The Beginning: A Time for Definitions

What is Ekistomancy?

Ekistomancy is the art and science of city magic.

Definitions breed further definitions. What do I mean by city magic?

City Magic is a narrow term that refers not to any magic done in cities by an random pagan, but specifically to that magic which is done with or about the city. Worshiping a particular street, leaving offerings for ancient denizens long passed, or drifting through downtown looking for signs (both prophetic and terrestrial), are all wonderful examples of ekistomantic practice.

Ekistomancy has been known by many names: the urban fantasy book Our Lady of Darkness calls it Megapolisomancy, literally the "Divination/Magic of Big Cities." This name was misinterpreted in a recent io9 article about city magic in film and print, calling it Megalopolisomancy. The roleplaying-game-cum-magical-handbook Unknown Armies calls it Urbanomancy, a sort of odd mix of Latin-based English and a Greek suffix. The book of the same name calls it City Magick. More properly (though not strictly proper) it should be Urbomancy, and some call it by that name.

Ekistomancy (my own neologism, which might also be spelled Ekistimancy) is derived from the Greek term Ekistics, a word coined in 1942 by Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis, a famous Greek architect and town planner, from an old, old greek word (oekistis) meaning, roughly, "shaper of settlements," referring ambiguously towards the people who build houses in a settlement, the houses themselves, and the person who directed those colonists in the first place. Ekistics itself has been accused of fostering car cities, and of not truly being a science, as it is claimed. Ekistomancy spurns and drops those criticisms- it borrows the base-word, but not the politics.

But why call it Ekistomancy? Why not one of those other terms mentioned above?

To make it stand out from the other terms, mostly. City Magic is not some fictional science writ by a half-mad Ex-European-noble-on-the-run, nor is it the basis for somebody's RPG character mechanics. It is a real, legitimate practice, and as such deserves a fancy greek-root name.

But what is this website, Ekistomancy?

A blog dedicated to the exploration of the field of Urban Magic- its core practices, its fringe edges, its history and its future.

For me, the author, Ekistomancy (the website) is a challenge and a promise. My goal: I will update at least weekly, and hopefully much more than that. A frequency-of-posting any lower than that is a disservice to the field and to my own practice, and to you, the reader.

A note on terms: Above, I have used perhaps seven terms for "city magic", with various capitalization, in an effort to introduce the idea in as many forms as possible. From here on out, I will try to stick to either "city magic", "urban magic", and "ekistomancy", with capitalization dependent on how corny it comes off as. One thing I often detest in occult books is the use of capitalization and misspelling to reinforce magical terminology, eg. "Green Magick", "High Holy Day", "Book of Shadows". If I capitalize "city magic", it is because I am referring not to any particular instance of city magic, but rather to the field or topic of City Magic as a whole.

A further note: I tend to use quotation marks (") the way that computer scientists do, as explicit references to other texts. As such, I flout MLA guidelines by leaving my quotes' internal punctuation intact, and by putting external punctuation strictly outside my quotations.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Urbanomancy, megalopolisomancy, megapolisomancy, city magic, urban magic, urban occultism, neopagan, neo-pagan, urbomancy, Pittsburgh magic.