Tag Archives: music

Alchemy Fest 2015 [Photos and Video]

photo by Tanya Sharkey

photo by Tanya Sharkey

Thank you so much for making our 10th Annual Alchemy Fest event an amazing celebration of transformation and community. We’re already looking forward to next year.

Thank you to our leadership team and to the rest of the planning committee and all the volunteers. This event would literally NOT be possible without you. Thank you to all of our vendors and sponsors. This event could not happen year after year without your contributions and financial support, and we appreciate you so much.

We saw over 400 attendees over the course of the day, over 90 pre-sold tickets (the most we’ve ever had), 36 completed Green Cards, 3 big raffle winners and 38 satisfied vendors (again, a new record).

I can’t say how happy it makes me to see that this community and family-friendly event continues to grow and stay true to its mission of connecting and showcasing amazing and talented LOCAL people while honoring Earth Day, the arrival of Spring, the spirit of transformation, and so much more.

Thank you, again. I know that next year will be even bigger and better and I know that we will cross paths in the meantime to create more meaningful and transformative events and experiences (though not quite as labor-intensive as this one) for the members of our community.

You have my sincere gratitude.

Looking forward,
Joran

photo by Cassidy Brooks

photo by Cassidy Brooks

Obscure Belly Dance by Caroline Hekate.

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The Offering of the Stones: An Integral Church Tradition

 

 

SUN-4

Beginning in 2013, Integral Church has held services on the third Sunday of the month in St. Petersburg, FL. The gathering is held outdoors* at Crisp Park, a city park which features a gated area for children to play. Typically, childcare is provided for families who want to bring their young ones.

A wooden “altar” (fashioned out of an old corned beef shipping container) and a pail of stones is placed in the shady area formed by a triangle of trees. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets or cushions to form a circle around it and ensure that everyone can see (and hear) one another.

And, then, “church” starts. But it’s probably not like any church you’ve seen.

Integral Church is a community of people who have abandoned the trappings of the traditional, one-to-many worship experience found in many Christian churches as well as the rigid and dogmatic teachings of many of the Buddhist and Taoist centers.

However, at any given gathering of Integral Church, you will hear those traditions cited (as well as those of Islam, Judaism, Gnosticism, Native American/nature religions and more). That’s because Integral Spirituality includes them all. It is an interfaith and interspiritual group expression — a post-modern approach to religion and a celebration of the sacred.

It honors and includes the goodness, truth and beauty found along the cultural spectrums of the world’s faith traditions while it explores the spiritual tools and practices of its individual members.

It is the path and practice of pluralism.

*An indoor First Thursday service was added in 2015.


What follows is the current Order of Service for an Integral Church gathering. The program usually runs 90 minutes.

  1. Opening music
  2. Introductions and Announcements (6:30 p.m. or 10:30 a.m. sharp; introduction by first/last name, recognition of new guests, community announcements, upcoming events and passing of the friend-sourcing journal)
  3. Toning (the singing bowl is struck three times)
  4. Moment of Silence
  5. Offering of the Stones (see guidelines below)
  6. Music (usually a musical guest, but can be an interactive chant, kirtan or activity)
  7. Spiritual Discussion (sometimes a guest speaker, usually followed by Q&A and open discussion)
  8. Selected Reading (usually a short poem or reading from scripture or sacred text)
  9. Meditation
  10. Offertory (donations are collected in a bowl in the center of the circle)
  11. Integral Dedication (spoken in unison, standing as group members are able, and holding hands)
The beginnings of the stone collection at the very first service held at Straub Park in 2013.

The beginnings of the stone collection at the very first service held at Straub Park in 2013.

Offering of the Stones: Community Guidelines

by Joran Oppelt and Catherine St. John

Each month, we dedicate a section of our service to intentionally working together to create a “well” of love and healing for our members to tap into any time they need. The idea behind the “Offering of the Stones” ritual is a synthesis of an improvisational Neopagan “reclaiming” ritual, the candle-lighting ritual of “Joys and Concerns” from Unitarian Universalism and traditions as far-reaching as Catholic Taize prayer service and the Quaker “spirit of the meeting” — four very diverse religious ideologies.

In lieu of having a physical building or location for us to visit when we need prayer, meditation or spiritual support, we work together to create a “well” of intentions — a place to store our gratitude, love and healing; a place that may be returned to in our hearts and minds between services anytime we need.

Continue reading


Leaning Forward: The Art of Living on the Spiritual Path [VIDEO]

FULL AUDIO: http://uustpete.org/service/2014-09-07/new-beginnings

TRANSCRIPT:

What is your spiritual path?

When we talk about being “spiritual but not religious” or living a “spiritual” life, what do we mean exactly?

There are different ways we can define spirituality (its own line of development, the highest level or stage of any line of development, an attitude toward life – like compassion or love, a peak experience regardless of lines or stages, or the Ground of all being and experience). Spirituality means all of these things (and more) to so many. And when discussing spirituality with others, it’s important to determine which definitions are in play.

But one thing is for certain – the spiritual path should not be confused with our spiritual practice. The path is not what we do. It’s who we are, who we choose to be in each moment. It is the journey to which we are called.

And whatever we are called to do – whichever cause or organization or group of people we’re called to serve, this is also part of our path. It’s a sacred relationship, a spiritual contract held in place by the agreements you have with yourself – that you will serve on your path with integrity.

I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t admit to having doubts about my own worthiness – and my own qualifications. Not only in my career, but in parenting, in my pastoral and chaplain work, in community leadership, in my writing. Who am I to be deserving of these teachings and experiences that I’ve received? Who am I to be worthy of happiness in my life? Am I deserving of the opportunity to teach others?

