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Memories of Egypt - Final Day
Ah, the last day of my trip…what a mixture of feelings. I was so happy and content and had a feeling of elation simply because I had been able to have this experience. It was the fulfillment of a life-long dream for me and everything about it had been perfect. I was tired and ready to go home and rest for a while and process everything. I missed my family and my pets, and I wanted to see them. On the other hand, there was also a deep sorrow and grief. Somewhere deep down I never wanted to leave. This place felt like home and I was so completely settled and at peace with it all. It was serious work to focus on overriding any regrets about leaving with complete gratitude for having been there at all. In the end I managed and didn’t shed any tears. I found contentment with knowing that one day I will be back again.
It helped that some of the best sites were saved for last. We started the day with a private visit to see the sun rise with the Sphinx, followed with a tour of the Great Pyramids. From there we went into the market in Cairo and we ended the day with a private dinner and boat ride on the Nile for one final time. We were way too busy to have time for being sad but forgive me if I don’t elaborate much in this post. I do want to remember and relive it but the feeling of melancholy as I write about this last day are difficult for me.
The Sphinx is an amazing monument. It really does give you the sensation that it is a living being. It is said to be the gatekeeper for the Akashic Records, the place where the life experiences of every human being since time began are kept. We stood between the paws and watched as the sun rose between them in the Eastern sky. So very lovely and moving.
The enormity of the Great Pyramids when you see them in person really sinks in. It is one thing to see them in pictures and another to see them in person. The age-old question of, “how in the world did they do this” was certainly in the forefront of my mind. I loved going up to the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid of Giza. It is a very steep climb that seems to go on for a very long time. You pull yourself along up a ramp with handrails and foot holds, rather than steps. I so enjoyed that it was not polished and fancy. It was dimly lit but still felt dark and damp and raw like it must have been since they first opened it up. When you finally reach the chamber at the top, there is a granite sarcophagus which you can lay in if you are willing to pay. I chose to pass because just feeling the energy in the place was plenty for me. Everyone’s experience there seems to be different. I myself felt the “speeding up” sensation of high frequency vibration throughout my body. It gave me an incredibly dizzy feeling, especially when I stood in front of either of two air shafts that were there. This was heightened when we did toning or chanting. The Pyramid seems to amplify and increase the resonance of any vocalizations you make, especially if it has a musical or singing quality to it.
After we left Giza, we went into the marketplace in Cairo. This was a fascinating experience for several reasons. For one thing I so enjoyed the chance to mingle with the people in a setting that just felt more natural and less “touristy.” It was an opportunity to be part of the community and more immersed in the culture. The shops and streets were full of fabulous things and the merchants were not as aggressive and pushy, it seemed. I found some lovely things to bring home with me. I also loved the architecture and the buildings there. So much care, thought and detail everywhere! I had to remember to watch where I was going because I wanted to look up at everything all the time. The last thing of note was the military presence that was there. On the particular day that we went, the officials of Saudi Arabia and of Egypt were going to meet nearby. The streets were lined almost shoulder to shoulder for what seemed like miles with military personnel. There were tones of people along the route that the Saudi Arabian officials were going to take, waving flags and waiting to see them go by. My knowledge of worldwide politics is little (and I like it that way) so I don’t know much about the relationship between these two countries, but all of the people that I saw seemed very happy that he was there to visit. No one seemed angry or like they were protesting anything but given the number of armed guards everywhere I don’t think they would have caused any problems if they were. The vibe seemed more welcoming than anything. Anyway, it was interesting to be able to see it.
At some point, we went back to the hotel to rest up. That was lovely because it was such a nice place with beautiful grounds and views. Soon though, we left for our farewell dinner which was organized as a very kind surprise by our group hosts. We boarded a small ferry boat designed just for groups to have meals and then we set off one last time for a float on the Nile. There were plenty of other boats going by, all lit up and playing music and full of people having fun. It was a beautiful evening and a wonderful send-off.
There is so much more that I would like to say about this trip, mostly of a deeply profound and spiritual nature, but honestly, I just don’t have it in me today. I’m afraid it will make me too sad and nostalgic. And part of me wants to hold it all close to my heart and keep those deepest thoughts and impressions to myself, at least for now. I so appreciate everyone who took the time to read this and it is my deepest hope that it might inspire you to go and visit yourself one day. I promise you that it will be a trip you will never forget. I know that it has enlightened and changed me at the deepest of levels and I am forever grateful.
The end of this trip deserves a special card, and I have decided that one from my Anubis Oracle is just right. It is the Roman numeral I in the deck and the card of “Entering the Mystery.” The image of Isis and Nepthys and the Great Mother Nekhbet, all with their arms and wings open wide, show that they will always welcome the innocent dove or traveler of pure heart home to Egypt. If you follow the path of the Nile or of your own heart, the ancient mysteries will open up to you and speak of long hidden meanings.
