The Catskills Phygianum of the Maetreum of Cybele

Historic Central House, Palenville New York

Picture of Central House in the 1930's
Central House in the 1930's

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Since it's purchase in early 2002 by four women Central House has been through a lot of changes.  At first the vision was a  women's housing 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 of the original four women was not a Cybeline, this was done on a secular basis.  

  In late 2003 with the transfer of ownership interest from 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 that 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 our organizational model that was based on our historical research and which we had already put into practice.  In June of 2004 we took 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 living together as a  feminine religious convent community and predated the Rule of St. Benedict for men by approximately 600 years!  Our 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 cooperation 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 interest in the 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 one of the original owners still lived on the property.  

We have been busy restoring Central House as the only known, true to form, Silver Age Catskill Inn (mid 1850's thru early 1900's) in style and appearance.  Central House boasts the only known fully functional 1890's telegraph office, part of the  Women in 19'th Century Technology Project.  We have open 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 important to us to restore and preserve the historic nature and spirit of our home.  Antique crank phones and telegraph bells adorn the front hallway along with reproductions of Suffragette posters.  Our living room boast authentic Victorian furniture, Edison cylinder player and an extremely rare Victorian grand piano.  A cozy wood cookstove is at the far end of the living room area as our "country kitchen" area that on winter afternoons beckons women to come, sit and chat.  Even our guest rooms have authentic antique beds.  The fabled Witch of the Catskills is alive and well at Central House!  Central House itself dates back to sometime in the mid 1850's  and is one of the very few surviving  Inns from that era.  Palenville is famed as the site of the Rip Van Winkle story and America's first artist colony.  

A photo 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.  It has been a long struggle but the vision  of a worldwide home of the revived Cybeline faith has remained and now is reborn.

Rev. Mother Battakes, Cathryn Platine

News Update:  Feb 10, 2011

Despite the fact that we originally filed an Article 78 action back 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 of continuing the case.  Catskill has spent somewhere in excess of 80 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, we 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  immediate 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 .  Catskill granted additional property tax concessions to Walmart last spring for an astronomical amount.  Our aggregate attendance 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 we 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 the form of donations to keep up this fight.  Fully tax deductible donations can be made via paypal to  We 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 selflessly 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 no 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 pay, the Maetreum has no employees.

June 6, 2010.

We just received notice that the Town of Catskill Board of Review 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 denial 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, no legal theories for doing so.  In a further development, I met the brand new Code Enforcement Officer for the Town of Catskill.  He 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 made it quite clear that operating under the false impression our property had been rezoned as single family at some point, they intended to hold a 130+ year old building to modern code requirements.  That quite simply 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 on a 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.   We 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 code.  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 use since 1896 which our research into the history of the property has shown us.  It is actually unique in that for the area making it 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 footprint is exactly as it was in 1896.

Apparently because of the transsexual medical history of some of 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 and attend most retreats here but we are not transsexual or transgender focused and never have been.  The majority of our priestesses are women born women, a couple born intersexed and a couple born transsexed.  Our priestesses are required to be female bodied and 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 it necessary to make this clear.

To date the Town of Catskill has not provided the Court with a shred of evidence to support it's continued denial of our exemption.  It has offered no legal theory for doing so.  The only 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 at this point.  We need to shine a bright light on this bigotry.  Catskill has made it crystal clear they have declared total war on us.  We have called on the Great Mother to provide justice in this matter in the ancient fashion, something we have been extremely reluctant to do up to now.

We now have an ironclad Federal 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 that have 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 "outspend" us and bankrupt us to prevail in it's open religious bigotry.  Please paypal donations using the button on the top of this page.  If we 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 for the entire country.

Pagans, we must unite!!!  Let's put an end to this open discrimination against minority religions once and for all by sending a very public message.  Freedom of Religion means freedom for ALL Religions.

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