Seven Pillars, House of Wisdom

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Inauguration Overview


As of August 22, 2008, we are now over 200 attendees!

As people register, we invite each person to submit a short biography, to be posted here. This allows all of us to recognize the vast wisdom to gather over Labor Day weekend. Those already registered include:

Alia Johnson

Alia Johnson is a teacher of the Diamond Approach, which is a spiritual teaching, the path, and the method of the Ridhwan School. She is a well-known and respected teacher and facilitator, with students in the US and Europe, who is known for helping individuals and groups make intimate contact with the truth of everyday life. 

Gayan Macher

Gayan devotes his life to the spiritual unfoldment of souls. He has taught groups and guided individuals for 30 years, from the perspective of universal Sufism and modern psychology.  He’s had a successful career as an organization development consultant to executives from GE, Hewlett Packard, the US Army, Amoco, and many others. Gayan is also a singer song-writer.

Taj Inayat

Taj Inayat is adept at working with the inner worlds, and guides many people in how to access their deepest nature and then live this fundamental presence in their outer lives. Employing the insights of personal experience, psychological study, and spiritual discipline, Taj helps others cultivate a sensitivity to the subtle movements, obstacles, and awakenings that are part of the soul’s unfoldment.

Deepa Patel

Deepa Patel is an engaging and experienced fundraiser, events manager and promoter, and cultural producer of media including an award-winning magazine for young people, and various music, photography and digital efforts. She has a depth of experience in facilitating programs around equal opportunities and diversity issues, and is an advocate for youth, the oppressed, and all those struggling to have a voice. Deepa lives in London.

Pir Zia Inayat-Khan

Pir Zia Inayat-Khan is the spiritual leader of the Sufi Order International, a mystical and ecumenical fellowship rooted in the visionary legacy of his grandfather, Hazrat Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan. Pir Zia is also the President of the Suluk Academy and founder of Seven Pillars House of Wisdom. Pir Zia holds a Doctoral degree in Religion from Duke University and is a recipient of the U Thant Peace Award.

Omar Faruk Tekbilek

Honored as a peacemaker and virtuoso, Omar Faruk Tekbilek is now one of the most sought-after Turkish/Middle Eastern musicians living in the United States. Relentless worldwide touring and welcoming openness to music from all cultures position him as a rare artist who transcends political obstacles while maintaining traditional sensibilities in a way few artists can manage. He is a virtuoso on several instruments: The nay (bamboo flute), the zurna (double-reed oboe like instrument), the baglama (long-necked lute) and percussions , as well as a masterful performer on dozens more.

Yuval Ron

Yuval Ron is an international composer and record producer who actively creates musical bridges between people of Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths. His ensemble, The Yuval Ron Ensemble, includes Arabic, Israeli and Jewish musicians and well as Christian Armenian artists, and unites the sacred musical traditions of Judaism, Sufism (Islamic mystical tradition) and the Armenian Church into an unusual mystical, spiritual and inspiring musical celebration.

William Irwin Thompson

William Irwin Thompson is a poet and cultural philosopher who has made significant contributions to cultural history, social criticism, the philosophy of science, and the study of myth. Early in his career he left academia to found Lindisfarne, an association of creative individuals in the arts, sciences, and contemplative practices devoted to the study and realization of a new planetary consciousness, or noosphere. Thompson lived in Switzerland for 17 years and describes his most recent work, Canticum Turicum, as “a long poem on Western Civilization, that begins with folktales and traces of Charlemagne in Zurich and ends with the completion of Western Civilization as expressed in Finnegans Wake and the traces of James Joyce in Zurich.” With mathematician Ralph Abraham he has designed a new type of cultural history curriculum based on their theories about the evolution of consciousness. Thompson now lives in Portland, Maine.

Paul Devereux

Paul Devereux is a research affiliate of the Royal College of Art, London, engaged in an audio-visual study of the Preseli hills in Wales, source of the Stonehenge bluestones. He is a founding co-editor of the peer-review publication, Time and Mind - The Journal of Archaeology, Consciousness and Culture (, Oxford). His areas of specialist interest include the anthropology of consciousness, archaeoacoustics, and psi phenomena. He has field researched ancient places ranging from European Stone Age sites, to Mayan temples, to vision quest locations in the US, and many more. Besides articles, peer-reviewed papers and magazine columns, he has authored or co-authored 27 books in as many years, including Re-Visioning the Earth, The Sacred Place, and Stone Age Soundtracks. A revised edition of his study of prehistoric ritual uses of visionary plants, The Long Trip, is due out this year.

Charla Devereux

Charla Devereux is Network Manager of the Scientific and Medical Network, a UK-based educational charity. Her main area of interest is complementary medicine. She co-pioneered the first US university courses on the healing uses of essential oils, and organised international conferences on the same theme. She also organised a conference at the Royal Society of Arts, London, dealing with visionary and mystical levels of consciousness. Her books on essential oils, meditation, lucid dreaming and related topics have sold over a million copies in 14 countries.

Lee Irwin

Lee Irwin is Director of the Religious Studies department at the College of Charleston specializing in Native American spirituality and Western mystical traditions. He sits on the board of the Association for the Study of Esotericism. Lee is the author of many books including The Dream Seekers: Native American Visionary Traditions of the Great Plains, Visionary Worlds: The Making and Unmaking of Reality, and Awakening the Spirit: On Life, Illumination and Being. He has books forthcoming on spiritual alchemy and Sophianic studies.

Sister Miriam MacGillis

Sister Miriam MacGillis is a member of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell, New Jersey. She lives and works at Genesis Farm, which she co-founded in 1980 with the sponsorship of her Dominican congregation. Genesis Farm is a learning center of Earth Studies, practicing biodynamic methods of agriculture, which are in tune with the natural rhythms of the Earth. Miriam invites us to see ourselves as a living part of a living cosmos, and lectures extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Rabbi Arthur Waskow has been one of the creators and leaders of Jewish renewal since 1969.  In 1983, he founded and has since been director of The Shalom Center In 2007, Newsweek named him one of America’s fifty most influential rabbis. He is a co-author of The Tent of Abraham: Stories of Hope and Peace for Jews, Christians, & Muslims (Beacon, 2006). He pioneered in peacemaking between Israelis and Palestinians and in opposing the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. He also pioneered in the shaping of Eco-Judaism, both through his books (Down-to-Earth Judaism; Torah of the Earth (2 vols); and The Shalom Center’s religiously rooted social action. He taught at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College from 1982 till 1989 and as a Visiting Professor in religion at Swarthmore, Vassar, Temple University, and Drew University.

