The Catskills Phygianum of the Maetreum of Cybele
Historic Central House, Palenville New
Central House in the 1930's
it's purchase in early 2002 by four women Central House has been
through a lot of changes. At first the vision was a
cooperative welcoming of transsexual women.
During that phase many came and went and much was learned.
In June of 2002 Gallae Central House Inc. was formally
incorporated as a New York non profit corporation to manage the house
for the original partnership that purchased it. Because one
the original four women was not a Cybeline, this was done on a secular
In late 2003 with the transfer of ownership
the sole non member of the Cybeline faith to a woman who was an active
Cybeline priestess the focus was shifted towards a religious convent
under the direction of the Maetreum of Cybele with some emergency
housing help for those women in need. Many took advantage of
phase and gradually the focus was shifted more and more as the house
became the Phrygianum or convent home of the priestesses of Cybele.
In October of 2003 we formally published the first part of
organizational model that was based on our historical research and
which we had already put into practice. In June of 2004 we
another quantum leap forward (or backward in the reclaiming sense) with
our publication of the Rule of the Women of Cybele. With the
cooperation of the head of a Benedictine order of nuns, our
research lead us to the discovery that the Rule of the Benedictine
Women was a survival of the earlier Montanist Rule that was a direct
gnostic Christian adaptation of the original Rule of the Women of
Cybele. This remarkable document was a spiritual guide to
together as a feminine religious convent community and
the Rule of St. Benedict for men by approximately 600 years!
Cybeline Rule used the results of years of research with the base model
that had survived as Rule of the Benedictine nuns to restore a
historically appropriate "Rule" for our own religious faith and became
structure of living at the Catskill Phygianum, a Cybeline Convent as
had existed for thousands of years until the Catholics murdered in
their sleep the last remaining Cybeline priestesses in Rome at the
beginning of fifth century CE. That it was with the
of Bendectine Catholic nuns we restored our own Rule seemed strangely
appropriate given the history.
In 2005 the decision was made to formally incorporate the Cybeline
faith, the four then current owners signed over their
property to the newly incorporated Maetreum of Cybele as the official
home of the religion and the centre of the world wide Cybeline revival.
Emergency housing help was still part of the mission but only
of the original owners still lived on the property.
We have been busy restoring
House as the only known, true to form, Silver Age Catskill Inn (mid
1850's thru early 1900's) in style and appearance. Central
boasts the only known fully functional 1890's telegraph office, part of
the Women in 19'th Century Technology Project. We
house Cafe hours at the Bell Book and Candle cafe' on Saturdays and are
proud to be an open Women's Spirituality Centre dedicated to further
women's rights and freedoms. Being historians, it is
us to restore and preserve the historic nature and spirit of our home.
Antique crank phones and telegraph bells adorn the front
along with reproductions of Suffragette posters. Our living
boast authentic Victorian furniture, Edison cylinder player and an
extremely rare Victorian grand piano. A cozy wood cookstove
the far end of the living room area as our "country kitchen" area that
on winter afternoons beckons women to come, sit and chat.
our guest rooms have authentic antique beds. The fabled Witch
the Catskills is alive and well at Central House! Central
itself dates back to sometime in the mid 1850's and is one of
very few surviving Inns from that era. Palenville
as the site of the Rip Van Winkle story and America's first artist
album around the house
We look towards a future of being a centre
not only of the Cybeline faith, but one available for women of all
faiths as well as a place of safety and healing from the ravages of the
patriarchy on the collective souls of the women of the world.
has been a long struggle but the vision of a worldwide home
of the revived Cybeline faith has remained and now is
Rev. Mother Battakes, Cathryn Platine
Update: Feb 10, 2011
Despite the fact that we originally filed an Article 78
in June of 2009, we still have not had our day in court yet due to the
constant barrage of motions from the Town of Catskill attorney.
This has been a pretty clear case of trying to spend us out
continuing the case. Catskill has spent somewhere in excess
thousand dollars to deny us our tax exempt status mandated under both
State and Federal law and changes constantly the stated reasons for
doing so. Our legitimacy as a religion has been questioned,
have been accused of violation of zoning laws (untrue), building
codes(also untrue) and finally back to we don't met standards for a
religious exempt property when we clearly not only do so, but have
maintained charitable works on the property from long before we
incorporated. We recently received notice of
foreclosure on our property for taxes despite this being an active case
(two actually). Catskill routinely grants full exemptions to
Christian parsonages and even at least one picnic ground .
granted additional property tax concessions to Walmart
last spring for an astronomical amount. Our
of all the religious events on our property almost certainly
place us at the top for the local religious properties and there are
several just in our Hamlet. The Catskill Board of Assessment
Review out and out refused an invitation to tour our property during
the 2010 hearing, making the claims that we are not using our property
for religious purposes ludicrous since they haven't seen how
use it and don't want to. We are poor but we continue our
charitable works aimed at women in need and continue to provide housing
and food for such women as we always have. We do need help in
form of donations to keep up this fight. Fully tax deductible
donations can be made via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org
are fully 501 (c)(3) IRS recognized, incorporated under New York
Religious Incorporation Law and our property is owned by the
incorporated religious group, The Maetreum of Cybele Magna Mater Inc.
