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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Melting Old Witch Winter

 Propitiate, v. (< L propitiare, to render favorable, appease) 1. trans. To render propitious or favorably inclined; to appease, conciliate (one offended).


The good news: it may not be time to kill the black goat in the back yard just yet.

Not quite.

In pagan lore, a propitiation is an offering that you make when you want Them (or one of Them) to stop what They're doing. As one would expect, propitiatory sacrifices take many forms.

Here in Snow Country, winter started off understated, but late in January it turned nasty. We've been running 20-30 degrees colder than usual (we haven't seen above freezing for almost a month), and we broke the historic snowfall record for the month of February. There's a blizzard predicted this weekend and another for mid-week, with possible total accumulations of twelve or so inches to add to the three-some feet of snow already on the ground.

Fortunately, everyone agrees that Old Witch Winter loves pancakes. Why, I'm not sure—there must be a story out there somewhere, probably buried under the snow—but she does.

So, as I write this, the yeast sponge bubbles away in the warmth of the oven. By the time the snow falls on Saturday, the batter will be nice and sour and stinky: just the way she likes it.

Some prefer pancakes with preserves, some with maple syrup. (Most years we'd be out in the sugar bush by now and there would be new syrup to go with them, but not this year: it's been too cold for the sap to rise.) For me, though, a slather of sour cream and a generous sprinkle of chopped green onion is the best way to eat pancakes.

So I'll invite you to join me in propitiating Winter with pancakes this weekend, wherever you live. Feed your household, and don't forget to leave some out on the doorstep for Her Bleakness.

Here's the magic: each pancake is a hot little Sun. We'll melt Her from within.

And if that doesn't work, there's always the black goat.






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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.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Friday, 08 March 2019

    I've never heard that story about pancakes and Winter, but I like it. It just so happens that I was lucky enough to find a package of buckwheat pancake mix and I have the 20th scheduled as a day off. Now I may just leave one of my buckwheat pancakes as a farewell gift to Old Man Winter.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 08 March 2019

    Griddle cakes are the oldest bread that there is.
    Happy eating!

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