Not long after I came home, I did a meditational journey and in it, I saw Horus. I was crying to him and I said, “Lord, Egypt is gone.” He laughed, and said, “No, little one. Egypt isn’t gone. Egypt is just underground.” And So It Is.”
The 15th day in Egypt began with a visit to the shore of the Mediterranean. For me this was sort of the climactic point of the whole trip. We had begun at the far south end of the Nile and worked our way all the way up to the North. It was just a beautiful place, the water and the sky were so blue, the temperature was perfect, and it was early so no one else was around. You could see the Lighthouse of Alexandria off in the distance and I love the symbolism there. The light that guides you home. We weren’t there for swimming, but I couldn’t resist the urge to jump in anyway. It felt like a baptism of sorts. I had to experience swimming in that lovely sea. I am so very glad I did. Fortunately, it is so dry and warm there that you dry off in about two minutes.
From the beach we moved on to the catacombs of Kom El Shuqafa. On the way we passed the Bombay Pillar and I did manage to get a few quick pictures as we passed. The catacombs were discovered when a poor donkey accidentally fell into an access shaft. At least they kept him there and he was sort of memorialized which was nice. These catacombs were right in the middle of the city and they went so far down underground! I could see why no one knew they were there. They also had a much more Roman/Greek influence in the carvings and reliefs, although still clearly Egyptian too. It was an interesting mix of styles. Sadly, I don’t have any pictures to share from this location. Another "no pictures" place. (Please do know that if you really want to see what any of these sites look like, you can find lots of images available on online.)
The last place we visited that day was the Alexandria Library (or Bibliotheca Alexandrina). What a tough piece of history that is to swallow. To imagine the loss of all the knowledge that was kept there to a fire…it almost makes me physically ill to think about it. What actually happened is up for debate, but supposedly it was Julius Caesar that started the fire which burned everything to the ground. The idea of someone doing something like that on purpose is incomprehensible to me, but who knows. I just wonder how different the world would be if we still had access to all that literature and information. Heartbreaking. The new Alexandria Library is built in a very modern style. They didn’t try to recreate it and I don’t think there were any records of what it looked like originally anyway. It is a beautiful and impressive building and absolutely huge. It is more than just a library. It houses six libraries in one as well as art galleries, a laboratory and a planetarium among other things. There are symbolic nods to the original Library in some of the design, but the main goal of the University of Alexandria was to continue the tradition of this being a major source for the storage and dissemination of knowledge and learning. Countries from all around the world have donated books and documents. I am incredibly grateful that it is there and functioning again.
The 15th day of this trip goes well with the Hermit Tarot card. Traditionally this card can be seen as encouraging you to follow the light of your spiritual truth, but the reason I have chosen it has more to do with the connection to inner knowledge and reflection. The Hermit is a guru, someone who receives his information not only from books but from his higher self and God or Spirit. The Alexandria Library is certainly still a place of knowledge and a vessel for the wisdom of all nations. As I look at the Hermit, I would compare him holding out his lamp to illuminate his way or that of others, to the Alexandria Lighthouse shining like a beacon in the night. In the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the ground is covered in snow and can be likened to having forgotten oneself. Here in the Nefertari version, it reminds me more of things (like knowledge) being lost in the sands of time.
Memories of Egypt Day 14 and the Knights
On the fourteenth day of my Egypt trip, we went to visit Abu Ghurab, and the Saqqara area. Saqqara includes the Pyramid of Unas, the Solar Temple of Userkaf and the Djoser Step Pyramid. The step pyramid of King Djoser (not to be confused with Gozer the Destructor from the Ghostbusters movie 😉 ) began as a mastaba tomb with a flat roof. However, King Djoser and his Prime Minister, Imhotep, who was responsible for carrying out the project, continued to add another mastaba on top of the first and then another and another and so on until it finally ended with six terraces forming the step pyramid. A side note on Imhotep: apparently, he was an amazingly intelligent and talented man who had a big impact on Egypt through his contributions to astronomy, sculpture and architecture. He was also an important scribe and physician. Because of his notoriety he was later deified as a God of wisdom and medicine. The thing of note about Abu Ghurab was definitely it's solar temples and the remains of a giant altar that was there.
The best part of visiting this site, besides the opportunity to see the remaining structures themselves, was hands down riding camels. They dropped us off some distance away from these pyramids with a group of lovely gentlemen and their camels, horses and donkeys. We were able to ride up to the site as a camel caravan and it was just so much fun! The man who led my camel on his donkey was so nice and kind to his animals. He had a little switch, but I never saw him use it. They did everything he wanted them to just by gentle nudges or noises he would make. The owners also seem to find great humor in giving them amusing names like Rambo. Mine was named Banana. She had big blue eyes and she would give gentle nose-nudge kisses. There was no fussing or spitting or any other bad camel behavior. They were just so sweet.
