Saturday, July 08, 2006
Egypt – Land of Ancient Mysteries - May 27-June 8, 2006
Egypt – Land of Ancient Mysteries
We are now in Glastonbury, England and have just purchased a 1981 VW camper van, that is how we will journey through Europe. We will send out an update about Greece next week and then about England. You can visit our web site to see our travelogues and pictures at: www.gabriel-icasiana.com
We send love and blessings, Gabriel, Icasiana, Kate, Matt, and the bambino-Elijah.
June 5th, 2006
Yesterday the heat was 520C. For us Fahrenheit folks that equals 1250F. Yeah that’s right 1250F. We’re in Luxor, Egypt, one of the major sites of antiquity in Egypt. We will head back to Cairo again tomorrow and then see the Great Pyramid and Saqarra for our climax before we leave Egypt to meet my mother, sister and aunt in Greece. We are all very excited about that as we haven’t seen them in over 5 months and Elijah has grown so much and so beautifully in that time.
The day that we were leaving Cairo the first time to travel to Luxor we were befriended by a man named John Ward. He lives in Luxor with his family. They moved to Egypt from England 2 years ago, and invited us to stay in their community at their friend’s house in Luxor, on the West side of Thebes. This turned out to be a godsend (of course!) because John and his wife Claire have two wonderful children named Bryony and Callum who Kate and Matt proceeded to spend all their time at their house playing with. They were in heaven. Homework assignments were suspended for the time we were there so they could have a break and just have lots of fun. They sure didn’t seem to miss us or their studies during this time.
It turns out that John leads tours in Egypt for a living. He’s definitely not your typical tour guide though. He sets up trips and handles all the arrangements for people, takes the group to see the Pyramids and Saqarra in Cairo, and then takes them into the desert. The desert is a very powerful place to camp out in and be in, and soon the power of the desert takes over and people are shedding layers to reveal more of their authentic self. John creates and holds a healing container for the group, and lets the magic of the desert catalyze powerful transformation. John finds such joy in these 6 day journeys that start off as a typical “tour” and end up as a life-changing journey.
The Sites of Luxor
The first place Icasiana and I went to see was a temple named Habu. It is less well known than Luxor or Karnak temple, but a very special place indeed. We did go to Luxor the next day, a very magnificent temple and very awe inspiring to see. By the next day I was sick and horizontal all day, they call it the Egyptian bug. We went to Karnak the following day, but didn’t go to the museum as I was still recovering. The following day was our last day in Luxor; we would be taking the overnight train again back to Cairo. I went with John in the afternoon to Habu again, his favorite temple. He took me through to his favorite spots in the temple.
John and I walk into the large temple area and sit in on a big ledge of stones just talking for a while. After a period of time I’m starting to feel a deep vibration through the stones. I’m starting to feel altered. I ask John if he took me here for a particular reason, and he looks at me with a little smile and nods yes. I tell him, “Oh, I guess I’m starting to feel it.” That was kind of our attunement time. Just sitting and letting the stones wash us and bring us into their resonant field. As we continue our discussion, I mention that I see the carvings on the faces of the stones are stories of war, or offerings to the gods or menial kinds of actions, I ask him if there are hieroglyphics or pictures that show people in trance postures, or higher frequency poses. So he takes me to another area that ironically had only opened 2 weeks previously after meticulous cleaning had been performed. It had been closed for a long time because of the soot that had developed from fires burnt when this temple had been used by the church many years before. I did see some poses that were uplifting. John showed me the paintings of a box, identified as the Ark of the Covenant; this was part of a yearly ritual of it being carried from Luxor temple up the Nile River on a boat to the Karnak temple. Then he took me to a room further in the back of the complex. This was the place he was setting me up for. As soon as we walked in the small room, I asked him if this was the place.
Carried by Waves of Tones
I felt a special feeling here and knew something was about to happen. We soon proceeded to do a meditation, me standing in the center of the room, turned at a specific angle, and he in the corner across from the one opening. During the meditation he felt a cool breeze, and I sweated deeply in our respective places. When we came out of our meditation at exactly the same time, we both found it curious, and then we switched positions. From the corner I began toning. I was transported into the depths between the seams. I had hooked into the timeless place, into the depths of connection. As the tones came through, I experienced myself as a channel being played by the temple. The depths of time, the resonance of the stones, and the unseen were coming through the tones. The tones felt huge and my body was as big as the temple, and I just allowed the tones to channel through in ecstatic waves. I could feel the rhythm of the heartbeat of this place beyond time. After I don’t know how many minutes it stopped and we came back to the normal world. It’s these kinds of gifts that fill souls and provide inspiration for creativity, and give us something very special to remember later. John’s knowledge of this temple and his love of this sacred place gave me a very special gift today.
