Egyptian Journeybook (© Janet Piedilato, 2016 , Publication forthcoming)
As a child I frequently journeyed in my imagination to faraway places in distant times. In actuality I traveled little. Yet when I think about the few ordinary-reality trips of my childhood I am awed by the places I visited, for each was sacred: St. Anne de Beaux Pre, St. Anthony’s Shrine, Holy Cross Monastery, and the like. While my parents had neither the inclination toward nor the funds for grandiose vacations, they had a deep abiding faith around which our entire lives revolved.
My personal pilgrimages have continued ever since. Perhaps the most simple is the one I often make to the monastery of my childhood, the very place sacred to Mom and Dad. While the distance is mere minutes from my office, the time of my travel is transformed as I contemplate the visit. The anticipation strips the years away and flings my mind back to the tender warmth of my childhood. Freed from the physical walls of place, the mind conjures up the past, choosing the players and the events that make present that earlier period. I see wonderful, talented, musical, humorous Father Hugh, another of my childhood favorites. I see myself, a tiny child climbing the spiral steps of the chapel in response to Father’s invitation that I sit with him in the choir loft high above the services. I hear his magnificent voice above the deep organ music. I see the candles sputter and the incense rise. I remember Christmas and Easter celebrations and I see Father playing “Oh Tannebaum!” on the piano in our home. I hear his giggle as his finger sticks to a single key. I am filled with warmth at these memories. I feel peace. I find myself in the company of the Divine.
These mental meanderings enforce my belief that the real temple lies within; the real healing place exists not so much in tangible ordinary reality deep within us where we hold onto our memories, make sense of our puzzles, and fuel our passions. By journeying to the landscape of our inner being we can access a powerful resource available to everyone.
Long before these physical visits, I journeyed on the wings of my imaginings, traveling to the landscape of my dreams. As an adult I continue this, keeping alive that which in time is distant from me in space. I revisit places of my past as well as visiting places beyond my personal experience. By calling up the images, I connect and commune with the spaces from which I am physically absent. In many ways I am not unlike the ancient Egyptian who believed that if an image of an object or person was created, the object or person lived on even after the object itself was destroyed or the person dead. The images that adorn the Egyptian temples and mortuary walls keep alive the deceased. They invite the presence of the gods and goddesses, the infinite aspects of the Divine.
As Earth prepared to move into the twenty-first century, people paused and looked back to the past and forward to the future, much like the ancient god Janus who stands between the old and New Year as the month of January. It was a time of reflection, an important transition. People yearned to be someplace special, someplace where they could create memories. Around this time, I completed an Egyptian workshop titled The Dismemberment of Osiris at a lovely retreat center in Ashville North Carolina. Twenty Eight Days, a film with Sandra Bullock was being filmed on our retreat site and was a perfect metaphor for the illusion of what is seen and what is real. I never forget my experience on the last day. As I walked from my workshop hurrying to return and pack to catch my flight back home, I completely passed the main building where most of us were housed. In astonishment I realized that the pillars at the entrance along with several trees and beautiful flowering bushes were all gone. What appeared as real, were in fact, illusionary presentations of the film crew! As the film was completed at the same time as our workshops, the trimmings were removed revealing a much simpler landscape. We all spoke of this yet it was not the main topic. The workshop participants were so excited over my workshop they urged me to bring them on spiritual pilgrimage that they could experience the ancient monuments in situ. I returned home to a series of synchronicities opened the opportunity and thus propelled me to do so. I decided to mark the transition into the new millennium with a pilgrimage to Egypt. The flavor of our journey comes through the memorable photos.
Yet that workshop birthed more than a physical journey. It manifested an Egyptian Journeybook that others could visit imaginally, visit on the wings of their mental faculties, the deep spiritual awakening which resides in the powerful Ancient Egyptian images.
Thus was The Egyptian Journeybook born. While it was originally intended to be a guidebook of the rituals and prayers that I celebrated during my visit to Egypt, it quickly turned into a guide to entering the personal temple within. As the power of my personal inner visits filled me, I wished to share with others the treasures that waited them through the portal to their own personal inner landscape. The Egyptian visions, hymns, prayers, and mythic stories provide inspiration for those who wish to visit these sacred landscapes in their mind and encourage the use of personal ritual and imaginal journeying for self-discovery.
The very writing of The Egyptian Journeybook was a sacred pilgrimage to me. I hope the reading and experience of it will call upon images that will rise and bring a new group of imaginal pilgrims to new levels of self-understanding.
As any journey begins so does this, in the dreams that give it birth.
And so dear reader for you the blessing of a dream,
Wings to your desires as you prepare to celebrate
The journey within.
Few will travel physically to Egypt,
Many will fly on the wings of imagination.
Each will seek the Inner Portals,
Entrance to the sacred temple within.
To all who gain access,
May the shower of Blessings greet thee!
May the Divine welcome thee!
Beyond name, face, or form,
Beloved of the Millions of Names,
(Egyptian Journeybook, all rights reserved © Janet Piedilato, 2016)
Ignatius Piedilato at temple complex
Temple of Hathor