The remains of the structures in the Saqqara necropolis that we were able to get up close and personal to were definitely worth the trip, but sadly they were in such bad condition. To me it just looked like they were collapsing. There were big blocks of stone just heaped around them that to me, looked like they had just fallen off with no attempt to replace or repair them. Other big stone pieces had obviously served some sort of other purpose, but I have no idea what that was. I’m sure if I researched it, I could find out, but I was more interested in just taking in the ancientness of the place. It was one of those locations where it seemed like you could almost feel the movement of time and history flowing through you viscerally.
After our camel adventure, we drove into the city of Alexandria where we would stay for the night. Oh, my goodness, what a wonderful city! It had a very different vibe than the others we had visited. Not to take anything away from them, because they were fantastic in their own right, but Alexandria just seemed to have a more modern, artistic and youthful vitality to it. There were lots of sidewalk cafes and coffee shops and the people and women in particular were dressed more modernly as well. It appeared much cleaner, and the gorgeous views of the Mediterranean Ocean didn’t hurt. I was told that this was one of Egypt’s wealthier cities and by appearances it looked to be. Even the traffic was much calmer and more organized. We didn’t have much time to do anything that evening but check into the hotel and eat, so I believe that does it for day 14. (We did spend more time seeing the sights of Alexandria the following day, so you can check back if you would like to hear more about it.)
As for the Tarot card today, I felt the need to choose based more on appearances than the meaning of the card itself. I am pulling out all the Knights from my Nefertari deck and the Knight of Wands from the Smith-Waite. While the Knights and horses in general do have to do with movement and taking action which makes sense with all of the moving around we did, I am more drawn to how much these horses and all their fancy trimmings remind me of our camel caravan! One of the things I loved the most about the camels besides how sweet they were, was how finely they were decorated with colorful blankets and pom-poms. So, these four horses fit the bill. And the King of Wands from the Smith-Waite version is just too perfect with the image of the pyramids in the background!
On the 13th day of my trip to Egypt we went to several places. By this time on the trip, we had worked our way North to the city of Faiyum. We were no longer on the boat but were traveling by bus and we had the pleasure of staying at a number of very nice places along the way. We spent two nights in Faiyum at a place called the Helnan Auberge and I really loved it there. It was located on the banks of Quaran Lake, which was huge, and the grounds and views were lovely. One of the things that I wasn’t sure what to expect about Egypt were the accommodations and I just can’t say enough about how nice the hotels were where we stayed. I only mention it, because I really want people to get past any negative stereotypes or views that they might have about going to Egypt. I let my own fears keep me from going for far too long! If you have ever thought about making the trip, I strongly encourage you.
On this particular day, we were originally supposed to go to a place called the Valley of the Whales, but sadly the security that was traveling with us would not allow us to go. There was some sort of skirmish going on in that area and the military was involved, so it was just too dangerous. I should take a moment just to talk about the security on this (and I believe all trips) since there has been a bombing of a tour bus in Egypt since I went. We did have an armed guard that traveled with us, but I honestly never felt threatened or like we needed him, but it was certainly nice and comforting to know he was there. In addition to that, apparently all tour groups must report exactly where and when they are going to the government who then also assigns armed guards to escort you on any long drives that I assume are going through areas where they feel the extra protection is needed. This typically consisted of a truck of 3 to 4 men both in front of and behind the bus as we went. There were various checkpoints where we had to stop so they could change guards and report in. It felt uncomfortable at first to be sandwiched in between trucks full of armed guards, but eventually you get used to it and they were all awfully nice. They would smile and wave at us from the windows and it just made you feel a little more human. Certainly, I would rather be safe than sorry. I realize now that these measures to keep us safe were not only for obvious reasons but are also important for their tourism industry in general. I have mentioned it before, but I will say it again now, these people really rely on tourists as a huge part of their economy. If people are afraid to travel there, it has a dramatic impact on their country and the people who live there. I really was very surprised to hear about the bombing of the tour bus that happened in Cairo after I got home, considering how careful and protective of tourists they are. I was also deeply saddened. I couldn’t help but think of our own kind bus driver, our tour guides who bent over backwards to make sure we had a good time and the private security guard that traveled with us who was excited because his wife was pregnant again. So often we hear about things on the news and we say oh, how terrible, but we aren’t really engaged. These incidents need to be more personal to all of us. The people affected have names. They have loved ones and families that need them, and hearts made of gold. I pray for terrorism of any kind all over the world to come to an end every day.
