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.
Well, I have fallen a few days behind with my Egypt posts, but don’t give up on me! I am actually traveling again right now, so my posts might be a bit delayed but I am going to get it done. 😊
At this point in our trip, we had made a few changes to our itinerary and the days and the places we were going were all starting to get jumbled up in my mind. I wasn’t doing too much journaling then, because I was too busy just enjoying myself and taking it all in. This is one of the reasons that this opportunity to revisit it all is so good for me. It is really nice to be able to take the time to go back through all of my pictures and sort out exactly where we were and when. That being said, I did realize that I left off one of my most favorite temples from our seventh day. After we visited the ancient quarry and the Al-Kab monuments, we went to Edfu to see the Temple of Horus or the Edfu Temple. Looking back on it, it is hard to believe that we did so many things in one day, but again, hence the early wake-up calls.
If Bast is my Girl, then Horus is my Guy, and I just can’t say enough about how happy I was to be there. I had always seen the photos of his well-known statue that resides there, and I had always thought, “If I ever go to Egypt, that is one of the things I have to see.” So, to actually be right in front of it and looking up at its beauty was sort of surreal. What a powerful statue that is.
I want to talk for a moment about the energy that the monuments and every single stone in Egypt seemed to hold. Before I had done much energy work myself, I used to hear people talk about how they felt the energy of various things and I always wondered what they were talking about. I mean, a rock is a rock, right? So, if you are one of those people, let me just say that for me it took belief and a lot of practice before it was something that came naturally. Everyone experiences energy differently, so I will try to describe how it was for me when I was there. In general, it was like a humming or tingling sensation throughout my whole body. At times, I was light-headed, and my ears would often ring. Science shows that we are all made up of moving energy and when you are in a “high-energy” location it is rather like all those particles are sped up or tuned into a different frequency. What I find so enthralling about being in a place like this, is that when you are there it is sort of a feeling of intoxication. I was there and present and taking it all in, but it seemed like I was floating along, and I just wasn’t able to sweat the small stuff. I found it much more difficult to stay “grounded” while I was in Egypt and quite frankly, I really didn’t want to. Certain locations and objects there, just seem to call to you. The statue of Horus at Edfu Temple was one of these objects for me. His energy felt very much like a magnet pulling me towards him. If you have ever held two magnets apart, then you understand the invisible tug that happens between them. This was my draw to Horus. Now when you are in any ancient site, you know full-well that you are not supposed to touch anything. The oil on your hands can degrade the stone and eventually if enough people do it you can destroy it completely. So I honestly made every attempt I could not to do it, but it was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. Everywhere I went, all I wanted to do was run my hands along every wall, but I knew I couldn’t and for the most part I behaved. But Horus was having none of it. I swear, I could almost hear him. “Come on, touch me, you know you want to!” So, I had an epic fail and not only did I touch him gently with my hand, I rested my forehead against him for just a moment too. I was totally busted and I got a good scolding for it, but it was just like I had no choice in the matter. I do deeply regret any harm I may have caused to this most incredible piece, but I will also cherish the moment for the rest of my entire life. Imagine being held gently in the wings of an angel and you have some idea of what it was like for me.
