THE FEMININE LIGHT IN THE MIDDLE EAST SYMPOSIUM











The institute has posted a short video of some the presenters and our talks. 


You can have a peek at my talk in minute 3:22 of the video below:










BEHIND THE TEARS



Weyden,_Rogier_van_der_-_Descent_from_the_Cross_-_Detail_women_(left).jpg



I cried and cried and cried.  I have been crying everyday for months. I am still crying.

I told myself many reasons why I could not stop. It is my kids leaving home to go to college; it’s my friend’s illness; it’s the idea of moving to a new home and leaving the protection of the walls I know so well...

Every time I cried, I looked for something that would justify the uncalled tears inundating my eyes, that would make my chest heat up, full of something I could not put into words. And while the departure of my kids or my friend’s disease indeed make me sad, most of my tearing had nothing to do with them.

I cried at home, in the streets, on the phone. I cried watching the sun rise and set, at the sight of a baby, and hearing a bird singing in the distance…I cried watching a movie, listening to the radio news, singing a soft rock song.

I just could not stop crying.

My tears seemed to come and go as they pleased—when I was not sad nor felt like crying either. In a way, they were very impersonal. And yet, at the same time, everything that happened around me somewhere felt deeply intimate. It was as if I had made mine, as if I had taken possession of something—an event, a situation, an encounter—that originally did not belong to me, but whose emotion, the feeling it provoked in me made it mine. I knew it did not belong to me, but I was partaking of the experience of it nonetheless, as if I had been invited to commune with it.

I cried translating my Teacher’s writings, reading a mystic’s life, and wording the prayers of the beguines. I cried while meditating, while watching the plums and apples redden, and while smelling the lavender flowers that grow in my garden. I cried when a child got hurt and when another happily licked a lollipop as big as his face. It is as if I was raw, my skin too thin to stop anything from coming in.

It was not that I was clinging to the emotions that came either. Tears came and went as things and events came and went. Water flooded my eyes in the very moment when the feeling, the emotion of the experience took place…and then they left. I wanted to find an explanation to what was taking place, but all I felt was confusion.

I ended up believing that I was falling into some kind of depression. I thought I needed some medicine…to  go to the doctor or to a new therapy. I took on yoga.

But every yoga class ended with me leaving as fast as I could, barely waving my hand good-bye, so that no one would see my tears falling. It felt that the relaxation, the opening of my chest, the stretching of my tight body, was not a remedy but rather a pill which made more acute this already hypersensitive state.

What was really happening to me?

Was I getting too old and weak?

Was I going mad?

Finally I shared my concern with a group of meditation friends…just to put the situation out in the open and get some perspective. A few kind and true observations were given—that after all I am Latina and one that is very emotional. Talking about this brought a few laughs and a few more tears.

Later we fell into silence and we meditated. And it was then that I saw something, which suggested like a kind of answer, something quite vague in the beginning that slowly began to take shape.

Yes I was raw; yes my skin had thinned up to the point of not being able to stop anything from coming in… Everything was too close to me. Everything touched me to my core—the taste, the smell, the touch, the hearing, the sight—of… and this is what surprised me… of life happening… the beauty and the horror, the joy and the pain; I was experiencing everything first hand without any packaging, unveiled, and uncooked.

Like a door opened in that moment and I understood something.

God lives in the myriad expressions of the life I was experiencing so intimately. He was present and I was experiencing Him, in my own body, through my own heart and my own senses. God, Life had been touching me so deeply… and I was able and lucky to feel it. Life and I were interlaced in the sense that I felt it as if whatever was taking place, was happening to me directly even though I was, and I knew I was, just a witness. The main character was life itself happening. But I was so identified with it that it felt like it was happening to me…and it was happening to me, in a sense it was, and in a sense it was not. It was both.  A degree of oneness.

So I knew. I know. My crying, the tears in my eyes at this very moment are grace.




By Alex Warden

Coexistence and Essential Oneness




Coexistence is a way to experience our Essential Oneness in our daily life. It is a beautiful word, a worthy ideal…like an elegant dance where we live our own life while accepting the ways of others.

Yet coexistence can also be much more difficult to attain than we think, because our unique way can often feel threatened by the ways of others. This may lead us to compare ourselves with others and even attempt to define our way as somehow better.

