Tag Archives: Shining City on a Swamp

Water Temples en Plein Air

We Witches love the Elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Water is the Element of life, emotion, movement, flow, erosion and change, immersion, quenching.

I’ve always identified quite strongly with, Cress, a character in The Fifth Sacred Thing who declares, “Water is my religion! Water is my politics and water is my strategy.” I live almost on the banks of the Potomac River and I’m a gardener; water is a huge part of my religion.

And as a Witch whose practice centers on a relationship with my landbase, I was particularly delighted to see Chas Clifton‘s post about Water Temples of California. You absolutely must click through and look at all the pictures and read the fascinating history. I have to admit that it made me think, all at once, of a scene from Chinatown outside some lovely pillars (the story of water and the American West is one of THE most fascinating and still-not-well-told-from-a-magical-standpoint stories, ever) and of John Michael Greer‘s talks this past Spring at Sacred Space Conference concerning how our American ancestors, while imagining themselves good Christians all the while, engaged in mad and prolific acts of Nature magic. They were certainly happy to invoke Pagan architecture. And, of course, I was reminded of that Pagan warrior queen, Califia.

San Francisco has some amazingly lovely old buildings, built when civic pride was high and California was eager to show the folks “back East” that it was as cultured as anyplace. The Ninth Circuit courthouse in San Francisco is one of the loveliest courtrooms in the country (and I’ve been to SCOTUS, the Fifth Circuit, and the D.C. Circuit, all grand, in their own way, but, to my eye, less lovely inside), although it’s in a part of town that is, now, not too wonderful. I see it as a temple to Columbia and, of course, to Lady Justice, and I’ve practiced some of Their esoteric and arcane rituals there from time to time (always to good result — so far). The Fine Arts Palace is another spot just begging for people to do ritual there. I’ve stood on the compass inside the Compass Rose restaurant and done some of the most heartfelt magic of my life. And then there’s that bridge. And the woods beyond it. It’s not happenstance that much of the modern Pagan movement is centered on this spot.

The next time that I’m in California, I will make it a point to visit these temples and leave my offerings.

Here in my own shining City on a Swamp, there are a number of places where one could do water magic. Just outside the National Gallery of Art is a Zodiac Fountain. I’ve been doing Wheel-of-the-Year magic there for decades. We also have a park dedicated to aquatic plants (and, from my trips there, to beaver dams). DC has several reflecting pools and I’ve done magic with the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. I’ve thrown magically-charged bundles into the Potomac off the bridge to Teddy Roosevelt Island and experienced magic so old and so deep that I needed Brigid to pull me out of it just along the banks of the Potomac (either the River Where Swans Gather or the River Where People Trade, depending upon your interpretation of a language now lost with the First Peoples).

Are there water temples in your landbase? Where can you do magic in plein air?

Picture found here.