An Encounter with the White Brotherhood — Ardella's Foreword to Dance of the Soul
I first encountered PanEuRhythmy in 1983, while running a meditation and personal growth group in London. I heard about a man who was a travel agent. As a travel agent, he was able to travel more easily in Eastern European countries which, at the time, were under the grip of Communist dictatorships and were not easy to explore. This man had discovered a dance which was a meditative dance movement which had been taught there before the Iron Curtain, but then had been squashed and suppressed ever since. As a travel agent he was able to go more freely than most people, and he formed deep connections with the people who danced this PanEuRhythmy.
I heard about him and invited him to our group. We were tremendously impressed by his whole quality. Our first experience of hearing about PanEuRhythmy from Philip Carr-Gomm was like opening a door into a new world we had always dreamed of and never yet tasted.
Philip began by telling us about how he had found out about PanEuRhythmy. It was a spiritual thriller story — an odyssey of danger, daring, trust, guidance, and joy. Philip had chanced on a secondhand book entitled "The Universal White Brotherhood" (which, in modern American idiom, might be transliterated as "The Universal Fellowship of Light" or "The Community of Light Workers in all Dimensions of Being"). His search for this community led him to France and Bulgaria — to the two places indicated in the book — with astonishing synchronicity.
Philip's then wife being French, they were about to vacation in France in the vicinity of the branch community led by Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov, a disciple of Peter Deunov, the adept who originated PanEuRhythmy. There he obtained contact names and addresses in Bulgaria. Then, on his return to England, the Travel Agency he worked for sent him as a tour-guide — to Bulgaria. Americans may need reminding that, in the days of the Cold War and Kruschev's iron rule, travel to the Communist Eastern Block countries was fraught with difficulties and dangers. Contacting the local people could subject them to public suspicion, with possible interrogation, loss of livelihood, and even sometimes imprisonment, torture, and death.
Still, Philip risked showing one of the addresses he had been given in France to Marta, the Bulgarian woman escorting him back to the hotel in a taxi, and asking her for directions. To his alarm, her jaw dropped open and a long silence ensued. Finally she asked, "Who gave you this?"
He answered with studied casualness, "Oh, a man called Aivanhov." Her face broke into a smile. "That's me!" she said, indicating the address.
Immediately he was connected with the mysterious inner circle of the followers of Peter Deunov, the Bulgarian teacher. This trip became the first of many, as he discovered his long-lost spiritual home and family.
Philip returned to our group to teach us the PanEuRhythmy he had learned in secret on those sacred mountains of Orpheus near the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia (meaning Divine Wisdom). We were entranced, and I could not rest until I had found a way of accompanying Philip on his next visit to Bulgaria.
This seemed to be the answer to what I had been looking for. I have always had a love of dance, though we had grown up in a family where dance was frowned upon — we were strict Protestants — but I found sitting meditation very difficult. I needed something which involved my body, my emotions — everything. This is what PanEuRhythmy does. All the differing strands of my life seemed to suddenly come together in that moment and weave into a bright new picture and vision of what life could be. It was also just plain fun to do, like any dance.
I had long been interested in Eastern European countries and how people survived under the challenge of spiritual oppression. How people survive in difficult circumstances has always intrigued me, and this is also what deeply impressed me when I did go over to Bulgaria.
I met people who had been dancing PanEuRhythmy all their lives. They were so strikingly different from the other people in the country who looked gray, oppressed, and heavy, who had just been squashed all their lives. These people had an inner joy, an inner life; they knew a secret. They brought new life and inspiration to us from the West! That struck me, how people who had so much less opportunity to learn, to grow, to expand, to enjoy life on every level, could be an inspiration to me. It was so exciting.
For the first time in a decade of visits, Philip decided to risk taking a group of friends to Bulgaria that summer under the guise of a regular group of tourists visiting the sights. We were to stay three days at a hotel at the foot of the mountains and travel up in the ski lift every day, to join the PanEuRhythmy camp in the highest mountains.
The inevitable official guide was allocated to us — even though Philip knew the country well and was perfectly capable of looking after us. But it was traditional in Communist block countries to always have a guide who would, as it were, keep tabs on us and make sure we didn't become too friendly with local people. Phillip briefed us and told us very strictly to avoid all mention in public of anything spiritual or pertaining to the PanEuRhythmy or Peter Deunov — taboo subjects under the repressive regime of the KGB.
It was important to conceal the real reason for our visit in order to protect the Bulgarians we were meeting with. Fraternizing with people from the West was not allowed, and PanEuRhythmy was considered dangerous by the regime because Karl Marx didn't teach it. Anything that Karl Marx didn't teach was suspect in Communist countries — yoga, the church, Tai Chi, anything. Everything had to be controlled by the government. We simply don't realize in the West the extent to which everything was controlled. Teachers had every lesson drawn up for them. They had to teach exactly according to the book. They would have Marxists listening in; the classrooms were bugged. They would be listening to check that the teachers were teaching exactly from the book and nothing different, to the letter. Bringing color, light, and life into that kind of environment was a miracle in itself.
