Enneagram Egypt Thumbnail Itinerary with John Anthony West
With Four Day Private Cruise on the 8-cabin luxury sail-yacht ‘Afandina’
December 01st - 18th 2016
Day 01— Thur. Dec 01st Departure from New York to Cairo*
Day 02— Fri. Dec 02nd Arrival at Cairo airport, pick up and transfer to Mena Hotel Hotel, free day
Day 03— Sat. Dec 03rd Private dawn visit to the Sphinx enclosure, explore the Giza Pyramids, the Giza Plateau & Solar Boat,
Breakfast + Lunch
Day 04— Sun- Dec 04th Visit Saqqara and the Red and Bent Pyramids of Dahshur
Breakfast + Lunch
Day 05— Mon- Dec 05th flight to Luxor. Check into our Nile-side Sonesta St. George Luxor hotel Evening visit to. Luxor temple.
Breakfast + Dinner
Day 06— Tue . Dec 06th Visit Denderah & Abydos
Breakfast + Dinner
Day 07— Wed. Dec 07th Visit the West Bank, Valley of the Kings (including tomb of Ramesses VI),
Hatshepsut temple, Ramesseum, Nobles tombs,
Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner
Day 08— Thur. Dec 08th Early morning Visit to Karnak Temple,
Breakfast followed by visit to Luxor museum
Board our private boat ‘Afandina’
13:00 sailing to Esna as you are enjoying your lunch on The Nile
Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner
Day 09— Fri, Dec 09th Sail to Edfu. Afternoon visit to Edfu temple
Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner
Day 10— Sat, Dec 10th Morning sail to Kom Ombo
Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner
Day 11— Sun, Dec 11th Morning visit Kom Ombo Temple
Sail to Aswan
Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner
Day 12— Mon, Dec 12th Philae Temple & Unfinished Obelisk
Breakfast + Lunch + Dinner
Day 13— Tue., Dec 13th Drive to Abu Simbel by bus
Overnight at Seti I Abu Simbel hotel
Breakfast + Dinner
Day 14— Wed, Dec 14th Early morning visit to Abu Simbel Temple. Return drive to Aswan. Flight to Cairo . Check into Mena House Hotel.
Day 15— Thur, Dec 15th Visit Cairo Egyptian museum
Day 16— Fri, Dec 16th Morning drive north to St. Makarios Monastery.. Return to Cairo
Day 17— Sat, Dec 17th Private 2 hour visit to King's chamber (and other chambers) of the Great Pyramid. Rest of the day free.
Breakfast+ Farewell dinner
Day 18— Sun, Dec 18th Breakfast followed by final departure (arrive home same day)
* See Detailed Itinerary for further information
Hotels & dates
03 nights at Mena House hotel Dec 02nd - 05th
03 nights Sonesta St. George Lxr hotel Dec 05th - 08th
05 nights on Afandina Dec 08th - 13th
01 night Seti Abu Simbel hotel Dec 13th - 14th
04 nights Mena House hotel Dec 14th - 18th
17 days / 16 nights
- Private visit to Giza Plateau.
- Private visit to Sphinx enclosure.
- Private visit inside King’s Chamber
- Daily breakfast.
- Full board on Nile cruise
- All tours in Cairo, Luxor & Aswan as indicated.
- Abu Simbel round trip by bus and overnight
- All transfers from / to hotels / Afandina / and airports.
- Private guide throughout the trip.
If any increase in entrance fees tickets and or domestic airline, we will have to pass it on to you as it is a governmental action and out of our hand control
- International air ticket.
- Health & Travel insurance.
- Visa upon arrival *the cost currently $ 25)
- Tipping for guide, escort, drivers & hotel staff.
- Pyramid view rooms supplement is $ 70 per room per night.
- Airport departure tax if any.
- Meals not included in itinerary
- Domestic flight tickets Cai / Lxr / Asw / Cai $ 325, please request 60 days in advance
Pre Arrival and post departure at Mena House hotel:
Double room $ 200 per room per night including breakfast
Single room $ 190 per room per night including breakfast
Including transfer from / to airport
Pyramid view supplement $ 70 per room per night
Price for the land package:
Per person in double $ 6595
Single supplement $ 600
A Note from Russ Hudson on safety and the trip.
Egypt Trip 2016
Hello Essence Friends and fellow Seekers!
You are receiving this because you have expressed interest in our December 2016 trip to Egypt. I am delighted you want to join us and look forward to sharing one of my favorite experiences with you.
Since you have no doubt been seeing media reports about dangers in Egypt, I thought a few observations could be made. I offer this too because many of you have family members who will be expressing worry about you being on this trip. As you probably know, we have been taking groups to Egypt every year since 2010 and have even been there during some of the main unrest--most notably during the revolution in 2011. For the last few years, the rapid changes and upheavals in the region have kept a majority of the usual tourist traffic away. This is bad for Egypt in the sense that the country depends a great deal on tourist dollars, but it is good for us in that the temples and pyramids will be not be crowded— a condition that has been so since the revolution in January 2011. In all of our trips, the vast majority of people we met were overjoyed that we were there and very appreciative that we were visiting their country. As you will see, Egypt is a Type Nine culture, patient— sometimes too much so--and fundamentally warm, friendly, and peaceful. In general, Egyptian people do not like conflict and try to move toward resolution quickly. It is notable that although the country underwent a revolution in 2011, it has seen a minimum of violence, certainly compared to the upheavals of other countries in the region.
At the time of this writing, and after a period of unrest in 2015, the political situation in Egypt has quieted down somewhat, and seems to be improving. There were a couple of significant incidents last year near tourist sites, but they have all been directed at the security forces in Egypt, and no tourists have been harmed. Still, many are hesitant to go to the region because of the blanket media coverage of any unrest that occurs. And many of you may have received concerns from family members as a result. We will of course be keeping our eyes on the region and shifting our plans accordingly, but it would be good to get things in perspective by looking at the crime statistics in many of your favorite destinations, or even in the place where you live. Many tourists die visiting India each year from bad food and car accidents, but it does not stop people from going. Robberies and thefts are quite common in popular European destinations, and there have been a number of violent events there, yet people still realistically assess that the chances of being involved in such an event are astronomically remote.
In comparison, and objectively, Egypt is tremendously safer than many places in the US. For example, sunny California is the site of between 2000 and 3000 murders a year, let alone robberies, muggings, etc, and there are tourists killed there each year. Florida similarly has a very high crime and murder rate yet it remains a popular spot to visit for families. The statistics do not seem to deter people from going to these wonderful destinations, nor should they. Probably we can all agree that the images from the media have produced an atmosphere of fear— particularly with regard to the Middle East. We tend to lump the whole region together and do not understand the Syria and Egypt are distinct and not near each other. (It is rather like hearing about drug cartel killings in Guadalajara and so deciding not to go to San Diego.) So we need to take a deep breath and realize that our perceptions of danger do not always match reality.
The net effect of this fear-generating media is that it has had a very tough effect on Egypt— tourism is down, and people are struggling. As a result, they are very happy to see people visiting their country. And the fact that tourism is down in Egypt is also helpful for our purposes there. We will have unprecedented access to sites not open to the general public, and we will often have the temples and monuments almost to ourselves. Believe me, experiencing the stillness at Karnak temple with one or two other groups vs being there with dozens of groups is a big difference! Wandering around the pyramids with more quiet and peace is radically different than being there with dozens of busloads of tourists taking selfies at every juncture. (Ever been to the Vatican in high tourist season? Disney World? This is not what you want when you are on a pilgrimage to these sites.
We sense that Egypt still has challenges ahead but that it will continue to stabilize. And once things quiet down long enough for tourists to feel "the coast is clear," they will no doubt start coming back in great numbers as has been the case through the years. We have a window now.
