10 episodes

Alchemical Dialogues are live and unscripted conversations recorded on Zoom brought to you by the great folks of Amber Light International. We choose topics from our current social and cultural climate, with an emphasis on humanism and spirituality.

Alchemical Dialogues - from Lead to Gold Henry Cretella

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Alchemical Dialogues are live and unscripted conversations recorded on Zoom brought to you by the great folks of Amber Light International. We choose topics from our current social and cultural climate, with an emphasis on humanism and spirituality.

    Podcast #29- Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications (part 2)

    Podcast #29- Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications (part 2)

    Listen to and share part two of our podcast panel discussion with Aude Chesnais, Henry Cretella, Tania Day-Magallon, Joel David Lesses, and Margot VanEtten.



    Aude Chesnais, Ph.D., has encountered various spiritual traditions before finding her family on the Sufi path since 2017. She is a political ecologist and senior researcher for the Native Lands Advocacy Project, and has been working closely with native communities in the USA for the past 10 years on issues of land sovereignty and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, particularly in support of regenerative food-systems transitions. Aude’s work reflects strongly on her positionality as a white researcher working in Indigenous settings. Although her spiritual path has led her on the quest to understand oneness, Aude’s professional path and commitment to social justice constantly reminds her of the real social impacts of human distinctions on their lives. Reconciling these two coexisting realities is Aude’s lifetime quest.

    Aude received her MA in social and solidarity economics from Université de Haute-Alsace, France and her Ph.D. in sociology from Colorado State University, CO, USA.



    Henry Cretella, M.D., is the host of Alchemical Dialogues and co-director of Amber Light International. He is a retired psychiatrist who received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and his post-graduate training at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Henry was raised Roman Catholic and later began initial studies in Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as in the martial arts before finding a home in the Sufi lineage of Inayat Khan. Henry no longer practices an exoteric religion, but teaches and guides others in a mystically oriented spirituality that incorporates the wisdom from many traditions and disciplines. For Henry, he believes that we are in an era calling for each of us to find and follow our own unique spiritual path. He also believes that we can connect with others and a power greater than ourselves, in order to further a positive expansion and evolution of human consciousness.



    Tania Day-Magallon is an artist born in Mexico City and has collaborated in various art events and exhibits in Chicago, Mexico City, and Rochester, NY. She identifies as Muslim and is a Sufi practitioner. Tania started her art education at a young age, and she attended prominent art institutions in Mexico City. Tania’s art frequently uses symbolism and imagery emphasizing her own cultural identity and spiritual views. Tania became a member of the group formerly known as Women of Color in the Arts (WOC-Art) collaborative, where she curated an art activity and installation titled “Hands of Sorority”. Tania was also commissioned to design the cover of an issue for the academic journal Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies entitled Deterritorializing Frontiers.

    Tania earned her BA in Visual Arts from SUNY Empire State College, where she continued her studies in visual arts and psychology. She is currently earning her MS in Mental Health Counseling at SUNY Brockport. Tania believes that mental health, spirituality, and the arts are interwoven, and her current work is focused on exploring her roots, the Divine Feminine, and decolonial mental health approaches that include the creative process as a fundamental aspect of human wellbeing.



    Joel David Lesses, who has lived in Nepal and Israel, is a poet expressing the landscape of our existence and capturing the mystical elements of our human being. He believes world religion, poetry, spirituality, and meditation encompass the makeup of our mind and life. The crux of his own journey is the manifestation of questions and answers to his own koan “What is the matter with me?” For Joel, this reveals the individual and universal aspects of our inherent and potent creativity. Everything is flux. Everything is poetry. His other passions include the intersection of poetry, spirituality, science,

    • 56 min
    Podcast #29- Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications (part 1)

    Podcast #29- Spirituality and Religion: Similarities, Differences, and Implications (part 1)

    Listen to and share part one of our podcast panel discussion with Aude Chesnais, Henry Cretella, Tania Day-Magallon, Joel David Lesses, and Margot VanEtten.



    Spirituality and religion are not the same, but this can be confusing for many. Westerners, in growing numbers, identify as “spiritual, but not religious.” Likewise, there are many who list their religious affiliation as “other.”  Atheism and agnosticism are growing, often touting the benefits of community without the perceived negatives that religion and spirituality add—or do not. What are the implications of spirituality, of religion, or neither?

    Join this panel discussion with five practitioners who are either involved or have been with both spirituality and religion. Listen as they explore their views and experiences.



    Aude Chesnais, Ph.D., has encountered various spiritual traditions before finding her family on the Sufi path since 2017. She is a political ecologist and senior researcher for the Native Lands Advocacy Project, and has been working closely with native communities in the USA for the past 10 years on issues of land sovereignty and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, particularly in support of regenerative food-systems transitions. Aude’s work reflects strongly on her positionality as a white researcher working in Indigenous settings. Although her spiritual path has led her on the quest to understand oneness, Aude’s professional path and commitment to social justice constantly reminds her of the real social impacts of human distinctions on their lives. Reconciling these two coexisting realities is Aude’s lifetime quest.