But it can be done. When I was in Chile over a month ago, I gave a seminar in a town whose mayor is trying to bring the reality of coexistence into practice. The town hopes to build temples for the three major religions of the western world—a synagogue, a church, and a mosque. Two of them, the church and the mosque, have already been built. And it was interesting to see that his inspiration actually worked. People from different religions participate peacefully in their spiritual practices at their corresponding temples. In addition, the mosque has a library that can be used by people of different religions and backgrounds to offer talks and seminars.  I had not been in a town before in Latin America with a conscious intention to practice coexistence, so I felt hopeful and impressed. I have heard there are other towns and cities like this one around the world…but not enough yet.

Buddha by Dr.S.M.Anwer.jpg

Coexistence is not only about learning to live with other people, but  also with animals and plants and the land. Life naturally coexists; ecosystems are a form of coexistence.  Plants and animals share their existence with the land. They are not separate from the universe, or each other. They are an integral part of everything. In their own way, they live in paradise.

But as human beings develop the capacity to differentiate from our environment, when we develop a sense of I and you, we leave the natural way of being and enter the realm of separation from life. Then we begin to see ourselves as different from everyone and everything else. We experience our uniqueness; and frequently in this process we forget our similarity with all.

In this way coexistence confronts us with the difference between our idea of essential oneness and the here-and-now reality of living it with other unique beings. Coexistence demands a quality of tolerance, of looking at what we have in common rather than stressing our differences. It means to live with one another in an open and respectful way towards both ourselves and all.

Coexistence does not mean to give up one’s traditions and ways, but rather to enjoy the diversity and uniqueness that the whole of life is, while perceiving the oneness that unites us underneath the variety of forms of expressions of existence. It means experiencing our essential oneness by consciously coexisting with the whole of life on this plane of reality—the plane of the opposites—on our own. We can try it, enjoy it, and encounter its difficulties.

Coexistence is a way to live our individuality within diversity. It is an experience of sameness and difference at the same time.  It is an experience of Reality.



Universal Worship Mandala, Art by Amara Karuna





Essential Oneness: A Path Beyond the Opposites


The Path through the Irises

There is a place beyond the opposites that is both one and the other and that is neither one nor the other. But in order to reach that place, first we need to know what the opposing forces or qualities are. Sometimes that is easy, like realizing that a gray paint is the union of black and white. But in other things, knowing the opposites may be more challenging.

Or so it was for me.

Only sixteen years ago, I began to commemorate the holiday season for what it really was, a celebration of the rebirth of light in the midst of the darkest and longest night. A celebration whose origins can be traced back to the Great Mother tradition, this ceremony is a symbol of the miracle of creation, where out of a concealed, mysterious place, a new life comes into existence.

Before then, I lived thirty-five years not knowing that there ever existed a time when the Great Mother, or the goddess, was at the center of devotion.
Afrodite

I had learned quite a bit of history without knowing that it was   told mainly from a masculine perspective; it was all about wars and conquerors and dates for succession of power. I had heard of some matriarchal societies and seen a few gruesome drawings of Amazons with their breasts cut in order to facilitate the use of their bows and arrows. Also, I had seen some photos of decapitated statues of Greek and Roman goddesses of the so-called pagan religions of the past and had read several of their myths.

In addition, I also knew that Latin America, where I come from, was a land where there was machismo. But I did not really know what machismo was in contrast to or in what way it affected me, as a woman. I was raised Catholic and followed a patriarchal religion without knowing it to be patriarchal. Since a child, I went to a  school run by nuns, where several times a week, I listened to the lectures of male priests and the admonitions of a patriarchal church without knowing or even wondering why this was the structure of the Church. My ideal woman was one created by the patriarchy, a woman who lived in the heavens, someone who had delivered a child untouched by man, who had not suffered the pains of labor, and in a way, was eternally young and smiling—one I could never become.

Unknowingly, I lived most of my life through the values of a masculine culture.

Pregnant woman
My awakening was abrupt. It took place while still in Argentina. I’m a mother of twins—a boy and a girl. I recall one day when a very pregnant friend of mine visited us and told my kids that there was a baby in her oversized belly.  She also told the kids that only women carried babies within them.

My daughter showed excitement but my son was astounded. The discovery impressed him so strongly that he spent several days placing a baby-doll under his t-shirt and walking around pretending to be pregnant. He also wanted to know if there was a baby in my belly and in his sister’s. I could see that a shift took place in him with his discovery. He loved his sister and me dearly, but this was different. It was as if we, women, had suddenly acquired a new standing, a new importance, in his eyes.

