S: Magical Egypt February, 2011
BC: THE SCARAB: SACRED SYMBOL OF TRANSFORMATION, AND A FOND MEMORY OF EGYPT -- ANCIENT, RICH, MYSTERIOUS, WITH MEANING AND MESSAGES FOR OUR MODERN WORLD.
FC: Magical Egypt
1: We arrived in Cairo just as the peaceful Egyptian revolution was ramping up! We were smuggled out of the airport to overnight safety at the Cairo Hilton, then swooshed over the next morning to our home in Cairo, the Mena House Hotel, at the foot of the Giza pyramids.
2: We had a day of local events: a visit, from afar, to the Sphinx, with pyramid backdrop, then to perfume, papyrus and jewelry stores. Saw my first scarab! | Waiting to see whether we could stay, we didn't know whether this might be our last day or chance to take picture of a scarab, a mummy's head, the Anubis dog... It wasn't!
3: Still biding out time, we were invited home to Mohamed's place (our Quest tour guide), for an Egyptian specialty, Koshary, and enjoyed the view over to our Mena Hotel, guarded by tanks, and brightly festooned with flags of all nations!
4: Below see the deserted Ring Road at 6 am, when we made our curfew-breaking departure, greeting those who were camped out over night taking care of their neighborhoods and families. See the wall-to-wall Cairo airport, and then our view to the West Bank of the Nile, as we breakfasted at our Hotel Sonesta St. George in Luxor!
5: Private visit to the Luxor Temple, Schwaller de Lubiz's Temple of Man, at night -- the Avenue of Sphinxes, the relief showing the uniting of Upper and Lower Eqypt. | West bank of the Nile and the Temple of Hatshepsut, the only female Pharaoh, and restoration of a Horus statue. Twilight at the fallen Ramses II statue, which was the inspiration for Shelley's poem, Ozymandias.
6: Karnak Temple at dawn -- 4:30 wake up call! Again, we have it all to ourselves. The Temple of 'Organic Creation', huge hypo-style hall with 63 columns -- invokes a palpably energetic papyrus rain forest! Meditation with Sekhmet, generative Goddess of healing. Caught a glimpse of the magical Hoopoe and enjoyed full sunlight as we returned for breakfast on deck.
7: Our home on the Nile, Mohamed's Afandina, where we enjoyed delectable meals, glorious sunsets. Our illustrious leader, John, whose information on Symbolist Egypt was inexhaustible and fascinating. | We discussed the Lost Civilization Theory, which suggests that the culture of ancient Egypt is a legacy, not a development out of a primitive hunter-gatherer culture.
8: Staff on our floating home delighted us daily in our cabins and at meals with extraordinary creations, using whatever they found around. Each day was a new surprise, as you can see!
9: We passed the locks of Esna at night, sailed under bridges with papyrus flowers, took an exciting buggy ride to Edfu, the Temple of Horus -- avenger of Osiris' murder at the hands of Seth. Horus is Spirit becoming Matter, force for light and transformation. | One of my favorite symbols was the Ankh, representing eternal life. The relief with the hand holding it touched me.
10: The Ptolemaic temple of Kom Ombo is a dual structure to both the mature Horus, (return to Source, the yang, life and light), and to Sobek, (the yang, dark, death). Both can be seen as sources of healing and transformation. See the symbols of midwifery, birth-giving, and medical healing. Then on to Aswan.
11: Early morning bus tour, south almost to Sudan, through the Sahara desert to the stunning Abu Simbel, to Ramses II, which was relocated when the High Dam was built. The dam created Lake Nassar, in which crocodiles are farmed. We saw none, but the lake was a most beautiful blue! | There is also a temple to Ramses' queen, Nefertari. A high point for me was seeing the Pharaoh between, and integrating, the light and the dark energies of Horus and Seth. .
12: Temple of Philae, dedicated to Isis, energy of divine love: spacious, feminine, connecting heaven and earth. | Nubian musicians carved wooden camels and made lovely jewelery from their bones. | On the ferry Nubian jewelry was sold by a childhood friend of our Egyptian guide, Sohaila. | Hathor, goddess of fertility, hearth.
13: The fertility along the Nile was impressive -- 60 kinds of date palms. Lush fresh produce on carts in the city, and on our tables. | Our 'animateur' Sohaila, so knowledgable and dedicated. We dressed for our last dinner and dance on the Afandina before flying back to Cairo and to 'our' Mena House.
14: We were the first visitors to the Sphinx and the Giza Plateau after the uprising. The water weathering of the Sphinx indicates it may be much older than generally thought. | The Cheops Solar Bark was used in life, and then for the transition journey. Mohamed and Antiquities Minister greeting us :-) Making history together!
16: At Saqqara, the necropolis near Cairo, we got special treatment: the MerRuke tomb opened just for us, replete with a mummy! Perfectly preserved texts and reliefs show the intermingling of the sacred and profane in daily life. The Saqqara architect is Imenhotep, but the city could have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it is so clean and modern in appearance! :
17: How were the pyramids built? Ropes and ramps? Lost hard technologies? Unknown soft technologies? Aliens? The precision and magnitude of the laying of the stones, and designs of the structures leave many questions open.
18: Lunch of kabobs at a local spot with stone-oven pita bread! | Hand made! | Dahshur, the intentionally Bent Pyramid! Reliefs indicate the presence of gender equality in ancient Egypt, as do records.
19: Final day. Chanting, meditation together in the Great Pyramid. Unforgettable. Deeply moving. | Good bye to good friends, the Afandina, our welcoming Mena House with such special service and meals, and the beautiful rainbow over Cairo. | Mubarak stepped down during our Farewell Dinner!