Self-doubt sometimes greets you on the sunniest parts of the path.

Continue reading


Alchemy Fest 2014 [Photos and Video]

UPDATE: See photos from the 2014 event!

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Alchemy Fest is St. Petersburg’s 9th annual family­-friendly event featuring live music, interactive arts and crafts, food, an organic vendor marketplace, kids games and activities, dance performances, yoga, meditation, massage, workshops, magic and more! Bring the whole family and enjoy a beautiful day packed with music, art, education and fun!

Entertainment confirmed so far includes Hymn For Her, Good Graeff, Red Feather, Rebekah Pulley and Luxury Mane, plus the Noisemakers All Stars, Revolutions Dance, playshops by Rising Light, live art by Jerry Cahill and an opening ceremony featuring Jennifer Real.

There will be seven “Transformation Stations” set up throughout the event. To be entered to win the grand prize, containing donations from our sponsors and vendors, attendees must visit all stations and submit their completed “Green Cards” before the end of the day!

Visit the event page.

What: Alchemy Fest 9
When: Saturday, April 26; Noon – 6 p.m.
Where: First Unity Campus, 460 46th Ave. N., St. Petersburg, 33703
Who: Live music by Hymn For Her, Good Graeff, RedFeather, Luxury Mane and Rebekah Pulley, plus the Noisemakers All Stars, Revolutions Dance, playshops by Rising Light, live art by Jerry Cahill and an opening ceremony featuring Jennifer Real.
Tickets: $10 in advance at enlivenwellnessworks.com, $12 at the door, Kids 10 and under Free; Parking available on 46th Ave. N., all ages, plenty of parking and restrooms, stroller and wheelchair-friendly

RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/661768430510307/


A Spiritual Internship: My Journey as a Chaplain

Joran Slane Oppelt - Chaplain

Last weekend, I committed to a year-long chaplaincy at a local church.

For those that are unfamiliar, the purpose of a chaplain is to hold sacred space alongside the pastor, minister or spiritual leader – by assisting with prayer and/or meditation requests, making calls on the members of the congregation, and attending regular group meetings.

It’s basically a spiritual internship, with rounds to make and hours to satisfy, but primarily it’s an opportunity to develop my skills as a compassionate listener, and continue to hone my chops as a reverend and as a shaman. It’s truly a responsibility that I was honored to take on, and the inner rewards are many.

In the weeks leading up to the retreat, we had been advised to re-focus our efforts toward self-care, as it’s difficult to lead and open yourself to others when you haven’t done the work yourself. I had been dealing with some personal shadow work and some issues around “letting go.” Meditating on what it meant to lead and be led, and on how my roles as musician, father, marketer, husband, reverend, son, etc. all fit together.

The weekend-long retreat took place on the church property, located in St. Petersburg, and I was joined by 23 others who were drawn to the chaplaincy for various reasons, or were renewing their annual commitment (one woman was going on her 7th year). We were told the theme for this year’s retreat was “angels,” and I tried not to visibly roll my eyes. After all, I told myself, “angel” is just another word for a guiding energy from the bardo (or causal) realm, and I would surely be safe from any metaphysical mumbo jumbo as long as I interpreted my experience from a pragmatic (read: integral) perspective and listened from the compassionate centers of the heart.

It started off simple enough, with a lot of sharing and getting to know one another over communal meals and team-building activities. But on the second day, it started to become clear that I was truly in the right place at the right time.

As we were fully immersed in three hours of silence, taking turns in the labyrinth and in a sanctuary filled with musical instruments, we all drew Archangel Cards and were sent to the rose garden to write in our journals. I’m not sure what anyone else drew, but I drew a card labeled “Victory,” marked by the Archangel Sandalphon. Sandalphon is one of two angels (the other being Metatron) that, according to legend, started life as a mortal man and was allowed access to archangeldom for his numerous good deeds on Earth. Sandalphon’s chief purpose was to gather up the prayers of humans and send them as a glowing orb of white light to God.

“Victory,” I thought. Victory, indeed.

Not only am I blessed with a loving wife and family, but the serendipity of things continues to reveal itself to me in unexpected ways. Cards like the one I drew seemed less random when I realized that my path wasn’t so much a road, but a new mode of being. A state of perpetual insight and intuition, and also a stage of development that is tuned to the highest ethical ideals, the highest and most inclusive forms of consciousness. In other words, this new way of looking at the world is recognizing that you are an expression of Divine energy. That when you reflect on the Cosmos, you are staring at the best and most beautiful parts of yourself.

Not only was I tapping into the unfolding of cosmic consciousness – of which our own unfolding is but a small part – but I was learning to articulate these states and stages in the language of the heart. Continue reading


Improving Your Sunday Soundtrack

One of the most anti-climactic and disappointing elements of the traditional church service, to me, is not the message clouded in hyperbole. It’s not the sermon — delivered by motivational speakers with drawn-out, dramatic pauses. It’s not the church politics or the passing of the plate.

It’s the music.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t envy the job of the church musical director — keeping an eye out for new talent among the congregation, readying material with little time for rehearsal, limited budget for session players or name acts, politics from the board of directors who have family members who “love to perform.”

I understand it. But I don’t have to like it.

I’m a musician after all, and I have a hard time finding a musical service that both pleases the ear in composition and tonality and also moves the soul to the kind of heights necessary to attain spiritual reflection and illumination.

There is no sheet music for this, there is no cheat sheet or chart. It has to arise in the moment. And when it does, the whole room can feel it. Is this kind of performance too much to ask?

Please take a second to answer this one-question survey in the comments section below.

“I would go to church every Sunday (or more) if the band performing at the service was ______________.”

(Can be anyone, living or dead)