After being told their rental space was being withdrawn from the market on October 1, 2016, the Pagan community in Montreal, Quebec had to find a new community space to establish itself. Their new space is an unlikely one, in the rectory of an Anglican Church in Montreal. Two witches, T. Scarlet Jory and Robyn are the leaders behind the new move to a Christian church, ushering in a new era in multifaith relations in Montreal.
Their new community space is called ‘The Rectory’ and it is advertising itself as “a multifaith sacred space aimed at supporting the community.” Jory remarked on the new relationship between the pagan community and their landlord, the Anglican Church, saying “They are fine with us doing our Pagan stuff indoors, they just say please don’t do rituals outside, because not everybody will understand. So, that’s our respect for them, we are on their ground.”
The building in which The Rectory is housed is 175-years-old and has the period charm and features that make one think it is straight from a Harry Potter movie. The Rectory is on the main floor of the old church rectory and has a large temple room with office space next to it, with access to a communal kitchen and bathroom. Their new neighbor is the St. Thomas’ Anglican Church, which is part of the diocese of Montreal.
By becoming neighbors, the Pagan community and the Anglican Church have been able to engage in numerous interfaith programs and projects. Jory states, “They do a bunch of interfaith stuff. They wanted to do something that would help build community. Some of the projects that we do are community building specifically. We are going to petition to clean up their tea garden. They have an old tea garden in the back yard that hasn’t been touched in decades. We want to refurbish it, and replant all the roses, put in more tea garden related stuff, put down more flagstones and host tea services and things out there.”
The Rectory had a soft opening soon after Jory and Robyn took over their new space, but a grand opening will take place in the New Year. On January 7, The Rectory hosted the Divine-In Fundraiser with the aim of using the funds raised to support the organization. In the beginning of their stay at the old Anglican church rectory, Jory remarks that things were rough for them, “The first few months have been very rocky, getting set up, figuring out what we want to and what the plans are, and what the gods want of us.”
Jory goes ahead to explain there are in fact two pagan communities in Montreal, “Montreal is very much two Pagan communities. The language is such a big issue in Quebec as a whole. It almost divides the things that are going on. We have two very distinct Pagan communities and on occasion they cross over, like for the public Sabbats, but they don’t have any other cross over points.” This is something that The Rectory wants to correct.
There are groups which have joined The Rectory in order to share the communal space and also help in cost sharing. These groups are: Etudiants Savoir Faire, the Maplestone Academy, Sophia Rising, The Sisterhood of Avalon and the Temple Oracle among others make up the Pagan community in Montreal.