Thursday, April 20, 2017

Pink Veils for a Pretty Woman

Cristin Terwilliger
                       …a remembrance 

In early March this year, I welcomed several newcomers to my Spring class session at Northampton Community College (NCC) ~ among them Ann Covalt Henry, Rita Sillivan-Smith and Cristin Terwilliger. Cristin appeared “cute as a button” and yet I also sensed she seemed somewhat fragile. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but respected her presence in the class and encouraged her same as everyone else in the class. She seemed to light up from within when we “explored” the shimmy and when Ann, Rita and Cristin left class that first night I saw them cheerfully walking arm-in-arm.

Come early April, Cristin participated in both the class I offer at NCC and a class I present at the home of the Cancer Support Community Greater Lehigh Valley (CSC). Her participation in this (CSC) class provided a glimmer of my understanding why I perceived her being ‘fragile’ upon our first meeting. Nevertheless, we once again shared smiles as I encouraged the class participants to execute a “sassy” walk consisting of stepping on the ball of the foot and then gently coming down on the heel while rolling back the shoulder, then pausing in place and rolling one shoulder and then the other while doing a slight level change. Together with the other participants we laughed when I “growled” like Eartha Kitt as Catwoman and invited everyone to infuse the movement with her own unique sassiness!

It was only a week later Cristin’s friend Ann phoned asking me to accompany her to the hospital where Cristin was admitted the night before and had been diagnosed as terminal. Needless to say this message took my breath away. I couldn’t imagine this darling young woman and her family facing such a harsh reality. I replied to Ann saying I would be honored to accompany her and shared my vision of taking a small portable sound system to play exotic, intoxicating music as we floated into her room with pink veils, danced around her bed and, hopefully, transformed her hospital room into a place full of love & light.

It seems like only moments after I’d formulated these thoughts that I received yet another message from Ann informing me Cristin’s family had contacted her to say Cristin had taken a turn for the worse and they didn’t think she would make it through the night. Deeply saddened by this update, I joined Ann (and others) in holding Cristin in the palm of our heart/mind/prayers that she might be peacefully and gracefully embraced by a host of heavenly angels in her period of transition. Ah, the veil between the worlds is thin; it’s an ethereal curtain between the minutiae of everyday living and the divine truth of eternity. Entering the divine realm, which resides just outside our everyday consciousness and linear, reasoning mind, is always a mysterious journey. As I waited for more information from Ann, thoughts of Cristin and her family consumed my thoughts over the Easter weekend and I invoked blessings from the Bringer of Light**.

In the morning a couple days later, I prepared my music and dance notes to facilitate the final class in the current NCC class session. I gathered together as many veils as I could carry to class with the intention of inviting all the participants in the class to think of the veils as angel wings or beautiful butterflies fluttering around the room sending Cristin and her family lots of love and channeling our group energy in a positive and uplifting wave of healing harmony. That night as I stood at the classroom door welcoming the class participants, Ann and Rita solemnly entered the room and shared the news that Cristin has crossed over just a few hours earlier.

Sensing Cristin’s spirit was still with us, I felt all the more determined and inspired to proceed with my “lesson plan” thus honoring her with our veil dance…. and so I announced her passing. We formed a circle of pink veils, and we swirled, twirled and floated like butterflies uplifting the spirit of this sweetheart who was with us for far too brief a time.  Rita said, “I want to thank you for the lovely veil dance last evening in memory of Cristin! I know she loved the dance and she so enjoyed your class.  You made everyone relax and enjoy the moment.”

In a circle of pink veils
we swirled, twirled and floated like butterflies
uplifting the spirit of this sweetheart...

I also invited Ann to share a few thoughts.  Ann is an acupuncturist who had been treating Cristin and in the process also became a very close friend.  Ann was the one who had the idea bellydance and yoga would be good for Cristin’s body mind and spirit, but Cristin had concerns about being able to participate in a dance class.  After Ann’s friend Rita encouraged Ann to attend one of my drum circle classes, Ann told me she was confident she’d found the right teacher.  Together with Rita, a Reiki Master who also works with flower essences, the three of them (Ann, Rita and Cristin) registered for my beginner belly dance class at NCC.  Ann said, “We all have our reasons to dance, for healing, for strength, for love. During our bellydance class with Tahya, Cristin found her feminine strength. She had gone from a shy girl afraid of life and death to a young woman who embraced her power and life's path.”

