On a recent Thursday evening, Matthew Macri stood in a packed room in a Pittsburgh First United Methodist church, playing a didgeridoo. Macri is primarily a visual artist. But since receiving the Aboriginal instrument as a gift two years ago, shortly after his daughter’s birth, he’s spent most of his free time practicing. “When I play, I always have specific intentions,” he explains. “I’m trying to empty myself and play from a space of nothing, and in doing so, I’m trying to feel out the present moment and capture the emotion, nature, or essence and reinterpret it as a vibration.”
Macri’s good vibrations took center stage that particular night at SITE NITE, a bimonthly knowledge and skill-share for the spiritually minded, creative, and curious in the city’s “Peaceburgh” community. Presentations cover a diverse range of topics at an introductory level, such as self-hypnosis, flowetry, numerology, healing crystals, and applied metaphysics. The group has also screened and discussed films such as The Celestine Prophesy, or offered presentations on personal journeys to spiritual destinations like Sedona and the jungles of Peru. Organizers request a $5 donation (or whatever amount attendees can afford).
SITE, which stands for Spiritual Intuitive Telepathic Expansion, began in 2009 as an informal get-together among spiritually like-minded friends. Founder Regina Rivers says, “It was six of us, going to each other’s homes twice a month, the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month.” Rivers wears many hats, as a coach, energy worker, and shamanic practitioner. So do her longtime collaborators and co-founders, Kathy Evans-Palmisano, a registered nurse, certified nurse midwife, and personal trainer; and Rev. Marjorie Augustine “Chi Chi” Rivera, a Spiritualist Minister and well-known psychic medium. Both still sit on the SITE NITE board. “We make quite the powerful trinity,” notes Evans-Palmisano with a grin.
It wasn’t long before the gatherings mushroomed into a larger, living organism. “People are hungry for information,” Rivers says. “One of SITE NITE's jobs is to make the out-of-the-ordinary, ordinary!” One extraordinary aspect is the diverse crowd they attract. The bimonthly meetings draw between 40 and 70 participants from all over the country, among them astrologers, psychologists, physicists, yogis, and folk musicians. Rivers isn’t exactly surprised by this, noting, “We want to make Peaceburgh a destination where you can come and really go in-depth with your healing process.” Rev. Rivera notes that organizing SITE NITE has been a healing and humbling education. “SITE has helped me be more selfless,” she says. “Sort of like when a woman becomes a mother and has to grow up; there is this being for whom you are now responsible, who needs fed and bathed.”
While most presentations are a primer on a particular topic, some teachers return for an encore. Macri’s audience was so moved by his didgeridoo performance that he’s already working on a follow-up talk. “I liken SITE NITE to collecting recipes,” he says. With a diverse toolkit of skills and knowledge, he explains, the possibilities for creating soulful concoctions are endless.