Long recognized as an inspired spiritual leader, Rev. Carol Parrish has stimulated many people to rejoice in their oneness with God. Her presentation of the esoteric aspects of early Christianity, free of doctrine and adornment, reinforces our acceptance of the Christ.
Ordained in 1971, Rev. Parrish left a promising business career to devote herself to her ministry and lecturing in the human potential movement. Having directed the Villa Serena community of Sarasota, Florida, for several years, she was led by spiritual guidance in 1981 to establish the community of Sparrow Hawk Village in the foothills of the Ozarks near Tahlequah, Oklahoma. There she served as President of Light of Christ Community Church until 2009 and Academic Dean of Sancta Sophia Seminary until her retirement in June 1, 2010. Since then, she is as busy as ever teaching, writing and conducting seminars all over the country.
Rev. Parrish, author of 16 books, will lead a Theosophical Society workshop on “Exploring the Divine Blueprint for Humanity” from 2-6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at Spirit United Church, 3204 Como Ave. SE, Minneapolis. She spoke by phone from her home in Oklahoma about her upcoming workshop, about the role of religion in the 21st century, and about events in her life that have led her to where she is now.
What should each of us know about our Divine Blueprint that most of us do not?
Dr. Carol Parrish: Most of us do not know the history as taught in ancient wisdom of the Earth, the planet itself, and that’s what I’m going to talk about. I’m going to talk about elements that make up the planet, the elementals, about Lemuria and Atlantis, about The Plan, about how the Earth was created, how it will go back to the etheric, and what it is facing at the present time. I’m going to talk about the hierarchy of wise ones who are leading us and about things we can do as we move into the energies of the Aquarian Age, which we are now into.
Can you highlight maybe a few of the things that we could be doing right now to assist ourselves in this evolutionary process?
CP: We have to realize how really important climate change is, that we’re all contributing to the problem and that each one of us has to modify our behavior in some way. The general public has heard this, but it has not really done anything about it, like saving water, saving electricity, turning our thermostats down or using a toilet twice before we flush it. We have not realized that we are misusing our resources.
I know Minneapolis is really good about picking up things and recycling. My state of Oklahoma has begun recycling, but only in some cities. I live in the country and there is no recycling where I am. We have to begin to think about this kind of thing.
The climate is changing. When I lived in Florida, we had heavy rains like we have been having here in Oklahoma. I’ve lived in Oklahoma 35 years and I have never seen torrential rains like we’ve had this year. These are the kinds of things we have to think about.
We have to realize also that humanity is being pressured by these new energies that are conflicting. The energy of the Piscean Age was very emotional. The energy of the Aquarian Age is more mental. So, there’s a conflict in heart and mind being stirred up within us, and I think that has contributed to a lot of our violence. We have to begin to think about what each one of us can do. Maybe just learning how to stop and think and count to 10, things we’ve been told, but we don’t do them.
We need to learn how to just sit quietly every day. If we don’t want to formally meditate, just sit quietly and bring peace and calm into yourself so that when the next event happens in your life, you can respond to it from a centered place rather than from a place of taking offense. A little saying that I like to say and repeat to people is, “You add offense to the world just as much when you take offense as when you give offense.” Most people kind of talk to themselves, “I don’t want to take offense,” but we’ve got to learn not to give offense.”
With all the turmoil and fragmentation of the institution of religion, there seems to be less commitment to it. What is your sense of this?
CP: I think there is a lot more commitment to the spiritual path, but a lack of faith in traditional churches. I sell a lot of books, and a lot of people call me and ask questions. I see people who haven’t been in a church for years reading books and sitting quietly and trying to do something that they call their spiritual practice.
I talk about how to do your own private spiritual practice, because people aren’t going to traditional churches. They’re needing change. They know traditional religion hasn’t worked for them . Even while they may say they are a Protestant or a Catholic or something, they don’t practice the teachings of their organization. I think there are more people on the spiritual path than we realize.
I think you might be right. So, people may be personalizing spirituality more than they ever have before.
CP: People say to me all the time, “I’m into spirituality, not religion.” I just met a man recently who said, “Oh, I’m so glad to meet somebody who is in spirituality. I’m not into religion at all. I went to a church school all my years, but I don’t buy it.” And I think that’s happening for a lot of people.
