Ahhh! Jerusalem! What to say? Where to start? This sure ain’t Kansas any more.
The overwhelming feeling arriving here early in the morning as the sun rose was one of a deep sadness pervading the air. A deep grief, like that of a mother who has lost her child. It still remains, some days later, a background static like a radio not fully on the station.
The stamping ground of the Christ, his disciples and his family, Elijah Mohammed, Kings David and Solomon (2 of the many Entities that manifest in Brazil from time to time), and of course Abraham who provided the roots and trunk from which all the Judeo/Christian/Muslim brotherhoods grew. All wood from the same tree.
Even St Ignatius made it here.
The old city, where I resided in a French Convent in the Muslim quarter, is unlike anything I have come across in this lifetime although a strong familiarity remains I suspect from other times. The Convent is new by local standards. Only 150 years old, but standing on top of other intact structures in the basement that date back 2000 years. From the white stone roof terraces the golden dome of the Temple Mount, the holy of holies for both Muslim and Jew alike, reclines in all its majesty only about 200 metres away as the crow flies. It shines as the sun rises and as it sets. I find out later that the order operating the convent is modelled on St Ignatius’ work. Surprise! Surprise! To bring peace and understanding to the different peoples of this land. It was founded to support the Jewish population who were the underdogs in those times.
The city is small. Only a few tens of hectares. You can walk across it in 10 minutes in any direction. However, it is layered, bisected and dissected in so many ways. There are 4 quarters – Jewish, Muslim, Christian and Armenian. They all have their own flavours, colour, religious structures and vibes. Sit on the right street corner and you will see the uniforms of the great diversity of sects from each religious grouping, both local and from the 4 corners of the world. It is Babylon reincarnate in terms of the number of languages spoken here. The streets are narrow. Sometimes only 2 metres wide and almost enclosed.
It is a city of haves and have nots.
The Muslims have the Temple Mount, or Mount Moriah as it is known to the Jews. It was the place where Abraham was to sacrifice his son and where Jews believe all life began. It is the place where the Prophet Mohammed transcended his body, the farthest place he went from Mecca and second only in importance to Mecca for Muslims.
The Jews don’t have it, but they have had it and would like to have it back. The Jews have the Western Wall taken by force in the War of 1967. It is the last remnant of the walls around the 2nd Temple that were destroyed over 1900 years ago by the Romans. The first was built by King Solomon 3000 years ago and was and destroyed 2500 years ago. For them it is the place where, as one described to me, they feel they absolutely belong. They aren’t going to give that up any time soon. The Israelis do have control of access to it, a power exercised with varying degrees of arrogance and indifference.
The men have access to most of the Wailing Wall, now known as the Western Wall. The women have a little area of their own and can also stand on chairs and watch their menfolk over the fence. The men have access to Al Aksa Mosque up on the Temple Mount, but women stay in the shade outside with the kids.
The tourists have access to it all, save the inside of the mosques, at the whim of the Israeli authorities.
The Western Wall expresses the frenzied energy of stirred thoughts and emotions that go back millennia. The faithful go there to recite their formulaic prayers handed down for generations and, sometimes, even their own. Some wear their prayers in a little box on their forehead and bind a leather cord around their arm to bind them closer to G-d.
The Temple Mount has a peace and serenity that, like Montserrat, is indescribable. A hum that just absorbs the experiencer should they sit a while.
As for the Christian and Armenian quarters with their actual or perceived histories of many parts of the Christian story, they feel a bit like a supporting act to the main show in town. All the significant sites were chosen by Helen, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine, over 300 years after the time attributed to the death of Christ. Constantine was a good Italian son even back then and obeyed his mother’s wishes. He also hijacked the Christian bishops organizational skills to use for reforming his armies and he actually converted to Christianity on his death bed. In keeping with Roman tradition, the Christian practices, that had been matriarchal until then, were made strongly patriarchal and Christian doctrine modified accordingly. Out went Mary Magdelene and any women of consequence, other than the Divine Mother of course. This is the time when the notion of the Immaculate Conception was introduced and what writings should become the New Testament were decided. Some of the rest that didn’t make the final cut appear to have turned up as the Dead Sea Scrolls in more recent times.
Anyway, back to the sites. The route, Via Dolorosa, along which Jesus was reputed to have made his last journey with his Cross runs right past our Convent. The problem is that the route was originally over the other side of the valley in the Mount of Olives until the Byzantines came along and moved it. Still the symbolic significance of that journey remains. The journey ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on the site where Jesus is reputed to have been crucified. I’m not sure they got those bits right but the metaphor remains very powerful even if the energy, at least for me, was not.
How about some of the other haves and have nots.
Lots of denominations have a slot in the church. They don’t trust each other too much so the key to it is held by a Muslim. The chapels vary from the magnificently gaudy to the very humble and simple to the beautifully stylistic (Italian of course). On a Sunday morning it’s a bit like going to a denominational supermarket. You can window-shop what each one has to offer and even have a taster if you want: Catholic, Protestant, Greek and Russian Orthodox, Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian and a few more besides. Some we would not recognize in terms of how we generally view Christian services. Some are very earthy. For some, women have to remain outside the chapel and some women wear the equivalent of a burka. Women are definitely the have nots in those deals.
