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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Who's Bringing the Hornless Goat?

 "What is it with witches and cannibalism?"
(Sabrina Spellman)


What's a coven to do?

We're pagans. We don't just like to eat; food is central to our religion. Maintaining a spiritual connection with our food sources lies at the very heart of who we are, how we see things, and what we do.

So, when we get together, we eat. Therein lies the rub.

In our coven of eight, we've got one vegetarian (me), one fishetarian, and six more-or-less practicing omnivores, but that's the easy part. We've also got numerous allergies, sensitivities, and just plain don't likes. How to accommodate everyone?

When I'm thinking about what to bring to the (ahem) cauldron-luck, I'd like to be able to feed as many as possible, so I try to bring dishes without major allergens. But once you add in all the “don't likes,” acceptable foods begin to vanish mathematically with each person that we add to the group.

So, in our usual pragmatic way, we've settled on two coven food policies:

  • Bring what you want to eat. I figure that, as the group vegetarian, I have no right to complain that there's no vegetarian entree if I didn't bring one.
  • Full disclosure. If what you bring contains something that someone doesn't eat, or can't eat, let us know.

Then, of course, there's the perennial problem with coven cauldron-lucks: who's bringing the—ahem—hornless goat?

After all, they're hard to get, expensive, and—let's be frank here—an awful lot of work.

Well, in our group, we just take turns.


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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.


  • Murphy Pizza
    Murphy Pizza Friday, 11 January 2019

    We had the same problem in my old coven. We couldn't even do cakes and ale together in ritual because of allergies and sensitivities and other medical conditions.

    We did.manage a salad bar prosperity ritual though. We all brought different ingredients to toss on greens( greens = greenbacks!), set up the salad bar, blessed it, then everyone made their own. It went well.

  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch Friday, 11 January 2019

    I think of Elizabeth Marshall who, as a teen back in the 50s, went with her anthropologist parents to the Kalahari to live with some of the very last hunter-gatherers on the planet.

    She writes about going with the women of the band one day to eat a particular kind of berry. They spent all day picking and eating the berries. "They weren't very good," writes Marshall, "but they were something to eat."

    I look at us, with all of our can't eats and don't eats.

    I smile and shake my head.

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