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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The Horned Shepherd

The Moon draws to the full,

and the milk is dried up in the breast of the wheat.

And so it came to pass that the Horned Shepherd himself, the living likeness of the white image in the forest, is seen in the marketplace.

And Big Anna gives the old sign, the secret sign, for those who have eyes to see.

That night, the wise ones of the village come to Big Anna, speaking the secret words, to know the When and Where. The chief of the wandering Egyptians comes. Olaf of the Northern Land, Captain of the Princess' Guard, comes. The Ethiopian, of the retinue of the knight from over the sea, comes. Even old Mispereth the Jew comes. (Says the Egyptian: “All the world is the country of the wise. There are many wise ones among the Jews.”)

Egyptian: I never looked to see the Horned One.

Big Anna: Nor I.

Egyptian: It is a hundred score moons since his last coming.

Big Anna: Is it truly? To what land, to what people, did he come? I have never heard of that coming.

Egyptian: One of my forefathers saw him in the land of the Two Rivers, a far land.

Big Anna: And was the law fulfilled?

Egyptian: The law was fulfilled: the Horned One died.

Big Anna: And was the land rich?

Egyptian: The land was rich, and it is rich even to this day. The seed brings forth fruit an hundredfold; the clusters break the vine-props.

Big Anna: Good. And the law shall be fulfilled again, and our eyes shall see it, and we and our children shall prosper in a rich land, thanks be to the holy saints!


Originally published in 1904, Edgar Jepson's luminous novella The Horned Shepherd is a jewel of 20th century Craft literature, filled with insight, beauty, and mordant wit. The folks over at Witches' Almanac have done us all a favor by reissuing it recently, complete with Wilfred Jones' trenchant 1927 woodcuts.

By the Horned and His Bride, by the White Image of the Forest, by Saccabe the Black Goat, Father of Many Flocks, I charge you: Please don't miss 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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