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The Urban Druid

Posted: 01 Dec 2014, 14:11
by the Kite
Given that 80% of Western pagans (including Druids) live in urban areas and not in the primeval forest, the question is: how do we live an authentic Druid life?

I'm putting together some long term response to this issue on my blog: ... ban-druid/ and I recently gave a talk on being an Urban Pagan at the Festival of Lights in Swansea University, which I videoed:

I'm interested to see how many of you face the same question, and to take it from there, really. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Heddwch: peace.


Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 01 Dec 2014, 17:57
by ShadowCat
Interesting question...
I'll read up on your site in the coming days and then post my 2cents.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 01 Dec 2014, 18:59
by Hennie
Where do you get the idea that there is something not-nature; that the cities don't have spirits of place; that service to the world could not be given anywhere on Earth? Just some questions.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 01 Dec 2014, 22:10
by Heddwen
Hi Kite, Swansea is a relatively small city and not so far from countryside and beach. I know that this might be problematic - as you mentioned in your speech there are syringes and broken glass on the beach, for example. But, are you sure that you're not actively looking for problems here. Changing perspective might be a positive idea ...what about bringing the outside in? For example making your garden or home a wild life haven. If you don't have a garden then what about a bird feeder? a window box? and plenty of plants inside. may have to travel slightly further to get your 'fix' of countryside! I live in Aberystwyth and have surfed with my family in Swansea. Its so beautiful there with many sacred sites to keep me interested. I think that being more mindful of our surroundings is a great idea :)

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 01 Dec 2014, 22:23
by xidia
I live in a largish town. I've found a few walking and running routes from my door which I do regularly and watch the changing seasons of trees, shrubs and perennials in the gardens and small parks. It's not ideal, but it's a connection. The same with my regular motorway trip to work and Grove - it's 30 miles along the same bit of motorway at least once a week.

I'm overnighting in London fairly often at the moment, and really feel the disconnection then. Too many people, too much concrete and traffic. My office and regular hotel (there's little choice in our allowed budget) are no where near any green at all. There are natural bits of London, but I can't get to them on these trips.

So, I'd say to really explore your local area and see if you can find a couple of short walks that will take in plants and birds and then just observe the changes with the changing seasons.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 01 Dec 2014, 22:31
by Heddwen
I posted my reply whilst listening to your You Tube clip....I really liked the 4 points that can help urban druids/pagans connect with nature. Yes I'd agree that we are all part of nature and nature is part of us.

One point that I'd like to raise here is the question, do we need to be the same as the ancient druids of yore? i.e. out and about in the countryside OR should we adapt our druidry to a modern and relevant practise in keeping with these changing times?

Food for thought.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 02 Dec 2014, 07:01
by MountainGnome
I like the idea of trying to bring plants and the natural world more into urban spaces. If you don't have a yard then find out if anyone at the nearest university, in their landscaping or horticulture departments are interested in community gardens, etc. That would be a pretty major contribution to the cause.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 02 Dec 2014, 22:54
by the Kite
Hi Hennie, have you seen the video yet?

Heddwen, thanks for that. IMO since we don't actually know much about the ancient Druids of yore we are free to do it our own way. However I suspect that while ancient Druids kept their groves out in the boonies, nothing indicates that they didn't live for example, in oppida like others.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 29 Jul 2015, 20:53
by Sofi
Hi there.

Thanks for sharing this experience. I live in the centre of Quebec city, on a very noisy boulevard.
Quebec is truly a beautiful city. The Plains of Abraham offer an interesting and vital green zone with a view on the Saint-Laurent. Honestly lovely.
But I truly suffer from not being able to find a solitary place. I have a very down-to-earth personality (INTP alert!) and meditation simply fails when I carry it out at my home or in a park (traffic and incredibly noisy drivers, to say the least). In my case, meditation is clearly not an easy thing (even cooling down during a yoga lesson takes me about 2 hours), and the best way I've found is to get out in the wild to be able to meditate... but opportunities are rare.

