Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Egypt Trip 2009

My Egypt trip came about in an amazing serendipitous way and it all started at BATS when a woman named Norma came up to me after the panel discussion on the last day of the conference and said, "I have something to tell you and you have something to tell me but I don't know what it is..." My response was," well let's figure it out" Turned out she needed to know something about cross-quarter-days and full moons for the labyrinth she was creating and she told me I needed to read The Egypt Code by Robert Bauval... My thoughts were “if I ever see this book sometime I hope I remember to pick it up,” frankly I doubted I would find it anytime soon.
Since my husband Peter had never been to San Francisco we made plans to take a ride with Ferol Humphrey and a woman named Darlene both women had been on my last trip to Egypt November 2007. By the time I had finished talking to Norma, Ferol and Darlene missed us and had left with Ruth Ann and Wald Amberstone to see Wald’s old haunts in Berkley. So Tracey Hoover, Peter and I decided to go walking, we ended up at Field's book because Tracey said she saw my MAAT deck and book there and she wanted to show me. So just 20 minutes after Norma had told me about Bauval's book there I was at Fields and the book was the first thing I saw. I purchased it right away. I looked through it that night and thought, “wow its pretty complicated,” and set it aside. A little over a month later I started reading it and really connected, I also realized this was the same guy who connected the three great pyramids of Giza to the stars in Orion’s belt way back in 1990’s. This idea really influenced my thinking about Orion and Osiris and later the Fool and Orion for the MAAT Tarot. Anyway part way through the book I had a bunch of questions and wondered if Robert was on Facebook. And he was!! And better still I could write him a message so I did. I introduced myself and told him about my work and asked him if he was ever going to be covering the Egyptian’s spiritual views about the moon as clearly the Egypt Code was singularly focused on alignments of Sirius, the Sun and other stars. I was surprised to hear back from him that very night and he responded that he would be doing an entire book on Egypt and the Moon in another book. I joined his fan club and left it there a few days later he friended me. Being Robert’s friend now I could see his posts and I was one of the first people to see his invitation for 10 guest/visitors to see the 8000 year old stone circle in Egypt’s western desert an ancient site with possible ties to Egypt’s pharonic culture...before I could think about it I responded asking about dates and prices. Thinking to myself “Can I do this?”. And also thinking what about Gina? As I scrolled down Robert’s page I noticed Gina Thies my roommate in Egypt also friended him that day. My first thoughts were, you’re going and so is Gina. In the end we were both picked to go but it wasn’t as easy as that. There were many pitfalls before the trip took place and much to consider before the trip was settled we would all have to face our own shadows.

When the dates were announced I was struck that we would be there during the holiday of Easter in fact we were there for both Christian Easter and Coptic Easter the week later we were also there for the Egyptian holiday of Sham El Nessim “The Spring Day” meaning smelling the breeze which falls on the first Monday after Coptic Easter. Sham El Nessim is an agricultural holiday that dates from about 4500 years ago. Sham El Nessim is celebrated by eating special salted fish and colored boiled eggs, green onions, green lettuce, Lupine beans and grey mullet a meal with ancient pharonic roots and symbolism of new life. To add to the mix in 2009 Passover begins at sundown on Wednesday April 8 and ends at nightfall on Thursday April 16 in the Diaspora (Wednesday April 15 in Israel).

For me personally it marked the 28th year since my vision of the girl on the cliff at Hatshepsut’s Temple. This was clearly a Saturn return for my vision. I wondered what it would mean to be back in Egypt again at this time and was only slightly disappointed that the trip would only be a desert tour. But having seen the Nile and the other temples I was content to just be in the country on this anniversary and that would have to be good enough.

For those of you who have never heard about the day I woke up at Dier El Bahari this is what happened, the experience changed my life, it changed my reality, my world view and the way I look at time and space.

Late March in 1981 during an emotionally dark point in my life I was gifted with what I would view now as a shamanic experience and one of the biggest reasons I felt that 'someday' I would need to go to Egypt.

