The Temple Project was born almost a decade ago on a drive to Glastonbury in the U.K. Watching the Tor grow larger and larger, I found myself thinking ‘I wish we had a Temple to talk to our gods in.’ Of course, as soon as we hit town and realised it was the home of the only Goddess Temple in the country, that thought began to make more sense.
That Temple calling sat in our cauldrons, stirring for years. It waited until our paths brought us back to the same country and then it exploded.
The work is expanding exponentially as we focus on laying the foundations, and part of that is explaining the intent and purpose behind the Project.
Why a Temple?
First and foremost, to support a diverse and welcoming community of pagans following many paths.
The Temple Project is about embracing that diversity. It’s about welcoming it and building on the one thing we all have in common: the overall cosmology in which we work, and the pantheons we work with.
In other words, the Gods.
We’re not clergy (and don’t want to be!). Each working group and tradition has its own priesthood or equivalent. What we want to do is build a hub for the community to connect through. A place where new pagans and experienced pagans and interested observers can come together and find one another.
In this early foundation stage, this hub is spiritworld only as we build the connections for it. The final stage is to provide a physical space where groups within the community can hold rituals, workshops, and come together to worship our gods.
Do we really need a Temple?
Paganism is growing incredibly fast in Australia. The 1991 Census reported 4,353 people had identified as Pagan. By 2011, it had grown to 32,083 people. We’re eager to see what the 2016 Census shows us about the trajectory of paganism in Australia.
What this tells us is two things. Firstly, that we either have more pagans or more people feel comfortable identifying themselves as pagan. Secondly, if our numbers are growing, we need to start thinking about what we want our community to look like in the future.
Since we began connecting with people and asking questions, we’ve found a small number of very private working groups and a large number of isolated pagans or curious newcomers who don’t know who to talk to. Our hope is that a Temple can help fill that obvious gap.
We can talk to our gods anywhere and everywhere (a patch of forest is as good as an urban balcony!) but we hope to create a house for our gods where people can come together to do so.
We also want to build our place more clearly in the larger world, so that people who may not be pagan can learn more about us, what we do and what we believe.
So now what?
The foundations of the Temple are being built by everyone who wants to be involved. Right now we are still in our first year of the work, which means connecting people and groups. There’s no need for a Temple if the community doesn’t want one, after all!
We’re about to embark on step two, which is all about community activities. Workshops and group celebrations of our holy days, welcoming newcomers who want to learn and connecting them to people who can teach.
Eventually – in five years or ten years or maybe further down the track – the hope is that we have a community strong enough to warrant a physical Temple. A place that is not just for private worship, but also a centre for workshops, classes, and rituals run both by the Temple and by independent working groups.
We have a dream!
It might be years away, and might never happen, but we’re allowed to dream, right? What would this hypothetical Temple look like?
We might dream of a world with a Temple of Ares on one corner and a Hestian Shrine tucked down a laneway, but the sad truth is that paganism remains a small piece of our larger population and we could never support that many places of worship.
A Temple is a house of the Gods, so our solution would be to make it a communal house and offer dedicated space to all of them. Our gods wear many faces across many pantheons, but there is a core truth to them all and that is what we would hold space for. Altars for mother goddesses and trickster gods, for huntresses and sun lords.
A Temple is also a community centre, and we would want this one to be a place that groups could use for public and private rituals, workshops and classes.
And of course, a library because we love books.
So that’s the Temple Project in a (very wordy) nutshell. We might be the initiators but a community goal means a community project and we welcome involvement from anyone and everyone! If you have ideas, suggestions, huge impossible pipe dreams, share them with us!