Home' Nova National : October 2011 Contents from the earth and in using only dead
wood for fire we avoided terminating
a tree's life force. In laughing often and
easily, we re-energised our souls...
When the chanting and dance
finished, it was time to return to the 20th
century and I ascended the rickety ladder
stricken with the realisation of just how
much respect humankind has lost for the
natural world we live in.
Anywhere in Egypt evokes an
indescribable feeling of reverence within
me; the River Nile, the pyramids, sphinx
and ancient temples, especially Karnak
Temple in Luxor. I like to meditate beside
the Sacred Lake early in the morning
before the busloads of tourists arrive.
Karnak Temple is considered to be the
noblest architectural work ever designed
and executed by human hands, anywhere
in the world.
Entering through the western gate,
I walk between the rows of ram headed
sphinxes, each with a tiny statue of Ramses
11 between their paws. From here, I walk
through the Temple of Amun built by
Ramses 111 (1194 -- 1163 BC) where the
stone walls are covered with murals of the
King slaughtering his enemies, conquering
the forces of chaos and darkness. Pausing
to absorb the atmosphere of the Hypostyle
Hall, with its forest of pillars representing
stems of the revered papyri, I recall it
was this gigantic temple that the gentle,
peace-loving Akhenaten renounced and
walked away from to build his Temple of
the Sun in Amarna.
Although most temples include a
sacred lake, the one at Karnak is believed
to be the largest. In ancient times, every
morning at sunrise, a goose was set free
by the priests in a ceremony dedicated
to Amun, the God of Creation. I walk
towards the lake along a track fringed with
date palms bowing under the weight of
their amber fruit.
Sitting on the ground, leaning against
the trunk of a sycamore tree, I close my
eyes, imagining the temple in its original
The sounds of laughter echoing from
the papyrus pools, courtiers throwing
boomerangs at ducks and pheasants,
ibises darting at plump fish cruising in
blanket, insisting on placing it around my
Eventually, after managing to
communicate a little via charades, my
young friend invited me to accompany
him underground to join his tribal family.
He ushered me to a wooden ladder
poking from a gaping hole in the ground.
Throwing caution to the wind, I
scrambled down the crude ladder into
the Kiva. Here, the atmosphere was like
pea soup, thick with burning sage and
the sound of pounding feet. Women
and children squatted on the floor. I felt
uncomfortable, very much the intruder
as I squashed in among them. Gradually,
reassured by my friend's smiles and head
nodding, I began to relax, allowing the
tide of time to flow through me, absorbing
the magic of an ancient civilisation, back
to a time of living interdependently
with Nature and feeling complete
affinity with the Great Spirit. I felt as
if I was journeying back to a former
Remembering a time when we knew
we were not separate from the trees,
plants, rocks and waterways, living in
harmony with each other, keeping the
sacred circle alive. We drew strength
By having a reverence for life, we enter
into a spiritual relationship with the
entire world. By practising reverence for
life, we become good, deep and alive.
-- Albert Schweitzer.
Ibelieve that the more alert we are
to the world around us, the more
opportunities we have to experience
reverence. From examining the
intricate designs on a butterfly's wing, to
witnessing the setting of the sun at the
end of each day, staining the sky crimson.
One of my most memorable
experiences of being reduced to a state
of absolute awe occurred 21 years ago
in Arizona when invited to attend a Hopi
Indian Kachina ceremony.
The narrow mesa, known as "First
Mesa", rose so high above ground level
18 © NOVA OCOTBER 2011
Jo Buchanan shares moments when her life has
expanded beyond the physical into the spiritual.
Reverence For Life
that peering over the side was like
viewing the red desert below from an
aeroplane. Intoxicated by drums and
chanting, I ventured a short distance
away from the group to sit by myself.
Sections of the ceremony were taboo for
us. These were conducted underground
in large, dugout caves called Kivas
where the Hopi women and children sat
huddled in the subterranean rooms to
watch the men perform ancient legends,
their heads hidden inside grotesque
As I shivered in the darkness of the
night, absorbing the pulse from the dance
below, three teenage boys approached
and attempted conversation. It was
difficult to understand each other so
we contented ourselves with smiles
and head nodding. One offered me his
Jo with teepee at Monument Valley.
Full moon at Luxor.
Sacred Lake Karnak Temple.
'Here, the atmosphere was
like pea soup, thick with
burning sage and the sound of
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