Until then, I had grown up hearing the Freudian perspective of the female envy of the male. But after witnessing my son’s behavior, I wondered about the truth of this premise and in me awoke a desire to understand better what had happened to that instinctual recognition of the value of the feminine mystery. 

Candlelight of Hope

The turning point took place six months after moving to the United States, when I was invited to attend a celebration of the winter solstice. In it people formed a circle and lighted candles in a dark room that symbolized the re-birth of the light. It was then that I fully realized that the celebrations of my Christian upbringing were tied to ancients traditions of previous cultures. Everything began to fall into place after that.  

The creative force of life recreating itself in myriad forms was first attributed to the power of a female god, Mother Earth, the feminine principle. A newborn being born from a mother’s womb; a day born after spending a time in the embracing darkness of the night; spirit being incarnated in a physical body—these were some of the expressions of this same feminine wonder, a mystery that was commemorated for a long time during the celebrations that occurred around the winter solstice. 

Venus of Willendorf

The many prehistoric sculptures of the goddess found spread   around the world appear to be among the first representations of a deity, and suggest  that earlier humans may have placed a female god capable of sustaining and nurturing life at the center of their worship and seen the creative forces of life as divine. The adoration of the female principle gave humans an intrinsic understanding of the union and deep connection that existed between them and nature, between them and the Earth. They lived within the goddess, were part of her, and she provided them with their basic needs. For a long time, the consciousness of earlier humans was, to a large extent, one of undifferentiated oneness.

I wondered if the decline of the power of the feminine principle had its first origins in the discovery that the male was as needed as the female in the creative process of bringing a new life to the planet and if this awareness could have gradually shifted the direction of adoration away from the feminine principle and its queendom towards its opposite, by enthroning the male principle. Researching possible causes, I found some suggestions that the adoration of the feminine principle at one time may have overpowered the masculine up to the point of becoming too one-sided and causing an imbalance. 

Whatever the reason may have been, with the passage of time, supremacy shifted sides. It was as if the law of opposites had intervened, the universal law where creation expresses itself in twos that both oppose and complement each other: inner and outer, positive and negative, Adam and Eve.

Little by little I understood that what took place with this shift in many ways changed the history of humanity as we know it, as the power of the feminine was not only taken away but even the symbols of the goddess tradition that embodied the feminine mysteries were somehow stolen, disguised, or destroyed. The images that I had seen of the remnants of beheaded statues of goddesses, often mutilated with their arms and other body parts cut off, as well as the myths of the birth of goddesses from male gods and of male gods as the supreme deity that I had read, seemed to point to that moment in time.

In the West, most of the Great Mother ceremonies, her attributes, and the goddess herself, were hidden beneath a veil of various religious traditions and celebrations dedicated to a god that is represented as being male. Many ancient symbols of the feminine were taken over and disguised as myths or stories inspired by the  masculine principle or in service to a masculine god. 

The Adoration of the Child

The celebration of the birth of light being born in the longest night became a nativity scene dedicated to the adoration of God in male human form, who would become known as “the light of the world;” an ancient celebration of the rebirth of life and sustenance represented by the evergreen tree, became a celebration involving the Christmas Tree. The goddess, also known as the mother of all gods, departed. She was overshadowed by Mary, the mortal mother of Jesus, who would also take on the title, “Mother of God.” The cosmos as the body of the goddess became the place of residence of a male bearded deity, and the understanding of the universal feminine as the cosmic womb, as life being created within, was transformed into the story of a male god creating life from outside—possibly symbolizing the way men contributed to the creation of a newborn.
Aubervilliers Notre Dame des Vertus

The masculine principle incarnated in a divine being separate from humanity, gave birth to a different quality of the mind, a different quality of knowing, one that began to differentiate, to notice details within the undifferentiated oneness, a knowing based on detached observation, one that gave rise to a sense of individuality and separation.

However, the rejection of the feminine reached such dramatic proportions in some cultures, that it ended up creating an imbalance that is reflected in the way many of us live our lives, without meaning, void of natural rhythms, mechanized, a life that is linear and hierarchical, negated of its magic and wonder, where supermarket milk is considered better than mother’s milk, and homemaking and raising one’s children is valued less than working in the marketplace.

In a way it could be said that the power of both the feminine principle as well as the masculine principle  helped humanity developed up to a point, but each power eventually overreached its limits and failed to provide human kind with what it needed to move forward. From my perspective, such is this moment in time.

