The Templars and Islam with Paul Bembridge, M.Phil.
The Islamic and Jewish Background of Grail Christianity with Paul Bembridge, M.Phil.
Rumi and Ibn ‘Arabi: The Meeting-Place of Two Seas with Stephen Hirtenstein, M.A.
Guardians of the Treasure with Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, D.Phil. and Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.
The Elaboration of the Philosopher’s Stone with Pierre Lory, Ph.D.
Doctor Illuminatus: Ramon Llull with Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, D.Phil. and Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.
The Mystical Heart of Abraham, Interpenetrating Perspectives in Judaism, Christianity and Islam with Christopher Bamford
Alchemy of Creation with Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.
The Cup of Receptivity, Tarot, Perennial Philosophy and Intuition with Ellen Goldberg, M.A.
Letters and Numbers as Symbols of Spiritual Realities, Esoteric Systems of the Sufis with Pablo Beneito, Ph.D.
Tarot and the Kabbalah with Ellen Goldberg, M.A.
Rabbi Abraham Abulafia's Method of Kabbalistic Meditation: An Experiential Workshop with Paul Fenton, Ph.D.
The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life in The Zohar and The Bahir with Mario Satz
Beautiful Wound: The Wisdom of the Spanish Mystics with Mirabai Starr
Islam in Spanish Literature with Luce López-Baralt, Ph.D.
Natural Chant with Catherine Braslavsky and Joseph Rowe
Alchemical Wisdom in the Age of Alfonso the Wise with Leigh J. McCloskey
The Templars and Islam
Paul Bembridge, M.Phil.
Despite their historic role as a military Christian order in a frontier battle against Islam, both in the Near East and in the Iberian Peninsula, the Knights Templar of the 12th and 13th centuries were instrumental in creating a climate of respect for the learning and spirituality of the Muslim culture they encountered, especially in Spain. Here, at the furthest extremities of Christendom, it seems, they found common ground between the deepest layers of their own Angevin culture and the Arabic civilization to which they gave access.
The Islamic and Jewish Background of Grail Christianity
Paul Bembridge, M.Phil.
In Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenback redirected the gaze of his readers away from the Celtic Arthurian world of Chretien de Troy’s story of the Grail, Perceval. He pointed to what he called a truer lineage and transmission of the Grail material as it emerged from the ancient world and traveled via Jewish-Muslim adepts in early medieval Spain through the Aragonese-Catalan corridor to Provence and then to his native German lands. The new era of Grail Christianity to which European initiates now looked, he indicated, would be one of Muslim, Jewish and Christian reconciliation.
Rumi and Ibn ‘Arabi:
The Meeting-Place of Two Seas
Stephen Hirtenstein, M.A.
It is remarkable that two such great mystical figures as Ibn ‘Arabi and Rumi should have overlapped in time and space, and yet apparently had little to do with each other. Did they actually meet physically? Did Ibn ‘Arabi influence his younger contemporary in any way? Is it accurate to characterize their teachings as markedly different? Or did they express the same fundamental message? What is the essence of their appeal today? In this workshop we will explore these questions and compare texts from their works with the aim of finding some answers.
Guardians of the Treasure
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, D.Phil. and Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.
Some of our most cherished Hermetic literature, such as the famous Emerald Tablet, has come down to us only through Arabic texts. In this workshop we will examine the transmission of ideas between Alexandria and the medieval Latin West through the portal of Islamic Spain. This workshop will examine some examples of the literature, preserved by Arab culture and embellished by the new learning, which was to play such a significant role in the 12th-century Renaissance.
The Elaboration of the Philosopher’s Stone
Pierre Lory, Ph.D.
Alchemical texts may be interpreted as metaphorical descriptions of the transformation of the individual self through initiatory knowledge. Material operations did, however, take place. The purpose of this workshop is the evocation of this concrete work, in the laboratory of the alchemist, on the basis of Arabic texts used in medieval Spain. The questions raised are: what is the materia prima used? What is the “Stone” obtained in the laboratory meant to be? What are the relations between this precise material work and the quest of the mysterious perfect Master called “Imam”? Are ‘matter’ and ‘spirit’ evoked in those texts really different substances?
Doctor Illuminatus: Ramon Llull
Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, D.Phil. and Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.
Catalan poet, novelist, scientist, linguist and mystic, Ramon Llull’s (c.1232- c.1316) shining intelligence, sensitivity and breadth of learning remained a beacon well into the Renaissance and beyond. The Ars Brevis is an introduction to Llull’s Art, his most original and ambitious work of systemizing knowledge. His most cherished work, The Book of the Lover & the Beloved, weaves together Llull’s literary inheritance as a troubadour poet with Sufi and Franciscan mysticism. The Book of the Gentile & the Three Wise Men, based on the model of an earlier Arabic text, demonstrates the gracious way in which Llull sought to draw together men of goodwill from Christian, Jewish and Muslim persuasions.
The Mystical Heart of Abraham
Interpenetrating Perspectives in Judaism, Christianity and Islam
We will explore the multiple inner connections between the three religions of the One God and ask how these could manifest in relatively peaceful coexistence in Al-Andalus. We will examine ways in which the three Revelations mysteriously seem to be each within the other, in endless conversation, forever echoing and referring to each other like magic, multidimensional Chinese Boxes. Against the still fluid background of their evolving theologies and practices, we will see what we can learn today of the virtues of the heart that unite them: love of God, neighbor, stranger and the Earth, and all that follows from these.