Another thing I remember regarding this site was the means of transportation there and back, as well as the chaos around the arrival and departure. We were taken into the temple and back again by horse and buggy. This was a charming way to see the sites, but if you go and are an animal lover, be prepared to see some of them in less than ideal condition. I did have to come to terms with that and respect and understand my own circle of influence over those sorts of issues while I was there. Regretfully, there are some problems that you just cannot change or fix in that moment all by yourself. While Egypt is wonderful and magical and magnificent, most of the people are also very poor and in dire need of income. It is a different country with an entirely different culture, belief system, and way of doing things and many areas are very poverty-stricken. I had to consider the fact that by choosing NOT to ride the horses, camels, donkeys and so on, I might also be taking much needed income away from the animal’s owner, which in a way takes food out of the animal’s mouth as well. I will never be entirely comfortable with it, but for the most part it was obvious that these animals had value and were taken care of to the best of the owner’s ability, so I tried to focus on being grateful for the trip back through time and that I was able to help the buggy driver support himself and his horse. This temple was one that was located right in the middle of the city and as you come in through the city streets and approach the temple, there is a point where you are absolutely mobbed by merchants and children trying to sell you anything and everything under the sun. This was one of those things that I liked the least about being in Egypt. I understood it, but I have anxiety issues and I do not like people in my personal space, so this was really challenging for me. On top of that, I absolutely hate not being able to help someone and saying no in general. However, it is completely unfeasible to purchase something from everyone who approaches you and you have to learn to say no (or “la” in Arabic) really quickly. We learned to literally stick together as a group, arms linked like we were playing Red Rover, and push through the throngs of people as best we could. Please note that I was NEVER touched inappropriately or harmed in any way. I was not afraid, but rather sad and overwhelmed by the desperation that I felt from some of the people. If I only I could have made it rain dollar bills for them, I would have. Once you arrive at the entrance to the temple itself and are through the gates, the experience changes totally and you are back to having calm and space and quiet. It was a bit of a shock to my system. Not the peaceful introduction that we had to the Philae Temple, but still well worth it.
Once inside, I was taken most by the sheer size, height and enormity of the temple itself. It really is beautiful. The walls were so high it seemed like you could never reach the top and every square inch were covered in hieroglyphs. I wished so desperately that I could read them. I will share some of my most favorite pictures of this place and say no more. I think they speak for themselves.
I have been working with the major arcana Tarot cards up to this point, but today I feel compelled to throw in one of the suit cards as well. I believe the emotions and experiences of this day remind me most of the Judgment card, but the Seven of Swords and the image on this card in the Nefertari Tarot deck are just too perfect to leave out. The Judgement card, much like the Death card, has to do with properly laying things to rest so that new things can be recognized and brought to life. It is about resolving old issues so that you can transform yourself for the better and prepare for the good that is to come. On this day, it also had the more literal meaning of “judgement.” I had to try not to judge myself too harshly for making bad decisions like touching ancient statues and I needed to put aside some of my Western viewpoints and accept that not everyone sees things the same way I do. This is one of the lovely lessons of Horus and other winged Beings and messengers. Hawks have the ability to fly far above us and they remind us that we too can change our perspective and might need to look at things form others’ points of view. I could not help but throw in the Seven of Swords, not only because the image is so perfect for what I did that day, but also because in the more traditional decks, it can represent feelings of guilt or feeling like you are sneaking around a bit. I certainly felt guilty for being pulled in a buggy by a horse that was probably tired and that I could not help every single person that approached me, begging me to buy the items they were carrying or sold in their shops. Did I mention the sweet little faces of the children that were among them? (Back to the Judgement card again, in the Rider-Waite version there are little children reaching up to the angel above them. It resonates here.) Anyway, the word guilt is appropriate, and I really did want to sneak away somewhere to hide from the crowds. Most of all I just love the image in this card of the woman holding her hands up in worship to Horus with the knives hanging over her head. She worships him and looks like she is longing to touch him, but the swords are there warning her against it. I hope she does it anyway. 😉
On the seventh day of our trip through Egypt, we went to visit an ancient quarry where much of the stone that was used to build the Egyptian monuments originated. (I believe we actually saw part of this quarry called Gebel El Silsila the day before during our afternoon sail and you can revisit that post if you would like to see more pictures of that part of the site.) This was an interesting location because in addition to having structures with lovely hieroglyphs to see inside, there were other ancient markings outside on the cliff walls of the quarry itself. These figures reminded me more of the petroglyphs that I have seen at historical Native American sites in New Mexico.
My memory fails me here, and I cannot recall if the various burial chambers we visited that day had separate names, but I believe the overall location was named the Al-Kab monuments. What I mainly remember about the structures there were the beautiful and amazingly well-preserved colors of some of the art on the walls within them. While the statues of those to whom the tomb belonged did not fare so well as far as preservation, many of the reliefs were still rich and multicolored. The images depicted things like plates piled high with food and offerings for the Gods and Goddesses and many wonderful scenes of daily life. The amount of time and labor that went into them was apparent. Not only was the chiseling out all of these reliefs impressive, but each and every character was then carefully painted down to the smallest detail. In some places that we visited, they even then went back and outlined everything again in fine black lines so it stood out even more. I cannot imagine how long it must have taken. The people who did this obviously took great care and pride in their work and nothing ever looked rushed or lax. Their skill is awe-inspiring.