A child cannot live permanently holding to the mother’s breast or being fed in his or her mouth. He or she needs to leave the nest and make an independent life on his or her own. But a life separated and detached from the original nurturance, can become a dry existence devoid of a sense of belonging and meaning. 
The Kiss
Until now on a collective level, the divine feminine and masculine principles have been experienced as opposing each other and as one above the other. But the divine masculine and feminine principles are aspects of something larger than themselves. They are aspects of the divine wholeness, of the oneness and totality that life is.


Wholeness is reached when the aspects of one same nature complement each other rather than oppose each other. Then out of their union, a divine offspring can be born. This divine offspring already lives in the depths of our western consciousness. 
Wassermelone Böhringer
Although we have notfully embraced or acknowledged its importance or its meaning, for millennia  it has been appearing over and over in statues, paintings, myths, and stories. Often, it is viewed as a divine child held by the goddess, other times by a god. At times the divine child appears surrounded by a human mother and father and the three form a sacred family. This child represents a new consciousness in humanity… the consciousness of oneness.


Learning about the feminine principle and how to value my own feminine qualities after having lived through masculine values most of my life, has helped me find a

path among these seemingly opposite forces or visions, leading to the discovery of the divine offspring who is being born inside us. This newborn brought its own way of perceiving and experiencing reality, one of singleness and oneness, one of interrelatedness. The child, also known as the child of the future, symbolizes the product of the union of opposites, the middle way, a new way of being where we are both an individual and one with everything else.

New Dawn




By Alex Warden


Kindness and Essential Oneness


Today my heart was touched by a Feather of Love. It came as a present flying through the wind from the warm shores of Florida.

Once again, I was reminded of the miracles kindness can perform—how it can caress our lives, restore bridges broken by strife, reach the farthest regions of our hearts.

Kindness is a unifier, a natural link that brings us back to our Essential Oneness.




Artwork by Martha Sanders Brandt

New Year

Feeling Our Essential Oneness 
during the Holiday Season











News:

* There are two new Radio interviews of Alex Warden. To listen, please go to podcasts.
* A new women's group is in formation in Sonoma County, California:  
Women in Charge—living and leading through womanhood in a masculine marketplace. 
If you are interested in receiving more information, please go to contact and email me.

* Please check out and like the Essential Oneness Facebook page.
* See some new pictures of the women's circle in the photo album.
* Remember to sign up to our mailing list at the bottom of the page or in contacts.










Prayer and Essential Oneness





Prayer is like a door that leads to union with the One Essence. It is a moment of communion, a moment of remembrance.      

When we pray for something, it often appears to be an experience that includes three: the caller, the object of the call, and the One that is called.   

But sometimes we do not pray for anything in particular... and then prayer is experienced as a state of being, a pure remembrance of the heart. It is a moment of rest out of time.  

Although Prayer sometimes is experienced as the cry from an aching heart feeling a deep pain of separation, that pain and that feeling of separation are part of the whole and are bathed by the Essential Oneness that underlies all. We would not feel separate if we did not know our intrinsic unity with the One.  

Prayer is a moment of embracing, enveloping and crying from That who lives in us to Itself. It is the One Essence recognizing Itself through us and in us, Its creation. Prayer is a flow where the Infinite Essence calls to Itself, listens to Itself and responds to Itself. It is a circle where we are the caller, the call, and the answer.  

Prayer is remembrance, and remembrance is a way of weaving the golden thread of spirit into our daily living, an interweaving that offers us an experience of essential oneness in everyday experience.  



-- Please listen and enjoy the beautiful 3-minute video (below) called, 
Prayer,”by Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee from the Working with Oneness Archives     





(*)“Madona at Prayer,” at Santa Maria della Salute, Venice; 17th c.; Work of Art by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato; Courtesy of Web Gallery of Art http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sassoferrato_Madonna_1.jpg

FEMININE LIGHT IN THE MIDDLE EAST CONFERENCE






Last Nov.16th 2011, I was invited to the “Feminine Light of the Middle East Conference.” It was a wonderful all-day event organized by the Institute for Women's Enlightenment founded by Stephany LaneYarbrough, Ph.D., author of The Feminine Light-The Power of Being. This is a list of the speakers and panelists invited. It was amazingly inspiring to be part of such wonderful group of people. 

