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Virginia Beach Study Group #9 Revives Sacred Tradition

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Virginia Beach Study Group #9 Revives Sacred Tradition
By Rev. Sharon James Fazel

Head and neck exercisesIt's been years, but here we are again. Doing Cayce's recommended head and neck exercises, sharing stories, taking turns reading aloud paragraphs from our study materials, and participating in a lively discussion. All of these things were part of our weekly study group meetings in Virginia Beach, Va. This had been the format for our group since the inception of Study Group #9 in 1982; it was the same format for our recent reunion in Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, from August 1-4, 2012. Seven members of the original group rented a townhome together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the group's founding.

Today, none of the reunion attendees are still in Virginia Beach. The Johnsons now live in Wisconsin. The Fazels have been Minnesotans since 1989. Dave Cassel lives in northwestern Idaho, near Canada's border. And the St. Jameses (formerly the Jangls) reside on Maui in Hawaii. While we are all a long way from Virginia Beach, we have all maintained contact with A.R.E., and our Study Group has had a continuing impact on our lives.

We spent our first evening "catching up" on highlights of each other's lives since the Virginia Beach days. The next evening, we revived the Study Group meeting format which had brought us all together 30 years ago. We chose to study the chapter on Ideals, from A Search for God (ASFG), Book I. Each member read aloud from the book, pausing to discuss each segment before the next person continued reading.

Each of us had experienced a change in our ideals, and we traced the evolution of our ideals—toward something less material and more other-centered. We had raised our children, developed businesses, built homes, and pursued our own spiritual development. For nearly everyone, the shifting of responsibilities and change in lifestyle as our children became adults marked major transformations in our view of the world and our roles within it, thus impacting our ideals. All of us remain members of A.R.E. and active in the body-mind-spirit practices offered in the Cayce readings. Nearly everyone also remained active in a faith community.

reading ASFG bookSpiritual ideals are still active elements in the lives of those gathered from Study Group #9. Yet, we shared with each other our difficulties in remaining true to the highest of ideals when one stands square in the face of another who actively challenges the nature of that ideal. Thus, forgiveness also became a major theme of discussion. We found this paragraph from the ASFG lesson relevant and testified to the truth of this advice which produced intense discussion:

Let us do all that we know to do, in love, and leave the results with God. Let us hold fast to that which we have purposed in our inner selves, knowing that no emergency in a material way or manner may arise that cannot find its solution in spiritual inspiration, for His promises are sure. Offenses may arise, yet with each and every fear there is that from within which will quiet our troubled minds, even as He quelled the tempest on the sea. As we seek, we find; as we knock, we are heard. If we are timid and fearful, or overcautious in giving out the hope which has sustained us, then we grow more weak and fearful ourselves.

To close our meeting, we shared an equally powerful brief meditation. The experience for most of us was devoid of the usual distractions that first-time meditators encounter. While we have not all continued the spiritual practice of daily meditation, we had learned and practiced it together 30 years ago so our meditation was spiritually nourishing. At the conclusion, we felt refreshed, hopeful, energized yet totally at peace. (As a matter of fact, this writer felt more like myself than I have for a long time!)

Being with these same individuals again after so many years, doing something that had been so long dormant in our experience was simultaneously easy and familiar—an experience of comfort far beyond words.

So, what had changed in the last 30 years? (Other than the obvious events of childrearing, loss of parents or other loved ones, and career changes?) What had changed at the core of each of us? Mary Johnson put it succinctly: "We've grown up," she said. Indeed, our appreciation for each other and for the ideals that we all hold was deepened by a sense of having not just passed through time, but having also gained a rich respect for the depth and breadth of human experience—a resonance with a dimension wider and deeper than can be measured by skin or by kin.

And, as was always true of this group from its inception, our presence with each other naturally included unbridled laughter! This is an invaluable dimension of our friendship and fellowship, and a keystone in spiritual health that too often goes by the wayside when engaging in the seriousness of trying to make a difference in the world. By all accounts, the members of Study Group #9, founded in 1982, in Virginia Beach, Va., counted this reunion a successful and rewarding venture, well worth the planning and the investment.