The four women who originally purchased the property
donated all legal interest for one dollar each to the Maetreum of
Cybele and under both State and Federal law thus gave up all rights to
any future profit from the property. Also important is that
one associated in any fashion with the Maetreum of Cybele is ever paid
so much as a single penny. All our work is donated without
the Maetreum has no employees.
We just received notice that the Town of Catskill Board of
denied our property tax appeal for 2010. This time we were
represented by our attorney who supplied a 13 page legal summery of the
relevant case law, the property tax law, the applicable Federal law.
All this with a tonne of supporting evidence. The
simply stated "property use" again. The Town has reverted in
Court to arguing against our legitimacy as a Religion and our property
as a Convent and Spirituality Centre. They cite no evidence,
legal theories for doing so. In a further development, I met
brand new Code Enforcement Officer for the Town of Catskill.
informed me that we should have kept our heads down as a group that is
"different", should not have pursued our legal rights against Catskill,
and in a direct quote "You have a giant flashing yellow light over your
property in my eyes and I am coming for you." He further
quite clear that operating under the false impression our property had
been rezoned as single family at some point, they intended to hold a
year old building to modern code requirements. That quite
means they intend to condemn our building since it's very nature as a
wooden framed structure would render it out of compliance with modern
code. Our building is sound, safe and historic in nature.
Further, it has been listed as an Inn/Lodge on the tax roles
continuing basis from the mid 1890's on, continually used in that
manner and even every single room in the house being used throughout
it's entire history for the exact same purposes with the single
exception of the "mens room" which was converted to a bathroom from a
bedroom sometime prior to 1936. Our building is legally
"grandfathered" in both in zoning, building codes and usage.
are beyond compliant with fire safety with maintained and marked fire
escapes from all locations, 4 times the required number of
extinguishers, more than required smoke detectors and CO2
detectors and all exits clearly marked with evacuation plans posted on
all floors. All our plumbing and electric meets applicable
Their legal theory apparently is one that the change from a
secular use to a religious one required an entire new change of use
permit. No room at the Phrygianum has changed in it's actual
since 1896 which our research into the history of the property has
shown us. It is actually unique in that for the area making
historically significant as possibly the only "Silver Age" Catskill
resort Inn building in continueous use and not gutted and remodeled at
some point. Even the original building structure and
exactly as it was in 1896.
Apparently because of the transsexual medical history of some
the original purchasers of the property and the inclusion of a mission
of providing housing aid for women of transsexual history, the new Code
Officer also stated that we were a "house full of transvestites".
Let me make this completely clear....we are a womans
spirituality religious movement inclusive of women with a transsexual
history. All (including transvestites) are welcome to worship
attend most retreats here but we are not transsexual or transgender
focused and never have been. The majority of our priestesses
women born women, a couple born intersexed and a couple born
transsexed. Our priestesses are required to be female bodied
identified, no exceptions. Pre-operative women who are fully
transitioned are eligible to live at our Phrygianum. Men can
visit and stay at the Phrygianum short term but not live at our home.
So much mis-information has circulated about our Path we find
necessary to make this clear.
To date the Town of Catskill has not provided the Court with
shred of evidence to support it's continued denial of our exemption.
It has offered no legal theory for doing so. The
reason given up to now in hearings has been not to "open the
floodgates" of other minority religions seeking mandated religious
exemptions under the law. If you have friends in the Press,
please contact them, if not, please spread the word about what this
town run by open religious bigots in New York is trying to do.
The more public black eyes we give them the better
point. We need to shine a bright light on this bigotry.
Catskill has made it crystal clear they have declared total
on us. We have called on the Great Mother to provide justice
this matter in the ancient fashion, something we have been extremely
reluctant to do up to now.
We now have an ironclad
discrimination case against them and can prove discrimination on the
basis of religion beyond any doubt but we need the Pagan Communities to
help us raise the funds to file this additional case and keep the
current one going. We are very grateful for all
helped up to now but this has literally cost us thousands of dollars we
can ill afford to date in legal fees even with a very reasonably priced
attorney. Please, the Town of Catskill is trying to
and bankrupt us to prevail in it's open religious bigotry.
paypal donations using the button on the top of this page. If
lose this, no minority religion will be safe from this sort of bigotry
in upstate New York ever again. If we win, it sets precedence
the entire country.
Pagans, we must unite!!! Let's put an end to this
discrimination against minority religions once and for all by sending a
very public message. Freedom of Religion means freedom for
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