Hail Columbia

reflectin pool

I think I will call 2013 the year of Moving.    I’ve moved houses, I’ve moved children, and I’ve traveled for six weeks.  I need to just sit for a little while. The latest children moving included a two week odyssey trip in the old green van to move Alexandra into a dorm in NYC for a semester.   Seems like an extreme amount of time for an 11 hour drive but my daughters and I decided while we are headed north we should see everything on the way.

After some beach time with cousins in New Jersey we back tracked to Washington DC.  Although we had stopped there briefly in the past we had a bigger agenda and so took my cousin up on her offer to stay in her townhouse within sight of the Capital Dome.

I always thought that Washington was a truly beautiful city and the good weather and deep blue skies made the white buildings and monuments even more stunning.   Together or separately we visited nine museums and several monuments in three days.

Always in search of the sacred I was on the lookout for things that give me extra joy.  I love Julia Child’s kitchen and the locomotive my Uncle once drove now on exhibit in the American History Museum.   The National Gallery of Art has a special exhibit of costumes and film clips of Ballet Russe.    The Library of Congress has Thomas Jefferson’s library and a stunning mosaic of Minerva (Athena) goddess of Wisdom.

The last day we split up so that everyone could spend time with their favorites.   Caroline went to the new NPR headquarters, Alexandra biked around the monuments and I went to the Freer museum to see the Asia art.   I wanted to spend time with the Buddha.   This little gem of a museum is tucked away from the larger crowds and was the perfect place of some peace.   I quietly wandered by myself taking in the exquisite beauty of a culture whose art is devoted to higher consciousness.  I spent a long time in a room full of Bodhisattvas, beings who come back to Earth after Enlightenment just to help others.   With no one else in the room I could take in their tranquility and love.

The last place I visited was the new Native American museum; I didn’t have much time so I spent it learning about the Universe through the eyes of different native cultures; the stories, the art, the ceremonies that helped make sense of human origins.    In the giant lobby is a prism that casts rainbows on the floor.   The children took great delight in standing on magical light.

I easily ignored the current politics of Washington DC and only focused on the Smithsonians which documents the truly amazing things humans have accomplished in art, music, architecture, innovations, ideas and experiences.   I also honored the sacrifices of so many at the monuments.   It is a city full of great temples, wisdom and beauty.  Now if our leaders could put aside their egos and remember.

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Bodhisattva

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Athena

Athena

As much as I like to travel the world to experience sacred sites, one of my favorite sites is actually in my home town Nashville Tennessee. Yes, Nashville! The city devoted to Country Music, the “Buckle of the Bible Belt”, has the largest indoor statue in the world, Athena, Goddess of Wisdom.

In 1897, Tennessee held a large exhibition to celebrate 100 years as a state. An exact replica of the Parthenon in Athens Greece, as well as a Pyramid, was part of this elaborate celebration in downtown Nashville. The Parthenon was later rebuilt in aggregate (a concrete and pebble mixture) and is the only remaining part of that exhibition, located in a beautiful park complete with pond, train, and fighter plane.

The original Parthenon, dedicated to the patron goddess Athena, sits on the Acropolis high over Athens, and is the most important surviving building of Ancient Greece. It is aligned to Hyades in the constellation Taurus. The Temple of Athena is a perfect example of architecture using sacred geometry and the Golden Ratio. The exterior columns slightly angle in and when that line is followed meet a mile in the sky directly over the temple. The Nashville Parthenon may not be the original but as an exact replica the sacred geometry of the temple brings you into the same harmonic resonance with the Divine as the original.

The Parthenon in Athens had an ivory and gold statue of Athena and now Nashville has a gilded reproduction of that same statue. Athena is 42 feet tall and has her shield and sword on her left and in her right hand holds a 6 foot tall statue of Nike who is dwarfed by the giant goddess.

I went to the Parthenon many times when I lived in Nashville. My parents would take me to see art shows in the then dank basement and hear concerts in the nearby outdoor amphitheater There was no goddess at that time, Athena was recreated in the late 90’s and gilded a few years later. Now when I’m in Nashville I always go to see her, I love to just stand in front of her and ask for wisdom and guidance. Her blue eyes and calm but determined look give her regalness and her golden robes, crown and shield make her glow.

I was in Nashville just this last week visiting my daughter who is in college at Belmont University just a mile away from the Parthenon. While she was in class, I went and got a cup of coffee and then went to see my Goddess. Being a winter, weekday morning, there were no other visitors and I had time alone in the Temple of Athena. I just sat on a bench and enjoyed the silence and Athena, then walked around the exterior columns.

As a young girl in Nashville, I never felt I fit into the culture of my conservative Christian schools. The visits to the Parthenon and the concerts I attended at the War Memorial Auditorium, a temple like complex with a statue of the god Mars, are some of my happiest memories. Now I see that the seeds of my future were being planted, I was being raised in the great Temples of Nashville.

Parthenon

Reasons to Visit Sacred Sites #5

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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”.

Reasons to Visit Sacred Sites #4

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4: Sacred sites are designed for use at equinoxes and solstices and specific dates. They are used to maximize the energies of these times.

Stonehenge still holds many mysteries but we do know the astronomical alignments of this great sacred site. The stones of Stonehenge were set for an exact alignment of the winter and summer solstice sunrises. When the sun rises on the solstice, not only is there an alignment the indicated end of the solar year but also this alignment and rays of the sun activated the site to a higher level of energy.

Chichen Itza Mexico has interesting phenomena on the spring and fall equinoxes. On the afternoon of those days the sun cast a shadow down the side of the pyramid that resembles an undulating snake. A link to the great god Quetzalcoatl? This is only during that particular alignment and not other days.

The temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt is aligned so the sun on Oct 21 and Feb 21, dates that correspond with the Pharaoh’s birthday and coronation, shines through this long temple (over 70 feet) and illuminates the two of the three gods in the Holy of Holies. The god of the underworld, Ptah, is positioned so that he doesn’t get illuminated. How did they ever calculate that? When the temple was moved up the hill before Lake Nasser was flooded in the 1960’s the engineers worked to keep this same alignment.

At the Great Serpent Mound, a 1348 foot long effigy mound in southern Ohio, the head of the serpent is aligned to the summer solstice and the coils of the body point to the solstice and equinox sunrises and sunsets as well as lunar alignments. The tail is aligned to true North.

The knowledge of these stellar, solar and lunar alignments not only act as a calendar but bring powerful energy from the sun, moon or stars allowing the power and wisdom of these alignments more accessible. Like being under a spot light where the heat and light are powerful but move just a few feet and there is just a light on the floor.

Now it is December 2012 and our entire Earth in a special alignment. Not only are we at the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year, but our sun rises in the great rift of the Milky Way galaxy. This cosmic alignment that happens only 26.000 years, gives us more access to the power and light of the great central sun of our galaxy.

Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple

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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.