King of Swords

King of Swords

Last week I had a big house party for my friends who were with me during the Egyptian Revolution in Giza (read my experience here).    We have gotten together three times this year and are already making plans for next year.   The morning everyone said goodbye we did a commemorative Tarot reading.   During the Revolution, we were not allowed to leave the hotel so we watched the Army in the streets, the stars above the Pyramids and read Tarot.

We each pulled two cards and my first card was King of Swords.    Self-Expression is the key of this card.   The King says “this is how it’s going to be” then he brings down the sword.   He is the authority of his worldly kingdom.   With his sword tilted to the side, he is ready for action in the world and he is the Emperor in everyday life.

He doesn’t just bring down his sword on a whim but uses is it wisely when he needs to.   The King balances the material world with the spiritual world and he takes responsibility for holding the  balance, ruling what is rightfully his.

Ok, big lessons for me.   It is against my nature to be forceful and authoritarian.   I want to make everyone happy and spend time with unicorns and glittery fairies,  but I have a mini-kingdom to rule so I have to take on the role of the Knight of Swords to protect my domain and rule as I see fit.   I need to say “this is how it is” and mean it.

But that doesn’t mean I make everyone do my bidding rather that I don’t roll over and take it when my toes are being stepped on.     I need my King by my side showing me how to keep my boundaries for myself and my kingdom.     He will occasionally be disappointed with me as I try to unlearn my old habits, but with his help I will succeed most of the time.   Maybe if I put glitter on the blade and with some rhinestones on the handle people will be too blinded by the sight to make me use it.

Advertisement

Egypt in The Big Apple

Lotus pond at Frick

Blue Lotus Pond at The Frick Collection

New York City was my final destination on my mother/daughters odyssey trip in August.  Alexandra is spending this semester studying and interning in Manhattan sponsored by her college.   So with our loaded van, I braved New York traffic.   As beautiful as I found Washington, DC, I found NYC overwhelming.   I had been there briefly a few times but always with my sister.  This time I was on my own to negotiate such an intense city.

We got through the Lincoln Tunnel and found a parking place for the weekend.  My sister offered me her adorable apartment in Chelsea on a charming street.   I managed to get our luggage to the fifth floor in the tiny elevator.  All is so different from my small town life where there is no traffic and ample parking.

Moving day was four days away so we had time for some sightseeing.  I don’t have a big agenda for NYC, I’m not a shopper and a lot of the restaurants and theaters are above my budget.    It is noisy, crowded, enormous and not particularly pretty.    So I went in search of things I love and I found one of my greatest loves in The Big Apple;   Egypt.

The first place I found Egypt was in the Frick Collection, in a spectacular home on 5th Ave which houses a world class art collection.  Just recently, I learned about Henry Frick from watching “The Men Who Built America”.  Frick made his fortune in the steel industry at the great expense of the workers.   Much hated in Pittsburg, he went to New York to spend his money on art and redeem his reputation.   I enjoyed the beautiful rooms and masterpieces but my time with Egypt came at the end when I was leaving.  Hidden in a closed off courtyard were the Blue Lotus which I’ve written about before.   They were essential to the Egyptian religion but have been lost to Egypt for 2000 years.   I gasped when I saw my beautiful flower friends peacefully floating in the pond.

The next day Alexandra and I headed to our most anticipated place in NYC, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.    She wanted to see her all time favorite painting by Ingres and I wanted to see the Temple.   In a large glass room is a small Egyptian temple rescued from being flooded by the Aswan Dam.   On the far wall are four Sekhmet statues from the Temple of Mut.   I could sit there all day by this small but powerful piece of Ancient Egypt.   There is also a room of statues of Queen Hatshepsut from Deir el-Bahari, whose successors tried to wipe her from history but where she has an honored place.     I won’t make it to Egypt this year but I got my Egypt fix.

Uninitiated in the mysteries of street parking in New York, I parked in an unmarked no parking zone.  But before going to post bond on my car at the police impound lot, I went to see Cleopatra’s Needle, an obelisk from Heliopolis.  Cleopatra’s Needle is one of three related obelisks found outside of Egypt.  One of the other two is in London near Victoria Embankment Gardens and another at Paris’ Place de la Concorde and now I have seen all three.   Much older than Queen Cleopatra, the obelisk is tucked away behind The Met in Central Park.   The inscriptions have been mostly worn away after 5000 years but there is an interpretation on the railings surrounding it.    I wanted to jump the railings and touch it but with my car already on the wrong side of the law, I decided I had better behave.  So instead I just happily sat in the shadow of this magnificent piece of Egypt.

