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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Three-Headed Monster

 PIE cattle raiding myth ...

"Reuse, repurpose, recycle."


Me, I'm a man of peace, but the more I think about it, the more it starts to look like prophecy.

Across the Indo-European-speaking world, and beyond, they tell the story of Thunder and the (variously-named) Three-Headed Monster.

In a nutshell: the three-headed monster arises and oppresses the people. Thunder arises, arms himself, and after a terrible battle, slays him, freeing all the people.

And there was much rejoicing.

It's an old story, with reflexes across Europe and Western Asia. We see it in the East (Indra v. Vritra), the uttermost West (Thor v. Midgard Serpent), and in between (Zeus v. Typhon). Italian anthropologist Augusto Cacopardo has even suggested that the story underlies the great Winter Solstice festival of the Kalasha of what is now Pakistan, the sole remaining Indo-European-speaking people who have continuously practiced their traditional religion since ancient times (Cacopardo 116-118).

At this point, the astute mythographer will be asking: Why three heads? That's where the prophecy comes in.

Well. Can you think of any three-headed monsters that need slaying these days? Three-headed monsters that oppress the people, and badly need taking down? That overthrow the rule of the gods, and seek in their stead lordship over the world and all its peoples?

If so—we have it from the ancestors—Thunder's your god.

Let the invocations begin.



Dean Miller and J. P. Mallory (1997) "Three-Headed Monster" in Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture, ed. J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams, Fitzroy Dearborn.

Augusto S. Cacopardo (2010) Pagan Christmas: Winter Feasts of the Kalasha of the Hindu Kush, Gingko Library.



Gallehus horn (detail)

Denmark, ca. 400 ce





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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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