Alchemy of Creation
Clare Goodrick-Clarke, M.A.
This talk takes us imaginatively into the alchemical drama of creation, where we can begin to explore the transformational journey of the mind and heart that is initiated by the alchemical process. By working creatively with the timeless symbols arising from the archetypal world of the psyche, we can discover the insights and special spiritual gifts that the alchemical quest still offers to the contemporary world.
The Cup of Receptivity
Tarot, Perennial Philosophy and Intuition
Ellen Goldberg, M.A.
The Tarot is a superb example of the perennial philosophy. Streams of wisdom from both east and west meet in this visual template of the path to Self-realization. Working with the Archetypal images of the Tarot cultivates receptivity and intuition. The Tarot is more than an oracle; it allows you to become your own oracle by connecting to the Inner Voice. The aim of this workshop is two-fold; we will look at some of the dominant philosophical precepts embodied in the Tarot which are shared by esoteric Christianity, Kabalah and Sufism, and we will use the cards to open intuition.
Letters and Numbers as Symbols of Spiritual Realities
Esoteric Systems of the Sufis
Pablo Beneito, Ph.D.
According to Islamic tradition, the root of all things is speech and words. Thus, letters are the principles of existence and knowledge. Letters in Hebrew and Arabic correspond to numbers. In respect to divine revelation in particular, numbers and letters are interpreted in terms of their qualitative meaning as symbols of spiritual realities. In the realm of spiritual geometry, numbers are proportions and the symbolic foundation for all relationships. In this workshop we will discuss the significance of the Sciences of Letters and Numbers and explain the different numerical systems used in their esoteric works by major Sufi writers.
Tarot and the Kabbalah
Ellen Goldberg, M.A.
We will look at the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet and the 10 numbers of the Sefirot of the Tree of Life, and see how they breathe life and meaning into the Tarot. We will also consider some of the themes held in highest regard by both the kabbalah and the tarot, such as the healing of the world through the restoration of balance between the masculine and feminine, and the recovering of cosmic consciousness without renouncing the world.
Rabbi Abraham Abulafia's Method of Kabbalistic Meditation:
An Experiential Workshop
Paul Fenton, Ph.D.
Rabbi Abulafia developed a curious contemplative method called hazkara, involving meditation on Divine Names, a method which comes close to the Sufi practice of dhikr. This workshop proposes an introduction to this method, explaining the connection between the two traditions—the Hebrew and the Arabic—as well as a meditative exercise, involving spiritual music and breathing control.
The Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life in The Zohar and The Bahir
The Zohar suggests that the tree of knowledge was actually what we know today as the fig tree. The fig tree has long had mystical significance and was highly revered during ancient Hebrew times. It is recognized throughout the Bible as both sacred and cursed, just as the tree in the Garden of Eden. An even more ancient source, the Hebrew book of The Bahir (The Book of Brightness), identifies the tree of life as the palm tree. The symbolism of these trees has inspired great works of poetry and architecture over the centuries. They represent humankind’s dual nature: one which says we are confined by our physical bodies to the limits of time and space; and another that speaks of our more profound and limitless essence.
Beautiful Wound: The Wisdom of the Spanish Mystics
We will explore how the Spanish mystics, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, offer contemplative practice as a way of transforming deep sorrow into heightened spiritual aliveness. We will weave short periods of contemplative silence with readings from Mirabai’s translations of Dark Night of the Soul, The Interior Castle and The Book of My Life. We will include ample time for discussion of how these teachings connect with participants’ own lives, losses and transformations.
Islam in Spanish Literature
Luce López-Baralt, Ph.D.
Spanish literature showed evidence of a decisive Islamic influence as late as the Renaissance. The dialogue among Christians, Arabs and Jews that lasted more than eight centuries deeply influenced the hybrid, immensely original literary works produced in Spain from the Middle Ages to the present. The kharjas, considered the first “Spanish” poetry, were written in Mozarabic but were transliterated in both Arabic and Hebrew characters; Ramon Llull wrote his esoteric treatises in both Catalan and Arabic; Cervantes playfully proposed that the author of Don Quixote was an Islamic chronicler. And the last Muslims of Spain or moriscos wrote a secret literature in Spanish in which they explored how it felt to be forced to abandon their religion and their cultural identity.
Natural Chant: Part 1 and Part 2
Catherine Braslavsky and Joseph Rowe
In all cultures and in all ages, the human voice has been honored as the most precious of all musical instruments, and it has always been sustained by rhythm. Practices which make use of voice and rhythms together, especially with movement, have always been a powerful means of raising and deepening consciousness beyond the habitual. They allow us to play, to dance, to commune with each other, to purify and renew ourselves, and to heal. In our civilization, we have mostly lost this art. We rarely sing together and have lost a true sense of our natural rhythm. This workshop is an intensive approach to rediscovering the authentic, natural roots of music in our own bodies and souls.
Alchemical Wisdom in the Age of Alfonso the Wise
Leigh J. McCloskey
This workshop is a visual inquiry into and overview of the transmission of alchemical wisdom to the West during the age of Alfonso the Wise. Author, actor and visual philosopher, Leigh J. McCloskey, will present an illustrated journey through books, ideas, art and architecture that captures the creative spirit alive and vibrant in the philosophical openness and religious tolerance enjoyed in significant periods of Medieval Andalusia. He is creating this presentation in collaboration with his colleague and friend, author and Hermetic Scholar, Stanislas Klossoswki de Rola.