THE TRIP ITSELF
VERY IMPORTANT: This year, we have more requests for the trip than we can accommodate--even amongst my close friends and colleagues. We cannot guarantee a place given the volume of requests but we will do our best to serve you based on the order of the requests and the promptness of your response. So if you are interested, we need:
1) A firm yes or no from you within the next week or two. We will be turning people away with every yes, so make sure can and want to go. The basic price for the trip is $6595. For specifics about costs and what is covered, see the link below.
2) If you have a firm yes, you need to get in your deposits of $1000 ASAP. There is a long line behind you.
3) All information about the trip, including costs, schedule, useful reading, and things to bring, can be found at this non-public page: http://jawest.net/enneagraminstitute.htm
We are sending out the invites in batches, and if you are lucky enough to be getting this now you are in an earlier batch. But it is first come first served, and with only 15 spots, and over 40 people wishing to come--you get the picture. We sincerely wish we could accommodate every one of you, but it is not going to be possible this year. So get moving if you want to go! If everyone in the first batch says yes, we will have to turn some of you away.
Also, with so many wanting to attend, I also want to mention something about bringing spouses and/or partners or friends. We totally understand why you would want to share this rich and amazing journey with someone you care about, AND, your partner/friend needs to know that this is a spiritually-focused trip. And this is not anyspirituality. John West and I are bringing a very particular perspective, looking at Egypt in the light of the Fourth Way teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky, as well as the Symbolist view introduced by R. A, Schwaller de Lubicz. We will be having deep discussions about this throughout the trip and seeking to learn more about the roots of the Enneagram and the contexts in which the ideas behind it originally developed. There will be lots of fun times for sure, AND there will be long meditations, deep explorations of these esoteric matters, emotional process work, Gurdjieff movements, and other elements intended to make this trip as much a pilgrimage as it is a party. So if your friend/partner is not into such things, or would feel uncomfortable with people practicing, perhaps this is not the best way for him or her to see Egypt. If he or she would find such discussions boring, this is maybe not the group to see Egypt with. We want people who want to participate fully and to delve deeply into the mysteries here. Hanging out and talking in cliques while the main group is practicing is exactly what we do not want. This is especially true when we have so many wanting to come--such a person's presence on the trip would prevent someone who was ready and willing to engage in what we were doing from being able to join us.
I organize these trips for my own journey and to share them with people who I trust will really appreciate not only Egypt, but our perspective on Egypt. I make no money from the trip, so the quality of the participation of those who go is paramount for me. That is why I am doing it. So really, if you have doubts about this, consider other options. I am sure you understand, and ask for your careful consideration in these matters.
As of now, we have the dates booked for the trip (December 1 - 17) and we have reserved the Afandina— the magnificent Sailboat that we live on for about 5 days of the trip and which some of you have seen on pictures from previous trips. I highly recommend coming a day or two early if you can to get over jet lag and be rested when the tour begins. We will be staying in the magnificent Mena House--a stone's throw from the Great Pyramid--and it has wonderful restaurants, pools, and a full service spa. All of this comes in handy after a long flight! In addition, we usually take early arrivals into central Cairo to see the great mosques as well as the old Coptic Christian part of the city as an extra during those pre-days. If you want to go early, indicate this in your communications to John.
I think it is no exaggeration to say that even when we went during some of the difficult years in Egypt, just about everyone on the trip came away feeling that it was among the most amazing experiences of their lives. I know that it has been a joy and an illumination for me each year, and I am really looking forward to sharing an amazing journey with you there.
Thanks and love, Russ
John Anthony West on the ‘S’ word (Safety)
Unless you are newly enrolled in the Enneagram Institute, the chances are you’ve read at least one, maybe several previous invitations to join our annual Egypt Trip. This was usually preceded by a message from me and another from Russ Hudson expressing our different but complementary angles on the subject — both of us speaking from considerable on-the-ground first-hand experience.
From 2011, the year of the ballyhooed Egyptian Revolution (aka “The Arab Spring”, which we predicted would be no such thing, and it wasn’t) our annual theme was recognizably the same, just tweaked to accommodate the most recent relevant geo-political developments.
Briefly, Russ and I went to some length to assure everyone that despite open warfare throughout much of the Mid-East, and sporadic but ongoing civil unrest within Egypt (with disenfranchised elements of the Muslim Brotherhood attacking El Sissi’s police and other gov’t functionaries and usually getting shot or imprisoned in the process) NO ONE , not even the Brotherhood themselves, were gunning for tourists. Thus, for us, it was at least as safe as it had been at any time over the last 30 years (actually safer than the 90’s when they were periodically targeting tourists.)
However, the dramatic and internationally publicized events of the last year have obliged a change of script. The terror landscape has changed, or, perhaps more accurately, the perception of the terror landscape has shifted.
That perception (give or take the occasional blip such as 9/11) used to be: Western world plus America, Canada and Australia/NZ safe. Everywhere else: unsafe (especially the Middle-East usually described as dangerous and populated almost entirely by wild-eyed religious fanatics.)
Nobody (anyway, nobody I ever knew) thought twice about going to France or Belgium or even America for that matter, notwithstanding its more-than-daily dose of mass shootings. (“Mass shootings: There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.”) In 2016 the simplistic localized fears of yore have now globalized to some extent, egged on and exacerbated by media presstitutes. I do not have figures in front of me, but would bet the tourism figures for France have taken a hit over the past couple of months. Such is the power of the press. But for the wise and the aware, it means that now is a very good time to go to France! The euro’s plummeted , too. Maybe an add-on after Egypt?
To put the matter into a personal perspective, Ulster County NY, where I live, is probably an “average” American county as far as danger is concerned. It looks mostly rural, dotted with small towns and a couple of small cities, (pop. ca 40,000), lots of woodland, even wilderness, still no shortage of working farms and orchards. It looks safe. It feels about as safe as Anywhere USA can look and feel in 2016. Records show, however (I just looked it up) that on average, there are 1464 traffic fatalities a year. That’s a lot of dead people. Roughly 3½ per week. Sounds dangerous, doesn’t it? But our County government never issues a formal “Don’t Drive” warning nor does the local media broadcast hysterical accounts of this annual carnage, illustrated with lurid photos of mutilated corpses designed to frighten people into staying home and not driving (except maybe on New Year’s Eve). And if it/they did, would you or anyone else heed it? I wouldn’t.
The analogy is not perfect; analogies never are. But presumably you get the point? As I write this there is no credible threat to tourism in Egypt whatsoever. Maybe there could be something sometime soon. Who knows? But even if there is, the chances of you or I being caught up in it are minuscule, pretty analogous to getting killed in a car crash in Ulster County, or getting struck by lightning when you’re out in a thunderstorm.
To drive home the point; perhaps unnecessarily, but I’ll do it anyhow. If you have serious safety misgivings about traveling to Egypt, you have not actually assessed the reality of the situation. If you are getting (and still worse, taking) a lot of flak from family and friends, you should bear in mind that NONE of them have any idea whatsoever of the actual situation prevailing today in Egypt; and, bluntly, that ALL of them, however well-meaning, do not know what they are talking about. They are, effectively, unwitting dupes of an unscrupulous, rabble-rousing mass media and an agenda-driven government that all of us having reached the age of maturity should have learned long ago to distrust as a matter of principle.
Over to you ...and I hope to see you in Egypt.
John Anthony West
P.S. Should we be suspected of an agenda of our own, here are url’s for a very recent BBC-prepared “terror” map illustrating the situation graphically followed by a couple of typical terror-related recent news articles.
1. BBC Terrormap Map Egypt Security 2016.pdf
As you see, every place we go on our Enneagram pilgrimage gets rated “safe”.
2. US admiral: This overlooked region will be the next front line against ISIS
The moral: Don’t go to Asia either.
3. Egypt-related excerpt from a recent, level-headed and thorough Stratfor (google it up) assessment of the Jihadist Movement.
“The activities of radical jihadist groups have died down in mainland Egypt in recent months, but that does not mean the country's security situation is settled. Low-level attacks against police officers and other targets, for example, still occur. But between government crackdowns and internal disagreements, Egyptian jihadist groups' power to conduct sophisticated, large-scale operations appears to have been suppressed.
