On May 2, 2012, Teisha Magee, Executive Director and founder of the Sacred Paths Center announced, “After much heartache, soul-searching and tears, it has become clear that Sacred Paths Center cannot continue. Our expenses are too high in this location and we are just not getting enough money coming through the door. All of our resources are tapped, and our volunteers are worn out. By the end of May 2012, we will be closing the doors. We don’t know the exact date yet.”
The SPC has been significant to many in the community. It provided a convenient entry place for those new to the community who wanted to learn about community resources, it provided meeting space for many groups, it had a shrine for departed loved ones, it had a lending library, and it provided the focus that our community had something truly special and rare.
SPC Board Member Mary Oczak said, “I believe it filled a need and performed a valuable function by hosting spiritual and secular events and public rituals and providing informative classes on a variety of subjects. The library, retail shop and ancestor shrine were positive assets to the community.”
SPC Board Member Lola said, “The significance of having the SPC has been huge for me, giving me a social space that also carried the joyous yet solemness of a spiritual space. I hope that there will continue to be a level of SPC to continue, perhaps online.”
In an official statement released by the entire board of directors, it says, “There is a need for a nature-based community center in the Twin Cities. We believe it can be a sustainable endeavor with the right planning, the right space, and the right people. Community members did come forward in epic ways over the last three years to support the center by giving their money, time, input, and spiritual resources. SPC operated solely on hundreds of volunteer hours put in by the Executive Director, the Board, and many dedicated volunteers. We are eternally grateful for this community’s passion.”
The Sacred Paths Center enhanced the Pagan experience in the Twin Cities in many ways.
The SPC was an easy access point for people new to the community who wanted to discover the resources this community has to offer. We still have metaphysical shops and a community calendar, but the community center was a dedicated place for the purpose of allowing people to gather.
August 1, 2009, the Minnesota Church of Wicca and the Wiccan Church of Minnesota held a joint ritual at the SPC. These two groups had split 20 years earlier in a schism which was the subject of scholarly study. Earlier in 2009 both groups were holding meetings in different parts of the SPC, and decided that the time had come for them to come back together for a public ritual. All involved credit the SPC as being essential to this reunion.
Every Monday the SPC hosted a community potluck where people brought food and sat around eating together.
Every Thursday, the SPC hosted the Mentoring Elders program, which encouraged an ongoing discussion about the appropriate place for elders in a maturing Pagan community.
SPC became the de facto home of Coffee Cauldron, a bi-monthly gathering for the local Pagan community. Coffee Cauldron has already announced that it will continue at a new location: Caribou Coffee, 1127 Larpenteur Avenue West, Saint Paul, MN 55113.
Following their annual meeting, the SPC created a tradition of having a Bread & Brew contest. Community members were invited to create their best breads and alcoholic beverages and compete to discover whose was the best.
The Wiccan Church of Minnesota regularly held its meetings, classes, rituals and a psychic fair at the SPC.
The Group Seeker Meet & Greet allowed groups and those seeking groups to come together and mingle.
The SPC hosted a Goddess art exhibit.
The SPC has hosted many concerts from artists such as Celia, Sharon Knight, S.J. Tucker, and Ruth Barrett.
The SPC was one of the sites for the Minnesota Fringe Festival.
In the 2011 Minnesota Women’s Press What Women Want edition, the Sacred Paths Center was voted Favorite Women-Friendly Spiritual Community.
The SPC hosted a memorial ancestor shrine and a lending library.
Sunday, April 5, 2009, Loui Pieper died. There has been a shrine to her at the Sacred Paths Center ever since.
The Sacred Paths Center opened for business Friday February 13th, 2009 and celebrated its grand opening Friday March 13, 2009. Within weeks, on Saturday April 4, 2009, the SPC began fulfilling its commitment to the community by hosting a fundraiser for local Elder Ken Ra who was facing financial crisis after a kidney failure, with a significant mass of the community coming together to support one of its own. It has since hosted countless rituals and community gatherings.
Although the SPC was not the first Pagan community center in the nation, or even locally, it’s closing leaves The Open Hearth Foundation in Washington DC as having the only Pagan community center in the nation.
