Urban Earthwitch: Urban Animist

Urban Earthwitch: Urban Animist April 8, 2017

Feeling connected to nature in the city isn’t impossible. It’s as simple as stepping outside and allowing your instincts to take over. In most people’s workaday worlds they fail to feel this critical connection. They spend mere seconds outdoors, rushing from the front door to the car with their purse handle between their teeth while they wrestle with outerwear, carefully shifting the commuter mug from one hand to the other, dropping keys on the ground, picking up the keys, deactivating the car alarm …

How many seconds late for work would a person be if they stopped to feel outdoors? How long would it take to feel the temperature of the outdoor air on your skin, be aware of the position of the sun in the sky? Just turn your face slightly toward the sun. I can guarantee you no matter the ambient temperature you can feel that unique warmth on your skin. Take in a deep breath of the outdoor air … okay, granted some people don’t have friendly air in their urban outdoors. So skip that part.

Cincinnati Fire Escape, by Derek Jensen (Tysto).  CC 2.0 License.
Cincinnati Fire Escape, by Derek Jensen (Tysto). CC 2.0 License.

Do you notice anything different? It’s subtle, but you’ve just awakened a whole set of instincts that have probably been asleep if you’re the type that’s caught up in a hectic pace. Now take a sip of your warm beverage. It ought to taste better than ever. This can be a particularly exhilarating experience on a cold day, to really experience the warmth of your drink against the cold air.

OK now you can deactivate your car alarm and begin your commute. If you don’t drive to work, then you’re particularly lucky! You get to take your continued brain stem awakening exercise with you as you walk to your destination.

There now. You’re an officially nature connected human being. You’ve just activated your wild self. And you’re hungry for more. The next time you take your brain stem outdoors you’ll be even more keenly observant. Is this a substitute for a real, honest to goodness nature experience? No. But it’s more than most urban humanoids experience months at a time. And it probably won’t intrude on your schedule. I mean, if you’re late for work, nobody is going to notice 45 seconds more, right?

I have lived in the inner city most of my adult life. I love the paradoxical anonymity it gives you. I can go into town (a couple of blocks from my home) in jeans with a hole in the knee, a fleece pullover and sunglasses and be unremarkable. I can get errands run, grab coffee or tea, read a book on the train, watch people (which is a hobby for me), and return home feeling charged with the urban energy. I am also fortunate to live five minutes away from canyon trails, which I confess I don’t avail myself of often enough. These are my brainstem activating nature adventures. The only wildlife you really see are people walking their dogs. But now and then a raven will croak at you from a tree.

At night though, now here’s where it gets interesting. We are frequently visited by creatures from the canyon. Now and then I’ll hear an owl. I’ve seen rabbits, raccoons, porcupines, and deer. These are odd sights in the concrete jungle. But what exhilarating, special experiences, these sightings.

Photo by dimitrisvetsikas1969, via Pixabay.  CC0 License.
Photo by dimitrisvetsikas1969, via Pixabay. CC0 License.

I watch the skies as sunset approaches. Hawks do aerial stunts and ravens and eagles cast silent, imposing shadows below. All of this I experience from my front porch.

Being an urban witch is not without its challenges. You’ll see future blog entries about my adventurisms. (Yes, I just invented that word, but being an urban witch is not a run of the mill thing, so unique words are a must.)

For you city dwelling pagans I hope to help you awaken your wild self, the instinct-driven creature that has gifts of sense you never knew were there, to help you become the human you are as an earth dweller.

Until then, go outside.

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