Thank you for bearing with me and my side discussion...now I will get back to the cancellation of the Valley of the Whales. We were all disappointed because this was an unusual destination where the remains of whales are still lying out in the middle of the desert, which I find fascinating. However, I have total trust that if they said it wasn’t safe, it really wasn’t. We regrouped and our guides found another wonderful temple for us to visit instead. It was called the Temple of Sobek-Re. As an added bonus, this new route took us past one of the Coptic Orthodox churches in the area and we were able to stop there as well. This was an interesting contrast to the other places we had been and certainly much more reminiscent of typical Catholic churches here. This particular one was dedicated to Archangel Gabriel, who I really adore. (It also struck me because in the Islamic tradition, Gabriel is said to be the angel that dictated the Quran to Muhammad. I wish that there could be peace between these two groups. If only we could focus more on what we have in common instead of our differences. Sigh.) Something I loved and will always remember about our stop at the Coptic church was when one of the priests there read to us from the bible in the Coptic language. This language is a mixture of local languages with one which was used as far back as the time of the Pharaohs. And oh my gosh, it was beautiful! The way he read it sounded more like singing than talking to me. It spoke to my heart and I could have listened to it all day. I would love to know how to speak in such a melodious way.
Once we left the church, we went on to the Temple of Sobek-Re. There was something very magical about this location and I am not sure exactly what it was. It just felt lighter and airier to me and the energy there was comfortable somehow. I was told that it had suffered a lot of damage from some sort of bombing if I remember correctly (forgive me, somehow this seems to be the theme of the day), but it was still intact enough to be able to go in and walk around. We were even able to go up some stairs to the rooftop area which had a beautiful view of the green ribbon of the Nile winding its way through the desert. One of the walls had the remains of a relief depicting the crocodile God Sobek facing what was left of the God Re. In this particular example, they represent the equilibrium between our lower “reptilian brain” and that of our Higher Self and Heart. The two Gods stand facing each other, holding the tension between them in perfect balance, thereby stabilizing the forces of both. After visiting the Temple we were able to wander around the grounds afterwards for a while, which was always one of my favorite things. My dear friend Auset even got me to loosen up and pose for her for a while. I am so glad she did because the pictures she took really expressed all of the happiness and joy that I felt while I was there. (I want to give her another shout out...you can find more about her and her work here: https://www.ausetimages.com/)
After visiting the Temple of Sobek-Re, we headed back to the hotel, but we did make one more stop on the way, at an endearing little town called Tunis. This town is known for the delightful pottery that is made there and we actually went to see one of their pottery schools where there were a number of people working to make various pieces. They were so kind (as everyone was in Egypt) to let us come through and watch them work for a while. This town reminded me a lot of Santa Fe, New Mexico. It had the same artsy vibe, adobe style walls and colorful touches of flowers and paint. The best word to describe it is charming, and if I were ever to move to Egypt, I do believe I would want to live right there. Many of the pottery pieces they sold had adorable little animals like goats and sheep on them that all looked so happy and me smile. I even brought a few home with me. 😊
Today I am going to deviate from using a Tarot card to express the day’s experiences and use a card from my Anubis Oracle deck instead. There is a card in it that is just too perfect to pass up, and I am sure that the inspiration from it came from the Temple of Sobek-Re itself. This Oracle deck by Nicki Skully and Linda Star Wolf is one of my favorites. It made the trip to Egypt and back with me and I consulted it many times while I was there. The card that jumped to mind when I reflected on this day was the number 6 card of Sobek and Horus. The God Sobek stands with his arms outstretched facing the God Horus in a stance just like the relief from the Temple itself. Horus is depicted with the head of a hawk, as is the sun God Re (or Ra) who the Temple was named after. You can even see that wonderful contrast between the green Nile and the sand of the desert again. Another reason that I like this card for this day has to with it’s meaning. “Reconciliation of Opposites, Forgiveness and Understanding.” Given the topic of discord between people, groups and even myself that came up more than once while I was writing this post, I just knew that this card could best express my highest hopes and prayers for us all. May we have reconciliation, forgiveness and understanding between and within us.
We visited two of my favorite sites on the twelfth day in Egypt. One was Tuna al-Gebel and Ashmunein and the other was a wonderful place called the New Hermopolis. This entire area was all part of or close to the original city of Hermopolis, which was associated with the Egyptian God Thoth, who the Greeks later identified as Hermes. In Koine Greek, the name of the city actually means. "The City of Hermes."
Tuna al-Gebel was one of those places where they were very adamant about not allowing pictures, so I have next to none to share, but I can at least talk about it a bit because it really was such a special place. The Tomb of Petosiris, who was a High Priest of Thoth is still there and in good condition, but one of my favorite things was a little chapel that was off to the side. It was dedicated to a young woman named Isadora. Her mummified remains are still kept there under glass in the tiny structure. There is a very sad but sweet love story associated with her. She fell in love with a soldier, but her father refused to allow the marriage. She and her lover decided to elope, but she drowned while trying to cross the Nile river with him. Her father then built this tomb in her honor. Because of her sad ending she is also known as the Martyr of Love. There is a very quiet and undisturbed energy in this little structure, even with people coming and going to view it. As soon as you walk in you just become silent out of an innate need to show respect to her and for her passing. Although it made me uncomfortable to actually see her there, you can’t help but feel that she is at peace and on the other side spending time with her lover. (I am also a sucker for a good love story.)