The previous local community center was The New Alexandria Library. The New Alexandria Library opened in September of 2000 as a subscription library. It was a subsidiary of the Wiccan Church of Minnesota. Its stated purpose was “to create an archive that preserves our Pagan history, culture, and heritage, to ensure community access to hard-to-find and out-of-print materials, to provide access to a wide range of information and training materials, and to serve as a center of studies and research for scholars of Neo-Paganism.” The library quickly became a center for Paganistani activity. For financial reasons, the library closed its doors in July 2004.
The SPC was a direct successor of Evenstar Books, opened in 1979 by Loui Piper, which was a center of Pagan activity for almost 30 years. In 1991 Loui Pieper founded the Evenstar School of Sacred Paths and in October 1992 it received federal recognition as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization. After Piper’s retirement, Magee continued running the shop. Within a month of Evenstar closing, January 24, 2009, the SPC was opened around the corner, in its 5000 square foot facility after soliciting enough memberships and donations to be able to sign a lease, in the middle of a recession.
Anything left from Evenstar’s going-out-of-business sale (including display cases, shelving units, and everything else associated with the store) was moved across the alley to this new location to create the SPC’s gift shop. Rooms were also erected to create a healing center within the SPC.
Magee has a long history of activism in the Pagan community. In 1995, she and her husband organized Coffee Cauldron, the longest running Pagan gathering in the Twin Cities. In March 1999, the Magees spearheaded the adoption of Minnehaha Falls Creek by the Pagans of Minnesota and organized biannual clean-ups.
April 20, 2012, Magee dissolved the board, and became sole proprietor of the SPC. In the official statement from the board of directors, it said, “The Sacred Paths Center as a community center has ceased to exist. It is now a private business owned by Teisha Magee. Any contributions or membership dues, including any automatic withdrawals made via PayPal, are going directly to Teisha Magee.”
Any donations that come in this month will help to offset the cost of closing and outstanding bills.
The SPC had four main sources of income: membership, gift shop, space rental, and healing center. Also noteworthy were the fundraisers where the community came together to support its community center.
The first community fundraiser for the SPC was August 24, 2009, including a raffle and chili sale, in response to the centers first financial crisis. The Eye of Horus, a local metaphysical shop, held a sale with a percentage of the profits contributed to the SPC.
The SPC lowered its operating expenses through its reliance on volunteers to offset the need for paid staff. The SPC had many loyal volunteers.
There were many in this community who gave their time and money to keeping the 5000 square foot center functioning for over three years, helping make this a significant part of the history of our local community. However the large space also increased expenses and made rent difficult to maintain. “On April 18, 2012 we received a call telling us that rent on the center was three months overdue.” said the official statement from the board of directors concerning the closing. “On April 27th we were told by the landlord that if one month’s rent was not paid on Monday April 30th they would file eviction papers. The rent was not paid.”
“We have learned many things over the last three years, what to do and what not to do. One of the biggest issues was the blurred financial boundaries between the store the Executive Director’s personal accounts and contributions and dues to the Center. Several attempts were made to rectify this financial tangle over the past three years, without much success. Other issues which have challenged us over the last three years include the minimal initial planning when the first opening the Center, a space that was far too expensive to sustain with our income, and a general lack of oversight on financial matters.”
Oczak said, “I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering in the shop, and was especially pleased whenever I could assist someone who had never been in Sacred Paths before. Though at times serving on the Board of Directors was extremely challenging, it has overall been a valuable learning experience. I hope that most people remember SPC for the positive things it did for them and the community, and that a new and improved community center – built on the knowledge of our successes and failures at Sacred Paths – will arise in the not so distant future.”
Lola said, “I will miss spending time volunteering behind the counter on the retail end. It was always a joy to be able to burn candles and incense and have both random people and long time friends walk in the door and for me to see the look of peace on their face and energy. I loved having the Ancestor shrine and library as well, those two elements added incredible uniqueness to the space.”
Magee’s announcement of the closing of the center ended with, “Thank you, each and every one of you for your support on this adventure over the last 3+ years.”
The board of directors official announcement ended with, “Thank you for all of your wonderful support throughout the last three years! Members, teachers, musicians, healers, belly dancers, men-in-kilts, bards, readers, vendors, shoppers and friends all made Sacred Paths a truly sacred space.”