GUEST POST: Report from Parliament of World Religions
by Glenys Livingstone
I have just returned from a 9-day journey to the Parliament of World Religions (PWR) in Melbourne - it was an awesome event and I struggle to articulate the impact of it for me personally. I did not attend the Friday afternoon session on “A Creative Exploration of the Sacred Feminine”, as I was attending a ceremony put on by EarthSpirit Community - which really moved me: the intelligent, sensitive presence of these people who carried the integrity of my ancestral heritage into an arena that has heretofore been quite prejudiced (understatement?) about anything "Pagan" was mind-blowing for me and for many others of all traditions who attended this event, and also other events where identified Pagans spoke (Phyllis Curott, Angie Buchanan, Andras Corben-Arthen, Don Frew, Patrick McCollum, and many others including my own presentations). The Pagan and Indigenous presence at this PWR was very strong. It was amazing to see the pentacle symbol up there alongside all the others on a huge display called "Sacred Sites, Sacred Solidarity".
I attended the session the following morning on the "Divine Feminine" and the room was overflowing ... a marked difference to past PWR's apparently. I loved hearing Mother Maya speak ... IMO so intelligent and full of wisdom: she was strong on the primacy of Mother and the need for resurgence of "maternal consciousness", a cultural shift. She said that our greatest wealth is awareness that we are Mother.
I was disturbed a bit by Joan Chittester's dominance ... typical Judeo-Christian confidence (arrogance?) that they carry the weight of the mainstream. She played on this in her oratory style IMO. I know she does good work, but it also bothered me that she seemed to have assumptions about how we all might think it was great and desirable that "God" be Mother ... ( "we" don't!!). BTW Phyllis Curott did a great job representing Pagan/Goddess perspective, though she was unfortunately caught a little short and shy - she had not expected to have time to speak, thought it was going to be a discussion only. Her gentleness and hesitance may have been a positive thing amongst some.
I also attended a session called 'Men Who Love the Goddess' --it was great.
I think that Goddess Mother had the final word at this PWR ... largely because of the strong Indigenous presence (which increasingly hopefully "Pagans" - surviving strands of indigenous Europeans - will be included amongst): that is, in the Concluding Ceremony after all the others had done their thing (and there were some tiresome patriarchs and also some amazing performances and the Dalai Lama sitting up there on stage alongside Aboriginal Elder Prof Joy Wandin Murphy), Earth Mother was called upon by Elder Joy Wandin, and earlier by Elder Bob Randell, and all were given painted stones with invocations of Her as we left the hall. This to my mind is Her real presence ... knowing again that She is Land, Earth, Habitat, Source of Being. I am sure that is/was a bother for many of the mainstream who may have wished for a more ethereal ending.
Personally I came away from the PWR committed to a revaluing of the term "Pagan", being part of the restoration of this term as expressing my indigenous roots ... which is not separate from my commitment to speaking and serving Her - Goddess: for Her name needs to be spoken specifically also. I attended an excellent session "The Revival of the European Pagan Religions" presented by Andras Corban-Arthen and Jonas Trinkunas of the Lithuanian Romuva tradition. Jonas quoted Marija Gimbutas and showed a photo of her.
I also went to a session called "The Doctrine of Discovery and Indigenous Peoples" - Philip P Arnold, Chief Oren Lyons, Jake Swamp, Tonya Gonnella Frichner, Esq, Mary N MacDonald, Mr Doug George-Kanentiio. It was powerful, and in the closing ceremony the Indigeous Assembly (which included about 10 reps) put forth a list of actions to be taken which included official recanting of the "doctrine of discovery". IMO this is all essential to the work of the Mother. It was an awesome gathering. I only slept 5 hours every day and walked miles around that huge convention centre. BTW both my presentations, "The New Archaic" and "PaGaian Cosmology” (the latter in the context of “Australian Pagans Speak”) went REALLY well ... overflowing rooms. I scored a 12 minute interview with ABC radio which will go to air on 20th Dec, and have been invited to San Francisco to co-re-present "The New Archaic" at the Spiritual Director's Conference in April.
Glenys Livingstone, Ph. D., is director of the PaGaian Akkademie in Blue Mountains NSW Australia and author of PaGaian Cosmology, which is live at her website http://pagaian.org
TAGS: news Parliament of World Religions Sacred Feminine Pagan indigenous peoples