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.
By the fourth day in Egypt almost all of our group had arrived, and we spent the day at a beautiful park and restaurant. It was located in the middle of Cairo and it was called Al-Azhar Park. It was a beautiful building and lush grounds. I really loved the architecture there.
One of the things that I noticed more than anything were how many young couples were there taking strolls together and hanging out with their friends. The customs around dating in Egypt are obviously much stricter than ours, so it was so cute to see all of the couples there talking and flirting but rarely holding hands or touching. There were also a number of what I thought were wedding parties. The men in these groups had on suits or tuxedos. The girls had on what looked like beautiful and elaborate bridal gowns and bridesmaid dresses, only the brides were always in a mauve, pink or lavender gown rather than white ones. I asked about it and they told me that these were actual engagement parties and celebrations, not weddings. Apparently becoming engaged is a huge deal and receives way more recognition there than it does here in the United States. The woman does not wear white until the actual wedding, which is how you can tell the difference. It was just so sweet. This was one of the places where many of the younger people would surround you wanting to take pictures with you. I found it really strange, but it was just a thing they liked to do. They were always very sweet and polite about it, but it did make me feel like rather an oddity, which I guess we were.
The final thing of note to me on this day was the stark contrast between the greenery, space and beauty of this place versus the crowded, busy, polluted and rather dirty city itself. Do not misunderstand me, Cairo is a wonderful and beautiful place, but it is the most populated city in Egypt. They do not have the trash collection system or environmental regulations that we are used to here, so it is definitely a noticeable difference as far as air quality and cleanliness go. It is extremely crowded; the driving is CRAZY compared to here. The cars get so close they kiss and there is absolutely no acknowledgement of lanes or any sort of structured traffic pattern that I could see. There is lots of honking and yelling and pedestrians everywhere and I have never been so relieved that I was not the one who had to drive! It was so interesting to be navigating our way through all of this while taking note of all of the history mixed in with the modern world. Again, the contrast of old versus new certainly drew my attention.
The Tarot card that I think would have to represent this day is the The Lovers card. It is one of the main cards in the deck that represents relationships, romance and sexuality, but more than that, it has to do with the polarity of the things in life, in particular the differences between the male and female principals. Since one of my main memories about this day’s experiences were the customs of dating and marriage there, as well as the contrast between things, it seems appropriate. I am also sharing both the Nefertari and the Rider-Waite versions of this card again, just for the symbolism.
As the Angel is shown over the couple protecting them (or keeping them apart) in the Rider-Waite card, so is the vulture Goddess Nekhbet in the Nefertari version. I love the beauty of the Nefertari card and that the lovers are shown together, but the Rider-Waite card goes deeper by showing them naked but separated. They long to be together but there are things keeping them apart; the angel, the mountain, the clouds, the sun, etc. While all of these things can be overcome, the couple must be open and honest (“naked”) with one another to do so. They must see the big picture to understand the differences between them and join together as a loving whole. The Lovers card in the Rider-Waite version makes obvious reference to the story of Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Paradise, but it also represents their RETURN to paradise and eternal life on Judgement Day. As with all of the cards in Tarot, The Lovers is multi-faceted and has many meanings and interpretations which is where intuition comes into play. It can also be referring to the need to love yourself before you can love others. As in the words of Doreen Valiente in the Charge of the Goddess, “And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou know this mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.” For me, on the fourth day in Egypt this card represents the differences between people and relationships as well communities, architecture, history, and the past and the present. All trying so hard to come together but struggling so hard to do it smoothly. Thank you for reading and may you be loved and loving.
