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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Joining the Tribe

At the Midwest Grand Sabbat this summer, four people will be taking their oaths and receiving their Marks, and in this way joining the Tribe of Witches.

Since the Middle Ages, this thedish (tribal) initiation has traditionally begun with three questions, given here in their contemporary formulations:

Do you reject Yahweh, and all his lies, and all his empty promises?

Do you renounce the waters of baptism?

Do you give yourself body and soul, whole and all, to the Horns and the Wandering Moon, and take the Craft to be your home?

It's always a powerful moment, the more so by the very nature of the questions involved.

Here's the clincher: Only one of these questions has a right answer.

That question, obviously, is the last. If you cannot give yourself whole-heartedly to the Tribe, then you can't—and shouldn't—join.

Equally obviously, this question is the oldest and most important one. The others, of course, could not have arisen until after the coming—and triumph—of the Church.

The Christianities, of course, are not all of a piece, but the sad fact remains that, throughout Christian history, people have been wounded, again and again, by Christianity, and that (alas) that process continues in our day.

For some, it is a spiritual necessity to be able to make a public break with their religious past. So long as the Christianities continue to predominate culturally, it may well be necessary to continue to ask such questions. Any little pagan kid can tell you that you don't have to grow up in Christianity in order to be oppressed by it.

There was a time in my own life when my answer to the first two questions would not only have been Yes!, but F**k yes!

Today I'm not so sure.

But however you answer these questions, it will tell you something important about yourself.

If you feel a need to make a separation, fine. If not, fine too.

And if it should so happen that you find yourself, for whatever reason, giving answers that you don't mean because you feel that you're supposed to: well, that also tells you something important about yourself that you need to know, and that you need to think seriously about.

May the day come soon when it is no longer necessary to pose such controversial, and difficult, questions.

But until such a day—speedily may we see it—we will continue to ask them.

And the answers that you make in reply, will be all your own.


Everything between my left hand and my right

I give to the Horns and the Wandering Moon.

Body and soul, whole and all:

I give myself to you.


Above: An initiate tramples the cross.

Woodcut from Newes from Scotland: Declaring the Damnable Life and Death of Dr. Fian, a Notable Sorceror (London 1591)













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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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