One of the things that I loved the most about this day was the ride out to the quarry itself. We were taken from the bus to the location in the back of several safari-type vehicles. These were also painted and decorated very vibrantly! Color is a big thing for me and the bright greens and yellows of the caravan of trucks against the intense blue sky and the beige sand of the desert terrain was so uplifting. I do love my luxury, but it was so enjoyable to feel like you were on a more obscure adventure. Being packed into these smaller buses and bumping along while holding on to the makeshift bar overhead was just exciting. I did also so enjoy just being able to wander around the place so I could take it all in, and there was ample time for that on this day. I love nature in all its “outfits” and the landscape of Egypt may not have been as lush and green as it is in the place that I am from, but it was beautiful just the same.
We must not have had such an early wake-up call that morning because I do remember that everyone seemed even more upbeat and happy than usual. The group had all had time to get to know each other by then and we were just comfortable with one another and were really having a good time. When we were in the sacred temples, obviously the energy was more reverent and respectful but being outdoors, we were able to laugh and joke and just be silly for a while.
I would choose to correlate this day to the Chariot Tarot card. The obvious connection between our means of transportation to the quarry and the evident travel vibe of The Chariot card is apparent, but additionally its symbolism in regard to gaining control of your mind/body/spirit “vehicle” is suitable as well. Up until this point I had been rather overwhelmed by the whole experience and my emotions had been somewhat erratic, but by the seventh day, I was starting to feel adjusted and more comfortable with the people and the place in general. The kindhearted people of Egypt are always greeting you with,” welcome home” and they refer to Egypt as your “second home” if you are visiting. And about that they were exactly right. I had always known that Egypt was my home away from home, but it was so good to be there and to feel so relaxed, at ease and settled in. The Chariot card also has to do with grabbing the reins and taking control of your life and steering your own course or destiny. The more time that I spent in Egypt, the more that I felt this was something I was beginning to do. There is just something about traveling that seems to function as a reset button for me. I am always telling people that changing your perception physically can shift your perception mentally too, and I really do believe that’s true. At this point I had traveled by plane, bus, boat and car and I was definitely sensing the shift of my own inner landscape as well as that of the topography around me.
Most of the days in Egypt started as early as 3:00 am and the sixth day was no different. The reason for this was to be able to get to the sites we were visiting as early as possible. This allowed for the most privacy and helped to avoid the crowds that came later in the day. For me, this was totally worth the early wake up calls. On this day our early departure was for a visit to the Temple of Isis known as the Philae Temple. Like the Kalabsha Temple, the Philae Temple was moved from its original location and reconstructed on higher ground, which is almost impossible to believe when you see how huge it is. The entire complex was moved from Philae Island, to its new location on Agilkia Island, following the building of the Aswan High Dam and the flooding of Lake Nasser.
The Temple of Isis will always have a special place in my heart, because it was such a mystical site and experience. Like the day before, we were taken out to the Temple by ferry. It was so early that it was dark outside when we arrived, but you could see the outline of the massive structure looming up out of the dim. We were each given an electric tealight. We had all agreed to approach this Temple in silence so we could really take it in, and as we filed up the hill from the banks of the lake with our lights it was just a beautiful sight to see. There was something so holy and sacred about this place. We walked quietly up to the first pylon and the central doorway and past the remains of two giant granite lions on either side. We silently passed through the main courtyard and into the inner temple and finally all the way back to the sanctuary or “House of Isis.” As we circled around the granite base or altar in the heart of the sanctuary, I was thinking of how completely different this felt to me than the visit to Kalabsha the day before. The energy of this temple felt so sacred and I couldn’t help but think of all of the priests and pilgrims that must have walked this same route before. The Temple of Isis filled me with a reverence that was so peaceful and awe-inspiring. I was thinking that THIS was how I “remembered” Egypt. The respect and veneration that we all felt inspired to give by our silent and candle-lit walk through the Temple just felt like it gave the place and the Goddess the honor and appreciation that it and she so much deserved. It is hard to describe the feelings, emotion and energy of ancient Egypt when it finally hits you. As we stood in this hallowed space, it was as if the energy just enveloped me and it was not hard to imagine Isis herself wrapping me in her arms and welcoming me into her heart. Many were brought to tears and I could tell that everyone felt the love here as much as I did. I did not cry like I had the day before at Kalabsha. I was too overjoyed; Egypt was still alive! It was a sublime moment for me. I could feel the energetic “download” that I have read about so many people experiencing while they are in various locations around Egypt. This was certainly one of those places for me and I don’t think I quit smiling the entire rest of the day.
