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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