Working with wilderness in cities and suburbs

wilderness photoThe current circumstances of my life have me wondering about the place of “the wilderness”–as physical locations and also as a set of ideas conceived by humans–in modern neopagan practice.

Over the past year and a half, while living on my own in the suburbs of Seattle, I’ve developed an eclectic personal practice. One of the cornerstones of this practice is my “hidden shrine”–a small outpost between my apartment complex and an overgrown lot that I use as a shrine to Hekate and other Powers. I go into more detail in the post linked about the meaning of that specific shrine, but one of its key features is that it marks a boundary between orderly areas inhabited by human beings and the ignored, unexamined wilderness. In my practice, that wilderness symbolizes a liminal space between here and the underworld/otherworld, which is very important as a symbol.

In less than two months, I’m hoping to move into the city of Seattle itself. I’ve been to the new apartment and had a look at its location–right on the waterfront, in the middle of downtown. This is wonderful to me–I’ve always wanted to live in the middle of a thriving city. But now that I’m working with this concept of “wilderness” as a meaningful liminal space, it poses a problem for me. There are no overgrown lots or lonely backroads here on the edge of multiple tourist traps in the heart of a major city of the Pacific Northwest.

So how do I adapt my practice to my new circumstances? I have a few ideas, but I’d like to see what others on the board have to say. More generally, how does working with wilderness, in whatever way you conceptualize it, figure into your practice, if it does? How have you had to adapt because of that?

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