I was home from UW-Whitewater staying at my mom and dad's house for Easter break, sleeping on the couch, I had the most tremendous astral journey. Some time in the night I woke up but instead of being in the living room where I had fallen asleep I was lying on a woven linen mattress seated upon a stone slab. I stood up and saw white curtains billowing between 2 or possibly 3 pillars. I looked beyond the curtains and saw water that seemed to go on forever. To my left was complete darkness. To my right I saw brilliant red cliffs against the most beautiful bright red sky, and below on the shore, there was a three-tiered temple with flickering torch lights inside. Between the cliff and the temple there were thick bushes growing. The cliffs behind me were green and lush with ferns and delicate plants of all types I could see their roots co-mingled with stones, and there were square white buildings nestled into the vegetation up above from where I was. There were also stone stairs to my right that led down to a sandy beach below where the Temple was.

I thought to myself, "Where the hell am I?" I was thinking with my own mind, and thought perhaps it was the Mediterranean Sea, Greece or Italy based on the small white buildings behind me. And even though in my mind I was Julie when I looked down at my body, it was not in my body. I was shorter and smaller in stature and my hair was black and wavy really long, trailing past my knees, my skin was a beautiful light brown. In the distance I could see lightning flashing in the south and I could hear the low rumble of thunder. There was a large black cat with a small head accompanying me. The cat jumped up in my arms, I crossed my arms around the cat’s body and flew out over the water. When suddenly, I was back on my mother's couch, a black cat was sitting on my chest meowing loudly and I was completely paralyzed and I realized I couldn't speak. The sound and the flashing light from the thunderstorm was all around me. Then I seemed to 'wake up' again, and the cat was gone, and I could move, but the thunderstorm was still clashing fiercely outside.

The very next day while still at my mom's house I was paging through old encyclopedias because there was nothing else to do. Suddenly in one of the books there it was!... the Temple from my dream it was in ruins, the uppermost tier was without a ceiling and vegetation was all gone but it was very recognizable, it was unmistakably Hatshepsut's temple in Egypt, a necropolis (City of the Dead) on the west bank of the Nile across the river from the city of Luxor (ancient Thebes). The temple is situated just east of the Valley of Kings separated by the cliffs that are actually a beautiful golden color. It took me ten years to find out any information as to whether there actually were actually cliffs to the north of this temple… the cliff that had been my vantage point… or if the Nile had ever risen that close to the temple in the past.
Since that vision Hatchepsut's temple has been the subject of many of my paintings, the Star picture in the Blue Moon, in the Ten of Staves in the Ancestral Path, and in the Two of Wands as well the most resent painting which I did just before this trip came up. This was the most intense astral journey I had ever experienced. The memory is still so strong and so powerful.

What I have discovered about Hatshepsut since my vision?

Hatshepsut was the only female “pharaoh”. Her name had been scratched out sometime after her death and all the evidence of her reign was deposited in one location. I have been following the archaeological finds about her. My main question at twenty-two, since I was divorced, and raising a child alone was "Why is there so much prejudice against women?" I struggled with how hard it was to be a woman raising a child alone back in 1981. I found that after Hatshepsut laws were created so that women could never be pharaohs, women could never be kings, and women could never be priests. I really think that Hatshepsut may have been the pharaoh from the Bible story who released the Hebrews. Her stepson, who she took power from, was about nine years old when he was supposed to be king. Her husband Thut'moses' II, who had been appointed by her father Thut'moses' I, was a weak ruler, so she had the responsibility of running the country during his lifetime. Her stepson Thut'moses' III, was the son of her husband’s consort, was supposed to take her place. Even though the dating by Biblical scholars doesn't correlate, there are some archaeological studies that name her as the pharaoh from the story of Moses. According to the story after the Hebrews had been set free Moses led them to the “promised land” but here is a thought, promised by who? Hatshepsut had the power to promise him lower Egypt and since pharaoh was considered a ‘god-king’ there is plenty of room for error as far as translating what god promised lower Egypt to “Moses”. In the biblical story Moses also disappears from the story after his people reach the ‘promised land’ and doesn’t stay with his people. No one knew until recently what happened to Hatshepsut; Her death was not recorded. We know that Thutmoses took over and stayed in power for about forty years. He also suddenly removed Hatshepsut from the public record some years after he was in power, and her temple at by the cliff was destroyed within 100 years after it was built laid to ruin until it was rediscovered in the late 19th century and reconstruction has been on going since around the 1950’s.