Maybe one day, I'll be able to work solely within my inner grove. :cloud9:

I feel very distraught because of this. How do you cope with your urban environment? :where:

Blessed be!

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 29 Jul 2015, 23:18
by skepticskitchen
I live in Toledo, OH which is a rusting, mostly abandoned rust-belt pit of dereliction. We have a lot of overgrown lots which I find useful in gathering some herbs like mint and mugwort. We have some wild areas like wildwood park but is generally mostly broken concrete and rotting houses. I keep a garden on my land and have a small indoor bonsai grove because I don't have a lot of trees near where I live. There are a few lining the streets but they don't get replaced as they get cut down due to sickness or injury. The ones that we do have are large and at least 70 years old. Mostly maple and locust. My house is a small victorian cottage which lends itself well to my druidry. I think that with bonsai and urban gardening, I could happily have practice whether in the country or in the middle of Manhattan. Although I would have to take lots of woodland vacations if I was in Manhattan.

Wow, what a small world!

Posted: 26 Aug 2015, 03:45
by Geordon
Kite, I just discovered that I follow you on my blog that I've started recently! I didn't realize that you were an OBODy, what a small world!

In any event, I'm encouraged that people are talking about URBAN druidry, since it is so often the actual situation that we, as Druids, find ourselves in. Have you, by chance, come across "The Handbook of Urban Druidry" by Brendan Howlin? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts about it.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 26 Aug 2015, 12:05
by shirley mclaren
I live in a large market town called Kingston upon Thames. While I have no garden, and my flat is quite small, plus I have an understanding but non druid husband, I manage quite well in town. I have a nearby little river walk which is behind some houses. I am also about twenty minutes walk fromt the River Thames. I am also fortunate in that my block is within a grove of trees. But all I really have to do is go outside and listen to the birds and the trees.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 26 Aug 2015, 12:13
by shirley mclaren
I live in town. I have no garden but my flat is in a block which is in a grove of trees. I have a local river walk behind some houses where I often go and for many years I have communed with an ash tree there. I am fortunate to live within a stone's throw of the lovely River Thames. Overall, even without these things, all I need is to go outside and listen to the birds, the trees, the wind, and enjoy everything the Goddess provides.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 26 Aug 2015, 12:55
by Sciethe
Hi Kite,
it's raining so hard that even I'm not working in it. So had time to look at your talk. Nice one, I recommend that anyone suffering a lack of Nature in town watches it right through. :shake:

This is a template that will work for anyone in an urban environment anywhere in the world, not prescriptive, but a world view and a set of 4 simple concepts which are is useful for making one's own discoveries and feeling connectedness.

Points arising- I'm not a great lover of the am-dram aspect of Druidry, dressing up, envisioning myself as something I'm not in an effort to connect with things that are other. I think that this is a habit (sic) that comes from urbanisation of the soul, the thrashing around of the mind and spirit in an effort to find connection. The explanation you give avoids the necessity of that (to me) superficial aspect of common practice. I realise that I'm not making many friends here, but I genuinely do think that being able to stand as entirely ones self in one's own clothes without insignia with one's own thoughts as an effective Druid is an important goal. Call it naked Druidism if you like.

I think (in your talk) you could develop more of the visions of the future- envisioning the future of the place follows from your method, navigating the future in the mind's eye of the things that surround us. A diatribe in your words rather than just a reference or two would be a delight.

The other thing that I react to is the idea that towns are not Nature. You do cover that somewhat; paraphrase: "we are Nature and so is everything around us" but I'd go further and say that the idea that towns are divorced from Nature is another cultural product that can be traced from Plato's dualism via monotheism and lately the industrial revolution. Put briefly: I think that just because we don't like or relate to something, doesn't make it unnatural. Anyone beleaguered in a town who doubts this would do well to meditate on a piece of concrete, paying especial attention to the dimension of time.

And yes, I'm a townie living in one of the most reviled towns in the UK. Even Sir John Betjeman could only say: "Come friendly bombs and rain on Slough / There's nothing there of interest now ... but I do work in the countryside- *win*.

