Tuesday

Kabbalah and Interfaith Conference


La Convivencia* presents

Kabbalah and Interfaith

A three-day conference of international speakers examining how mystical beliefs can promote harmony between faiths.

Location: St. Columba URC, Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham.

Dates: 15th-17th April 2011.

This conference aims to show ways in which the ancient oral tradition that underpins the teachings of the Bible can help the ‘People of the Book’ — Jews, Christians and Muslims — to come closer together in mutual understanding. However it also includes more conventional and practical methods to bring people of different beliefs together in peace.

Why Kabbalah?

Because it is a system that demonstrates how to step up from tribal religious belief to a level of understanding that can help us to accept rather than just tolerate the views of others. Kabbalah was the foundation of the 'convivencia' between Jews, Christians and Muslims for more than 400 years — it has worked before and it can work again.

Headline Speakers:

  • Rev. Dr. Megan Wagner PhD, provost of the California Interfaith Chaplaincy Institute and author of The Sapphire Staff.
  • Dr. Michael Hattwick, MD, a health advisor to the US government and author of The ABBA Tradition.
  • Prof. David Thomas, Professor of Christianity and Islam at the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham
  • Rt. Rev. Dr. David Goddard, author of Sacred Magic of the Angels and Tower of Alchemy.
  • Rev. Maggy Whitehouse, author of Kabbalah Made Easy, The Illustrated History of Kabbalah, The Marriage of Jesus.

Full list of topics and speakers follows.

Price: Full conference £185. Early bird tickets (until March 31st) £150. Day tickets: £65. Please contact 0121 449 0344 or email info@la-convivencia.org for booking details or visit the La Convivencia website to pay by PayPal. A limited number of Bursaries are available. Please enquire.

*La Convivencia means ‘a coming together of souls.’ It refers to a period of 400 years when Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in relative peace in medieval Spain. Scholarship and mysticism thrived in Spanish towns such as Toledo, Cordoba and Granada as students and teachers in all three disciplines helped each other to learn, translate and understand ancient teachings. This “convivencia” has permeated esoteric teaching to the present day.


Timetable, Speakers and Topics:

Friday 15th April

Understanding Kabbalah: Ego, Self, Soul and Spirit. Rev. Maggy Whitehouse

A basic outline of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life; how it demonstrates the links between faiths and cultures in order to heal the wounds of division and how it shows the levels of consciousness within us. Kabbalah (or Qabalah or Cabala) is Hebrew for 'receive' and Kabbalah is the oral tradition that underpins Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Maggy will demonstrate how there is a wider picture that we can embrace in order to help heal divisions within ourselves and the world around us.

Maggy Whitehouse is a minister in an independent sacramental church and studied Kabbalah with Z'ev ben Shimon Halevi for sixteen years. She is a former BBC radio and television journalist, the author of 16 published books on Kabbalah and spirituality and papers on Kabbalah and Interfaith for Winchester University. Maggy is a guest tutor at the UK Interfaith seminary. She was moderator for the BBC's Religion and Ethics message boards during the last Iraq conflict.


Reading Scripture without Religion, or Why Moses had to leave Egypt twice. Adam Simmonds


Most spiritual traditions have at their heart a key text, such as the Bible. Historically these have become a source of debate and often dissention and conflict. However, the aim of all true scripture is to provide moral guidance and a path to spiritual enlightenment. Using the work of Zev ben Shimon Halevi as a starting point, and focussing principally on the Hebrew Testament, this talk will look at how scripture can be used as a positive vehicle for understanding our place in the Universe and our relationship to the Divine by reinterpreting scripture without the constraints of religious dogma.



Adam Simmonds has been studying and teaching Kabbalah for 20 years. A school teacher by profession and a tutor of The Kabbalah Society, he runs courses in Kabbalistic Spirituality and has presented talks on Kabbalah in both the UK and Spain, this latter including a modern take on the traditional Passover ‘Seder’ in Polopos, Spain, in 2003. He co-directs a regular Kabbalah group at his home in Hertford, where he has designed and constructed his garden based on the principals of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, perhaps the only one of its kind in the world.


The Pagan Eden — The Assyrian Origins of the Tree of Life. Ian Freer (more details to come).


Tiferet and the Star of David. Haniel Rivière-Allen.

Tiferet is at the centre of the Tree of Life, it is associated with truth and beauty and with the number six depicted by the six pointed star known as the Star of David. It also symbolises the relationship between God and man. In her talk, Haniel will explore the symbolism of the Star and how to connect with the energy of Tiferet. To help the process there will be examples of visualisations, mantras, sacred gestures and the use of incense.

Haniel Rivière-Allen combines practical tools from her knowledge of Kabbalah, Astrology, the Chakra System, Symbolism and Colours. Her career has included 20 years in Higher Education teaching at UK Universities. The name ‘Haniel’ was chosen by her father who was a keen student of Kabbalah. ‘Haniel’ is the name of the Archangel linked to the sefira Netzah in the Tree of Life. Her spiritual perspective comes from Christian esoterism. She is based in Birmingham where she offers a series of workshops and individual consultations.


The Origins of La Convivencia. Prof. David Thomas.

Prof. Thomas will discuss the precarious balance between faiths in Muslim Spain during the years known as 'La Convivencia,' examining the tensions and harmonies of Jews, Christians and Muslims living together in Islamic Spain in the years 900-1100.

