‘Ton, can you wait for Shirley? She is a young Brazilian climate activist and she wants to join you on the mountain. She comes from the jungle and she doesn’t speak english…’
The question comes when I make myself ready to go up the mountain. Shouldn’t I join Anne, I wonder? We haven’t seen each other in over a week. I had looked forward to go up together, as a sort of ritual of man and women going up the last part of our journey; a journey that lasted more than 9 months. But suddenly my ‘inner guide’ interferes. I feel the importance and the call to guide this young woman from the Amazon to the mountain of the desert. For weeks I have been summoned by the shamans of the Amazon, speaking loudly in my mind. And now one of their kind is coming to join the ceremony. I quickly walk to Anne, who is ready to mount a camel, we connect and I explain her the situation. She is completely fine, and already days in the mood of the rules of Open Space: ‘Whatever happens is the right thing to happen’, Follow the Law of Two Feet’ and ‘Expect the Unexpected.’
We kiss and say goodbye. ‘See you on the mountain!’ We probably both have our own path still to go alone before we can meet.
While I wait at the monastery, together with Marc – one of the men, who wanted to wait with me – I try to get in contact with Shirley. I had texted her to take a taxi from Sharm el Sheich, where she had to deliver her speech at the COP that morning, and come to the monastery. I would wait there. But the wifi is not working, and whatever I do: no connection. Another friend – who stays the night in the monastery – lends me her phone, and we try to connect through the contact person in Holland. But after an hour of trying to connect without result, I look to the sky: it is soon getting dark and going up the mountain wil be more difficult. What to do? The situation seems to become a stalemate. While the rest is talking, I decide to go into meditation and connect to Shirley herself. Why didn’t I think of that before? Of course a young shaman from the Amazon doesn’t communicate through wifi. She connects through the mind… Very quickly the connection is made. I see her finishing her speech. She tells me it is not going to work to come to the mountain as was intended. Then she gives me a huge condor feather. ‘This is from my tribe. You have to finish the work and bring it up on the mountaintop.’ I take the feather and open my eyes. I look at Marc. ‘She is not coming. We can go up the mountain…’ I explain him the inner contact I had, and after a few goodbyes, Marc and I leave the monastery. The climb has started.
To save my energy – and my knees – I take a camel. Marc is walking. He is a former army officer, and somehow his strong presence is a great comfort. During our climb we we meet three young American /Jewish people. They are also coming for the night vigil. Sitting on the camel I can let go of all my worries and thoughts – Is everyone in? is it all gonna be safe? Does everyone have warm clothes? etc – and relax. The ceremony has started.
Later I hear from Mohamed, our host at sheich Mousa camp, that he went at 4.30 in the morning to the police post to catch a young Egyptian woman from Cairo who wants to join. ‘Don’t tell the police about the event. You are coming here on your own!’ he warned her. One of the risks of our ceremony is that the Egyptian authorities will intervene. They have done that as well a couple of weeks ago. I’m happy I don’t know everything. There are too many things that can possibly go wrong and stop us from doing what we need to do. This whole event is a strange mixture of trusting the proces, letting go and yet holding space and being aware. It is a narrow path up the mountain…
The walk up cq. ride up goes well and we arrived before nightfall. The last part of the climb I have to leave the camel and climb the steps of a staircase. The stairway to heaven. More groups are arriving as well. I see some dear friends who have come and organized their own journey. What a joyful meeting. The closer we come to the top, the merrier it becomes. Everyone is exhausted, euforic, happy and full of expectations. I first go to Youssef, the bedouin who is our contact person on the mountain. He is terribly busy with providing everyone explanations, tea and coffee, and getting the meal ready. I meet more and more people. Amazing; we made it. Anne is walking down from the very top and is happy I made it before dusk. We embrace. Everyone is there. The last few days we had seen more and more groups connecting with the event. Tens, hundreds of groups are getting ready to start their night vigil or ceremony. One sweatlodge in Belgium with 70 women, a labyrinth in the Netherlands with 100 men and women, groups in Hungary, Latvia, France, Spain, Portugal, Namibia, South America, The States, Mount Fuji in Japan, etc. etc. We couldn’t keep track of it anymore. It is way more than a thousand women that are connected…Not on the mountain, but spread out over the whole earth.
