Sunday, November 14, 2010

Islamic Prayer

This is the first prayer I received back from a very gracious Imam Leader, named Sameh. I have always been interested in Islam as a religion because it has some very good ideas to follow. My name means Faith in Arabic, and I always wanted to get more information about the religion. When I got the following prayer in my inbox it made me realize that Islam is very much like any other religion out there. Please enjoy the following...
Iman Cassells Alleyne

Islamic Supplications
Written by Imam / Sameh Asal
Islamic Center of Raleigh
All praises and thanks are due to God, the Creator and Lord of all that exists, and peace and blessings be upon all His Messengers.
O God, You are the Creator of the heavens and earth and all that exists! You are the Lord of Majesty and Power and You have power over everything. Exalted and Glorified be You.
O God! You are peace and the ultimate peace comes from You alone; blessed are You, O Lord of Majesty and Honor. Guide us all to the Straight Path that pleases you and open our minds and eyes to the truth.
O God! Teach us what is beneficial for us, benefit us with what you have taught us and increase us in knowledge.
O Our Lord! You are the All-Merciful, Ever-Merciful shower us all with Your all-encompassing mercy and send us your blessings.
We ask you, our Lord, the Granter of security, to bless us and our families, friends, neighbors, communities and the whole worlds with everlasting peace and security.
O’ God! You are the Creator of heavens and earth and what is in them. You have created human beings male and female and made us nations and tribes so that we may know one another and live in harmony, and you told us that the best among us in Your Sight are the most pious.

Friday, July 9, 2010

"Maranatha" & The World Community for Christian Meditation

Laurence Freeman, a Benedictine monk and the director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, is strongly active in interfaith dialog and peace initiatives. He was also one of the inspired leaders and speakers at the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions (pictured here with His Holiness the Dalai Lama).

We recently emailed him to invite him to participate as a representative to Skywheel Project, and received an enthusiastic reply from his assistant Timothy Casey, and a prayer by Fr. John Main, who had been Laurence Freeman's spiritual teacher, and had established the first Christian Meditation Center in London. This prayer will be included in the Skywheel Satellite and will one day orbit the planet!

The prayer reads:
"Heavenly Father, open our hearts to the silent presence of the spirit of your Son. Lead us into that mysterious silence where your love is revealed to all who call. Maranatha*...Come, Lord Jesus."

* Maranatha is an Aramaic phrase that means "Our Lord, come!" "Our Lord has come" or "Come, O Lord" and is believed to have been used as a greeting between early Christians. (wikipedia)

Also, according to wikipedia: " 'Maranatha' is the prayer word recommended by the World Community for Christian Meditation, the community of followers of the teaching of John Main OSB's teachings on the practice of Christian meditation. The prayer is one where one places everything aside: instead of talking to God, one is just being with God, allowing God’s presence to fill one's heart, thus transforming one's inner being."

For more information on the World Community for Christian Meditation, visit their website here:

photo credit:

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rabbi David Rosen Joins the Skywheel Project

The Skywheel Project is very honored to have the participation of Rabbi David Rosen as a representative of the Jewish faith. The Rabbi was on the International Advisory Committee at the 2009 Parliament of World's Religions, and is the International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee and president of the World Conference on Religion and Peace.

He has contributed Psalm 19 in both the Hebrew and English translations, saying, "The book of Psalms is the oldest and most extensive feature of traditional Jewish prayer. This particular psalm expresses a fundamental Jewish teaching that the Divine is encountered in the cosmos around us (and within us) and in ethical values/conduct."
Psalm 19 verse 2 asserts, "the Heavens recount the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork," (you can read the full text from Psalm 19 in English and Hebrew on our facebook page:

He also included a truly inspiring quote by philosopher Emmanual Kant, believing that he may have had this particular Psalm in mind when he said, "There are two things that fill my soul with holy reverence and ever-growing wonder- the spectacle of the starry sky that virtually annihilates us as physical beings, and the moral law that raises us to infinite dignity as intelligent agents."
(top right picture cred: Artist unknown)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A New Definition of Ritual

