Celtic Temple closes doors, group disbands

Temple of the River an tSruith Drew Jacob released a statement today that the Irish Cottage Temple in NE Minneapolis is closing its doors and the religious community is disbanding.  Lack of  improving lives and changing spiritual needs are reasons cited.

The Irish Cottage Temple in NE Minneapolis

The Old Belief Society, which practices a form of Iron Age Irish polytheism, has been active in the Twin Cities area for over seven years. The Society, which an tSruith Jacob helped found, uses Celtic social customs to understand Celtic spirituality.  They built the first and only Temple of its kind in the US which opened its doors in September of 2010.  Today, Jacob sent out a press release announcing, “As Drumclí of Temple of the River, with the full support of my students and the governing Council of the Old Belief Society, I am announcing the closing of Temple of the River.”

Just over a week ago, an tSruith Jacob made waves across the Pagan community with an article titled “Why I’m not Pagan.”  In it, he talked about the successes of his spiritual community and said, “In less than six months we shifted from a small clique-like organization with no public presence to a bustling, dynamic community. … It was because of this surge of enthusiasm and interest—from a primarily non-Pagan crowd—that we were able to finally realize a dream of seeing ancient Irish religion alive and practiced as closely as possible to its original form.”

tSruith Drew Jacob

When asked to reconcile his former statement with the news that the group is dissolving and the Temple closing, an tSruith Jacob said, “There is no doubt that Temple of the River has attracted a large, diverse crowd of people who enjoyed our programs and ceremonies. If you measured success only in numbers, we’d be the most successful Celtic polytheist organization out there.  But I’ve never been comfortable measuring success that way.”  He says a better measure of success is to look at the spiritual good that a community does.  “We have a large community and terrific events, but the Temple isn’t making the [spiritual] impact I want to see it make.”

an tSrith Jacob says that he has witnessed a shift in peoples’ spiritual needs over the past 10 years.  A shift away from needing accurate historical religious information and a place for community to meet and a shift towards empowering individuals to make changes in their lives.  He says that the structure and traditions of his group does not meet those changing needs, “I continue to find these traditions beautiful, but they’re not fostering the kind of powerful personal transformations that I expect spirituality to provide. If they’re not helping people transform their lives, then they’re not earning their keep.”

A lack of  improving enough lives and changing spiritual needs are the reasons Jacob gave for Temple of the River disbanding as a spiritual community and closing the Temple doors.

Erica Scanlon Schopper, found an tSrith Jacob while looking for someone to perform the marriage ceremony for her and her fiance.  She then started attending Temple events and the meditations.  She feels the Temple of the River had a positive impact in her life,   ” I am meeting more and more people who are looking for different spiritual avenues to follow and though we may be in the minority I feel that the group’s structure is able to work in modern times. Drew and others at the Temple have provided me with many stories and Old Belief history and practices to assist me with my private spiritual time.”  Ms. Scanlon Schopper hopes that a new Celtic spiritual group will form in the Twin Cities similar to Temple of the River.

The Irish Cottage Temple closes its doors at the end of June and is available for rent. Ms. Scanlon Schopper says she was surprised by the news and sad to hear the temple is closing its doors, “but I have hope that the cottage will continue to serve as a gathering place, no matter what the gatherings may be.”  The current owner believes the temple may be rented out as an art studio or for another spiritual group to use.  Jacob was the former owner of the land the Irish Cottage Temple sits on, but he sold the property in January of 2011 and presently lives at a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Minneapolis.

The last event held at the Irish Cottage Temple is a costumed midsummer celebration, The Final Goodnight, on Midsummer Eve – Monday, June 20. Jacob says details will be announced soon. The final Meditation For All session will be Tuesday, June 14.

Jacob says he is now focused on what he calls a “a new spirituality for the 21st century,” the Heroic Life.  To read the full interview with an tSrith Jacob and the Press Release, click the ‘read more’ link.

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Celtic Temple Opens in Northeast Minneapolis

September 18 heralds a new piece of Minnesota Pagan history: a Celtic Pagan temple,  in Northeast Minneapolis, opens to the public. Andrew Jacob, priest of the Temple of the River,  (TOR) will lead a purification ceremony in the Mississippi River. After the ritual, participants can dry off in the new temple, also called the Irish Cottage Building.

The temple is the first official structure of the Old Belief Society, a community intended to train Celtic priests by combining academic and spiritual teachings. Temple of the River, a smaller subset of that society led by Jacob, formerly occupied a space in Dinkytown before moving their meeting space to his home in Northeast. He conceived of building a physical temple after helping construct a Native American style pavilion in 2006. “We made it a priority to have a physical temple in a permanent space – because a welcoming meeting space is one of the first things you need for community.” Continue reading