Pagans' plight hits the big time

The New York Times ran a column about Palenville's pagans on Wednesday, giving the beleagered Maetreum of Cybele a chance to appeal to a national audience for help in their fight with the town of Catskill over property taxes.

Out Towns columnist Peter Applebome visited the Maetreum last summer in order to write yesterday's article:

So after the opening ritual at 9 a.m. and sandwiched around “Lunchtime with the Priestesses,” the schedule at the old Central House inn included “The Goddess in Antiquity,” “Pagans in the Mundane World” and sessions on sacred drumming patterns, dragon rituals and the Cybeline Revival.

Still, it was the least celestial item that perhaps mattered most. That would be “Discussion of Maetreum of Cybele v. Town of Catskill, N.Y.,” a legal case dating to 2007 after the town first approved and then denied tax-exempt status for the group, which has been certified by the federal government as a tax-exempt religious charity. The goddess may rule the universe, but the lawyers will help decide whether the pagans of Palenville have a future in this historic old town just down the snowy hills from Hunter Mountain.

We've written about the Maetreum repeatedly over the past year, and have wondered when the story would get some national attention for its thorny issues of religous persecution and town solvency.