A Rite of Passage
I have just arrived in the Sinai Desert, the place of my first spiritual awakening. I greet its spirit, an old friend, and express my delight at being in this hallowed place once again. Ten years ago I found a magical gateway into the world I had been searching for so long: a magical world of love, magic and meaning. I also found my guide through the Unknown: Sirius, the loyal Dog-Star who promised me I would never get lost again, as long as I kept my connection to the twinkling, rainbow star open and conscious.
On that first visit to the Sinai, I was living with a community of international travellers a few miles south of Nuweiba, a beautiful oasis on the shores of the tranquil, azure waters of the Gulf of Aqaba, about 100 miles south of Eilat. We lived in a village of ramshackle houses we had constructed ourselves from driftwood, cardboard and blankets. The weather was perfect: sunny and warm but not too hot, and, on average, only one day of rain per year!
I had been there for two or three months when we all decided to go on an adventure together. We asked a Bedouin friend to gather a number of camels and guide us through the desert. A large proportion of the community then made a 10-day journey together through the vibrant Sinai wastes on those exotic, inscrutable yet maddening beasts. On our intrepid adventure we visited magical places unseen by most tourists and had extraordinary experiences, supported by the solid yet flowing seas of multicolored shifting sands, and blessed by the diamond sun beaming benignly from the deep blue sky.
On that magical adventure our guide had introduced us to an awesome oasis called Ein Hudrah, which was located at the heart of the Sinai. It was much larger than I would have expected, an area covered with tall willowy palm trees, which rustled and danced gently in the breeze. We camped there for a couple of days and explored the area. A spring bubbled out of the hot, dry sands, flowed for a couple of hundred feet and then disappeared back into the thirsty sands without a murmur. The air was filled with the flitting and trilling of hundreds of small birds, and the flash of bobbing and flickering multi-colored insects. Butterflies loved the place, and I wondered if an oasis similar to this one was the original Garden of Eden.
While I was at Ein Hudrah I decided to return to the Sinai in the not-too-distant future and make a solitary walking pilgrimage through its outrageous, silent yet sentient beauty. I had overwintered there three times since that first visit yet it didn’t quite seem the right time: I knew without doubt this visit was the one I had waited for, for so long. After spending a few days in Nuweiba, resting from the rigors of my travels, I woke early and struck out across the white powdery sands towards a gateway in the mountains about ten miles inland. Distance in the desert morphs and tricks the eyes; I knew I had plenty of water with me and I was filled with growing excitement. By noon I had entered the mountains and followed a sandy valley towards my goal: Ein Fortiga, an oasis inhabited by the Bedouin since the beginnings of time.
There I rested, and put out the message that I wanted to hire a guide for 10 days. Soon, a young Bedouin appeared on his camel. He introduced himself as M’Salem and offered his services. The name M’Salem means peace in Arabic, and I knew that the right guide had come! He was surprised when I told him I wanted to start our journey at sunset. Most people like to set out early in the morning, but I guess I’m not like most people! I wanted to begin my magical adventure at night when the sky was filled with stars, for the night sky in the desert is a wonder to behold.
We completed our negotiations and walked towards his parent’s house. I spent an interesting afternoon resting, and being visited by M’Salem’s father, the local shaman, who kept on trying to persuade me to drink his piss. He told me it had magical powers, and would protect me from scorpions and snakes. I repeatedly, politely declined.
Finally sunset approached. We set off without fanfare, or crowds waving farewell. It felt very right to make no disturbance, and to melt gently away into the twilight shadows. M’Salem rode on his camel with my rucksack and food strapped to its back, while I walked beside him. When we left the mountains and entered the infinite desert expanses, the stars reached down, a continual dome of sparkling, rainbow needles of light, embracing us, spiritual travellers into the Unknown, and blessed us on our way.
On that first night I got a taste of the magic and synchronicities that would come my way. After an hour or so of walking, bathed in stardust, M’Salem asked me if I wanted to listen to some music. I was horrified. I had come to immerse myself into the natural peace of the Sinai… yet he was stubbornly persistent. He told me he had two cassettes with him, one of which was an Arabic song that I probably wouldn’t like. But the other one was music that would, he assured me, blow my mind. I surrendered.
Now I should mention at this point, that Pink Floyd is my favorite group and I even had a pin of the design on the Dark Side of the Moon sleeve on the hat I was wearing at the time. A rainbow emerging from a prism over a black background is a very powerful symbol for me that represents the magic and the treasures that appear when one looks or journeys through the darkness or the Unknown. I always carry a pin with this symbol with me to remind me that even when things seem dark and overwhelming, there are treasures and healing to be found.