Eventually, we left the inside of the temple to go sit on the outer walls around it, overlooking the lake. We had the privilege of watching the sunrise there and listened to all of the birds and animals coming awake around us. It was really wonderful. There were many other structures and old ruins to see around the complex and we spent some additional time exploring them before we left.
The rest of the day was spent on the boat sailing along the Nile. These moments on the Dahabeya in between visiting the historical sites were some of my favorite. It was so incredibly relaxing and peaceful to just sit out on the deck and watch the Nile slip by. The scenery was so picturesque and unlike other parts of the world where I had been before. As you watch the local people out on the banks with their farm animals and see the other boats and feluccas go by, it is so easy to fall back in time and envision it the way that it must have been for so long. We did stop along the banks at one point to wander along through the remains of some burial sites there. It was a smaller site and I don’t remember the name, but the location was beautiful, and it was lovely to have the time to take it all in.
The Tarot card that represents this day for me is the High Priestess card. In the Nefertari’s Tarot deck, Isis is depicted in the card wearing a vulture and double crown headdress, while in the Rider-Waite Tarot, the High Priestess wears the three-fold moon or crown of Isis. Both decks link this card to her and since this day was mostly spent at her temple in Philae, it seems like the perfect choice. The High Priestess is often associated with the Oracle of Delphi or other prophets and soothsayers. Therefore, it tends to represent our own psychic powers, intuition and subconscious mind. The two columns behind her represent the balance of dark and light within us, similar to the Yin and Yang principles. This is one of strongest female archetypes in the deck and it implies that it is wise to trust your own feelings, perceptions and empathic abilities. It is a very mysterious and spiritual card, and this was how I felt about my visit to Philae Temple. I love the image of Isis holding out the two bowls in the Nefetari card. When you enter the Temple of Isis, you cannot help but feel like a priest or priestess yourself, coming to give her your own offerings of love.
* Most of the pictures of me that are posted here and throughout my website were taken by my good friend and very talented photographer, Amy Auset Rohn. She captured these special moments of my trip to Egypt in the most non-intrusive and beautiful of ways. You can find more of her work and learn more about her by following this link. www.ausetimages.com/
On the fifth day in Egypt, we flew from Cairo to Aswan. We were picked up at the airport and taken to the lovely boat, the Dahabeya Afandina, where we would spend a number of days sailing on the Nile. The overall plan was to begin in Aswan and work our way back up the Nile to Alexandria, visiting sites along the way. (Bear with me here, a bit of geography and history is necessary to really understand the spiritual goals of this trip.) The Nile is a river that actually flows from SOUTH to NORTH or UP geographically. The terminology here was a little confusing for me because the Southern part of Egypt is referred to as UPPER Egypt, while the Northern part is called the LOWER. In other words, Upper Egypt is south of Lower Egypt because the upper Nile is south of the lower Nile. It helped me to think of it as the Nile beginning in the south which would be “up” river and flowing towards the Mediterranean which although in the North would be “down” river as the Nile flows.)
The reason this is pertinent is because this trip was very intentionally designed and organized as a passage along the Nile from south to north in order to be a transcendent undertaking. One of the ideas behind this was to begin at the base of the Nile in Aswan as if we were beginning at the Root chakra of Egypt's or our own energy system. By moving up the Nile and stopping at various sites and Temples (or chakras) along the way until we reached the Crown chakra in Alexandia, it was representative of the spiritual awakening experienced when the primal or shakti life force energies begin to flow up through the chakra energy centers of the body. Other comparisons were made to the Nine Spiritual Bodies or the Tree of Life. The ancient Egyptians believed that the human soul was made up of nine parts, again moving from a more physical plane to a more spiritual one. If you look down on the Nile as a whole from above, it resembles a lotus flower opening up, which is another symbol for this type of spiritual awakening. Finally, the journey was reflective of the Goddess Isis on her search to collect all the parts of her lost husband Osiris in order to resurrect him. Enough history, back to day five.