Phillip went ahead of us to make certain arrangements for us. He arranged that the Bulgarian people who were dancing PanEuRhythmy would be waiting at the top of the ski lift on a particular time on a particular day when we would just come up there. You have to appreciate that he couldn't make any phone calls or write any letters because all phone calls and letters were carefully screened by the secret police. So he had to travel to the country, meet the people, and make the arrangements in person, then come back and fetch us! He couldn't do it in any other way!
Finally, our time came to be in the mountains. We drove as far as the road goes up the mountain, and then we were ushered to a ski hotel. It was rather noisy; there was loud dance music, and smoking and drinking at the bar, and so on. I felt a bit uncomfortable there, but I was looking forward, the following day, to going up the ski lift and meeting the people I had come to visit.
For me it was here that the supernatural intervened. At 5 o-clock, early on the first morning that we were due to go up the mountains, I suddenly jumped out of sleep and sat bolt upright in my bed. There was a loud voice which seemed to be reverberating throughout the hotel, which told me that I needed to be up on those mountains; it was my business to be up there, not in the hotel. I looked around, and my room-mate was fast asleep, so I saw that this voice had not wakened her. Very quickly I realized that the voice was within me; it wasn't an external voice. I knew there was nothing else to do but obey. I packed my ruck-sack while my mind sought very quickly all the implications and decided what I had to do.
This determination to be on the mountains posed obvious problems because of our guide. I didn't dare talk to Philip about it in the hotel as our conversation might have been bugged. I didn't talk to my room-mate about it either, in case our room was bugged. Instead, I wrote a little note which just said, "Can I stay up in the mountains tonight?" I put this note in my pocket to pass to Phillip under the table at breakfast — just in case the dining room was bugged, or even the table was bugged. I knew anything like that might be happening.
Phillip looked at me and raised his eyebrows. He didn't answer, and I knew why he didn't answer. He waited until we were outside the hotel on the way to the ski lift. Then he turned to me and he said, "You know, that's very dangerous."
"Yes," I replied, "but I need to do it."
He could see by the look in my eye that it was important, so he said, "Very well, then. I have already talked to the Bulgarian Communist guide, and told him that I'm very well acquainted with these mountains, and we're going to do some strenuous climbing! I let him understand that we could manage without him if he preferred to stay in the hotel. He's obviously a man who likes drinking and dancing. So it wasn't too hard to convince him.
"We'll ruffle up your bed and we'll make up excuses if he inquires into why you're not around with the party when we come back."
I thanked him very warmly.
When we got to the top of the ski lift, the mountains were bathed in mist. The same Marta whom Phillip had first met very quickly took me and my ruck-sack to her tent, and put it away. The others went on to the place where they danced the PanEuRhythmy together. We then tried to follow them and lost our way because of the mist. So I virtually missed the PanEuRhythmy on that first day, though eventually we found the group.
This mist continued throughout the three days that we were up in the mountains. It was only afterwards — in fact it was the following year when I went back — that the Bulgarians told us that they had been praying for protection. For them it was a very risky thing to meet us, a group of foreigners, albeit up in the mountains. Anything could have happened to them; they could have lost their jobs, been put in prison, anything. They had been praying for protection, and, as happens so often, we don't like the answers we get or don't even recognize them as answers to our prayers. We had been looking forward to dancing in the sunshine and taking beautiful photos, but we were disappointed; it was foggy and cold throughout the three days in the mountains. The fog hid the views from us, and us from the vigilant binoculars of the Bulgarian police.
It was that evening up in the mountains when I was sitting by the fire, shivering in the cold mist, trying out the three languages I knew — English, French, and German — on the different Bulgarians there. One of them responded in French. I asked a question. There was a deep silence, and the answer came from a very profound level of being, out of that deep silence. I sat up, metaphorically and physically. I realized I was in the presence of someone of extraordinary consciousness. I asked the next question with greater care. There was a deeper reflection in consciousness, and I got an even deeper response. As this conversation grew and deepened, I knew that was why the voice had told me to come up in the mountains. I also knew that had this man opened his mouth and spoken to other people in his country the way he was speaking to me, he would immediately be imprisoned, tortured, and maybe even killed. I also knew that in England I had many friends who would be deeply interested and assisted by meeting him. So it was obvious; I knew I had to invite him to England. It was a preposterous thing to do — impossible to realize under the laws of the time, when only the aged with relatives abroad to sponsor them were allowed out of the country. Yet, there are laws and powers transcending the human, and three years later Leon Moscona came to England.
