Unity in Diversity. Thursday evening meetings, 6.00-7.00 pm, starting 3 February to April 2022. Guest speakers on features of spiritual diversity.St. Mary’s Church, Totnes, Devon, UK

St. Mary’s Anglican Church, built initially around the 14th century, now hosts regular hourly meetings.

The Church itself recognises the longstanding tradition of the Protestant faith while acknowledging a range of worldwide teachings with knowledge of spirituality, religious faith and mystical experience. Located halfway up the Totnes high street, the Church has taken a major step in welcoming diversity inside the church itself.

The vision to hold unity in diversity meetings reflects a common perception of Totnes. People are drawn to Totnes for the opportunity to engage in depths of exploration, personal, social and global. We feel much appreciation for this initiative of St. Mary’s to bring together tradition and other expressions of the human spirit.

A thank you to Fr. Tim Barlow, Rector of St. Mary’s, who inspired this initiative. A thank you to Sue and Carlos of Totnes and heir team for working to put these events together.

Thursdays 6.00pm – 7.00pm.  in St Mary’s Church, Totnes, Devon, UK.

Do come. Listen to some wonderful speakers and ask questions.

3 Feb The Cathars of Languedoc

Catharism (a word translated from the Greek meaning “the pure ones”) was a Gnostic movement that thrived in Southern Europe (particularly in Northern Italy and Southern France) between 12th and 14th centuries. The religion was savagley persecuted by the Catholic Church which did not recognise the unorthodox beliefs and rites. Michael will outlive their practices, legacy and influence in the Languedoc region of France.

Michael Elsmere: For much of my career I was a teacher / lecturer in English Language and Literature, Linguistics and of English as a Foreign Language in UK, Europe and the Middle East. I have also facilitated many Creative Writing courses in UK and Europe.

10 Feb Appreciation of Unity and Celebration of Diversity.

“Unity and diversity dance together”: in tonight’s experience Satish will help us embody this understanding and deepen our relationship and oneness with the Unity of Life. He will guide us in meditation, moving beyond dogma, division and fanaticism. “Nature is our nationality, And love is our religion. All living beings are sustained by the same breath of life.”  Thus we can relax, come home and rest in the unity state of consciousness.

Satish Kumar. Life-long activist and former monk, Satish Kumar has been inspiring global change for over 50 years. In his 20s, Satish undertook a peace-pilgrimage for nuclear disarmament, walking without money from India to America. Now in his 80s, Satish has devoted his life to campaigning for ecological regeneration, social justice and spiritual fulfilment. An acclaimed author and international speaker, Satish founded The Resurgence Trust, an educational charity that seeks a just future for all. To join Satish in protecting people and planet  become a member of Resurgence (with 20% off), which includes subscription to Resurgence & Ecologist.

17 Feb Sophia Wisdom Tradition 

 In the Christian tradition deep wisdom is personified by Sofia. She was present when God created the Earth but there is no established practice to connect to her. She was invoked at President Trump’s inauguration, is showing up in other unexpected ways around the world, but remains mysterious and unknown. In these unstable times she offers connection to a rich and aeons-old wisdom centre that we all contain within us. Sam and Isabel will introduce you to Sofia, sharing their own practices and experiences of inviting Sofia into their lives.

Isabel Carlisle & Sam Wernham

Isabel has lived in Totnes since 2010 working first with Transition Network and then with the Bioregional Learning Centre. She grew up in the Christian tradition, has practised Buddhism from 2000, directed the Festival of Muslim Cultures that took place in 2006, has explored Taoism and is committed to an ever-deepening relationship with Sofia. Rev Sam Wernham is the founder of Wild Church/Monastics and the Wild Wisdom School, which offer safe spaces for people of any faith or none to deeply explore mystical teachings and practices. She draws particular inspiration from the spirituality of early Christianity, as practiced by the mothers and fathers of Celtic and Desert monasticism.

24 Feb Half  Term
3 Mar Astrology – “The Word, or Message, of the Stars”.

 It is likely that Humanity itself, or a significant proportion of it, was “Seeded”, from the Stars – a narrative that myths and legends of all cultures tend to support.

By our awareness of the movements and alignments of the Planets, and, on a different scale, the Stars themselves, we may connect more fully with the life and Being of the  Cosmos, the Great Spirit.  The Stars and Planets are the visible representatives of Great Spirit, as are we – to an extent far more than is generally understood.

David Matthews: David was born in West Cornwall in 1950, into a family long embedded in the Tin and Copper mining tradition of the Far West. From childhood, he had astrological and kindred interests. He was confirmed, incidentally, into the Church of England age 14; subsequently went on a long journey through the rich landscape of Spirituality in all its manifestations. He has lived in South Devon/Totnes since 1984. Broadcaster, Astrologer, and currently a Totnes Town Councillor.

10 Mar Gospel of St Thomas 

The Gospel of Thomas is known as the 5th Gospel. The full text was discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt only in 1945 though fragments of it were known before. Scholars believe that of the five main Gospels it reflects most closely the words of Jesus. In this session we will look briefly at the context and background to the text but focus on its teachings on personal transformation.

Roger Hill: Roger is a member of Totnes Quaker Meeting. He studied for the “Equipping for Ministry” course at Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre, Birmingham where he is an Associate Tutor. He also completed a PG Certificate in “The Religious Experience” at the University of Wales, Lampeter.

17 Mar The Work That Reconnects

 The Work That Reconnects provides practices and perspectives drawn from deep ecology, systems thinking, and spiritual traditions that elicit our existential connectivity with the web of life through space and time. It aims to empower each one of us to play our part in the healing of our world.

Maren Freeland: Maren Freeland lives close to the earth at Landmatters Permaculture community. Her work aims to counteract modern society’s widespread “disconnection disease” and empower change. She offers Nature Connection facilitation and Systemic Embodied Coaching, contact: marenfreeland@gmail.com; www.untamed.org.uk.

24 Mar Zikr and Embodiment

Deborah will be introducing us to Dhikr (Zikr). Zikr simply means to remember or to remind oneself. In many Spiritual traditions we`re invited to remember. To remember who we are. To remember our inter-connectedness. To remember our essence as Love. In zikr we repeat the mantra La `ilaha `illa allah as a way of remembering the ineffable reality; absence and presence; emptiness and fullness; the name beyond all names. Remembering is not a one-off moment but a generative process. Through sacred chants and gentle movement, we will have an opportunity to connect with the Source of all Beings.

Deborah Parsons. Revd. Prebendary Deborah Parsons is Team Vicar of Totnes and Interfaith Advisor for the Diocese of Exeter. As a spiritual midwife and mystic, she sees herself as an instrument of grace, supporting others to bring to birth their inherent beauty and wholeness, so that they can live life with courage, authenticity and joy. Her training with the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation in London has given her a heart for how to speak about the numinous and to recognise the divine spark in all of creation.

31 Mar Title & Details coming soon


7 Apr Our Plant Relations.

 As we look at the world from a shamanic perspective we can see the interconnection of all life on Earth, the seen and unseen, woven together as one.

A considerable part of this weave features our plant relations.

When we fully recognize that each plant is unique, alive and holds spirit – as each of us does – then we can open the doors of connection to them.

During this experiential talk we will explore our connection to plants, opening to their wisdom and their power of healing they can so generously provide.

Lorraine Chamberlain. Lorraine is a shamanic practitioner and healer. Currently she co- facilitates on an accredited shamanic healing training and holds regular workshops on connecting to the healing wisdom of plants.


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