During my first short visit to Hatshepsut’s Temple our guide announced casually that the daughter of Hatshepsut was buried up on the cliff where my vision originated. I felt certain that this was the girl whose body I had occupied.
I nearly came out of my skin with excitement. With more research I was able to find that her name was Neferure and she served as “god’s wife” for her pharaoh mother. That Thutmoses III was supposed to marry her to legitimize his claim to the throne because he was not born from a queen but from a lesser wife of Hatshepsut’s brother/husband Thutmoses II. There were also some amazing environmental upheavals during this time that could have thrown a shadow on the reign of Hatshepsut, things that were beyond the control of this otherwise successful pharaoh. There is now evidence of ash from the eruption of the island of Thera (Santorini, Greece) during this time. The catastrophic effects of this volcanic eruption would have thrown dust and ash into the atmosphere blocking out the sun causing the red sky from my vision and inducing thunderstorms as well as tidal waves causing the Nile to flood with sea water and could easily account for the plagues of Egypt. Since the pharaoh was responsible for maat (universal balance and order) poor Hatshepsut was to blame. Neferure who would have been pharaoh’s first born died young she may or may not have ever been married to Thutmoses III there is not a lot written about her life.
For many years I thought this girl had something to tell me. In a recent reading by Nancy Antenucci I was told that Neferure is looking to me to find her story. This may or may not be true but it would seem that the story does seem to have started to bleed through. My questions have only increased as time goes by.

Since my out-of-body experience happened at Easter and Passover, so that suggests to me there is a correlation. This was a wild time travel journey and nothing similar has ever happened to me again. It makes me think there is so much more to this universe than I could possibly understand. Was it the timing of the holiday weekend? Was it my question? Was it the power of the thunderstorm? Were the ions just right? While visiting Abydos temple just a short distance from Dier el Bahari we were shown hieroglyphs of what looks unmistakably like modern modes of transportation, a helicopter, a jet, a tank and a possible submarine are carved into a stone beam high up near the ceiling at Abydos. This makes me wonder what the ancient Egyptians had tapped into. It is apparent that the temples of stone resonate and hold energy, the obelisks carved of singular pieces of stone hum like tuning forks when struck. What did the Egyptians know that we have forgotten?
As the deadline for the down payment neared Gina was wavering on going, she was in the process of buying a new house and overwhelmed. She sent in her money on the last day of the deadline and then when it seemed as if everything was settled she backed out. She had gotten a reading from her friend and mentor Beatrice who told her to wait for the better trip, that she would not enjoy this trip in the desert. Suddenly I was back to going on the desert trip alone. At first I was panicked but then remembered I signed on way before knowing Gina would go and settled into the idea shortly after. Booked all my flights and hotel rooms for my return.
So here I was about to go back to Egypt for a tour of the western desert or so I thought…when the Saturday before we left the whole itinerary changed suddenly as if by magic…

I was out at Bullthistle Farm for shearing day when the phone call arrived from Robert Bauval that the permits for seeing the cave paintings at Gilf Kabir had been denied and because of this he would now be adding Abu Simbel, Philae, Aswan and a cruise to Luxor to the trip. My head was swimming with excitement. I knew that if Gina knew the trip had changed she would now want to go. And so it was, in one single day Gina managed to coordinate and book her flights to come along we were going on a whirlwind trip back to Egypt together and Luxor was on the table as well.

The timing and the itinerary are still mulling over in my mind by the time it was over not only would we have stood before the only living statue of Sekemet again but we would journey through the eastern desert to the Red Sea before heading back to Cairo and we would also be seeing Alexandria as well.

