On June 16, 2010, Circle Cemetery became America’s first National Pagan natural burial ground and the first contemporary Green cemetery to be platted and recorded in Wisconsin.
Circle Cemetery is a 20 acre site located at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve, a 200 acre Pagan Nature sanctuary established in 1983 and located near Barneveld, Wisconsin. Circle Cemetery is owned and operated by Circle Sanctuary, a Shamanic Wiccan church that has been serving Pagans worldwide since 1974. Rev. Selena Fox, senior minister of Circle Sanctuary and founder of Circle Cemetery, is the Cemetery’s director.
Circle Cemetery was founded and dedicated as a National Pagan cemetery in 1995 shortly after Circle Sanctuary paid off the mortgage on its land. Circle Cemetery is one of the first contemporary conservation, or “Green,” cemeteries to be established in North America.
For its first fifteen years, Circle Cemetery took the form of an area on a ridge top where cremains were placed and Green funerals were conducted. In 2005, Selena, along with her husband Dr. Dennis Carpenter, Circle Sanctuary church attorney Chip Brown and others in the Circle Sanctuary Community began the legal process of permitting body burials and expanding the size of the cemetery to 20 acres. Circle Sanctuary minister Rev. Nora Cedarwind Young of Washington State assisted with Green cemetery platting research.
In Spring of 2010, Selena, Dennis, and Chip took the expanded cemetery proposal before local government officials through a series of meetings. Circle Cemetery zoning was approved by the Town of Brigham Zoning Committee on April 20, by the Brigham Town Board on May 4, and the Iowa County Zoning and Planning Committee on May 26. On June 15, Circle Cemetery’s plat was approved by the Iowa County Board, and the following day the remaining official signatures were added to the plat and the plat was recorded, completing the process.
A celebration of the establishment of Circle Cemetery as a Pagan natural burial ground will be held as part of this year’s Pagan Spirit Gathering Summer Solstice festivities in Missouri as well at the Solstice Full Moon evening at Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve in Wisconsin.
For more information about Circle Cemetery and some photos, see:
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Circle Times: Thursday, June 17, 2010.