The Pilgrimage

Trav­el­ing to sacred sites in search of the­o­log­i­cal con­fir­ma­tion, can bring on a great antic­i­pa­tion for expected authen­tic­ity. To the spir­i­tual trav­eler, pic­ture tak­ing is never quite enough. The place must be more than just vis­ited, it must be expe­ri­enced. An explorer who feels the urge to know a sacred truth more deeply becomes more than just a trav­eler. By virtue of their long­ing and com­mit­ment to make the jour­ney and by the desire to more deeply take in that sacred knowl­edge, they become a pil­grim. So it was for nine­teen O.T.O. pil­grims, by going to Egypt for April 8, 9, and 10, 2004, to cel­e­brate the 100th Anniver­sary of the writ­ing of the The Book of the Law, and our new Aeon.

For Brother Vere and myself, we wanted to dis­cover the envi­ron­ment in which Crow­ley found him­self at that time; to take our sacred Book of the Law and read it in the coun­try of its birth, and to wit­ness for our­selves the Stele of Reveal­ing from which Rose and Aleis­ter drew inspiration.

stele of revealing

stele of revealing

The only spe­cific plan for all of us was to meet at noon on each of the three suc­ces­sive days, April 8, 9 and 10, to cel­e­brate The Three Days of the Writ­ing of the Book of the Law. Aside from that, we each strove to do and see as much as we pos­si­bly could, expe­ri­enc­ing those things that would more closely give us insight or enhance our Thelemic perspectives.

On the morn­ing of April 8, whomever was in Egypt for the event was to meet in the lobby of the Mena House Oboroi, a beau­ti­ful 5-Star hotel located right across from the Giza Pyra­mids. By noon, the fol­low­ing peo­ple had gath­ered in the hotel foyer: Brother Diony­sius and Sis­ter Valerie from Ams­ter­dam, Nether­lands; Sis­ter Rhonda and Brother Gor­don from Van­cou­ver, Canada; Sis­ter Annette, Brother Brent and Brother Daniel from Aus­tralia; Sis­ter Xenia, Brother Alexey and Brother Nadav from Israel; Brother Peter, Brother Zacharias and Sis­ter Kristina from Swe­den; and Sis­ter Mary Lynn, Brother Jason, Soror Ashera, Frater Hru­machis, Brother Vere and myself from the US — nine­teen peo­ple from six dif­fer­ent coun­tries and four continents.

A per­fect grassy spot on the gar­den grounds had been found with the Great Pyra­mid stand­ing in wit­ness, stately across the plateau, while we sat quite com­fort­ably in a big cir­cle under the shade of sev­eral palm trees. We began by going around the cir­cle intro­duc­ing our­selves. Most gave their legal name, their mag­i­cal name, what coun­try they were from, what body they were from, and if they served their body in any offi­cer posi­tion. Most atten­dees were body mas­ters, sec­re­taries or treasurers.

garden

gar­den

Frater Hru­machis set up a small cen­tral altar and incense was lit. He also began by doing an invo­ca­tion for this spe­cial occa­sion. Then we read by going around the cir­cle, each recit­ing a verse from the First Chap­ter, until it was com­pleted. It was such a won­der­ful feel­ing to be sit­ting there shar­ing in the momen­tous occa­sion with brethren from around the world. I could see in each one’s face the same enthrallment.

Right after­ward, we got the idea to call Hymenaes Beta and have him join us in our rev­elry. Brother Vere called him with his cell phone and of course we woke him up, as he was half way around the world in another time zone. Nonethe­less, he seemed amenable to the occa­sion so we all called out “93!” into the phone. After Brother Vere signed off, we all did mid­day Resh and then lined up for group pho­tos. Excited to get to know one another bet­ter, we all walked sev­eral blocks to a nearby restau­rant for lunch.

After lunch we all split up to go explor­ing Cairo, but we all agreed to meet later that evening at a down­town restau­rant for din­ner. After a deli­cious din­ner we walked around a bit as the town comes more alive after dark. Admit­tedly the temp­ta­tion was too great. We each spent time at a nearby pas­try shop fill­ing up small trays of assorted Baklava and cakes to take to a local Ahwa (out­door cof­fee house) to lounge and feast again. We gath­ered in a col­or­ful tent like struc­ture along the street. Some also par­took of the local shisha (tobacco smoked in a water pipe) with one of two tobac­cos, one soaked in molasses and the other soaked in apple. Some­thing surely, we thought, Crow­ley must have also indulged in.