I picked a card for each day’s journey and in 3 to 6 months I will review these picks again for more insights since when dealing with spirit and trying to understand one must blur your eyes and view the negative space as well as the objects before you to really see what is being presented.

Day One
Monday April 6th, 2009
Card of the Day
After a nervous day and threats of a snowstorm the weather parted like the Red Sea my flight though delayed for 3o minutes left without a hitch. However the weather that missed me had Gina stuck in Chicago and she missed the Egypt Air flight by 45 minutes. For whatever reason we were meant to journey separately to Cairo. I spent my 10.5 hours to Cairo with 3 seats to myself reading and thinking and trying to sleep. Gina would reschedule for the same flight the next day and arrive on Wednesday instead of Tuesday.

Day Two
Tuesday April 7th, 2009
Card of the day
No entry
I arrived at the Cairo airport a young man named Mohamad stood there waiting with my name on printed on a card he whisked me through customs and boarded me into a private luxury van that brought me to the Cataract Hotel. I got checked in and joined Robert by the pool where we chatted with a man who was from England he had brought his young son to Egypt and Rome for his birthday because the boy was obsessed with all things Egyptian and Roman. To look at their faces I could see they were both revisiting…past lives.
I also was introduced to Joanne Cunningham a New Zealander who had been living in Cairo for 5 years and worked as a graphic artist for the UN she was old friends with Robert and would be his guest on this trip.

Day Three
Wednesday April 8th, 2009
Jewish Passover begins at sundown
Card of the Day
No entry
Gina arrived around noon after a morning of watching Pallo Productions filming Robert at the Sun Temple for a documentary about his next book Black Genesis. After Gina was fed and settled our 8 fellow travelers loaded into the 2 4x4 vans with the desert expedition guides from called Red Sea. The group consisted of a married couple from Palermo Maria and Nicholi, Joanne and Robert, Gina and myself and the Italian filmmakers Johnny and Antony who would later be affectionately known to Gina and I as the Roman Guard.

Day Four
Thursday April 9th, 2009
Christian Holy Thursday
Card of the Day
The Fool
Full moon in Libra this was our first day of seeing the oasis at Bahariya Robert
brought us to see the water and then we drove to a high cliff where an English major built a stone house of slate overlooking a Roman tomb we spent the day on the road driving through the Black desert and then the White Desert where we were served a lunch of Egyptian fare on woven rugs. By sunset we found ourselves in the Sahara. The guides helped us set up our tents cooked us dinner and we watched as the full moon rise orange and full over what looked like a wall to wall carpet of sand nearly the color of golden cornmeal… perfect tiny pebbles of golden rock. We were visited by desert mice and saw fox scat but didn’t see any fox. This was by far the most beautiful place I had ever seen, so pure and so perfect the air was light and dry and pleasant.

Day Five
Friday April 10th, 2009
Christian Good Friday
Card of the Day
The Chariot
We woke to the sun rising in the Sahara the sea of sand. The sun rose where the moon had risen the night before. We had breakfast served and broke camp. Our first stop was a Ptolemy Temple outside of Bagawat. Where we had clouds and a rare sprinkle of rain. Our next stop was an 11th century Moslem City Bagawat. The city was now empty and served as a sort of museum. I took lots of pictures of this ancient place. Our next stop was the oldest Christian necropolis. I thought it was very ironic to be here on Good Friday. We set up camp in a nondescript desert site and we were served dinner again chicken and potatoes, soup and various Egyptian salads.

Day Six
Saturday April 11th, 2009
Christian Holy Saturday
Card of the Day
7 of Cups
As we broke camp had breakfast of eggs and crepes, fruit, cheeses and jam. Then drove through to the old caravan trails we stopped so the filmmakers could shoot some footage and when we were done. Robert pointed out the red and yellow ochre pigments found just below the surface of the ground. It was easy to find it where the tires of the 4x4’s made their tracks. I scooped up two plastic bags full of the pigment and cried a little realizing this was a gift from Manitou who wanted to give Peter back his pigments. Peter had emptied his ochre supplies at Manitou’s grave the week before. This was the place of death as there were literally hundreds of ancient camel skeletons littered all around us. I also had to be quick about collecting the ochre as it was not long before I could hear it was time to load into the 4x4’s and go.

