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BAHAR Seminar, Thursday Mar 10, 2011: Richard Roberts

Professor Richard H. Roberts of the School of Languages, Cultures and Religions, University of Stirling, will speak on ‘Death the Final Healing? – Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, Phyllida Anam-aire, The Book of the Dead and the “Death Walk”‘ on Thursday, May 20th 2010, Humanities Building 3.48, 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Professor Roberts introduces his seminar as follows: “In 2002 I first encountered the Celtic Spirituality specialist Phyllida Anam-aire, a remarkable and gifted Irishwoman whose career has included periods of life as a Catholic nun, political activist, student of psychology, mother and grandmother, yoga teacher, singer, death awareness trainer with Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and skilled in many other therapeutic practices all underlaid by deep immersion in indigenous Irish shamanic practices centred on the cult of Brigit and the Goddess. Anam-aire also draws upon The Tibetan Book of the Dead when as psychopomp she assists the soul’s journey through the bardos. Brought up an Irish-speaker, Anam-aire’s books A Celtic Book of Dying (Findhorn Press, 2005) and Celtic Wisdom and Contemporary Living (Findhorn Press, 2007) draw upon contexts and the experience of individuals, some of which I am familiar at first hand through friendship and participant observation.

“Prepared in the spirit of Sarah Caldwell’s Oh Terrifying Mother, the narrative core of this paper is an account of the care, nursing, and eventual ‘home death’ of my wife and life-companion (Lebensgefahrtin) of over forty years Audrey Roberts (née Butterfield) as this was informed by aspects of field work conducted over a ten-year period. Besides relevant academic literature I draw upon both field-notes and personal journals. For the presenter this experience of the dying and death of a beloved one as a ‘healing’ has brought into sharp focus what he considers to be the problematic divorce between theory and practice in the now threatened field known as ‘religious studies’.”

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