So like me, if you get tired of the intensities of modern life and cities,  just find a piece of Ancient Egypt and sit and soak up the wisdom of this special land.   And please say a prayer for modern Egypt that it will find peace once again and that the wonders of Ancient Egypt will be secure and the people will be happy and free.

met3 met5

Smelling the Blue Lotus      Sekhmet Statues from the Temple of Mut

met6 photo

The Temple of Dendur       Cleopatra’s Needle, Central Park

The Goddess

Isis

Isis the winged Egyptian goddess

Most little girls spend a great deal of time playing princess, at least mine did but what about playing goddess?   I always gave The Goddess equal time with bedtime stories and songs.  I wanted my daughters to see that the Divine was equally feminine.   We even named our cats after goddesses.   Alexandra innocently told her Church of Christ preschool teacher that she loved the Goddess and was immediately gifted a Bible to set her straight.

The Goddesses in Every Woman was the first book I ever read about Greek goddesses and Jungian archetypes.   I was enchanted and amazed that I could be described so exactly using Greek mythology—I had to know more.

Twenty years later the goddesses of the great world mythologies are part of my everyday consciousness.   I have statues of my favorites to remind me of their characteristics that I want to explore and embrace in myself.    When I need courage I call on Athena,  when I’m enjoying beautiful music I think of Hathor,  when I am maternal I see Demeter and Isis in myself, when I need to protect myself Sekhmet is right by my side.

My trips to Egypt were like going to meet these amazing friends and allies in person.    When we study the Goddess and honor the Divine Feminine we bring those stories to life and live the sacred traditions.   When we balance the patriarch society with love for these goddesses we are embracing our own complete self of an integrated masculine and feminine.  A few blog posts ago I wrote how the story of Demeter and Persephone was recreated in my life.   My gallery has a picture of my encounter with the Goddess Sekhmet.  I have another blog post about Athena in Nashville.

Athena, Demeter, Isis, Sekhmet, Hathor, Selu, Brigit, Freyja;   these Goddesses are the names and characteristics of energies that we can use to become whole and grow spiritually. Our human nature relates best to names and faces and so we have gifted our goddess our projections and needs and they gift us back courage and love.  Read up about a goddess in a tradition that calls you, Native American, Egyptian, Celtic, Greek, and Norse.  Think of her as a friend and helper on the spiritual path.  Call on her knowing you are calling those characteristics and strengths in yourself.

Reasons to Visit Sacred Sites #5

egypt_2007_abu_simbel_01

Abu Simbel,  Egypt

5:  Sacred sites function as tools to integrate the different dimensions.  Encoded into many sites are the sacred geometric ratios of creation which reflects the Law of Correspondence “As Above So Below”.

I was sitting quietly at the ends of the Earth.   I was truly nowhere, only miles from the Sudan, and at the same time I was at Abu Simbel, two enormous temples built into the side of a mountain at the southern most edge of Egypt.   An American woman comes and sits down beside me and says “it would look a lot better if they would fix it.”  What? Fix Abu Simbel?   In my world Abu Simbel was perfect in its imperfection, the temples built by Ramses the Great and Queen Nefertari (she who for the sun doth shine) said to the world “ you are entering the great and mighty Egypt”    This woman and I were clearly not looking at the same place.  We were in different dimensions, I saw pure glory and she saw imperfection.

It is our personal vibration that allows us to tap into the different dimensions of sacred sites.   When we vibrate at the same rate as these sites the doors of perception open to us and the site can be entered on a higher level.    I saw this over and over on my pilgrimages.    Those who go with reverence receive the blessing and the tourist gets beautiful pictures.    One young woman, inappropriately dressed for a Muslim country, stood at the top of Hatshepsut’s temple posing for her mother to take pictures that I’m sure went directly to Facebook.   She could have been in Las Vegas for all she knew.   While others stood on the same holy ground taking in the sacredness of the place.    The temple held the same vibration for both people but the young woman was oblivious to it.