Robert Kelly

Robert Kelly has published more than 50 books of fiction, poetry and prose, including Red Actions: Selected Poems 1960-1993 (1995) and a collection of short fictions, A Transparent Tree (1985). In 1980, his book Kill The Messenger won the Los Angeles Times Book Award; and in 1985, A Transparent Tree received the prestigious Academy-Institute Award from the American Institute of Arts and Letters. He has been faculty of Bard College since 1961, and poet-in-residence at numerous universities including Tufts and California Institute of Technology.

Charlotte Mandell

Charlotte Mandell is a skilled French translator of poetry and philosophy, most notably of the work of Maurice Blanchot. She has been a finalist for the French-American Foundation Translation Prize, and judge, along with Burton Pike and Peter Theroux, for the 2003 PEN Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize. Charlotte is the wife of Robert Kelly.

Omid Safi

Omid Safi is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he specializes on Islamic mysticism (Sufism), contemporary Islamic thought, and medieval Islamic history. He received his PhD from Duke University (2000). Before coming to UNC he was an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY. Safi is the Chair for the Study of Islam at the American Academy of Religion. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University. His book The Politics of Knowledge in Premodern Islam, dealing with medieval Islamic history and politics, was published in 2006. His translation and analysis of Rumi’s biography is forthcoming from Fons Vitae.

Dena Merriam

Dena Merriam is the founder and convener of the Global Peace Initiative of Women. Ms. Merriam has worked to engage women in peace-building activities in conflict and post-conflict regions around the world. She has organized major international interfaith events and has built a global network of renowned women spiritual leaders. Currently, Ms. Merriam is working with the United Nations to organize a series of regional youth leadership summits around the world to mobilize young people to initiate efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Dena Merriam is also a Partner and Vice Chair of the Ruder Finn Group, a global communications company. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University and has served on the advisory boards of the Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy, and the Manitou Foundation.

Kevin Townley

Kevin Townley is co-founder of the Hermetic school, The Philosophers of Nature, which has a seven-level curriculum in laboratory alchemy and Qabalah. Kevin has worked full-time in an alchemy laboratory and conducts workshops on Qabalah, Spagyrics, Alchemy and Tarot in the US and Europe. He has been a faculty member at institutions such as The Colorado Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Boulder College, and Naropa University.

Robin Becker

Robin Becker is a teacher, dancer, and choreographer.  She has performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Eleo Pomare Dance Company, and with her own dance company of which she has been the artistic director for fifteen years.  In the U.S. she has served on the faculties of the Omega Institute, American Ballet Theatre, the High School of the Performing Arts in New York City and Hofstra University. Her work is deeply influenced by twenty years of study within the Sufi Order International, and by Continuum, a visionary field of movement education of which she is an authorized Teacher. Robin has been integrating movement, artistic expression, spirituality and healing throughout her professional career.  She leads workshops on creativity and improvisation and is committed to working with people as they seek a deeper connection to life through the body.

Dr. Abdul Aziz Said

Abdul Aziz Said is a Syrian-born writer and senior ranking professor of international relations in the School of International Service at American University where he has taught for fifty years. He is the first occupant of the endowed Mohammed Said Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace; founder and director of AU’s Center for Global Peace,which undertakes a range of activities aimed at advancing the understanding of world peace; and founder and director of the International Peace and Conflict Resolution department in SIS. Since joining the American University faculty in 1957, Said has written or edited over a dozen books on international relations and served on a number of notable bodies such as the United States Department of State’s Future of Iraq Project and the White House Committee on the Islamic World.

Fazl Peay

Terry Fazl Peay is President of Augustine Homes of Maryland, LLC, a custom homebuilder in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, and President of Bannockburn Development Services, Inc., a private investment company. He has served on the Board of Advisors/ Directors for the Joseph Campbell Foundation, the British American Repertory Theater of Santa Fe, and the Mendocino Woodlands Association, as well as the President of Action 29 Corporation, which coordinated the public/private funding of the $ 100 million New York Avenue metro station. He is presently on the Board of Directors of Seven Pillars, the Sufi Order International, and the Sufi Ruhaniat International, and has been a student of Sufism for close to forty years.

Pir Shabda Kahn

Shabda Kahn, a direct disciple of the American Sufi Master, Murshid Samuel Lewis, has been practicing Sufism since 1969. He is the Pir (Spiritual Director) of the Sufi Ruhaniat International, the sufi lineage tracing from Hazrat Inayat Khan and Murshid Samuel Lewis. In 1972 Shabda met his second great teacher, the late Master Singer, Pandit Pran Nath, and began the daily practice of North Indian classical music in the Kirana style. He now teaches vocal music and performs Raga singing and has appeared in numerous concerts around the world. Shabda is one of a handful of Americans who have dedicated themselves to carrying on the legacy of the treasure of North Indian classical vocal music. He is also a disciple of the illustrious Tibetan Buddhist Master, the 12the Tai Situpa Rinpoche.

Tamam Kahn

Tamam is pilgrim and storyteller. She and Pir Shabda have led groups to Morocco, Damascus, and India, visiting the dargahs of Sufi saints and sharing practices and zikrs with local Sufis of various lineage families. She is a poet and writer, as well as editor-in-chief of “The Sound, a Sufi Newsletter for the West.” She has taught poetry and writing at Sufi Ruhaniat International summer gatherings for the past decade. Tamam has just completed her book, Married to Muhammad: Untold History of the Prophet’s Wives, and will begin work on a book about the Prophet’s daughter, Fatima, with Sufi scholar, Dr. Arthur Buehler.

Carole Forman

Carole Forman is an actor-turned-storyteller who brings spiritual stories and songs from the Jewish tradition and many other paths to people of all backgrounds and ages around the country and in Canada. A long time yoga teacher, Carole also leads spiritual workshops in creative movement and dance. She is a “Guidess” at Life Works, Inc. supporting women in having the lives they desire.

Yitzhak Buxbaum

Yitzhak Buxbaum is a maggid (Jewish inspirational speaker and storyteller), who specializes in Jewish mysticism and hasidic tales, and also teaches ecumenical courses, such as, “Spiritual Stories from Around the World,” and “Guru, Rebbe, Saint, and Bodhisattva.” He co-taught with Swami Atmarupananda- “Om-Shalom: An Encounter between Judaism and Hinduism”; and engaged in a dialogue with Sheika Fariha Friedrich-- “Sufi-Jewfi: An Encounter between Mystic Judaism and Mystic Islam.” Yitzhak directs The Jewish Spirit Maggid Training Program. He is the author of ten books on Jewish spirituality, including: The Light and Fire of the Baal Shem Tov; Jewish Spiritual Practices; An Open Heart: The Mystic Path of Loving People; Storytelling and Spirituality in Judaism; Jewish Tales of Mystic Joy and Jewish Tales of Holy Women.