The tourists and pilgrims are definitely haves, they have the money. The sellers of trinkets are the have nots, but are trying to get a piece of the action in a fairly relaxed manner. The local wealthy are haves and sure ain’t about to share it with the rest of the have nots. There is no significant middle class here yet. Mainly just very rich and poor.
The Israelis are the haves in terms of political and military power and the Palestinians, particularly those in the recently walled in ghettos of the West Bank, Gaza and the refugee camps contained therein, are definitely the have nots in a huge variety of ways some blatant, some subtle. More about that later.
There is also the myriad of dress codes for all sects of every religion. For the orthodox and ultraorthodox Jews on their sacred sites, the men have to wear hats to act, I am told, as a separation from G-d. Some of those hats are magnificent beaver pelt replications of the hats worn by 17th Century Polish nobility that sell for $15,000 in Brooklyn, New York I am told. Others are much more modest. The hats and uniforms give some idea where each group originated from.
There are the huge variety of nun and monk habits worn by Christian clergy and some in the style of burka worn by the Muslim women and some of the nuns. With temperatures getting into the mid 40s, I found myself asking “Why?” Then of course there are the tourist and pilgrim uniforms which are much less diverse and more boring and often include the basic requirements of backpack, water bottle and camera.
There are certainly elements of great theatre here which can be best appreciated by sitting in a street side cafe sipping pomegranate juice, or standing and watching the world go by near the Holy sites. This is almost a carless environment. Most of the streets, being only 2 or 3 metres wide in many instances, are too narrow for any sort of vehicle beyond something akin to a high riding drive-on lawnmower that can negotiate all the stairs.
There are also elements of very deep spiritual connection should you be prepared to take the time to sit and experience it.
The question I have asked myself and others many times is why this series of hills and valleys has attracted so much deeply spiritual connection and religious fervour and so much bloodshed between the haves and have nots over time.
King David took it by force from King Saul over 3000 years ago in what was a little more than a clan war. I am sure it wasn’t the first time. The Babylonians took it, as did the Romans and the Christians and the Muslims and the Byzantines and so on and so forth right down to the Israelis most recently again. Ironically the name Jerusalem means City of Peace. There are stories of great barbarity, great civility and of great folly. A crusader from the first Crusade described the streets running calf deep in Muslim blood. No one was spared. When Saladin, the Muslim military commander, retook the city after the second crusade, he gave the Christians safe passage to the coast to find their way back to Europe.
During the crusades whole villages in Europe would up stakes and come unprepared to the Holy Land to perish on the way or when they hit the desert. What drew them? What draws people now? It was also the site of the undoing of the Knights Templar.
We can say it is merely collision of “traditions” or maybe it is something more. Maybe it is a very powerful energy vortex. So powerful that people would fight for millennia to possess it. I suspect that vortex lies in the water or a spring under the Temple Mount. And that’s not just water for drinking and supporting life. Time will tell.
Interestingly, water needs continue to play a significant part in the power games of who owns what in this part of the world but that’s not quite what I am talking about above. Currently, the significant aquifers lie under the West Bank. For instance, Israelis are allocated 4 times the amount of water per head that is allocated to residents of the West Bank. Hmm. The cynical side of me wonders if this is why the West Bank Palestinians get such an unreasonably hard time from the Israeli authorities.
So how about the day to day fabric of this very special place. Wandering along the narrow alleys it is easy to get lost 50 times a day all the while knowing that you are not more than a few hundred meters from where you want to be and only a question to a local vendor away from rediscovering your way. It is easy to go out for 15 minutes and come back several hours later. It is easy to while away time sitting with other old local men, watching the world go by, drinking cardamom flavoured sweet coffee or sweet mint flavoured tea. There is a gentility and respect in these moments and connections that are worth emulating elsewhere.
Waking up to the call to prayer from the mosque at 4am, and roosters.....
Most of the locals spoken to are forthright in giving their opinions and not so interested in other views.
An American bred and educated Palestinian who had come back to apply his project management skills to help build local business and social infrastructure and who believed firmly that the penalty of losing a hand for theft was right and just, as well as effective in reducing crime.
An 18 year old ultra orthodox Jew who had never mixed with females other than his sisters and who was wide eyed in my having actually been on to the Temple Mount which was only a wall away (admittedly a 6 metre wide stone wall) from where we were standing at the Western Wall. According to his traditions, he and all Jews were not pure enough to go there and indeed the head Rabbi stated that the Torah forbade it.
A 20 something Orthodox and an Ultra orthodox Jew who were talking at me their truths simultaneously with such vigour that I thought they were going to get into a fist fight over their variation in views of what is “normal” and whether it was OK to throw stones at the cars of those who drove on the Shabbat, the holy day of the week.