We left our things on the Dahabeya, and then left to visit the Kalabsha Temple. It is located on an island in the middle of Lake Nasser, near the Aswan High Dam, about 16 kilometers from Aswan. Due to flooding, the original temple was dismantled and re-erected at the present site between 1961 and 1963, which I assume is why some of the walls appear newer than others. We took a small boat out to it and there were other interesting, more modern structures to see along the way as well. Kalabsha was the first site we visited where I was really able to get up close and personal with the remains of what must have once been a most beautiful and breathtaking place of worship. I was expecting to have a very magical and enlightening experience here, but I have to say that this first stop hit me really hard. I don’t know what your feelings about past lives might be, but I know in my heart of hearts that I have this inexplicable connection to Egypt. For years I had said that I never wanted to visit because I didn’t want to see it in a way that was not how I “remembered” it in my mind and soul's heart. However, the Universe had other ideas and the circumstances that led me to the opportunity to be a part of this trip could not be denied. So, there I was walking through this amazing place and looking at these incredible remains and I felt like I had a rock in my stomach. I think I was in rather a state of shock. Nothing seemed right and I was absolutely grief stricken to see it in such a state. I mean no disrespect by this, but the only thing I can think to compare it to emotionally could be how people might feel returning to their homes or communities after they have been bombed during a war. And Kalabsha is in way better shape than many of the other sites you come across. Thank goodness we did not visit any of those first! While it was breathtaking and awe-inspiring, for me it was also heartrending to have to face the reality that the Egypt of my spirit's memory simply was no more. I sat and had a good cry there that day. Fortunately, I was with a group of loving people who understood and helped me come to terms with it so that I could let it go and appreciate what was still left there to see.
Once we left Kalabsha, we visited the Nubian Museum. By then, I was in a much better place emotionally and I absolutely loved it there. It was a very charming building and the artifacts kept there were marvelous. Many had been amazingly well preserved. One of my favorites included a giant statue of Ramses II. His eyes seem to follow you and it feels like he is actually sizing you up and looking through you! I loved the energy this statue gave off. Another artifact that I particularly liked were some life-sized replicas of horses. They were unbelievably realistic and designed and decorated with such care. There were countless other interesting things to see and I will share a few more pictures below. As you leave the museum, there is a wonderful area out front where the local women sell the most delightful things like jewelry, beaded bags and clothing and other handmade items. Along the walk back to the bus I fell in love with an obelisk surrounded by the cutest statues of monkeys. The Nubian Museum was a great ending to a day that started out as rather difficult for me.
Given my experience at Kalabsha, The Tarot card that I must choose for it would have to be the Death card. My first encounter with the Temple ruins of Egypt that day was a grim reminder that the magnificent days of the Pharaohs and the ancient mystical practices that were once upheld there are for the most part dead and gone. Of course, I knew this already, but to be there and to actually SEE the deterioration and breakdown of this remarkable place and its bygone customs just felt so tragic. On the flip side, the Death card not only represents something ending, but it also has the more positive meaning that from endings always come new beginnings. Egypt is still an astonishingly beautiful country with some of the most kind and charming people that I have ever met. The modern-day culture and customs are splendid and very much alive, and I loved the place with all my heart. It may not be what it once was in the days of old or how I would like it to be, but I am so thankful that so many breathtaking structures and artifacts still remain and that I had the opportunity to see so many of them. The Death card is the reminder that sometimes things must end or die so that new things can begin and be born. When I reflect on this card and this day I think of the words of Heraclitus. "The only thing that is constant is change." I am glad that the impact of the people who designed and built these ancient constructions do continue to make themselves felt even after their death. As difficult as it was for me to let go of the past, I am also glad that life goes on.
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.