At sunset, August 2nd, in front of Asheville's City Hall, Coven Oldenwilde will mark the anniversary of their first ritual to strengthen the town’s 100-plus-year-old magnolia tree against developer Stewart Coleman’s ax. Last year’s protest rite on the Pagan holiday of Lammas followed the first news reports that Mr. Coleman, owner of Black Dog Realty, had purchased from the Buncombe County Commissioners the former public parkland the tree calls home -- which was donated to the “people forever” in 1901 by George Willis Pack, Jr.
The sale sparked city-wide grassroots opposition to Coleman’s plan to erect the nine-story Parkside Condomiums, which would house 35 people with a base entry price of $900,000 per unit. To date at least 7,000 citizens have signed an ongoing petition against the complex, asking city and/or county officials to use eminent domain to protect public property rights and return the parkland to the people and spare the tree. Meanwhile, Pack’s descendants are suing both Coleman and the county; a preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 25th.
For the past 6 weeks & 2 days (as of August 12) Lady Passion, High Priestess of the Coven, has maintained a 24-hour vigil to protect the rare twin tree from destruction by the developer. Hundreds help support Lady Passion with food, supplies, and eyes on the tree. Fellow tree watchers who come to “sit a spell” in the tree’s cool, fragrant shade have dubbed the disputed property the “Temporary Autonomous Republic of Magnolia,” and strive to promote democracy and free speech through open discussions of government and development -- as well as smiles and waves to passers-by, in true Southern genteel style.
Coven members plan once again to chant Barbarous Words of Power — this time, an ancient Roman spell called the Enos Juvate, to prevent the felling of the beloved, famous magnolia tree.
For more information, contact Lady Passion (Dixie Deerman) at 828-251-0343, and visit www.StopParkside.org
Lady Passion is co-author of The Goodly Spellbook: Olde Spells for Modern Problems and High Priestess of Coven Oldenwilde in Asheville, NC. She may be reached via: www.oldenwilde.org