New Alexandrian Library Breaks Ground

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 19, 2011 — 12 Comments

[The following story is reprinted from the Pagan Newswire Collective's Washington D.C. bureau (aka Capital Witch) and was reported/written by David Salisbury and Maria Aquila.]

More than 60 people gathered in Georgetown, Delaware yesterday, as the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel hosted a Ground Breaking Ceremony for the New Alexandrian Library. This historic project aims to build a modern, state of the art library, physical structure to house a research and reference library.

NAL Groundbreaking Ceremony (PNC-Washington DC)

NAL Groundbreaking Ceremony (PNC-Washington DC)

All the materials have been acquired and permits issued. Construction is planned to begin on Monday morning.

The event began with host, Michael Smith, an Elder in the ASW, welcoming participants to the event and explained a brief history of the project stating that the library is “is dream whose time has come now!”

Smith also explained the grand vision for the library that will be a structure that endures and grows through the generations.

He then introduced ASW Elder, Ivo Dominguez Jr. who talked more about the project and how it is more than just collecting and preserving books, special collections, and artifacts. It is also about the Pagan community’s need for roots and infrastructure.

“As much as I and many of you like the internet, or their kindle or their iPad, there is no substitute for having rooted in the physical plane storage, special materials and more importantly, a catalyst for interaction,” stated Dominguez. “Where there have been great libraries, and libraries are as much the center for creation and presentation of culture, you have a crossroads where you have interaction between different people doing scholarly work. There is a place to point at and say, in this place we actually have the maturity and perseverance as a community to make something happen that stays.”

There is no Kindle, no electronic version that will ever be the same as actually being in the precsence of a book that was owned by a particular author. Each of these books is like a Book of Shadows. Each is filled with the essence and the energy of the people who have worked with it. So there is something that can only be held in the physical realm.”

Next, NAL Program Manager Jim Dickensen talked about the actual physical construction of the structure that will be a concrete encased dome that will help ensure the security of the by providing a structure that will withstand time, the weather, including hurricanes. Using AI Domes, the building will be sealed with layers of concrete and shaped in the way that accounts for the aerodynamic flow of wind that passes around it.

“This structure is the beginning, we foresee adding Dome 2, and Dome 3, and Dome 4, as time goes on and adding additional facilities as lecture halls that can be linked to universities and other learning institutions…This building will be constructed in a magickal way, with magickal objects, offerings, and implements.”

Participants were then lead to the construction site where Smith lead an invocation with others, calling upon the spirits of the land to bless the site.

“We who stand here today, we who are manifest and walk in the world call upon the spirits of this land; the ancestors and the fey, the spirits of the depths, the spirits of the heights. Be present in this space, be present with these people and this community. The tools of manifestation, the offerings of our selves, the offerings of the manifestations of creation. Bless this work, bless this library, bless this land and all who come here.”

Other attendees approached the space and delivered a series of blessings from various traditions. As the cold air sang through the trees of Seelie Court, it was easy to envision the site that the space will become; a home for esoteric and magickal lore both new and old.

More information on the project, and how you can contribute, can be found at sacredwheel.org/nal

[For a selection of photos from the groundbreaking, please see PNC-Washington D.C.. You can read all of The Wild Hunt's coverage of the New Alexandrian Library Project, here.]

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Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

    In these days of seemingly constant intra/inter-pagan conflict, this project seems like a truly great thing for all of us, no matter what we label ourselves. May the Goddesses and Gods bless this project and all those involved now and in the future.

  • http://www.magickal-media.com Alice C. “A.C.” Fisher Aldag

    Such wonderful news. All the best to the project and its organizers.

  • http://sarenth.wordpress.com/ Sarenth

    I am excited about this groundbreaking. I hope that it is a sign of greatness to come, and just one of many libraries to break ground.

  • http://quakerpagan.org/ Cat C-B

    Really? Building a new structure, bricks and mortar (or in this case, concrete and framing) is the best use of our limited funds as a community?

    I’m all for Pagan libraries and institutions of higher learning. But the necessity for this fairly costly project isn’t obvious to me. Wouldn’t it be better to rent space, and spend the money on books?

    The priorities here just seem odd. I’m not dissing the organizations involved, and good news is good news… but it just seems odd. Perhaps I’m simply uninformed, but it doesn’t seem clear to me that the ASW and the NAL have thought this through carefully.

    • http://www.facebook.com/dsalisbury David Salisbury

      Cat- This project is intended to be sustained for generations. In speaking directly with the library team in my interviews, it is very clear that they have spent countless hours planning, thanking, researching and fundraising. Renting space is not sustainable for the long term and certainly provides no security for the books, artifacts and other works that the library will house. Books are already plentiful and they continue to be donated in droves. What’s needed now is the firm, secure location to house them in for the next hundred years or more.

    • Baruch Dreamstalker

      Now is the moment to build this structure for the same reason that now is the moment for my UU congregation to buy a building of its own: Thanks to a moribund housing market, a new or disused building can be afforded by the shoestring institution in question.

    • http://www.facebook.com/ivo.dominguez Ivo Dominguez Jr.

      Dear Cat- I do understand your concerns, but for the goals of this project renting space is neither sustainable or safe. If this were to be a small community lending library, perhaps renting would work but not for a large library that will also have rare art, historical ritual regalia, as well as precious books and manuscripts. The land has been donated (by pagans) and there will be no monthly mortgage payment after construction. Many metaphysical bookstores and alternative community centers have been closed due to landlords that raise the rent of sell the property or decide they would rather have us gone. Also we intend expansions of the library over the course of decades and each will be built to suit the needs at hand in a way that can’t be done with rented space. As to limited resources, that is true of most communities. I actually think that the magickal community as a whole has a higher income than a random cross-section of the nation. We are not poorer, just often less good about supporting our projects.

    • http://www.tigerseyetemple.org Dan Miller

      Cat: Part of what is missing in our greater pagan community is infrastructure, pagan-made and pagan-owned buildings and land. And as mentioned, now is as good of time as any financially for those with the means to take that leap. This is long-term thinking going on here, that is meant to benefit not only our generation, but those yet to come. I personally am very excited about this and hope the project grows and develops under wise stewardship.

    • Andras Corban Arthen

      Hi Cat: I agree with other posters that a major aspect of this project — beyond the importance of the library itself — is the intent to establish a pagan institution in perpetuity, as part of the legacy that we leave for future generations in the hope of insuring that our ways will not die out. I also think that the “limited funds” of the pagan movement are largely a convenient myth so that pagans don’t have to put their money where their mouths are. There’s a substantial amount of money in the pagan movement, especially if we have truly become as large as some say. It’s primarily a question of choosing to spend some of that money in ways that can benefit all of us, and a lot of small donations from a large enough group of pagans can easily make a project such as this one a reality. For what it’s worth, I have known many of the members of ASW for a very long time, and consider them among the ‘cream of the crop’ of the pagan movement — creative, experienced, dedicated, and very trustworthy.

  • Rhyegraystar

    this is wonderful !

  • http://egregores.blogspot.com Apuleius Platonicus

    There are religions of The Book, and then there are religions of The Library.

  • http://twitter.com/DKsan Divyesh Mistry

    Oddly enough, the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina, the actual Alexandria’s newest library came up in thought for me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bibliotheca_Alexandrina