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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Dreaming Spring

They say that at Winter's midpoint, Spring walks the earth for a single night. (Or maybe it is her Dreaming that walks.) Look for her footprints in new snow. At her passing, they say, sleeping animals stir in their burrows and dens. At her passing, they say, seeds stir in the frozen soil, and dream of germination.

This playful Appalachian (originally English) folk carol, with its charmingly medieval-sounding minor tune, tells the story of the growing season to come, from plow to winnow. Originally sung at an already oversubscribed “Christemas,” we've reassigned it—for reasons that seem good to us—to Candlemas instead.

Generally we sing this song while standing in a circle, with lots of stomping, clapping, and percussion to help wake the animals and seeds. Each in turn jumps into the center, mimes a verse, and then jumps out again.

After all, there's no reason why making magic shouldn't be a raucous, joyful experience.

No reason at all.


There Was a Pig Went Out to Dig


There was a pig went out to dig,

Candlemas Day, Candlemas Day,

there was a pig went out to dig,

Candlemas Day in the morning.


There was a cow went out to plow.

There was a sparrow went out to harrow.

There was a drake went out to rake.

There was a crow went out to sow.

There was a doe went out to hoe.

There was a sheep went out to reap.

There was a hind went out to bind.

There was a toad went out to load.

There was a hart went out to cart.

There was a thrush went out to thresh.

There was a minnow went out to winnow.

There was a pig went out to dig....

With thanks to the immortal Jean Ritchie 



At our Groundhog's Eve get-together last night, we ended up (in grand old folk tradition) improvising a few new verses. Here they are, for what it's worth.

There was a wether went out to gather...

There was a sardine went out to glean...

A quadruped went out to tread...


Hey, if a minnow can winnow, then a sardine can glean. Last night we ended up with a whole school of gleaning sardines....











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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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