My deepest sympathies go out to her beloved family and friends. It was my distinct honor and privilege to have made acquaintance with beautiful Cristin Terwilliger. She etched a place in my heart.

Cristin Terwilliger is birthed forevermore into Divine Light.
I shimmer my systrum for you my dear...

Sššt Sššt Sššt
– Tahya, 4/20/2017

Easter symbolizes *Divine Rebirth*

**Eostre or Ostara (Old English: Eastre [æːɑstre]; Old High German: Ostara (reconstructed form)) is a Germanic goddess who is the namesake of the festival of Easter symbolizing the beginning of Spring."The Bringer of Light,” she is celebrated for one month following the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. 

Eostre is written about by Bede in his 8th-century work The Reckoning of Time, wherein he states that during Ēosturmōnaþ (the equivalent of April), pagan Anglo-Saxons had held feasts in Eostre's honor, but that this tradition had died out by his time, replaced by the Christian Paschal month, a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.  Both the Hare and the Egg are symbols of fertility and Rebirth. In Celtic tradition, the Hare is sacred to Eostre/Eastre, and is the totem animal for many Lunar Goddesses. The Egg (and all seeds) contains ‘all potential’, full of new life.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Sššt sššt sššt

Hold this sweet Systrum in your hand
She is a....

sacred sound healing tool
percussive instrument
ritual implement.
Shimmer the jingles,
Clear the space,
Open your heart/mind
Invoke the Divine ~
Vibrant Health, Restorative Calm, 
Love, Peace & Prosperity ~
Receive the blessings intended for *YOU*
with gratitude in great amplitude!

Sššt sššt sššt

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Another spin 'round with systrum a shimmerin'

NAMM Jan 2016  (in a nutshell)

Wednesday, January 20:  arrived late @ LAX and Diana meets/greets me in her Golden Chariot. We stay up to the wee hours gabbing away, catching up with one another and I retell my tale of excitedly presenting Hossam Ramzy with the Systrum @ a concert in the Lehigh Valley less than a week prior….

Thursday, January 21: slept till 2 pm and slowly get ourselves organized to depart only to find ourselves in rush hour Santa Monica et al so it was a slow go down to Anaheim.  We checked into our hotel, ate dinner nearby and then luckily since there was a Target across the street we shopped for some “supplies” for the weekend ~ breakfast yogurt, fruit, granola, etc. o, and the real essentials, dark chocolate and red wine *wink*

Ready, set, NAMM 2016 here we go!

Friday, January 22:  still a bit jet-lagged, it was another slow start enjoying a leisurely breakfast in our room and then walking to the Convention Center to get our badges et al.

Upon arrival inside the Hall I hightailed it to catch Bakithi Kumalo at the NS Design Booth while Diana bee-lined it to the Remo booth.  After seeing Bakithi I stopped to say hi to my friends at Breezy Ridge strings.

 Breezy Ridge Strings NAMM 2016 booth
After that I enjoyed a nearly 2-hour meeting with Greg Kundrat, president of Mid-East Mfg., meeting his son Max and Bret Hutchinson, designer of their newest product, the Idiopan, crafted in America,
Bret Hutchinson, Idiopan designer 
the first and only steel tongue drum capable of being tuned to hundreds of scales from around the world.

After our meeting I offered to introduce Greg to Bakithi so we proceeded upstairs where Bakithi warmly welcomed us.  I excused myself and met Diana on the upper level of the Hall where Latin Percussion was set up for the weekend.  We said hi to Jerry Zacharias (formerly at Remo), greeted Ms. Sheila E., took loads of photos and then bopped back downstairs to start to make our way to the Remo drum circle, but first had fun doing a little ‘photo shoot’ at Zildjan’s impressive wall!

