Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries ~History~
by Aylah Hallel
June 3, 2017
Rowan Tree Coven was formed and named in February of 2005 at an apartment on King Street in Medford where William and I resided. There had been several predecessors to Rowan Tree Coven but for some reason none of them lasted for very long. Usually the celebrants would wander off for summer break or some such thing and then never return.
In early September 2006, William and I bought a house and moved to Flanders Street in White City. I started forming a dream to manifest my desire of creating a large coven. The experience that I had, that had always stuck in my mind, was when William and I were with The Haverat Shir Hadash, Jewish Renewal Community in Ashland. It was, and still is, an awesome amazing place. There were programs for all age groups, education, rituals and lots of social events.
We were with the Haverat when they began their search for a piece of property and a building. It was exciting and I learned a lot about how to get a group of people on board with an idea. Rabbi David was so excited and he was able to get everyone excited and talking about this place – this holy and sacred space that was just for them and their children and all of their weddings and shabbats and blessings. These people believed in community. They believed that their community needed a place of its’ own and lots of programs and people to run them. This group of people where willing to take out their check books and pay for it. After we moved to White City, I began dreaming about creating a large Pagan community using the Haverat as the model.
In September 2006, not too long after we moved into the house in White City, Todd joined us. We were his first experience with a coven and he tells the story that he knew instantly that this coven was his sacred space.
In early March 2007 my friend Melody who had opened an occult shop in Ashland, Persephone’s Garden, called me and asked if I could come by the shop and chat with her. I did and the conversation quickly turned to the fact that she wanted to unload the shop and she wanted me to buy it.
We got very little business the first year. It didn’t help that the shop was located in the Underground Marketplace. We were so off the beaten path and out of sight of foot traffic. We were in business for four years and during that time William and I took out a loan on our house. We worked full time jobs besides working full time in the shop with at least one of our checks going to support the shop every month. Eventually we went into debt with one of the local venders, Scarlet Dragonfyre. In all of that time – the shop never made its rent.
The shop was originally in the biggest retail space in the Underground Marketplace. It was 1,000 square feet or so and the rent was set at $1,200 – triple net. Triple net is a commercial contract whereby the renters pay the rent, a portion of the taxes on the building for the year and a portion of the insurance for the building. That alone should have done us in.
Part of the purpose for the shop was to provide a sacred space for public rituals and Magic school. I thought the Underground Marketplace was perfect for that. So in April 2007 we had our first public ritual. 35 people came!
After that first ritual in April a discussion came up between myself and some of the attendees that we should form as a “church.” So in May 2007 we had our first official board meeting consisting of myself, Todd, William and three others. At that meeting I made a formal request to the newly formed board of directors to change the name of the organization from Rowan Tree Coven to Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries.
In May 2007 I started filling out Form 1023 to become a nonprofit organization.
In May 2007 we registered and incorporated with The State of Oregon Non-profit Division as Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries.
In June 2007 our landlords could see that we were drowning so they moved us across the hall in the Underground Marketplace to a space that was 550 square feet with our rent at $500. They also modified the triple net agreement to only include rent.
From June 2007 until March 2008 I continued to write Form 1023 while we tried unsuccessfully to raise the $300 needed for the fee to the IRS to receive our non-profit status.
In July 2007, because the new shop was so small (550 square feet overall) we started doing rituals out in the commons area. At times this was difficult because the Mexican restaurant was open well into ritual times creating noise and foot traffic from folks coming down to eat. At other times it was quiet, creating a lovely and Magickal place for rituals and other community events.
During the time the ministry was in the Underground, we hosted a psychic fair, several concerts, a book signing, Swami Ty’s meditations, Yoga, didgeridoo class, a membership meeting that drew 35 people, full moon and holiday rituals and several Witch’s balls.
In March of 2008 Then minister E.S. made an announcement after a ritual that we were trying to raise money for the non-profit fee. At that point in the Rowan Trees’ history we had an awesome celebrant. We’ll call her Katy. Katy’s father had recently passed away and left her an inheritance. Katy asked me how far we were from being finished with the 1023. I told her I could mail it “tomorrow.” So she asked to see our donation jar and when she brought it back the next day, the needed $300 was in it, wrapped around a cinnamon stick and tied with a red ribbon.
The next day in March 2008, all of the ministers gathered at the shop. We sat around the table sipping tea, burning incense and lighting candles. Each of us spoke about what it meant to us – the mailing of this application that in essence was going to make our little Magical child “official.” Each of us put our hand in the envelope and blessed the application. The application was mailed that afternoon.
In May 2008 I came to the shop from work one day and found, hanging on the door, the acknowledgment letter from the IRS that our application had been received. William had taped it there where I would be sure to see it.
In July 2008 we received our non-profit certificate.
Wendy was from Canada. She met Ted on line. They dated long distance for a while and then she moved to Ashland so they could get married. She had come into the shop one afternoon to ask if we could make her a dress and do a handfasting ritual for them. We did both. In the course of getting to know Wendy, she implied that she and Ted (or more specifically, Ted) had money and that their business was helping new businesses get up and running. After Wendy and Ted were married they asked all of the ministers to come to their 2,000 acre piece of property and bless their new home, which we did.
After three years of struggling with the shop finances, in March 2009 we approached Ted and Wendy for a business loan for the Rowan Tree for expansion by way of purchase of the Mexican restaurant (also in the Underground Marketplace,) that would be converted to the Fae Garden Cafe and Coffee. The proceeds from the cafe were to go to support the ministry and the shop. An agreement was made and the loan papers were signed. But the loan never materialized and the shop fell into arrears and was forced to close in June 2010.
From June 1st, 2010 until May 1st, 2011 William and I were homeless. We continued to meet people in the park to hold healing sessions with them and to do rituals wherever and whenever we could. From February to May 2011 We lived with then celebrant G.C. who allowed us to serve the community from her home in Phoenix.
On May 1, 2011 William and I moved into a house on Hamilton Street in Medford.
In June 2011, after moving to Hamilton Street, we had our first highly publicized public ritual at Bear Creek Park. There were 42 attendees.
August 2011, the Board of Directors reformed. Current board members Aylah, William and Todd and were joined by new ministers G.C., D.B., J.C. and H.S.. Later Stanley Svendsen would join and the little yellow house on Hamilton Street was named “Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries – Center for Spiritual Development” or as the celebrants lovingly referred to it, “The Center.”
September 2011, bylaws were revised and rewritten to change the office of Board Members to Council of Ministers. New guidelines were written for education and ordination of the Ministers. The mission of Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries came into sharp focus as a ministry that would concern itself with teaching, healing and leading. Magick school commenced for the first time in two years.
Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries operated from Hamilton Street for three years.
In Feb 2014 I (Aylah) moved to Central Point. My friend K.E., along with his family, owned the property that was sitting vacant located at 49 S. 2nd Street in Central Point. I had approached K.E. about the ministry renting part or all of the space and he was agreeable. The plan was presented to the Council of Ministers in March 2014 but not enough support was received for the idea.
In June 2014, Myself, Todd, William, and Stanley retired from the ministry and released the care of the organization to G.C..
In May 2017 I realized that the organization had fallen into a state of administrative dissolution. As I talked to each of the former Council members it was clear that we had all come to the realization at the same time through various means.
In May 2017, the previous Ministers of Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries including myself (Aylah,) William, Todd and Stanley and joined by J.E. took steps to reform and reconstitute the organization.
June 3rd, 2017 We had our first board meeting of the reformed organization of Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries.
On June 6th Rowan Tree Pagan Ministries was re-registered and re-incorporated in the State of Oregon.