rural faiths in an urban world


eclectic Wiccan
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Novelty OH USA
Many modern Pagan religions such as Wicca are based on a rural or agricultural calendar. Yet many of us actually live in urban areas and have little direct contact with rural or agricultural life.

Is there a place for urban-focussed Paganism today? Why or why not? What ancient Pagan cultures or sects might be more integrated with urban living, which could be drawn on by today's practitioners?
That's a *very* good point you raise - especially as "paganism" in general wasn't simply tied to the agricultural calendar - but an agricultural way of life. In fact, I'm very much under the impression that the root word for "pagan" itself comes frmo a word denoting rural living. The gulf between the original rurual way of life and modern living is an absolute gulf to cross - I would also be interested in hearing feedback from NeoPagans as to whether they see themselves as briding this gulf - or whether they seek the root of the tradition by other means.
The word "pagan" does come from the Latin word "paganus," which means a rural dweller. (Heathen is another one that is similar -- it means a person who lives on the heaths which are not usually considered to be inside towns!)

In "The Triumph of the Moon" Ronald Hutton does a good job presenting a lot of the influences that went into what we now know as modern Paganism, at least in the English-speaking world. The whole rural emphasis likely stems from the romanticized idea of the "noble savage" (which manifested as a fascination with things related to the First Nations peoples of the Americas, as well as pre-Christian cultures) and also the sentimentalized ideas about rural life.

While there are definitely many examples of overtly agricultural emphases in pre-Christian religions, there are also examples of cults and faiths that had little or nothing to do with rural life. In ancient Greece for instance, each city-state had its own patron deity. For Athens, it was Athena for instance. There are plenty of deities that seem to have little to do with raising crops or animals and living on a farm.

Most of the more public Pagan groups today do seem to fall into the rural-emphasis category even though their participants might be predominantly urban or suburban. I was wondering whether anyone had any information on more urban-centered Pagan groups. I'm curious about them.

What do people think? Is there a need for modern Pagan faiths that speak more to urban living than rural life? Should we allow ecological concerns to take a back seat in favour of urban issues?
As an "Urban Wiccan" speaking only for myself...

There is a strong desire to reconnect with the natural order of things. In my case, I have chosen a home that borders on the private side of the metroparks, over looking the river, and a protected space.

My rituals are able to surround the changing of the seasons, celebrations of life and death, hearing the wind in the trees etc. Do I romanticize it? No, I am able to watch the hawk hunt, the Heron fish, the coon's give birth, the car honk... It brings an understanding between me and my life. Even though we're so modernized there is the same battle of dominence going on. Being connected to the earth cycles, understanding the cycles, seeing the cycles is better than any therapist.

And part of me believes that the draw to "nature based religions" is the result of the disconnection caused by modern life.
I have lived in both city and country and regardless of where I have lived I have always been able to connect with the seasons, the agricultural calender. All it takes is a walk in the park, to feel the grass beneath the feet; basically to open our eyes to the life around us. I think we need to connect with the earth, it helps us cope with modern day life. We were never meant to connect with concrete or bricks and mortar.

It is an interesting concept to speak about paganism in a more urban light. Maybe for some city dwellers it would help them to realise that pagans don't just talk to the trees.;) But how would one do it? In a sense the more structured religions have already done it in the saints days and the festivals, albeit with a different name. Or maybe its a case of allowing more greenery in the cities, construct more parks. The cities certainly would benefit from the additional plant life.
I think one way for "urbanites" is to bring plants etc. inside their dwellings. It's interesting that even decorators encourage the use of lots of plants. Other places are trying rooftop gardens etc. Another way is to go the the great natural church in their area. Christians etc. go to church on Sundays...pagans could go to the natural church on their days... just a thought. :p