Between the Paws of the Sphinx: A Solar Eclipse Story

The solar eclipse was a big draw. I never knew what the deal was with eclipses but I remembered my father singled out special astronomical events so we could look at the sky through his telescope. President of the Jamaica Astronomical Society and reportedly the most knowledgeable astronomer in Jamaica in his day, my Dad had a permanent mounted 12 inch diameter refractor telescope mounted on a concrete slab on the front lawn of our house in Kingston.  I was a child when a large comet was passing by earth. I did not remember it because I was about three years old at the time.  But later on when I told him I was considering going to Egypt for a solar eclipse, my Dad encouraged it and told me he had woken me up about 3 in the morning so that I could see the Comet Seki.  

The email invitation to go to Egypt for the solar eclipse in August 1999 hit me in the belly like a lightning bolt. It was one of those rare times in my life when I just knew I had to drop everything and, come hell or high water, follow that thread that pulled me forward from the future.  I had to trust that I would be supported to go there.

12 friends assembled from all parts of the States, Canada and Europe. The Egypt Air 12 hour flight from New York JFK to Cairo was notable for the smoking section in the back of the plane.

We arrived jet lagged and joyful and were met by a jovial Egyptian, Mohamed, who gathered us up like a mother hen with chicks and led us to a waiting bus.  The Cairo streets teamed with pedestrians, dust, horse drawn carts, bustling cars that did not follow the silly idea of lanes to separate the traffic, everyone just moved forward haphazardly as fast as possible.  It was stifling hot, this being the middle of August.

Our hotel was an oasis of Middle Eastern charm. It looked like a large Sultan’s residence with ornate balcony railings, turrets and manicured lawns lined with white painted rocks. Date trees laden with fruit and palm trees interspersed with flowering pink jacaranda trees and bougainvillea surrounded the large property that overlooked the Great Pyramid.

Sleeping beside the Great Pyramid sounded romantic and exotic but in truth, it felt to me like trying to sleep inside a giant electrical transformer station. To the sensitive, it was a feeling of having an inner electricity current switched permanently to ON. 

Despite the jet lag and the hazardous road traffic that made crossing the street a daring game of Russian roulette, we managed to walk a few blocks to an outdoor café where we feasted on rice and lamb, falafel, hummous and all sorts of savory salads.

The next day Mohamed took us to the ruins at Saqquara where we saw the mysterious Step Pyramid sunken partially in the desert sand and watched camel riders of security guards patrolling the grounds to protect the tourists.  

The highlight of the trip was the day and night of the Eclipse. Mohamed had arranged for us to have the Great Pyramid for ourselves at night so around 11 in the evening, we were escorted over to the Great Pyramid for a private tour.  We entered and were first taken to the steps to descend into the pit. We descended a narrow set of stairs into a small room, like a cave, where we were deep underneath the pyramid. Because this was who we were, we decided it would be a great idea to turn off all the flashlights so that we could meditate deep in the pyramid in darkness. We sat in silence, drinking in the immense silence that emanated and pulsed from the ground and the pyramid above them.  And then we did some toning that allowed a release of primal emotion, appropriate for the setting of being in a pit.

We then ascended back into the main space and up a set of wide long steps to enter the King’s chamber,  a large room with nothing but a stone sarcophagus built into the floor at one side of the chamber. We sat around the perimeter of the chamber to meditate and each took turns laying in the sarcophagus. When it was my turn, I was helped into the sarcophagus, I lay down and closed my eyes. It felt like I was laying on a bed of velvet. My eyes were closed but I felt like I was looking at the vastness of the night sky and the Milky way.  The mystery of that sarcophagus. Sitting back up I had to be helped out of it. 

Later, after leaving the Pyramid, we walked over to the Sphinx, the giant leonine stone guardian that sits with long outstretched paws on the Giza Plateau. We gathered as a group between the paws of the Sphinx and someone arranged to have a birthday cake brought for Leslie. This was the reason we were all here.

The year before, Leslie Temple-Thurston, spiritual teacher from South Africa, had a vision of being at the Pyramid in Egypt and figured out that it should be on the Solar Eclipse in August 1999 which coincided with her birthday. When she’d had this vision, she’d put it out to a few people that she was going to do this even though she wasn’t sure what it would look like. She was being guided to trust that she would be shown. 11 of her students, myself included, immediately signed up to go, each of us called to participate in what would be a remarkable adventure and pilgrimage.

This solar eclipse trip to Egypt was not the typical Egypt tour. We mostly did many hours of group processing work and meditation together at the hotel processing egoic states of consciousness. One of the reasons I was initially drawn to study with Leslie as a spiritual teacher and teacher of enlightenment and nonduality, is that she emphasizes the importance of doing shadow work as a path towards clearing the separate self. I was meditating for several years prior to studying with Leslie but I came to the realization that there is no point doing a lot of meditation and entering into transcendent states of consciousness if we don’t have the tools to process the inevitable states of shadow that are going to be flushed up out of the psyche after the influx of Light. In my experience we need meditation, a strong witness presence, and. most importantly, tools to process the shadow states in the human psyche. Leslie offers a unique transcendent and clear transmission of unity consciousness and tools to return to the Oneness inherent in all of us.  One of the keys to ascension as she describes in her book Returning to Oneness: The Seven Keys of Ascension is to “Trust in the Support of the Invisible Realms.”

 As revealed to all of us as we worked on our collective group processing of shadow work and meditation, it turned out the true mission of the trip was to anchor an intention of peace and unity consciousness for the world on the Nilotic Meridian, an important ley line on the planet running the length of Africa from the Great Pyramid to the tip of South Africa, at a time of extraordinary astrological potential offered by the solar eclipse and a Grand Cross.  Our lives were blessed by the experience and by trusting that we could show up and do some collective work.  The world is desperately in need of an intervention out of the polarized human egoic states that have placed human greed, ignorance and patriarchal domination above all other life on the planet.  But people are waking up and we need people who can hold the state of nonduality, who can trust in the support of the invisible realms and do the personal shadow work to break through into a greater state of consciousness and hold a vision for the future that is healthy and thriving for all. 

In an essay about the experience of this solar eclipse trip titled “Beyond the Beyond” and published in the anthology The Modern Day Alchemist from the Land of the Pharaohs, Leslie wrote:

“The birth of a more balanced consciousness, with the power to lift humanity up beyond the old good/evil, right/wrong polarizations of this human world and into a permanently peaceful and unified state, is undoubtedly in humanity’s future. But first there must be a cleaning out of negative unconscious ego issues. The Great Pyramid of Giza, on August 11, 1999, generated a light that played a significant part in beginning this process.” ~ Leslie Temple-Thurston

Eating chocolate cake between the paws of the Sphinx on the solar eclipse was just a bonus.   © Kathy Stanley

All Rights Reserved.

Join us in Portland July 11 – 14 at the Unity Church on Stark Street for Alchemy of the Heart: Uniting the Divine Feminine and Masculine Within with Brad Laughlin

Reference: Temple-Thurston, Leslie. (2009). “Beyond the Beyond.” In George Faddoul and Mohamed Nazmy (Eds.), The modern day alchemist: secrets of manifestation revealed to awaken the alchemist within (pp. 46-67). Sydney, Australia: QC Publishing.

Related post: 4 Steps in Taming the Big Four: Victim, Tyrant, Rebel, Savior

Related post: Pilgrimage, Earth Energies, and the Alchemy of Sacred Sites

About Leslie Temple-Thurston

Read Returning to Oneness: The Seven Keys of Ascension by Leslie Temple-Thurston with Brad Laughlin

Leave a Reply