Ritual is an often misunderstood word that carries strong emotional connotations for most people. And, as the artwork we make as United Catalysts often intersects with the realm of ritual, I have contemplated the meaning of ritual for years.
Here is the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition of the term:
Ritual: noun
1 : the established form for a ceremony; specifically : the order of words prescribed for a religious ceremony
2 a : ritual observance; specifically : a system of rites b : a ceremonial act or action c : an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner
People can easily relate to the last definition, which is essentially a synonym for a self-imposed habit (i.e. the morning coffee). But the other descriptions, which speak of ceremonies, observances, and rites, are more vague. To many, these definitions conjure up images of forced childhood church-goings or frighteningly bizarre acts of violence or sex.
The ceremonial definition of ritual is missing two important parts. First, it does not address the function of a ritual, which is transformation. Second, it gives no description of the mechanisms of ritual, which are symbolism, myth and metaphor.
From elaborate and public traditional wedding ceremonies, to private ceremonies for healing or purification, all rituals are designed to transform the participants. This transformation may be a social one, as in a change in status within a community (graduations, weddings, or rites of passage), or a purely personal one, aimed at the spiritual or psychological growth of an individual. Either way, transformation is the ultimate goal, and the specific type of transformation desired helps dictate the form and content of the ritual itself.
To accomplish this transformation, rituals employ the powerful mechanisms of symbolism, metaphor, and myth. In any ritual, participants go through a series of prescribed physical actions that are designed to serve as metaphors for internal actions. For example, in a marriage ritual, the bride and groom often pour sand into one container, drink wine from the same cup, or light one central candle from two individual ones. All of these actions serve as metaphors for merging two lives and destinies into one.  Many objects within rituals are symbolic; in this case the cup, candle or container of sand all symbolize the new union. These symbols are often dictated or informed by mythology, which refers to the set of spiritual or moral stories within a culture. 
Every culture on Earth has a their own combination of mythology, symbolism, and goals for transformation, so every culture’s rituals are uniquely different. Going further, every individual also has a unique perspective within their culture, and many of us create our own personal rituals, within or outside of our traditions.
The dictionary’s failure to describe the function and form of ritual in its definition is indicative of our society’s failure to understand and convey the value of ritual as a transformative tool. Many of Western society’s rituals are centuries old, and sometimes fail to move participants toward the transformations which they intend. In spite of this disconnect, they can still be powerfully moving.
My new definition of ritual is this: any set of physical symbolic actions that serve as a tool for internal transformation.
Demystifying ritual has enabled me to further appreciate the rituals of my upbringing, and encouraged me to continue to find my own personal rituals. In my work with Steve, this knowledge has strengthened our projects, which use metaphoric action to create new, contemporary rituals, and has ultimately led us to where we are now in the Skywheel Project.
This project, like a ritual, uses symbolism, metaphor, myth and physical action to evoke transformation. We hope the metaphor of a prayer wheel, containing the most sacred words from all spiritual traditions, orbiting the planet as a symbol of honor for all which is considered holy, will help encourage the transformation of our planet to one which is filled with respect, cooperation, and better understanding for all cultures and their beliefs.
Photo: Our first dialog with ritual, 9 years ago: The Purification Project
To learn more about this project, and other United Catalyst artwork, please visit:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

James Turrell -- Skyspace

The Skywheel Project is certainly an epic work of art-in-progress. For all of us devoted to its completion, it’s a mountain we climb as pilgrims, step by step. As we go along this long trail, we remember and are inspired by other artists and visionaries who are also making monumental works.

The work and dedication of James Turrell has been inspiring Steve and I for years, long before the Skywheel Project. His “skyspaces” are chambers of holy interaction between the Earth and the Sky. His minimalist manipulations of light and space create powerful spiritual sanctuaries where the elemental and the infinite can be expressed and contemplated – all without words or metaphor.

In contrast, within the Skywheel satellite, we seek to house a collective body of text that describes our planet’s attempts to put humanity’s contemplation of the sacred in writing. But, like Turrell, we hope to expose these beautiful verses, prayers, and devotions as metaphor, symbols of all the spiritual perspectives on Earth, all pointing to the same thing -- a direct experience of that which is greater than ourselves: the divine, which is always beyond words.

Turrell’s life work is a series of skyspaces contained in the Roden Crater, near Flagstaff, Arizona. He has been designing, carving and shaping this space for the last 35 years, creating one of the largest works of art in history. And he’ll get there, one step at a time.

 So will we.


