Let's go back to Roman times. The urbani (urban dwellers) were the city folk and were the first to leave the old ways and adopt the new christian religion. The pagani were the rustic, rural, country folk. They held onto the old ways much, much longer. At the time, "pagani" didn't mean "pagan". The Romans used the word "Hellene" to differentiate the non-christian from the christian. It appears that medieval authors reading ancient Roman documents mistakenly believed that the word "pagani" referred to a religious sect and thereby gave it the corresponding, modern connotation.
So, are you an urban pagan, an urbani pagani? Are you an urbani pagani hellene? I'm proud to say that I am. What does it mean to be an urbani pagani? To me it means that I bring as much of the rural, or rustic life as I can into the modern, urban setting where I live. We plant a garden every year and, although it is still officially winter, I have already started to plan this year's garden. I have been thinking about what land I want to clear to make room for more garden and what I want to plant. This year I want to experiment with a potato tower and expand the medicinal herb garden.
What if you live in an apartment? We started our garden several years ago with 5 gallon buckets on the deck. Container gardens are a wonderful way to create a small urban garden. Many towns and cites offer community garden space for a small fee. Planting your garden as part of a community garden is a way to supplement the produce that you grow in a container garden.
Don't really want to garden but want to feel a little pagani? Get to a local park or nature trail and spend some time walking in nature. Check with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy to see if they have build trails in your area. Find some like-minded people, get some hand drums, and start a drum circle in a local park.
Most people walk around either looking at their cel phone or the ground. Just take a look at people when you are out today. What are they looking at? When you go out look up. Look at the trees. Look and birds and become familiar with the birds and the seasons when they appear on their migratory route. Most people never look up at the night sky. You can download sky charts and follow the movement of the stars in the sky. For example, what season is it when the constellation Orion first appears in the sky and when does it sink below the horizon?(1)
Being an urbani pagani isn't just about getting in touch with nature. It also means that you get in touch with the spirits of the place. Nature is everywhere, even in patches of weeds next to a road, and everywhere we find nature, we find nature spirits. Start getting in touch with the spirits of nature, talk to them, leave them little gifts, build a faire house with your children and leave it outside under a tree, ask them permission when you harvest and thank them for caring for nature. Begin every day with an invocation to Mother Earth, Father Sky, the spirits of nature and your ancestors.
You are probably not the first person to live where you now live. Even if you live in a new home people lived there before on that same land. It have have been 100 years ago, or 10,000 years ago or longer. Get in touch with the spirits of your ancestors and the spirits of place. Ask for their help and guidance and thank them for their energy, strength and gifts.
Be creative and finds ways to be a pagani in an urbani setting. In my next blog I think that I'll write about being a hellene as well as an urbani pagani.
(1) Orion is visible in the Northern hemisphere from November to February. So when you first see Orion in the sky you should know that winter is approaching and when Orion sinks below the horizon you know that spring is on the way.
I'm Dr. Dave, a modern druid. I lived and worked in Bolivia and Peru for over six years, where I and was trained by Andean Shamans, and today practice modern druidism and contemporary shamanism.