That eventing as the sun began to set we got to see the oldest stone circle in the world with alignments to Sirius and the Summer Solstice at Napta Playa. The Black culture that lived here left suddenly leaving behind their grinding stones and their stone circles. Not far from this 8000 year old site we saw the ruins of ancient Roman outposts and giant round stones that no one seems to understand.

Day Seven
Sunday April 12th, 2009
Christian Easter Sunday
Card of the Day
8 of Swords
We were the first to arrive at Abu Simbel that morning. It was just Gina, Robert and myself. Robert suggested that we not look at the temple until he told us so we could get the full impact of just how grand it is. We walked down the stone walkway and though it was tempting to look we did wait the monument was awesome tall and imposing. Robert told us the story about the guy who found it and that some local people tipped him off that there was a temple there.

Day Eight
Monday April 13th, 2009
Card of the Day
Prince of Wands
In the morning we went to the Temple of Isis at Philae ( built 200BC and closed 514AD when it was turned into a church)
I was disappointed that I did not get the shot of the view looking west from where the island used to be before it was moved…So near and yet so far. The boat drivers are not allowed over there by police orders.
I did get a photograph of the hieroglyph of the Nile that I used in my MAAT book, this may eventually become a painting.
Later we visited the island of Elephantine stood in the ruins of the Jewish settlement where Jesus was supposed to have lived when he was in Egypt. This island is no bigger than a few city blocks Egyptian and Jewish cultures blend. This place was a potter’s colony there are layers and layers of pottery shards. There is a temple to the Egyptian moon god Khnum who created people on a potter’s wheel just a stones throw from the synagogue where the Hebrew god formed Adam Lilith and Eve out of dust.

Day Nine
Tuesday April 14th, 2009
Card of the Day
King of Wands
Leisurely day didn’t go to the Nubian Village and swam in the pool, got some sun, rested, read, and attended a lecture on star alignments and temples.

Day Ten
Wednesday April 15th, 2009
Card of the Day
King of Cups
We had another unusual Wisconsin sky today. I was up early much to Gina’s dismay I went to the upper deck to watch as we sailed on to Luxor. I saw shores filled with palm trees and distant dry hills to the east and to the west.

Day Eleven
Thursday April 16th, 2009
Coptic Holy Thurday ( 2009 Jewish Passover ends)
Card of the Day
10 of Wands
We finally arrived in Luxor this morning we went to the temple of Rameses III
we got pictures of parts of the temple we missed before.
Then we went to Hatshepsuts’s temple the temple site has gone through many improvements including a new entrance building. New tombs on the walk in seemed to be recently excavated. We noticed many more lion and snake symbols than we saw the last time we were here and I took more shots that will lend themselves well to painting.
Later after the heat of the day had passed Gina and I went with the guide to Karnak Temple by the time we got there the ticket booth had closed I thought we would miss out on going in. The guide told us to wait by the avenue of sphinx and I took a bunch of good pictures thinking I would be satisfied with the shots I got this time. We both decided that if Sekhemet wanted to see us she would and we would just let it be whatever it was going to be. Low and behold after a few phone calls we were allowed in. Gina and I went looking for the red chapel but didn’t find it. There was a little old man who showed us some special walls that were in really good shape. And then we told him we wanted to go see Sekhemet at the temple of Ptah. He took us there and they unlocked the door for us. We went in and it was as always a powerful moment out of the darkness you see the eyes of Sekhemet and they seem to glow in a soft blue green. The little old man began to weep openly and it brought us all to tears. We stood before her and I thanked her for seeing us again and for other things as well. I felt the journey was complete at this point and whatever else happened would be more than I expected.