Egypt has a long history of radical and even militant Islamism. Ideologues such as Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna held sway in the 1920s, followed by radical theorist Sayyid Qutb in the 1960s. Jihadist groups such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad and Gamaah al-Islamiyah were active in the country from the late 1970s through the 1990s. And perhaps one of the most well-known manifestations of militant Islam was the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in Cairo by members of Gamaah al-Islamiyah.”
Egyptians have also served as notable figures in international jihadist operations. Egyptian Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the leader of Gamaah al-Islamiyah, was arrested in 1993 and convicted for his role in fomenting terrorist plots in the United States, where he is still in prison. The leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Ayman al-Zawahiri, eventually helped found al Qaeda and became the transnational terrorist group's leader after the death of Osama bin Laden.
But after Sadat's assassination, the administration of his successor, Hosni Mubarak, came down hard on Egypt's jihadists, imprisoning many and chasing others from the country. Some who went into exile became enmeshed in the armed struggles in Afghanistan, Bosnia and elsewhere. Those who stayed had a difficult time establishing themselves in the Egyptian mainland during Mubarak's reign. Al Qaeda attempted to launch a franchise group in Egypt in 2006 but could not gain much traction. It was simply nowhere near as active and effective as Tawhid wa al-Jihad was in Sinai during the same period. Yet a weak jihadist presence persisted in Egypt.
2016 December Detailed Itinerary [Revised]
Day 01 — Departure
Depart New York or elsewhere in the Western hemisphere. (EgyptAir departure from JFK is @ 6:30 PM EST)
Day 02 — Arrive CAIRO EGYPT.
A Quest Travel Representative will meet you at the airport, obtain visas, shepherd you through customs and out to our Quest Coach. Depending on traffic, it’s roughly an hour to our Mena House Hotel in Giza, a stone's throw from the Great Pyramid.
Check in. The rest of the day is free.
Note: Travelers from Europe.
Because you are not flying across multiple time zones, you can depart on day 02 and arrive in Cairo on the same day. You can then avoid having to pay for an extra hotel night. HOWEVER, you should look for a flight that arrives in Cairo sometime in the afternoon if possible. Many flights from Europe come in late at night, meaning that people will get very little sleep since we start off for the Giza Plateau early the following morning - a 6AM wakeup call.
Some may prefer to come in a day earlier and get a good night’s sleep. Quest Travel, my Rep in Cairo can make all necessary arrangements if you choose to come early.
I’m not sure how this applies to those coming in to Cairo from the Far East, but since they’ll be making up time, maybe they would also depart/arrive on the same day.
Day 03 — SPHINX AND GIZA PLATEAU.
We begin with an 8AM (sometimes even earlier) private visit to the Sphinx enclosure. (It is not open to the public.) We spend about 2 hours in the enclosure and around the Sphinx and its adjacent temples. Lots of geology, but this establishes the validity of the ‘Lost Civilization’ theory, important for everything that follows. Also, there are discussions of the many (usually unacknowledged) mysteries involved in building these amazing structures, what lies behind their extraordinary energetic/emotional impact, etc.
We work our way (walking) up the Plateau, past the Old Kingdom tombs of nobles and notables, toward the pyramids. There is more important evidence along the way (e.g. Tomb of Khentkaus, a Queen of Menkaure, the builder of the Third Pyramid). Also, because few tourists visit these places, we’re on our own and get a good visceral sense of what Egypt was like in those distant times.
Up on the Plateau, around the pyramids, there is a lot more evidence (architectural and geological) for the ‘Lost Civilization’. We will examine huge, 200-ton paving blocks we could barely move today, etc. Two distinct masonry styles and therefore two distinct building periods...
This takes us to between noon and 1 PM, depending upon how much input we get from group members. There are always lots of questions and if anyone in the group has expertise relevant to and/or complementing my explanations, discussions can be long, lively, detailed and instructive.
Then we visit the so-called “Solar Boat” of Khufu. This amazing, intact funerary boat is both a demonstration of the extremely sophisticated woodworking techniques in place 2500 BC and also of the power and wisdom of anchoring the spiritual quest in the material/physical world. As soon as the spiritual quest is relegated solely to the intellect, as is generally the case today, it becomes abstract and effectively ineffective.
Lunch. (included.) By now it’s 3 PM, and that’s enough for most of us! The rest of the day is free. it’s always been a time to get some (non-obligatory) shopping in. Normally, having done this innumerable times, I absent myself from these excursions (I HATE shopping!) and leave them to our Egyptian guide, Sohaila Hussein (a.k.a. Charge-It, the Goddess of Shopping). But recently I became aware of a perfume shop (Egypt is renowned for its pure flower essences) run by one the most remarkable people I’ve met in Egypt in all these years. So this is now a non-obligatory, but not-to-be-missed stop on this, our first day in Egypt.
Day 04 — SAKKARA / DAHSHUR.
6 AM wake-up call, 7:30 Departure. It is essential to start punctually and get there at the opening bell... even with Egypt almost empty as it is at this writing. 20 minute bus ride to the Sakkara Necropolis.
We start with the Old Kingdom Tombs of the Nobles of the Vth and VIth Dynasties (ca. 2350 - 2200 BC), with their vibrant, detailed, but apparently quite mundane ‘scenes of daily life’. They are most assuredly scenes of daily life, but more importantly, they are actually metaphors for spiritual transformation. (Even the "Quackademics" are coming around to recognizing this deeper significance, though of course they haven’t a clue as to either the meaning or the validity of “transformation”).
Normally, Sakkara gets very crowded very early so we often have had to change our sequence of visits to try to avoid the crowds or even choose alternative tombs to visit. It’s impossible to predict what the situation in December 2016 will be, but chances are: still relatively uncrowded.
After the Noble Tombs, we go to and into the Sakkara Step Pyramid Complex itself, built in the reign of the IIIrd Dynasty Pharoah Zoser (ca. 2700 BC), under the direction of his genius Master of All Trades, the legendary Imhotep.
Sakkara is supposed to be the first major stone complex in Egypt, and for that matter, the world, but the sophistication of its plan and the virtuosity of its execution makes it hard to believe that it was invented on the spot — like imagining the 2016 Porsche just happened out of the blue. Nor is it the first major stone complex either. Much more on this on site!
We discuss Egypt as a ‘legacy’ not as a ‘development’.
Sakkara is also remarkably ‘modern’ looking, as though it were a new campus for, say, the University of Arizona, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright on a particularly inspired day. There are reasons for this that we will discuss.
The interior of the Necropolis enclosure was the scene of the Heb Sed festival, which is best understood as an initiatic process; the culmination of a lifetime of inner work, rather than as physical proof that King was physically fit enough to go on reigning (the usual explanation).
We find more evidence for the ‘Lost Civilization Theory’ (henceforth, LCT) close by the Step Pyramid itself, such as examples of calculated resonance at work in certain strange shrines. The theme of ‘transformation’ is expressed in innumerable metaphors. Egypt is a “One Issue Civilization” — virtually all of its creative energy is devoted to the quest for immortality and the development and perfecting of the soul. In words, this sounds as though Egypt gets repetitive, but actually it doesn’t: any more than successive concerts or baseball games or chess matches are repetitive. The infinite variations complement/implement the exercise.
By this time, it’s around noon. Lunch is included at a neat outdoor local restaurant. Great kebabs!
After lunch, it’s on to Dahshur, and the Red and ‘Bent’ Pyramids.
The Red Pyramid, with its resonating main chambers and earlier megalithic third chamber (which Quackademics call a ‘plundered tomb chamber’ though it is neither plundered, nor a tomb chamber) is the second most spectacular pyramid after the Great Pyramid.
The Bent Pyramid is a generally unrecognized architectural marvel. 60% of the casing blocks are still in place, so you get a sense of what a completed pyramid once looked like, and the construction methods needed to build it defy explanation. If there are any architects or builders in our group, have a go at it. The authorities keep on promising to open the inner chambers to the public, but so far it hasn’t happened.