Michael Banks

Michael Banks is a bishop in the Mennonite Church, with responsibility for six churches in the Bronx, New York. He is also a dynamic preacher and inspirational speaker who has appeared to great acclaim at countless religious convocations and conferences. He is much-in-demand as a retreat leader, with special expertise in spiritual transformation and peacemaking; he has done ground-breaking work in urban peacemaking. Reverend Banks has taught throughout the United States, in Canada, Mexico, the Middle East, and Africa. He has presented at seminaries, including the Westminster Methodist Seminary in Philadelphia, and at universities, including Notre Dame University. He is recognized as an extraordinary preacher, and was selected as one of the 10 top preachers in his denomination.

Himayat Inayati

Himayat Inayati, Th.D. is a traveler on the path of the heart. He has been a catalytic figure in the on-going dialogue between science, spirituality, and healing - organizing twenty-six conferences in support of it. The founder of The Raphaelite Work, a method of healing and transformational process rooted in Sufism and updated by modern psychology and body work, Himayat has taught mysticism and spirituality in fourteen different countries. His teaching is lucid, accessible and humorous — orienting the ancient mystical teaching of the major world spiritual traditions toward solutions of contemporary issues.

Zumurrud Butta

Zumurrud Butta has been exploring the Sufi path and collaborating closely with her teachers Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan and Pir Zia Inayat Khan for twenty years. She has also been a longtime student of Shaykh al-Akbar Ibn ´Arabi and occasionally translates pieces of his writings from Arabic into German or English. After her studies of political science and international law she worked in the field of human rights and collaborated closely with an internationally renowned human rights expert. She is also an IT aficionada and worked as Software Product Development Manager for many years. Besides being engaged with human rights, she loves gardening, dancing, writing and attending others on their path of fulfillment. She is a faculty member of Suluk Academy and leads retreats in many countries. When she is not traveling, Zumurrud lives in Vienna, Austria, where she is part of a center for integral spiritual adventure, a collaborative effort of building a bridge between diverse spiritual, artistic, and intellectual approaches.

Aziza Scott

Aziza Scott has been a student of the retreat process for 30 years and serves as the head of the Esoteric School and as Director of the Retreat Guide Training Program of the Sufi Order International. She has many years of experience leading individual and group retreats and conducting workshops in the US, Europe and India. Aziza runs a retreat center in Massachusetts.

Shahabbudin Less

Shahabbuddin Less has been a senior teacher in the Sufi Order International for over 30 years. Shahabuddin leads workshops and seminars worldwide. He brings a depth of spiritual insight and profound attunement to his teachings. Students benefit from his compassionate nature, broad knowledge and gentle humor. He is founder of Rising Tide International, a center devoted to uniting the heart of all religions.

Anna Less

Anna Less is a senior teacher in the Sufi Order, and co-director of Rising Tide International. She is one of the few Westerners to hold a Ph.D. in Traditional Chinese Medicine, which she was granted by Zhejiang College of Medicine in Hangzhou, China. Anna brings a deep understanding of the mystical underpinnings of physical form, and an ability to relate the subtleties of the spiritual path to our every day lives.

Sharifa Felicia Norton

Sharifa Felicia Norton is co-founder of the Light of Guidance Center for Sufi Studies in New York City. She offers retreats and workshops on the cultivation of the heart and its connection with restoring a deeper intimacy with the sacredness of all life. She serves as a senior teacher, retreat guide and as the Director of the Ziraat activity in the Sufi Order International in North America. She has taught at Omega Institute, Lehman College, CUNY, and currently at the United Nations International School in NYC. As a professional dancer she has performed solo dance works throughout the US, Canada, Europe, Central America and Asia. She created and performed a new solo dance theater work honoring the life of Noor-un-nisa Inayat Khan which recently premiered in Sarasota, Florida. With Muinuddin Charles Smith she is co-author of the forthcoming book, An Emerald Earth—Cultivating a Natural Spirituality and Serving Creative Beauty in the World.

Devi Tide

Devi Tide, the Head of the Sufi Healing Order in North America, has over thirty years of experience as a spiritual teacher, retreat guide, and as a healer. As a worldwide speaker she has contributed to programs in India, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America, and has spoken in places such as the Harvard Mind Body Institute, the University of Washington Medical School and attended the UN Millenium Peace Summit. She was the first woman to address a Sufi Symposium in Hyderabad, India. An Emeritus Secretary General of the Sufi Order International, she represents Sufi ideals of inter-religious harmony and personal transformation in her seminars, public speaking and individual and group retreats.

Sarmad Tide

Sarmad Tide is a senior teacher in the Sufi Order International, a certified retreat guide, and a mentor-teacher for the Dances of Universal Peace. His approach to spirituality is: “It’s what we are doing right now.” Describing himself as a recovering intellectual, he combines a deep knowledge of esoteric lore and practices with a lively sense of humor.

Tasnim Hermila Fernandez

Tasnim Hermila is the spiritual director of the Church of All in Burbank, California. She is recognized and acclaimed as one of the foremost leaders and mentors of the Dances of Universal Peace and is a trained semazen - whirling dervish - in the Mevlevi Sufi tradition.

Saphira Linden

Saphira Linden is a registered drama therapist and a Board Certified Master Teacher-Trainer with NADT who trained with Moreno in Psychodrama in the sixties. As one of eleven artists nationwide whose work was selected to be the basis of documentary film in the PBS series “Artists in America,” she is regarded as an authority on experimental, participatory and transformational theater as well as pioneer in the development of Drama Therapy. Saphira works as a transpersonal psychotherapist and is a Sufi senior teacher, Meditation Guide, and Cheraga *(Sufi minister). As Artistic Director of Omega Theater, in its 40th year, she has designed hundreds of workshops for artists, mental health professionals, educators, clergy, business managers and executives and has been a management consultant with major corporations in visioning, team building and empathy training.

Zarifah Kadian and Munawir Mangold

Nancy Zarifah Kadian and Jack Munawir Mangold are psychotherapists in private practice in Bethesda, Maryland, integrating the psychological and the spiritual. Jack is an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University, and Nancy leads ongoing women’s groups and retreats. Both studied Sufism with their teacher Pir Vilayat Khan for over 30 years, teach in the Sufi Order International (SOI), and serve as co-coordinators of the Kinship activity of Sufi Oder. Their great love for God and humanity is the guiding impulse that that shapes all of their work.

Qayyum Bob Dellacona

Qayyum Bob Dellacona has been on the spiritual journey for over 30 years.  He is committed to accessing the deepest parts of human nature and helping others to do the same - by blending the psychological and mystical (and humorous) aspects unique to each person.  His passion is the unbounded victory of light over dark. He has run a successful medium sized company in New York City since 1972.

