Paganism in Greater Boston


1936    The Original Tremont Tearoom opens on 101 Tremont Street in Boston, offering tarot readings, reiki, psychic readings and spiritual healing, among many other services and products.

1979    The first annual “Rites of Spring” celebration is held for a week in May at a summer camp in the southwestern corner of Massachusetts, near the Connecticut and New York borders.

1980    EarthSpirit, a non-profit organization dedicated to earth-centered spirituality, is     established in Greater Boston, with the goal of creating an active Pagan community in   New England. The organization will grow to serve a nationwide network of Pagans and     others who recognize the sacredness of the earth, convening ecospiritual conferences and seasonal religious observances.

 1981    The Arsenic and Old Lace opens in Cambridge as a vintage clothing store but soon after will begin to carry occult products.

1986    The Witches’ League for Public Awareness, a proactive educational network dedicated to correcting misinformation about Witches and Witchcraft is founded in Salem by Rev. Laurie Cabot H.Ps.

Earth’sCircle, a networking organization among Pagan-identified Unitarian Universalists,   is founded in Andover.

1987    Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS), an independently registered non-profit and an interest group within the Unitarian Universalism Association is founded, providing resources and support to Unitarian Universalists who identify as Pagan. A chapter is founded on the North Shore, and later several chapters will to begin to meet regularly throughout Massachusetts, such the Mass Bay CUUPS at The First Parish in Cambridge.

1988    EarthSpirit publishes its first issue of Fireheart Magazine, a journal of magic and spiritual transformation.

Starsong Coven, a traditionalist Wiccan coven in the Blue Star Tradition, begins practicing in Cambridge. Starsong honors the Gods of the British Isles and focuses on joyful worship, seasonal celebrations, ritual experience, and teaching.

1990 Paul Cognata and Geraldine (Sherry) Bertoni establish The Church of Ildanach-ATC, a non-profit religious corporation, chartered as an affiliate congregation of The    Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC).

 1993    MotherTongue, EarthSpirit’s performance troupe, performs in Chicago at the centennial celebration of the World Parliament of Religions, one of the twenty programs offered by Pagans.

 Fireheart Magazine publishes its last issue; it is replaced by The EarthSpirit Newsletter.

1994    Rev. Vinnie Russo assumes ownership of Arsenic and Old Lace and establishes a Pagan Community Center as an outgrowth of the store, hosting classes, open rituals, and Sabbat celebrations.

1996    Society of Elder Faiths (SEF) is founded by the elders of five Wiccan covens and incorporated as a Pagan religious organization by the state of Massachusetts. The purpose of the Society is to establish a formal organizational structure that could serve the local Pagan community, allowing for activities on a larger scale. Based in Marlborough, the organization will grow to serve Pagans across the state, sponsoring activities that include Sabbat services, retreats, religious education, charity events, funerary consulting, and the publication of the newsletter The Messenger.

1997   The EarthSpirit Newsletter discontinues publication, but the organization’s As Above So Below Almanac continues its publication online.

1999    Arsenic and Old Lace closes its doors and begins to operate exclusively as an online occult store, providing products and advice to the Pagan community throughout New England and the United States.

2000    The Boston Pagan Alliance, which will eventually include over four hundred members, is established online to help Pagans in Greater Boston network with one another.

2002    Society of Elder Faiths performs a Land-Blessing ritual in Middlefield, on a plot of wooded land donated to the organization for the construction of a stone circle. The Society of Elder Faiths intends this area to be a spiritual and symbolic center for the group’s activities in the future.

2004    The New England Witches Alliance (NEWA), a family-run group of witches and Pagans, celebrates its first public event in Gloucester on the holiday of Samhain. It is founded with the goal of promoting awareness and tolerance of all religions and educating the public about the myths associated with modern-day Witchcraft. Along with charitable work in the Gloucester and Salem areas, the Alliance provides educational resources to people interested in learning more about the religion of Witchcraft, including online courses and classes held in Salem.

2005    The Temple of Artemis at Cataleos is founded in Central Square, Cambridge, as a semi-public sacred space dedicated to Artemis. The organization will later expand into an alliance of temples called the Catalean Temples, hosting local celebrations and online contests.

2009    The 30th annual “Rites of Spring” celebration takes place in Western Massachusetts, Gathering over five hundred participants from New England and abroad for a week-long   retreat to celebrate the sacred nature of earth.

This timeline attempts to represent a sampling of major public events in the history of Paganism in Greater Boston, but due to the private nature of many Pagan practices, this list does not comprehensively portray the history of Pagan practice and community in Greater Boston.