Thu, Nov. 21

Mago statue a towering presence in Verde Valley

Ilchi Lee

Ilchi Lee

COTTONWOOD -- Many questions that have arisen in Cottonwood should be answered Dec 16 between 10 a.m. and noon. That is the day when 600 dignitaries and guests from around the world will gather to celebrate the new Mago Earth Park and landmark statue of "Mago Mother Earth."

The six-acre park just north of Cottonwood has been created by the non-denominational, non-profit, Tao Fellowship, founded by Ilchi Lee, and operated by Sedona Mago Retreat Center, the 160-acre sanctuary for spiritual growth and meditation. Ilchi Lee, recognized by the United Nations for a life in the pursuit of world peace, is a brain educator, author, and philosopher, according to a press release from Tao Fellowship.

The park will operate under the motto "Love for Humanity and Love for the Earth." A special address by Ilchi Lee at nearby Sedona Mago Retreat Center will highlight this occasion. After the day of celebration, some visitors will spend more time in the Verde Valley/Sedona region attending a special week-long workshop featuring lectures by Ilchi Lee.

According to the Tao Fellowship news release, the future Mago Earth Park will host a variety of educational events for the purpose of promoting peace and environmental sustainability. With this combination of community park and sculpture garden, people of all ages will find a comfortable place to play, relax and reflect. Possible activities and events held at the park may include farmers' markets, festivals, and fairs featuring crafts, art, and music of local artisans, according to retreat spokespersons.

The 39-foot-tall statue, representing Mago, which in Korean means the "Soul of The Earth," has captured the interest of motorists who have passed the Bill Gray Road area, where the Mago Earth Park stands across the road from the new Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

The name Mago, according to Tao Fellowship, derives from ancient East Asian tradition. "Ma," a nearly universal sound representing "Mother," is combined with "Go," meaning "eminent and ancient origin." This is an ancient respectful name for "Mother Earth."

According to the Tao Fellowship news release, "This event will celebrate respect and love for Mother Earth. We believe Mother Earth's greatest desire is for all of her children to recover their original connection to nature, to rediscover their true selves, by nurturing Earth's bounty and safeguarding its precious environment."

Cottonwood Community Development Director George Gehlert says the site was originally established in 2006. In November, the Commission considered an amendment to the conditional use permit, but agreed to continue that discussion Dec. 21, 6 p.m., at the Cottonwood Public Safety Building on Sixth Street and Aspen.

In November, the P&Z Commission allowed a stipulation that permits the Mago statue to be erected for a period of time until commissioners could further review the application.

The statue of Mago stands on a 10-foot pedestal.

By comparison, the ridgeline of the neighboring Catholic Church is 38-feet tall, but its spires rise to 60 feet.

According to the Tao Fellowship news release, "the Mago Earth Park and Mago statue will be a statement to the world that the state of Arizona and the people of the Verde Valley are world leaders in their commitment to peace and to living in harmony with the Earth and all people."

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