Circle Sanctuary at the 2015 Parliament of the World's Religions

pwr2015October 15-19
Salt Palace Convention Center
Salt Lake City, Utah, USA


Circle Sanctuary is among the religious organizations and communities from around the world taking part in the Parliament of World’s Religions.

DELEGATES: Circle Sanctuary has more than forty in its delegation, including Circle Sanctuary ministers, ministers in training, other community members, and Circle Network associates.  

REPORTS: Circle Sanctuary delegates share news, reflections, and photos about the Parliament of the World's Religions

EXHIBIT BOOTH: In addition, Circle Sanctuary will have a booth in the exhibit area (Booth #459) with literature about our work, and Paganism, Ecopsychology, and Nature religion.

PRESENTATIONS:  Some of Circle Sanctuary’s delegates will be speaking and presenting rituals.


Presentations include:

Friday, October 16

Enhancing Understanding & Community across Religious, Cultural & Ethnic Boundaries
Part of a Multi-session: A Road to Peace & Interfaith Dialogue
2-3:30 pm in Room 251 F

This workshop will share why a dialogue group is beneficial to a community, how to begin a dialogue group, ideas for how it can function, the opportunity to experience what it is like, the skills to do this and suggestions for topics to discuss.  Three members of the Madison Interfaith Dialogue group from Wisconsin will share their experiences in dialogue as well as lead an experience of dialogue.

Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary will be among the presenters of this workshop along with Interfaith minister Karen Ingvoldstad and Buddhist teacher & Lutheran pastor Bob ko shin Hanson.


Healing Mother Earth
Morning worship service
8:30 am – 10 am in Room 252 AB

A ritual that incorporates invocation & song for the healing of Mother Earth

Rev. Shel Skau of Circle Sanctuary will facilitate.


A Final Gift to the Planet
Part of a Multi-session: Death Cafe & A Final Gift to the Planet
11:45 am – 1:15 pm in Room 155 F

No matter what religious or spiritual tradition we follow, we are all going to die one day. What if 'Our Last Act' Could Be a Gift to the Planet? What if instead of our present day funeral methods of burying hundreds of thousands of tons of steel, concrete, and hard woods into the Earth each year as well as massive amounts of toxic chemicals, we could explore alternative choices that are Earth friendly? What if there was an alternative to the expanse of real estate acreage now devoted to the burial of our beloved dead being rendered unusable? This panel of Death Midwives and Pagan Ministers, and California attorney and interfaith activist, Dr. Barbara McGraw are offering a presentation and discussion about our final rites of passage, and how we can make them count toward a more sustainable planet. In these days of environmental concern and eco-awareness, Pagans are often found at the forefront of the Green moment. We view the Earth as sacred thus; a sustainable planet in harmony with nature is our religion. We are grateful that other religions have recently begun to embrace these concepts. 

Rev. Shel Skau of Circle Sanctuary will be among the panelists along with Angie Buchanan & Barbara McGraw of Earth Traditions.


Diversity & Interfaith Dialogue in Counseling
Part of a Multi-session: Diversity & Interfaith Dialogue in Counseling & Psychotherapy
2-3:30 pm in Room 250 D

Interreligious differences between counselors and clients may initially appear daunting and certainly do require cultural competence and specific education about spirituality and religion in varied cultural contexts. They also call for considerable thoughtfulness, patience, empathy, compassion, heartfelt engagement/alliance, and soulful listening skills that go both ways in the counseling relationship. On the surface, the exoteric differences between the client and counselor—or the external structure of religious beliefs, values, and practices of the client and those of the counselor— may sometimes appear to be in opposition and in potential conflict. Counselors may find it challenging to not impose strong values on clients. However, as the counseling relationship strengthens, surprising commonalities may sometimes emerge in the esoteric or deeper value placed on the mysteries that lie at the core of faith traditions, where differences are revealed as more illusory and based on terminology and semantic differences. Even where differences prevail at all levels, religious and spiritual diversity in the counseling relationship can be a rich source of insight and psycho-spiritual transformation for both client and counselor. In this panel, four counselors who specialize in religious and spiritual issues in counseling will share experiences and unique perspectives.

Rev. Shel Skau of Circle Sanctuary is moderator of this panel that also includes Vivianne Crowley, Drake Spaeth, & Elaine Casquarelli.