When the music started I stopped in shock. The heartbeat that introduces the Dark Side of the Moon grew in volume and echoed off the rocks and landscape surrounding me. Enveloped by the stars and the warm breezes of the desert, I was in bliss.
This was one of the most wonderful adventures of my life. Somewhere along the way we entered Ein Hudrah, the large oasis I had so much wanted to visit again. We spent three days there. My spirit was fulfilled and filled again, and I reveled in the powerful beauty of this sacred space.
While there, I was fascinated by a large flock of crows that surfed the air currents on a mountain ridge that overlooked the oasis.
One morning I set out to explore this mountain, and climb ever upwards. I am filled with energy and life force. I arrive at the ridge where the crows are soaring, celebrating noisily, and walk across a narrow track flanked by steep downward slopes. I feel like a crow and join them awhile in their play. It is actually quite dangerous, for if I happen to slip or trip, there is nothing to halt my fall for quite a long distance. The playful air currents are fierce, tugging and pushing me mischievously, curious whether I will dare to complete my precipitous passage. The force is with me today, however, and I persist.
After my rocky tightrope walk, I enter a narrow gulley that curves upwards towards the top of the mountain. I am very aware of my surroundings. The rock beneath my feet is a dirty red-purple and it reminds me of the energy of Mordor. Although my rational brain knows that it is a bright and sunny day, the atmosphere is dense and poisonous and presses down upon me as if it is sentient, and wants to suffocate me.
It seems to me as if the rock and air are tarnished by the psychic pollution of the Earth. It feels as if the greed, ambition, fear and misuse of power that holds the world in its thrall is trying to smother my energy and prevent me from attaining my goal. It wants to feed on me. Despite these alarming realizations, I continue up the gulley, experiencing both anxiety and excitement, for I feel that something special is awaiting me.
As I round a bend, I stop. On either side of the small rocky valley is a still, silent guardian being. I recognize them immediately. They are Anubis and Wapwawet, the Egyptian jackal god and goddess, who are also called the Openers of the Ways. They are looking inwards towards one another, lying on their bellies yet fully alert, their front legs stretched out in front of them.
I was relieved to see them, as I had studied and worked with them for many years. I even possess a life-sized fiberglass sculpture of Anubis, whom I carry around with me. I introduce him as ‘my dog, Anubis’, to whomever I meet, which generates some interested, curious and somewhat alarmed looks from some people. The divine beings in front of me are sacred guardians, and the custodians of portals between different realities. The best known of these magical gateways is the threshold between life and death.
I wonder what I should do, and immediately receive the answer. I am carrying some smoky quartz crystals I had found in the Scottish mountains. I take them out of their container and choose the two best ones. I greet each guardian, and offer a crystal. My offerings are accepted, and, deferentially, I walk between the Guardians on my way to the top of the mountain. As I traverse the last bend before the top, a wonderful sight meets my eyes.
About a hundred yards in front of me is the top of the mountain. It is a gateway in the shape of two oxen horns, similar to the headdress of Hathor (the gentle Cow Goddess), or those seen on some of the heads of the Egyptian gods and goddesses and which encompass the sun disk. It is blindingly white, and its pointed tips are possibly twenty feet above the stony path.
Standing between them is a goddess in a white flowing dress. In one hand she carries a sword, and in the other a shiny red apple. I approach and greet her. Although she doesn’t speak aloud, I hear the words: “Congratulations. You have arrived after a long, long journey. What is earned is given. Do you wish to eat of the fruit of eternity?”
She offers me the apple by stretching out her hand. I take it. She gestures me to eat and I bite deeply into its sweet and crisp flesh. It is delicious and juicy. As I eat, the goddess slowly dissolves into the air and I approach the threshold. Taking a deep breath, I step through.
I realize at once that the heavy, oppressive atmosphere has completely gone, and understand I have entered a new world. I feel light and free. I am standing on a ledge looking down into the desert – but it is so different from whence I have just come! Golden sand, carpeting the space between shimmering silver mountains, directs its healing energies towards me. I am irradiated by the diamond sun at its zenith in a deep, deep blue, domed sky.
The air is alive: I can see sparkling energy in the vital atmosphere, called by various cultures prana, chi, life force, Orgone and Nwyfre. I sit down upon silver rocks impregnated by minerals that make them look as if they are filled with stars. I realize that in this hallowed space the stars have merged with the Earth. The Above has united with the Below. This is Heaven on Earth, exactly what I have been dreaming for lifetimes. All is One. I am so happy and grateful for my outrageous destiny, and my soul sings.