Jane Feldman

Jane Feldman lives in New Lebanon, N.Y., and New York City, and is an award winning photojournalist and social activist. Feldman is the coauthor/photographer of Jefferson’s Children: the Story of One American Family (Random House), coauthored with Shannon Lanier, a descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings. Feldman is also the author/photographer of four books in the Young Dreamers Series (Random House). As an international activist for human rights, peace, and the environment, her work has shown at the United Nations in NYC and the Human Rights Conference in Vienna. Her portraits include: Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, and the Dalai Lama. Feldman’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, TIME magazine, the Berkshire Eagle, Berkshire Living Magazine, and has been featured in documentaries shown on PBS’s Frontline and the History Channel. She has also worked with Amnesty International and many other non-governmental organizations worldwide.

Muinuddin Charles Smith

Muinuddin Charles Smith is a co-founder of the Light of Guidance Center for Sufi Studies in New York City, and has been active for twenty five years as a teacher and retreat guide in the Sufi Order International.  He has a special interest in the Sufi Ziraat teachings, and their link between ancient wisdom and the unfolding of consciousness today. He teaches leadership and group dynamics at Hofstra University, and his research applies Sufi perspectives to decision making, creativity and leadership in groups and organizations.  With Sharifa Felicia Norton he is co-author of the forthcoming book, An Emerald Earth—Cultivating a Natural Spirituality and Serving Creative Beauty in the World.

Imam Salim Chishti

Imam Salim Chishti is the resident Imam at the Abode of the Message. He was born in New York and early in his life entered a spiritual journey that has led him to find his heart’s home in Sufism and Islam. He is has been an initiate in the Sufi Order of the West since 1983. Imam Salim has studied Sharia, Tariqa and Ma’rifa with several leading scholars. Imam Salim speaks frequently at Sufi, Islamic and interfaith conferences and is regularly asked to represent Islam in interfaith religious services. Salim has been the Imam of the Islamic Society of the Berkshires for five years and leads the Jummah prayers at the Abode of the Message and the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Currently he is doing research on Islamic dream interpretation and spiritual healing practices in the Chishti lineage.

Felix Idris Baritsch

Felix Idris Baritsch is a musician, healer, and translator, with a background in international law, medicine and Tibetan philosophy. Idris teaches courses in initiatic medicine, meditation, chivalry, applied mysticism, and transreligious spirituality, and has served widely as a translator for the Dalai Lama, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, and Pir Zia Inayat-Khan. He received the Buddhist title of Geshe in 2002, and studied Sufism closely with Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan for over 20 years. Idris has lived and traveled around the world, and currently resides in Hamburg, Germany.

Jonathan Phillips

Jonathan Phillips is the Community Director of Reality Sandwich and the Executive Editor of  He is a Reiki Master and founder of the NYC Gnostics.  He teaches Electric Jesus workshops that incorporate energy work, universal myth with the wisdom of the Gnostics to bring out our divine.  Jonathan also teaches Sacred Warrior workshops and is the creator and director of The Ayahuasca Monologues: Tales of the Spirit Vine.

Jehanara Wendy Tremayne

Much of Jehanara Wendy Tremayne’s work in the world addresses the commodification of culture. She creates shifts in culture through events and artistic works - most notably The Vomitorium and No Bush, two art-ivism projects that speak to issues such as war and empire. In 2004 she founded Swap-O-Rama-Rama, a Creative Commons non-profit that produces events in over 70 cities throughout the world. This event teaches textile recycling through community workshops that provide the experience of being a creator as an alternative to consumerism. She teaches yoga and meditation, produces community events of many kinds and writes for several publications. Jehanara’s newest project is located in New Mexico. In a town called Truth or Consequences she is building an off grid retreat center for which she has innovated new sustainable building techniques. When complete she will welcome spiritual teachers, host retreats and cultural events, and teach yoga and sustainable living workshops.

Rahima Wade

Rahima Wade is a Sufi Order representative and educational consultant working with schools and state departments of education to integrate community service-learning and social justice education in K-12 classrooms. Her publications, research, and teaching focus on learning experiences that increase students’ empathy and social responsibility (  Rahima also teaches courses on living a balanced life (

Lindy Hough

Lindy Hough is a poet, essayist and fiction-writer who was the co-founder of Io Magazine, a literary journal prominent in the seventies and eighties, and North Atlantic Books, a 30-year old independent publishing company in Berkeley, California.  She has published four books of poetry: Changing Woman, The Sun In Cancer, Outlands and Inlands, and Psyche, a long narrative poem, as well as an anthology of writings critiquing nuclear war and weapons. Her poems and dance criticism have been published in numerous journals over the years. Her writing is an attempt to catch the beauty, pain, and understanding possible in the world within lyrical and narrative forms. She is working on a novel now about the early 50s in Colorado, and is increasingly interested in international literature and the process of translation. She lives in Berkeley and Mt. Desert, Maine.

Richard Grossinger

Richard Grossinger graduated from Amherst College and has a PhD in anthropology from the University of Michigan.  He is the co-founder and publisher of North Atlantic Books (with his wife, Lindy Hough).  Books he has authored include: Planet Medicine; The Night Sky; Embryogenesis: Species, Gender, and Identity; Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings: How the Universe Makes Life; On the Integration of Nature; and The Bardo of Waking Life.  He has studied t’ai chi ch’uan with Paul Pitchford, Martin Inn, and Peter Ralston and craniosacral therapy with Randy Cherner and John Upledger.  He is currently training at the Berkeley Psychic Institute.  He and Lindy Hough live alternately in Berkeley, California, and Manset, Maine; they have two children: Robin Grossinger, an environmental biologist with the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and Miranda July, a writer, film-maker, and performance artist.

Hassan Suhrawardi Gebel

Hassan Suhrawardi Gebel is Secretary General of the Sufi Order International. His background includes professorship in Astronomy and Astrophysics at SUNY at Stony Brook, and counseling psychologist at Windhorse Associates in Northampton, MA. He has served in many capacities in the Sufi Order for over 30 years. He lives in one of the hilltowns in Western Massachusetts.

Peter Lamborn Wilson

Peter Lamborn Wilson is a writer, essayist, translator and poet who formerly taught at Naropa University’s “Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics” and has published numerous books and articles on hermeticism, anarchism, Sufism, pirate utopias, and neopaganism. His books include Drunken Universe: An Anthology of Persian Sufi Poetry (with N. Pourjavady) and Green Hermeticism: Alchemy and Ecology.

Aostre Johnson

Aostre Johnson is a Professor of Education at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont where she teaches curriculum courses, directs the master’s concentration in curriculum and coordinates a Sprituality and the Intellectual Life Commitee that plans college programs. Her research interests and publications focus on ethical, religious and spiritual dimensions of curriculum theory and practice.  She recently co-edited Nurturing Childhood and Adolescent Spirituality: Perspectives from the World’s Religious Traditions. She has co-founded three schools, including the Abode of the Message’s Mountain Road School (in 1975).