Thank you Abe  for capturing me sitting alongside Arthur Hull
I then scooted outside to “secure” myself a spot on the inside circle (which YAY I achieved) while Diana stopped and chatted with Ami Belli.  The drum circle was a blast (click here to see a lil' video someone in the crowd shot and wait for it... about a min. into this along comes yours truly happily groovin' at the NAMM2016 Remo Drum Circle...)
and I am soooo grateful to see many friends and familiar faces and re-connect with them in this way.  Such a beautiful heartfelt exchange.  Met Gino Gamboa for the first time and was impressed with his fierce castanets prowess and was honored he liked my finger cymbal playing too!  Diana caught a wee bit of our little impromptu jam following the drum circle ~  one of those sweet little NAMM moments!

Diana and I considered hanging with the Remo crew post drum circle but it was a bit chilly and neither one of us felt we were attired warmly enough to hang around outside so I checked in with the Mid-East gang who invited us to join them for lite fare and drinks at their hotel, which as it turns out was only two doors down from our hotel, so walked there and enjoyed relaxing and chatting  with Greg, Bret, and Max et al.
Max & me

Bernard Fowler on L, Doug Wimbish on R
with Diana and I in the middle YUM!
Saturday, January 23:   We arrived in time to “catch” Doug Wimbish@ the Rotosound Music Strings booth albeit I thought we were gonna hear him play some of his fierce bass musings.  Instead, he was signing posters *and* I couldn’t help but notice, *bonus* Bernard Fowler was at the booth too!  Since I conducted a couple interviews with Bernard on World Rhythms, a program I periodically host on the Lehigh Valley's NPR station WDIY, it delights me say that when Bernard saw me he came out from behind the booth to greet me with a big hug and then Doug invited me to “C’mon over and give ‘im a little sugar, too.”  Gladly *wink*  …. Big smiles all around!

*BTW, here's a link to a nice lil' sampling of DW's musicality:

Hey, Bernard:  Shake it!

Diana, REMO Belli himself and yours truly
After that, Diana and I headed to the Remo booth where Angelo Belli introduced us to Dr. Craig Woodson, ethnomusicologist and music educator, whom I am happy to say took an interest in the Systrum and with whom I need to follow-up, for sure!

Then I headed back to the Mid-East booth.   Bret and I decided to meander thru a bit of the other halls before the Center closed for the day.

Meanwhile, before rendezvousing with Diana back at the Mid-East booth, she found herself in conversation with Ms. America, ‘Darling’ Julie E Harman. Their conversation was about synchronicity. Julie was sharing with Diana that she had recently attended a women's shaman gathering and during the course of the evneing she pulled an Angel card for a reading and the card she pulled was the Egyptian Goddess Hathor! Julie was telling Diana this tale and just as she was uttering the name of the Hahtor, I approached the two of them with the Systrum in hand. I shimmered the cymbals and Julie was awestruck by the synchronicity.  We all were!

So, right then and there we gifted her with the Systrum and invited her to use it as her new scepter.  T’was a magical  moment and only the just the beginning of this connection with Ms. America.

Blessed be!

Diana & Ms. America
Saturday, January 24:  Diana and I got ourselves decked out in our finest High Priestess attire, checked out of the hotel, hopped in the Golden Chariot and made our way to the Goddess Temple of Orange County in Irvine, CA, an easy 20 min. jaunt.  The space dedicated as the Goddess Temple is located in an industrial park but the moment you walk thru the entrance you are transported to a very sacred space most auspiciously and gorgeously transformed by Ava Park, Founder & Presiding Priestess, and the attending priestesses.  In addition to the main sanctuary, there are various rooms exquisitely decorated for meditation/contemplation/relaxation.  The priestesses  who had assembled ahead of Diana and I were preparing the sanctuary for the 11 am service but they cheerfully stopped what they were doing to warmly greet us and escort us to the inner sanctuary where Rev. Ava smiled broadly and welcomed us with open arms.  As I turned my head away from Ava to look around the room a large than life Sekhmet statue obviously situated where one’s eyes would land. She was grandly illuminated and to her right was a regal throne-like chair which Ava instructed me was my seat for the day!  O yes! Queen for a day J

Following the opening ritual of blessing/cleansing each of service’s attendees with a frankincense smudge, Ava invited Amina, Priestess of Divination, to honor the four directions.  Ava then offered a beautiful homily reflecting on the phases of the moon, honoring the body and welcoming/acknowledging the elements of air, earth, fire and water within and without.

