Exploring St. Michael’s Cemetery, Astoria

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    Last Tuesday, which you’ll recall as being one of the first days of tolerable weather in months, I decided to go for a little walk right here in Astoria. My destination was St. Michael’s Cemetery, which is found around a mile from HQ. Happily, there was still snow on the ground despite it being the balmy lower 50s – and happier still – it was somewhat overcast so I didn’t have to struggle to control an over abundance of light striking the reflective snow.

    More after the jump…

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    St. Michael’s, I should mention, is my second favorite burial ground. First Calvary will always hold the crown, as far as I’m concerned, but St. Michael’s is actually a lovely place. Often during the summer, I’ll take a break from duty in front of the computer and wander over here just fro a little peace and quiet. Given that it sits in a triangular plot governed by Astoria Blvd., the BQE, and the Grand Central – that should give you a couple of hints at how noisy Astoria actually is, and how underserved by Parks my section of it is. The grounds are nicely populated by vegetation at St. Michael’s, by the way, during the summer.

    Remember when I told you about finding Horse Apples growing here?

    Now, Shush.

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    The cemetery seems to have survived the harsh winter in fine fettle, although there were a few downed tree limbs here and there. I wandered past a little styrofoam cross, pictured above.

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    At the fence lines shared with commercial neighbors, St. Michael’s has long hosted a feral cat colony. There’s straw filled boxes and evidence of the generous nature of the “working guys” is found whenever you see a plastic tub filled with kittie kibble or dozens of opened cans of Fancy Feast that have been licked clean. One thing about wild cats, and feeding them so that they congregate around certain areas at a job site – it’s a lot cheaper than paying an exterminator.

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    I trudged through the melting snows of February to check in on the Altar in Section 10. For years, I’ve been documenting ritual activity that centers in on this monument at Newtown Pentacle. Click here for a post that contains links to posts as old as five years detailing what I’ve found here.

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    The little chalice discussed in the post linked to above is still in place, so presumptively, the magic worker whose altar this monument serves as has been kept inside by the cold as well. The site usually heats up around Easter, anyway, and stays pretty active all through the summer until the Harvest Moon wanes.

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    On my way out of the cemetery, I couldn’t help but notice the now omnipresent 432 Park Avenue rising up from beyond the NY Connecting Railroad tracks. That is one giant piece of real estate, over there in the Shining City of Manhattan.

    Newtown Creek Alliance Historian Mitch Waxman lives in Astoria and blogs at Newtown Pentacle.

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