These sites conform to our experiences and expectations.    They are there to bring us to higher understanding if we wish it.    The sacred geometry of the places set up harmonics that correspond to the higher harmonics of the Universe.   Like a harp string plucked then sets up the other strings of the same note vibrating.    It puts us in resonance with the Universal wisdom that site has to offer.

Sacred sites are easily able to keep their secrets in plain sight because without “eyes to see and ears to hear” it is just a great archeological site.    When I’ve gone back to sites more than once the power of the place becomes greater because I’ve changed with each visit, I know more and see more.    If our light starts to match the light from the Universe the site can work its magic.  We come in alignment with the Universe and can become “As Above, So Below”.

Return of the Light

the four directions

Blue Lotus, Egypt, Winter Solstice 2012

What a wonderful day. This long anticipated date has arrived with new energies and new opportunities. My husband and I went to my favorite place to see the sunrise over the Great Smoky Mountains. The cloud cover was low and only a sliver of pink let us know that the sun was above the horizon, the layers of these ancient mountains barely visible.

The new Light of the solstice sun is connecting the sacred lands around the world, from my ancient mountains here in Tennessee to the Andes in Peru, Himalayans in Tibet, and Mt Sinai in Egypt, awakening the ancient wisdom of these places and our ancestors.

Today is a wonderful day because for the first time in 2000 years the sacred Blue Lotus has returned to Egypt, gently floating in sacred Nile water. In every temple are hieroglyphs of this magnificent ancient flower. The Blue Lotus is one of the missing keys to the spiritual knowledge of ancient Egypt. When the Greeks took over Egypt 2000 years ago they systematically destroyed the lotus, and the power of the Egyptian religion. Now the Blue Lotus is back hold the vibration of the new Light in the world.

It is a wonderful day for the Spirit of Osiris has returned to Egypt. I was with my beloved teacher Page on Wednesday and she said twenty years ago her spirit guide told her that the “Spirit of Osiris” would return. She expected it to be a man, maybe the new president but that doesn’t seem to be the case. As she was talking we both realized it was the Blue Lotus that holds the Spirit of Osiris, life, death, resurrection and re-membering. Osiris is about resurrection as Isis “re-membered” him by finding his body all over Egypt and putting him back together so they could create the golden child Horus.

At winter solstice we are celebrating the birth of the golden Christ Child. In a few months near the spring equinox we will be celebrating the resurrection of that same Golden Child. This theme of birth and resurrection is critical to the evolution of humanity returning to the Golden Age. The Blue Lotus holds this energy of birth and resurrection and remembering.

The people responsible for bringing the Blue Lotus back to Egypt have had their own experiences of birth, crucifixion and resurrection in the process of re-membering the energies of Egypt. Modern incarnations of the ancient priests and priestesses, they nurtured the Blue Lotus against great odds so the vibration can once again ring through the land. On this day the Sacred Blue Lotus sings “I am back in Egypt and I Remember”.

This is a very special and symbolic day on our planet. The Light has returned, and the Blue Lotus is once again singing the song of Love.

lotus pond

Lotus Choir,  Winter Solstice 2012

Aida

I’m so excited that it is December 2012 that I decided to celebrate 21 days of Egypt from December 1 to Winter Solstice December 21. I was so pleased when the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and The Metropolitan Opera in New York decided to join me in honoring Egypt.

On December 2 the famous Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow simulcast live to theaters around the world a new production of The Pharaoh’s Daughter. An obscure ballet about Egypt, the Bolshoi is the only company dancing this classic ballet. I was delighted with the unimaginably incongruent combination of classic French ballet and ancient Egypt, like Swan Lake danced in King Tut’s tomb. I loved it because I believe tutus are appropriate any time, any place, any millennium. When the Princess fell into the Nile and met up with Neptune, (ooops wrong country, wrong god) I was enchanted. The entire afternoon I was immersed in total joy and beauty.

