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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Luck o' the Tree


I don't know if you have this thede (custom) where you come from, but around here the first ornament on the Yule Tree—after the lights and star, of course—is the Luck.

First ornament on, last ornament off. That's the Luck o' the Tree.

I don't suppose that there's any particular form that a Luck has to take, but here at my house it's a huge, clear glass bubble, big as your two fists held together. (Being the largest ornament on the Tree, it makes good aesthetic sense that it should be the first to be placed, as well.) After a lifetime of collecting, there are many rare and beautiful ornaments on my tree, but the plain, unadorned Luck is always the most beautiful of them all: in it the lights of the Tree, and in fact the whole Tree itself, are reflected (upside-down, of course). It's the whole Tree in little, the World-Tree in small. I suppose that's what makes it the Luck.

Last year, while decking the tree, I heard something bounce, and land. An ornament from one of the upper branches had slipped its twig and fallen onto the hearthstone. Fortunately, it hadn't broken when it landed. Whew, I thought.

It wasn't until I crunched glass underfoot that I realized what had happened. In its fall, the ornament had bounced off of the Luck and—gods, what an omen—broken it.

No wonder 2020 turned out the way it did.

Heartsick, wondering what the omen meant, I turned to take down the Luck. As I did so, I realized that, though the accident had broken out a section of the glass bubble's surface, the Luck itself was still largely intact. From a few steps away, you couldn't even tell that it had been broken.

I left it up for the remainder of the season, and it was the last ornament off the Tree, as usual.

This year, as usual, it will be the first one on again. Funny how what at first seemed a symbol of disaster has now become a sign of hope: broken, but not entirely.

Surely broken luck is better than no luck at all.




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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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