What is an urban pagan?

I’ve been thinking about this post while clearing out dead brush from a hard freeze in Central Florida. Am I an urban Pagan? Well, I am fortunate enough to have a house—a tiny 2 bedroom set amidst the sprawl of Orlando. My yard is about as small as it legally can be and still qualify as an individual lot. And on a winter day, like today, I hear a constant hum of traffic from toll road a couple miles from the house. Years ago I used to pass a field of cows on my way to work. That’s now a subdivision and I dodge construction barricades on my way just about anywhere. The last time I gazed up at a night sky full of stars was the night Hurricane Charlie knocked out all the power in the area. He also took out most of my garden and actually dropped a neighbor’s tree upside down into their above ground swimming pool. If I’m not an urban Pagan, I’m on the edges of urban-ness.

None of this brings to mind the vision of the old cottage witch wild crafting herbs by moonlight. The problem is that sometimes we get stuck in our vision of what we think we should be and forget to look at what we have. See, I have this vision of being Miss Marple and living in a little English cottage, preferably thatched, where I spend my day sipping tea and solving the occasional village murder. Okay, maybe not the murder part, except fictionally. Otherwise it’s a bit tough on the village. But I want the cottage and the garden! I want foxgloves to grow in my garden. They melt during Florida summers. Florida doesn’t seem very Pagan. But Florida is where of my British friends come to escape the English weather. It seems a human condition to not always appreciate where we are.

This year, part of my daily meditations are simply to appreciate the space I have been given on this earth, regardless of size, location, lack of foxgloves or abundance of mosquitoes. This is a good year for re-examining things in my life since last year I went through a major job upheaval and I’m now working a new job and a new lifestyle with more writing and less stress. Throughout the year, I’ll be blogging my thoughts and experiences as I go through my journey and garden quest. I won’t promise major revelations on life, the garden and Paganism. Just the musings of a simple garden witch.

Urban Paganism: Pagan in the City & Ritual

gothic-art-book-black-rose-sm The term Pagan meaning country dweller  might not be as accurate as one thinks. ‘Country Dweller’ could  simply be a term to describe those who lived outside of the court or village walls…those who ended up having to do their rituals away from prying eyes simply to have those traditions survive the test of time or not to be hung for it.

For one to believe that a ‘Pagan’ must be all about country living is just an assumption and an opinion—a personal preference. Less we remember that our ancient ancestors were more Urban than what we lay credit to.

Egyptian Pagans built beautiful cities as did the Greeks, Romans, Babylonians, and other Paganalia civilizations. Did they scurry to the forests when it came time for worship and ritual? No….they went to their temples, their sacred places built inside the city itself. Inside their homes, they even had sacred spaces and areas the way most of us do now.

So for a Pagan to be a country dweller…..it is simply a personal choice. Pagans are city dwellers as well. We are an eclectic mix of both.

Inexpensive Daily Rituals & Magic

Create a Sacred Space inside your home. Why not your home?

We spend a lot of time pouring ourselves into our personal environments. We choose our decorations, curtains, colors, furniture, and other decor to soothe our comfort pallet.  We make our homes into temples the same way the Ancients built their cities. So wouldn’t it make sense to create, and bring forth our magic and desires, from the heart of the one place we feel ourselves?

If living space in general is an issue, then make a portable one. If money is an issue, then take a card board or hat box….then paint and decorate  with whatever you have. Marking it with symbols, sigils, glyphs, glue pictures of animals or things you are drawn to….whatever your heart desires. Use the box to keep your alter items, crystals,or whatever tools you use when working magic (if any) or possibly just the herbs or items you need to store. Put it someplace safe–under a bed, in your closet, on a shelf.

Do I mean hide who you are? No….I am being realistic. Some people have small children—try keeping them out of a ‘sacred space’ lol. Some people even have animals….animals love to eat wands and dried herbs–let me tell you from experience.

And then there is privacy….I had in-laws who would come into my house, grab a deck of cards and start playing trash can/basketball games with them. Laughing the entire time, saying, “Oh aren’t these tarot cards or something and doesn’t it screw them up if we muck with them?” lol You have to LOVE relatives.

If your sacred pieces are ‘sacred’ and private to you, then by all means keep them away from visitors and prying eyes without feeling as though you are hiding.

Spending a fortune for items to use in daily rituals and so forth is yesterdays trend if it existed at all. Many people feel as though being Pagan, means having tons of fancy gadgets or expensive spell kits.

Not so.

You can do spells, rituals, affirmations with bottles, empty compacts, mirrors, PAPER, pens, paint, oil (olive oil or even canola if that’s all you have), cinnamon, garlic, sage from the cabinet (you used it for the Thanksgiving Bird, remember?), clothes pins, thread, yarn…dollar candles….

Bring magic into your life daily by doing something concerning a job, a promotion, a better sleep, more energy, protection, a stronger friendship—the possibilities are endless.

If you long for nature, then bring nature to you. Take a trip into the country and gather samples of soils, stones, feathers, leaves, moss, twigs—the sky is the limit. These will also serve as tools you were able to collect yourself and didn’t have to ‘buy’. Some people use these things to help them ‘ground’ and cleanse, or meditation.

