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 Witches of Now


It's a tribal name—theedish, we would say. (In Witch, a thede is a tribe.)

Some 50 generations gone, a people called the Hwicce lived along the River Severn in what is now south-west England. (1400 years later, we still name our daughters Sabrina in Her honor.)

The Hwicce of then, you see, are the Witches of now.

It's not all lineal descent, of course. There are ways and ways of belonging, and bloodlines only one.

(You can adopt in, you can marry in. You can initiate in, acculturate in. Peoples have always been porous around the edges.)

We have our own tribal religion, though it's not witchcraft per se. (Witchcraft is our magic.) Not all Witches practice, of course, but if you're a Witch, it's your religion (and your magic), to hold to or not, as you yourself see fit.

Is it historical, you ask: Old Hwicce to New Witch?

Well, it is for some. Time was, some of my own folk hailed from the old Hwiccan hunting runs.

Really, you say, A Tribe of Witches? Witches as we know them?

My friend, I tell you a word, and that a true.

Whether we were or whether we weren't, then, we are now.


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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.


  • Julie Lovejoy
    Julie Lovejoy Friday, 10 April 2020

    Steven, this is some fascinating information about Hwicce. Would you share sources, please? Many thanks,

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 10 April 2020

    Yeates, of course, is writing from an outsider's perspective.
    For more from the Inside, web-search my name, "Paganistan," and "Hwicce."
    Wishing you joy of the hunt!

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 10 April 2020

    Check out maverick archaeologist Stephen J. Yeates' The Tribe of Witches: The Religion of the Dobunni and the Hwicce (2008) and A Dreaming for the Witches: A Recreation of the Dobunni Primal Myth (2009).
    Alas, Julie, I won't say that they're easy reading.
    But they're worth it.

  • Victoria
    Victoria Wednesday, 28 October 2020

    Is it historical, you ask: Old Hwicce to New Witch?

    Sorry to be blunt but no it isn't; not historically nor from an etymological perspective . Here is a discussion of the known evidence and etymology of the Hwicce:

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