The Sphinx and the Sphinx Temple
Before going to the Great Pyramid we went to the Sphinx. These two ancient structures are right near each other. The most compelling reading that I’ve done about the Sphinx is from John Anthony West. He enlisted the help of a geologist to study the erosion patterns of the sphinx. What they found is that the type of erosion present in the sphinx had to have come from water erosion which had to have occurred at a time when the area received much more rainfall than it has for the last 5,000 years or so. This places the building of the sphinx as much older than we have come to believe. The Egyptologists have refuted West’s claims and are now burying the evidence. At present they are doing restoration work on the sphinx, putting concrete or some outer coating over the outside of it. Where did they get this ridiculous idea from? I don’t know if it is a cover up or not, but it will cover over the evidence of the water erosion and put that controversy out of sight. Maybe they are trying to save it, I don’t know, but I think it is a tragedy. This changing of the composition of the outer material will change the frequency of the site and the way we can relate to it.
Anyway, in going to see the Sphinx on this day, it is roped off so you can’t go very close. We can only look at it, but not get very near to it. It’s very windy and somehow I’m not able to feel very much at the sphinx, which is a bit disappointing for me. Of course, what the sphinx was built for is another big mystery.
Going to the Sphinx temple is a revelation. I had not realized that the temple itself was such a special place. It has a very strong presence. I’m reminded of the ancient buildings of Sacsayhuman in Cuzco, Peru. I visited there 20 years ago and it made such a big impact on me, the amazing stonework, large 200 ton stones fit together perfectly with joints in strange patterns. It had felt like a major ceremonial place and so too did the Sphinx Temple.
The Great Pyramid
Visiting the Great Pyramid was a very frustrating for me. I have dreamed about going to the Great Pyramid for many, many years, and the day had finally come. My desire was to be able to get inside the Pyramid and be able to tone and sit quietly meditating and go deeply into the mystery. John and Claire had brought their family from Luxor to go to the Great Pyramid (as well as Saqarra the next day) and we would be going together.
We were trying to get inside the Pyramid before the masses of people are let in. After certain maneuverings and agreeing to some baksheesh, John arranged it for us to get into the pyramid alone for 15 minutes after the masses had left for the day. When the time came at 3 pm we went in and walked up the passageway to the King’s Chamber. As you ascend, you have to hunch over because the ceiling of the passage way is quite low. So we get to the King’s Chamber, and we’ll wait because they told us that in 15 minutes they would turn-off the lights and they wouldn’t let anyone else in so we could have an uninterrupted meditation.
The King’s Chamber is a room about 25’ x 15’ with ceilings about 15’ high. There was nothing in the room except a big rectangular stone carved out in the center like a trough. Anyway, as we’re waiting for the room to clear out I start toning to get ready. Oh my God! The acoustics in this room are so amazing. I’ve never experienced an acoustical chamber anywhere in the world like this. With a very low sound, it resonates so deeply and intensely. The sound fills up the room and my whole body, and I’m doing it in just a whisper.
When other people would come up the passageway, their voices would come booming into the room from below through the passageway. It felt like an assault, so loud and penetrating. Once in the room they seemed to talk in a normal voice which in this room is so loud and disturbing to me. So I wait for the room to be cleared out, but 15 minutes turns into 30 and then 45 minutes. Now I’m starting to feel lightheaded and a bit weak from the poor oxygen, I imagine that’s why anyway. Finally the room is clear except for us, or so I think, and the lights go off. Finally I can sink in without all the distractions and get to work. Except for one thing. There is a guy who comes in the room and he is shuffling around in his work boots. Who is this guy and where did he come from? The sound of his boots on the floor is very loud, and he keeps shuffling. I’m getting very frustrated, “What is he doing here?” I begin my toning anyway but soon after he starts yelling, for what I don’t know. Is he just crazy and why is he in here? I’d really like to make him disappear. I’m starting to feel violent. Then he bangs into Icasiana as she is meditating near the wall, seated on the floor. Now it’s comical, but it doesn’t seem very funny to me. Soon after the lights come back on, it’s been much less than 15 minutes but it doesn’t matter anymore. He tells us we need to leave; he works here in some unknown capacity. As I write this weeks later, it is pretty funny, but at the time I was intensely frustrated, it was not what I wanted. I guess spirit had other lessons planned for me on this day than the one I wanted.
John and Claire took us all to Saqarra the following day. John has extensively studied the ancient Egyptian cultures so I was very curious about his perspective on this place. He believes the temple here was built around the time of the great pyramid. The Saqarra pyramid on the other hand was built much later and John called it a “pile of crap”, which I thought was pretty funny. John explained the absurdity of the Egyptologists’ claims that this pyramid structure was the prelude to the Great Pyramid. The pyramid of Saqarra does not seem very impressive and did not remind me of the Great Pyramid in any way, but the Temple here is very intriguing. There were two things that stood out for me. First were a number of stone structures that looked like organs. John mentioned they may have been resonating chambers of different tones and resonances. The second thing was quite a number of doors carved in stone, with hinges in place. They don’t move at all now, not because of time sealing it close, but because the only way they could move was if the nature of their form could change. Okay, this might sound confusing, how do I say this so you can understand? These stone doors could not move in the form they are in. They are said by Egyptologists to be templates, except they are not replicated according to this template anywhere else. They are built in a way that looks like a door with hinges, but where the hinge is, is solid stone; it is not separated and thus cannot move. The door is carved but totally connected to the stone next to it so it could not move unless . . . It is a big mystery. John does think that the organ like structures emitted tones that might have allowed the stone to change its structural integrity and then be able to open and close. Of course John will not be invited to speak at any of the Egyptologist symposiums, but don’t worry, neither will I. I think it’s wickedly possible that these doors were able to change their nature of form and then close, but it remains a big mystery.