Read more about James Terrell’s work here:'06%20James%20Turrell/James%20Turrell%20Oct%20'06.htm


Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Focus on the Positive Path Forward, Not the Negative Path of the Past"

This year's Parliament theme was "Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth," with a strong focus on indigenous peoples. These are cultures whose voices have gone unheard of for so much of Western history, but remain closer than most of us to the Earth, while many of our "civilized" cultures have become far removed from the natural world. 

Many sessions were held by indigenous spiritual leaders, whose cultures and peoples have been sorely mistreated by others, and in some cases, have had their traditions almost eradicated. Many of these peoples had restrictions imposed on them, making practicing their religions illegal. Indigenous leaders had a great deal to speak about at the Parliament, and at times emotions were high. After one session held by Aboriginal Elders, audience members were coming up front to shake hands and I heard more than one European-descent Australian say,"I'm sorry." Those are powerful transformative words. 

Consistently, the aborigional elders talked of the present and future, and making things better now and for their grandchildren. They offered this advise not just as their own philosophy for moving forward after being wronged, but as advise to be taken by everyone, especially in regard to the care of the Earth, our home. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Deepening wisdom is a result of listening to nature.

-- HH Vishwagura Mahamand Eleshwar Paramhans

During the Parliament of the World's religions, I attended the "Convocation of Hindu Spiritual Leaders", where about thirty yogis, gurus, saints and mystics from multiple regions of the world converged to speak about bringing wisdom, peace, and harmony to ourselves and our planet. His Holiness Vishwagura Paramhans spoke of the process of gaining wisdom as directly related to the process of listening -- to nature, which is all around us and in us. The process of listening, in this sense, means not just hearing words, but paying close attention to the actions, sights, sounds, processes, cycles and experiences that are happening close to us, and being open to the wisdom contained within. 

Listening to nature also requires listening to the needs and perspectives of others, and trying to work into our own actions, respect for their existence, not just acting with preference to our own needs. If we do this, we live our lives in balance with the flow of the energy of the world around us, and we don't waste energy fighting against it.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Wisdom from the Parliament

With so many perspectives on the human condition, and the condition of the world, the Parliament of the World's Religions was overwhelming, and took several months to even begin to process.

As a way of beginning this process, and gaining a deeper understanding of the wisdom gathered at the Parliament, we have begun to craft a Parliament Book, combining illuminated quotes with skywheel-esque designs. These gems of wisdom come from notes that we all took while attending the various spiritual observances, and lectures at POWR. Some of the quotes come directly from the speakers, others are distillations or common themes that were brought up numerous times by leaders of many different faith groups.

The photo included in this post is one of about thirty in the works. In the future, we will include more of this illuminated wisdom, with the addition of a few notes about the background of the quotes and related speakers to give a sense of context. Enjoy!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Skywheel 2009, a Retrospective

It's been almost a year since United Catalysts began to work on the Skywheel Project. The year of 2009 was all about planning and brainstorming, meeting with rocket scientists, and people of various faiths and cultures including attending the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia.
In short, it has been an exciting year.

As a studio assistant, it's been amazing for me to watch the artists Kim Garrison and Steve Radosevich steadily bring a seemingly inconceivable project to life. It was  wonderful to see how warmly the Skywheel project was received by all of the religious leaders, scholars and people from all over the world that we met at the Parliament. I feel it has truly struck a chord in all of us and already, even in it's nascent stage, has become a focal point to bring together people of all beliefs and walks of life while honoring the beauty of our individuality.

And what lies in store for the Skywheel Project in 2010, you may wonder?
This year, Kim and Steve will focus their creative energies on  the artistic facets of the Skywheel Project, including a series of Skywheel related prints and designs for the satellite itself. And while they return to the studio to make wonderful skywheel art, I will be sending invitations to religious and spiritual leaders to create a panel of advisors for the project and keeping all of you, the friends of the Skywheel Project, updated on our adventure as it unfolds.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Warm Welcome

Welcome to the official blog for The Skywheel Project. Here, artists Kim Garrison, Steve Radosevich and I (the bloggy studio assistant), will be sharing with you our adventures with this incredibly exciting project. We'd like to invite you to be a part of our community and join us on this journey

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the project, you can find detailed info at

You can also join us on Facebook by following this link.