End of the touring day.
On the way back we stop at a carpet factory/school where they weave prize-winning traditional Oriental Carpets but also, unique to Egypt, woven one-of-a-kind wall hangings depicting local, Islamic and underwater Red Sea scenes. They’re like vivid primitive and often not-so-primitive woven paintings. Good, imaginative work.
Day 05 — LUXOR
We embark on a mid-day or early afternoon (we hope!— as opposed to early morning) flight to Luxor. Check into our Nile-side Sonesta St. George Hotel. (Note: Normally we have our luxury yacht, Afandina for a full week, but it had been previously booked in such a way that we have it for only for the days that we’re actually sailing. There are certain advantages to that.)
At 6 PM we visit Luxor Temple, where R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz developed his Symbolist Interpretation: the Temple of Man as a cosmological/physiological map.
We discuss and demonstrate what ‘sacred’ architecture is, and just why it works the way it does. By 7:30 or so, the Temple is emptying out and we have it nearly to ourselves. In a chamber that represents the vocal chords we see what is in effect a depiction of the ‘Annunciation’, the ‘god’ telling the Queen Mother that she will bear a ‘Divine’ child, 1350 years before this becomes central to Christianity. (All along we will be drawing attention to Egyptian doctrines, myths, and metaphors, that are familiar to us because normally associated with Christian doctrine. Gurdjieff called ancient Egypt ‘esoteric Christianity’.)
Day 06 — ABYDOS / DENDERAH
This is a very long day. 5 AM wake up call so that we can be on the road at 6 AM.
Abydos temple, built by Seti I, father of Ramesses the Great, is one of the highest expressions of New Kingdom relief work, most of it in excellent condition, and some with the colors still vibrant. This is an Osiris temple; Osiris representing the cosmic principle of becoming and return, and also of the divinity immanent within humanity. En route to Abydos (2 1/2 - 3 hr drive), I talk at length about the Osiris myth and its relevance to our time, and any other time. It’s not generally recognized that this myth, when historicized, becomes the central doctrine of Christianity, then the story of Hamlet, and most recently, Disney’s Lion King.
Selective effacing of certain reliefs within the temple is always attributed to Christian fanatics, bent upon destroying the temple’s pagan ‘magic’. But it is no such thing. More on this anon and on site. The non-effacement of the temples may be the only crime where Christian “fanatics” are not guilty as charged.
Behind Seti’s Temple of Abydos there is the Oseirion, one of the most powerful, mysterious, and resonant places in all of Egypt, and almost certainly a major piece in the LCT.
We have our doggy bag lunch en route. The temple is entirely Ptolemaic/Graeco-Roman, (ca. 150 BC - 80 AD) and consecrated to Hathor, the Cosmic Feminine in her roles of Mistress of the Cycles of Time and Mother of the Universe. It’s here that we get our first real taste of what time is doing to Egypt. While the knowledge of geometry/harmony/proportion and measure is still intact, the exquisite and seemingly effortless virtuosity of New Kingdom art and sculpture has turned unwieldy, clumsy, and uninspired.
It is a fascinating lesson for us, watching Egypt degenerate and this is the first among many examples. Apart from being an exercise in art history, on the scholarly/philosophical/scientific level, in and of itself, it disproves the egregious fiction we’ve all been brought up with: that history is a fundamentally steady, linear and gradual ascent from primitive beginnings to our enlightened selves with our hydrogen bombs and bobble-head dolls.
In Egypt we see exactly the opposite happening in front of our eyes, and this calls for some serious discussion and in some cases a major revision of certain notions we’ve all had drummed incessantly into our heads in our so-called ‘education’.
But re: Denderah. However corrupted the art, the temple retains its power. An inscription in a crypt closed to the public declares that Denderah is based ‘upon a plan found on a goatskin scroll written in the time of the Companions of Horus’, one of the two long, (and perhaps-not-fictional) periods the Egyptians assert preceded the rise of their own Dynastic Egypt. So Denderah would be another good place to go looking for still more evidence for the LCT. Like all ‘goddess’ temples, Denderah was a healing site; a ruinous mud brick structure adjacent to the temple was once a sanatorium where dream analysis was carried out.
While reactions to Luxor Temple and Abydos are invariably very positive, Dendera often gets polarized reviews. For some, despite the inferior art work, it is a favorite temple, a place of profound cosmic peace. For others it is dark and gloomy, even spooky. It will be interesting to test our group’s reaction to see if there is any correspondence to our Enneagram ‘types’.
The wholesale, but obviously selective effacing of the relief work prevailing here demonstrates who is responsible: it is the Egyptian priesthood at some later date and for reasons of their own, effectively ‘decommissioning’ the temple.
We return to Luxor (about an hour’s drive.)
Note: Depending upon local conditions, we do not necessarily visit these sites in the order listed, but we do visit all of them.
Day 07 — LUXOR / WEST BANK OF THE NILE.
This area is entirely funerary in significance; here we have the massive funerary complexes of the New Kingdom, the Valley of the Kings, where all NK pharaohs are buried, and the well-preserved tombs of the Nobles — related to those we’ve seen at Sakkara but markedly different in execution and expression. This is a day much devoted to discussions of Egypt’s complex and mysterious funerary beliefs and practices.
If we are mystified, we’re not alone. Even to the New Kingdom Egyptian scribes recording the texts, they are ‘mysterious’, but in the broadest sense they’re comprehensible; they combine two separate but intertwined doctrines: the path of Horus (which becomes ‘salvation’ in Christian doctrine) and the doctrine of reincarnation (corresponding loosely to the Vedic/Buddhist tradition). Since to our own “Church of Progress” both these paths lead nowhere, they are more or less dismissed as mumbo jumbo. But if the Church of Progress priesthood cannot make any sense of them, we can, and the experience of the visit, however, unfamiliar experientially, is nevertheless vivid. Even the to-us-bizarre practice of elaborate mummification starts to make sense.
We visit MEDINET HABU or THE RAMESSEUM (decision to be made last minute). Medinet Habu is both the Alpha and Omega of Egyptian Cosmology. It is here that the Eight Primordials come into existence. These are shadowy entities, both male and female, (portrayed as serpents and frogs) which precede manifestation, and play roles remarkably like the ‘vibrating strings’ of cutting-edge String or Torsion Theory. And is also here that storehouses in ancient times held the finished treasures of Egypt; furniture, unguents, musical instruments, jewelry, etc., in other words the fruits of all that transformational earthly creative activity. Medinet Habu is thus both planting time and harvest time. A little shrine dedicated to the princess Amenerdais, Head of the Chantresses (6th C. BC) was the inspiration for Verdi’s Aida.
The Ramesseum is the mortuary temple of Ramesses the Great, and is less grandiose than the huge Medinet Habu, but very powerful. It’s here that the fallen colossus lies that inspired (in absentia) Shelley’s famous poem Ozymandias. It’s amusing to read the poem aloud on site; fine poetry but lousy Egyptology.
We visit the great (but controversial) Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple of DEIR EL BAHARI, the other temple with a peculiarly ‘modern’ look to it. To the ancient Egyptians it was ‘the most splendid of all’ - and so it must have been. Even in its present state it’s spectacular.
We have an early lunch at a lovely, typically rustic, outdoor Egyptian local restaurant, and then on to the VALLEY OF THE KINGS, where all the kings of the New Kingdom were buried.
Avoiding crowds in the West Bank is problematical but at lunchtime (for everyone else) we’ll be relatively crowd-free at this otherwise thronged site. And we will have special tickets to the closed but particularly vivid and significant tomb of Ramesses VI which, because it’s an extra ticket, will not be thronged. (Note: Given Egypt’s un-thronged present state, we may scramble this day’s sequence of visits.)