Neighbors

There is a tornado constantly brewing with Pagans concerning being in or out of the broom closet. At times, most feel that if you keep what you are to yourself then that’s being in the closet….hiding….and then a rebellious explosion occurs ending in a Pagan somewhere running through the streets with  blazing pentagrams. lol

When I was growing up, one of the greatest lessons I learned moving from place to place is that you only come but so close to your neighbors. There is an invisible line that when crossed can make the dog turn on you. I watched my parents have more problems over silly things with neighbors when all could have been avoided if we simply respected the invisible line, minded our own business and them theirs, and kept some things to ourselves.

That doesn’t mean you can’t go to BBQ’s, or bring them chicken soup when they are ill, or have a cup of coffee or tea, or share a date night with them and their spouses.

But it does mean that when it comes to certain things, sometimes its best to keep them private. It’s not because of fear, its because you have to live around these people for who knows how long. If something as small as you being a Pagan is going to turn your life upside down and make it difficult to live there, then just keep it to yourself. There is no shame in that.

Ask yourself, whatever the truth concerning you may be, what will be the benefit of them knowing? Will it strengthen your bonds, make living there more prosperous, enrich your life any?

What is the benefits of not telling them? Can you enjoy your spirituality without having to feel like you must prove it to the world, without confrontation, without every little thing going wrong and someone screaming you cursed them because you are a devil worshipper?

Weigh the options and go from there.

Now, I am bringing this article to a close today but will leave you with a simple and inexpensive ritual for all you Urban & Rural Pagans out there. More importantly, this is for the Urban ones since privacy, money, time, and space is sometimes a huge issue.

This ritual can also  be done by any kind of Pagan underneath its huge umbrella. Heck, it can even be done by those who are NOT Pagan.

 

What you will need:

One bottle or jar (with top or lid) (recycle a soda bottle, or a jelly jar—any kind will do)

One piece of paper (notebook paper, stationary, any kind of paper)

One pen (black, red, purple, whatever)

One candle (color is whatever you want to roll with)

Salt & Garlic Powder & Sugar (right from the cabinet)

Optional : (Any other item depending on what you are doing this for—if its a job, cut the wanted ad out of the newspaper, if its to protect someone—use their picture, if its to silence gossip then use a thread or just draw a doodle of them on the paper)

 

Optional: Turn on some mood music or sit in silence.

Now light the candle. Write what you want on a piece of paper. You can be poetic, or to the point. You can be long winded or you can be blunt and short.

Stick the paper and whatever other item in the bottle/jar (if no other item then that’s ok)

Pour some salt in (this purifies the desire) Sprinkle a dash of garlic powder (this intensifies the ritual ten fold) and some sugar—this sweetens your desire as well as the direction it involves. For example, if you are trying to get a job, it sweetens the boss in your favor.

Seal the bottle. I like to use empty wine bottles and dip the old cork in the wax of the candle. But if its a soda bottle, NO biggie. I still pour wax on something signifying that my intent is sealed.

When it is done, shake the bottle while speaking out your desire. Call out to your God/Goddess/or to your own power. Call to attention whoever it is you use during your rituals.

When it is finished, place the bottle someplace dark so that it will not be disturbed. Leave it alone, forget about it, and let the universe do it’s thing….whatever its thing may be.

 

See you all the next Free For All for some more Urban Paganism!

C.H. Scarlett

Moots

When I was a kid, paganism was still very much in the broom closet, and gatherings were secretive affairs. However, the last decade or so has seen the rise of The Moot – visible, social and accessible paganism.

Moots are predominantly an urban phenomena because you need a sizeable pagan population to make them work. Cities lend themselves to this. A moot is basically a pagan gathering. They can be purely social, include talks, or debates, or form the public end of working groups. Moots can provide the impetus for practical action – tree planting, litter picking etc. If you want to join a coven or find a grove, then a moot is great way to make contacts.

Most moots are run in pubs in the evening. It means they aren’t very child friendly. If there’s a back room involved, talks and discussions are possible, but pub moots can be more of a social thing.

Coffee moots tend to happen at weekends, favouring cafes and coffee bars. Far more child friendly, but not so widespread.

Walking moots meet outside and go for a ramble, with people talking as they go. Parks in cities are popular venues for these. A very child friendly activity. Their major flaw is that bad weather can make them unviable.

House moots are a bit more complicated because they involve meet ups in a privately owned space. Best to meet up publically first, or take a friend. Most are absolutely fine, but it’s better to err on the side of caution.

The easiest way to find out about local moots is a search online. The odds are there will be gatherings in your nearest city. Pagan magazines also carry listings. If you are a lone pagan and want to find other likeminded people, this is such a good way to start.

My first encounter with moots was about a decade ago. I went to a local one, liked some of the people, didn’t get on with others, was part of a splinter group forming a new moot. Going to some gatherings in Birmingham, I encountered other druids, wrangled some invitations to more open rituals, and worked out that druidry was what I wanted to be doing. Those experiences brought me into contact with folk from the druid network, and it’s all gone from there. Many of the more private circles use the public space moots create to look out for likely souls. They are excellent opportunities.

If you want one and there’s nothing happening in your area, set one up. All you need is a venue and a date, and something posted on the internet where folk local to you might be able to see it.