by Ralph White
Some of our readers may wonder what is the longest-running program in the history of the Open Center? The answer would be the series of international conferences and travel experiences that have focused on aspects of Western spiritual history that deserve to be remembered with delight and wonder. The Open Center has had a long-standing commitment since day one to offering programs in world spirituality, though it has been said that in holistic circles the Buddhist, yogic and shamanic paths are very prominent. As a result, the Western paths, the indigenous European paths, tend to be neglected.
That’s why back in 1995 we began this series on the Western Tradition. It all started in the little town of Cesky Krumlov, the Southern Bohemian mecca of alchemists that lay behind the Iron Curtain throughout the Cold War and remained untouched and uncommercialized when Open Center co-founder, Ralph White, stumbled across it in the early 90’s. The speakers at our first event there, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited, dubbed by Gnosis magazine an ‘Esoteric Woodstock,’ included virtually every major writer on the Western Tradition in the English speaking world. For the 100 people from 20 countries who miraculously materialized as attendees, it was a literally unforgettable experience. But little did we know that it was the founding moment of an almost quarter-century-long series of conferences that has most recently included the world of the Troubadours and Cathars in the South of France, the Mysteries of the North in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula of Iceland, and Megalithic, Celtic and Norse cultures in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
This year, for the first time, we are going to South America to explore the Lost World of the Incas (and the Living Spirituality of Indigenous Peru and Bolivia). This will be the second time we have produced the Quest in the Western Hemisphere, the first being on Inner America in 2008 when we looked at the spiritually fertile world of Upstate New York, the ‘Burnt Over District,’ in the Nineteenth Century. Here is a link to this year’s Quest, www.esotericquest.org. With many distinguished faculty from both Peru and North America, and with a strong emphasis on experiencing sacred ceremony, natural beauty and cultural depth, this will take place from August 22 to 27 and include a visit to Machu Picchu as well as the Sacred Valley and Cusco. We will seek to bring alive for our participants the extraordinarily sophisticated culture of the Incas, and will also offer a journey to Lake Titicaca and Bolivia for a post-conference experience.
These Quests have developed a worldwide reputation for providing outstanding experiences to both participants and faculty. Needless to say, we’d be delighted if you joined us in South America in late August!
For further information on the upcoming quest, please contact Andrea Lomanto at 212-219-2527 ext 101 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.