After the Valley of the Kings we return to Luxor
Each major temple at Luxor represents a stage in their (and our!) cosmology, which, taken together, tell the story of the genesis of the universe. Huge joyous processions connected one temple to another. So the Egyptians, through an act of conscious deliberate sympathetic magic, were themselves mimicking and therefore participating in the process of creation itself. We can no longer do this — we’ve lost the necessary magic spell to access it — but the power of these temples provides an echo, an inkling, an appreciation of what life had once been like, when a genuine civilization, itself in a cosmologically-ordained descending octave, last prevailed.
The Hypostyle Hall at Karnak is one of the architectural wonders of the world, and there is much else there that is both emotionally and spiritually moving, as well as intellectually revelatory. If Luxor is The Temple of Man, Karnak is the Temple of Organic Creation and the Hypostyle Hall symbolizes this with its double banks of 9 x 7 gigantic columns. Enneagrammarians should appreciate the significance of this instantly and perhaps even experience it.
We do a private meditation session in a secluded Sekhmet Shrine in the company of the great Goddess’ granite embodiment. We leave Karnak awed, humbled, exhilarated and — very much looking forward to a late breakfast.
We then visit the small but beautifully designed, masterpiece-replete Luxor Museum— a highlight for many on previous trips.
In the afternoon, we board the private sailboat “Afandina” and will set sail up the Nile toward Aswan. We will live and relax on this magnificent boat for the next few days. The views as we sail slowly up the Nile are truly unforgettable. We generally spend the evening docked at the locks of Esna.
Day 09 — SAIL TO EDFU TEMPLE
We spend the morning relaxing on the Afandina, and generally arrive at Edfu in the afternoon. Here we come to another great masterpiece. Edfu, the best preserved temple of the ancient world, is consecrated to Horus of Behdet; that is, Horus in his specific role of avenger of the murder of his father, Osiris. (That’s Hamlet but without the to-be-or-not-to-be waffling element). It is an appropriately macho and martial temple with many intriguing and important lessons to convey. Here we also find some more symbols highly relevant to the study of the Enneagram.
Day 10 — SAIL TO KOM OMBO
This day functions as a much needed respite. We spend it sailing, resting, meditating, and having some chats about what we have been seeing— how we are being affected. By the evening we reach Kom Ombo. We sometimes visit in the evening but more likely we will dock here, and visit the Temple early the following morning to avoid crowds.
Day 11 — KOM OMBO AND SAILING TO ASWAN
In the morning, we visit the double temple of Kom Ombo, consecrated to the duo of Sobek, the crocodile (Death as a cosmic function) and Horus, the Elder (Return to the Source as a cosmic function). Beautifully sited on a bend of the Nile, but now photogenically ruinous, Kom Ombo was in its day a healing temple and hospital. Afterward, we return to the Afandina and sail to Aswan, generally arriving in late afternoon.
Day 12 — ASWAN — PHILAE TEMPLE and THE UNFINISHED OBELISK
Depending upon the crowd situation, either an early wake-up call to visit PHILAE TEMPLE early, or we wait till it (hopefully) empties out at lunch. If the latter, we can sleep in, and around 10 AM go to the UNFINISHED OBELISK at the ancient granite quarries, where a planned, half-excavated 1200 ton single block of granite failed to make it out of the bedrock.
Here we get a good taste of Egyptian technology in action, and we believe we can explain here what is next to impossible to convey anywhere else in Egypt: how with very simple tools the Egyptians managed to accomplish what is practically impossible to accomplish even with modern machinery — but even so, plenty of mysteries remain.
Then on to PHILAE TEMPLE, consecrated to Isis in her role of Mother of Horus (the Christians changed her name to the Virgin Mary, but she’s Isis, like it or not). Philae is on an island in the middle of the Nile (now it’s the lake backed up behind the British ‘Low Dam’ built in 1904.) Quintessentially feminine, it is one of the most beautiful and moving sites in all of Egypt, despite the relatively inelegant quality of the Ptolemaic relief work and the wholesale, but telling selective defacing. It’s here that the transition of the ancient Egypt doctrine of Immortality segues almost seamlessly into Christianity in front of our eyes.
For the afternoon, an optional felucca ride. These are picturesque, lateen-rigged little sailboats and it’s a gorgeous hour or so sail on the clear green purling waters around the Nile islands. With a stiff wind up it can be pretty exhilarating.
Day 13 — ASWAN / ABU SIMBEL
Abu Simbel has always been high on the list of must-see Egyptian marvels, and so it should be, but tightened, paranoid security measures, a dreadful sound and light show, and hundreds of tourists streaming off the new cruise boats plying Lake Nasser between Aswan and Abu Simbel and mooring there in the evening have diminished that Abu Simbel experience. (For a few years I actually removed it from the itinerary, leaving it as an option for those determined to go there no matter what.)
However, post-revolution, and with tourism (as this is written) but a fraction of “normal” I’ve put it back on. Though I can’t promise it will be near-empty, it will definitely be worth the 3 hour bus ride back and forth. Overnight at the Seti I Abu Simbel Hotel. It ain’t the Mena House! But it’s a funky place in its own way, perched on high ground just up from Lake Nasser (formerly known as the Nile River before the Aswan High Dam was built.) There are some nice swimming pools and we have had some wildly fun parties there in previous years.
Day 14 — ABU SIMBEL — \ASWAN TO CAIRO
We generally visit Abu Simbel itself at dawn, when it is least crowded and when the morning light strikes the enormous statues of Ramses most spectacularly. After a leisurely visit of the site, we take our bus back to Aswan and from there, board a mid-day flight back to Cairo. By then it is late afternoon, and we return to the Mena House Hotel in Giza. The evening is free.
Day 15 — EGYPTIAN MUSEUM AND CAIRO
After breakfast at the Mena House, we take a bus into central Cairo for the Egyptian Museum. The museum was built in 1907, before anyone knew how a museum should be designed, and it shows. Imagine a pretentious Art Nouveau (or Beaux Art) civic warehouse that happens to be over-stuffed with unlit, badly lit, incompetently labeled and utterly incomparable masterpieces. It is an unforgettable experience, at least in part because the museum itself is so terrible. You feel like you’re discovering the works of art all on your own! The Museum recapitulates our Egypt trip as we go from Pre-Dynastic to Old Kingdom to Middle to New to Ptolemaic and finally to Egypt’s ultimate and inglorious dissolution under Rome. It takes time to really take in the wealth of masterpieces here, and many like to return for a second visit later in the trip. Having seen the great temples and tombs across Egypt already gives an added sense of appreciation to the great art works we see in this museum. We better understand the full cultural and historical sweep of this civilization.
After the museum, we may take time for a shopping expedition to the famed Khan el Khalili bazaar where much of the Egyptian handicrafts are produced. An ancient labyrinth of thronged little stalls and workshops, the bazaar is an experience in its own right. Leather, brass, hand blown glass, jewelry, fabrics, inlay work and much else to choose from. The workmanship is often excellent and bargains can be had —
if you bargain hard for them.
Day 16 — MONASTERY OF SAN MAKARIOS
Early morning drive to St. Makarios Monastery on the Alexandria Road (if it is open to the public on this day. If it isn’t we jiggle our schedule to incorporate it.) This is one of the oldest monasteries in the world. Here we both witness and experience the transition from ancient Egypt to early Christianity. Return to the Mena House for the late afternoon.
Day 17 — MEDITATION INSIDE THE GREAT PYRAMID
In the morning, we have a 2 Hour Private Great Pyramid Meditation Session. This is for many a profound, life-enhancing experience. It is rare that anyone comes out of this unmoved. The rest of the day is free. (This is a good day to visit some of the great mosques of Cairo and/or the old Coptic Christian part of town. Others return to the Khan al-Kalili or the Cairo Museum.)
Day 18 — BREAKFAST AND DEPARTURE
Breakfast followed by final departure. Adios, Egypt — though if past experience is any indication, for many it will be au revoir!
Since the itinerary is more-or-less fixed and the same from year to year, only the date changes, and it is much more of a nuisance than you might imagine, scrolling through the entire document each year to re-match the day number to the date number and correct the text. So, if you want to match day number to date, just consult the thumbnail itinerary above.