ASFG Group 9
Study Group #9, August, 2012 (left to right): Mark Johnson,
Mary Johnson, Alda St. James, Jim St. James, Dave Cassel,
Sharon Fazel, Chris Fazel

"Seems like we just picked up where we left off 25 years ago." (Jim [Jangl] St. James)

"The reunion was probably the highlight of 2012 for me…I want to keep in closer contact with all of you." (Dave Cassel)

"I was happy that it seemed everyone's lives had been positively influenced by our studies together." (Mark Johnson)

"It felt so natural and joyful to be with these dear friends again. The same connection that we had before, never left us!" (Alda St. James)

"The living spirit in the group – still vibrant – was real nourishment." (Chris Fazel)

Rev. Sharon James Fazel is Co-Pastor with her spouse, Rev. Christopher C Fazel, at First Congregational United Church of Christ (UCC), of Anoka, Minnesota. They have served there together since January 2, 2000.


Scattered Thoughts

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Scattered Thoughts
By Rev. Charles T. "Skip" Weatherford

I am a member of an "A Search for God" Study Group in Snydersville, Pa. We were interested in synchronicity and decided to study Mark Thurston's book on the subject. We ordered a dozen copies and dove right in. Mark's explanations are quite clear and our members began to bring in examples of their own experiences each week.

We meet every Tuesday night at a local center, and our lively group consists of young as well as older members. We all became more and more aware of the things happening around us every day and began to share our synchronistic stories.

Two sisters reported missing their exit off the interstate on their way home and having to get off at the next exit and work their way back on the side roads. Suddenly in the headlights appeared one of their cats, and they stopped to pick her up. At the next meeting we discussed the fact that what seemed like a simple mistake of missing an exit led to the discovery of the straying cat, and without that mistake the cat might not have been found.

iChing  trigrams 09.14.2012Most of the group had no experience using the I Ching, and we began to ask questions and read the results of the coin oracle given in the book. It surprised the group how useful the answers seemed to be. I asked the first question about what direction I should take with the work I was presently preparing. The answer warned me not to push forward but instead to pay attention to others' needs in order to allow time for things to come about in a natural way. It suggested I look at problems as opportunities and show patience. It has proved to be a good answer. We next asked about the coming changes foretold by so many, and were told that we should expect an increase in burdens and strong pressure from the outside but we were also cautioned against becoming pessimistic or allowing negative thinking to slow our progress into the next phase of our lives.

Some of the group asked questions about family members who were not in the best of health, and one of our members asked about the prospects for a new business he was intending to start. They all confirmed that the answers were useful.

Then the question arose of what our group should be doing to help others in our community. We were told to become lights in our community by spreading positive energies. For our group to grow, we were to look outside ourselves and see our role in the greater order.

We were a little shaken by the demands this seemed to place on us and asked ourselves whether we felt strong enough to start along that path, which seemed to be rather large and not a little frightening.

The Cayce readings came to the rescue as we remembered statements like: "As ye apply ye are given the next step." And "What ye find to do, with willing hands do ye."

Next we asked, "How do we start?"

We have always had fun sharing interesting sayings with each other via email and in person. So we thought we might be able to include others in the fun. The discussion led to the idea of introducing synchronicities by scattering our little sayings in such a way that people would be caught by surprise and stop for a moment to consider the wisdom of some of our favorite aphorisms.


Someone mentioned scattering thoughts about and there it was—let's call them "Scatter Thoughts." We could have these sayings printed on little slips of paper and scatter them everywhere. Leave them in the condiment tray at the diner, on supermarket shelves, in banks and filling stations. One of our ingenious members stuffed one into the pocket of each coat hung on the coat rack at her doctor's office.

As a nod to Sacred Geometry we decided to have them printed on slips of paper whose length and width is in the proportion of the Golden Mean.

We agreed we should remain anonymous and not to take credit for the Scatter Thoughts so that the mystery might coax a little more attention to the thoughts from the recipients. "Hmmm! Where did this come from?"

