The Great Pyramid of Giza was one of the ancient wonders of the world and even most travelers today would not consider a trip to Egypt complete without seeing the pyramids.
But for some tourists, the pyramids and other sites are much more than stops on a sightseeing itinerary. These visitors view Egypt as an ancient sacred homeland and they come hoping for a spiritual transformation.
Numerous specialized tours cater to these seekers. June Schatilly, 82, of Saginaw, Michigan, signed up for a spiritual tour earlier this year despite the discouragement of her family. She was drawn to Egypt, she said, after having several visions of herself in a past life there. After a two-week excursion, Schatilly said she feels renewed.
?? 82, but I? a kid again,?Schatilly said. ?verything might be the same thing, but I? going to be experiencing it in a different manner.?br />
Schatilly took her trip through Heartlights Sacred Journeys, a company that combines 胥gyptology and metaphysics with visits to sacred sites. The trip starts with visits to the Pyramids of Giza and the mysterious Sphinx. Visitors explore the subterranean chamber or otherwise known as the pit, the queen? chamber and the king? chamber. Group members are also encouraged to participate in meditations and chants.
Then the group travels to the grand-step pyramid of Saqqara, one of the oldest of Egypt? more than 100 pyramids. From there, they hop on an overnight train to the southern city of Luxor in Upper Egypt.
Waking up in an archeologists?treasure trove, spiritual seekers say they are overwhelmed with the mystery and magic that surrounds each site, especially at the Temple of Karnak, which was used in ancient times for major religious ceremonies. The temple is known for its massive towers, some of them 21m tall.
The quest continues with a Nile cruise to the city of Aswan, with stops along the way at temples and tombs. Then, the journey ends full circle at the Pyramids of Giza where they perform an initiation ceremony at dawn.
The group forms a circle while holding hands and chants in rhythmic tones. Before they enter the Great Pyramid, they shake rattles over themselves in order, they say, to align their energies.
In complete darkness, they crouch to reach the pit of the pyramid where they comfort themselves with the meditations. Then, they climb their way up to the queen? chamber and finally reach the highest chamber, the king? chamber.
Each participant takes turns lying in the empty sarcophagus of King Khufu, also known as Cheops, who reigned some 4,500 years ago.
Tour groups are allowed to engage in activities like this during private time in the pyramids, when they?e not open to other tourists. The participants are also invited to do or say whatever comes to them in that moment. Some shout out words: ?owerful!??oman!?
The group responds to the calls and repeats them with enthusiasm. The reverberating sound fills the dark room and leaves people shaking even after they?e exited the pyramid.
Nancy Joy Hefron, 61, head facilitator of Heartlights Sacred Journeys, has been taking spiritual groups to Egypt for the past decade. Hefron considers herself a professional emotional healer.
She says the trips awaken personal growth in every group she? led.
? have seen it over and over again. From the minute someone chooses to take a journey of initiation to Egypt, Egypt begins to affect them,?Hefron said.
Spiritual tours often draw attention from onlookers with their sometime unorthodox methods. Sometimes members break out into dance, which can invite stares from other tourists and locals. But Star Charney, an American on the Heartlights tour, welcomes the questions of non-believers.
?he skeptics are the best. It? when you try too hard, you?e not going to feel things,?Charney said.
She collects heart-shaped rocks on the Giza plateau, in an attempt, she says, to hold onto the energy of the Pyramids of Giza and bring it back home with her.
?y luggage is going to weigh a ton,?she said with a beaming smile.
In this predominantly Muslim country, Egyptologist and spiritual tour guide Amro Mounir, 34, said he encounters many Egyptians who criticize his tours for practicing a form of paganism.
But Mounir says the tours are about tapping into the energy of the earth and helping people find the truth.
?hey are trying to get wisdom. They are looking for the truth and wisdom of the earth. Africa holds the wisdom of the earth,?Mounir said.
While not all visitors to Egypt come seeking spiritual inspiration, ?ou can? help but be in awe of places such as the Giza Pyramids,?said Anuja Madar, editor of Frommer? travel guide to Egypt. ?isiting these places is a surreal experience in a way, because you have to remind yourself that this isn? some Disneyland-esque attraction, it? a real piece of history.
KEEP AWAY: People should wear a mask in places where they cannot follow social distancing rules, the CECC said, adding that it would publish detailed guidelines today The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced 16 new cases of COVID-19, including two domestic cases, as it urged people to practice social distancing in public spaces by keeping a distance of at least 1m when outdoors and 1.5m indoors. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that seven of the new cases tested positive upon their arrival at the airport, four were under home quarantine, one was under home isolation and two were under self-health management, while the two domestic cases sought treatment on their own. The domestic cases are a man in his
Taiwan will negotiate with the WHO about its participation without Beijing’s help and intervention as more countries, including Australia and Japan, are partnering with Taiwan to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a telephonic roundtable with reporters on Monday also supported Taiwan’s role in the WHO, saying the US Department of State would do its best to assist Taiwan’s “appropriate role” in the world’s highest health policy setting body, Voice of America reported. In a Japan Business Press report published on Sunday, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Kong Xuanyou (孔鉉佑) said
Japan’s ruling party yesterday proposed the nation’s biggest-ever stimulus package of ￥60 trillion (US$554 billion) as the COVID-19 pandemic locks the economy in a recession. The sum includes ￥20 trillion in fiscal measures with private initiatives and other elements likely making up the rest, the proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party showed. More than ￥10 trillion, or the equivalent of a 5 percentage point cut in the sales tax rate, would be handed out to the public in a combination of cash, subsidies and coupons, the plan showed. The proposal puts an initial figure on a stimulus package that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo
Malaysian authorities have advised women to wear makeup, not to nag their husbands and speak with a cartoon character’s soothing voice during the virus lockdown, sparking a flood of mockery online. Like many countries, Malaysia has ordered all citizens to stay at home to stem the spread of COVID-19, which, as of yesterday, had killed at least 39,070 people globally. In a series of online posters with the hashtag #WomenPreventCOVID19, the Malaysian Ministry of Women and Family Development issued advice on how to avoid domestic conflicts during the partial lockdown, which began on March 18. One of the campaign posters depicted