The Metropolitan Opera in New York, wanting to participate in the grand celebration, also simulcast live on radio and in theaters the magnificent Egyptian opera Aida on December 15. I couldn’t have wished for more. Verdi’s masterpiece was premiered in Cairo in 1871 and has become one of the most beloved operas. Every moment is beautiful, from the love duets to the famous triumphal march. It is a timeless story of love, rejection, betrayal, heroism and pageantry all with spectacular music, bringing together hundreds of the world’s best musicians, singers, costume designers and stagers. Opera is the best of all art forms coming together to tell the timeless truths of the human experience.

A few years ago I was sitting in the lobby of the Meridian hotel in Egypt when a half dozen porters and waiters came rushing to the front door, hurriedly putting on their ancient Egyptian attire and pulling out trumpets. Several large buses of tourists had arrived and this little ensemble was there to greet them with the great Triumphal March from Aida. Several rounds of the chorus later, all the tourists were in the lobby and the porters went back to carrying bags. At the Luxor home of Howard Carter, who discovered King Tut’s tomb, there was an old wind-up phonograph; under it was a hundred year old copy of Aida. I can just imagine the tired archeologist sitting outside with a cool drink after a hard day’s work listing to the opera for comfort and inspiration.

When I was sitting in the theater watching these two celebrations of all things Egypt, I kept thinking about what an amazing world we live in. I’m sitting in Knoxville, Tennessee but also on stage of the Bolshoi in Moscow, and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Through the magic of satellites in orbit I’m in two places at once on different sides of the earth and immersed in the energy of ancient Egypt, and during the intermissions texting friends in different states enjoying the same experience. We are teleporting and time traveling and didn’t even realize it.

Why Egypt?

DSC00174

If you ask anyone under 25 what they know about Egypt they will tell you about the animated film “Prince of Egypt”, a fanciful version of the Moses story.   If you ask an older generation they would likely talk about King Tut and the golden treasures or break out in the fun Steve Martin song.   Someone else will talk about Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra.   These are the versions of Egypt that are part of our mainstream culture.

The news media has also been busy in Egypt the last two years as Egyptian people are choosing to try new ways of government and making unending adjustments in that process.

If you ask me about Egypt I will sigh deeply with a look of rapture on my face, for I’m in love.    I wasn’t fascinated with Egypt as a child but as an adult started studying the mythology and religion of ancient Egypt.   I have since learned more of the history of the amazing land.   I have traveled to Egypt three times and each trip was epic and life changing.   A friend questioned my third trip, “the rocks haven’t moved since last year!”   Yes but I have and I must uncover the next layer of experience.  As I change and grow, more of the wisdom of Egypt is available to me.

My friend Mary, an Egyptologist, says that Egypt is “the Alpha and Omega”   It holds the memory of before we can remember and it holds the keys to the next chapter in our human existence as we move to the Age of Aquarius

During the last two thousand years while Egypt was lost to the western world and covered over by the sands of time, those stories and mysteries came to the West in the form of the Arthurian Legends.   The stories of Camelot and Avalon are the most recent incarnations and are the sacred myths and legends of our modern world.   Notice that those legends are everywhere in our movies and books, even the White House has been referred to as Camelot.  England held the next stage of the Light in our world with cathedrals, stone circles, holy wells and our current mysterious crop circles.

So you have to pardon me as I go on and on about Egypt and England for they have captured my heart.    I choose to see the spiritual dimensions of our beautiful earth not the fearful version our media wants us to see.     I want a reality that holds magic and promise, wisdom and love.  These things are all around if you know how to see them.   So join me as we look through the realities that are presented to us and uncover a new reality.

The Revolution

DSC01998DSC02001

I remember that day vividly, January 25, 2011, I was in Egypt visiting the temples of Abydos and Dendera.  My friend Darrell and I had been there before so we headed in the opposite direction of the main group and wandered around by ourselves.   We didn’t talk much, but strolled silently enjoying the hieroglyphs and architecture and relishing the peace.  We took a few pictures of the light streaming into Abydos making intense spotlights out of the ancient Egyptian sunlight.   I bought a tablecloth and a beach towel.   We ate a boxed lunch on the bus and admired the sunset on the way home.   It was a blissful day.  Little did we know of protests just up the Nile in Cairo where the next chapter in the long history of Egypt was just beginning to be written.