Here are a couple of examples of the slips we are distributing:

It is not what you gather, but what you scatter that tells what kind of life you have lived.
brought to you by SCATTER THOUGHTS
You are precisely as large as what you love and as small as what you allow to annoy you.
-Robert Anton Wilson
brought to you by SCATTER THOUGHTS

Flower 09.14.2012

We are experiencing so much joy from this idea that I thought it might be appropriate to pass it on to other groups. Anyone can reach our group through me: Rev. Charles T. "Skip" Weatherford at Tamuz@aol.com.

Consult the I-Ching, an ancient Chinese text widely used for divination. Our version compares the traditional wisdom to the teaching of Edgar Cayce. The text of the 64 hexagrams was adapted from the book, Synchronicity as Spiritual Guidance, by Mark Thurston, PhD.


Spiritual Healing: What It Is and What It Isn’t

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Spiritual Healing: What It Is and What It Isn't
By Nancy S. Edwards

The Glad Helpers Prayer and Healing group has been offering Spiritual Healing for over 80 years.

What Spiritual Healing isn't:
  1. It isn't a psychic reading – we go to psychics for that.
  2. It isn't a chiropractic adjustment – we have chiropractors for that.
  3. It isn't physical healing. Of the over 14,000 readings given by Edgar Cayce, there are many, many references to "mind is the builder, physical is the result." So, if we are concentrating on a physical healing, we have it in reverse. Spiritual Healing begins with the mind, and heals the whole person (mind, body, and soul). It can also heal that which was built in other lifetimes.

What Spiritual Healing is:
Two of the main components of Spiritual Healing are:
  1. Meditation
  2. Positive Affirmations

Gald Helpers Healing Group in action 09.07.2012Before praying, or offering laying on of hands, the Glad Helpers first meditate. There are numerous reasons why people meditate. The Glad Helpers meditate to raise the consciousness of the Christ within themselves. The Cayce readings tell us that when this consciousness has been raised within us, it is also raised in others as we pray for them. (reading 281-7 is one of many that discuss this). Ideally, this consciousness of the Christ should be raised through all 7 spiritual centers, culminating in the center of one's forehead (the pituitary center) with a burst of light. However, raising this consciousness beyond the lower centers is also helpful. For this reason, when offering laying on of hands, we always work from the lower centers upward.

Positive affirmations are given in the readings so that we may influence the subconscious mind. The subconscious is like a giant tape recorder, recording what we think, say, and do, and all that goes on around us, such as what we read, what we watch on television, what we see on our computers. The readings tell us that if we are not happy with what we have created with our minds, we can change it! Saying aloud, or to ourselves a positive affirmation until it gets into our subconscious mind is one way to change our circumstances, i.e, physical concerns, economic situations, and even relationships. When it gets into our subconscious, it becomes a part of us.

We can also change through being in harmony with universal laws. Cayce lists a host of universal laws in the readings. Suffice it to say, they consist of: What we send out is what we receive back. A good book on Cayce and the universal laws, the one I have often referred to, is Your Life: Why It Is the Way It Is and What You Can Do About It, by Bruce McArthur.

Spiritual healing is a unique method of healing prayer, unlike that found in any other prayer group. Spiritual Healing has been given to us (Glad Helpers), and we need to honor it, value it, and make sure it is passed down to those who will come after us.

Glass window meditation room

Nancy S. Edwards  blog 09.072012Nancy S. Edwards, a life member of Edgar Cayce's A.R.E., is a retired astrology teacher and counselor, living in Virginia Beach. She has been a member of the Glad Helpers Prayer Group for more than 40 years. The Glad Helpers continuing a tradition begun in 1931 meets every Wednesday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 12 noon at the global headquarters of A.R.E. in Virginia Beach.


Edgar Cayce’s A.R.E. blog offers opinion pieces from contributors with a wide variety of backgrounds. These opinions are valued and create points of discussion. Opinions expressed in our blog may not necessarily represent the opinion of A.R.E.