Price: $ 6595
For a single room add $ 600. (Note: No single cabins on the Afandina if the trip is full. If not full, first-come, first serve and then a single is an additional $400.)
Guaranteed Pyramid View Room supplement at Mena House: $70 per room per night. (Worth it if it’s your first time there, especially on those first three days upon arrival.)
03 nights at Mena House
03 nights Sonesta St. George Luxor hotel
04 days/nights Afandina
01 night Seti Hotel Abu Simbel
04 nights at Mena House Oberoi
17 days, 15 nights
$350 baksheesh kitty taking care of tips for all group activities
— Domestic airfares within Egypt
— Private visit to Sphinx enclosure.
— Private visit inside King’s Chamber.
— Daily breakfast.
— 03 lunches: Pyramid day, Sakkara day & West Bank day.
— Farewell dinner.
— All tours in Cairo, Luxor & Aswan as indicated.
— All transfers from/to hotels and airports.
— Private Egyptian guide throughout the trip.
Pre-arrival and post-departure if requested:
Mena House Double room $200 per room per night including breakfast
Single room $180 per room per night including breakfast
Pyramid view supplement $ 70 per room per night, please contact John Anthony West directly.
All transfers to and from the airports are included in the price. For any questions regarding trip logistics or special arrangements, contact the Quest Travel office:
5 Emarat El Shams — Hadaik El Ahram
Pyramids — Giza — Egypt
Tel: 202-33768000 OR 202-33768444
Cell Phone: 2-0100-1600300
Terms and Conditions
The standard cost includes:
Hotels and meals as indicated on the itinerary. Hotel with shared accommodations (twin beds or upon request, if available, single king-size bed) and private bath. Baggage handling fees, all in-country ground, air, and waterway transportation, sightseeing, permits and entrance fees, unless otherwise indicated as special excursions, services of English speaking guides, tour leader, pre-departure preparation information and reading list, all as outlined in the suggested trip itinerary. Domestic air travel within Egypt.
Airport departure taxes (if relevant), passport and visa fees, medical, hospital and evacuation costs, excess baggage charges, laundry, telephone calls or other personal items, mineral water, alcoholic beverages, academic credit, taxis to non-scheduled events, and meals; food or refreshments not specified in the itinerary. Supplemental accident and baggage insurance is available. Information upon request.
Just click on the reservation form link below. Complete the form found there along with a check or money order for your NON-REFUNDABLE deposit* of $1,000 per person, payable to Magical Egypt Enterprises The entire cost of the tour is $6595 per person double occupancy which includes $350 per person tips and services. The balance of $5595 is due 60 days prior to departure.
$150 discount if payment is made by check or wire transfer rather than credit card.
Please note: We must limit the number of people on this tour to a maximum of 15 guests, plus Russ, since there are only 8 cabins on our Afandina. But assuming we fill those 15 berths, there is no single accommodation while aboard.
* Though the deposit is non-refundable, I will issue a refund if, and only if, the berth can be sold to someone else. Otherwise I am happy to roll it over to a future Enneagram trip or one of my regular trips.
WIRE TRANSFER INFO
Apparently, my little local bank cannot process international wire transfers.
So what you have to do is have your bank wire the money to a bank it deals with in America (usually those are big banks) and that bank then wires the money to my bank.
Here’s the info that you need:
National Bank of Coxsackie
5-7 Reed St,
Coxsackie, NY 12501
The account name
John Anthony West
Magical Egypt Enterprises
Account number: O6 04733302
Routing code: 021307054
My bank tells me that’s all that’s needed. Let me know if your bank agrees!
To protect against loss from cancellation due to accident, illness of self or immediate family members, cancellation insurance is recommended.
Passports and Visas:
A valid passport is your responsibility. Visas can be obtained upon arrival in Egypt at the Cairo Airport for $25.
Itinerary: Every effort is made to keep to the trip itinerary, but due to the nature of travel in Egypt, this is not always possible.
Airline regulations permit two pieces of checked luggage weighing no more than 44 pounds total, plus two pieces of hand luggage. Often this rule is not enforced. If it is, you are responsible for baggage overweight charges. Baggage is entirely at the owner’s risk. On domestic flights, only one checked bag and one carry-on is allowed. But extra luggage can be left at the Mena House, which we stay at on out return.
Single Room Requests:
We attempt to match single persons requesting a roommate. If a single roommate is not available, the odd-man -or woman-out will be charged with the single room supplement. Sorry! But it can’t be helped.
The majority of our tour members are non-smoking. We require no smoking in buses and recommend that if you smoke, you do so at meals only if others sharing the table are agreeable. If you smoke and wish to share a room and only a non-smoker is available, we request that you agree not to smoke in the room or choose a single supplement.
Here it is!
John Anthony West
Magical Egypt Enterprises
675 Manorville Rd.
Saugerties NY 12477 USA
To join my private mailing list and receive occasional updates and Egypt Trip information,
click here http://lists.jawest.net/listinfo.cgi/jawlist-jawest.net
To listen to my PhoenixFire Audio blogs click here http://jawphoenixfire.blogspot.com/
MAGICAL EGYPT — TRAVEL TIPS AND FURTHER READING
The winter weather can be colder than you think in the North (around Cairo/Alexandria). Temperatures can get down into the 40s at night from mid-December to the end of February. Perfect travel weather but too cold to swim. There is often a high wind early in the morning in the desert. Have a jacket, and a light sweater or two that will keep you warm at a chill, windy 40°*. Layers are better than one heavy item, since it warms up very rapidly once the sun gets high, and midday temperatures may be in the 80°s under a bright sun. The chance of a winter rain shower or two is slight but present in the north.
*As everyone knows, we Americans take pride in not learning anyone else’s language (we probably get that genetically from English-speaking British forbears). By the same token, not only do we adamantly refuse to go meteorologically metric and think in Celsius like everyone else in the world, we (some of us, anyway) will not even extend the courtesy to the metrics-only crowd and go to the trouble of doing the conversion ourselves listing the two numbers side-by-side. If you are unable to convert complicated, idiosyncratic (but poetically soothing) Fahrenheit into prosaic, simple-minded Centigrade in your head, we may feel sorry for you but we refuse to help.
Also bring gloves and a wool stocking hat or the like. Remember, once we’re out in the desert, we’re out and it could be a while before we have a roof over our heads and walls around us.
DRESS & GEAR
100% cotton clothes have always been best, loose-fitting and comfortable. But the new, popular “breathable” feather-light and almost instantly-drying synthetic travel shirts and trousers provide a worthy alternative that can save a lot of packing room in these passenger-unfriendly, luggage-restricted times.
For outer wear, look for a good 4-pocket safari jacket — ideal for carrying the innumerable things you want to carry about and still have instantly accessible. Everything should be comfortable and practical. Good safari gear is not universally available. Look in outdoor/travel specialist catalogues such as Orvis, Eddie Bauer, Norm Thompson (all high end) and Cabela’s (very reasonable, very tough, very well designed — that’s my couturier).
Dress clothes are not essential. But almost everyone likes to get a bit dressed up for the several parties at night, so an outfit or two is not a bad idea. Women often like to buy the traditional long ‘galabiyyas’, the long, flowing, comfortable, cotton gown that men wear in rural Egypt, and which, much gussied up with embroidery, serve as tour dress wear (for men, too).
Dress Code: The Islamic “casual” dress code (no shorts, no bare arms, head always covered) for women, is relatively relaxed in modern day Egypt, (and certainly did not apply to ancient Egypt!). Most of our time is spent at the ancient Egyptian sites, or in towns geared to accommodate tourists. They are used to women in shorts with arms bared. But in Cairo city, or off the beaten track, the dress code is worth observing, if only to avoid hassle and gawkers — though the head scarf isn’t essential anywhere.
Shoes: Stout light jogging or walking shoes. Essential! Chukka boot style is best for keeping sand out of shoes and the ankle-support is a plus. Bring sandals as well.
