Catherine Callaghan has been leading the Tara Dances in New Zealand for six years. An accomplished dance teacher, she has ongoing circles of Tara dance in Nelson, South Island and Golden Bay. They recently offered the mandala at the Shambhala Center in Golden Bay and ended the year at a private beach front residence. Her students have written eloquently about their experiences….
Jo Leyland writes…
From Golden Bay Shore
I sit writing this under a tree on the beach at Pakawau, Golden Bay. The tide is coming into this wide, expansive, sloping bay and a group of black swans are gently bobbing on the ripples in front of me. Last night we celebrated the year end together here, the Golden Bay – Nelson Taras, dancing White Tara with a group of young women from Shambhala. One of them had seen our offering there last month, of the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara, and had been so moved that she brought friends to learn and share Tara’s dances.
The November offering at Shambhala was pure magic, connecting and sharing with lovely women.
This summer I was blessed to attend the retreat on Kauai. I encountered a Hawaiian saying that perfectly describes an experience dancing in the Mandala of Tara. ‘He wa’a he moku, he moku he wa’a’. This loosely translates as ‘A canoe is an island, an island is a canoe’. When you paddle together as a crew and you are all in perfect sync, your waka (canoe) seems to fly through the water and you are one. These are precious moments when that happens. They rely on hard work and team training, knowing each other, playing to each others strengths and giving each other support within our shared space. Om Tare!!!
It was a privilege to dance Tara at the beautiful Shambhala Buddhist Meditation Centre in Onekaka New Zealand. The hall overlooks the ocean and is a wonderful setting for the Tara prayer and ritual dance. There were 11 participants from Nelson and the Golden Bay region. The altar was magnificent.
Dancing the beautiful and moving prayer, praising the 21 emanations of Tara, is a magical ceremony of hope and renewal.
Bree Ormond writes
Catherine, it is with a joyous and open heart I offer my thanks to you for holding the container for us all this weekend. We felt embraced in love and light. You showed us what we are capable of when connected to Tara.
The spiral was created and the energy grew throughout the weekend as we wove and spun and focused the energy to send out to all the world. The Dance continues in my heart and I am filled with Tara’s power, compassion and wisdom as i step into everyday reality. Thank you.
Kathy Lunzman writes…
Catherine, I just wanted to let you know how utterly transformative the work you offer is. I will never be the same: the whole world is more vibrant, detailed in every aspect. It has afforded me a breakthrough to develop my Compassion, Courage and Joy. I shall always be grateful.
Liz Burn writes…
Stretching on the cushions in the meditation hall, looking out across the expansive waters of Te Tai Tapu, we opened to receive Catherine’s guidance in coordinating the Mandala Dance of the 21 Praises of Tara. Dance, color, devotion, connection, meditation … I open Prema Dasara’s book, Dancing Tara – A Manual of Practice to understand in my head what my heart experiences in the dance. It is my great good fortune to be connecting to the essence of True Refuge and Remover of Sorrow.
I lie back to stretch and my head feels like it is nestling into a female lap. Odd yet so easy to let go into the warmth of a mother, unconditional, protective love. Oh, there it is in Prema’s book, a section on dreaming, encouraging us to invoke Tara’s help, protection and guidance by nestling in Her lap before falling asleep.
I will always remember this experience as a blessing. Through giving myself to the practices, I enjoyed an exploration of my own potential. May I always be able to rest in the nurturing lap of Tara.
Our Mandala Weekend together was a moving experience of open heart, beauty and transformation.
I began by welcoming all who gathered with several chants in Maori. As the indigenous culture of Aotearoa, honoring the ancestors in this way set the stage for our workshop. “Wahine Toa, Wahine o te Atua o Tara (Courageous Women, Women of Tara)” led to “Whakataka te Hau” a beautiful waiata dedicated to settling inner and outer conditions.
Throughout the weekend, everyone gave their undivided attention. Strong and dedicated we held this profound space within us. I am so grateful for everyone who made our offering a success. Being in Tara’s Pure Land with these dedicated women was indeed an exceptional opportunity.