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Patti Wigington

Reader Mail: Why Aren't There More Pagan Temples?

By May 2, 2013

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A reader says, I read about a public Pagan temple that started up in Minnesota. I think this is awesome. Why can't we have public Pagan temples everywhere, like the Christians have churches?

Why can't we? We can. But for many people, Why can't we actually means Why Doesn't Someone Else? Want a Pagan temple in your community? Get out there and start one. No one is stopping you. Just like with Pagan businesses, Pagan events, and other needs that haven't been met, every venture starts with one person finding a hole and filling it. If you want to see a Pagan temple -- and by this, I mean a physical place where people can go worship -- in your community, here are a few things to keep in mind: Starting a Pagan Temple.

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May 7, 2012 at 1:56 pm
(1) Joe says:

Great idea; now who is going to pay for it?

May 7, 2012 at 7:36 pm
(2) paganwiccan says:

Joe (1): Same people who pay for any other religion’s temple that they want built – the individuals who wish to use it. There are plenty of ways to raise money for something like this, and a few communities have done it successfully. The greater problem is that people wait for it to be done FOR them, rather than figuring out how to make it happen.


May 8, 2012 at 9:25 am
(3) montims says:

Unfortunately, even in Paganistan where it seems every other person is pagan, the Temple of the River had to close last year – https://www.facebook.com/notes/temple-of-the-river/temple-of-the-river-is-closing/10150274087493413 – and Sacred Paths Center, the only pagan community center in America, is closing this month – http://sacredpathscenter.com/

Open Hearth in D.C.will be the only pagan community center if they can get it off the ground.

It’s a shame.

May 8, 2012 at 9:59 am
(4) Gustavo Solivellas says:

We are “building” (growing) ;) our own Temple in a forest near the city. A member of our coven found a beautiful clear surrounded by a NATURAL Circle of Willows (Goddess Tree) and we are celebrating there since then. We added some rocks to complete the Circle, and we are planting flowers and decorative plants there, and also an external circle of Oak Trees (God Tree). It is just perfect! (Well, almost) I mean it is beautiful, it is private, it is hidden. It gives us much tranquility in the Sabats, but does not help to make people aware of our Faith, because only we know its location.

May 8, 2012 at 10:27 am
(5) Meadowhawk says:

I agree with Patti. It’s doable, if a group REALLY wants it done. Really as in willing to do it themselves. I am largely a solitary practitioner with some ties to a more structured group. I have experienced many in that group looking wistfully off into space and saying things like “wouldn’t it be great if we had a temple/sacred land/ dedicated grove/whatever?”

When I suggest that they get together with others who want the same thing and develop a fund raising strategy to get the ball rolling they look at me like I’ve got a lawnmower blade sticking out of my head. Or they go completely blank like they aren’t even aware that someone is talking to them.

I’m sure there are plenty of folk in the larger Pagan community who can and do see their bigger dreams through to fruition, it’s just that I don’t know any personally. It’s hard to get people around here to show up for a circle 8 times a year! I’m not even formally in the aforementioned group and I seem to be one of the few most dedicated. Mostly people tend to think that all the responsibilities should fall to someone besides themselves.

I say decide what you want, and then use your magickal abilities to dissolve obstacles as they appear. As for fund raising, I’m guessing that since there are Christian chuches just about everywhere in great abundance that they know a thing or two about bringing in the bucks. Find out what they are and adapt the best ones to suit your pagan community. Then go for it.

May 8, 2012 at 11:56 am
(6) kaytee says:

For info on “how to”, you might check with The Village Witch, in San Diego. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Village-Witch/138486068050

Alan and Valera Childers head the temple/organization– physically, it is in their converted garage and backyard; income to operate the temple, is at least in part derived from renting out space and from classes held there.

May 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm
(7) Tammy says:

I personally feel that part of pagan belief centers on working outside. I don’
t need a temple or structure, though it is nice to have events where like people can enjoy same things…I would prefer a ruin or like the above person’s outdoor circle to meet at. that would be more in keeping with what I find comfortable.

May 8, 2012 at 2:14 pm
(8) Black Kat says:

The outdoor temple sounds like a beautiful & sacred place. Pagans’ “temples” are where ever they cast their circle…& when you start doing the big money thing like many flashy Christian churches I’ve seen, you get away from what a temple really is. It turns spirituality into the religion business…who has the nicer church, bigger congregation, etc. A temple can be a simple circle cast in your heart.

May 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm
(9) Jeff Kincaid says:

While it is doable, many Pagans have an almost irrational fear of buildings. Many feel it is too “churchy”. Personally I think this is silly, since we like to celebrate Sabbats and so forth all year round. While the Hawaii and So Cal Pagan are pretty good there, many of us have to deal with excessively cold or hot temps depending on the locale. Also some areas have critters to worry about. While I celebrate the Goddess creations, I don’t feel compelled to feed the more vampiric of the bunch.
This fear of being “churchy” is not just for Pagans though. I attend a Unitarian Universalist church where co-chair the CUUPS group. We are currently discussing change the name of the church (built in 1926) to include the “Universalist” part in the actual name. This has opened the door to many folks who do like the word church simply because we are in Lynchburg VA, home to the Falwells and their Liberty Univ and all the fundie Christian yumminess associated therewith. I said the same thing to them that I say now. We need to stop getting wrapped up in names and consider the function. I don’t care if some random traveler thinks our church is Christian, because the first time they visit, it will be clear. Same thin for Pagan Temple/Churchs etc.

