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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Aunts and Uncles

Uncle Gerald. Aunt Doreen. Even (gods help us) Uncle Al.

I don't know about where you live, but around here I not infrequently hear people talking about our forebears in the Craft as "aunts" and "uncles."

I.e. as family.

Not, mind you, as "lords" and "ladies"; nothing so pretentious, so distancing. Aunts and uncles: not immediate family, but family nonetheless. These are titles, not of rank, but rather of relation, of familiarity, of fondness.

Aunts and uncles stand in a special place. Since with your aunts and uncles there's simultaneously a connection but also a certain distance, you can learn things from them that you can't easily learn from your parents.

In my family, in which the women tend to outlive the men, the aunts are a power to be reckoned with, and they carry the collective memory and experience of the family.

Likewise, among English-speakers, there's a tendency to bestow "aunt" or "uncle" as a title-of-courtesy on adults of one's parent's generation which whom one has no blood kinship but an emotional connection nonetheless. I grew up calling my father's life-long best friend Uncle Paul, and his wife Aunt Bernie. Not blood kin, but kin for all that.

There's truth and wisdom in the application of this language to the Craft. Willy-nilly, we've come, down the decades, to function—rather like some ancient tribal society—as a large (if not entirely functional) extended family, kin both actual and fictive. In the Craft, we all grow up with lots of aunts and uncles.

A word to the wise, though: you might want to keep an eye on Uncle Al, if you know what I mean.

Especially around the kids.

For RG, from whom I heard it first



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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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