Pagan community center planned for “Paganistan”

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MINNEAPOLIS –The Twin Cities — sometimes called “Paganistan” by Pagan residents — host a large enough number of Pagans that one local group is hoping to create a community center to serve their diverse needs. The Leanaí Na Déithe community center would be a space for classes and rituals, as well as services for the broader community such as a food bank. Center president Arcadian Barrett spoke about the plans, as well as how others might support it.

While the center is still in the formative stages, Barrett said, with board members working on legal and tax paperwork, there is a space they have their eye on: a suite at 1200 Nicolette Mall, on the corner of 12th Street. It’s on a corner with high pedestrian traffic which they feel would suit a community center well. State nonprofit approval has been obtained, and IRS approval is expected shortly.

Once space is acquired one of their first projects will be to build a library including books on Paganism, self-help topics, and foreign language learning Pagans often need in order to research their paths. Barrett is mindful that having Llewellyn Worldwide in town might make that aspect easier; executives there could well have opinions to offer on which books to obtain.

The price of “spirituality classes” offered would be dictated by the teacher, Barrett explained, with a percentage of that fee being paid into the center’s treasury.

Also being considered is an auditorium space which could be rented out to supplement center income and allow for more variety among the center’s offerings.

Rituals are listed as “sabbats and esbats,” but Barrett stressed that these celebrations are not exclusively Wiccan, and the intent is to be inclusive. While Barrett believes that Wiccans comprise the highest number of Pagans in the region, he said, “a few of the sabbats actually started with the traditions of Celtic and Viking peoples. We aim for this to be an enjoyable place no matter anyone’s Pagan path, or lack of one.”

As several founding board members were involved in a store called Lunar Arcadia, the remaining inventory there will be used for monthly membership boxes, a benefit of joining the center. Members will also get half a vote at board meetings, allowing them to express their views and help guide the direction of the center as well as a say in who gets to join the board.

The hope is that the center will cause Pagans to coalesce more in the Twin Cities. Many Facebook and Meetup groups exist for members of various traditions, but Barrett said that “the Pagans of this area are organized, but separate,” not interacting much with those who practice differently.

Barrett said that an initial budget of $100,000 is planned, but achieving it will depend on support from the community. That money will be guarded well, he said: “We have policies that are used to implement financial management such as separation of duties, reimbursed expenses approved in advance in writing, and background checks. Most of our staff will be volunteer save for the teachers and front desk workers.”

More can be found out about the project here.