:::steps down from soapbox:: LOL Peace Y’all

May 8, 2012 at 6:11 pm
(10) Pheas says:

Many of us were attracted to Paganism because of disappointment with organized religion. If we want to have the luxury of our own temples, we’d have to attain a certain organized status … and I’m not sure that’d be a good thing at all. Disorganized religion can be pretty great, too.

May 8, 2012 at 6:30 pm
(11) Mary says:

I feel no need for a temple. Wherever I am at the moment is my temple. Outside in the forest, in my garden, late at night in my bedroom or simply standing in my kitchen gazing out the window thinking of all the blessings I have and that are to come. The entire earth is my temple, as are my mind, body and spirit. Blessed Be…

May 9, 2012 at 1:55 am
(12) Rafe says:

Good Evening all:
501(c)3 question for those who are.

Is there a way to set up a for-profit Foundation which funds the non-profit Temple? Like a College Consortium with the gardeners, book publishers, plumbers, lawn-mower team etc answering to the teachers, faculty and staff.

The Mormons have “Deseret Industries”… sort of like their own version of Good Will; yet the Mormons are non-profit.

There is a for-profit branch which funds, yet is seperate from, the non-profit Temple/s.

What about yearly membership fees which go toward both the Foundation and the publishing of a weekly/bi-weekly newsletter…

“too church like” seems odd; the ancient Greek temples were funded with a share of real estate tax, and a dontation plate too, along with fees for incense, sacrifices, and oracles (pay at the door).

-”Rafe”, an oddball who would love to hear neo/Pagan music set to Gregorian Chant or electronic trance music ;-p

May 9, 2012 at 5:38 am
(13) Rev. Hectuba Hestia, HPs says:

The group I belong to in NYC, The Wiccan Family Temple is presently preparing Witchsfest USA to aid us in raising money to purchase our own physical space. We are preparing the paperwork to creat a Not For Profit Religious Organization. This is our first major event and will take place on July 8, 2012 at Union Square Park in NYC and features some famous authors. Our monthly Full Moon Esbats and the 8 Sabbats are opened to everyone as well as our first degree classes and a few others. Please feel free to check us out.

Blessed be

May 9, 2012 at 6:36 am
(14) brenda says:

The outdoor tree temple sounds so appealing…but the first thing that popped into my mind was Julia Butterfly and the killing of the tree Luna. Please don’t let anyone know about your temple, there are people out there mean enough to kill your beautiful tree!

That being said, it makes me smile to know there is somewhere out there that is a temple. What a beautiful thing.

May 9, 2012 at 8:35 am
(15) JJ says:

I am assuming because, most Pagan’s have come from organized religious gatherings, and have left that uncomfortable pew for a reason. If we want a Pagan Temple, we merely walk outside.

May 9, 2012 at 10:31 am
(16) Sam Hall says:

I think it’s because Pagan’s have been persecuted far too much by mainstream religions that it’s made Paganism a rather… quiet religion.
I, as a Pagan, celebrate at a local Iron Age farm nearby which holds beautiful ceremonies; one I went to a couple of days ago being Beltaine – the burning of the Wicker man.
Either way, I think it’s a big shame. Paganism is a wonderful thing and should be embraced more freely.

May 10, 2012 at 7:35 am
(17) Westlin says:

I, too, would not mind having a place to gather with like-minded people.

However, the establishment of a 501(c)3 and the fundraising, grant writing, “smoozing” needed to get the funds is not my cup of tea…it takes a certain type of individual.

Also, whether anyone wants to say it or not, in the current fundamentalist christian atmosphere—it might not be particularly safe to have public temples. There are people out there who shoot or bomb others with whom they disagree.

So perhaps keeping our temples confined to less obvious locations is the best idea for the time being. If there are enough people in an area, they can always meet at each other’s homes. It’s the way many religions began to organize. Often when churches/religions begin to be more focused on having “things”, they lose their way.


May 10, 2012 at 1:09 pm
(18) helena says:

i know why… because 1. whos going to pay for it. 2. how are people going to to pay for it. 3. the other religions are not going to be very happy about having a pagan temple (such as christians)

May 11, 2012 at 11:04 am
(19) Dragonfaerie says:

Pagan temples are far and few between because too many people run away from organized anything… this is also why there’s “pagan standard time” and a lot of poorly run small groups. “Authority” need not be something to fear.

But when you can’t even get people to organize rituals within a group… much less for a festival or other gathering… how do we expect to be able to have established permanent spaces for ritual? That’s too much like, uh, work! And too many in the Pagan community would rather navel-gaze and wait for someone else to do the, uh, work!

May 3, 2013 at 2:05 am
(20) Lune says:

Wonderful comment Black Kat,I agree completely.

October 16, 2013 at 6:52 pm
(21) Tim, priest of HetHer says:

The solution I found to the temple issue is to just go and build one.As a solo practitioner, I was very curious as to what lay beyond the realms of a cast circle. With the Goddess as my guide, and chief architect, together we built a sacred place to serve as Her temple upon this earth. All I had to do was the actual physical labors. The temple is dedicated and a home base for the Goddess Het Her (Hathor) although any of the Egyptian Deities can and do come thru at any time. Het Her gave me the design in a trance vision, the knowledge to do the actual construction as was needed, the ability to make all the artwork and sculptures, and even told me what material to use for Her sacred space, a substance She called “liquid stone”, more commonly known as concrete. The advantages of a permanent temple are too numerous to mention here, but they are worth the time and effort it takes to build one.You also get the distinction of being the official lawn mower /grounds keeper for the Goddess, a title few have.

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