If you read this blog even periodically (for which, thank you!) you know that one of my themes is the need to incorporate into Paganism and Witchcraft the reality that most Pagans and Witches now live in urban areas.
A chunk of my heart -- and there's not a day goes by that I don't dream of being there, building a cabin, watching the sunlight make dappled shade among the trees -- lives in the mountains of West Virginia, but an even bigger part of my heart dances daily upon the shores of the Potomac just before it reaches the Lincoln Memorial, upon tree-covered Spout Run, upon the weeds that grow along the ramp from the GW Parkway up to the Roosevelt Bridge. I work in the city and live just outside it and I can't be a Witch only once or twice a year when I get up into the mountains. I'm a Witch every day and I'm the Witch of "this" place and that means that I need to be in relation with the natural world here. Here, among the tall buildings, metro stops, museums, cafes, fountains, statues. I'm the Nonna of a G/Son who's spent his whole life in a urban area and for whom, I truly believe, being in relationship with the natural world will be even more important than it's been for me.
So, I'm always delighted to find resources for connecting with nature within my shining city upon a swamp and a hill. Here are a few:
The Natural Capital, (a word play on The Nation's Capital) is a celebration of the wealth of nature right here under our noses in the Nation's Capital. We aim to open your eyes to the amazing plants, animals, and scenery in our region – much of it accessible by public transportation.
Natural Capital is also a concept in environmental economics: the concept that the ecosystem that sustains and surrounds us has inherent, but tragically overlooked, value. We need trees, for example, because they provide clean air and clean water. They are also beautiful, and the beauty of nature has value as well. Which brings us back to the purpose of this blog: getting outside to enjoy it all.
A DC Birding Blog is written by a birder who lived for years in DC. He currently blogs from NJ, but there's a significant bit of overlap.
Mountain Beltway got its name because [i]t turns out that a mountain belt runs right under the Beltway! The Appalachian mountain belt includes the modern-day Appalachian mountains, but also includes the hilly terrain immediately east of the mountains: the Piedmont physiographic province. Beneath these gentle hills are metamorphic rocks, granites, and a wealth of deformational structures that speak of a time when the Appalachians were young. These mountains were formed in the Paleozoic era of geologic time in a series of tectonic pulses called “orogenies.” The mountain-building culminated about 300 million years ago, when eastern North America collided with northwestern Africa. The story of how the Appalachian mountain belt got put together is a primary interest of the author of this blog. Lots of photos to help those of who who only took Geology 101.
Not specific to DC, but worth checking out if you are an urban Pagan: The Vigorous North, a field guide to inner city wilderness areas, is well-written, thorough, and explains "scientific stuff" in ways that even an amateur will find interesting.
It's not a blog, but the website of the United States Botanical Garden, smack dab in the middle of Capitol Hill, is chock full of information and events, including: Please join us for Yoga in the National Garden 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. starting June 9th and information on how to Green Your World: Big changes start with small steps – individuals, families, businesses, and governments can all make a difference in improving our planet’s potential to provide for generations to come.
One of my favorite places in DC, just a bus ride and a jaunt from the Capital Dome, is the National Arboretum. They do monthly Full Moon hikes that will warm the cockles of any Witch's heart: Four-mile-long, mildly strenuous hike through moonlit gardens, meadows and woods. Your guide will share several points of special interest and seasonal highlights. The two-hour walk over hilly and uneven terrain is more of a brisk hike than a tour so wear good walking shoes and dress for the weather. Please, no pets or children under 16. Fee: $22 ($18 FONA) Registration required. They do a lot of programs on bonsai, which can be a great way to bring a tree into your apartment, duplex, or office.
You may need either a car or bike to get there, but the DC Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens are truly spectacular, especially this time of year, and are great for making you feel as if you're a million miles away from the pavement and concrete. I've been there when DC cops were just chilling during their lunch hour, trying to get away from it all for a few minutes. I've seen beaver dams and dragon flies and lotus pods as big around as five dinner plates. The website explains that: Like a time capsule from the past, one finds remnants of Washington's natural past here. There are plants that fed the local civilization for thousands of years, mink skitter on the islands in winter, and colorful summer butterflies feed on wetland plants preserved here. By preserving a part of the flood plain of the Anacostia River, Congress authorized a park that serves the public by filtering water, reducing flood damage, and preserving the biological and cultural resources that let us see from the past into the future. A haven for artists and photographers.
TR Island, within a stone's throw of the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Memorial, and Red Cross Headquarters, is one of the best places I know to disappear into nature in the middle of the city. It has several walking trails. I've seen beaver, deer, eagles, and hawks.
National Capital Astronomers can help you to focus on what's going on in the heavens (as above, so below), including Exploring the Sky . . . an informal program that for over sixty years has offered monthly opportunities for anyone in the Washington area to see the stars and planets through telescopes from a location within the District of Columbia, which sounds great for kids. Astronomy in DC has a calendar of local events, as does DC Astronomy. Our area suffers from a lot of light pollution, but these sites can help you see the planets and stars in spite of that.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."