Sun Hat: Essential! Cheap effective cotton sunhats are readily available in Egypt if you don’t want to bring your own. My favorite, the old fashioned (more or less) genuine, colonial pith helmet has re-appeared after a period of apparent extinction and is available, reasonably priced fromwww.villagehatshop.com. They do not, however, fold for easy storage and so need some special care to travel around with. There’s no real need for them in the winter months.
Sun glasses: If you like or need to wear them in bright sun, bring them. The sun is very bright indeed.
Water bottle or canteen: Insulated is better. Cheap army canteens available in Army/Navy stores are fine, though high tech camping versions may represent expensive improvements.
Tote or small back pack: Useful for cameras, doggie bags, extra bits of clothing, trail mix, etc. Colorful cheap canvas totes printed with Pharaonic motifs are readily available in Egypt.
Extra bag: Bring a spare, light, folding duffel to take purchases back home. Cheap, colorful (not very well-made) canvas duffels are available in Egypt.
Camera Equipment: Film cameras are now on the Endangered Technology list. If you’re still using one, bring the film of your choice with you; you might not find what you want in Egypt any longer. For the digitized, bring appropriate spare memory sticks, just in case.
Use of a flash is not permitted in temple interiors -- which poses a problem for cameras with an automatic built-in flash feature. If you try keeping your finger over the flash, the camera won’t adjust to the proper larger lens aperture and slower speed needed to get a decent shot. It is now also illegal to use a camera in any of the tombs or museums. And the guards are very snarky about enforcing this particular rule.
Video Cameras: More or less the same restrictions apply, with a few additional wrinkles. You cannot use a tripod, but a monopod is OK ... usually. (There’s bureaucracy for you!).
Medicine: Bring a two week supply of any medication that you need on a regular basis and think might be difficult to procure in Egypt. Bring contact lens spares, glasses, etc. Blowing sand can be a problem with contacts. Bring a pair of spare glasses just in case the problem becomes acute. If you have a favorite sun block, bring it; otherwise this and other normal toiletries are available at hotel concessions and elsewhere.
Mosquito repellent is useful. The best antidote for bites is probably 100% Aloe gel, available in health food stores and most chain drugstores.
Laundry service is swift and efficient and not outrageously expensive, given normal 5 Star Hotel charges. If you don’t want to splurge on this option, either bring enough clothes so that you don’t need to use the laundry service or bring Woolite or another cold water wash. With the new breathable, super lightweight, quick-dry nylon supplex gear readily available, you can get through the trip with just a few items of clothing for the entire trip. A couple of yards of nylon clothesline and clothes pins will also come in handy.
Flashlight: Essential, and invariably useful. The brighter the better.
Binoculars: Optional, but useful — especially small, easy-to-carry, high powered, field glasses.
Odds and Ends, Miscellaneous, Afterthoughts: A few Ziploc bags of various sizes come in handy to keep things separate from other things, to prevent leaky bottles, etc., and often so does a bit of duct tape for emergency luggage repairs and the like. A box of man-size tissues is useful and so are pocket packs of Kleenex. Travel pillow: Those little U-shaped travel pillows (available in luggage shops, mail order houses, and, usually, airports) take some of the stress off your neck on the long plane and bus rides. MAKE A FEW XEROXES OF THE INFORMATION PAGE OF YOUR PASSPORT. After an obligatory initial surrendering of your passport at our first hotel stop (to have it registered with the police) you can use the Xerox wherever your passport is needed without having to give it up.
No shots are needed for Egypt. A number of very nasty diseases are rife among the rural poor of Egypt, mainly due to unsanitary conditions; swimming in the stagnant canals, etc. But these do not affect the tourist trade at all. ‘Pharaoh’s Revenge’ is usually the worst that tourists come down with. It’s no fun, but is usually over in a day.
In the event ‘Pharaoh’s Revenge’ hits, a bacterial antiseptic called Antinel (nifuroxazide - whatever that may be) is readily available in Egypt, apparently formulated for the infamous revenge — even though no one is sure what causes it in the first place. It works, especially if taken at the onset of symptoms. Whatever the thinking behind it, Antinel works better than Lomotil or anything else people get from their doctors over here. There seem to be few if any side effects. Beyond that, the ‘Revenge’ is unpredictable. On some trips almost no one comes down with it, yet on another identical trip just a few weeks later or earlier, almost everyone comes down with it. No one knows why.
It is thought that megadoses of acidopholous starting at least six weeks before departure works as a preventative. A pharmacist tells me that to really be effective, you should take much more acidopholous than the label suggests: up to six tablets twice a day and always on an empty stomach. The newly developed Primadopholous is supposed to have the same effect, taken once a day on an empty stomach. I am not really 100% certain if the acidopholous works or if it’s a health myth. I know of no legitimate controlled tests. But it does seem as though those who take the pills get very mild cases, and are over it quicker than those who don’t.
Jet lag combined with overstimulation is often a problem in the early days of the trip. I find that Melatonin, much touted as a jet lag antidote, works brilliantly. Calms Forte, a homeopathic sedative (available in health food stores) also lets you sleep your way out without the usual sleeping pill side-effects of drowsiness and heaviness. There is also another new homeopathic remedy specifically formulated to prevent jetlag called Jetzone, which seems to work well, at least for me. (Not everyone reacts the same way.) Otherwise, bringing the sleeping pill of your choice is not a bad idea.
Heartburn: The food is good in Egypt these days; usually very good. But it’s a different cuisine and the American/Westernized stomach often grumbles in response. Papaya Enzyme pills from the health food store seem to counteract acidity better than Rolaids or the like.
Hunger pangs: We are up early, and out at the sites for long hours so there are often protracted periods between meals. Egyptian-style snacks from local vendors are not recommended for the unacclimatized. It’s not a bad idea to bring a supply of Trail Mix or some other homegrown snack of your choice. We often pack individual doggie bags for ourselves at breakfast (sometimes these become lunch) but even so, snacks come in handy.
(Note: Though we stay in deluxe accommodations throughout, the trip itself is more arduous than many people anticipate. We are up early; we do a lot of walking and climbing and the impact of so much sacred art day after day takes its toll. This is not to discourage the elderly. On my trips the young get no less exhausted than the septuagenarians, or for that matter, this octogenarian. But be prepared for an assault on your inner resources.)
RECOMMENDED READING LIST — UPGRADED 2016
There is no single preferred way to prepare for Egypt. Many like to read everything they can that's relevant in advance; others prefer to read little or nothing, or just never get around to their homework before the plane leaves. Actually, it is a matter of personal preference. A familiarity with the principles and terminology of the ‘Symbolist’ interpretation obviously provides a head start toward understanding. But it is no substitute for the experience and a solid reading background in general can lead to preconceptions and expectations that have to be dispelled over the course of the trip. On the other hand, going in ‘cold’ with little or no homework done leaves you open, and the temples perform their stone magic with little or no internal or intellectual opposition. Many prefer it that way after the fact. After two weeks of Egypt, you have acquired both the experience and the explanation in tandem and you come back to your homework (usually exhausted but exhilarated). What you read now makes visceral sense and you have the context of experience. In other words, if you haven’t time to do your homework in advance, don’t fret about it.
Following is a selected list of the books that I consider most useful as advance reading. More complete bibliographies can be found in both Serpent in the Sky and The Traveler’s Key.
(Note: When I first compiled this list back in the ‘80s, I tried to list only books in print or that you stood a fair chance of finding in a bookstore or library. Asterisks single out those I consider most important for advance reading. Over the years, I’ve also integrated newly published titles and others that only have come to my attention since the original bibliographies were compiled.
But the internet has of course revolutionized availability. Now, a few clicks of the button accesses a vast trove of material that earlier could have taken a team of research assistants weeks just to find, much less obtain. So my upgraded advice is to start with what appeals in the Recommended Reading List and then surf the web for related books within the field.
The latest recommended material has not been integrated into the body of the list. But I have added it at the beginning of the list, rather than at the end, where it is likely to get overlooked.
New, Relatively New and Noteworthy Books and DVDs.
