Carol E. Parrish-Harra


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An Interview with Dr. Carol Parrish-Harra

An Interview With Dr. Carol Parrish-Harra

Esoteric Quarterly

Spring 2011

Rev. Carol Parrish-Harra, PhD, retired in 2010 after many years’ service as founding dean of the Sancta Sophia Sem­inary, pastor of the Light of Christ Com­munity Church, and spiritual leader of the Sparrow Hawk Village community, all at Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Her books, in­cluding The New Age Handbook on Death and Dying; Messengers of Hope: The Walk-In Phenomenon (now in ex­panded second edition); Sophia Sutras; and her three volume Adventures in Med­itationhave been influential in the esoter­ic community.Dr. Parrish-Harra has received many honors and recognitions for her work as a teacher, author, minister, and mystic. In 1998 the World Network of Religious Futurists honored her with the Earl Award for outstanding service in advanc­ing the contribution of world religions to the future of humanity. In 2005 at Saint Petersburg, Russia Dr. Parrish-Harra was presented the International Nebolsin Award for outstanding service in the field of education for the common good of humanity, in company with Alexander Putin, president of the Russian federa­tion; Nobel Laureate Jores Alferov; and M. Piotrovsky, director of the Hermitage Museum.Esoteric Quarterly: You left a promis­ing business career in 1971 to seek ordi­nation as a minister. The rest, as they say, is history. But can you share some in­sights into what motivated you to take that step?

Carol Parrish-Harra: In 1958 I had a near death experience and came back changed and knowing what my life was about. The “presence” never left me and I have tried to “dignify” the work as I was asked to do. Later, that kind of experi­ence became known as Soul-Exchange or Walk-In Experience.

EQ: Who were your most important mentors in those early days–or more recently?

CP-H: Ann C. Manser of Florida was an influential teacher and guide. I also stud­ied with Vera Stanley Alder from London and Bournemouth, England, and later with Torkom Saraydarian of California and Arizona. Torkum is believed to have been one of the students personally su­pervised by the Tibetan Master, Djwhal Khul. Since then I have added a number of favorite teaching authors, including Manly P. Hall, Tau Malachi, and John White.

EQ: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in your years of ministry and teaching?

CP-H: Enduring it all and always loving the work.

I strongly believe that a number of the books that I authored were guided by Spirit. The three volumes of Adventures in Awareness took me nine years of great effort. The New Dictionary of Spiritual Thought has proved to be a priceless aid to beginners. Despite its title it is written in a narrative style. Writing the Sophia Sutras was the most fun, although it was a challenge to document.

EQ: If you had your time over again, is there anything you would have done dif­ferently?

CP-H: Of course.

I would have prayed more for serious disciples who wanted to carry on the work and were capa­ble of doing so. As it is, many students want to “act like” they “know” and just want to receive a piece of paper– thinking that certification makes them holy! Also, many people are angry with tradition and want to re­bel; but they don’t have a good grasp of what needs to be done or how to do the real work. Fortunate­ly, a few really dedicated students dignify their lives instead of feeding maya and illusion.

EQ: Your career covered much of the life cycle of the New Age movement. What do you think were the movement’s enduring effects–good and bad–on more serious esoteric studies and practices?

CP-H: Torkom Saraydarian told me once that psychic play, with superficial interests, provides a smoke screen, be­hind which the real workers could be pro­tected from harm. I think all those who have been touched will move forward slowly, and the real disciples will be rich­ly blessed.

EQ: The Divine Feminine Sophia has meant much to you, and certainly you have helped promote awareness of her in your writings and teachings. How do you

view Sophia–as compared, say, with Mary the mother of Jesus or the Buddhist Kwan Yin–as a guiding principle for the Aquarian Age?

CP-H: I believe So­phia is Mother Wis­dom. Respectfully, I give honor to Mary, Mother of Jesus, and to Kwan Yin as personi­fications of Sophia or the Divine Mother. I believe we have had wonderful masculine figures as the icons of the last period. Now I think we will become more aware of the holy feminine working be­hind the scenes. These workers were called “taras” meaning foun­tains. They stayed in one place most of the time (except when working in other worlds) and watered

the seeds so they would grow. Males could travel more freely and the females could hold the energy in a sacred  place… for many this was the community in which they dwelt.

EQ: In your various trips to Russia you observed the resurgence of the Orthodox Church. What influence do you think Eastern Christianity can have on esoteric studies and practices in the decades to come?

CP-H: I made nine trips to the Soviet Union and to Russia between 1987 and 2005. Eastern Orthodoxy is very signifi­cant as it expects everyone to end up as a mystic. The Eastern Churches remember the traditional steps to making a mystic. In time this will be better understood in the West.

EQ: What form do you think organized religion will take over the century or two, and what will be its relationship to eso­teric studies and practice?

CP-H: I believe organized religion has been so restricted that people will contin­ue to leave it behind. There will be an increase in prayer, visualization, and meditation groups in the future, so indi­viduals can express themselves more freely. I think we are watching the Church of Paul and the Church of John come together to form a vehicle of grace. Everyone ought to reread The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. All inner life is a mystery and all of us are called to be mystics.

We struggle to define “mystic.” Perhaps we can say that the mystic “knows” God in some intimate way. Mystics testify to more than just an earthly experience.

They have brought together heart and mind to know God as a Divine Presence. People come to this “knowing” in their own way; it does not require a commit­ment to the contemplative life. Simplicity of being is the most obvious outer sign, and that means a great many mystics in all traditions are overlooked.

EQ: Although you remain professionally active, you have passed the torch to a younger generation at Sancta Sophia, the Light of Christ Community Church, and Sparrow Hawk Village. What general advice would you give them, based on your years of experience and your aware­ness of changing conditions in the world?

CPH: People need to know that “they don’t know” when they take on public work. I began my studies in 1965 and was ordained in 1971, forty years ago. But I have learned more since 1981.

Before that I was just laying a foundation for what I was to learn later on. The Mas­ters will only work with you, not for


EQ: Would you give different advice to your many former seminary students who have taken up professional positions throughout the nation and beyond?

CP-H: I think it is foolish to give too much credit to a piece of paper– graduation or certification. If you really are an esotericist you will never stop striving, studying and pondering. You are to be true to your commitment to what­ever vows you make to the best of your ability and both serve and work to keep your own light shining.

EQ: Is there anything else you would like to tell readers of The Esoteric Quar­terly?

CP-H: Many people who are dabbling are really just waking up. Few recognize the sacrifices disciples really have to make. In a world transforming we are moving ahead but must remember that there is always someone ahead of us and some one behind. Link hands and it is easier for us all.

EQ: What do you envision yourself do­ing in the next ten years or so?

CP-H: Primarily, I want to go on teach­ing and writing. I love my “Conversa­tions with Carol” class. I may travel more but am not ready for too much at this time.

EQ: We very much appreciate your tak­ing the time for this interview. We wish you every blessing for the future. And may your next ten years be even more fruitful than the last!

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