Don Azar Baksh Weiner

Don Azar Baksh Weiner is a senior teacher in the Sufi Order.  He is a Ph.D. psychologist in private practice in Corpus Christi, Texas.  Don is the author of Upgrading the Operating System of the Soul - A Manual of Quantum Sufism (Xlibris press).  Don has explored the synthesis of spirituality and science for many years, and he and his wife Diane are developing the Gabrielite work, which integrates discoveries of quantum physics, cosmology, systems theory and other fields of contemporary science with the teachings of modern and past Sufism.

Diane Ravani Rah Weiner

Diane Ravani Rah Weiner is a senior teacher in the Sufi Order International and a retired elementary school counselor. Her spiritual journey spans more than 40 years. She now enjoys the mutual self-discovery that evolves from her art and her community of artists and mystics, many of whom are from All Saints’ Episcopal church where she has been a lay teacher and spiritual director for over 20 years. Most precious to her is the Gabrielite Work which she and her husband Don Azar Baksh Weiner have been developing, a way for any spiritual practitioner to use the light of truth that has revealed some of the most recent scientific understandings of the universe to illuminate the inner journey.

Nur Alima Karen Schuckman

Nur Alima Karen Schuckman is an instructor of remote sensing and geospatial technology in the Department of Geography at Penn State University. She is also a consultant to the public and private sector in disaster response and hazard mitigation. She is a graduate of Suluk Academy, as well as Art of Spiritual Guidance led by Atum O’Kane.  Nur Alima combines the pragmatic perspective of an engineer with a deep commitment to the process of unfoldment of the soul in community.

Noor Jehan Johnson

Noor Jehan Johnson is currently a PhD student in anthropology at McGill University in Montreal, where her research focuses on the impact of climate change on Inuit in northern Canada and on transnational activist networks for climate justice.  Her interests include social and environmental justice, NGOs and civil society, conflict resolution, and service as a spiritual path.  Previously, she worked as a writer and project manager for City Year, a youth service organization that helped inspire the federal program, AmeriCorps.  She is on the board of Universal Awakening, a collective seeking to support and facilitate greater clarity, connectedness, and fulfillment in life.

Julianna Takacs

Julianna Takacs is a certified Prana Yoga Teacher, Thai Yoga Bodyworker and Reiki Practioner. With a background in movement and dance which stretches over 20 years, Julianna incorporates her acute knowledge of the body into carefully articulated guidance and support.  She has studied extensively with her teachers, Ruth Lauer-Manenti, Jeff Migdow, Robyn Ross and Jonas Westing and has assisted trainings at The New York Open Center and Kripalu Center for Yoga.  Julianna currently leads classes and workshops at various locations in New York, Canada and Italy.

Joseph Ayaz Newland

Joseph Ayaz Newland is editor of the Cosmology section in the new online journal Seven Pillars Review. He has been producer and editor of art books for museums--including stints at Asia Society in New York and at the LA County Museum of Art--since 1980, about the time he became a student of Pir Vilayat and the Cage/Cunningham circle. His undergraduate and graduate studies were in Asian religion and art history, and so have been about a third of the books he’s produced.  A geology, astronomy, new music and modern dance aficionado, he’s always on the lookout for moving art that’s moved by spirit. An active member of Sufi Order International and former associate member of Chinook Learning Community and the Lindisfarne Association, he recommends you go see the George Inness paintings in Like Breath on Glass at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown MA (till 10/19).

Megan Don

Megan Don, from New Zealand, is the author of Falling into the Arms of God: Meditations with Teresa of Avila, which won the PEN Society of Author’s Award in the Mind, Body, Spirit category in 2006, and Sacred Companions Sacred Community: Reflections with Clare of Assisi. Megan is a retreat presenter and has taught at Omega Institute, and Unity, Episcopal and United Methodist Churches. She leads pilgrimages to Assisi, Italy and is a spiritual counselor. Megan’s work is founded in the mystical tradition of Christianity and in particular it seeks to redress the balance of the experience of the feminine quality of God. She currently lives in Portland, Maine and is interested in the meeting places between the Sufi and Christian wisdom and teachings. Her website is

Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce is a graphic designer, writer, photographer, and member of the Explorers Club. He has published accounts of his journeys and interviews in national magazines, journals, and anthologies, and made presentations on the Hajj to the Explorers Club and State of the World Forum. Recently, Tom completed Odysseus, a memoir about his pilgrimages to Mount Kailash, Mount Athos, and Mecca, and the introduction to Beyond Brokenness by Rashani Raé. In November of 2008, the Thoreau Center will sponsor an exhibition of his photography from Tibet. Tom is currently art director and managing partner of Creativewerks, a marketing communications company in Sausalito, California. “>

Nur Richard Gale

Nur Richard Gale is the producer of the Gary Null Show in New York City, the nation’s longest running alternative health program on NPR and Pacifica broadcasting and the director of the online Progressive Radio Network. He is also a producer of socially relevant documentary films, mostly recently the 2007 documentary Vaccine Nation, which has won several international independent film awards. Richard is the former Chief Editor of Elixir Magazine. He did his graduate studies in History of Religion and Buddhist studies under the mentorship of Mircea Eliade at the University of Chicago. His first book “The Soul and Its Passions: Conversations with John of Apamea” will be published in Spring of 2009.

Cathy Cone

Cathy Cone, Director of the Workshops of Cone Editions Press.Cathy received her training at Ohio University and and the Vermont Studio center. She was awarded the Vermont Art Fellowships. Exhibtions include Wiesman art Musuem, University of Albama, HBO Corporate Gallery and the DeCordova Museum. The artist is an innovator combining large format digital printing, paint and photography. Her works are in the collection of IBM, MCI, Hallmark, Solomon Brothers, American Express and Saatch&Saatchi. Cathy has been training in tai-chi and meditation arts for over 25 years, and is a graduate from the first class of the Suluk Academy, an esoteric school in upstate New York founded by Pir Zia Inayat Khan. She is a coordinator and a Sufi guide in Sufi Order International.
Cathy is currently developing new curriculum for painters who want to combine digital printmaking with traditional media in their studios.