Where are committed students learning ancient knowledge now in the 21st century?
CP: There are a lot of schools on the internet. I teach some classes with FreeConferenceCall.com. I’ll have 15 or 20 people in every class, and they’re eager to hear some of the teachings. People can listen on the phone and don’t have to go out of their house. That’s what they like. They don’t have to tell other people what they’re into, and one by one they’re making shifts.
Do you think that represents a shift in our collective consciousness?
CP: I do, and that’s what we need. We have to make enough of a shift that we become responsible for our planet right now. Our planet is going through a near-death experience. People are waking up, but it’s a slow process. I want it to be faster than it is, but really it’s happening more and more than we realize — not just in the USA but all over the world. The native peoples of different lands are doing it, of course, because they more or less always have been into taking care of nature. I think we’re going to have to apply what we know to our own household, and that’s where the collective will really make a shift.
Is the fact that this Earth is going through a near-death experience mirroring what’s going on within our own consciousness?
CP: Yes. That’s what woke up so many of us years ago. Now it’s happening more and more for the collective. Now, this is my idea from my own near-death experience, but when a certain percentage of a collective has near-death experiences, it doesn’t belong to them alone anymore. It belongs to the collective. It’s happening now to people all over the world.
I understand your life changed completely in 1958, at the age of 24. Can you tell me about that experience?
CP: Well, I went to a traditional church. I was Catholic and went to mass every Sunday.
I was in childbirth, and all of a sudden, they gave me sodium pentothal, which is a very harmless drug usually, but my lungs collapsed and I found myself up at the ceiling of the delivery room looking and watching myself down below. I saw the baby born. I saw it was a girl. About that time, there was this kind of whirling wind and I found myself going through a tunnel. I found myself in a place of beauty and light — not light that would hurt your eyes, but a place of light surrounded by a presence. It was the greatest love I have ever felt in my life. I felt nothing like it before.
This voice, very tenderly, said to me, “If you are, you always will be.” And, I was comforted so much. Then it shifted and I saw several pictures of myself. I saw myself first speaking. I had never spoken up in any group in my life at that time. Then I saw some other pictures. I saw myself with a collar on. I saw myself with white hair, and many times I’ve thought to myself, “Well, I’m going to live through this if I’m going to live until I have white hair.” I have used that in my own life, traveling in airplanes when it was real scary. I did a lot of overseas travel.
But I’ve always gone back to that comforting remark, “If you are, you always will be.” And it reinforced the idea to me of life after death, ongoing life. I consider it ongoing life, that you step into this world and then you step out of this world, into a more refined one.
Is that kind of an experience one that never leaves you, that when you think about it, you can remember exactly what happened?
CP: Exactly. I can feel it all over again. And it has been very valuable to me — and, indeed, I changed so much. I didn’t realize it right then. I tried to tell people. I tried to tell the doctor. I was in the hospital for several days. He patted me on the shoulder and said, “It’s hallucination. Forget it.”
And, I looked at the priest, I looked at my parents and I looked at my husband and thought, “How will I ever tell them, if they won’t believe me?” I was in an old-fashioned oxygen tent then, and when I got better, I went home and then realized that I related differently to people now. I was much more objective about people. I had more of a quiet inner self, and I was able to deal with things better.
At that time, I didn’t even know about meditation. I had not ever heard about spirituality and I had no teacher at that time. After I got the children into bed, I just sat quietly and sometimes an hour would pass and I thought, “Oh, my goodness! It’s so late. I need to get up and go to bed.” But, it just came naturally for me. I had lots of children and I was really on the run, so I related to needing to sit down and just stop for a little bit. Pretty soon it became a part of my life.
It was seven years before I found my first teacher — or she found me — and I’ve studied ever since. I studied with three wonderful teachers. Ann Manser was my first teacher from Oldsmar, Florida, and then I studied with Vera Stanley Alder from England. I went back and forth usually twice a year to have an opportunity to study with her. I remarried after my first husband died, and my second husband was into spirituality, so we went together to England several times to visit Vera and her husband. Later, I studied with Torkom Saradydarian in Los Angeles. So, I never quit studying. I still study and it adds a joyful peace to my life.