As for me, I had no idea that my whole life would be set on a new course from this time on. When I got back home, it was only to find that my husband, a minister in the Church of England, had gone off with another woman, so that was the end of my marriage. I had given up my job to work with him in the Church, so it was the end of my career. It was also the end of my home, because the home was tied to the Church and my husband's job. So it was a complete breakup of everything. I had built my whole life around my husband, even though I was a career woman and didn't marry until I was into my thirties, but I did the traditional, feminine thing because I thought that was the right thing to do.
So when I got home, I forgot about the invitation I had made in the mountains because I discovered I no longer had a husband, a home, or a job. But the Universe doesn't forget, and the seed had been sown. Three years later, after a series of miracles, Leon came to England. He was given unlimited sabbatical leave from his job — unheard of in a Communist country! His Father died, so his responsibilities to family ceased. Somehow, the visa was produced. My friend Phillip produced the money for his air ticket because I was penniless at the time. However, I ended up looking after him, and a job manifested in time for me to be able to support both him and myself. For two years I fully supported him, both financially and by interpreting every conversation he had for the first six months until he began to be able to speak in English.
I traveled around with him. We went to Findhorn, Iona, and Glastonbury, all sacred places in England. We then went to Florence in Italy to a highly acclaimed international conference where he was invited to be the keynote speaker, with myself as his interpreter. I had a teaching job from which I could not be excused, and the conference was in the middle of term. Again a series of miracles occurred. I was told that the only way my employer could possibly give me time off — and it was unpaid leave — was if I could replace myself with a full-time teacher who would take all my classes, including my evening classes. Until two days before we left, we hadn't found anyone. Then, miracle of miracles, through a meeting at which the two of us were speaking, suddenly somebody came. She said she did it against her better judgment; she just knew she had to do it. She came to London, lived in my apartment, and taught all my classes — so I was liberated to go to this conference!
The miracles continued at the conference. We met wonderful people and danced PanEuRhythmy. Two severe financial tests occurred. I was mugged at noon in a well-to-do suburb of Florence while walking with Leon! The mugger was in a car, grabbed the handle of my bag, and drove off down the road with me still holding onto my purse (which had all my travelers' checks for us both), and dragged me with him. He was so furious that I wouldn't let go that he tried to break my hand-hold against the edge of the open car window. He missed and hit his own hand, and so was forced to let go. The remarkable thing was that I experienced no fear throughout, and even felt a sense of compassion for this frustrated, naughty-little-boy of a man!
The second test was the cost of the whole conference undertaking. Only months before I had been surviving on welfare. Now my salary was stretched to support the two of us. I had paid for two expensive air flight tickets to Italy, and we had been told the conference would be subsidized for us. We did not know we had been booked in the most expensive hotel in Florence and there were no funds to pay for that. The cost was going to put me in debt for the next three years. I prayed. On the last morning, with great trepidation, I went to ask for the bill; someone had already paid it and left the conference early! I am still moved to tears as I recall this gesture of incredible love, and marvel that I have still not learned to trust that my needs will always be met.
It was at this conference that we met Betty Rothenberger from California, who then sponsored Leon's visit to the U.S.A. That's how I came to be here as well, and PanEuRhythmy came to be introduced over here.
Leon's initial three month visa came to an end after two years; the British visa offices had synchronistically been on strike! As my apprenticeship in PanEuRhythmy also ended, I began receiving promptings, both outwardly and inwardly, that it was time for me to start teaching. Requests came from England and the U.S.A, and no one else could respond to them. Finally, I was invited by a community to come to the U.S.A. to teach for at least a sabbatical year.
The momentum was intensifying. How would I support myself? I was no longer young in years. How would I adapt alone in this new and vast country? If I gave up my home and job in England, what security would I have?
The first year was tough. The community didn't work out. My funds were running out. Friends were few and not to be stretched too far. I prayed for three signs confirming whether I was to stay.
The three signs were given, and I stayed. Like the widow's scant supplies, when she entertained Elijah, the funds have never run out. Friends everywhere have opened their hearts and homes to me, and unmistakable signs of Divine guidance and protection and even healing have come at unexpected moments, when most needed.
Through the amazing odyssey of adventures that make up my life, I am never allowed to become complacent — or bored! In my wildest dreams I would never have visualized all the adventures, excitement, encounters, opportunities, challenges, fears, personal growth, pain, and, above all, joy and fulfillment that have come my way through teaching PanEuRhythmy.
My heart is full as I remember all the opportunities to live my faith and learn and grow, and how even the most painful, threatening experiences turn to joy and expansion of consciousness, when embraced with thankfulness.
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Dance of the Soul
Excerpt: An Encounter with
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Table of Contents
Testimonials and stories from
Spanish Edition of Dance of
the Soul: La Danza del Alma
The Butterfly Dance
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