Nuria Janet F. Quinn

Nuria Janet is an interspiritual spiritual guide; the Spiritual Director of the Claritas Institute Interspiritual Mentor Training Program; a retreat/workshop facilitator; a professor of nursing with Ph.D. from New York University, an international speaker and consultant in Healing, Caring, Spirituality and Healing and Integrative Medicine/Nursing; and the owner, artist, and everything person for Wisdom Stones, which manufactures/distributes her “touchstones to what matters most.” She is a long-time practitioner/student of the Christian Contemplative Tradition and a mureed in the Sufi Order.  She also sits in a Nur Ashki Jerrahi dhikr circle once a week and on a horse as many days of the week as she possibly can.  She is thrilled to be coming to the table with the beautiful companions gathering in the 7 pillars house of wisdom!">,

Raga Jeffrey Sprowls

Raga Jeffrey Sprowls has been a student of Sufism for three decades, and has served on the Board of Trustees of the Sufi Order International.  He provides guidance and healing to many undergoing the transition of divorce through his outer path as a family law attorney and divorce mediator, in a private practice now deepened by his own recent divorce.  A pioneer since the 1980s among family law attorneys in Virginia in providing divorce mediation services, he was one of the first attorneys certified as a family mediator by the Virginia Supreme Court, and is an Advanced Practitioner member in family mediation of the national Association for Conflict Resolution.

C. Shaffia Laue

C. Shaffia Laue, M.D. trained as a psychiatrist at the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. She has studied many different forms of complimentary medicine.  Over the last twenty-five years she has integrated these aspects into her holistic psychiatry practice, where she has focused her attention on helping people learn to actualize their own healing potential.  She is a Shafayat in the Sufi Healing Order and a Representative in the Sufi Order International.  CEO of the Council Grove Conference, a yearly meeting for exploring expanding consciousness and spirituality.  Founding Diplomat of the American Board of Holistic Medicine. Board member of the Center for Environmental Energy Medicine Studies.  Mother to two awesome young women.  Watching web of worldly weaving inter-twine opposites until we balance each other, breathing in peace breathing out love.

Martha Talbott
Martha Talbott is an organizational development consultant focusing her work with nonprofit organizations.  Her 25 years of experience in organization development consulting and management with large and small nonprofit organizations, community groups and academic institutions has included board development, strategic planning, organization assessment, team building, change management, conflict resolution, group facilitation and inter-organization collaboration.

Martha has recently also served as the Director of Programs at the Atlanta Women’s Foundation where she was responsible for developing an integrated program of strategic grant-making, advocacy and capacity building.  Previously she was the Consulting Services Senior Manager at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits where she focused on providing capacity building services to nonprofit organizations.

Martha also served as part of the management team of an international community development organization, providing leadership to indigenous staff in 35 countries in strategic and operational planning, financial management and program delivery.

Aziz Abbatiello

Aziz Abbatiello has made Sema (‘whirling’) with many Sufi groups in America and abroad, having trained with Postneshin Jelaluddin Loras, Pir of the Mevlevi Order of America, who initiated him as Semazen in 1996.  He has traveled the world, participating in many global peace, traditional & new music, and interfaith events. Aziz seeks to embody the experience of union with the Divine with his feet rooted deep in faith. An award-winning carpenter by trade who specializes in fine woodworking, Aziz draws his inspiration from traditional masters of the East, blending the flavor of the Orient and traditional Islamic designs with his own unique artistic vision. His work includes a variety of elegantly crafted pieces, ranging from intricate carved boxes to Chinese-style vanities with hand-tooled details.

Eva Cristofalo

Eva is a sometimes poet and a former KPFK Radio News anchor.  She translates from Arabic, French, Italian and Spanish.  She is also a professional musician, specializing in voice, and was a member of the Cori Civici di Milano under Mino Bordignon’s direction for three years, where she studied Gregorian Chant and Canto Lirico privately with soprano Mary Lindsey.  Her two current musical projects involve new interpretations of sufi devotional songs in Turkish and Arabic, and medieval & renaissance music for interfaith gatherings as well as for the Labyrinth Walk at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral with the group Musica Divina.  Her spiritual life is deeply informed by the teachings and example of Ibn al ‘Arabi.  Eva received her B.A. in Arabic and French, Cum Laude, from UCLA, and is the Associate Editor of the Mysticism Section, Seven Pillars Review.

Michele C. Tamaren

Michele Tamaren is a spiritual director, writer, presenter, and personal coach. She is the co-founder of the Council for Spiritual Connection, an interspiritual collaborative on the North Shore of Boston that seeks to create a more compassionate world where the human family respects our shared humanity, our one heart, and our precious planet. It provides opportunities for people of all faiths to gather in celebration of the One Spirit that unites us. For more than twenty-five years Michele taught special education, working with youngsters challenged by physical, learning, neurological, and behavioral disorders. She wrote and lectured widely on teaching consideration and sensitivity in the inclusive classroom. Currently Michele speaks on spirituality, interspirituality, healing, happiness, and aging with dignity at churches, synagogues, university graduate programs, art associations, councils on aging, and retreat centers.

JoAnne Spies

JoAnne Spies is a singer/songwriter who explores music as a tool to understand environmental issues, build community and empower voices for positive change. Recent works include songs written for Marmalade Production’s “Watershed Waltz,” an interactive environmental program for schools, and “Sounding the River “ (,) an ongoing event that honors Mohican heritage, celebrates the river and brings together diverse traditions.  A member of the faculty of Community Access to the Arts in Great Barrington, MA, JoAnne specializes in songwriting with elders and Alzheimer groups. She has received a fellowship as composer at the Millay Colony and is on the MCC Arts and Healing Roster.

Naja Bates

Naja, also known as Devon, is the daughter of Alice and Bart Bates.  Devon (Naja) currently works for Andover Newton Theological School in marketing, community relations and event planning.  She also serves as an environmental consultant in the NRDC lawsuit with the U.S. Navy over the impacts of sonar on cetaceans.  She is an Alif graduate of Suluk, was a member of Sufi Retreats for many years, and began her studies in the 1970s with Gwen and Joe Miller on the west coast.  Naja has a massage/healing practice, helps facilitate programs, and recently moved from Jamestown, Rhode Island to the Boston area.

Alice and Bart Bates

When their children were small, Alice and Bart Bates invited into their home students from foreign countries (Kenya, Pakistan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Peru, etc.) and fostered a live-in world view within the family.  Considered mavericks by their community, Alice taught reading in public schools at the middle and high school levels for 25 years while Bart introduced new products for General Foods and other large manufacturers.  Today, Alice is an artist who paints in oils and exhibits land- and sea-scapes from her travels, and she is a certified clown (Dr. Run-Around) in Connecticut hospitals.  A fitness officianado, Bart is currently working with an inventor on marketing a large-scale composting machine.  Devon (Naja) is their eldest daughter and this is their first visit to the Abode of the Message.

Phil Lane Jr.