The other thing that I LOVED about this location was the network of catacombs that were built under the necropolis and still exist which you can walk through and see for yourself. They were used to store thousands of sacred mummies of falcons, baboons and ibises, and it was incredible to wander through all of these corridors with so many numerous little rooms leading off. In many of them you can still see the remains of the sweet little mummies or the receptacles that they were kept in. In one area there was even a mummified baboon wrapped in a robe that reminded me of Yoda. He was kept behind glass and sat there looking very ancient and very wise. The God Thoth was believed to also take the form of the baboon or the Ibis bird and since this location was dedicated to him, these animals were mummified and kept out of respect for the God. I was told by one of our tour group's fabulous leaders that as part of their training, the Priests of Thoth even carried around a baboon on their shoulders. They also said that these catacombs and the practice of mummifying animals sacred to their Deity was very similar to what was once done in the ancient city of Bubastis, where they worshiped the cat Goddess Bast. This city is known as Tell-Basta now, and I am told that little of the original Bubastis or any of the mummified remains of cats are there anymore, but one day I am going to go back so I can see for myself. Egypt holds so many secrets and considering the rate at which they continue to discover new tombs and artifacts, I am quite sure that there is more under the sands of Tell-Basta than we are currently aware of.
Once we left Tuna al-Gebel, we went on to visit a location called the New Hermopolis. Along the way we did stop to see a giant statue of a baboon and I just want to share a few pictures of it because he was so magnificent and so much fun! Isn’t he grand?
The New Hermopolis is a special place run by a very special woman whose intentions are to carry on the tradition of writing, healing and wisdom that the original city of Hermopolis once did. It is explained better on their website which can be found at https://www.newhermopolis.org/ and from which I quote now…
“New Hermopolis is an individual non-profit social enterprise founded by Dr Mervat Abdel-Nasser with the mission of capitalizing on Middle Egypt’s heritage for the cultural and economic development of this region. Our founding is connected to the thought and philosophy of Ancient Hermopolis with its belief in the possibility of harmonious living and the power of art to transform society. It is an Ecological complex built in a unique architectural style in Tune El Gebel village, Minia ( 20 KM from the main city of Mallawi/320KM from Cairo), and consists of a hospitality centre ( visitors' retreat) that is accessible to all the region’s rich antiquity sites including ancient Hermopolis (Tuna El-Gebel & Ashmunin), Akhenaten city (Amarna) and the tombs of Bani Hassan as well as ‘Cultural Space’ that holds events workshops and performances for the benefit of the local community and international visitors, We also have an Organic Farm with ‘olive groves’ and a ‘vineyard’. We had our first production of extra-virgin olive oil in 2017.”
This wonderful retreat center was so very beautiful. It had a number of quaint and unusual structures, buildings dripping in flowers with stained glass windows and ponds full of blue lotus flowers. It was truly a picturesque place. We had the pleasure of meetings it’s founder and we were even treated to a delicious meal which she helped to make herself. If you have time, I do hope you will visit the New Hermopolis website and consider giving some support. Dr Mervat Abdel-Nasser is trying to do good work there but apparently has been met with some resistance from the surrounding communities, due to what they consider to be unorthodox views. Fortunately, it was said that they seem to have become more accepting over time. I was never any good at history and I am no fan of politics, so to me, the New Hermopolis just seemed like a precious little jewel in the middle of an area that has experienced a great deal of tension and conflict over the ages. May the peace and love of that tiny oasis spread to everyone around it.
I am dedicating The Empress Tarot card to this day in honor of The Martyr of Love, Isadora, and Dr Mervat Abdel-Nasser, the brave developer of the New Hermopolis. The Empress is the idyllic female archetype. She is the Queen of Queens, the Goddess Isis, Venus, Astarte and Aphrodite. She is Mother Nature and the representation of fruitfulness and the bounty of life’s harvest. The Empress is the reflection of all of your positive feelings about yourself as a woman or the experiences that you have had with them. As I am writing this post on International Women’s Day, this is the perfect card to remind us of the Goddess within every woman. Have a very fruitful and blessed day!
