The Aquarian Tabernacle Church and Lyceum
An abbreviated edition of this report was presented at the February, 2014, Board of Directors meeting. This expanded, written report was prepared on March 31, 2014).
In earlier discussions of the Lyceum BoD it became evident that there might be some advantages with regard to liability insurance at public rituals or similar legal issues if Lyceum became aligned with one of the neopagan umbrella groups. There is a need to determine
what are realistic concerns in these areas, and
how these concerns could be met.
Will was tasked with contacting the Aquarian Tabernacle Church [ATC] and gathering initial information about what would be involved in ATC affiliation, and what such affiliation would provide Lyceum.
Another was charged with a similar task with Covenant of the Goddess [CoG]. Later, this task was also shifted to Will.
Another avenue of exploration was identified, of seeking out information from lawyers or others who are working with religious non-profits in Oregon. However no tasks were assigned regarding this at this time.
Will made contact with ATC by email to their listed address. After a lengthy delay, the current High Priestess replied. She said the delay was because Pete “Pathfinder” Davis’ health has been deteriorating and he has not been keeping up with his incoming email. This is significant since Davis is very much the charismatic leader of the ATC and there is the impression that as he withdraws from active participation, the organization will have increased difficulty in determining its policies and how to apply them.
The HPS is Belladonna Laveau, email@example.com. We exchanged emails and one or two phone conversations.
Lyceum would fit under the ATC umbrella, but it would not be an entirely comfortable fit. ATC has roots in NROOGD (now defunct, see Wikipedia about their descendant covens) and the Gardnerian descendant covens of northern California in the 1970s. The ATC ordains provide detailed lists of what ATC coveners should and should not do in their lives. The link is a listing of the first 23 ordains that can be shared publicly (1). The oathbound levels detail how instruction should be passed down to neophytes, how judgments should be determined and punishments meted out, and similar matters of managing hierarchal group dynamics.
ATC does not require its affiliate groups to follow these ordains; they would have no direct impact on Lyceum. However these indicate that ATC and Lyceum have very different perspectives on the relation of the individual with the group. While both groups value tolerance of differences in practice and opinion, Lyceum might be better served by looking for an umbrella group whose values are more congruent with those of Lyceum.
ATC requires each affiliate group to pay $25/mo for the affiliation. Neither the HPS nor the documents I was allowed to pursue addressed in specifics what benefits affiliation would provide to Lyceum. The general benefits mentioned were having the clout of a national (or at least regional) organization standing behind Lyceum in any disputes, etc. There may very well be specific benefits in reduced insurance rates or things of that nature, but the HPS could provide no information on this and was unable to direct me to any more informed resource person.
Lyceum could align with ATC, but there are differences in philosophy and practice that would mean that discussions between them and us would require participants to exercise tolerance of foreign beliefs and opinions. This can be particularly tricky since there are a lot of superficial similarities. I think we would find that sometimes what looks like solid common ground was actually quicksand that would bring discussions to a halt while we attempted to extricate ourselves from what we should never have stepped into.
Another thing is that it was disappointing that my contact could not direct me to someone or some web pages that would address my questions about the affiliation program. While I would not expect the High Priestess to know the details of the business aspects of coven life, I did expect her to know where the resources are.
I will now take take the research in other directions. It might be that ATC will prove the best way for Lyceum to go on these matters, but I am hoping to find a path that is more clear and has fewer potential pitfalls.