Parliament Day Three: Towards Summer Solstice

by Moira Ashleigh

Day 2 ended late and Day 3 started early. Today Melbourne was also cool and windy but still no rain. Australia has been in a drought for 10 years, which makes the cost of living quite pricey. A few comparisons are coffees at $4.00, a six pack of beer at $17.00 and dinner meals starting at $30.

The first Pagan program began at 8 AM with Patrick McCollum’s Solstice ritual: “Solstice Sites and Celebrations”. Where as folks at home are getting ready for Yule, here in the “down under” they are building toward the Summer Solstice. Another intriguing difference is are their elemental associations. East is still Air, moving on to Earth as South, then Water is West and Fire is in the North. In this ritual Patrick focused on the Solstice as honoring both celebrations, but of course the land made itself known as the sun raced in to shine brightly as North was honored. Guided by the advice of indigenous people here in Australia, Eucalyptus leaves were chosen to use as wish bearers for the ritual participants.

The panel for The Divine Feminine, was filled to overflowing with parliament attendees listening to the panelists: Mary-Faeth Chenery, Sr Joan Chittister, Mother Maya, Ven Karma Leshke Tsomo, and Phyllis Curott. Phyllis spoke first and addressed the topics of culture divorced from the feminine and the repercussions, naming things rather than listening to them, the courage of leaving the faith of the fathers, and bringing the goddess out of the underworld; all this from a pagan perspective.

Directly after the Divine Feminine was a Pagan Panel: Men Who Love The Goddess. These panelists were: Drake Spaeth, Patrick McCollum, Michael York, River Higginbotham and Don Lewis. Some of the ideas covered in this panel included; masculine and feminine within, needing to be in balance, divinity as imminent, the understanding of enchantment and of magic.

In the afternoon, Multifaith Perspectives and Interreligious Holiday and Celebrations seemed to be a panel where the participants had their own programs to promote. Though Deirdre made a valiant effort to bring the panel to a place of conversation, it appeared there was an impasse on ways to create Interfaith rituals that are inclusive. It is unfortunate that this was less productive that it could have been. But it is good to remember that in Chicago at the Parliament of the World’s Religions 1993,  these religious leaders would not have sat at the same table.

The EarthSpirit booth continues to be a draw for participants and was even mentioned in the local paper. During the day our harpist and druid Chris LaFond and the Anglican harpist, Cath Connelly spent time creating beautiful music, including a new piece in progress by Cath celebrating the Winter Solstice.

Tomorrow is a light day, where many of us will attend the presentations of other groups and network in the halls building bridges of smiles and conversations.

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