I was then invited to present the systrum and my (abbreviated) slide show all of which was well received. Blessed, blessed, blessed be!  There was much enthusiasm surrounding purchases, Thank Goddess/God/Goodness....

One more spin around still decked in goddess gear
and "running into" SEAN LEE!
... and then Diana and I headed back to NAMM for one more go ‘round.  We said our goodbyes to the folks at Mid-East and then rendezvoused with Sean Lee and headed out for some supper.

Upon returning to Santa Monica, we floated into a supermarket still decked out in our priestess garb, never having taken the time to change since the Goddess Temple program. A handsome young man crossed our path in the produce aisle and said, “Where was that party and why didn’t I get an invitation.” Haha… we all exchanged smiles, struck up a conversation and then exchanged numbers et al, the magic of NAMM and the Goddess Temple still a swirl around and through us!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

NEW MOON in Aquarius February 8th 2016

According to Mystic Mama'astral insights,

“The New Moon in Aquarius is exact on Monday February 8th, 2016 ~
commencing a new lunar cycle that focuses on what is
evolving and radically shifting, changing and rearranging in our lives..."

As I reflect on what feels like an amazing acceleration of evolution, revolution and radical shifts in my life in this new year and approaching new moon, I couldn't help but consider the course of a conversation yesterday with my friends Lizzie and MaryAnn over lunch.  Lizzie suggested when faced with some of life's challenges ~ in particular we were referring to the dissolution of my thirty-year marriage ~ that it seemed I had the ability to readily "access" inner strength.  

T'was but a brief moment we three pondered how that could be so... I remembered myself as an insecure little girl and a teen with low (if any) self esteem.  So when/where did this inner strength derive/arrive?

I no sooner seemed to formulate the question when I sensed the illumination of flood light in my heart/mind, and with conviction found myself speaking aloud:
It was the dance  (through which I gained confidence, expression of my creativity, strength and resourcefulness).  

It is the dance!

It is the dance through which I realize my Inner Resources.

Millenia of movement 
based in women's empowerment

The empowerment of BEing in this body, this sacred garment we've been given for this lifetime's journey, MOVING through the world with fluidity and grace, proud to be a receptacle of life, a tabernacle of love and a woman who has evolved:  Born in the mid-20thC & BEcoming a representative in the 21stC of a lineage of Musician Priestesses, Dancers & Chantresses dating back thousands of years!

~ Honored am I to "wear" this mantle ~

NOTE: Back in March of 2002 Gloria Steinem visited Lehigh University and I was very impressed with the theme of her talk, i.e., "Self-esteem is the source of the feminist revolution," and since the dance gifted me improved self-esteem (and I consistently invite my class participants to explore graceful fluid movements reconnecting us with the women in our ancestry), I thought to myself, "Well, I guess I'm part of the revolution! Viva la revolución! I maintain a firm belief:these ancient arts facilitate improved and elevated self-esteem and feminine EVOLUTION and I am thrilled to be facing this New Moon with a focus on what is ....

and radically shifting

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Winter Solstice 2015

May you enjoy sweet blessings
of peace, love & light!

December 21, 2015 11:49PM EST

Winter solstice is a signal to celebrate. For those of us living on the northern part of Earth, this is the shortest day, but then after the winter solstice, the days get longer, the nights shorter.

This season reminds us of the ever-changing flow of life. I invite you to honor this time with a meaningful ritual. Creating a ritual can be as simple as lighting a candle with an intention in your heart to commemorate this pivotal moment and re-kindle your inner fire!

Let there be Light!  SSSsssSesheshet*
*the singing/ringing sound of the Systrum

  • CANDLELIGHT CEREMONY:   Here is a nice way to commemorate the Solstice with friends or family. Place one large unlit candle on your table with smaller unlit candles for each person. Turn off all the lights, spend a few moments of quiet contemplation in the dark and then the host or hostess lights the main candle offering a blessing.  After that, one by one, each person lights his/her candle from the main flame offering a word of gratitude and placing the candles in a circle around the main one. Once all candles are lit, in unison offer a song or simply saying, "Happy Solstice.”


