When I was growing up, I lived on 10 acres on a granite hill. There were thick woods and little creeks and a rock wall. My mother raised rabbits, and at one point she had over 100, all in cages in a large barn at the bottom of the hill. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but there were ranging chickens and a garden and plenty of times when I was forced to pull weeds or shovel out mounds of perfectly round pellets of poop. As much as I did love the woods and the horses that came to the edge of the property where the neighbor had cut a pasture, I saw life in a rural area as something I didn’t want for myself later in life.
As a growing child and a young adult, my complaints came from the close-mindedness and ignorance of the people I went to school with. I also disliked the scenery around me – I grew up in the rock-hard red clay of the middle of Georgia, while constant logging left only scraggly pine trees and plenty of dust to blow around. The land was hot, flat and full of angry wasps looking for someone to sting.
I played video games and surfed the Internet (I had my own AOL account at six years old), exploring fantasy worlds full of trees and moss and mountains. My mental scenery was all wild and outdoors, but the real space around me didn’t match it. I never realized that my desire for quiet and stillness in an old-growth forest was possible outside of my head – it never even occurred to me. I thought that moving to a large city was a far better idea because I would be able to find intelligent and engaging people to interact with.
Of course, staying in the cities cured me of that belief. It took me a few years, but some crucial experiences with the nature I had always fantasized about helped me slowly develop a new idea. I started to crave the things I had avoided and even hated as a child. The concept of raising animals and tending a garden had been unpleasant to me for many years, but it slowly became the only thing I found interesting. The more time I spent in coffee shops and exploring art museums, the more I realized I felt alien and couldn’t engage with even the artificial layout and forced flow of the coziest residential neighborhood.
I can’t overlook the amount of energy and magic that was alive in the city – but it wasn’t the only thing I had to deal with. The close press of people no matter where I went, the inability to feel truly alone when I could only be a few feet away from someone else at any given time. I felt like an animal confined in a cage. No matter how large the city or how many activities I threw myself into, I could only feel more uncomfortable about the entire idea of such a structured physical environment.
There are plenty of people who are writing interesting and revolutionary things about city and urban magic. They are exploring the surroundings that feel natural to them. I’ve spoken to the spirits of old neighborhoods and worked counter-magic on an area bound by a specific group, watching as the foot traffic to my friends’ shops increased and violence dropped. But it’s not for me.
You can find a lot of information on traditional magical practices and how they intersected with rural/agrarian life. You can also read plenty of personal testimonials on people who dropped this kind of magic because it felt disconnected from their modern city lifestyle. What I am interested in is homestead magic, not re-creationism. I don’t want to build a farm that is an exact replica of a 6th century Viking village. I don’t want to stop using electricity or make my own quill pens just to feel authentic when I’m doing magic or farm chores. I am building a modern intentional community, and I am building a modern homestead magical practice.