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, September 3, 2011

September 3rd, 2011

I wanted to let everyone know that we survived Hurricane Irene. There has been no damage to our any of our buildings. Even though we’ve had problems with roof leaks ever since last December’s blizzard, we had no new water damage this time. This was probably because the wind blew the water off the roof before it could seep in. We’re still in need of volunteers to help us re-seal the roof.

The rest of Greene county and even parts of Palenville were hit hard by this storm. We got six inches of rain but the mountaintop communities got twice as much! Part of Woodstock Avenue which is right near us got washed out into the Kaaterskill Creek. Part of Route 32 at Story Farms was washed away, forcing a road closure but probably the worst thing for our community to happen was the destruction of the famous Palenville Swinging Footbridge. However, some friends of ours are already working on forming a nonprofit corporation to rebuild the footbridge. That’s something that excites us greatly. The bridge was built by the people of Palenville and it should be rebuilt by the people of Palenville.

As for us, we took in three women who had lost power and water for an extended period of time. We still have room for any area women who have been displaced by the storm. Contact us at firstchurch@gallae.com with any questions and for more information

Thursday, August 4, 2011

August 3rd, 2011

We finally have a trial date set for November 16th at 9:30am. For those unfamiliar with our case, we have been battling over our property tax exemption with our municipality, the Town of Catskill, since they removed our exemption in 2007 with no explanation. We have been fighting to get it back ever since. They have provided no answer to the question of why and as best as we can figure out, they want to make an example of us to any other alternative religious group that wishes to set up shop within the town borders. We are a 501(c)3 religious organization and we use the property as worship space, convent housing for priestesses as well as providing emergency/charitable housing to women in need. All of these are considered exempt uses under New York State Real Property Law. We will need to do some serious fundraising to make sure all of our legal bills are paid. If you would like to make a contribution, there is a PayPal link on our homepage, www.gallae.com.

And speaking of charitable housing, Julia, our last emergency case, has now moved on to a new home after nine months with us. We miss her and wish her well. Now we have a new girl staying with us, and she is something of a first for us in many ways. She is from Nepal, possibly the very first one in her country. She had endured threats and violence in her homeland and is seeking asylum here. With the help of the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, we are getting a good start on this process. If anyone out there has any experience with these kinds of immigration issues, please drop us a line. We would still welcome the help and advice.

Palenville Pagan Pride Day for 2011 will be held on August 27th. We still have openings for vendors and presenters. Email Viktoria@gallae.com if you’re interested. Pagan Pride Day is an educational event as well as a food drive. It gives an opportunity for representatives of various pagan paths to educate the public about their beliefs and practices. The event is from 9:00am to 5:00pm.

Here is some more mundane news about what is going on at the Maetreum. The Second floor walls and floor are finally done! I’m hoping to add some decorative molding and stencils to finish it off.

The kitchen has finally been properly organized into a workable space! This one has been plaguing us for years. The room itself is L-shaped and has always been very hard to work with. Last month, I took a few days off and Cathy and I spent them taking down and moving around cabinetry, reorganizing storage, moving the refrigerator and freezer and cleaning everything and the results are so worth it! We have also begun milling our own flour with a grain mill that Julia had given us. We’ve been milling spelt and hope to start growing it next year as a grain crop. This year we planted tomatoes, asparagus, some blueberries as well as squashes. We already have mature Chinese chestnut, walnut and apple trees as well as a blackberry patch. One day we hope to become as self-sufficient as possible.

Another very worthwhile project that is nearly finished is our library. We had long intended to turn the old tool room into a library and we are now almost done. We’ve since moved the tools into the room at the end of the ground floor hallway and removed trash. The room has been cleaned and the book cases and furniture are now in place. I have yet to organize the books as well as finish the decorations (East Indian style!). I have also ordered some special, library book pattern upholstery fabric for re-covering the chairs.

Monday, February 14, 2011

February 14th, 2011

I would like to apologize to all for not writing any blog entries for some time. This was not by accident. In recent months, Cathy’s blog entries have been used against us in this ongoing case. Although it is something we and our lawyer can deal with, I did not want to risk adding fuel to their fire and having my words used against us. I decided to continue not only because there have been a few exciting developments recently. A few days ago, the New York Times ran an article in the Our Towns column by Peter Applebome. Many thanks to Peter for a great interview and a great article! Also, many thanks to Colin DeVries of the Daily Mail and Julia Reischel of the Watershed Post and Jason Pitzl-Waters of the Wild Hunt for keeping our story out there.

It has been a very long, difficult journey for all of us, but especially for Cathryn and myself. Some well-meaning individuals have suggested that perhaps this is an indication that we are not supposed to be here. This is certainly not so. We have already long settled this with Mother that this is Her home as well as ours. She has also made it abundantly clear that there are certain issues that need to be worked out through this case, not the least of which is to temper us and make us stronger. We will never give up. Moreover, the more we discover about our situation taken in the context of the community, the clearer it becomes that this is just pure, blatant discrimination. We simply cannot walk away and let them win. No matter what the cost.

If you wish to help the Maetreum and lack the funds, here's something you can do. Start a letter writing campaign to Catskill Town Supervisor, 439 Main Street, Catskill, NY 12414 or email to supervisor@townofcatskillny.gov. Tell them what you think and spread the word far and wide please...

Here is the more mundane news of what has been happening around here: At the end of May, we went to the town Grievance hearing over our denial as we have for many years now. This time, we came with supporters AND our lawyer who read the law to them and cited case law on issues like ours. We even offered to give them a tour of the property (which they refused), but once again, we were still denied.

In June, we completed the columns that form the three gateways to the temple as well as several more benches. We acquired a cement mixer and can now build as many concrete structures as we want. This is very important to us as well, not simply because of the durability of concrete, but also because it was one of the great, technological achievements of the Roman Empire. Still, it’s not exactly easy to work with concrete, especially if you are a woman. The column sections weigh a good 150 pounds each. I regard building with concrete as a testament of faith. Ultimately, we hope to fill the temple with concrete benches as well as cast altars for the Pagan circle. We also hope to create colonnades and fountains for the grounds. (Note: what we are doing with the concrete work is legally nothing more than garden statuary and DOES NOT REQUIRE A BUILDING PERMIT)

During the past Eight months, we have provided charitable housing for a total of four individuals. The shortest stay was 48 hours and the longest has been with us for four months and is still here. She is a remarkable woman who has contributed much during her stay. She has been teaching us weaving and has introduced us to the production of kefir. Thanks to this, we will be able to make our own cheese, beer and bread in the ancient way and without commercial yeast, yet another step toward self-sufficiency which is what we have wanted for a long time.

Palenville Pagan Pride Day was held on August 28th and was a great success. We collected 30 pounds of food for our local food pantries and we had over a hundred participants. We held several rituals and workshops.

Inside the house, we are almost finished with fixing and painting the old plaster walls. We are also almost finished with putting new floor tiles in the upstairs hallway, since we have already removed the old carpet and linoleum that was underneath. We have installed some reproduction as well as reconditioned antique lights adding to the period feel. Ultimately, it’s little touches like this that we hope will truly bring the building back to it’s 1890’s look.

The telegraph office is now complete and is set up in such a way that there are two desks representing two companies, Western Union and Postal Telegraph. They can send messages to each other in demonstrations. We are still hoping to have a remote location set up elsewhere for sending and receiving messages. Our telegraph office may also appear in a documentary about telegraphy currently in production. I’ll keep all the details posted as they occur.