The group arrived back in Cairo the next day where we visited the Muhammad Ali Mosque at the Citadel and had a beautiful lunch in a formal garden overlooking the city.  There were some protests in Tahrir Square but protests are very common in Egypt, so I went on enjoying the families in the park and watched young Egyptian girls taking pictures of each other.   Even though their faces were covered they still enthusiastically snapped posed pictures just like my girls do and I smiled at the universal desires of youth.  We returned that evening to our hotel across the street from the Pyramids in Giza.

On the Thursday we went to Saqqara, the step pyramid, and climbed the wall to view the Bent Pyramid and the Red Pyramid in the vast desert beyond, reminding me how small I am.    It wasn’t until that night that we realized the protests were not typical.   Mary, our guide, and I were walking by a TV in the outdoor porch and we saw the reports complete with fire and tanks.  She said to me “This is serious.”  Having over 20 years of experience living and working in Egypt, Mary had never seen anything like it.   Late that night she awoke to the rumble of dozens of tanks taking their positions around the Pyramids, shutting down main roads and protecting the great symbols of Egypt.

On Friday January 28, the group was to go to the Cairo Museum and see the King Tut treasures, in downtown Cairo next to the now-famous Tahrir Square.  Needless to say the tour company cancelled that trip for, on that day, the protesters had plans to intensify the revolt after Friday prayers.   Not wanting to miss a day of sightseeing, the group asked the tour company to put together an alternative trip to Memphis and the Bent Pyramid.   Cell phone and internet service had been shut down by the government and we were without communication to the outside world.   Darrell and I decided to stay
back and enjoy the poolside view of the Pyramids since at this point we were tired of the bus and just wanted to relax.  I spent a happy day reading, napping and enjoying a drink in the shadow of the Great Pyramid.

Soon the protests had escalated to a full blown Revolution.  Our Great Pyramid and Sphinx tours were cancelled as well as the trip to Alexandria, where the protests were even more violent.   Confined to the hotel for an indefinite amount of time I turned to filling my days until my plane reservation allowed me to leave.   The mass exodus out of the country meant that the airport was in total chaos so I decided the best thing was to just wait until my British Air flight on February 2nd.   I watched the news, enjoyed the pool, visited with my friends and reassured my worried family but mostly I enjoyed the Pyramids.   I was getting to spend five uninterrupted days in the energy of the greatest monuments on earth while history was being made.    The Pyramids have witness thousands of years of history and hundreds of government changes and I was excited to witness this latest one together.

In the evenings, a small group of us would go to Mary’s room to visit and watch the news.   We would hang out on her balcony watching the tanks reposition for the evening curfew and soldiers guarded the streets.  We heard gun fire and saw the smoke of the burning buildings.   It is a spectacle to see a line of tanks starting up and moving along the road, the ground really does shake.   The contrast between the tanks on the street and the Pyramids right behind was a stunning.   Two different realities had collided.   I would look up and see the stars shining and Sirius sitting directly over the Pyramid.   I would look down and see the armed guards at the gate of the hotel and an infinite line of tanks.   I was watching two different dimensions at the same time and the same place.   Which reality was I going to chose?   My family and part of the group were understandably fearful; I saw the great privilege to be in Egypt for this experience.  It was definitely going to be a marker in the timeline of my life, solidifying even more my connection to Egypt.   I also became more connected to my dear friends traveling with me for we felt that we were called to be in Egypt for this experience.

I knew I was being called back to Egypt for that fateful trip but had a hard time justifying the expense of a third trip; I was waiting for a sign.   Just before the deadline for joining the tour I got my sign.  One morning I was having a nice breakfast with friends after which they gave me a calendar of three foot tall pictures of King Tut’s treasures, giant golden gods.   This calendar from Germany isn’t even sold in the US. An e-mail and a text later I had more signs.    I must to go back.  So this suburban mom went off to a government overthrow.  This epic 23 day journey is now a major chapter in my story.  Each day of the journey was an odyssey, for when you say to the gods “Take me” you never know where it will lead or what they have planned.

Devotion

IMG955367

I didn’t see it coming.   If you had told me what my last five years would bring I would have laughed.   I could never have imagined it.   But I think these experiences came from the one word that guides my life, Devotion.  It is devotion that motivates me and gives me courage and helps me through the tough times.  It is devotion that brings joy into my life as my effort brings rewards.

