The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing: Retreat, Ritual, and a Chat with the Women of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop

jessica reidy

If you’re an artist or writer and you’re feeling a little tapped out, check out this Quail Bell Magazine essay/interview “The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing: Retreat, Ritual, and a Chat with the Women of the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop” about the benefits of practicing yoga alongside your writing practice and the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Summer Yoga & Writing Retreat at the Château de Verderonne, FranceAlthough the CWW has marked the retreat application deadline as May 15th, admissions are rolling until filled and there are still a few spaces. Apply A.S.A.P.

Elissa doing yoga in front of the Château de Verderonne, Image source: Quail Bell Magazine Elissa doing yoga in front of the Château de Verderonne, Image source: Quail Bell Magazine

Some quotes from “The Symbiotic Magic of Yoga and Writing“–

Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller Series, argues that ritual is the key to creating art. In From Where You Dream: the…

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Cure for writer’s block: The Southeast Review Writer’s Regimen (starts June 1st!)

jessica reidy

The hardest thing about writing is keeping going– I get all my self-doubt and feelings in a tangle and suddenly I’m paralyzed. If this doesn’t happen to you, then you either have defeated your ego or your ego is so huge and dense that nothing can penetrate it. Or another reason. Whatever the root of your writer’s block, it helps to have prompts. (It also helps to do another activity, like yoga, to get you going). The Southeast Review does this fantastic thing called 30-Day Writer’s Regimen and the next cycle starts June 1st. Here’s a description from the website–

Sign up for The Southeast Review Writing Regimen and you will get the following:

 

  • daily writing prompts, applicable for any genre, emailed directly to you for 30 DAYS! Use these to write a poem a day for 30 days, to create 30 short-short stories, or to…

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Today Roma honor the Goddess-Saint Kali Sara

St. Sarah, Kali Sara, Sara Kali, Sara-la-Kali, Sati-Sara, The Black Madonna, The Black Mother… many names for one Goddess-Saint sacred to Roma all over the world. Today is her festival– she is the Goddess of Fate, good fortune, fertility, and protection– and Roma honor her in pilgrimage, by worshiping her statue, through dance and community… so many ways, so many incarnations of the goddess who accompanied the Roma all the way from India.

Take a look at these articles below for more information about the Goddess-Saint, Romanipen/Romani religion/spirituality, and her celebration. Be sure to click the links for the whole articles.

The Romani Goddess-Saint Sara Kali

The Romani Goddess-Saint Sara Kali

“Until recently it was widely believed that this worship of Kali Sara, the Romani Black Madonna or Goddess was unique to Les Saintes Maries de La Mer. My own recent research among Romani refugees from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and in countries of the Balkans has uncovered the little-known fact that other Black Virgins are worshipped by Roma in central/eastern Europe and that Roma from these countries perform similar rituals. These rituals include laying flowers at the feet of the statue, adorning the statue with clothing of the sick hoping for cures, placing requests to the statue, and lighting candles to the female divinity. To the Roma, Kali Sara is the Protectress who will cure sickness, bring good luck and fertility and grant success in business ventures.
The Romani ceremony at Les Saintes Maries, as elsewhere, consists of carrying the statue on a platform strewn with flowers (4) into the closest body of water such as a sea, lake, flowing river or even a large pond of clear water. The platform is then lowered to touch the water while the crowd throws flowers into the water. Indian scholars such as Dr. Weer Rishi (5) and others who have witnessed this Romani ceremony, as well as Western observers who are familiar with Hindu religious customs have identified this ceremony with the Durga Poojaof India. In Romani, Kali Sara means Black Sara and in India, the Goddess Kali is known as Kali/Durga/Sara. Like the Hindus, the Roma practice shaktism, the worship of Goddesses. In other words, the Roma who attend the pilgrimage to Les Saintes Maries in France and in other related ceremonies elsewhere honouring black female divinities, are in fact continuing to worship Kali/Durga/Sara their original Goddess in India.

According to the Durgasaptashati (seven hundred verses in the worship of Goddess Durga and her various forms), chapter 5, verse 12, which mentions Sara, contains the following: “Salute to Durga, Durgapara, (Deliver of all difficulties), Sara, (Embodiment of everything par-excellent), Cause of everything, Krishna and Dhurma (Evaporated form in smoke).” Other references in this ancient Hindu scripture also confirm that Sara is one and the same with the Indian goddess Durga who is also another aspect of Kali, the consort of Shiva.” —“THE ROMANI GODDESS KALI SARA” by RONALD LEE