David Thomas has been a student of Islamic religious thought for many years, and specialises particularly in relations between Islam and Christianity as these developed in the formative centuries of the Islamic era. He has taught at Birmingham University for nearly twenty years, and is presently Professor of Christianity and Islam in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion.

God Only Knows. Paul Saluhaddin Armstrong (more details to come).


Saturday 16th April


The ABBA Tradition. Dr. Michael Hattwick, MD (more details to come).

A Path to Equilibrium: Kabbalah and Healing. Sally Pickard.

One of the greatest of spiritual teaching stories emerged at a time when the world was most in need of it, on the brink and in the aftermath of the Second World War. When talk fails and hearts falter; when communities are faced with overwhelming difficulties — environmentally, economically and socially; where there is apparent difference perceived through the lenses of culture and belief; there is a path of healing which leads to peace. By sharing this inspirational story, Sally will show how the simplest of oral traditions can bring about the most profound healing.

Sally Pickard’s working life began with theatre training and a singing career, then came family with the birth of her daughter in 1980. Sally began Kabbalah studies in 1986 whilst qualifying as a specialist counsellor in bereavement and mental health. In 1994 she took Reiki at First Degree in the Usui Shiki Ryoho, and began teaching in 1997. Currently, Sally teaches Reiki around the UK, has a practice in Warwick, offers Tarot work in a developmental context - and fronts a blues/rock band!

The Western Mystery Tradition. Rt. Rev. Dr. David Goddard (more details to come).

The Nine Faces of the Soul. Rev. Gordon Melvin.

The Enneagram is sometimes referred to as ‘the Sufi Kabbalah.’ Its typology consists of nine different world-views (or lenses) through which we see the world. You could say that there are nine sets of ‘blueprints’ or ‘hard wiring’ that make up personality and ego. Equally, the Enneagram represents a map of nine distinct qualities of the soul that run in tandem with the nine ego types. These attributes represent our highest aspirations, and gifts – the gifts that we are born to realise and offer to the world.

Gordon Melvin originally trained as an artist, was ordained an Anglican priest in 1988 and latterly worked as the Senior Chaplain to the Ipswich hospital working in fields of both acute and mental health. He left the NHS in 2004 to work as a Life Coach (an extension of his priestly ministry) and to teach the Enneagram having been involved with Gurdjieff’s teachings since 1983.

Sunday 17th April

The Seven Levels of Initiation

from Kabbalah, Interfaith and the Sacred Arts. Rev. Dr. Megan Wagner.

We are living in a time of great change and paradigm shifts and we need new integrated models of healing that can take us through these changes quickly and effectively. To meet this need, Megan has developed a powerful healing path, integrating wisdom from Kabbalah, Interfaith and the sacred arts. We will experience Megan's Sacred Robes and learn spiritual practices, prayers, body postures and affirmations for full awakening of body, soul and spirit.

Megan Wagner, PhD, is a Psychotherapist, Kabbalah Teacher, Interfaith Minister, Author and Artist. She is an entrepreneur in the fields of Psycho-Spiritual Healing and Initiation, with seven books, more than 40 inspirational CDs of Meditations and Initiation Stories, and thirteen Ceremonial Robes of her own design and creation. Megan is Director of Tree of Life Institute and Provost and Director of Spiritual Psychology at The Chaplaincy Institute, an Interfaith Seminary in California. Megan's transformational work integrates traditional therapy with the sacred arts of drumming, chanting, storytelling, psychodrama and ritual.

The Divine Puzzle: a New Look at Metanoia. Dr. Marta Illueca.

Metanoia, usually translated as ‘repent’ also means to ‘think again.’ To experience Metanoia frequently represents a profound transformation. We will review the concept of metanoia as a psychological process within the context of ancient religious documents. At the centre of the discussion is a critical view of the timeless and transcendental truths reflected in the Christian Nicene Creed.

Dr. Marta Illueca is a Board Certified medical specialist and was a faculty member at Cornell University Medical College during the 1990s. More recently, she has been active in medical research for the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Illueca has had a life-long interest in exploring complementary medicine disciplines and comparative religion.

The Bread of Life. Mina Coalter.

‘I am the bread of life’ John 6:35. These are the words of Jesus as recorded in Greek in the gospel of John. But what would these words have meant when spoken in Aramaic the native language of Jesus of Nazareth? A brief introduction into Aramaic Abwoon study (Native Middle Eastern spirituality and peacemaking) will lead into an understanding of the ministry of Yeshua — Jesus' original name — when seen through Aramaic eyes as a Middle Eastern Mystic, Healer and Wisdom Teacher. This is an opportunity to experience the teachings of Jesus on a deep spiritual level and in an entirely new way, which brings insight healing and wholeness into our lives today.

Mina Coalter is a trained Compassionate Listener, accredited Unitarian Lay Preacher and Quaker Spiritual Healer. In 2006 Mina was a participant in a German-Jewish Compassionate Listening Project in Berlin. Whilst there she discovered the Aramaic teachings of Jesus through the work of Aramaic scholar and author Neil Douglas Klotz. She began to study these in-depth and has since facilitated a number of Abwoon study sessions.

The Spirit of Inclusion. Alison Bell. (more details to come)

To book for all three days, please visit La Convivencia. If you wish to book for one day only or would like more information, please call Maggy Whitehouse or Sarah Jackson on + 44 (0)121 449 0344.

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