Sunday, October 18

Brigid Healing Ritual
One of the early morning worship services
7-8 am in Ballroom E

This spiritual healing ceremony includes honoring and working with the Celtic Goddess Brigid for healing others, self, and Planet Earth. The ritual features old Scottish invocations, contemporary facilitated meditation, and chanting, and attunement to Brigid in several of Her traditional sacred forms, including as Great Mother of Holy Waters, Sacred Oak, and Solar Fire.  This ceremony is focused on bringing together participants in sacred ways to support each other, to pray for those not present who have needs, and to pray for more compassion, peace, justice, and sustainability in the world. 

Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary will be facilitating this ceremony with others from Circle Sanctuary assisting.  Ceremony will include music by Celia and by Ruth Barrett.


Priestesses, Prophetesses, Sibyl & Seers: ancient Role Models for Modern Women
Panel Discussion
8:15 - 9:45 am in Ballroom E

Exploring how the women's spirituality movement and its rebirthing of lost and suppressed history of ancient Goddesses is having a profound impact on women's lives, on values, & the broader culture.

Rev. Selena Fox will be among the panelists in this discussion facilitated by Carol Christ & Phyllis Curott


Ecopsychology & Global Climate Change: Need for Dialogue & Action
Part of Multi-session: Ecopsychology, Spirituality, & the Creative Industries
10-11:30 am in Room 251 F

Around 97% of researchers concur that global climate change is happening and that human factors are largely responsible. Most alarming, many scientists suggest that this is happening in much more rapidly and dramatically than predicted. Yet, significant numbers of people deny global climate change and the human role. If individuals do accept the prevailing view of science, they may take few, if any, steps to make a meaningful difference. This workshop will consider psychological explanations for this inaction and engage participants in a discussion about ways to motivate ourselves and others to work for a more sustainable future. Consideration will be given to ways that the spiritual and religious worldviews of participants may help frame awareness and action.

Dr. Dennis D. Carpenter & Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary will be presenting.


Goddesses Alive! A Ritual with Masks
1:45-3:15pm in Ballroom I

An interactive performance. Masks in traditional societies are viewed as liminal tools, as “vessels for the sacred powers.” With a mask it is believed the Gods & Goddesses can visit, tell their stories, give their blessings, heal or even give prophecy.  Masks have so much transformative power. One might say that they are like cups, waiting to be filled.  The Masks of the Goddesses were created to investigate, re-claim, & re-invent these important universal stories, as well as empowering women to explore each archetypal presence within herself.

Rev. Jerrie Hildebrand of Circle Sanctuary will be among the Masked Goddesses in this sacred theatre piece by Lauren Raine MFA & Macha Nightmare.

Monday, October 19

Circle for Planet Earth
One of the early morning worship services
7-8 am in Room 355 B&C

This is an intrafaith Pagan ceremony grounded in Wiccan, Druidic, Heathen, Pantheistic, and other Pagan traditions from the USA and other parts of the world. It is open to those of all faiths and philosophies who seek to honor and attune to dimensions of Nature in sacred ways. This participatory ceremony includes meditations, music, movement, and prayers for environmental healing and wellness for the interconnected Circle of Nature on Planet Earth. 

Rev. Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary will be facilitating, assisted by others from the Circle Sanctuary Community and from other Pagan organizations and traditions.  Ceremony will include music by Ruth Barrett, by Celia, and others.


Greening Life's End
Part of Multi-session: Caring for our Dead & Greening Life’s End
12:15–1:45 pm in Room 250 A

This presentation features a talk followed by group discussion. It begins with an introduction to Green cemeteries, which combine natural burial, an ancient practice, with intentional conservation of Green space, a contemporary approach which has been growing in popularity in the USA, Europe, and other parts of the world. It then examines the development of Circle Cemetery, which is located on Circle Sanctuary Nature Preserve near Barneveld, Wisconsin, is one of America's first Green cemeteries. It is a national Pagan cemetery owned and operated by Circle Sanctuary, a rural church serving Nature religion practitioners worldwide. Burial at Circle Cemetery is open to Pagans of many traditions as well as those of other forms of spirituality that honor Nature. This presentation describes the establishment of the cemetery, plus its collaborative networking with other Green cemeteries over the years. This talk includes examples of Pagan and interfaith natural burial ceremonies at Circle Cemetery, and ways that the cemetery has become a pilgrimage place for those seeking to remember loved ones with remains there as well as for environmentalists and others seeking to learn more about Green cemeteries and natural burial.

Rev. Selena Fox & Rev. Nora Cedarwind Young of Circle Sanctuary presenting.


Songs of the Earth - A Cantata in Praise of this Earth
3:45 - 5 pm in Plenary Hall

Songs of the Earth is part of the Closing Plenary.  Heather Ockler of Circle Sanctuary will be among those in the Parliament Choir performing the Cantata, accompanied by strings and percussion.