How do you find that Christianity, specifically the message of Jesus, is evolving in the current day?
CP: I think Jesus was the archetype for us in the Piscean Age, and I think the Aquarian Age challenges us to become like unto that.
I study esoteric Christianity rather than traditional Christianity, and esoteric Christianity really challenges us to become the person ourself, to work with ourself, to practice the ideas Jesus gave us, to send healing, positive thoughts to one another, to pray for one another, to meditate, to study, to keep good company, to be generous to others, share ourself in all the loving ways that we possibly can with other people.
Do you find that some of these examples of the way that Jesus led his life are becoming more and more a part of who all of us are?
CP: I think so. I was touched by the gospel of Mary Magdalene from the Nag Hammadi scrolls and her talk about love. These are giving us more first-hand information about Jesus. I loved the writing of the Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. These things are telling us what the first church was like. The early church was nothing like our church today, and I think we sense it, but we didn’t know it, and now we’ve got some information that is helping to free us more from the traditional church.
Not all traditional churches are bad, and I surely don’t mean to imply that, because this is where people find fellowship and relationships, and they learn to love. People hear teachings, but I don’t think we’re supposed to stop there. I think we are to emulate Jesus and the high consciousness that he carried and the practices he suggested to all of us. As we live that kind of a life, we change — and many people are doing that now.
And not all the traditional churches are open to the other sources of Divine intelligence.
CP: Exactly! We just leave them alone. Anything that helps to sustain the more positive part of a person we should support, but there also is so much judgment being taught. Churches are so competitive that we have to move away from that.
I think we’re really in a quest for love — and I don’t think we understand what real spiritual love is.
There is a teaching about hot love and cool love. Passionate person-to-person love, especially romantic love, is hot passion, and we also feel passion about our children. But we also have to have a love for humanity, and that’s called cool love. It’s an impersonal kind of love that cares.
There’s a teaching that whatever you pray for, for yourself, you should want for others, as well. I learned very early on that if I’m going to pray that my needs be met, I have to also pray that the needs of all be met. This is that objectivity that wants life to be good for all human beings, for the planet, for the animals, for plants. We want life to be good, godly, and so as we do our part we also hold in thought that we want the life of the Earth to be good and that the Earth’s needs be met.
Your leadership at Sancta Sophia was remarkable. How do you reflect on the legacy of the seminary and your teaching there?
CP: I really have one guideline for teaching people. You have to love your students. If you do not respond well to the need of the student, you are not their teacher. They should be with somebody else.
It’s not like a public school, where you teach everybody who shows up in the class. You’re supposed to have a warmth of feeling and a concern about the benefits those people are getting out of what you say. It’s a combination of caring about them and generosity.
I’ve been a speaker for a long time, and I find that the collective, the group you’re talking to, pulls the right information out of you. It just comes. I particularly like the fact that I got an invitation from the Theosophical Society, because I’ve been a member for all these years since I lived in Florida. I was really thrilled when they called me.
What advice do you offer those who are struggling to find peace in their lives right now?
CP: I think you need someone to talk to, to your best friend, to someone knowledgeable. I use the word a sage or a wise one, but you need a sounding board. Don’t think everything somebody tells you is correct. Sometimes I tell people to get a composition notebook and write in it like a diary. When you begin writing down your dreams and writing down your feelings, more wisdom comes out of you than you think you have.
What are you personally studying now? Where is your focus at this time in your life?
CP: Right now, I’m writing a book about the water mysteries and fire mysteries. The reason I’m writing it is because I have worked really hard in my life to collect information and to come to an understanding of the mysteries themselves, the process of initiation and the mysteries that guide us. I’ve been working on that for three years already.
Finally, what final thoughts would you like to leave with our readers?
CP: Information is everywhere. We have to slow down enough to find it. The television, magazines, newspapers, books, all count, but if you just stay busy all the time and keep your mind so busy, you don’t find things as quickly as you do if you’ll just digest some of what you’re reading. Be very selective about the people you associate with.
One of the things that was taught to early disciples was that the company they kept was really important, because the vibrations would help to nurture them. We all recognize that when we go in a place, a vibration is there — and if we choose good vibrations, we’re already helping ourself to find the path.
For more information on Dr. Carol Parrish, visit www.caroleparrish.com.