Alexandria-tracing Ancestral Roots
Part of my family’s story is that my grandfather’s family came to live in Alexandria, Egypt from Ioannina (Jannina), Greece before they came to America. On the boat to America, his mother (my great grandmother) was sick, and upon arrival in New York, she was not allowed to enter and was forced to return to her starting port. On the way back to Alexandria, she died. She is buried in Alexandria. So our family went to Alexandria for one day, we took the 2 ½ hour train ride from Cairo to find her burial site. We didn’t have much to go on and we searched for hours, especially Icasiana, through 3 of the Jewish burial sites in the city, but could not find her grave. That would have been amazing to find it, but alas it was not to be. I found out later from my mother that the tombstone was written in Hebrew, while I do read Hebrew, it still would have been difficult to understand and identify her headstone.
While in Alexandria I am reflecting about my grandfather and what it might have been like to have lived here. I know nothing about his life here; he never said a word to me about his time here that I can remember. Nonetheless, this is the prelude to our travels to Greece coming up where we will go to the town that both of my mother’s parents came from, Ioannina.
Egypt – Rough and Crazy
Egypt has been pretty rough to travel in, but very gratifying to explore the magnificent ancient ruins, unique in the entire world. There are a lot of things we didn’t do in Egypt. We only went to a few of the hundreds of ancient sites and museums. The one place we regretted missing was the Cairo Museum. We didn’t go on a cruise of the Nile River either; instead we went on just a short ride on this ancient, magnificent river. We did go to The Valley of the Kings, where many pharaohs were entombed, but it seems we missed all the good ones worth seeing because we hadn’t prepared beforehand by finding out which ones were worth going to, at least that’s what John told us.
Another thing we did see was the way they drive in Egypt, and we were thankful we were not driving ourselves. We had thought the Philippines was the most outrageous driving we had seen after it had eclipsed Thailand, that is until we got to Cairo. Cairo wins; it has the most insane driving we’ve seen. They don’t even stop at red lights, or even slow down, or pretend they might stop. They don’t even put their lights on at night in Cairo, a city of 36 million people. Can you imagine that? It is just a free for all. There are reputed to be more accidents and deaths in this area than anywhere in the world and we can see why.
We also missed the overland trip through the Sinai desert from Israel to Egypt, we’re sure we missed a lot of excitement by that, but you know, sometimes you just can’t take too much excitement. What I’m really saying is that the overland trip, in addition to seeing very interesting places, would have been exhaustingly intense and flying was just fine in our situation. See we’re really not very tough at all. Seriously, we were exhausted and emotionally spent after our disturbing experiences in Israel.
Ancient and Modern Egypt
One thing that struck me (Icasiana) was the stark difference between ancient Egypt and modern day Egypt. My visions of Nefertiti, King Tut, Osiris and Isis are how they were perfectly attuned to their environment and their culture. From what I know, I imagine that they lived in a pristine and elevated culture, exemplified by the beauty of their creations and in their daily relationship with their gods. They were an advanced culture as evidenced by their structures, sacred symbols, art and pottery that remain today. The way the ancient people revered the Nile was also dear to me. To them the Nile represented life. To them the Nile was their key to life. It was easy for me to submerge into their ancient culture more so than to relate to the life there today. I found modern-day Egypt to be quite dirty, crowded, and so chaotic in the cities, big and small. One of the saddest parts was to see the revered Nile littered with garbage and sewage – this life-line being choked off and killed through “advancements of the modern society.” The one place I really felt a connection with was Alexandria and we were there very briefly, but I felt a strong attraction to the area – as if it wasn’t part of Egypt.
If you do plan to come to Egypt you must understand the term baksheesh. When someone does something for you they will expect some compensation in return, carrying your bags, doing an errand, even the simplest of tasks of opening up a public bathroom. They’ll even do things for you that you don’t want them to do, and then they’ll expect the payoff. We became aware quickly to either not ask for help or to have lots of spare change in our pockets to pay them off.
Our greatest joy in Egypt was meeting our new life-long friends John and Claire and their children, Bryony and Callum. We have plans to meet up with them later in our journey, France, which we are all looking forward to with great anticipation.
For now we are going on to Greece, land of ancient magnificence, and the land of my ancestors.