Urban Paganism

I recently read “The Urban Primitive” by Raven Kaldera and Tannin Schwartzstein and I must say it really got me thinking. For 31 years of my life I lived in somewhat small towns with easy access to wilderness areas. But for six years I have found myself in one large city or another, and most recently I have landed in Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in the United States. I never thought I’d end up here, and I have struggled with how I can connect to earth, nature, and spirit while living in such a huge urban area. So I picked up this book, and it really helped me to establish my pagan connection in big ‘ol Houston.

I’d like to share my favorite parts of the book, and how they have helped me in my new urban setting.

“The Urban Primitive” quickly goes into how to connect with the deity of a city. It points out that all cities have deities of their own, and there are ways to find and connect to them. I imagine the great Houston Goddess (yes, I think it’s a goddess rather than a god) is evoked in the beautiful green spaces found in the downtown area. She’s a beautiful, multi-cultural woman with a raw, urban side. She’s a funky dresser with a great sense of humor, and she’s very sharp and witty.

The book also points out that different areas of the city could have different deities, and I think this is definitely true. There are very different energies in the various areas of the city, some good, some bad, some really strange. I believe I have been in the presence of many different Houston deities, and I am having a lot of fun trying to meet these gods and goddesses.

Also discussed is how buildings have energy. I think we all understand this, and have certainly felt it. The huge skyscrapers all have a certain energy just like an old building does. Of course these energies are very different, and I can discern a lot about the building and what is going on inside by reading these energies.

I got a lot out of the chapter on protecting yourself and your property. I have been a victim of a car break in and a house break in, but I will point out these break ins occurred in other big cites I lived in, not Houston. And I’ll tell you what, having your house broken into really rocks your world and gives you a whole new outlook on protection and safety. It actually took me awhile to get over that one… But the book offered insight to these problems, as well as various means of protective/defensive magic. I have found a sense of calm and peace by casting a protection bubble over my house or car. Then if I get freaked out about what’s happening at my house while I am away I can just imagine the bubble and it’s safe powers protecting my home and animals inside.

“The Urban Primitive” also introduces what the authors see as the urban triple gods and goddesses. I really enjoyed these, and have been developing a relationship with two of them, Squat, the Goddess of Parking Spaces, and Skor, the Goddess of Yard Sales, Flea Markets, and Trash picking. I have evoked Squat a number of times for parking, as it is something I have to deal with on a daily basis, and it can be quite stressful. I first evoked her when I went out with a group of friends. We had three different cars and everyone was following me. We found ourselves driving through crowded neighborhoods looking for a place to park not one but three cars. Just when my frustration was about to blow I called for Squat and not 15 seconds later there were three glorious free parking spaces right in front of me. I evoked her again a few days later when I was completely at a loss finding a place to park at work. Again, no sooner had I cried out then someone right in front of me pulled out of her space. Now I keep a constant relationship with Squat, and parking has become much easier. According to the book, Squat loves dirty jokes and a little raunchiness. In fact, the first time I called on her I used this as we were going to see a friend perform in a burlesque show. I threw up my hands and called her name and pointed out the event we were going to and there she was.

As I am a major lover of shopping and thrift stores, Skor has also come in handy. I am just now working on my relationship with her, but she has already provided me with some fantastic finds. I do a lot of costume shopping for my dance company and this involves finding some very specific items at an affordable price, often in multiples and in various sizes. Before our last show Skor offered her help a few times, and I am eager to take our relationship to the next level.

In the chapter “Elements of Place” the authors discuss how to connect to the elements and nature within the city. I really identified with the connection to nature part, and with the notion of looking for the little magical places throughout the urban environment. I have favorite trees, and little places of refuge that I like to go to. I also know that I cannot live within the greater city structure. I simply have to have a decent sized house with a yard with mature trees. Being that I am not rich, this means I have to live in the suburbs and face having a commute. Although, my commute is not that bad, and I have learned how to make peace with it. And it is so worth it to be able to have my big house with a yard full of nature. It’s my little oasis away from the crazy energy of the city, and it’s the perfect place to reflect and recharge.

Of course vehicle charms are discussed, as for most urban dwellers the car is very important. I am so dependent on my car, although when I lived in Cleveland, OH, my hubby and I lived in the city and only rarely used the car. At that point we even shared a car and sometimes went a few weeks in a row without driving. But that is not the case in Houston.

The book talks about ways to protect your car and keep it running as nothing is worse than when the car breaks down. It’s usually expensive and stressful to figure out how to get around without it, and I think a lot of people have an important and deep relationship with their cars.

Although I loved the discussion of car charms and protection, I thought one point was missing, that of the problem of insane traffic. Houston has some of the worst traffic in the United States, and I constantly find myself caught in it. Because of this I have been working on developing my own goddess of traffic. This goddess helps me both avoid horrible traffic and remain calm and Zen when I find myself stuck in it.

I also loved that “The Urban Primitive” included urban animal totems. The huge flying cockroach is a Houston standard, and I can’t help but feel it’s some sort of sign when one flies through my living room and calls me to battle it. I honestly have to summon a lot of strength to go into cockroach battle because for some reason they scare the hell out of me.

I did appreciate the chapter on urban animal totems, but I didn’t really click with the description of the animals. This has peaked my curiosity about them and what their presence symbolizes, none more so than the fear-inducing cockroach.

All in all, I thought “The Urban Pagan” was a fantastic book. It was a really honest and frank exploration of the world of the urban pagan and it helped me so much with strengthening my concept of urban paganism.

Houston can annoy the heck out of me, but I have found ways to love it. I could not do what I do in any other city. My job is specific to Houston, as is my dance company. So many of the dancers I formed relationships with in grad school are here which provide me with an amazing base of beautiful dancers. And Houston is a dance city, which is a rare find. Houston loves and supports dance and I have been given so many opportunities because of that.

I probably will not be in Houston for the rest of my life, but for the time being I am happy and connecting here. I am very intrigued by the concept of urban paganism and excited to explore it on my terms in this giant metropolis in which I live.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. SpidrGoddess
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 21:12:42

    Thank you for this post. I am always looking for new books to read, and this one I have added to “Ye Olde Amazon Wishlist.”

    Reply

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