There are websites next to some of the names of the panelists where to find them directly:
Annie Gersh - UN Foundation Girl Up - girlup.org

Mrs. Hoori Sadler - Founding Chair PACI: paci.org
Nile El Wardani, MPH, PhD - public health, development & cultural diplomacy consultant & independent journalist: levantinecenter.org
Rudabeh Shahbazi - Eyewitness News Reporter: ABC 7 KABC
Mary Apick - Actress/Writer/Human Rights Activist: Beneath the Veil, A Fairy Tale in the Forest and Jewel of the Night - mary-apick.com

Suzie Abdou - Director Global Programs: womensvoicesnow.org
Necar Zadegan - Actress: Unthinkable, The Event, 24, CSI: Miami-
filmmcqueen.com
Elham Gheytanchi - Educator: Santa Monica College homepage.smc.edu/gheytanchi_elham/

Malaak Hattab - Child Actress: Purple Sail, Murder 101- malaakhattab.com
Nonie Darwish - Author/ Human and Women's Rights Activist: formermuslimsunited.org
Samira Kazemeni - Miss Exotic Lady World and Miss Iran 2011
Suzi Khatami - Radio Host/Producer - 670amkirn.com
Amie Williams - Executive Director/Co-Founder: globalgirlmedia.org
Meena Nanji - International Programs/Co-Founder: globalgirlmedia.org
Tabby Biddle - Journalist Girl's Empowerment: tabbybiddle.com
Sharon Jakubecy - M.AmSAT Alexander Tech: sharonjakubecy.com
Kirsten Giles - Development Coordinator: writegirl.org
Fariba Mansouri - Clinical Psychologist: faribamansouri.com
Dr. Shahrzad (Sherry) Sami - happykidsdentalplanet.com
Foojan Zeine - Psychotherapist: foojan.com
Libby and Len Traubman - Co-founders, Jewish-Palestinian Living Room Dialogue: http://traubman.igc.org/global.htm
Sheila Vosough Ommi - MC, Actress, Comedian -

Linda Higdon - Founder/Host: globalroomforwomen.com
Biija - Artist: biijafineart.com
Wendy Arnold - Educator: pepla.org
Max Amini - Comedian: maxamini.com
Stephanie Dawn - Sacred Birth Counselor: stephaniedawn.com
Elan Frank - Women's Filmmaker: elanproductions.net
Alex Warden - Sufi Mystic/Montessori Educator: 
Jalaledin Ebrahim - Ph.D. Candidate in Depth Psychotherapy:
jalaledin-ebrahim.blogspot.com

Yaelle Shaphir - Wellness Healer: yaelleshaphir.com
Liyah Lapidot - Singer/Song Writer: liyah.net
Dalit Argil - Singer/Song Writer
Maya Gabay - Sacred Dancer of the Middle East - bellysecrets.com

Banafsheh Sayyad - Sacred Dancer, Teacher, Acupuncturist, www.namah.net
Jodie Myers - Birthing Filmmaker: mybirthmovie.com
Stephany Yarbrough - Founder IOWE: instituteofwomensenlightenment.com
Aleya Sher Coolidge - Amabassador IOWE
Lila Sadafi - Director of Corporate and Sponsor Relations IOWE
Juliette de Haas - Asst. Director of Corporate and Sponsor Relations IOWE
Shaeda Moghaddam - Inspiring Coordinator
Jacques Derosena - Inspiring Coordinator
David Rosenthal - Sound Engineer
Sepehr Khosravi- Filmmaker


(*) “Isztar Gate” fragment; Picture Courtesy of Radziemhttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fragment-bramy-isztar.jpg

BLOG


a moment of wonder:

... being a tiny tile in the great mosaic of life ...



I follow the Religion of Love:
Wherever way Love's camels take,
That is my religion and faith.
 
Ibn 'Arabi
(*) Photo Courtesy of Ian and Wendy Sewell http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Temple_Mount-11-.jpg

thanksgiving day

a day of 

THANKS FOR GIVING 

to:



...“Him who has no name, but who appears by any name you call Him.”



Quote from “The Bond with the Beloved,” by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, PhD.





and to EARTH, His creation



(*)“The Hand of God;” from St. Climent de Taüll in Catalonia Church; Photo Courtesy of Dbachmann  http://www.commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hand_gottes.jpg


(*) “Earth;” Photo Courtesy of Heinkenwaelder http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Earth-Erde.jpg