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About the Translator

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About the Translator

 

“Ernestina Staleva (1914–2005) danced atop Mount Pollux for the last time this Memorial Day weekend. The free-spirited 90-year-old Bulgarian native and Leverett resident had led her students in the sacred circle dance known as Paneurhythmy for over 40 years.”

 

This publication in the Amherst Bulletin on August 19, 2005 captures a rich and dedicated life in just few words. Erna, as she was known among friends, was born in 1914 in Sofia, Bulgaria. At the age of 20, she was introduced to the Teaching of the Spiritual Master Beinsa Douno (Peter Deunov). Soon she joined the community of followers at their center called Izgrev (Sunrise) in the outskirts of Sofia. There she met her husband to be - George Stalev, a violinist, who, like her, was a student of the Teaching of Beinsa Douno. In 1947 the family, including their daughter Boryana, moved to the Czech Republic and lived there for 11 years. During that time she divorced, but continued to be in touch with Boryana’s father. Life was not easy and she was forced to take various low-paid jobs, but was able sometimes to supplement her income also by selling her paintings and giving singing recitals.

 

In 1958 they all immigrated to Vienna, Austria. In 1959 Erna accepted an offer to come to Northampton, Massachusetts, USA. After a couple of years she got a position at the Smith College library, in the foreign acquisition office, where her working knowledge of six languages was highly appreciated. Later she worked at the University of Massachusetts library, and then at the Five College library until she retired.

 

Ernestina Staleva first started offering Paneurhythmy at Smith College, before discovering Mount Pollux in Amherst, with its 360-degree view. She taught the movements of Paneurhythmy, initially introduced by Beinsa Douno, to everyone interested and she was frequently invited to present it at many places around the USA.

 

The pleasure of painting, gardening, hiking, and singing devotional songs was of great help to Erna in overcoming life’s challenges. Her house in Leverett, Massachusetts, was always a welcoming home for visitors whom she treated to her simple delicious meals and her wisdom together with some lively stories about the Master. Dancing Paneurhythmy in her beautiful garden among the flowers was an experience beyond description.

 

Beinsa Douno had told Erna that she would translate his talks one day. Since at that time Erna was translating for Bayer, she assumed that she would be translating the Master’s lectures into German. However, with her move to the United States the Master’s words gave her a new direction. So, when Erna became relatively confident with her proficiency in English, she began translating into this language. Erna was also receiving translations of the Master’s lectures from Bulgaria. She was offering all these materials mostly as handouts, meanwhile trying to organize their publication and distribution. The rich legacy of the published work with her participation includes: “The Brother of the Smallest Ones” (Bialo Bratstvo 1993), “Paneurhythmy—Supreme Cosmic Rhythm” (Bialo Bratstvo 1999 and 2004), “The Wellspring of Good” (Kibea 2002), “Prayers, Formulas, Devotional Songs” (Bialo Bratstvo, 2006), and the new collection of lectures presented in this book.

 

Beinsa Douno’s last words: “A small task has been accomplished for God” can be applied also to Erna’s dedicated life.

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