Go on line for further info/reviews on these and other titles. I have no time just now for appropriate reviews of my own. Blurbs will have to suffice. But the Internet provides a unique service to humanity by making reviews, other vital information and reading samples of any given title available at the click of a button)
THE DEAD SAINTS CHRONICLES: A Zen Journey Through the Christian Afterlife, by David Solomon; edited and with an Afterword by John Anthony West. The Dead
Victor Hugo’s famous line, “there is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come,” has been justly celebrated for over a century.
But its less optimistic corollary is seldom recognized; never articulated. “The second strongest thing in the world is an idea whose time has not yet gone.”
And since all the armies in the world (be they military, scientific, scholarly, economic, financial, technological, even cultural and artistic) are formally, or de facto pledged to defend the idea whose time has not yet gone, that “idea whose time has come” comes only after a long, tortuous struggle.
The Dead Saints Chronicles is a unique study of the Near Death Experience, compelling as scholarship, emotionally charged, philosophically and spiritually rewarding, scientifically (in my view) unchallengeable.
Sometimes a single book, event or study tips the balance, opening the door to the new, and ushering out the old. The Dead Saints Chronicles has the potential to become one of these.
Google it up on Amazon for further detailed information .
TRUTH IS THE SOUL OF THE SUN, Maria Isabel Pita. I almost never recommend novels set in Ancient Egypt. They rarely capture the essence of what I believe was the real Egypt. This biographical novel about Queen Hatshepsut is a compelling exception. See my own mini-review among the reviews posted on Amazon.
FORGOTTEN CIVILIZATION, Robert M. Schoch. In his usual thorough way, Schoch may be zeroing in on the cataclysm that brought down the last Ice age and with it, the great civilization in place at that time.
SHAMANIC WISDOM OF THE PYRAMID TEXTS, Jeremy Naydler An erudite, intriguing and compelling re-interpretation of these enigmatic texts.
ATLANTIS AND THE CYCLES OF TIME, Joscelyn Godwin. Everything you ever wanted to know about both Atlantis and “Atlantis” but never knew where to look. A magisterial work of scholarship.
EGYPT’S ETERNAL LIGHT, Sarite Sanders. Arguably the best book of photographs of Egypt ever published. In b/w infrared, Sanders captures both the mystery and the majesty of Egypt as no one has ever done before. It makes an ideal present for the visual connoisseur.
THE COSMOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF MYTH AND SYMBOL: From the Dogon and Ancient Egypt to Tibet, China and India; SACRED SYMBOLS OF THE DOGON: The Key to Advanced Science in the Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Laird Scranton. Step by step, and book by book, Scranton is proving the existence of an advanced cosmological science across the entire globe in ancient times.
MAGICAL EGYPT: A Symbolist Tour. 8 Episode DVD. This is the magnum opus based upon my work and of course centered upon Schwaller de Lubicz’s Symbolist re-interpretation of the ancient Egyptian sacred science. If you cannot travel to Egypt yourself, this extraordinary series is as close as you can get to the real thing. Created by my genius (a word I do not use indiscriminately!) partner Chance Gardner, MAGICAL EGYPT is a feast for the eyes and an endless source of delight for the heart, mind and soul. You can buy the set direct from me at a friendly discount.
THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF PARADISE: Egypt in Poetry; IF I WERE RUMI: Poems from the Heartland; THE TESTAMENT and THIRTEEN STEPS FOR THE BEGINNING MIND Stories (not poetry this time) of Inner Truth by Linda Pearce.
The rarest of literary art forms may be the truly metaphysical poem (as opposed to New Age “spiritual” woffle).
When it happens, it is an alchemical fusion of resonating language, profound philosophy and precise passion ... an instance of language overreaching itself. Linda Pearce’s poetry realizes that heady and felicitous mixture as does nothing else contemporary that I can think of.
Order direct from her for autographed copies http://eternalplanet.com
FURTHER READING LIST
'SYMBOLIST' EGYPT/ESOTERIC PHILOSOPHY/ALTERNATIVE SCHOLARSHIP
* THE TRAVELER'S KEY TO ANCIENT EGYPT & SERPENT IN THE SKY: The High Wisdom of Ancient Egypt (Quest Books), John Anthony West.
THE TEMPLE IN MAN, R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, Inner Traditions International.
SACRED SCIENCE, R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, Inner Traditions International.
* THE EGYPTIAN MIRACLE, R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, Inner Traditions International.
** THE TEMPLE OF MAN, R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz. (2 vols). (Handle with care! You’ve been warned!)
HER-BAK & HER-BAK, DISCIPLE, Isha Schwaller de Lubicz, Inner Traditions International.
* SACRED GEOMETRY, Robert Lawlor, Crossroad.
* A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO CONSTRUCTING THE UNIVERSE, Michael Schneider
* THE SCIENCE OF THE DOGON & THE SYMBOLISM OF THE DOGON, Laird Scranton
CONNECTIONS: The Geometric Bridge Between Art and Science, Jay Kappraff, McGraw Hill.
* EGYPTIAN MYSTERIES, Lucie Lamy, Inner Traditions International.
THE GODDESS SEKHMET, Robert Masters, Amity House.
TEMPLE OF THE COSMOS, & SHAMANIC WISDOM OF THE PYRAMID TEXTS, Jeremy Naydler, Inner Traditions International.
* THE MESSAGE OF THE SPHINX, (in UK, KEEPER OF GENESIS), Graham Hancock & Robert Bauval, Crown.
IN SEARCH OF THE MIRACULOUS, P.D. Ouspensky.
AWAKENING OSIRIS, Normandi Ellis, Phanes.
HATHOR RISING, Alison Roberts, Inner Traditions
SACRED SEXUALITY IN ANCIENT EGYPT, Ruth Schumann Antelme
THE GIZA POWERPLANT, Christopher Dunn
THE SPIRITUAL TECHNOLOGY OF ANCIENT EGYPT & BEFORE THE PHAROAHS, Edward F. Malkowski
LE MYSTERE DES CATHEDRALS, Fulcanelli: master alchemist.
FULCANELLI AND THE ALCHEMICAL REVIVAL, Genevieve Dubois
PYRAMIDS AND PYRAMIDOLOGY
* SECRETS OF THE GREAT PYRAMID, Peter Tompkins, Harper & Row.
THE GREAT PYRAMID DECODED, Peter Lemesurier, Avon.
TRAVEL AND PERSONAL ACCOUNTS
IN SEARCH OF SECRET EGYPT, Paul Brunton.
* LETTERS FROM EGYPT: A Journey on the Nile, 1849-1850; Florence Nightingale, Weidenfeld & Nicholson.
FLAUBERT IN EGYPT, translated and edited by Francis Steegmuller, Academy.
ONE THOUSAND MILES UP THE NILE, Amelia Edwards, Dover.
* RIVER IN THE DESERT: Modern Travels in Ancient Egypt, Paul William Roberts, Random House.
GENERAL INTEREST/ACADEMIC EGYPTOLOGY
ETERNAL EGYPT, Pierre Montet, Mentor.
ATLAS OF ANCIENT EGYPT, John Baines & Jaromir Malek, Facts on File.
MYTH AND SYMBOL IN ANCIENT EGYPT, R.T. Rundle Clark, Thames & Hudson.
* FINGERPRINTS OF THE GODS & SUPERNATURAL, Graham Hancock, Crown.
BEYOND THE BIG BANG: Ancient Cosmology and the Science of Continuous Creation, Paul LaViolette, Inner Traditions International.
EARTH UNDER FIRE, Paul LaViolette, Inner Traditions International.
BLACK ATHENA: The Afro-Asiatic Roots of Greek Civilization (Vol. I), Martin Bernal, Rutgers.
* VOICES OF THE ROCKS & VOYAGES OF THE PYRAMID BUILDERS, Robert M. Schoch
THE MATRIX OF CREATION & SACRED NUMBER AND THE ORIGINS OF CIVILIZATION, Richard Heath.
©2016 John Anthony West