A Blog by and about the Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater

The Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater is a neo-pagan, goddess oriented congregation and religious charity headquartered in Palenville, New York. Our home is a 150 year-old inn called Central House. The photo above is a vintage postcard which was mailed in 1917. This blog is all about our current events and what is going on at Central House.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Our Latest Women's History Project

This one is so special it warranted its own blog entry. Our latest project represents yet another Great Leap Backward in women’s history. We normally deal with ancient women’s history, but this one will deal with more recent history. Not too long ago, when Sister Caillean was visiting us, it occurred to her that Central House had likely at one point in its history had a telegraph office, given that it had a number of patrons and was a prominent building in the town. Naturally, it’s no longer there.

Telegraphy was the primary method of long-distance communication for a long time. It is the forerunner of the internet and email technology. The primary telegraph operators were women. Telegraph technology would never have been so successful had it not been for the thousands of women operators. This is an overlooked, but important nonetheless, facet of women’s history. Were it not for telegraphy and the women who did it, we would not have internet and email today.

We are now in the process of converting room 12 into a telegraph office and a small living history museum. It will still be usable as guest room. We are setting up the equipment and covering the walls with authentic Women’s Suffrage memorabilia as well. Cai’s daughter Chessie is now working on furthering the project as part of her Master’s thesis. Her school, Edinburgh University is interested in our project as is Seneca Falls. We are hoping to put on a recreation of telegraph usage by sending them a message from the Maetreum for their convocation next year.

Caillean and Cathy have acquired some vintage keys and sounders and cloth-covered wire. Many of these items were still in their original boxes and never before used! In this economy, we were able to acquire them at some amazing prices as well. We are even looking to acquire some historical costumes for the demonstration.

January 10th, 2009

Happy New Year, everyone! Today I am home, snowed in, instead of going down to the Maetreum, so I figured I would take good advantage of the opportunity and finish up my latest blog entries.

This year looks to be an exciting and productive one for the Maetreum. We’ve planned a bunch of new events in addition to the usual ones and we have a lot of restoration projects planned for the Phrygianum. Cathy just acquired a set of concrete molds to make classical-style columns to adorn the gateways and mark the border of the temple. And none too soon, for one of the recent windstorms blew down all three of the wooden trellis gateways. We plan on casting them during the winter, and let’s hope that they will be all ready by Season of the Tree.

This year we hope to make Season of the Tree bigger and better than ever. We’ve got some new ideas and intend to publicize it more broadly.

For this year’s annual Memorial Day garage sale, we are hoping to invite other area pagan vendors to come and sell their wares, thus making it into a pagan bazaar. Our garage sale is always popular with the locals and folks driving up route 23A to get to the mountains. Frankly, I’d be curious about just what kinds of goodies a big, old house like Central House would disgorge, too. We’ve even had people drop by who wanted to buy furniture off the porch!

On June 27th-28th, we are going to hold a Pagan Summit meeting. This is for a purpose that is near and dear to our hearts – trying to solve conflicts within the pagan community. This comes none too soon, either. I just went through a recent drama of my own, and am now no longer the Assistant Pastor of the Schenectady Pagan Cluster. In fact, the cluster no longer exists by that name. I am the owner of the Yahoo list that the group was using, but rather than succumb to the drama, I have decided to make an honest attempt to rise above it by remaking the list for the purpose of conflict resolution in the pagan community. I’ve renamed it Pagan Peacemakers. Thus far I’ve had a positive response from folks in the community, and people are still pouring on to it.

On July 10-12th we will be going back to our roots and holding a Gender and Spirituality weekend. We will be holding rituals, workshops and more. We’re still working on the roster of speakers, but I will be among them this time, and will be putting on a talk based on the spiritual lessons of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. For the unenlightened, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, or PCOS, is a fairly common hormonal disorder among women. 5-10% of the general female population has it and it was recently discovered that 38% of lesbians have it. I would not be surprised if that figure is comparable for bisexual women as well. It’s basically an androgen excess issue that causes irregular or absent periods, infertility, voice-deepening, hair growing where you don’t want it to, female-pattern baldness and even increased upper-body strength. Basically, it’s like your whole body is in open rebellion against its femaleness. Now if you happen to be a transsexual man, it’s all well and good. If your gender happens to be female, you’re in for a world of hurt. Is caused by an intersex condition? Who knows? In my experience, women who have never had to deal with it just don’t seem to get it. Indeed the only group of women whose experience comes anywhere close is – you guessed it – transsexual women. Only transsexuals seem to understand just what it feels like to know the horror of becoming male when you are female (Not that I have anything against men. They can be very nice, but I just don’t want to be one, thank you very much!). In fact, my endocrinologist once told me that the treatment I receive as a PCOS patient is virtually the same as that which is given to a MTF transsexual in order to change from male to female.

On August 14th-16th, we will be holding the third annual Harvest Meadows women’s festival. This year we will be opening it up to the general public for the first time. As always, we welcome transsexual and intersexed women. This year, since it will fall during the waning moon, we will be honoring the Crone.