Of course, in “real nature,” the grass grows tall and in the summer the air is thick with bugs. In “real nature,” the greenery isn’t bounded on four sides by major streets, nor are there life-sized statues of Shakespeare, Rossini, and Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben. The city park is an architectural space just as surely as any civic center – it just happens to be sculpted, in the main, with trees and grass as opposed to concrete. To put it another way, urban parks may be “nature,” but they are not in any sense “wild.” They exist because of human design.
–Eric Scott’s description of Tower Grove Park in St. Louis in “Nature’s Social Union”
These are the types of places where people with sensory or mobile disabilities go to enjoy nature. As Eric points out in his essay, this doesn’t mean people who go to city parks are any less Pagan. There are even National and State parks with camping areas, trails, and visitor centers that offer accommodations.There are two reasons that Pagans who are able bodied meet in the wild. 1) To protect their identities and goings on. 2) They feel they are closer to the mysteries of nature.
I propose that you can feel close to nature and hide what you are doing right there in public. I have a lot of pain in my legs for various reasons, which makes it difficult to walk. So, when my husband and I visit Elephant Rocks in Ironton, we take the wheelchair trail. It winds its way to the top of the small mountain. From there I climb a boulder, in public with others around me, to sit and meditate on the wind around me and the earth below me: channeling energies, smiling, feeling the wind in my hair and the warmth of the sun on the rocks.
Granted, it’s just me. It isn’t a whole group of people gathered for ritual at a park pavilion. But we may have to be more open and public if we are to accommodate all Pagans, able-bodied or not. Especially since we don’t have our own buildings! That’s a goal for another time.