Very stimulating, thanks for putting it on the 'net.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 26 Aug 2015, 16:59
by the Kite
Oh gods, I've been neglecting this place. My apologies, and let me catch up here.

Hennie very rightly disputes any hard and fast separation between nature and not-nature, but I'm not drawing one. The distinction is between the wild environment and the urban. The value of going out into the green is discussed in this blog post: ... -now-what/. It may give a good follow-up to many of your comments guys.

Heddwen points out that we don't need to emulate the Druids of yore. And indeed, adaptation is forced upon us by circumstances.

Georden, hi back. Yes, I have Brendan Howlin's book. It's on my Short Druid Reading List: ... ding-list/. A nice simple intro to Druidry. But I was wanting more.

Sciethe raises a number of interesting points. I would agree that the am-dram, the theatrical aspect of Druidry, as in any occult path, isn't indeed strictly necessary. However, it's very useful for enabling groups of practitioners to do something together and give it some oomph. The stuff I do solo is usually unsuitable for group work, as I suspect with yours, Sciethe.

Visions of the future eh? I'll put that out there and see what I get. You too?

Meditating on a piece of concrete ... yes, exactly, and I will get around to publishing some of my stuff in that line in due course.

And basically thank you all for your input. I hope the more recent blog posts also give you something to chew on. Blessings.


Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 31 Aug 2015, 10:47
by treegod
I've lived all my life in urban settings, though always within close distance or regular access to the countryside. Now I live in the countryside, though with regular access top urban settings. I still consider myself "urban" because that is what I grew up with mostly.

I agree that "everything is nature" and that "nature is everything", being a naturalist. However, there is a definite qualitative difference between urban, rural and wild settings, and these have distinctive psychological impacts.

In my studies of ecopsychology, I've been learning about senses (a list of 54!) that we are seriously hamstrung, and only use a portion of what we could. In urban enviroments there is a lot of information, most of which we don't need. We develop a sort of "bubble" that filters all the information. Our natural sensitivity is numbed somewhat. In more natural surroundings (or should I say "less human"?) our senses expand and we can really connect with the environment.

But I even feel a difference between rural and wild settings. In England there were plenty of forest and natural landscape about, but it was all or had been "managed" somehow, even the parts that weren't farmed. It still feels somewhat artificial. I live in mountains, and I feel this difference when I get to the lowlands and there are plenty of orchards. We might call this "countryside", but I still feel it's an extension of the urban environment - it's not completely wild. But even where I live I feel it's had a human touch, and indeed, only a few decades ago this forest was actually farmland, covered with orchards of various types, and now there's Aleppo pine growing everywhere, acting as a sort of pioneer species for the regeneration of the forest.

The wildest places I've been have been mountainous and with little habitation, in Canada, Scotland, Wales and the Pyrenees, and even though they've been in zones with regular human presence, they are wild and they really take your breath away. Druid rituals, myths and symbolism don't do them justice. Raw, organic sensuality without these trapping is all you need (unless you find such wild experiences overwhelming, as some people do, then something to "contain" it might be suitable).

If you don't have regular contact with wild nature, moments specifically set aside to focus and attune yourself tonature and its rhythms, and perhaps for an urban druid, that's where the theatricality comes in, though as mentioned, this theatricality itself seems to be an urban response. For "reconnecting with nature" they are steppings stones that should (I think) eventually lead us back to the basic organic-ness of our existence.

In our urbanised day and age, this connection with nature is absolutely essential, and for urban dwellers, even more so. Every grass growing through the cracks of concrete and every park is significant in this, and if we can't get access to something more wild, it will have to do, but I don't think we should be resigned to that, we can strive for better, something "wilder".

The "urban reality" is that we are egos wearing a body, but the "natural reality" is that we are bodies carrying an ego. Something we can forget when immersed in heavily socialised environments.

Re: The Urban Druid

Posted: 20 Sep 2015, 07:29
by shirley mclaren
I have just looked at the home page of your blog. I will be checking it regularly. It looks really interesting and spot on regarding urban druids.