On the sec­ond sacred day at noon, we reassem­bled for our sec­ond day of the read­ing of The Book of the Law. We gath­ered once again in the same grassy area; how­ever, today the call to prayer was even louder and longer as Friday’s are to the Mus­lim what Sun­days are to Chris­tians and prayer is deliv­ered more fer­vently. So as not to delay our noon read­ing win­dow, we decided to move fur­ther around the back of the hotel to a more pri­vate and qui­eter place, which ended up being just as pleas­ant if not more so.

We began as before with a brief invo­ca­tion by Frater Hru­machis, incense, and then the read­ing com­menced going around the cir­cle. After the read­ing we agreed to call Sabaz­ius. He did not answer his phone, as it was in the mid­dle of the night for him, but we did leave a mes­sage on his recorder with our “93” greet­ing. We fol­lowed the read­ing with pass­ing around a book for every­one to list their names and emails, in order to more eas­ily share our com­ments and pic­tures of the entire event. We fol­lowed that by per­form­ing mid­day Resh and again going out to a local restau­rant to feast.

feast

feast

That evening we all met at the Oasis Hotel, where Soror Ashera had arranged to have a din­ner and belly danc­ing show in the hotel’s night­club for the entire group. We had a great din­ner and enter­tain­ment began with a singing duo, and later fea­tured an Egypt­ian Dancer “Sozi.” At one point Sozi came into the audi­ence to our table, pulling Brother Peter up to dance with her. He began to dance with so much jubi­la­tion of arms swing­ing and feet kick­ing up, that he lit­er­ally stole the show. He received a wild applause from every­one in the house.

For our third day of the read­ing of The Book of the Law, we once again found our famil­iar spot on the grassy grounds of the Mena House. Frater Hru­machis again per­formed an open­ing invo­ca­tion, incense was lit and we read of the Third Chap­ter, going around the cir­cle until, it too, was com­pleted. It had all seemed too short. We passed around our indi­vid­ual Books of the Law to have every­one sign the oth­ers, to com­mem­o­rate the occa­sion. Even within the short time that we had met, we could sense such a strong bond between us all. Many had tears in their eyes as we shared hugs of brother and sisterhood.

group

group

Mid­day Resh was per­formed and we all went to lunch again. After that most every­one decided to reassem­ble down­town at the Cairo Museum to once again look upon the Stele of Reveal­ing. Brother Gor­don and Sis­ter Rhonda had done some research upon arriv­ing ear­lier in Egypt, to learn that the Stele of Reveal­ing had been dis­cov­ered in a cache in the vil­lage of Gour­nah, where it had been moved from its orig­i­nal loca­tion in a hill­side tomb near the Tem­ple of Hat­shep­sut, which lies just south of the Val­ley of the Kings. It was the inten­tion of our group to be able to get into the glass case where it was on dis­play and be able to look at its reverse side. How­ever, the direc­tor of that sec­tion of the museum was on vaca­tion so it was not allowed.

museum

museum

This last day for many on the pil­grim­age still held a sur­prise, for every­one was about to be shown some­thing we didn’t even know still existed, the cof­fin of Ankh-af-na-khonsu! Sis­ter Xenia had been the one to find it in a side hall of the Egypt­ian Museum. Sure enough, there was a name­plate with his name and the date said it was from the XXVI Dynasty, the same as the Stele. The color was very good on the out­side, the lacquer-like fin­ish giv­ing it a golden-orange color. Time and its trans­port had cre­ated chips off of the col­or­fully painted plas­ter and cracks had devel­oped, but the over­all effect was impres­sive. What a won­der to behold a paint­ing of what once resem­bled the look of this unique indi­vid­ual. Finally, a face to go with his mys­te­ri­ous words!

ankhafnakhonsu

ankhaf­nakhonsu

The trip for every­one had finally come to an end though too soon. Deep friend­ships had been formed. A taste for mys­tery had been rewarded. We had not only seen the Stele of Reveal­ing, we had seen the Priest of the Prince’s last rest­ing sar­coph­a­gus. The sacred truths that we had wanted to be sure of, had been con­firmed. And like most pil­grims who answer to the call of spir­i­tual yearn­ing, the holi­ness and the mys­tery had found its way within us, and we would never be the same again.

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