On my third day in Egypt we visited the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo. It holds the most extensive collection of Egyptian artifacts in the world and was established in 1902. It is a very beautiful old building and quite large. It is walled off and I saw more guards and military there than any of the other places we visited. I was glad that they were so careful to protect the valuable and precious items it houses. On the inside I will say that I was surprised at how run down the building itself was and at the lack of maintenance and order. It was explained to me that they were building a brand new and very magnificent structure and that they were in the process of transferring things from the current building to the new one. We did drive by the new museum building that was under construction while we were there and WOW! It really is magnificent and HUGE. I can’t wait to go back again and see it completed, but I was happy that I got the chance to go through the old one before it is gone. The energy in this building was just fantastic. So many ancient objects with such meaning all in one place. Heaven. I will share a few of my favorite pictures. You could take photos in most places, but you always had to buy an extra ticket to do so. I was blessed to be able to see the artifacts from the Tomb of Tutankhamun that day, but that was the one place where pictures were not allowed even with the extra ticket, so unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of those to share. I will say that if you ever have a chance to see them, it is well worth it.
The card I feel drawn to connect with and discuss for this day is The Wheel of Fortune or just The Wheel. I am using my Nefertari’s Tarot deck for these posts, but today for those less familiar with Tarot, I am also going to include a picture from the more traditional Rider-Waite deck. The symbolism in both cards is relevant. The Wheel has numerous meanings and is one of the most fascinating cards in the deck to me. I could write a novel based on this card alone, so to keep it at least a little simpler for this post, I am just going to discuss a few of them as it relates to Egypt and my museum experience. (At this point I do want to remind people that one of the reasons that I am writing these posts in this way is to help me better connect to the cards through my own experiences. It is my hope that following along will encourage you to apply the Tarot cards to your own life in this way. I just believe that it takes you to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the cards and how they work.)
Generally, The Wheel card is symbolic of fate or destiny and the ups and downs of life. I, as so many other people, have always felt that it was truly my destiny to travel to Egypt and I was coming from a period of my life that was definitely “down.” In contrast, this trip will always be a memory of being on “high.” On a deeper level, the Wheel card has more to do with enlightenment, learning and beginning to understand that all things are connected and part of a greater whole.
In the Wheel from the Nefertari deck, the Great Mother Goddess, Nekhbet arches over and holds the wheel. In the Rider-Waite deck the Sphinx with a sword sits atop. Both images represent the keepers and protectors of knowledge. You find this image of Nekhbet over many of the doorways and arches in Egypt. For me, these images were emblematic of all the guards and security they had in place to protect the precious artifacts and the knowledge of the past that is kept within the walls of the museum.
The figures shown in the corners of the Rider-Waite card are all holding books. This is representative of learning. The figures themselves have many meanings, including associations with the four elements of air, fire, water and earth, as well as one of God’s Choirs of Angels, the Ophanim. Interestingly, these angels are also known as “The Wheels.” In the Nefertari deck the blue lotuses rising up out of the mud are equated with enlightenment. As I moved through the Egyptian Museum, I could not help but be a little overwhelmed with all the amazing relics and the amount of information and history that was available there. I certainly did a lot of learning while I was there! I could have spent days going through the place and was disappointed to only have a few hours.
Some of the other ancient Egyptian symbolism that I would like to point out in these cards, are also shown in a few of the pictures that I shared above. In the Rider-Waite card you see the Sphinx and Anubis, and in the Nefertari card you have the Double Crown of Egypt on the Griffin type figure, which is shown in the photo I took of the statue of Horus. This crown is connected to the Pharaoh and shows his power over both Upper and Lower Egypt and their unification. Note the relevance of the figure in the card, as he has his paws on the two people, holding them down (or together.)
Finally, the Latin characters T A R O, shown around the wheel in the Rider-Waite deck can be combined into a sentence in Latin that relates to the Egyptian Goddess, Hathor in her role as the Goddess of destiny. ROTA TARO ORAT TORA ATOR which means, “The wheel of tarot proclaims the law of Hathor.”
The interconnections of all of this is so interesting to me. There I was in Egypt in the year 2018 looking at these objects which were made as far back as the 31st Century BC and more, and here I am in America discussing their significance in a Tarot deck that was first published in London around 1909. Right around the time that the Egyptian Museum was established. So many interesting links. We are not only connected through our common experiences and qualities, but throughout time and space as well. One of the deeper implications of the Wheel of Fortune card. Thank you so much for reading and may the Fates be kind to you!