    Aude received her MA in social and solidarity economics from Université de Haute-Alsace, France and her Ph.D. in sociology from Colorado State University, CO, USA.



    Henry Cretella, M.D., is the host of Alchemical Dialogues and co-director of Amber Light International. He is a retired psychiatrist who received his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and his post-graduate training at the University of Rochester’s Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, NY. Henry was raised Roman Catholic and later began initial studies in Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism, as well as in the martial arts before finding a home in the Sufi lineage of Inayat Khan. Henry no longer practices an exoteric religion, but teaches and guides others in a mystically oriented spirituality that incorporates the wisdom from many traditions and disciplines. For Henry, he believes that we are in an era calling for each of us to find and follow our own unique spiritual path. He also believes that we can connect with others and a power greater than ourselves, in order to further a positive expansion and evolution of human consciousness.



    Tania Day-Magallon is an artist born in Mexico City and has collaborated in various art events and exhibits in Chicago, Mexico City, and Rochester, NY. She identifies as Muslim and is a Sufi practitioner. Tania started her art education at a young age, and she attended prominent art institutions in Mexico City. Tania’s art frequently uses symbolism and imagery emphasizing her own cultural identity and spiritual views. Tania became a member of the group formerly known as Women of Color in the Arts (WOC-Art) collaborative, where she curated an art activity and installation titled “Hands of Sorority”. Tania was also commissioned to design the cover of an issue for the academic journal Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies entitled Deterritorializing Frontiers.

    Tania earned her BA in Visual Arts from SUNY Empire State College, where she continued her studies in visual arts and psychology. She is currently earning her MS in Mental Health Counseling at SUNY Brockport. Tania believes that mental health, spirituality, and the arts are interwoven, and her current work is focused on exploring her roots, the Divine Feminine, and decolonial mental health approaches that include the creative process as a fundamenta

    • 51 min
    Podcast #28- Dance of Light

    Podcast #28- Dance of Light

    Listen to and share our latest podcast with Alice McDowell, Ph.D.
    Note: Please be aware that because of sound latency and technical issues on Zoom, the spoken quality of this podcast is not as precise on the recording as it was in person.



    There is a thread of wisdom that flows through many traditions. That thread orients us toward our true nature, empowering us to be our true selves rather than personas. This true self is much larger than we ordinarily experience ourselves to be. It is full of light and love; it is collaborative and empowering; it is magnetic and inclusive.



    Alice McDowell has devoted her life to orienting herself and others toward this light. She gives us a glimpse of her journey and recommendations in her latest book, Dance of Light: Christian, Sufi and Zen wisdom for today’s spiritual seeker, a wonderful introduction to exploring the perennial philosophy and message of love, harmony, and beauty.



    In our podcast, we will explore more of Alice’s background and journey as well as delve into some of the essential tasks in which all spiritual seekers engage as they travel their own unique paths.



    Alice McDowell, Ph.D., is an author, spiritual director, workshop leader, retreat guide, and founder of the Hidden Treasure Program—a three-year training in personal growth. She co-founded Light on the Hill Retreat Center in Van Etten, NY in 1991 where she continues to guide people on their spiritual journeys. Alice is author of Dance of Light: Christian, Sufi and Zen Wisdom for Today’s Spiritual Seeker and Hidden Treasure: How to Break Free of Five Patterns that Hide Your True Self. As a professor of religious studies at Ithaca College for 18 years, Alice taught courses in mysticism, world religions, depth psychology, and women’s studies, and received the Dana Fellow for Excellence in College Teaching. Alice has a doctorate in theology from Fordham University, and has trained with Sufi and Buddhist teachers, Christian contemplatives, and transpersonal psychologists.



    In Alice’s new book, Dance of Light, she writes about spiritual life as a captivating dance. Sometimes, the steps are easy to follow; other times, they become confusing or lost from view. In a clear and compelling voice, Alice guides the reader through the steps of the dance, which include feeling lost, finding the way, awakening, purification and detachment, illumination, dark night of the soul, and unitary consciousness. This is a wonderful resource for beginners or more advanced seekers and helps us all stay true to our own unique paths.



    For more information about Alice’s work, please visit: www.alicemcdowellauthor.com



    You can order Dance of Light through Amazon or your local bookseller.

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Podcast #27- Loss and Grief on the Spiritual Path

    Podcast #27- Loss and Grief on the Spiritual Path

    Listen to and share our latest podcast with Amir Peter O’Loughlin.
    We are all likely to experience many losses through death before we ourselves transition, some of them very close to home, or in our own home. Psychology teaches us that there are many ways to grieve and many stages to navigate; otherwise, we can become mired in the process. All religions and spiritual paths conceptualize death, especially our own, and these concepts sometimes offer comfort when others die as well. Yet, when a loved one passes, be it a partner, parent, child, or a most cherished friend, the “rubber meets the road.” We must go on living and experiencing, even when our world is turned upside down. We need to make choices that help the heart break open, not break down.