The liberal NY Jew who “hated” this whole circus and the bad name it gave Judaism. She was back there for the umpteenth time however!
An aging Moslem who with tears in his eyes described how a certain past Israeli politician had arrived at the Temple Mount with 1000 soldiers and demanded the right to enter as a tourist.
A Christian Armenian whose father was the only clan member who survived the Armenian genocide carried out by the Turks in 1917-18 at the cost of 1.5 million lives +/-. His father, as a child of 5 years old, after being made a slave, was rescued and brought to Jerusalem by an aid organization. He became a wonderful photographic chronicler of the area in the 20s - 50s.
An Israeli and a Palestinian policeman talking and joking at each end of a security x ray machine. All in a day's work.
My final day was spent in Bethlehem on the West Bank with an expat Kiwi who introduced me to a young, highly articulate Palestinian 3rd generation refugee on the West Bank. The facts she related regarding the plight of the refugees and West Bank residents were sobering to say the least. Her simple eloquence rivalled that of the Ghandis and Mandelas of this world. Her truth showed how little we learn from generation to generation on how to respect and nurture others thereby respecting and nurturing ourselves in all our divinity as a species. The process of coming back through the checkpoints had, for me, all the energy of being processed into a concentration camp or going through LA International airport. Humanity had evaporated. I was in the privileged position of being a foreign passport holder and so this time I was assured of coming out the other side safely.
The backdrop to this meeting was Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. While usually very crowded, we had the place virtually to ourselves and the energy there made up for the lack at other Christian sites plus some. Interesting again in the context of what is happening all around it. On the West Bank I reflected on the very reasons for the discrimination that brought Mary and Joseph to that place at that time. Herod’s fear that he might lose power to someone else following the predictions of the coming of the “King of the Jews”.
That was a revolution in consciousness that we are still experiencing 2000 years later. We may be seeing another one now where women will play a leading role.
As part of that there are also some wonderful Israelis and Palestinians working to bring the qualities of humanity and respect back into the game. You may have heard about Berlanty Azzam, a young student from Gaza who was detained, blindfolded, handcuffed and then dumped back in Gaza last year. Her story is on the webpage Berlanty Azzam if you are interested in exploring that some more.
I am sure, in the seemingly intractable situation manifesting here, that in the bigger scheme of things, something is playing itself out in this part of the world and that there are many “truths” with some validity. We cannot separate our personal healing from the healing of all humanity. We cannot separate our awakening from that of all humanity. In the beginning and the end we are all one. Our divinity is indivisible.
The only souvenir I wish to bring from here, beyond the inner connections with the energies of this place, is a t-shirt with PEACE written on it in Arabic, Hebrew, and English. So much hurt, so much pain, and yet the potential for so much good. Out of the slimy depths grows the lotus flower. As we enter this time of great change in the human psyche it will be interesting to observe how it plays out here. It is truly a fiery crucible of transformation, in human and spiritual terms, and as such is capable of producing great change. Peace unfolded in South Africa and in Ireland. Why not in Jeru Salem – the City of Peace? Let’s watch this space.
Jerusalem is for Christendom a place of “miracles”. Here are some others from the Casa De Dom Inácio:
Hello, My name is Alvise Migotto. I’m a Canadian living in Brazil since 1994. In February 2008, our daughter (now 6) was diagnosed with Severe Chronic Neutropenia. She had been receiving medical treatment - there is no known cure - since October, 2008. Even while on medication, her neutrophil count was always low. Since our first visit to the Casa Dom Inácio in Abadiânia last April, all blood tests have been normal, even without medication, from which she has been taken off since May. There are no longer any signs of Neutropenia. When we returned from our fist visit to Abadiânia, I wrote “Easter at the Casa 2010”. This music was received from the Entities and completed in gratitude for the healing received by our daughter at the Casa de Dom Inácio. It was first aired publicly at the request of John of God during healing sessions at the Casa de Dom Inácio on July 9, 2010, where it is used in the “Current” room. If I may, I’d like to suggest it for use with your crystal bed treatments. You can listen to it here: www.tunecore.com/music/alvisemigotto I’m currently working on more music for relaxation, meditation and healing and will upload as each piece is completed. If you consider its use during your treatments, kindly let me know. Recommended use: For the first listenings, use headphones in a quiet environment with no aural or visual distractions, focusing concentration only on the music. Maintain a comfortable sitting of lying position while keeping the spine straight. Invoke the healing Entities of Light (or any entity, being or force of your choice) and request the healing you desire and deserve. Avoid playing as background music for the first few listenings. Enjoy. Note: this music does not contain any subliminal material, suggestions, binaural beats or other brain entrainment techniques. Sincerely, Alvise Migottowww.anima13.com.br
The link below describes a wonderful (2 short paragraphs and amazing photo) paranormal story surrounding a bottle of Casa herbs. Enjoy! The person in question is known to me and her story of healing is medical fact. Casa herbs story