About the EarthSpirit Community:
EarthSpirit --- of which I am a director --- is an organization dedicated to the preservation and development of Earth-centered spirituality, culture and community, with a particular focus on the indigenous, pre-Christian pagan traditions of Europe. Founded in the late 1970s, with its base in the state of Massachusetts, EarthSpirit was incorporated as a non-profit organization in 1980, and its membership now extends throughout the U.S. and to 46 other countries. For more information about the EarthSpirit Community, go to
About a Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions:
The Parliament of the World's Religions is the oldest and largest interreligious body, dating back to 1893. The Parliament's mission is to cultivate harmony among all the various religious and spiritual communities and to foster their engagement with the world and its other guiding institutions in order to achieve peace, justice, and sustainability. The Parliament is convened approximately every five years in different cities around the world, and brings together some 10,000 people from every continent of the planet. I serve as one of two pagan members on its Board of Trustees. To learn more about the Parliament, go to
PLEASE NOTE: Since this is (at least as of right now) a travel blog, the entries below are in chronological order. If you're used to seeing the latest post in a blog at the very top, that's not how this one is organized. To view the most recent postings, please scroll down.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Friday, 21st September --- Ordinary start to an extraordinary day

Today was an intense, remarkable, unpredictable and confusing day, one of those where you can look back a dozen years hence and see how all manner of important changes in your life are so clearly traceable to that particular moment in time. Or maybe not (check back in twelve years and I’ll tell you for sure). Right now, though, it sure feels like something happened and is building up inside of me, though I haven’t had the time or the space to sit with it and really explore it, and realistically I might not be able to do so until I return to Glenwood.

It began ordinarily enough, with a private tour of the Cinterplex, a sprawling, multi-leveled building with vaulted ceilings.
Most of the workshops and panels will be held in one very large hall which has been partitioned into several rooms, each capable of holding about 200-300 people. But they’re just partitions, with no ceilings, so it appears that there could be a lot of sound overlap between adjacent rooms
we’ll have to see… In between the tour and a brief orientation meeting, I made friends with Pal Ahluwalia, one of the Sikhs I’d met at the airport, who spends half the year teaching political science in Melbourne, and the other half at the University of California at San Diego.

Afterwards, most of us had lunch together in the hotel’s dining room a typical buffet with the predictably bland American fare (it is, after all, a Holiday Inn), but just enough Mexican touches to make it tolerable.

At lunch, several of my tablemates asked me to tell them about my religious background. Over the years, the most effective way I’ve found to address such questions is to say that I practice one of the indigenous European pagan traditions. So many people have 'stuff' with the word 'pagan' that, used by itself, it can easily put people off. But the indigenous traditions are usually very much respected in the interreligious movement for what should be obvious reasons, and putting paganism in that context can help people look at us from a different, more accurate, and (apparently) often unexpected perspective.

After lunch, my 'assistant,' Susana, was supposed to take me somewhere to change some money and to buy a cheap cellphone that would work locally. She was not free, however, at the time when I was, so she asked her friend Silvia to take me on my errands instead. Silvia was very nice, and extremely patient while we dealt with a clerk at the cellphone store who couldn’t figure out how to sell me one that worked.

On the way back to the car, while walking through the shopping mall, I had an unexpected flashback to the days of my youth. I had stopped for a moment to look at something in a window while Silvia kept walking ahead. As I followed her, I noticed a bunch of young guys ogling her as she approached them, and sure enough, when she drew near them they started making kissing noises and whistling at her. I took a few quick steps to catch up to her, took her arm so they would know that she wasn’t unaccompanied, and turned around and looked straight at them. Immediately, the young guys lowered their heads and looked away, pretending they hadn’t been doing anything. I guess all those childhood lessons in Hispanic alpha male behavior never quite totally fade away…

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