Monday, July 13, 2009

Live webcast reveals local proposals for Parliament of Religions

Live webcast reveals local proposals for Parliament of Religions
Today the Interfaith Center of the Presidio hosted a live webcast about the Parliament of Religions which will be held this December 3-9 in Melbourne, Australia. Several potential presenters shared their topics at today’s meeting, which ran from 4 - 6:15 P.M.

The ecumenical conference has been held every five years in international cities since 1998. The mission of the Parliament is to promote religious harmony – not unity – by respecting the traditions of different faiths.

At the last parliament, held in Barcelona in 2004, attendees committed to doing at least one act to benefit their community. These "Gifts of Service" focused on four areas including overcoming religious violence, healing the earth by managing water supplies, and minimizing debt.
Hosting organizations in Australia are asking this year’s attendees to bring their collective wisdom and to discuss how to reconcile with indigenous groups, particularly the Aborigines.
Some of the proposed presentations made by local individual and groups include the following:
The San Francisco Interfaith Council wants to share at the conference about their local work and present ideas for other groups and cities who are in the beginning states of getting people together to do interfaith projects.

A woman from Southern California shared about the Sky Wheel Project, a satellite based on the Tibetan prayer wheel. Its purpose is to send blessings and intentions from all religions into orbit around the planet; from there, these same blessings would be "directed" toward all inhabitants on earth. The satellite would have sacred texts including chants inside, from the world’s traditions, and be decorated with sacred symbols. First, it would be exhibited globally. Then it would be launched into space. The presenter did not state how this project would be funded.
Another woman, a practicing pagan or Wicca, proposed making two presentations. One would be on social justice as prayer and meditation. The other would be about "Dancing the Seven Secret Directions," including the "Great Within."

A male attendee at today’s meeting identified himself as being from the "Covenant of the Goddess," but did not have a pagan-themed proposal. Instead, he suggested a different theme.
Registration for this December’s Parliament of Religions is $450 with discounts available to seniors, students and groups of 10 or more. Home stays with Australians are available for attendees who want to save on hotel expenses. Airfare was quoted as cheaply as $740 with Qantas and United Airlines; the normal price is between $1400 - 2000.

FOR MORE INFO: Paul Chaffee, director of Interfaith Center of Presidio, at or 415/775-4635.

Michael Pappas, executive director, San Francisco Interfaith Council, at or 415/474-1321.

For general info about the Parliament of Religions, email or call 312/629-2990 in Chicago. For conference info, email

Original Article

Marin farmers market asks witch to leave

Marin farmers market asks witch to leave

By Rob Rogers, Bay Area News Group
Posted: 07/10/2009 08:30:06 AM PDT

After spending the past six summers giving free tarot readings beneath the redwood trees of Bolinas Park, the Rev. Joey Talley, the "Good Witch of West Marin," has come to think of herself as a part of the Fairfax Farmers Market.

Managers at the Marin Farmers Market see things differently. The organization, which operates eight farmers markets throughout the Bay Area, says Talley has never applied to work as a vendor or entertainer at the Wednesday night market, and they've asked her to leave.
"We don't want the market to become a free-for-all festival," said market manager Amelia Spilger. "I've had to turn down (applications from) masseuses, chiropractors and holistic healers. They all have a place in the community, but we have limited space in the market."

Talley agrees that she's never sought an application, and admits that she "snuck around behind her back" after Spilger asked her to leave the market last year. But Talley believes she's providing a free public service and has been gathering signatures on a petition asking that she be allowed to stick around.

"I've been here year after year," Talley said. "There are teens who tell me things they could never take to their parents, and they could never afford to schedule a $100 session with me."
While Bolinas Park belongs to the town, the Marin Farmers Market has the right to use the park every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m., and to decide which vendors can participate
in the market, Fairfax Town Manager Michael Rock said.

"Any business can refuse someone service," Rock said. "They have reserved the park for that time period, and they run the event. They have vendors they approve and a reserved spot for each vendor. If (Talley) is trying to get a spot at the farmers market, she's got to work through them. But that's like trying to get a winning lottery ticket. It's packed in there."

Talley, who lives within walking distance of the park, provides "professional witchcraft services" to the customers who contact her at home, at the market or at several Marin restaurants where she performs weekly tarot card readings. A clinical psychologist by training - she previously worked with veterans services and at a drug rehabilitation clinic in San Francisco - she uses her skills as a counselor, herbalist and Wiccan healer to solve her clients' problems, which often have to do with money or sex, she said.

"There have been a lot of requests for money charms in the last year," Talley said. "A lot of people have asked me to put a glamour on a loan application or other paperwork, so when other people read it, it will look good to them."

Occasionally, she'll receive requests to perform black magic - but Talley always tells those clients she's not that kind of witch.

While they appreciate Talley's unique talents, Marin Farmers Market representatives insist she take part in the same application process as every other vendor at the Fairfax market. It's that process, Spilger said, that lets customers know what they see at the market is what they'll get.
"Our farmers are certified as growing what they're producing. Our artisans are artists producing what they sell," Spilger said. "It's the same with our food purveyors, to protect the integrity of the market. I understand Rev. Talley's frustration, but those are the parameters set forth for the market."

Vendor Russ Sartori said it's never bothered him to have Talley telling fortunes a few feet from his strawberry stand, but he can understand the association's position.
"Rules are rules," said Sartori, who operates Sartori's Strawberry Field in Tomales Bay. "She should just sell something."

Salem Witch Trials

Salem Witch Trials

Whether it be the Wiccan religion or pop culture, today the world of witches and warlocks is more accepted as part of society.

But that has not always been the case.

In 1692, witch hysteria gripped the Puritan community of Salem, Mass. During a yearlong period, more than 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, ending with the conviction of 29 people for the capital felony of witchcraft.
In the end, 19 people were executed by hanging, a man was crushed to death under heavy stones and at least five more died in prison.

Author Katherine Howe, a descendant of two accused witches (one was found guilty, the other was not), offers an up-close look at 17th-century witchcraft through the lens of a 20th-century grad student in “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.”

Connie Goodwin loves American history. She loves it so much that she’s decided to make it her career. All she has left to do is her Ph.D. dissertation at Cambridge. But, as the old adage goes, even the best-made plans have a way of falling apart.
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