Phil Lane Jr., a member of the Yankton Sioux and Chickasaw Nations, is a globally recognized Indigenous humanitarian, spiritual leader, educator, and Heredity Chief. He has worked with Indigenous peoples throughout Mother Earth for more than 40 years and is an award-winning author and film producer with Master’s Degrees in Education and Public Administration. He has received various international awards including John Denver’s Windstar Award, the Swiss Foundation’s Award for Freedom and Human Rights, and The Center for the Healing of Racism’s Ally Award for his work in promoting freedom and justice for Indigenous peoples by healing the root causes of racism. Phil is Chairman of the Four Worlds International Institute that is dedicated to manifesting The Fourth Way, a sacred and holistic path that transcends assimilation, resignation, and conflict. For more information, please visit

Rev. Carol E. Parrish

Rev. Carol E. Parrish, Ph.D. is founder and director of the intentional community of Sparrow Hawk Village, Pastor Emeritus of Light of Christ Community Church and Dean of Sancta Sophia Seminary. Long recognized as an inspired spiritual leader, Carol has stimulated many people to rejoice in their oneness with God. Many find hope in her lucid explanations of how certain fundamental truths, which underlie all major religions, can guide us in these changing times. Carol has received numerous awards, including the Russian Nebolsin Medal and the Earl Award for Religious Futurists. Her eleven books include Sophia Sutras, The New Dictionary of Spiritual Thought, and the Adventure in Meditation series, which won the Athena Award for Mentoring Excellence three years in a row.

Angela Manno

Angela Manno is an internationally exhibited artist known for her pioneering work combining contemporary, western art forms with ancient, non-western forms of expression. Her art ranges from traditional Byzantine Russian icon painting, to mixed media pieces conveying the New Cosmology, to vibrant impressionist landscape painting. Her art has been exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the American Museum of Natural History and museums from Mexico City to Moscow and resides in private in collections throughout the US, Europe, South America and the Middle East.

Parallel to her work as an artist, Angela is also a teacher of the creative process, considering all of life to be part of the creative process. She brings her skills in this area to the crucial work of Earth restoration and offers classes in Ecological Consciousness and Culture through adult learning centers and at her 7-acre farm in New Lebanon, where she also maintains her art studio and gallery. Her book in progress, Planetary Perspectives, contains interviews with and essays by founders of a sustainable human presence on the planet. Angela is also active in the international Quaker environmental movement and Friends in Unity with Nature in Manhattan, under whose auspices she created her 8-week course, Eco-spirituality and Action.

Ali Jemal

Ali Jemal ( Daniel Mount) is a gardener and garden writer from the Seattle area.

Rosemary Ely Palmer

Rosemary Ely Palmer (Kabira), native Vermonter and student of Sufism whose interests lie in the healing powers of words, touch, movement and gardening.  At present I am a student in Raphaelite and One on One Training healing work and entering my fourth year in the school of Suluk .  Martial Arts has played a key role in my enthusiasm in the field of healing, having been a past student in the school of Mo Duk Pai Kung Fu for eight years and a past and present student of Tai Chi for 12 years.  I have been appointed as a Coorinator in the Sufi Order. I am a student of life and I am presently employed, as a grower of plants and flowers, by an innovative organic farm in Vermont. 

Don Washburn

Don Washburn, also known as Jamshyd, hails from the land of the future. He enjoys mingling with fellow countrymen. Although he makes his living teaching college students and has the leisure to indulge in numerous creative enterprises, his accomplishments are of small importance.  The images of the Winged Heart and the overflowing Cornucopia sum up his “take” on what his his life has been about. Among many blessings, he serves as a cherag and is a member of the first graduating class of Suluk.  If you see a smiling, brown-eyed, bald man, with a mustache, please approach him and start a conversation. 

Darakshan Farber

Darakshan Farber serves as a “connecter” immersed in the arts (music, sculpture, theater), community organization (Living Peace in Ojai, Burning Man), world travel, and emerging spirituality. He was a software architect for thirty years, eventually developing unique technologies for the Internet. He now directs several small businesses (Zhena’s Gypsy Tea, Body Hoops, Glen Muse). He has been on the Sufi path since 1973 and is a student in the Suluk Academy.

Rick Jabbar Briggs

Rick Jabbar Briggs is a former altar boy who is blessed to have discovered meditation, yoga, Tai Ji and Sufi teachings in his late 20’s and early 30’s. He is initiated in the Esoteric School, Healing Order, and Ziraat concentrations of the Sufi Order. He is most fortunate to be part of the vibrant Rochester NY Sufi Community, participating as a Cherag and member of the Message Council. He is a mureed of Shahabuddin Less, who ordained Jabbar as a Cherag in September 2005. His spiritual life has greatly enhanced his career providing and leading services to persons affected by chemical abuse/dependency and co-occurring psychological/spiritual challenges. Rick married Mary Sanderson on 7-23-06 in a service of Universal Worship conducted by Amina Hall and Subhan Lloyd. He is the proud father of Taylor, a composer and musician living in Chicago and Nathan who is currently exploring his many talents in Sarasota Florida.

Roxan McKinnon

Roxan McKinnon is a visual artist, printmaking and collage, who has exhibited work on sides of buildings to museums and galleries. As a part of this she has a twenty-five year history of working on community art projects with a variety of people in a variety of crisis’. She has been a dancer, and has performed with the Boston Dance Collective. In a consistently nonlinear journey, she is now the Executive Director of City Life/ Vida Urbana, a community organizing non-profit in Boston keeping residents in post foreclosed buildings through peaceful civil disobedience. Roxan is a Northeast Regional Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, exploring the role of art and artist relative to global political and economic debates over mother earth. She is a newcomer to the Sufi community, with a particular interest in the Raphaelite Healing Order.”

Nur-un-nisa Cynthia Burke

Nur-un-nisa Cynthia Burke: mother to three sons, practitioner of deep ecology, and friend of humanity. She is an often requested Sufi Cheraga and Director of Dance of the Seven Veils: a life-style and performance-art conversation which explores the evolution of the divine human soul. She will leave this week-end gathering of lovers to enter her doctoral studies in Biotechnology. Thank you for such a perfect bon-voyage!

Anne Glickman

Anne Glickman is currently working as a freelance audio producer in Chicago. Her work has been featured on Weekend America, Radio France International, Studio.360 and Chicago Public Radio. She has also been active within the progressive philanthropic community and was a founding member of the Gulf Coast Allied Funders - a national cross-class, cross-race giving circle that channeled over 3M to progressive grassroots organizations throughout the Gulf South area. She just recently returned from Sufi Alps Camp and is over the moon to be a part of this spiritual community. 

Martha Talbott

Martha Talbott is an organizational development consultant focusing her work with nonprofit organizations.  Her 25 years of experience in organization development consulting and management with large and small nonprofit organizations, community groups and academic institutions has included board development, strategic planning, organization assessment, team building, change management, conflict resolution, group facilitation and inter-organization collaboration. Martha has recently also served as the Director of Programs at the Atlanta Women’s Foundation where she was responsible for developing an integrated program of strategic grant-making, advocacy and capacity building.  Previously she was the Consulting Services Senior Manager at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits where she focused on providing capacity building services to nonprofit organizations. Martha also served as part of the management team of an international community development organization, providing leadership to indigenous staff in 35 countries in strategic and operational planning, financial management and program delivery.

