iowa

 

 

 

 

 

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Tagged in: Bear bear cult Hwicce
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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