  • This can take a simple form ~ e.g., family and friends ringing bells together ~ or it can be as ceremonious as bells/systrum being rung after each person in the circle shares a word of gratitude.

    Start with choosing a bell to ring or a systrum to shake. Bells can be of varying sizes and types, but, ideally, blend well when rung together. Brass bells and/or jingle bells are commonly available and have long time associations with the season.For a bell ringing/systrum shaking Solstice circle, family and friends gather together in a circle. Each has a bell or systrum in hand. The host or hostess preferably with a systrum in hand shakes it to clear the space and then says a few words about the Solstice being the start of the new solar year... let us ring out the old year and ring in the new year. By shaking the systrum a sacred space is created as an antidote to the world's chaos.

    Family and friends gathered might ring bells and shake systrum honoring the directions (as inspired by spiritual practice of many traditions ~ i.e, Native American, Buddhist, etc.) as follows: Begin by facing each of the compass points (North, East, South, West), ring the bells and shake systrum in unison, honoring connections with each sacred direction. Repeat in the three directions: upward, the place of the cosmos; downward, the place of the planet; and center; the Divine within.

    In place of, or in addition to, individual direction honoring, ring the bells and shake systrum together to celebrate the familial and friend connections; again ring them in unison to celebrate our connection with the cycles of Nature; and then they ring them a third time in unison to celebrate our connection with life on planet Earth and all of Nature.

    Finally, from the oldest to the youngest, each person is invited to speak a vision or wish for the planet for the coming year after which the bells and systrum are played together to affirm that vision/wish. After all have shared, the ceremony ends as the entire ensemble calls out ""Happy Solstice” three times with a resounding ringing of all bells and/or systrum!

            Wishing you a blessed holiday season!

      Sunday, November 29, 2015

      Early influences of Egyptian Mother Goddess

      When I was very young, around three years of age, my paternal grandparents boarded a steamship to cross the Atlantic and live overseas for several years.  I will never forget the day of their departure and the thrill of visiting them in their stateroom with my parents, aunts and uncles, all with cocktails in hand toasting "Bon Voyage"...

      Top row: Grandma Florence, my dad Jack, Uncle Bob, Grandpa George
      Bottom row:  Aunt Kay, Aunt Margaret Elizabeth and Uncle George
      Finally, the appointed hour arrived, the horn sounded alerting us to disembark and we are all ushered down the ramp used to exit the vessel.  From the dock we waved goodbye amidst paper streamers the ship's passengers were given to throw from the ship to family and friends below, all part of the ceremony of embarking on the cruise during the heyday of the passenger steamship!

      My grandparents lived in Athens for several years and I remember how thrilling it was to get a letter or postcard from them.  Back in the late 1950's the most expedient means of communication was a telegram (yes, I AM dating myself here); overseas telephone calls were practically unheard of, so a letter with a stamp from a foreign country was quite an exotic delivery in one's mailbox!

      While living overseas they traveled to many places and a distinct memory from my early childhood is viewing their slideshow upon their return to the US. Two slides in particular have left an indelible mark.  One was of Green folk dancers and the other was of my grandmother and grandfather seated upon camels with the pyramids in the background.  I wish I knew what happened to those slides; nonetheless, I suppose these were among the first seeds planted sparking my lifelong enthusiasm for ancient Egyptian studies. Also, I distinctly recall the folkloric applique wall hangings they brought back for each of their children.  My father was gifted an applique of a farmer in the field with his cattle while I coveted the one they gifted his older sister ~ i.e., Egyptian Mother Goddess Isis with her loving wings spread open in a welcoming gesture.  Long story short, that applique now enjoys a prominent place on my living room wall (see below):

      All this to say, as many of you know, I have spent a great deal of my life investigating ancient Egypt.... and I can no longer be silent in revealing that I have been steadfast in calling the extremist terrorists "extreme extremist terrorists."  I refrain from using any other terminology when repeatedly shocked and saddened by their dastardly deeds.  In a post by 'Greg' earlier this month at, "the influence  (of the Goddess Isis) was such that her worship continued for more than 3000 years, not only in Egyptian culture, but also by the high civilizations of the ancient Greeks and Romans as well. Fast forward the better part of five millennia, and it has taken just three years for a loose assortment of low-life scumbags to co-opt that name ... For whatever reasons, (this) group has become popularly referred to as the same name as this beloved Goddess, largely through mass media repetition and then reinforcement through discussions on social media." (UGH! Arrrgh!)

