Friday, February 6, 2015
The Future of Paganism, to Build or Not to Build
Can you name the Pagan group that was written up in the New York Times, Forbes Magazine, The Washington Post and a whole slew of legal reviews? No?, perhaps that is because the cliché that thinks it owns Paganism refuses to mention it. The Maetreum of Cybele was founded in 1998, owns real property that includes a former Catskill Mountain Inn, an outdoor Temple/Grove, three acres of land and has been doing real world charitable work for those in need for more than 12 years. The Temple is the first dedicated to Cybele, Magna Mater in more than 1600 years. The charity work has taken in more than 35 women in need and fully supported them in room and board until they could get their lives back together. Other families have been fed, had clothing provided, household goods provided and holiday gifts supplied for needy children. It included taking in victims of hurricane Irene in the hard hit area in the Catskills and raising and disbursing emergency funds for victims of hurricane Katrina, particularly the mostly ignored LGBT victims. We did all this ourselves, on a shoestring budget.
We had to ask for help when the Town of Catskill, in which we are located in as part of the Hamlet of Palenville, forced us to court for equal rights as a religion even though we are incorporated, our property belongs to the corporation and we are fully recognized by the IRS as both a religious charity and a church under 501(c)(3) That battle was long and hard and very very expensive and the Town fought us up to the highest level court they could. The resulting win established legal precedences regarding minority religious property rights that range far beyond New York State. And only one Pagan blog covered the win, just one. The Washington Post covered it, the New York Legal Review covered it, Forbes covered the initial win at the Appellate level, but only one Pagan blog. Not one single Pagan “defense” group such as the Lady Liberty League came to our aid in that fight. The ACLU ignored us as well, we had to go it alone with some grassroots support from mostly individual Pagans raising the money need for legal fees.
We do real world charitable works that aids real people.
We reintroduced Pagan Monasticism to the world after more than 1400 years.
We built a Temple.
We recovered lost history including the role of transsexual priestesses in EVERY Mother Goddess tradition of the ancient world.
We reintroduced Pagan monotheism to the world.
We won what may prove to be the most important legal battle for the future of Pagans in decades.
We are active in our local community as an actual resource for all.
And apparently we are not worthy... and transphobic...and troublesome.
Now an online debate is raging about Pagan infrastructure in multiple blogs all over the net. And once again, even though we are literally the poster child for building such infrastructure we are ignored.
Let's get somethings clear here. If you are a solitary and do not feel the need to support Pagan infrastructure, don't do it, problem solved. If you are part of a small Wiccan style group and feel that larger venues aren't for you, don't come. But I'd venture to guess many of those in these camps would jump at the chance to visit an ancient Pagan temple site. So the question must be asked, why do they seem to often actively oppose building modern temples sites? Because frankly from some of the comments on this debate I have been reading, these folks are peeing themselves in fear of Pagan infrastructure. Oh they want the conferences and large scale conventions they have to lay out large sums of money to attend and where they can lead or take part in endless “classes” and workshops and meet the self appointed metaphysical celebrities. And spend small fortunes on Pagan bling. But some other Pagan group actually building something in the real world? The horror!
So what is the future of Paganism? Solos and tiny groups hiding in the woodwork emerging only for expensive Pagan Parties and endlessly ranting about their self importance online? Legally, it's groups like us. Opps, sorry to piss in your cornflakes but our legal battle was all about our “legitimacy” as a religion and that has been established now beyond question by the highest court in New York. But to win, we had to have dotted all the “i's” and crossed all the “t's” legally which requires work and dedication. We had to actually build something and actually do real world work. And now in the legal world, we are Paganism like it or not as a result.
Among modern Pagans there appears to be a huge dose of church-o-phobia as a reaction to Christian models many fled from to Paganism. But before the Christians was the Pagans with impressive temples, public works, charity, did you forget that? When someone calls me the new Pagan Pope I don't know whether to laugh or cry because it is clear they didn't bother to spend even three minutes on what we teach, that the Divine is within all of us and you don't need a religious leader, you just need some education on contacting that Divine part of yourself.
So you wannabees out there who try to monopolize the Pagan conversations, we are here, we planned for the future, we will continue to work in the real world and in the end, we don't need you to do so.
You can be part of the future or you can continue to agonize over your child molestors and sexual predators in your midsts. Your choice, but we don't need your approval or acknowledgment. What have you built? Who's lives have you changed for the better? What will you be remembered for? These are the real questions because a remainder of a campfire in the woods won't be there long after you make it..... a Temple will endure. The Burning Times were possible because there were no longer Pagan centres because of the church. Don't want to see them return? Then you damn well better be part of building and defending Pagan infrastructure. We build Temples.