I’ve watched my neighbors’ devotion to their severely disabled daughter, finding joy in the toughest possible job.  Their courage in the face of never ending care displays devotion that few will ever experience.   That deep love keeps them going and doing the exhausting job required for her wellbeing.

I have had a devotion to the Path for many years and I had no idea what that devotion would bring to my life.   My devotion to parenting meant sleepless nights with sick babies, nightly violin practice for 13 years and holding tough boundaries with teenagers.   The rewards did come but only through dogged determination motivated by love.   It was never easy.

Spiritual life also requires devotion and determination.   It isn’t easy.   Experiences and challenges are in your path every step of the way.   There is no “add water and stir” spirituality that gives you much depth.   Instant gratification only brings an instant version, like instant food gives a dissatisfying version of the real thing. Instant gives a gratification of momentary hunger but not the real deep satisfaction and fulfillment of a home cooked meal.  The spiritual seeker has to do the work of gathering the food, chopping, cooking, serving and then cleaning to have a banquet of experiences and insights.  But the memories, fulfillment and growth that come from the effort is worth the sore back, and dirty dishes, the knowledge of a job well done and the gift the effort has given those who enjoyed the meal.

My devotion has taken me places I never could have dreamed or wished to go.   I could have never come up with multiple trips to Egypt and England or a journey to Peru.  That was out of my budget and vision.   But somehow it happen, it was part of what was on the path.  I also didn’t expect that dear friends would leave my life and dear new friends would enter my life.   My teacher Page has taught me “The path leads you, you don’t lead the path”.   So expect the unexpected and see where the devotion to spirit and family and friends takes you.   You will be as surprised as I have been the last five years.   You will be glad you made the effort that devotion requires for it brings satisfaction and peace from a job well done.

Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple

!cid_image0

On the West Bank of the Nile at Luxor, originally named Thebes, there stands a great temple at Deir al-Bahari. It is the mortuary temple of the only female pharaoh of ancient Egypt, Queen Hatshepsut who reigned for 22 years during the golden age of Egypt, the 18th Dynasty. During this dynasty Egypt was rebuilt and the religion and culture achieved its zenith.

On my first tour of Egypt, Hatshepsut’s temple was the first of ten temples we visited. The architecture of the temple has very different from any other in Egypt. It is built into a mountain with long and low inclining stairs leading to the different levels. At the very top is the Holy of Holies is set directly in the mountain. The entire temple and mountain resonate together like a tuning fork.

Having never visited an Egyptian temple before I slipped into full tourist mode to check out all the hieroglyphs and statues, taking pictures of everything. I went to see the Hathor chapel to the left and then the Chapel of Anubis to the right where there was still a lot of the original paint on the carvings giving me a glimpse of their former glory.
I went to walk up the stairs to the next level and I just stopped. I had seen stairs like this before, at Sacre Coeur in Paris and St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, where pilgrims seeking healing and penance would crawl up the stairs to the cathedral. It was all I could do to not drop to my knees, but not wanting to make a fool of myself or excite the tourist police, I walked slowly and deliberately up the middle of the stairs, and then up the last flight of stairs to the Sanctuary of the Sun and Holy of Holies. I was speechless; there were no words to describe this place. My friend Ron came up beside me and touched me on the back, I don’t know what he opened in me but my usually controlled façade cracked wide open. I could not stop sobbing. I never sob. I have no idea why I was sobbing. Something deep opened up at that holy site.

On the trips I took to Egypt most women in the group would have a similar emotional reaction to a temple. One friend came up to me in Isis’ temple and said “why am I crying”. She had no idea what brought on such powerful emotions. My roommate one year was over powered by the temple at Abydos. Something in those places releases long dormant memories and emotions for those who want to remember.

Hatshepsut’s temple will always be extra special to me because of the intense first visit. It was like the doors of my being were thrown wide open to remember what was lost when Egypt faded into time. Last year I discovered that the University of Tennessee’s McClung Museum has a piece from Hatshepsut’s temple, a connection across time and land, a beautifully decorated coffin of a priestess that was discovered on the temple grounds. This priestess was a chantress; she sang praises to the gods. Now her sarcophagus is in a foreign land, but somehow I feel she was sent here to provide a connection to Egypt to this place on earth to hold the energy of what we all need to remember.