The Indian Goddess Kali

The Indian Goddess Kali

Some Romani groups in Europe today appear to maintain elements of Shaktism or goddess-worship; the Rajputs worshipped the warrior-goddess Parvati, another name for the female deity Sati-Sara, who is Saint Sarah, the Romani Goddess of Fate. That she forms part of the yearly pilgrimage to La Camargue at Stes. Maries de la Mer in the south of France is of particular significance; here she is carried into the sea just as she is carried into the waters of the Ganges each December in India. Both Sati-Sara and St. Sarah wear a crown, both are also called Kali, and both have shining faces painted black.  Sati-Sara is a consort of the god Ðiva, and is known by many other names, Bhadrakali, Uma, Durga and Syamaamong them.” —

“ROMANI (‘GYPSY’) RELIGION” by Ian Hancock

Sara, toi la sainte patronne des voyageurs et gitans du monde entier,
tu as vécu en ce lieu des Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Tu es venue d’un lointain pays au-delà des mers.
J’aime venir te retrouver ici, te dire tout ce que j’ai dans le Cœur,
te confier mes peines et mes joies.
Je te prie pour tous les membres de ma famille et tous mes amis.
Sara, veille sur moi!

(Sara, patron saint of travelers and gypsies the world over, you who lived in this region of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. You came from a far-away country from across the seas. I love to come and find you here, to tell you all that I have in my heart and in you confide my sorrows and joys. I pray to you for everyone in my family and all my friends. Sara, come to me!) —Saint Sara-la-Kali: A Sister to Kali Maa

Saint Sarah

Saint Sarah

“Gypsy” Jazz singer Tatiana Eva-Marie talks with Quail Bell Magazine

I want my audience to feel that they are constantly traveling with their ears.” –Tatiana Eva-Marie

Read the interview “Tatiana Eva-Marie on the harmonious fusion of Romani ‘Gypsy’ music” in Quail Bell Magazine and find out what she has to say about Romani music and representation, how her multicultural heritage shapes her art, growing up in theatres and concert halls all over Europe, the Music Explorer competition/documentary (click the heart to vote for her!), and her life in the Avalon Jazz Band in New York City. You can also listen to some beautiful songs from the competition.

JR: How do you think the Romani arts scene can support the fight for Romani rights and representation?

TEM: By showing an open and generous culture, not magical creatures, not chicken thieves, but real people. I suppose it is somewhat natural to be afraid of foreign things, but in the age of internet and communication there can be no excuse for that anymore. We are all so mixed now and most people can trace their heritage back to more than one country. We should all embrace our differences and be proud of our origins. We should try and educate the people around us, share our knowledge with each other. Art is a wonderful way of doing that and has always been a bridge between people.

Opre Roma! Find out more at http://www.quailbellmagazine.com/the-real/interview-jazz-singer-tatiana-eva-marie

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Tatiana Eva-Marie singing with the Avalon Jazz Band

The best way to Slovenia’s heart is through its stomach. “Introducing Roma Cuisine, The Little-Known ‘Soul Food’ Of Europe” in NPR

Meghan Collins Sullivan’s excellent article in NPR, “Introducing Roma Cuisine, The Little-Known ‘Soul Food’ Of Europe” explores the rising trend of Romani “soul food” against the antigypsyist sentiment and legislation in Europe. She reports, “A development group in Slovenia has just opened the first large-scale Roma restaurant in Europe. Romani Kafenava in Maribor, Slovenia, began serving up traditional Balkan Romani dishes like stews and grilled meats in April.” In Slovenia, like many other EU countries, Roma suffer discrimination, poor living conditions, and racial profiling, but Roma and Romani activist are hopeful that the new interest in Romani cuisine will educate outsiders about the culture and encourage coexistence and tolerance.

“Slovenians have a lot of stereotypes, prejudices about Roma community,” says Simon Simoncic, the restaurant’s project manager. “Roma culture is different from us. Of course some of their habits we can’t understand, but coherence and coexistence is … a fact nowadays. So Romani Kafenava is one [way] to break stereotypes.”

….

The dishes at Romani Kafenava hail from the Balkans — and more specifically Kosovo, Macedonia and Serbia. The eatery serves a lot of grilled and baked meat and vegetables, often spiced with paprika and chili. And there’s a bit of a Mediterranean influence; stuffed peppers and grape leaves are mainstay.

….

“Roma food deserves attention,” says Ian Hancock, a Roma scholar, author and professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “You can equate it with the emergence of soul food in this country. Soul food was poor people’s food and it has become fashionable.”

Hancock says the concept of a Roma restaurant is not new – there are many small, family-run businesses elsewhere — but that this one takes a fresh approach on a larger scale.

Read the article for more

I love the idea of Romani culture becoming more visible and accessible– the best way for outsiders to understand Romani culture is for them to fall in love with it, and there is a lot to love.

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A dish of Mesne Dolme from Romani Kafenava. Image Source: http://romani-kafenava.si/