According to Christy Volanski who, along with her daughters Tess and Sydney, has been heading the charge to provide the public with full disclosure about the increasing radicalization of the Girl Scouts, the Arizona Cactus-Pine Council of the Girl Scouts is planning to host a program this fall that has been under fire for years because of its New Age content.
The program, known as the “Coming into Your Own” (CIYO), was created several years ago by a major New Age hub known as The Ashland Institute. It was designed to help train Senior Scouts and Scout leaders to guide younger girls who were participating in the “Journeys” program. The “Journeys” program seeks to empower girls to change the world by emphasizing the power of the self and encouraging them to become involved in politically correct social activism programs such as global warming.
The CIYO program involves a variety of New Age and shamanistic concepts such as working with Jungian archetypes which are intended to help girls “understand different archetypal dimensions of yourself.” The program also promises to “work experientially using dialogic and four quarter models, together with story, imaginative and kinesthetic exercises, to access your whole self.”
CIYO has its foundation in “Mentorship Circles: Women Coming Into Their Own” a 75-page program created by the Ashland Institute and funded by another New Age hub known as the Oxford Leadership Academy.
The Ashland Institute, based in Ashland, Oregon, is headed by Michael Cecil, the former leader of the Emissaries of Divine Light, a cult founded by his father. Even though Cecil is no longer a member of the Emissaries, he claims to subscribe to most of his father’s beliefs. The acknowledgment page of Mentorship Circles proudly boasts of being influenced by the “rich traditions” of the “models and philosophy of the Emissaries.”
To understand why this is so troubling, consider how the Emissaries describe themselves on their website. They claim to be a global network of people “who share the understanding that at our core we are Creator Beings and that it is because of spiritual amnesia that humanity has lost connection to this essential reality. We offer programs and activities that assist people to awaken more fully to what is most true about them and to let that be real for them.” The cult-like group forces members to associate only with other Emissaries and demands at least 10 percent of a member’s assets to be donated to the group. Even more problematic for Christians is the group’s insistence that their way is the only way to be saved from hell.
The Oxford Leadership Academy is equally disturbing. Brian Bacon, the head of the Academy, is a practitioner and teacher of Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga. He was also a senior member of another cult, the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University whose core teachings are based on “channeled messages” from God.
The program also claims to have been influenced by “the traditional practices of native peoples such as rites of passage, circle work and vision quests,” all of which are based on shamanistic philosophies that are imbued with the occult.
For instance, the program’s emphasis on the “transforming power of the circle” is based on the belief that circles are the means through which world consciousness will change.
It also promotes “four quarters work” which is based on four archetypes – the Sovereign, the Magician, the Lover and the Warrior – that were developed by Carl Jung who is known as the “Father of the New Age.”
The document includes the teachings of James Hillman, author of The Soul’s Code, in which he posits that every person is given a unique daimon before they are born. A daimon is said to be a supernatural being that is somewhere between a mortal and a god. “This soul-companion, the daimon, guides us here . . . ” says a quote from Hillman’s book that is included in the document.
In a section of the program entitled “Intuitive Knowing” women are told: “At the moment we are holding at least two possibilities with regard to intuitive knowing. One is that we sense what Spirit is seeding to bring forth, look for confirmation as best we can to test what we are sensing, and then act. In this possibility, Spirit is the primary intelligence, and we are the creation, the local agents, as it were . . . . The other possibility is that we are ourselves part of Spirit – perhaps we are Spirit – and the sensing comes from within us because we are the creators of what is emerging, and we know what to do because we have the gift of connected life-intelligence.”
Ashland’s liaison with the Girl Scouts seems to have begun with the Cactus-Pine Council in Arizona whose leadership called upon the Institute to help them undergo a renewal in 2001. They aligned themselves with Barbara Cecil (wife of Michael Cecil) and two other Ashland employees, Barbara Coffman and Glennifer Gillespie, the authors of the “Mentorship Circles” program.
But the New Age imbued programs they designed haven’t remained in Arizona. Tamara Woodbury, CEO of Cactus Pine brags on her official biography about how these programs are “rapidly expanding throughout the United States.”
Perhaps this is why Girl Scouts CEO Kathy Cloninger saw no need to apologize for their alliance with Ashland several years ago when the introduction of the CIYO program sparked a firestorm of criticism. Instead, she went on record praising the Ashland Institute as “a very authoritative group” that “does a lot of work with global women’s groups.”
Unfortunately, this journey into the New Age has been going on for some time. For instance, references to yoga can be found scattered throughout Girl Scout literature. World Net Daily reported in 2008 that a brochure for an annual Girl Scouts’ National Council Session in Indianapolis invited attendees to “Channel your inner being. Be one with your mind, body and soul. Yoga for everyone!” In 1993, the name of God became “optional” in their pledge and not long after they elected to accept openly homosexual troop leaders.
Thankfully, the problems with the Girls Scouts have received enough attention that diocese are beginning to act in getting troops removed from their parishes. Just last month, Bishop James D. Conley wrote a column for the Denver Catholic Register in which he warned parents about the Girl Scouts troubling association with Planned Parenthood and its promotion of abortion and contraception.
The same concerns are shared by Sister Jean Steffes, CSA, Chancellor/Office of Religious for the Diocese of Phoenix, who said the superintendant of schools in her diocese has publicly discouraged principals from participating in Girl Scout programs because of the Scout’s position on contraception. Those parishes that already had Girl Scout programs on their premises were asked to consult with their pastors to determine if the programs could continue.
In fact, Cactus-Pine was planning to host a CIYO program this fall at the Franciscan Renewal Center, a Catholic retreat center in Scottsdale. However, when the executive director of the Center, Fr. Joe Schwab, OFM, learned about the contents of the program, he promptly cancelled it.
We can only hope that this trend continues and that more Catholic diocese come to accept the painful truth that the Girl Scouts are no longer the wholesome girls club they once were.