Michelle Moore

Michelle Moore is the outreach director for the Global Oneness Project, a series of short films and interviews showing what it means to be part of one interconnected, interdependent whole. The project explores oneness within the contexts of conflict resolution, human rights, sustainability, indigenous cultures, spiritual traditions, politics, art and economics, and distributes the films for free to encourage dialogue across cultures and disciplines. Prior to the Global Oneness Project, Michelle assisted with the launch of The New School at Commonweal, and coordinated the promotion of ONE: The Movie. She has a background in film, video, and book production.

Donald Washburn

Donald Washburn is a professor of English at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Uma Annette Hansen

Annette Hansen received initiation into the Sufi Order while on retreat at the Abode in 1994 after a period of great searching and major life changes.  In 1995 she moved to the Washington DC area from California to pursue training in sculpture at the Corcoran School of Art .  At the completion of that program Annette was accepted as an artist-in-residence at Creative Clay Studios in Alexandria, Va where she taught sculpture and handbuilding ceramics for 10+ years.  During that time her own sculpture and ceramic work was shown and sold throughout the DC area and in New Hampshire. Annette has been active in the Sufi Community activities in the DC area and have just graduated from the Suluk Academy in the Kausar class of 2008. Annette and her husband, Alfred, celebrated 50 yrs together this year.  They have 7 children, 27 grandchildren, and 3 great grandchildren, and recently moved to Crossville,Tennessee.

Ilfra Zamiat Halley

Ilfra is an Interfaith Minister, Earth activist, Composer, Singer and Celtic harper.  She is an explorer of the mysticism of sound since opening a conversation with the stars at age four, she has brought her voice to gatherings across the land, including the United Nations and Prayer Vigils for the Earth at the Washington Monument. Zamiat became a student of Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in 1979 leading to ongoing exploration of the inner life and study/interaction with world religions. She is a member of United Religions Initiative and is active throughout the Hudson Valley. Ilfra was adopted by Lakota Sioux Elder Grandfather Harry Blue Thunder who gifted her with teachings and ceremonies honoring of the sacredness of all life.  Ilfra is a practicing member of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra in Woodstock, the North American seat of HH the 17th Karmapa.  She tries to walk in gratitude and compassion for all beings and celebrates the living presence of Spirit.

Branda Miller

Branda Miller is a media artist and educator, dedicated to explore new visions and support independent voices. A Professor of Media Arts at Rensselaer, she is an Emmy award-winning editor who has worked extensively in the media industry of Los Angeles and New York City. Professor Miller has developed numerous media literacy/community arts projects, and is a co-founder and Outreach Coordinator of The Sanctuary for Independent Media, located in North Troy.

Sharifa Krongold
Addie Banks
Karima Gebel
Tara Adler-Ruh
Dorothy Craig
Fay Besharat
Michael Gest
Khabir Matthes
Elisabeth Kolpa
Musawwira Bruning
Roshan Peay
Francie Glickman
Deborah Morin
Carl Morris
Inayat Trahan
Rabia Longworth
Rabbi Phyllis Berman
Barbara Sargent
Nancy Grace
Aftab Beckett
Elizabeth Rees
Howard Segal
Noor Nicolai
Phil Nicolai
Richard Zoeller
Vajra Densmore
Said Osio
Espahbad Yoshpa
Adena Friedman
Wahhab Sheets
Batina Sheets
Nirtana Deckro
Ruth Allaire
Tara Halpen
Al Hansen
Karen Kasim
Rabia Kelly
Rahima Wade
Malika Suzanne Damberg
Therese Mumm
Lilli Nye
Stacia Danielle Gray
Rizwana Mason
Tchukon Shanks
Amin Bisio
Satya Jurate Calise
Arifa Goodman
Rahima Nancy Rowley
Alima Lucinski
Annette Thompson
Keith Elchin
Moksha Sommer
Jemal Hines
Alex Wayne
Khurshid Fitzwilliam
Harriett Crosby
Eliyahu Maclean
Marilee Azima Baccich
Jiji Kikhia
Regina Walther
John German
Josue Cardona
Kathy Newburn
Alyssa Bonilla
Andrea Feranti
Ariana Abadian-Heifetz
Patrick Scanlon
Peter Knechtel
Inayat Leff
Sura Sheldon
Aulia Shuloff
Zahir Roehrs
Aimee Johnson
Don Johnson
Cheryl Jarvi
Cynthia Burke
Michelle Tamaren
Uzma Afzal
Rashid Sufi
Shaffia Laue
Tom Hoteling
Rabbi David Ingber
Ariel Rosen
Richard Bachner
Raj Secura
Frank White
Wahida Young
Ingrid Wisswasser
Nizam Ash
Ben Burdick
JayRoss Sommerkamp
Manda Prosser
Peggy Hawkins
Siakzar Moayedi
Batinah Dawdy
Ganesh Dawdy
Carole Ferraro
Rosemary Palmer
Feizi Spencer
Gabriel Bisio
Richard Bachner
Raj Secura
Farid Jackson
Nur Habib Tiven
Sarah Manolson
JoAnne Spies

Conference Organizers & Staff

Deepa Patel

Deepa Patel is an engaging and experienced fundraiser, events manager and promoter, and cultural producer of media including an award-winning magazine for young people, and various music, photography and digital efforts. She has a depth of experience in facilitating programs around equal opportunities and diversity issues, and is an advocate for youth, the oppressed, and all those struggling to have a voice. Deepa lives in London.

Jacob Ellenberg

Jacob Mujahid Ellenberg comes from an eclectic background that includes massage therapy, high-tech start-up companies, scholarly research and writing, and most recently organizational consulting. He has served on the Sufi Order Board of Trustees and as Chairman of the Suluk Academy Committee, the group that founded the Academy in 2002. Jacob holds a B.A. in Organizational Behavior and Mysticism from New York University.

Jennifer Alia Wittman

Jennifer Alia Wittman serves as the Director of Seven Pillars, after serving for four years as the General Manager of the publisher and bookseller, Omega Publications. Prior to her work with Omega, Alia spent ten years in public service and volunteerism, founding, directing, and supporting governmental, nonprofit and corporate entities. In her mid-20’s she served as Executive Director of Hands on Baltimore and in this role was named by the Baltimore Business Journal as one of Baltimore’s “Top 40 Under 40” leaders.

Satya Khan

Satya Khan is a student of Sufism and a graduate of the Suluk Academy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is a freelance Web developer and writer. She edits the Chivalry section of the Seven Pillars Review.

Bisan Toron

Bisan Toron is a voice teacher and performer. She was born in Syria and was ra