Aquarian Tabernacle Church
Founded in 1979, the Aquarian Tabernacle originated as a
small group of Pagans in greater Seattle, Washington. It was incorporated
four years later and has since grown into an international
body with affiliated groups across the United States
and in Canada and Australia. Founder Pete Pathfinder and his
wife Wende (nee Graebex) serve as the archpriest and archpriestess
for the church. The Aquarian Tabernacle Church
teaches what can be thought of as a consensus modern Pagan
perspective. Deity is viewed as both transcendent and immanent
and is most likely to manifest as female and male, and in
a multiplicity of forms (i.e., the goddesses and gods). Members
share a deep love of nature, believe that life should be joyous,
pleasurable, and loving, and refrain from harming others. The
Pagan path is seen as leading to growth, evolution, and balance.
The church maintains a retreat house in the Cascade mountains
and a nearby Moonstone Circle constructed by menhirs
where some of the annual major festivals (sabbats) are held for
those members who reside in the Northwest. Like most Pagans,
the church follows a cycle of worship including eight major
gatherings evenly spaced through the year and anchored in the
solstices and equinoxes, and lesser biweekly gatherings (called
esbats) at the new and full moon.
The church has been in the forefront of claiming a place for
contemporary Paganism in the larger religious community.
The church joined the Interfaith Council of Washington State,
and Pathfinder served two terms as its president. Pathfinder
also serves as a member of the Religious Advisory Commission
of the Department of Corrections in Washington. The church
gained some unwanted national attention in the 1990s when
one of its congregations in Melbourne, Florida, became the target
of some city residents angered by the idea of having a functioning
Witchcraft group in their midst.
The church has also been in the forefront of calls for more
educated Pagan priesthood and to that end has founded the
Patricia Holmes Woolston Theological Seminary, a small
school that operates out of the church’s headquarters in Index,
Washington. The church’s periodical Panegyria includes both
articles on Paganism and news of the church. Information may
also be found at the church’s website, http
www.aquatabch.org, or that of one of its prominent congregations,
httpwww.ironoak.org. The church may be contacted at
P.O. Box 409, Index, WA 98256.
Sources
Aquarian Tabernacle Church. httpwww.aquatabch.org.
November 1, 1999.
Iron Oak Congregation. httpwww.ironoak.org. November
1, 1999.

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