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.


Contributing to the Storehouse of Healing

This is a lovely healing meditation written by my bishop, Rt. Rev. David Goddard:

We have all been deeply stirred by the earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific. Especially by the suffering of the Japanese people. So we are calling on all people of good-heart to join in this united meditation to send positive energy to those who are suffering. A great storehouse for positive energy has been created on the Astral Plane, to help those who are able to consciously project from their physical bodies and to go to help as Invisible Helpers, to help traumatized souls to pass over. And to inspire the rescue-workers to where they can find survivors. From this storehouse the Invisible Helpers can draw strength, inspiration and motivation. You can help by sending energy to the storehouse. The Invisible Helpers administer relief all around the clock – using a relay system – taking their turns on the Astral, while their bodies sleep on the physical plane.

Here is how you can send light-energy to the storehouse – first light a candle especially for this meditation.

Now using your imagination, envision yourself standing on a high point – a hill or mountain. It is late afternoon, and the sun is setting towards the West. Turn to face the East - so that the sun is behind you. Now imagine that your Soul-sight can see far away into the distance – that you can see as far as India and Tibet. Now ‘see’ the mountain range of the great Himalayas before you, its peaks are white with snow. Now scan the mountains, and look for a hidden valley set into the side of one of the peaks. You will recognize the Mystic Valley because it will be green with grass, even though all around it the land is covered by snow. It looks like an emerald set amongst the crystal peaks.

Focus on this valley and you will see that there are buildings and pathways in it. Some of the buildings are of dull white stone, while others are of wood. One of the stone building has a bell tower, and a pair of massive wooden doors. As soon as you have located this building the bell in the tower starts to peal, to ring out. This is the storehouse. Then four people - two male and two female – come into view and open the wooden doors ... and inside is radiant golden light.

Now send out from your heart-chakra all the positive emotions that you wish to deposit into the storehouse. Send it as a beam of light that flashes from your heart-chakra and adds to the golden light inside the building. Send thoughts and feelings of courage, love, hope, wholeness; send supportive thoughts for about 5 minutes. Certainly do not exceed 10 minutes. (If you feel strongly about this disaster, you can do this meditation twice a day, but please do not exceed 10 minutes at any one sitting). When you wish to finish, simply stop sending the energy. And ‘see’ the great gates of the storehouse being closed.

Then, draw your attention back from the Himalayas to the place where your physical body is situated. Focus on your heart-chakra, then on your physical body. And then extinguish the candle.

There is a blessing on all who serve.


Careless Talk Costs Pies...

This is a true story about just how literal the Universe and the Law of Attraction are. So we might do well to watch our words!

My friend Philip was in Florida teaching workshops and his hosts took him out to supper at their favourite diner.

In the dessert cabinet at the diner there was just one slice of Key Lime Pie. Now Philip
loves Key Lime Pie. And I mean loves Key Lime Pie.

He kept his eye on it throughout the whole meal, praying for it still to be there when they had all finished their main course (it didn’t occur to him that there might be a whole new pie in the kitchen waiting to be put out). As he was so focused on the pie, he didn’t enjoy his salad as much as he would usually have done; he was too focused on that fabulous pie.

Finally, the waitress had taken away their empty plates and returned to ask if they would like any dessert. The pie was still there!

All the others said ‘No thanks, we’re full’ but Philip managed to overcome his fear of being seen to be greedy and said, ‘Well as I’m here and I do love Key Lime Pie I would like that last piece of pie please.’

It duly arrived; it smelt delicious and Philip took a bite. Just as the sublime taste filled his mouth, his host (who was one of those people who eat from other people’s plates without asking) said, ‘Is it any good’ and he poised his spoon to take some for himself. At once, the other two people at the table lifted their spoons too.

Philip said, ‘Oh no – it’s terrible. You wouldn’t like it at all.’

The waitress, who was just standing behind him was there in a flash.

‘I’m so sorry, Sir,’ she said, whipping the pie away before Philip’s spoon could take a second piece. ‘Our abject apologies ... we would like to offer you anything else on the house. Anything at all!’

And before Philip could open his mouth, she had thrown the pie into the trash.

If you, like me, are a lover of desserts, you may need to take a moment to digest (or not!) that story. It’s just too horrible isn’t it?

But that’s how the Universe works. Philip’s thoughts about the pie were all about lack from the start. He wanted it, but he was afraid it wouldn’t be there when he was ready for it. He never considered that there might be more pie in the kitchen. He was also stuck in the convention of having a first course that he didn’t necessarily want given his desire for the pie so he couldn’t break with tradition and say ‘thanks, I’ll miss the main course and go straight for that fabulous pie.’ If he had, none of the others (who were just as traditional) would have wanted any.

And even though the pie was wonderful, he couldn’t praise it because he was afraid it would be taken away from him.

Ouch. A cautionary tale indeed....

Wishing you lots of fabulous pie this month x.

Time For Some Not Fake Food.