On the eleventh day in Egypt, we visited the Tell al-Amarna Tombs and Beni Hassan. I liked Beni Hassan very much, however, Tell al-Amarna was much more memorable to me. It was known as the city of Akhenaten, the Egyptian king who is mostly known for his attempts to transition the polytheistic religion of the people to one of a more monotheistic nature. While other deities were still worshiped, Akhenaten honored the sun God, Aten, as the Supreme God. This idea was so disliked that following his death, his name and image was for the most part erased. That is why the hieroglyphs in these tombs were so interesting to me. The images of the hands of the Sun God, Aten are still there reaching down to the figures below. Aten was seen as the giver of life-force energy and I have always liked the idea and the depiction of the rays of the sun as having hands that seem to pat the people on the heads to give them comfort. You can see where the face of the King and even his horses have been removed, which the Egyptians believed took away all of their power. But the hands of Aten still shine down. Tell al-Amarna was really expansive, but much of it is completely razed. There are the remains of one huge pillar that looked like a lotus or papyrus flower which makes a fairly significant statement compared to the barren landscape around it.
Beni Hassan is a high on the cliffs and it is a beautiful site to look down on the Nile from there. The stark contrast between the green vegetation along the river and wind-swept desert beside it was always so striking to me. Beni Hassan is mostly known for its reliefs which show images of what basically are instructions on how to wrestle. Unfortunately, I do not have any pictures to share from inside, but I am sure you can find them online. This must have been one of those sites where you weren’t allowed to take photographs. (Unless you paid of course, and I must not have had any small bills at the time. I will say that is the one thing that I found frustrating in Egypt. For some reason small bills are nearly impossible to come by so when you exchange your currency, they tend to only give you big bills which are then really difficult to break. In general, a tip of anywhere between $1 to $5 dollars would be just fine to give the guards in order for them to allow you take pictures, so I was disinclined to hand them a $20 or a $50 instead. Anyway, if you ever go, take as many $1 dollar bills as you can. You will be asked to tip EVERYWHERE and you just can’t have enough of them. There is even someone standing in front of every bathroom handing out toilet paper which is not kept in the stalls, so you want to make sure you have something for that. You can take your own, but they find it offensive and why do that? I always looked at it as an opportunity to help someone living in an area with a really unfortunate economy.)
The Tarot cards for this day is of course, The Sun. I think the reason why speaks for itself so I’m not going to say much about it other than that it represents happiness, joy and a sense of innocence. Egypt certainly did bring me joy and I sure do miss the warm rays of Aten that don’t always show up so much in Kentucky.
I realized this morning as I was sorting through all of my pictures from my Egypt trip that I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post one of the sites that we visited that day. That is one of the reasons that these blog posts have been so helpful for me. It is just so hard to keep it all straight and my memory fails me. Thank goodness for pictures, I never want to forget it and I had failed to recall that we also visited the Valley of the Queens on the ninth day there. Before I talk about the tenth day in Egypt, I would be remiss not to at least share a few pictures of it. The hieroglyphs there were the best preserved of any I saw, and the colors were just unbelievable. I was also glad to see that these were all behind glass because some people (like Kennedy) cannot resist touching. I am sure that it is because they were kept from being touched that they remained in such great condition. So, this first grouping of pictures are all from the Valley of the Queens.
Having shared a little more from day nine, I can go on to the tenth day in Egypt. On this day we went to visit Dendera and Abydos. There is so much to talk about from both of these locations! I will just try to mention a few of my favorite things so this post doesn’t go on forever. The Dendera Temple is also known as the Temple of Hathor and you will find her image carved into the tops of many of the supporting columns. Hathor is the Goddess of love and music, and Her temple was so fascinating. What I remember the most about this complex were the amazing ceilings. They were so insanely high and completely covered in reliefs that were painted and still had some of their magical color. There is a fascinating connection to astrology at this site and the “Dendera Zodiac” can be found on the ceiling of one of the smaller rooms. Unfortunately, the original was removed and the one that is there now is a replica, but it was still a beautiful piece. In yet another room within the temple the star covered Goddess of the Heavens Nut, is carved and painted all the way across the ceiling. She arches over the room as the night sky, reaching from one side to the other, with her hands and feet firmly planted in each corner. In another area, what is left of an old staircase leads up the wall and carved in relief along it, is a procession of Gods, Goddesses, priests and pharaoh that was just absolutely wonderful. (Please note that some of these things may be hard to make out in the pictures that I took, but you can find many that are clearer online.)
The Dendera complex also has some very interesting hieroglyphs that somehow seem different than others. There is one wall in particular that depicts images that look sort of out of this world. It resembles energy sources that could pass for transformers and seem to be powering spotlights of some kind. Very peculiar and a favorite of the show, Ancient Aliens, I am sure.
