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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Son of Deer and Seal

 5 Common Myths About Whitetail Fawns - NDA


Hey, did I ever tell you that we're Deer Clan on my father's side? Sure, and we've got the build to prove it.

Time was, pretty much all of our people acknowledged our kinship with the animals. You know the story: the hunter goes out, meets the animal wife in human form, marries her. According to the stories, in the end she pretty much always goes back to her own people, but not without leaving some children behind, which is where the whole clan system comes from in the first place. Remind me to tell you the story of the Deer Wife some time.

(Sometimes, of course, it's the other way around. As Bear Clan tells it, it was their foremother who married Bear.)

Oh, I know what you're thinking: he's making all this up. I mean, when's the last time that you heard a white guy say something like: We're Deer Clan on my father's side?

In fact, I'm not making all this up—I'll get to that in a moment—but first let me ask a question in return: What has gone so wrong that when a white guy says something like, We're Deer Clan on my father's side, our automatic reaction is: No way? Doesn't it seem like maybe it's time to start doing something about that? After all, the kinship is still there, even if we've forgotten about it.

I grew up hearing jokes in my father's family about how we must be Deer Clan. In fact, some us on that side do hail from the old Cornovii hunting runs in what's now Shropshire and Staffordshire. (While the name's original meaning may not have been “People of the Horned One,” as some have suggested, it clearly had something to do with “horns”; on that, all the authorities agree.) Back when the Cornovii lived just to the north of the Dobunni, the original Tribe of Witches—I have to imagine that there was a certain amount of intermarriage between the two—they had a reputation for being crack hunters. Others lived off of their barley, or their cattle, but the Cornovii hunted.

Not, of course, that that has anything to do with it. Nor were any of the men in my family hunters. It was just an understood thing that, in our family, we had a thing about deer. Certainly they came up in conversation frequently. In any given family gathering of any given duration, someone was bound to mention deer. It was just something that happened.

Certainly the men in my family (some of the women, too) are built like deer: sinewy, lean, with a certain cervine grace to us; with our long legs, we can run like deer when we've a mind to, as well. (One of my father's nicknames for me, growing up, was “Running Deer.” Himself he humorously referred to as “Sitting Deer.” It took me years to get the joke.) There's always been a certain natural equivalency between deer body and human body: we're about the same size, we weigh roughly the same.

Throughout my entire adult life, my heart-god has been the Antlered, god of the ancestors. I suppose, under the circumstances, that I come by my priesthood honestly.

Once our people remembered that we were kin to the animals, and reckoned our clanships accordingly. Ever since we've forgotten that fact, things have gone to the bad. The sooner we start remembering again, I say, the better.

Oh, and did I ever mention that on my mother's side, we're Seal Clan?

Sure, and we've got the toe-webbing to prove it.










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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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