Day Twelve
Friday April 17th, 2009
Coptic Good Friday
Card of the Day
9 of Cups
We traveled by van from Luxor to Cairo via the eastern desert following the footsteps of the Exodus. But before we left we went to Dendera and got some great shots of the temple of Hathor which has got some of the best preserved paint that I have ever seen.
The day was long we journeyed from 5AM until 10PM stopping at the Red Sea for lunch and to put our toes in the water. The water of the Red Sea is perfectly clear and clean and is the most beautiful blue green.

Day Thirteen
Saturday April 18th, 2009
Coptic Holy Saturday
Card of the Day
6 of Coins
We were up early to go to Sakara and Giza stopped at a friend of Robert’s an old man who used to be a guard at the Sakara pyramid complex. The filmmakers were trying to get in to shoot the pyramid complex. We got a close up of the reality of life in Egypt. The man and his wife and 10 children lived in a brightly colored house in close proximity was a cow and a goat with 2 babies, there were 2 dogs and 3 puppies running around. The wife was not too happy about the camera filming her. There was a teenage girl who served us tea and a little boy who spoke pretty good English. Johnny Pallo the film producer asked me if I noticed the bruise on the oldest daughter’s face. I hadn’t but from what Joanne had been telling me earlier the women of Egypt have really got it tough.

When we got back for lunch I was just in time to meet up with Gina and Emil Shaker our tour guide from my first trip to Egypt. He took us to see Mohamad Nassmy at Quest Travels and we had a good time catching up. Then Emil treated us to a fabulous lunch and a trip to old Cairo were we visited the oldest Christian church that had special healing water running through it in small canals, then we went to the oldest shops in Cairo that were once the shops of all the Jews. We got back to the hotel just around sunset. Upon returning to the hotel we decided to hire a van and go see Alexandria just 2.5 hours away.

Day Fourteen
Sunday April 19th, 2009
Coptic Easter
Card of the Day
6 of Swords
The Quest Travel van arrived at 7AM sharp and we were on our way to Alexandria. We arrived a couple hours later and stopped at the Alexandrian Museum first it was surprisingly small in my opinion but it had some pretty amazing mosaics. This made me think back to the reoccurring dreams I had about a mosaic floor with two dolphins just off the coast of the delta to the east of Alexandria. The city itself had touches of mosaic something that was not in other parts of Egypt. After the museum we had the driver take us to the Theatre of Alexandria Gina and I took turns standing at the sweet spot and hearing the effect of the perfect acoustics it was amazing how the size of the theatre seemed to be reduced almost as if by magic. The stage still showed places there were still mosaic tiles on the floors. The full city block also had remnants of the old city around it.
After the theatre Gina and I were hungry and we did the unthinkable and ate at McDonalds…yes I broke my 30 year record but somehow I think I needed the American food just to ground myself in 2009.
The last thing we did was visit the harbor our driver dropped us off in front of the little shops and we walked watching the blue water crash up on the shore, again the water was the most beautiful blue. After a quick cruise past the new library our driver bought us an Egyptian ice-cream and drove us back to the hotel.

Day Fifteen
Monday April 20th, 2009
Sham El Nessim (pharonic agricultural holiday of new life and new beginning)
Card of the Day
Princess of Swords
The last day in Egypt the driver picked us up at 6AM for our 9:15AM Egypt Air flight back to JFK. We stopped for coffee and something quick to eat and then headed off to our gate. The 11 hour flight back seemed to go fairly fast there was a lot to process and I was ready to go home…

Day Sixteen
Tuesday April 21st, 2009
Card of the Day
High Priestess
Gina and I parted ways and I took the early shuttle to LaGuardia to catch my Midwest flight back to Milwaukee. The 2-hour flight seemed like nothing and I could see Peter’s smiling face waiting at the end of the ramp a chai latte in hand.
It was good to be home again…

Post Script-
Friday April 24th, 2009
I received an email from Tracey Hoover she sent me the information that Friday’s… on this day in history…Thutmoses III is crowned the 6th pharaoh of the 18th dynasty on this day in 1479 BC
She read about this just before she found and read this blog post…the serendipity continues.