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AAARC has been an
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Rev. Nelson is a life coach and ordained minister. She can be reached by e-mail at RevJillNelson --at-- aol.com or through her website at StepBeyondCoach.com. Don Ross is the Queen Bee of Heresy, webmaster of his interfaith NichirensCoffeehouse.net and GayWineCountry.com, a GLBT business directory . You can email Don at Don --at-- classes.bz. Both serve on the Board of Directors at the A. Austin Amerine Retreat Center in Lake County. To learn more about AAARC, subscribe to our newsletter On Board the AAARC (join below).

Birthing Goddess Pond in Dialogue

Copyright by the Rev. Jill Nelson and Don Ross of the Amerine Retreat Center, May 2008.
This article was written for GaySonoma.com's Spirituality column.

Eavesdrop on a conversation between Don (neo-pagan Buddhist) and Jill (progressive Christian) as they chat about the Queer Spirituality of our future Goddess Pond site. Both are Board Members of the A. Austin Amerine Retreat Center in Lake County.

Don: Hey Jill, my dream long held in embryonic state of creating a Goddess Pond for the Amerine Retreat Center is beginning to come true. Mel Johnson, AAARC’s executive director, agreed to name his planned honey bee ag pond, Goddess Pond.

Jill: Wow, so you will finally have your pool of divine femininity in which to wade, good for you. I must say, I have always found it interesting how female identified you are, interesting and delightful I might add. Sometimes men really struggle with connecting to their balancing energy and it is always refreshing to find those who make it seem easy and fun. So, now that this dream is becoming a reality, tell me more about the pond.

Don: In March I was wandering around the property near the retreat center and I found a lovely knoll covered in pink wildflowers. I was in heaven. Thus I sat upon a rock and meditated upon what will become our future honey bee pond. Kwan Yin (S/he Who Responds to the Sufferings of the World) began to appear under this tree or that rock. The lovely statues of Her in our home began to call out to me with visions of themselves in nature. Is that so strange? The visions which persist thus, I transform into reality.

Jill: I am so there with you! I can feel the sun (a real task here in Oregon where it is still so rare this time of year), hear the honey bees buzzing and smell the flowers. There is something about the energy of the elements, especially of water that whispers to us of calm, and of uncontrollable power, and of peace - very much like every goddess I know. I will have to think about what shrine I want to see there - maybe Goddess Kali Ma (Hindu) - Liberator of Souls - Destroyer of Negativity, or perhaps the mother of it all, Gaia, the Greek Goddess of the earth?

Don: Thus far we have created nine shrines devoted to the Divine Feminine: several Kwan Yin from China; Tara, Mother of all Buddhas (Tibet); the Dragon Mother Shichimen of Kuon-ji (Japan); the late Rev Austin Amerine’s Mary, Mother of Jesus, and his Betsy Ross sewing her American Revolutionary flag; a Roman Venus de Milo and garden angel donated by the Rev Elder Debbie Martin of Open Arms MCC in Pahoa, HI, who created a shrine dedicated to her mother at the site. The Rev Paul Croeger of UCC City of Refuge in San Francisco donated glass votive candles for the shrines. (Slideshow of nature shrines available at QueenBeeRanch.com.)

Jill: I can see it forming in my head and will want to see the progress when I am there later this month. What a great way to spend a day or a weekend for that matter, connecting with nature, walking among the goddesses and finding yourself reflected in the water and the wind. Sometimes I wonder how different this world would be if more people listened to the divine feminine in their world and in their souls. Here’s to making that a little bit more real!

Don: We will be dedicating Goddess Pond this Memorial Day Weekend as we open the retreat center for GLBT friendly primitive wilderness camping for the summer. After 20 years in the making, the Amerine Retreat Center will open for business with on site staff. We will be building our first sweat lodge inside the bowl of the future Goddess Pond. The new tipi was just built for us by a wonderful pair of best friend Cherokee and Apache lesbians. It promises to be a memorable event as we continue to grow and evolve. Donations of your old female garden statuary and talismans for Goddess Pond gratefully accepted and enshrined in nature. Teepee and sweat lodge photos at QueenBeeRanch.com.

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