Plight of the Urban Pagan

Garfield Park Conservatory – Chicago, IL

I live in Chicago. I actually chose to move here specifically for the culturally robust big city, however, I feel this has created a sense of dissonance between my daily life and my spirituality.  

I grew up in the South.  It was hard to keep me in the house, as I was drawn to running around outside or exploring the woods I’d been forbidden to visit. Although I was an easily frightened child, the call of the woods would draw me in every time.  There was something about being surrounded entirely by trees and listening to the wind moving through the canopy above that filled me with that indescribable elation that is often described as a spiritual awakening. No matter how old I am, I get that feeling each time I find myself in the woods or on the beach.

Now, my interactions with nature are most commonly scheduled on my calendar in the way of camping trips or visits to the local Garfield Park Conservatory.  However, even those trips can be easily stripped of their reverence depending on how crowded it may be. I don’t mean to be an anti-social creature, but I do often find myself feeling claustrophobic around too many other humans.

I work on Michigan Avenue, right across the street from Grant Park.  However, I find that when I visit the park, the magic spark of the wilderness doesn’t seem to find me.  There are beautiful trees, but the towering buildings seem to dwarf them, reminding me that I am in the realm of man.  

It’s hard to remember my foundation as an Earth worshipper when my feet only touch cold concrete.  We’ve filled up the apartment with plants- small tropical trees, succulents, cacti and kitchen herbs in an attempt to bring the living world indoors with us.  It’s a small start, but perhaps it will get me through another cold winter as a Urban Pagan.

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