The second day of my trip to Egypt was mostly spent trying to adjust to the time zone change and my general surroundings. I was so amazed and impressed with how lovely everything was. I believe that Egypt gets a bad rep sometimes. It is not how I have seen it depicted in the movies. (Although some parts are.) The hotel was lovely, and the people were so kind. They fall all over themselves trying to make sure that you are happy and have everything you need. I was relieved at how many people spoke English and that the fact that I don’t speak Arabic (yet) was not a huge issue. If you have any desire to go I would strongly encourage you. I found that all of the things I believed about how dangerous it would be were mostly unfounded and over-exaggerated. I am not naive enough to say that there is absolutely no foundation for this, because sadly in some parts this is true, but my experience was that they care deeply about tourism as their livelihood and were extremely careful and very protective of the people visiting there. I didn’t really venture far from the hotel that day, but spent time recovering from the long flight, taking it all in and enjoyed getting to know the other people in my group.
The Tarot card I am choosing to represent this day is The Tower card. This card has many meanings, but I am choosing it because of the symbolism of the falling from your ivory tower. I was seeing the beliefs that I had taken on about foreign countries and the people there were false. The division of countries and my tendency to have a “my country is better than everywhere else” attitude because of that and the fact that I didn’t really know better from my own experience was apparent to me. I felt a little ashamed and sheepish to see the reality of what Egypt was really like versus some of the false ideas that I had about it. I think I expected to see the city and the people and transportation as something more from the movie The Jewel of the Nile. No beat-up bus full of chickens and people in poverty pulled up to get me. (I said I was embarrassed about my ignorance, right?) The other reason I like the Tower card for this day is the symbolism in it about language. It goes along with the Biblical story about the Tower of Babel. Basically, the Babylonians were unable to understand each other’s languages and the Holy Ghost descended on them with storm and fire, tore down the tower they were building, and they were all then able to understand and speak their old mother tongue. The fall of the tower broke through barriers and led to better understanding and communication between people. As I personally began to get to know Egypt and it’s people, I had to recognize my own arrogance and understand that many of my own beliefs were simply illusions or false images planted in my mind by the media and other sources. I was forming opinions without any actual knowledge from encountering the place myself. False borders and language differences are just boundaries we create in our mind. We are all the good same people from the same good Source. Lesson learned. Interestingly, in this particular Tarot deck, the Tower is represented as the Djed Pillar or the backbone of Osiris. It is a powerful symbol that signifies the resurrection of this much loved and well-known Egyptian God of the Afterlife. Things fall but they can be rebuilt. The Djed Pillar can also denote the powerful and intense rising of life-force energy within a person. If you have back or spine problems like myself, I find that meditating on this symbol can be very helpful for relaxing the muscles in this area and providing some pain relief.
I realized that one year ago today I was getting ready to board this plane to Egypt. It was such an incredible adventure and so much about me has changed since then. I was thinking about how much I would love to relive this experience and since I can't logically go back this minute, I thought it would be fun to go back through my memories and my pictures and have another visit if only in mind. And since this is a blog relating to tarot, I wanted to choose a card from one of the Egyptian decks that I actually took with me that represents my mindset as I went along. So this post represents the first day of my trip.
Yep. The Fool card. This card is assigned the number Zero in the deck. It suggests that one major phase of your life is wrapping up and a new one is about to begin. In the Rider-Waite deck, the figure has his bag packed and is taking a moment to reflect on his journey so far. In this deck the cat represents Spirit pushing (or scratching, LOL) the person in order to get them moving on their way. This card is about having trust and faith that even though you might be afraid or unsure of yourself or what the future might bring, everything is going to be okay. If you know me at all, you know that I am a giant fan of the cat Goddess Bast so I love that the cat is encouraging the person rather forcefully to just GO! That is exactly what Bast did to me and that is exactly what I did. More tomorrow...
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.