      I for one (among many I am sure) have been steadfast invoking the wings of Isis, beloved mother goddess of ancient Egyptian cosmology, along with beloved Mother Goddess Hathor to please, please, please fill the heart/minds of the extremist terrorists with the guidance, love and light missing in their lives and transform their deeds to be for the good of humanity and the planet. I invite you to join the plea for the media to relabel the extremist terrorists.

      Please understand and be clear Isis is a name
      to be invoked to shower love and light
      throughout the universe.

      Svāhā sššt sššt sššt

      PS:  Click here for an interesting overview of the "relationship" of Hathor & Isis

      Saturday, October 3, 2015

      ... and before Egypt, before Crete, before Spain, Mother Maui beckoned

      Mystical Magical Maui

      Sultana's invitation promised an "unforgettable journey initiated through dance, music, art, poetry, ritual, mythology, affirmation, meditation and the breathtaking beauty and majestic embrace of Maui."

      Maui, February 1998:  yours truly with my Guru, my mentor, my lifelong friend,
      MIMI in her Egyptian Priestess attire complete with the wings of Goddess Isis
      who along with the inspiration & protection of Goddess Hathor,
       I enjoy oso many blessings

      Sultana and Safiya Al-Nour offered classes in dramatic and elegant dance as a healing art .  The special guest teachers included world-class performing artists:  Omar Faruk Tekbilek, heavenly mystic and master musician; his lovely wife Suzan, who shared authentic Turkish dance with us; Aisha Ali, who offered North African Tribal Dance as well as lovely choreography to "Raks Tahia," music composed for the legendary Tahia Carioca; and Mimi Janislawski, who has traveled a unique path to her chosen career as an exponent of Bharatanatyam.
      Mimi Janislawski
      Traveling to this retreat in mid-winter (February 17-23, 1998), my intent for participating was simple - to become refreshed and renewed. Over the course of the previous twelve months several family members had passed and as fate would have it, their funeral details were my privilege to attend to.  By treating myself to this event my hope was to carve myself a little niche to allow time for self care as well as honoring my creativity.  Little did I know how truly profound this experience would unfold to be!

      In the beautifully transformed space at the rustic oceanside property of Camp Keanae, nestled high on the cliffs above the Keanae Peninsula, participants found the main dance space a glow with candlelight.  Sultana welcomed us, opening the camp with a beautiful prayer ceremony.  A traditional Hawaiian ancestral welcome followed thus blessing the space as a sanctuary of love and light.

      We then gathered together for a superb meal in the dining hall and into the night we enjoyed music by a campfire light.

      Resting in the bunk of our cabin I could hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore line washing a healing sound over me.  It rained almost every night which I found to be personally symbolic as well - all part of a cleansing ritual, washing away the high speed pace of the nineties lifestyle, slowing me down to listen to the creator within.

      Beloved Romeo
      By the morning of the third day I began to feel a sense of healing taking place so much greater than I ever imagined, thanks in no small measure to the healing gifts of Romeo Folvarko*, whose presence was integral to this magical retreat.  He generously blessed this camp supporting the parents by watching children and helping in the kitchen.  In addition, his perceptive chiropractic technique released strongholds of life's tensions for many of the camp's participants, pulling out the stress and freeing us to fully absorb all the wonderful music and dance this camp had to offer!

      At that morning's class Mimi Janislawski, our Classical Indian Bharatanatyam dance instructor, began teaching us a flower offering with great attention to our posture and focus. As I practiced the exercise my focus became a beautiful red ginger plant and I was flooded with appreciation feeling the glorious natural wonder of Maui all around me.

      Following Mimi's class Sultana led a relaxation and stretching session accompanied by Don V. Lax, a violin virtuoso, whose presence also graced this retreat.  Their divinely inspired collaboration touched my heart strings bringing tears of gratitude to my eyes.

