Landbase begins at home

I’ve been quiet here the last few days because I’ve been busy with a number of things. One of those has been getting the carpet cleaned.

I was reading Hecate’s latest wonderful piece on landbase, and I was honored that she quoted me. But what really struck me was how as an urban Witch I’ve struggled with blaming myself for not being in “nature” enough. Never mind that I know perfectly well that “nature” (as in, places that seem like they’re not influenced by humans) is a constructed idea, and that nearly all spaces are heavily influenced by humans these days, certainly including all the spaces I have easy access to.

Now I have direct experience of how being in a setting that has more trees than buildings is different, and I fully agree that it’s extremely beneficial in lots of ways, especially spiritually for followers of earth-centered religions. But it’s not the only way of connecting with the earth. After all, that earth is also the stones of my city, even the concrete of the uglier buildings.

So part of my work with my landbase is to look for living things wherever I am. As I was thinking about this and about how good it felt to reorganize, clean, and restore my own little corner (high above ground level) of my landbase, I looked out at the traffic below me and simply laughed aloud. I’m surrounded by a living thing: the city herself.

Cities can be seen as superorganisms, the way that in biology sometimes it’s more reasonable to talk about an entire ant colony as a more-or-less unified organism that lives in many bodies. (Thank you, E O Wilson.) I’m not just looking for living things, I’m a small part of a great living thing.

For example, when I do traffic magic, I often visualize traffic as the breath or circulation of the city. Think about it: in the morning the city “breathes in” a great host of people who live outside her, and in the afternoon she exhales them back to where they came from. And traffic flows like water, too, and like blood it circulates to carry in the tremendous amounts of resources needed in a densely urban area, and to remove the resulting waste. That (annoying) delivery truck is like a red blood cell, but instead of bringing your little cell oxygen, it brings other things you need: food, mail, books, beer…the necessities of life.

This isn’t a perfect analogy, and that’s okay. But it’s poetically true enough for me to begin working with my city in a different way, especially when I need to focus on the life of my landbase and can’t get outside to be among the trees. Hecate wrote movingly about the importance of doing the work, building the relationships that are the necessary foundation (Granny Weatherwax might say “the soul and center”) of being a Witch as I understand it, and I see this as another way to help me do that work in the home where I live now.

I’m going to respect the ways I connect to the superorganism of the city as being a valid and true part of my practice and my work with my landbase. Maybe cleaning my home was a way for the city to “detox” some crap out of the one little corner I spend most of my time in. This densely urban place is where I live and work and do my magic. It too is suffused with life, and connecting with that is the work of a Witch.

About Literata

Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented rituals and workshops at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. Literata offers healing and divination services as well as customized life-cycle rituals. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in history with the support of her husband and four cats.
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4 Responses to Landbase begins at home

  1. I love the way so many actual Witches reference Pratchett’s witches. The thought of the city as a superorganism is also interesting.

    TRiG.

  2. sereres says:

    Recently, I’ve realized just how *MUCH* the concept of “landbase” is important for my mental and emotional well-being. It seems I am constantly watching and paying attention on both subconscious and conscious levels to the birds, trees, animals, grasses, etc. that surrounds me, even the weather patterns. When I am surrounded by animals, plants, and weather patterns that are familiar to me, I feel that I belong, I feel like I’m safer– it’s hard to really put into words exactly what seems to be going on, but it isn’t even precisely a city vs. country thing, even in the middle of a big city, I can stand on the sidewalk and watch a familiar bird for 15 minutes, or be noticing the plants that grow up between the sidewalk cracks, etc.

    But when I don’t feel that connection, that familiarity; when I am watching an adorably cute bird flitting around, for example, and I remember that I have seen it’s kind many times over the last few days, but I don’t *know* that bird… when the soil has a different quality and the weather looks different and there are still quite a few familiar plants but there are so many more strangers… I feel completely alienated and kind of lost. Almost threatened, but overall a profound lack of belonging.

    • Literata says:

      Yes, there’s a difference between recognizing aspects or pieces of the whole and knowing that you’re in a familiar context overall. I feel fairly comfortable with “my” city; if you plunked me down in another one, I would be able to recognize many of the same elements, but I wouldn’t know how they fit together, or whether what they’re doing is average or significant or….

      On the flip side, as someone who has moved before and expects to move again, recognizing those small pieces or beings can be a good first step and certainly speeds up the process of getting acquainted with a new environment. But it still takes time.

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