Moving on to Abydos, this is one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt, and the Temple of Seti I. For those of you who have read or heard of the book, The Search for Omm Sety by Jonathon Cott, this is the beloved temple of Dorothy Eady, who claimed to be the reincarnation of one of the temple girls and the lover of Pharoah Seti I. This was another temple where the hieroglyphs were just so captivating. I could have wandered around looking at them all day long. Another “ancient Aliens” favorite, this site has images that resemble things like helicopters, submarines, planes and UFOs. There were some areas where they were working on the cleaning and conservation of the hieroglyphs and that was interesting as well. I was enthralled with all of the images of the Gods and Goddesses holding up their hands to offer energy, blessings and healing to the Pharoah. This was the first place where it dawned on me that it looked like someone performing Reiki. As a Reiki practitioner myself, I just loved this idea. There is actually an Egyptian form of Reiki known as Sekhem or Seichim, which reminds me of the healing powers of the Goddess Sehkmet, so it feels appropriate. Since returning home, I have researched and worked with this form of Reiki and I really do enjoy it.
Abydos was the cult center of Osiris and there is also a temple there that is dedicated to him. It was originally known as the Tomb of Djer. Don’t quote me on this but if I remember correctly, there may have been a transition due to the similarity of the name or word “Djed” as in the “Djed Pillar” which I discussed in an earlier post. As the Djed was considered the “backbone” of Osiris, it makes sense that this was one of the tombs where it would be believed that he was laid to rest. What I loved about this particular building was its more unusual structure which seemed more below ground. Unfortunately, because of this, it suffered from flooding and we weren’t allowed to go down inside. However, I was glad that we were still able to see an ancient carving on one of the walls that is thought to be one of the earliest examples of the symbol of the Flower of Life found so far. I have always loved that symbol, but I had never associated it with Egypt, so that was interesting.
Today, I would like to choose two Tarot cards, one to represent each site. For Dendera Temple, The World card feels right, and for Abydos, The Hierophant. I like the World Card so much. It represents being surrounded and protected by Divine and Benevolent Beings, among other things. In both the Rider-Waite and the Nefertari Tarot decks, the focus is on the ultimate Mother of the Gods, the Earth Mother or Mother Nature. In both decks she is depicted as a naked woman which represents being completely open and honest in your approach to her. As the Mother of Mothers, she also symbolizes unconditional love. The energy at Dendera is certainly reflective of this, as the Goddess it is dedicated to, Hathor, is the Goddess of Love Herself. Additionally, the wonderful image of The World card from the Nefertari Tarot deck shows the Goddess Nut arching over the Earth God, Geb, with the God of Air, Shu, in between. She seems so protective and it reminds me of the images of her painted on the ceilings at Dendera. The Hierophant card fits so well with Abydos because it is a Greek word which means, “He who proclaims what is sacred,” and it is such a sacred place and has been for so very, very long. Since Abydos was the cult center of Osiris, the image of Osiris on the Nefertari version of the card is perfect as it’s representation. The Rider-Waite Hierophant is holding up his hand in the traditional form of a blessing. It also makes me think of so many of the hieroglyphs which illustrated their own Gods and Goddesses holding up their own hands in similar gestures of peace. I also love the similarity in the words hieroglyph and hierophant. The origins of the root hieros come from the Greek words combining sacred, holy or priestly. Abydos is definitely all of those things and the hieroglyphs are unquestionably sacred texts.
On my ninth day in Egypt, we had another very early start which blessed us with the opportunity to see the sunrise over the beautiful Karnak Temple. This was one of the sites that I had been looking forward to visiting most because it holds a very special statue of Sekhmet within. I absolutely adore Sekhmet. If you aren’t familiar with Egyptian mythology, she is the lioness Goddess. In my mind she is another form of Bastet. As the Triple Goddess, she is Bast, Hathor and Sekhmet. Sekhmet is a warrior Goddess as well as a healer. Not long after my car accident and “rebirth” of sorts, I took a Religious Studies class and my teacher gave me a necklace of Sekhmet when we finished. That was five years ago now. I loved it so much that I posted it on my Facebook page and coincidentally (or not) it came up as a reminder on my timeline yesterday. That lovely teacher has since passed, but I have worn that talisman almost every single day since she gave it to me. It just spoke to me. Or Sekhmet did. Anyway, this was a very special day and Temple visit for me. Karnak is an enormous site and it would be impossible to talk about all of it, so I will focus on the one thing that stood out for me.