      That night at dinner I had the good fortune to be seated next to Suzy and Faruk who were talking with Mimi. Faruk told his tale of being a professional musician during his youth in Turkey but that when he came to the United States could only play his music on weekends while working to support his family as a presser in a taylor factory.  At first it seemed oppressive but then he got the coat pressing down to a 9/8 rhythm!  Put the coat this way was "1" then flip it over "2", this side "3" and so on.  The big machine had an F tone and other machines other tones that he vocalized with.  This is when he began to realize what a gift from God he had.

      Faruk realized he could find the music and the rhythm
      anywhere and everywhere. 

      After dinner we were blessed with a heartfelt scholarly lecture presentation by Patricia Rife, University of Hawaii professor, on the spiritual life and times of Jelalludin Rumi, the 13th century mystic/poet whose escatic turning towards Allah was the inspirational founding of the "Whirling Dervishs" in the Mevlevi Order. She explained the five very different Sufi orders and how their practices all relate to the Quran and Islamic practice of zikr - chanting prayers to God.  Slides of historical woodblocks and lithographs of the dervishes in Turkey and the Middle East complemented her insightful talk in praise and remembrance of Rumi's wonderful "enlightment" by the dervish Shams of Tabris.  We were encouraged to read Rumi's 13 volumes: "Come, come, whoever you are!" Patricia is a pioneering female Sufi who has broken through traditional barriers in her own spiritual quest.

      The next morning while having breakfast we were treated to a whale swimming merrily along in the waters just beyond the Keanae peninsula.  It was a bright sunny morning with a gentle tropical breeze wafting through the palms and ti leaves.  We delighted in her greetings!  On an excursion outside the camp another participant witnessed a whale rolling on her back slapping her flippers, then rolling on her tummy slapping her tail and then twirling up in the air!  Everytime Blue Mountain of Ahimsa Sanctuary Farm played his pennywhistle she jumped up to see who was playing for her.

      Day Four's morning class with Mimi began with our watching and following as she presented her choreography to Hymn to the Goddess, excerpts from The Saundarya-Lahari Tantra by Sri Shamkara-Bhagavatpeda (8th Century).

      "Supreme Goddess...gracious smiling countenance
      radiant as moonlight luster."  

      So beautiful, so cosmic and so expertly taught by this woman - the manifestation of excellence who has perfected her performance art and mastered her craft of teaching.

      At lunch Darryn Songbird, one of the camp's participants and a fine musician and storyteller, told a lovely tale of the Goddess and Buddha and Mimi spontaneously interpreted it through mudras and pantomime.  For those of us who had quietly gathered around it was quite a magical moment.

      That afternoon a gentle breeze blew as the musical strains of Priyo's guitar caressed the wind.   The guitar music was then blended with Don's violin and it just really could not have been more heavenly:   A beautiful view, pleasant temperature, and the music of two masterful musicians swirling all around me.  I succumbed and went into the otherwise vacated space.  I danced with a free spirit allowing the music to flow through me and all around me.

      Every night the campfire glowed.  Mystical flute melodies, pulsing dumbecs, and ringing finger cymbals rose high above the cliffs creating an experience that will be forever imbedded in my heart/mind.

      Being in Maui in the company of master dancers and musicians touched me very deeply and most profoundly.  Coupled with the sound of the waves and the tropical breezes I felt as though I was floating in the cosmic ocean.

      It was at this retreat I made friends with the lovely Mirayah Delamar who along with her husband and children had just relocated to the Maui and I have had the privilege to behold their Maui Sacred Earth vision she and her husband held in their hearts become a reality! A lovely dancer named Shakina displayed her artful batiks in our dining hall, where I might add we had one delicious dinner after another.  On my last day at camp one of her pieces symbolically found its way to me - a woman rising from Maui's turquoise waters swirling amidst hearts and stars under the crescent moon.

      Participating in an event like this provided the opportunity to internalize the music and rhythms. Connecting to these traditions steeped in antiquity I advanced to deeper levels of self-expression.

      Sultana Al-Nour gathered together so many beautiful, talented, generous people, I consider it an honor and a blessing to have been counted among them.

      *Romeo and I became good friends and remained connected over the years until his untimely passing....I am blessed beyond measure to have counted Romeo among my dearest friends. I am comforted to know his light now shines amidst the stars.