The Temple of Ara is the ongoing fulfillment of a vision and a promise. It is neither a structure nor a building. It is a tradition, a spiritual path, and a community — with an unusual name. People often ask us “What does Ara mean?” I’d like to share the story of our name, because to understand the meaning of Ara is to understand the meaning and purpose of our tradition.
In 1987, five years after completing my training as a Wiccan Priestess and having started my own circle, I went to Italy for the first time. After a pilgrimage to Lake Nemi in search of the remnants of the ancient temple of Diana, I traveled south to Paestum, the site of three magnificent temples of Magna Graeca dedicated to Hera and Poseidon. After discretely making an offering, I sat in an open field behind the temples and went on a shamanic journey, seeking a vision for the future. My journey was filled with primal and mysterious images, but when I asked for guidance, the instruction was clear and direct: “Build My Temples.”
Returning to New York City where I lived and worked, I struggled with that charge. How was I, with my modest income, to build temples in one of the most expensive cities in the world? Within days the answer started to appear. The first clue came from in my very first astrological reading when I was told, “ You were born on the altar.” The constellation Ara was on the horizon at the moment of my birth, the reader explained, and Ara meant altar in Latin. The second piece of the puzzle arrived in the midst of circle and struck with the full force of an epiphany: seeing everyone’s radiant expressions, hearing their talk and laughter, I recognized the sacred presence filling everyone with love and I realized that that we were each temples in which divinity dwelled.
In that moment I understood that the way to “build temples” was to teach the practices that enable each of us to discover the Divine within us and in the world all around us. I knew it is in our hearts that we encounter that indwelling Presence and it is our hearts that recognize the divinity dwelling in Creation. The heart is our altar where heaven and earth, spirit and matter are one, and our lives are the offering we make and the holy magic we co-create with Divinity. The Temple of Ara is the temple of that altar.
The Temple of Ara has grown from that first charge to “build my temples” to a worldwide tradition. We are a community rediscovering the wisdom of our indigenous ancestors and creating a new relationship with our Mother Earth and with one another. We are a spiritual path devoted to living in a sacred manner in a sacred world and we welcome you with open hearts.
Phyllis Curott, J.D., Rev. H.Ps.
New Suffolk, 2011