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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Blood Month

Blót-monað, the ancestors called it: Sacrifice-Month.* Or one could say (as the ancestors did, in their pragmatic way) Blood-month. It still goes on.

Deer-hunting begins this weekend here in Minnesota. Hunting opener is generally the first full weekend of November. (Just coincidence, I'm sure. Yeah, right.) Blood on the leaves.

It's the season of the Dead, yes, but let us not forget what the witches in their wisdom have always remembered: it's also the time of the Rut.** The fawns that Old Green Eyes sires right now will be born about Bealtaine, sure. Blood and spooge: Old Craft in the nutshell.

It may not be much of a calendar as such things go, but it's ours.


I've never gone hunting—Hell, I've never even fired a gun—but I was fortunate enough to grow up around honorable hunters who respected the power of guns and willingly accepted the responsibilities that taking another life entails. Like the Horned Whom I serve, I'm vegetarian—since I was 18, in fact—but when I know a hunter who does things the right way, then I unfailingly make my ritual eating, my wild eucharist. And if I were in hunting camp, I'd receive the blood on my brow along with the rest. His blood be upon us and upon our children.

The “deer-harvest,” they call it. Every year in Minnesota the harvest takes, on average, 241,000 deer and 2 or 3 hunters. Life for life, a gift for a gift. Every pagan knows that you have to give back if you're going to take: a terrible truth, but inescapable. Sacrifice continues, as it always has and always will, because it's in the nature of things.

Blood on the leaves.

Blood Month.

Stag run through with a spear

Stag hung from a tree

Stag strung up to bleed

Glory, Stag, to thee

*Had history gone otherwise, and the word remained in continuous use, we would in all likelihood today be calling November Blommath.

**As the saying goes, there's a little Bealtaine in every Samhain, a little Samhain in every Bealtaine.


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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.


  • Jim
    Jim Friday, 07 November 2014

    Like most people in the U.S. I have absolutely no need or intention of eating wild animals. Even those who are so abysmally mundane as to have no respect for life at all know that eating the wild opens us to a world of hurt in infections/parasites etc. that eating slaughtered, farm raised meat has little to none of. My husband and I spend our summers at a gay men's camp ground in the mountains of southern New York - at the base of the Finger Lakes. Even thought it's posted land we find shells in the winter. One spring I found an entire deer skeleton minus the head. Some asshole had shot him to death before he shed his rack and cut off his head for a prize while letting the rest of him rot. There is no way that any of our ancient ancestors, or the recent residents of NY, (the Iroquois) would have tolerated such an obscenity but there it was. I piled the bones and prayed over them and something strange happened. When I went back there were deer tracks around the bones and continued for 3yrs. Someone still missed him. Every single living thing today lives on the death of other living things. We can not change this and must not try - it's the foundation of life that it only exists on itself. But, this mystery makes everything about it full of holiness and every time we eat we either honor or commit an act of mockery and perversion. Our very life force can be part of a holy cycle or an obscene sin and whichever way we do is the way we become.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Saturday, 08 November 2014

    I am entirely convinced that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, more central to our paganism than what and how we eat. Do we live in a sacred manner or not? You make the case more strongly than I ever could; thanks Jim.

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