Join us on Friday 4 May at 6.30 pm at St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, when we will be asking: what is spiritual authority, where does it come from and who rightly represents it in the community? Remona Aly, Sahajatara Blake and Samantha Wernham will share their experience of what it means to reclaim the ancient mandate of the feminine and to live it fearlessly in troubled times.
Both inside and outside of religious institutions, people are reclaiming feminine principles as part of their spiritual nature. Yet many religions are mired in traditions that privilege masculine values, and limit how women’s voices may be heard. Deeper than questions about gender alone, these seismic shifts at the root of our understanding of the sacred point to deeper mysteries, such as where does spiritual authority come from – heaven or Earth? Hierarchy or interconnectedness? Power or beauty? Do men and women hold different qualities of authority?
What powers within ourselves have lain forgotten and unused, simply because we haven’t recoginsed them as being powerful? What would happen if we took our authority, not from a place of transcendent understanding, but from a love of life founded in the passions of the heart and body? Would it make us stronger advocates for life, inspiring us to live our worship in the form of a more committed pragmatism? If we bowed to Earth as often as we bowed to the male gods, would we treat her better? Is this a shift in perspective that religious institutions are ready to take on? And what does it mean for women, or those who identify as alternate genders, to claim authority in religions that have historically forbidden them to hold spiritual power?
Book tickets here!
About the panelists:
Rev Samantha Wernham:
Sam is the founder of social enterprise Living Spirit, which has offered many projects celebrating spirit, art and nature over the last twenty years. Current projects include Wild Church, which is an inter-spiritual pioneer ministry committed to silent pilgrimage and contemplative communion. Wild Church is currently working on the development of a new monastic centre and ‘sacramental landscape’ in Dartington, Devon.
Sam has travelled widely and been a life long student of spiritual ecology, ranging from the Buddhist communities of Ladakh and Zanskar to the Celtic churches of the Scottish Highlands, where she worked a croft for five years and built an eco retreat centre. She nows lives on pilgrimage between her micro monastery in Dartington and Christ Church University in Canterbury, where she is engaged in doctoral research into transformative learning focussed on the motif of the sacred marriage. As an ordained interfaith minister and committed Anglican, Sam is especially curious about the marriage of tradition and innovation. http://www.living-spirit.co.uk/.
Remona Aly is a journalist, commentator and broadcaster with a focus on faith, lifestyle and identity. She writes for The Guardian and other media outlets on topics ranging from The Great British Bake Off to burkinis, fashion to interfaith football, and Ramadan to rock music. Remona is a regular Pause for Thought contributor for BBC Radio 2 on the Chris Evans Breakfast show, and is a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Something Understood. In one of her programmes, she explores the multi-faceted nature of ‘The Divine Feminine’ across various cultural, spiritual and faith traditions.
Remona was the Deputy Editor of emel, a vibrant and glossy British Muslim lifestyle magazine which was the first of its kind to launch nationwide. Since going freelance in 2009, she became Director of Communications for the Exploring Islam Foundation which specialises in dynamic PR campaigns and resources on Islam and Muslims across media platforms. She is also a presenter for the Things Unseen podcast which is produced by CTVC, an independent production company that centres on spiritual, ethical and moral issues. http://remonaaly.com/
At the age of nine, Sahajatara read these lines by Wordsworth: “The earth and every common sight to me did seem apparelled in celestial light.” Thus began a lifelong quest to understand what the celestial light symbolises, and how best to honour the holiness of the Earth. For many years she identified as a pagan/ goddess worshipper, but for the past 24 years has been practicing as a Buddhist. Her work within her Buddhist tradition has been largely about introducing ideas of sustainability and reverence for the Earth. She has spoken widely on climate change and compassion, as well as on the theme of leading a passionate life through the Arts. She has also hosted several interfaith climate change conferences. Sahajatara is a poet, lecturer, songwriter and mother to an 11 year old daughter with Aspergers. She lives in Brighton where she is currently writing a book.