At the same time I am bereft, as I know I cannot fully enter this wonderful world quite yet. I am too afraid. I feel as if I need more skills, more energy, more confidence. I am not yet ready. I drink the view of the New World deeply into my soul, and imagine myself descending from the mountain into this new world. I imagine ecstasy filling my heart as I connect fully to my Spirit, free, empty, yet filled with the joy of Being. I imagine myself being born again, beginning a new, one-way journey through a world where Spirit and the Earth merge, united in Oneness.
This is my destiny.
But not yet.
I experience a deep, tearing grief. I also feel a deep sense of shame, of failure, of disempowerment. My fear has overpowered the yearning of my soul… once again.
What a bizarre state of affairs, being a human being. Freedom balanced with fear and obstruction. How can we bear it? How is it possible to make it through?
My attention is drawn by a cairn of rocks just inside the magical gateway. The stones are balancing on top of each other at crazy angles and I wonder how it can possibly continue to stand, especially when the winds blow fiercely. I take out my stash of smoky quartz crystals and choose a third one. I leave it carefully on top of the cairn. I know I cannot remain in this new world – yet.
The crystal I have placed will act as a beacon, and will help me find the gateway again when I am finally ready to walk through it on my one-way journey to real-ize my heart’s desire.
I return into the dirty red-purple world again. My senses are in a whirl. On one hand, I am overjoyed at having had this awesome experience. On the other, I am experiencing gut-wrenching grief for having to leave it. My heart is torn in two. Yet, I know I will be back. I know it is my destiny, and this cannot be stopped. I pray I will be able to return soon, for I yearn to be free and whole once again, an intrepid explorer and adventurer through the golden world of my dreams.
And so I returned back to my life, the school class that was slowly – much too slowly – preparing me to enter the magical gateway… permanently.
And so the years passed by… and dissolved behind me like a ship’s wake fading away into the oceans of life. The lessons came and went, the healing experiences were lived fully and then evaporated… and I forgot about the magical portal into the golden world…
Until the eve of my 60th birthday.
I was attending the Dowsers Conference at Lyndonville College in Vermont. I decided to attend a class on Lucid Dreaming. The teacher – a talented shaman called Michael Hathaway – took us on a journey, using his skills of hypno-shamanism. The intent of the journey was to contact our heart’s yearning, and to simply make it come true.
The energy is gathering. This surprises me, for the teacher doesn’t seem to be particularly special or noteworthy. In astonishment I gather my wits as Power enters the room. Everyone’s eyes are closed, and I can tell that most of the students are far away in the land of their dreams.
And then I am transported to the golden gateway at Ein Hudrah. This is completely unsuspected. Suddenly I realize that this is the time, and the place. There is no panic or alarm. It is more like a matter-of-fact thought: “Oh! So this is it!”
I find myself at the threshold of the gateway into the New World. This time there are no guardians or Goddess. It feels as though I had fulfilled the requirements of entry a long time ago and it has waited for me to return ever since. I walk through the portal onto the silver, starry ledge. No fuss.
I notice that my crystal is still balancing precariously on the cairn just inside the portal. I breathe in the energy of that special place, the portal that connects my dreams with physical reality.
I give thanks for the magical wonderland that is my life… then I continue walking down the steep slope of the mountain towards the golden sand that welcomes me as I get closer and ever closer.
And then I step onto the soft golden carpet, and walk along the pathway of my destiny. I am irradiated by the diamond sun in the deep, deep blue sky. I look back, and can see no magical gateway or Goddess.
They have dissolved: this time it is a one-way gateway. I am Here! And Now!
I turn forwards again and continue to walk. Where? The question is no longer valid. I trust, and know that there is no longer any destination…
For I have already arrived.
Tomorrow is my birthday, and my Eldering Ceremony.
I give thanks for my one and precious life. I give thanks to all the situations and people who have made my definitive journey possible. I wish all beings happiness and the fulfillment of their dreams.
P.S. After the Eldering Ceremony, and the Firework battle in honor of my Magical Child, the party-goers are preparing to leave. Suddenly, I freeze in disbelief. I watch spellbound as the biggest, brightest meteor I have ever seen sails slowly across the heavens from one horizon to the other, plunging to Earth through the trees to the West. I scream and scream again in ecstatic release. It is as if Sirius, my companion and guide for so long, has decided to join me at last, by plunging to Earth. The stars are merging with the Earth! Welcome, my friend.