There are just some places in Egypt where for whatever reason you can just become overwhelmed with emotion and the room that held the statue of Sekhmet was one of those places for me. I remember just standing in front of Her statue and shaking and just not wanting to ever leave. I am not sure exactly what I thought was going to happen there, but I so desperately wanted to have some sort of miraculous moment where she spoke to me or I saw fireworks, or I left my body or had the most amazing spiritual awakening or something like that right then and there. I wish I could lie to you and say that had happened, but it didn’t. We couldn’t be with the statue alone and due to time, we only had 5 minutes to be there which to me felt so rushed and I was so disappointed I could hardly stand it. For whatever reason as soon as I was out, I just had one of those emotional outbursts and broke down and cried like a baby. It took me a good 15 minutes to compose myself and if it hadn’t been for my wonderful roommate who just sort of stood there and held space for me, I don’t know if I could have at all. For the longest time after that I felt like Sekhmet had rejected me somehow, but since then I have changed so much, and I see things differently now. Today I believe that the wave of emotions that hit me there that day WAS Sekhmet. The tears that I stood there and wept for so long were a complete and total release and cleansing for me. It was the total dissolving of “self” and the letting in of something so much better. The complete and total knowledge that we really are all connected and that there are higher forces that are just beyond our human understanding but that really do care. I cried for my past. I cried for who I wanted to be but wasn’t, I cried for humanity. And I am crying now. It is just hard to explain it. I think it is the death of the ego that I have read about, but never really understood until that day there at Karnak. After that rather demonstrative episode I was absolutely exhausted and sort of walked through the rest of the site in a daze. No, I didn’t see fireworks, but Sekhmet did not reject me that day. I think she just sort of sank into my pores and right down into my DNA. I am so grateful for her presence and guidance in my life and I feel like I owe her an apology here for ever doubting it in the first place. For the record, I do believe in the idea of God, Universe, Creator or whatever else we each might feel comfortable calling That Which Put Us All Here, but I do also believe that this Omnificent Being sends us all extra help, some of which we have in common and others not, but all for our Highest Good. Whether you call them guides, guardians, or angels, for me, they are mostly Egyptian, and Sekhmet is one. And you have them too, even if you aren’t aware. 😊
From Karnak Temple we went on to visit the Temple of Mut. As wonderful as Karnak was, this Temple just made the day even better. Here, Mut is considered the Grandmother form of Sekhmet. There were statues of her EVERYWHERE. Heaven for Kennedy. I found one to just sit quietly in front of and meditate on for a while and it brought me such peace after having been so overwhelmed with feelings earlier that day. Her eyes just seemed full of kindness and understanding. I really loved it there. I will say that I couldn’t help but to feel a little distraught that all of these magnificent statues are just sort of sitting outside being abused by the weather. I wished that there was some way to rebuild it all again and give them back the cover of a Temple roof overhead. Preservation of history is just something that is so important to me, but time carries on.
The Tarot card I would pick to represent my experience that day is definitely the Strength card. Not only does it have a woman with a lion in the imagery, but as I stood there crying my eyes out in front of Sekhmet’s sanctuary, feeling so ridiculous and weak because I just couldn’t stop, she was infusing me with her love and her strength. The Strength card, like so many others in the deck, has a lot to do with balance. I am sure that I looked completely mentally unbalanced to the Temple guards that were there that day, but since that experience and my trip to Egypt, I do feel like I have been creating more balance in my life through my own strength. Not so that I can deal with any problems or troubles that might lie ahead, but in order to fully live this life. To find the beauty and joy or at least the lesson in every circumstance. Blessed Be.
On the eight day of my trip to Egypt we went to visit the Esna and Luxor Temples. This is going to be the shortest of my posts although it was one of my favorite days. I do not have a single picture to share of Esna or the Temple there so I must have forgotten to take my camera that day. I did love that Temple. It was a smaller one, and another that was right in the middle of the city where you would never think to find it. The people of Esna are known for their talent and skills when it comes to weaving so we had a wonderful time looking at all of the lovely scarves and cloth being sold by the vendors that we walked by. We also went to a wonderful place where a kind gentleman was walking and pushing a huge pestle around in an enormous mortar full of herbs in order to crush them and use them to make various oils. It was an ancient process and so much more personal and charming than anything that a factory could possibly produce.
Fortunately, I do have pictures of the Temple of Luxor to share, so I must have had time to retrieve my camera before we went there. This was one of the few (if only) temples that we had the pleasure to visit at night. Not only that, but we were also blessed with a huge full moon that evening. The way that they light up the temple and with that big beautiful moon overhead…well, it was just magical. I am going to let the pictures of this site speak for themselves.
Of course, the Tarot card that I choose to associate with this day is The Moon card. It represents magical and mysterious things and what could be better? As I walked through this temple looking up at the enormous and lovely statues with the moon looking on, I did feel like I was in rather a dreamlike state. I love the image of The Moon card in the Nefertari deck with the moon peeking out through the clouds over the pyramids. The Moon card also has a lot to do with finding balance in your life. The contrast of the white and black pyramids and protective canine Gods, Anubis and Wepwawet are a reminder of this. Lastly it represents your subconscious mind. You must earn passage through the shielding pair of Egyptian Deities in order to gain passage to all the mysteries that lie beyond.
My name is Kennedy Turner and I am the owner of The Cat's Meow, Tarot and Talismans, LLC. I am an intuitive Tarot card reader, medium and healing Reiki practitioner. I also design, cleanse, bless and consecrate jewelry and other objects for use as protective personal talismans, tailored to meet individual needs.