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.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Witch Country

They call it the Driftless Area.

What strange forces spared one isolated region along the Upper Mississippi River, asks Timothy S. Jacobson, from the repeated crushing and scouring effects of massive continental glaciers during the last million-plus years? What pre-Ice Age throwbacks survived here in this unique refuge that holds more Native American effigy mounds, petroglyph caves, strange geological features, and rare species than anywhere else in the Midwest?

Every tribe has a territory. In this, the Midwest Tribe of Witches is no different from any other.

Ours is an inland island of rolling wooded hills, steep river gorges, and jutting tors (called monadnocks hereabouts), straddling four states and ringed—hedged, one might say—by guardian cities: the Twin Cities to the north, Madison to the east, the Quad Cities to the south, Cedar Rapids and Mason City to the west. As the topography of the Driftless—so-called for its lack of glacial detritus—does not favor the urban, the cities spring up on its boundaries. As in the old days, the hedge marks off the tame from the wild, but in our time it is the wild that must be guarded.


It is here, in this land of hollow hills and pagan land sanctuaries, that our tribe began to come together more than 40 years ago. Here we still meet, at the requisite irregular intervals, in immemorial Grand Sabbat.

It is our home land, our holy land. Here our people began.

Long ago and far away, the tribal territories of the Hwicce—what maverick archaeologist Stephen J. Yeates calls the Tribe of Witches—were the Cotswolds and the Severn basin. Here and now our Cotswolds are the Paleozoic Plateau and our Severn the Upper Mississippi.

We lay no political claims to this land, hold no stake of ownership or sovereignty.

But there is no tribe without territory.

And this is ours: Witch Country.


Stephen J. Yeates, The Tribe of Witches: The Religion of the Dobunni and Hwicce (2008). Oxbow.

Stephen J Yeates, A Dreaming for the Witches: A Recreation of the Dobunni Primal Myth (2009). Oxbow.

J. R. Hanslet, All of Them Witches (1933). Waghorn .


For more on the Driftless Area:


Where else would a leftover tribe end up but in a leftover landscape?

Check out the succulent Rob Nelson's film-short, Mysteries of the Driftless.

Sinkholes. Caves. Springs. Petroglyphs. Effigy Mounds. Goat Prairies.

And among the pre-Ice Age relict species, the endangered Northern Blue Monkshood (aconitum novaboracense).

If witches had a country, it would be our national flower.













Last modified on
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.


Additional information