Psi Symposium is a 43 year old organization whose members are both UUs and others. They share an interest in sprituality, mysticism, psychic phenomena, intuitive development, survival of consciousness after death, alternative healing, unexplained phenomena, and spiritual implicaitons of scientific research. Psi Symposium has hosted an annual conference at Ferry Beach Camp and Conference Center for many summers.
This summer, Psi invited shamanic healer Pierre Garreaud to lead a series of workshops on the shamanic techniques he learned in Peru. His improvized singing, drumming and gongs create a sound texture that is rich and resonant. Pierre teaches about the Hindu chakras as related to an Incan energy cosmology, and his teaching is well-received by the Psi participants.
This afternoon, Psi leaders and Pierre led a one-hour healing circle. At the center of GAYLA Auditorium were more than a dozen bronze and glass gongs, wooden shakers and frame drums. They improvized for about twenty minutes while fifty participants meditated, paying attention to their breathing and seeking the free flow of deep, resonant energy in their bodies. Then Pierre began to sing, alternating between an evocative falsetto and a sturdy and melodious bass. I don’t know what of his song was in actual languages and what was gibberish (I almost imagined breaking into a niggun, like we used to at Temple Israel and Temple Isaiah), but the sheer sound–in its volume, lyricism, complexity–was extremely impressive. After about twenty minutes or so, the singing ceased and a leader led a guided meditation, including an invitation for people to send healing energy to people in pain.
The entire ceremony was full of emotion, not something we often find in Unitarian life. But Ferry Beach is a decidedly “Universalist-heritage” center, and access to an emotional center is easier here, even for a bunch of New England Yankees. I’m not ready to run off to take shamanic training, but I certainly treasure a group of people open to the emotional and spiritual connections that we can make with each other when we are willing to say that we need to be healed.