    Have our spiritual beliefs and practices helped or blocked our grief process? Going forward, does our grief affect the spiritual foundation on which we have built and lived our lives? Can we stop blaming the grief-stricken for not “following the program?” How is our view of our own death—and life! —affected? Is there a way to go beyond platitudes and non-satisfying rituals? If so, how? What, if anything, needs to change?



    We invite you to explore these and other reflections in a deeply personal session with friend and spiritual seeker Amir Peter O’Loughlin.



    Amir Peter O’Loughlin has been one of Vancouver’s foremost ambassadors of interspiritual music for over 40 years. A Psychotherapist and musician by profession, he has followed and taught the Sufi path in the lineage of Hazrat Inayat Khan since 1980.



    Along the way, Amir founded the interfaith Universal Gospel Choir, led Universal Kirtan, and produced two highly acclaimed albums of his own contemporary Sufi music (“Merhaba” and his collection of musical settings of Rumi poetry “Opener of Wings” with The Keemia Ensemble). Amir is currently working on recording a collection of songs using the poetry of Hazrat Inayat Khan, teaching Sufi philosophy and practice, and finishing a book of poetry and photography about the passing of his beloved mate, Chloe Majida O’Loughlin, in 2017.



    For more information about Amir’s music, please visit:
    http://inayativancouver.org/sufi-music/



    Amir O'Loughlin & The Keemia Ensemble - Opener of Wings



    A Glance on the Lake (video of Majida & song)

    • 1 hr 14 min
    Podcast #26- Awakening One’s Inner Guide

    Podcast #26- Awakening One’s Inner Guide

    Listen to and share our latest podcast with Sura Charlier.



    Note: Please be aware that because of sound latency and technical issues on Zoom, the spoken quality of this podcast is not as precise on the recording as it was in person.



    Sura Charlier senses we are in a time of awakening to our own inner wisdom and power. We need not do this alone. In fact, we are meant to support each other. Often, mentors or spiritual guides assist us along the way. These guides are not intended to be permanent authority figures whom we follow blindly for all time. Rather, they are friends on the path with whom we choose to learn from, travel, and grow.



    Sura shares some of her experiences, both as a guide, and being guided. We will learn how music tunes us to the infinite as she plays some of her creations live during the podcast. Likewise, we will share in her experiences of hope, faith, confidence, collaboration, and courage. Sura views these experiences as essential ingredients for our development, along with a kind of self-examination that honors, but does not require becoming attached to, and reliving our painful stories ad-infinitum. Respecting these qualities is especially important as our feminine nature is now rising and becoming a major source of inspiration and guidance. Together, as we grow our individual capacities with wisdom and power, we will harmonize and create a more beautiful and sustainable world.



    Sura Charlier is the Founder/Director of the Kalyan Center (kalyancenter.org), a Sufi Universalist center in Bradenton, Florida. The center is dedicated toward the awakening of humanity to the divinity of the soul. She serves as a spiritual guide, minister of the Universal Worship Service, and offers retreats and seminars for personal and spiritual growth (sacredhealingsacredretreat.com).



    Sura is also an accomplished professional composer and musician who seeks to use music as a means of collective healing, connection, inspiration, and embodied joy. Sura dances, writes, and is an advocate for living in harmony. She supports living in harmony with one another, and all our relations, sustainably with this beautiful wondrous planet Earth.

    • 1 hr 7 min
    Podcast #25- Fix Yourself, Serve, and Heal the World

    Podcast #25- Fix Yourself, Serve, and Heal the World

    Listen to and share our latest podcast with Rudy Rivera.



    We all have wounds. We all have wounded others. Accompanying these wounds are tremendous gifts. Rudy Rivera has found that when we persevere, work on healing ourselves, finding those gifts, and then turning to serve others in our own way, we contribute to a still greater re-balancing and wholeness than we at first thought possible. That’s the journey Rudy has lived and shared with us.  



    Rudy was challenged with what most of us would call obstacles. To him, they were fuel for a greater purpose that he at first could not see. Mentors were pivotal in Rudy’s life and remain so today. He honors them through his work at the Father Tracy Center in Rochester, NY. In these days of over-specialization, Rudy refuses to be saddled with a constricted mission. He aims to provide total service and attention to the betterment of the human condition through outreach in his designated sphere of influence. Hear how Rudy has found his purpose, grown through his challenges, and has been inspired and now inspires others—including us.



    Rodolfo (Rudy) Rivera is the CEO of the Father Tracy Advocacy Center, which he founded in 2017. Rudy has been in public service all of his life, having worked as a youth advocate, HIV outreach worker, community program analyst, and more. Throughout his career, Rudy has worked to address the human condition by dealing with the entire needs of a person, rather than simply looking at one issue. In Rudy’s role as CEO, he continues this approach and sees himself as a researcher, investigator, teacher, and advocate for the improvement of the quality of life of others.



    For more information or to make a donation, please visit: https://www.fathertracycenter.org/

    • 1 hr 5 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
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1 Rating

Bessmum ,

Collaborative and authentic

What really stands out about this podcast is the invitation to participate and ask questions. It’s more about mutual inquiry and discovery than broadcasting “truth”. A real delight!

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