The Miscellaneous and Serendipitous

Indigenous grandmothers’ prayers at the opening of the Women’s Assembly. We live on Turtle Island (North America). The Salt Palace is built on the homeland of indigenous people. We are children of the stars.

Maeera Shreiber, my professor of Holocaust poetry and director of the Religious Studies program at the University of Utah presenting at “Women Reimagining Religious Traditions.” Exclusion is hurtful.

Annapurna Pandey, also presenting at “Women Reimagining Religious Traditions.” Anthropologist teaching at UC Santa Cruz. Religion is relative, religion is cultural.

Vandana Shiva. Ecological agriculturalist, political activist. To be human is to be of the earth. (By extension, we are all stardust).

Aisha H.L. Al-Adawiya. Women in Islam. We are all indigenous.

At the closing session of the Women’s Assembly a young Indian woman dressed all in white exquisitely sings a prayer. Sung prayers are common to many traditions. A Hindu prayer closes the meeting addressing the power in the moon.

In the hallway of the Grand Ballroom are hung 90 banners representing images of the goddess, from many cultures, throughout history. Created by Lydia Ruyle, they are a statement of the commonality of our human experience. I am sure most of them have celestial counterparts. A treasure I discovered and appreciated very early on Saturday morning before activities started. The banner of Isis is bordered with stars.

A reflection on what I experienced after the first day. Religion is a context of ideas, communication, works. Music and art. Certain kinds of behavior. Attitudes toward space. Interpersonal relationships.

I was particularly interested in a session exploring Gnosticism since I had done research on the subject last year at the University. It was presented by a couple from Colorado in kind of a New Age context. But they were consistent with the knowledge that I had acquired. The sun, the moon, and the stars follow seasonal cycles. There is a masculine/ feminine complementarity in creation. Myth provides a context to find meaning within the cosmos.

Rabbi Leah Novick states Shekhinah delivers the sun, moon, and stars. Divine Feminine. The Jewish feminine holy spirit.

Saturday morning in the main foyer. I was there to listen to a performance by Kairo by Night a Middle-Eastern inspired ensemble from the University of Utah. They cancelled. In their place Cecilia St. King performed solo accompanying herself on guitar. Troubadour for Peace. In front of her a circle of the flags of the nations of the world from a previous event. “May Peace Prevail on Earth.” Above her on the second floor balcony appeared the Peace Angels, about 30 in all.

On my way to lunch on Saturday I passed Grandmother Rose Pere (Maori). I called to her, “Grandmother Rose you rock my world!” She beckoned me close  and held me close to her face singing “Rock Me all Night Long.” We parted by rubbing noses, with gratitude and thankfulness.

Sunday morning I attended the Peruvian Shaman Circle led by Andrea Bernstein of SLC. It only seemed natural to participate. A group of peace Angels were among us. They are from Australia. I didn’t recognize them without their wings. I had a very personal profound encounter with Kali Bolo.

Andras Corban-Arthen was one of the panelists at Ancient Teacher: Earth as Spiritual Guide. He is a representative of indigenous European traditions though he lives in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. He spoke at length on Gaelic Scotland. Ancestors’ knowledge. Living with nature on her terms. Humans are not relevant to earth. We are the species at peril.

Later I attended Sons and Lovers of the Divine Feminine at which Corban-Arthen’s son Donovan was one of the panelists. Handsome, charismatic advocate of universalism. Patriarchy is hard on men. Ivo Dominguez was also present.

There were so many choices I had to make and sacrifice some important sessions to follow my priorities. Phyllis Curott was presenting at the Feminine Divine. Kelli Bickman showed images of her art inspired by the goddess and recounted the construction of the Peace Mural. Curott advised us to pay attention. Symbolic representations speak to our brain functions. Reciprocity exists between us and nature. A pleasant interaction with her followed the session.

Trudy Jones was conducting Tai-Chi sessions in the mornings. We met Saturday night at the TRAX station. She is from Thunder Bay Ontario. I have been through there. We met again Sunday outside the Women’s Sacred Space. She forewent attending another session to have a conversation with me. She is compiling a journal in which fellow attendees record their impressions. After describing my perspective on the celestial ecliptic she asked me to draw something on a page. Hamal.

Monday morning ceremony of the Temple of Isis. The officiants are dressed as Egyptians. Two of the women have wings.

Yoga Circle. Brief chat again with Trudy beforehand. 30 women and just 3 men. A good workout. Doing things I don’t normally do. Using parts of my body in new ways. Partnering with Pam. Absolute respect and trust. Being part of a group is a valuable experience. I have to remember this.

Langar. The Sikh community prepared and served a free lunch each mid-day to all who entered their hall. Many thousands partook, seated on the floor, shoeless and with heads covered  our plates filled as many times as we wished. A very tasty dal recipe on Monday. A real act of organized meaningful service.

The challenge at the close of the conference was to carry back to our communities the work of changing the world. Action. I came into this Parliament of World Religions as a student of religions prepared to observe and record. I very quickly became a participant and became emotionally involved in the presentations and some of the serendipitous occurrences. I was also presented with a personal challenge to do some meaningful work on myself, that will  enable my progress on the projects I am commencing and increase the quality of my interactions with others. I hope that I will maintain some contact with some of  the people that I met over those five days. And I am already making efforts to connect with some things that are going on here in Salt Lake City. First action to join the Salt lake Interfaith Roundtable and second to join a yoga class.