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Posts Tagged ‘Roman Empire’

Revelations

image from www-josephinewall-co.uk

“…When a choice will make a real difference in our lives—obvious or not—and when we are living in tune with the Spirit and seeking his guidance, we can be sure we will receive the guidance we need to attain our goal.”
― Dallin H. Oaks

My trip through history really begins……

From Acre we took a leisurely drive overlooking the Galilee and Jezreel valleys, but were unable to go up to the Golan Heights was it still considered a ‘delicate’ area. We stopped for the night at the Kibbutz Ginnosar where the Sea of Galilee Boat or Jesus Boat was discovered in 1986.  Due to its preservation in the mud it is still able to be seen how and what the boat was made from, but the effects of exposure to the open air is now causing problems.  The next morning we were able to ride on a similar boat on the Sea of Galilee.  The cool air as we sailed along was really pleasant as the day began to heat up.

From there we drove to the Church of the Beatitudes.  Amazing frescoes in the church and sights from the mountain across the Sea of Galilee to Jordan on the far side gave one a feeling of what life must be like on a daily basis. On one side the peaceful sounds of the church service and the smell of incense and on the other, so near to an ancient enemy. It was almost too much for the mind to take in. Leaving there we drove to Nazareth where Jesus spent his childhood and after a couple of hours walking round with our guide, we left.

Traveling back towards the ‘border’ we drove down to the Dead Sea. It was surreal seeing the Palestinian villages on one side of the road and the Jewish settlements on the other. There were even occasions where there was a Jewish and Palestinian village side by side.  It was impossible to miss the high wire fences around the Jewish settlements.  It seemed sad that they could work side by side and yet need to be barricaded inside an enclosure at night to be safe. By day, they were almost neighbours, but by night enemies once more. The electric fences were the only thing keeping the Israeli farmers safe.  The voices of the past echoed around me.

Following the Dead Sea, we drove to Masada. It was an incredible landscape of dry and desolate land. Masada was an ancient fortification in the Southern District of Israel, situated on top of an isolated rock plateau (akin to a mesa) on the eastern edge of the Judaean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea. The Siege of Masada by troops of the Roman Empire ended in the deaths of the 960 Jewish men and their families hiding there. (This is my understanding: “Since suicide is a sin a secret lottery was taken by the men. Everyone was killed the night before the Romans intended to overrun the settlement. The unlucky lottery ‘winner’ killed everyone before committing  suicide. In this way only one person would have broken the commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill”, and committed the sin of suicide.”)

There were a couple of buildings under excavation too. Walking around the mesa was an eerie feeling. History spoke from every corner. As I walked around there was the sound of ancient footsteps and quiet voices. Spirit was crossing the ages for me.

The ‘strange’ part of the story begins here. After the Romans entered the settlement late in the day and found the dead bodies, the Commander ordered that the bodies be thrown off the plateau the following morning. However, the next morning not a single body could be found, neither in the settlement nor around the base of the plateau. They had simply – disappeared.

After a leisurely ride down in the cable car, we drove to our hotel at the Dead Sea. As we gathered to collect our suitcases prior to check in, I found my case had met with an accident. The wheels had been ripped out of the bottom of the case. How? I have no idea, but the idea of struggling with my case for the rest of my holiday made me shudder. A nice letter from the hotel manager, which later proved to be useless, was filed away with my paperwork.

Booked in, we all changed into our swimmers (old ones) and a shirt, to troop down to the Dead Sea. Suitably lathered in sunscreen with the warnings that:- we could spend no more than 5 – 10 minutes in the water and MUST shower at the beach before returning to the hotel.  Oh, and of course, there is the oft repeated statement, ”Everyone can float in the Dead Sea” or “No-one can drown in the Dead Sea”.

Down we go, in two’s and three’s we wander along the walkway into the Dead Sea. Like the petals of a flower slowly opening, people float off around the end of the walkway, a colourful explosion of laughing people. Of course being a chicken considerate person I held the cameras so Mel could go in first.  She thought it was great, just floating along without effort was a dream.  Then it was my turn.  All I have to do is walk out and let my feet float up in front of me as I lean back slightly. No trouble at all, just so easy, nothing could go wrong. Wrong! Oh damn! I leaned back a little and my feet started to come off the bottom. A surge of adrenalin hit me and I tried to stand back up.

Oh No – No Way was that going to happen. My feet kept rising, my arms were windmilling and very unladylike squeaks were coming from my mouth. As my arms windmilled and I squeaked, the obvious happened.  The one thing they really, strongly advised us against. DO NOT GET WATER IN YOUR EYES OR MOUTH.  They could have also added nose, but I presume they thought everyone would have got the message. Well, I did get the message, but, try flailing madly with your arms and stopping water from getting in your eyes, nose, mouth and ears. Someone finally realised I wasn’t playing around and grabbed my arm and I found my footing. Of course once found, I made an immediate exit from the Dead Sea.

My eyes, nose and throat burned like the dickens. A bottle of water later and all I could taste was salt. By this time Mel arrived so we both made a dash for the beach showers.  After ten minutes we gave in and made our way quickly to our rooms. Showered, shampooed and a bottle of moisturiser later I called her room and went over. I had run out of eye drops and was still feeling salty. We agreed; we felt as if we had been pickled in brine. We spent a small fortune on soaps and lotions and still our skin peeled off. I dread to think what it did to my stomach.

Cases packed, and in my case, manhandled by the porter, we climbed back on board the bus for Jerusalem. We had one stop to make…. to Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Ciao,  Susan x

Next week –  Jerusalem

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