Blog Post 64 – City Spirits
Today’s post is going to be a little different. I’m not going to cite any outside sources (at least, I don’t think I will…I may not be able to fight the urge). Instead, I’m going to present some thoughts I have had which were spurred on by discussions about modernization last week, and in particular a comment from Crystal on Podcast 10. She mentioned that as a city witch, she often feels the pull to get back to nature, which got me thinking: can cities, buildings, and skylines be a part of nature, too?
Now, I know this isn’t an original thought, and that there are deeper philosophical questions here about whether people are a part of nature and therefore whether their creations are also a part of nature, but that’s not really what I’m getting at. When I talk about “nature” above, I really mean the whole of nature, encompassing the spiritual dimension as well. I’m thinking more in terms of whether the Otherworld might well have city elements in it.
Do buildings have specific spirits? Like spirits of the land do? Can you tap into a building’s spirit and use it in magic? These are the questions that are swirling about in my head. For example, there are definite precedents in hoodoo for using things like dirt from a courthouse or a bank or a hospital, because it’s assumed that the land upon which those structures reside will have absorbed a particular type of energetic influence which the root worker can then use for his or her own ends. Is using that energy akin to using a little bit of the spirit of those places, or is the conjurer simply using accumulated human energy?
Even more to the point, are there places in cities that echo the kind of spiritual resonance found in locations like the Rollright Stones or Stonehenge? After all, those structures were, at least to some extent, man-made (though I won’t begin to deny that they may be sitting on top of very particularly powerful places that have nothing to do with people). But why can’t the Empire State Building or Beacon Hill in Boston or the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville have their own resident spirit (or spirits)? And moreover, why not use places like that to do magic—not just in terms of collecting dirt or knick-knacks for spells, but actually deploying spells there, or finding subtle ways to contact spirits and interact with them in those locations?
For me, train stations have always had this very powerful Otherworldly significance. I imagine that after death, there’s this sort of “waiting” place which always seems like a train platform to me. Trains come and go, taking each person off to different post-mortem existences, or sometimes allowing them to just ride and enjoy the scenery for a bit. There are food cars, drinks, other passengers to play cards with if being dead gets boring…er, at least, that’s how I envision it. But lately I’m thinking that going to a train station is a lot like going to the Crossroads in traditional hoodoo practice. I think I may try out a few things at our city train station and see how it goes. If I do, I’ll be sure to post on that and let y’all know about it.
This is, of course, not an extensive discussion of this idea. And there are probably lots of better sources for reading and thinking about urban magical practice than our little blog. In fact, Velma Nightshade over at Witches Brewhaha recently did an episode discussing city witchery that’s well worth checking out (I couldn’t resist the opportunity to link to something). But I just had to let some of these thoughts out, as they were making a lot of noise in my head and the gerbil that lives there was getting upset.
What about your thoughts and opinions? Any strong inclinations on city magic? Does it depend upon specific places? Is there some way to turn a city landscape of concrete and steel into the same kind of magical place an ancient grove might be? Do you practice this kind of city magic yourself? Inquiring minds want to know!
Thanks for reading!
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