When the sun has gone down and darkness has set in, Youssef tells us we can start our dinner. On a gasstove in his little shop he has cooked up a delicious dinner form the 60 people we had counted in for the meal, but he also provides food for another group of 80 people from Africa. I wonder how he does it. He tells us where we can sleep and stay the night. Everything is quite well organized.
‘Shouldn’t we do the meditation at 9 on the mountaintop?’ asks Anne. ‘People will tune in at that hour.’ I happily go along and at 9PM everyone, men and women, gather on a small, flat area next to the little mosque. I realize that Anne and me haven’t discussed what we are actually going to do. For me arriving at the mountain together was already a great achievement. When everyone is seated in the darkness on the cold and rocky floor, I say a short welcome and invite everyone into the meditation. But although there is silence, and we are all ready, I don’t feel aligned and silent myself. I feel unrest and too many expectations, from myself and others: Where is the Deus ex Machina, when will a bright light appear above our heads and the voice of God or Goddess boom into our ears, and explain us why we came. None of that… It stays silent. I try to wave away the expectations, the chatter of the mind, the fear of failure, the nagging thoughts of what I should or shouldn’t say, and I ask my inner guides what to do. But whatever I try or beg: Nope. Nothing. Silence.
Somewhere on the peak of the mountain my own descend begins. The descend into the abyss. I remember the story of my friend Marcel, who once wanted to climb mount Kailash in Tibet with a small group of men. A snowstorm prevented them form going forward and they stayed the night in a cave. There he drew the I-Tjing and got the message: ‘The lake is above the mountain.’ They had to go down, to their great disappointment, and went to lake Mansarovar. There they understood the message: The lake – the feminine – was more important than the mountain – the masculine. They had to bow down their heads and surrender to the sacred feminine inside themselves.
When the meditation is finished and groups go their own ways I sit with Anne and a small group of friends. We share what we felt during the silence. We all feel a bit distressed and disconnected. ‘Why are there so many men, and not more women?’ Anne asks. ‘I had expected a more feminine field here.’ I suddenly feel even more awkward of heaving led the meditation, while it was supposed to be a women’s gathering! Did I fall into the trap of being Moses? Why did I take the lead? How silly… The abyss in my mind is growing bigger and bigger. I try to cling to the happy feeling of being on the mountaintop, but everything disappears into nothingness. A deep fog is suddenly rising from the valley and enveloping the top of the mountain. Someone has put candlelights around the rocks and the whole scenery become something out of a movie, a surreal surrounding. ‘La Santa Nebbia’, the sacred mist. I remember shamans from the Amazon use it to protect their secret ceremonies. Then I see one of them standing in the mist and waving a condor feather as a sort of purification. I have no clue what is happening, but I know something is taking over… On the other side of the mountaintop I hear women chanting and laughing. I think of my yoga teacher from Brazil who has recently died, and told me in a meditation that she would teach me how to die. Somehow I feel the moment has come. I plunge deeper and deeper into the abyss, and my breathing gets heavier and more difficult. The wet and cold air of the mist is working on my lungs and I know that if I stay longer on the top I will gonna suffer. I tell Anne I have to go down to the tent of Youssef. It is 1.30 in the night. No night vigil for me. Anne thinks for a moment and decides to join me.
When we are settled in our blankets in a little shed made by the bedouins, we try to sleep, but instead I go deeper into the void of nothingness and despair. It becomes darker and darker in my mind. Is this dying? My lungs are problematic and I feel the fear of getting sick again. Was it all too much? Shouldn’t I have done this? Was it all wrong, a failure? Suddenly my inner guides are there to help me:
‘You are the very best one at failing,’ they tell me.
Wow, that is a comfort ;-( Anymore great advice from the other realm, while I’m suffering and dying?
‘It is just what had to happen. You relived and re-enacted some of the old stories between men and women. You had to feel the curse, the pain of the wounds that are still lingering in your soul and in the soul of mankind. It is just like a Sundance, where young initiates hook themselves with their flesh to a pole and dance themselves free, in service of the whole community. The pain you feel inside is the same. Without it you can’t free yourself from the curse and heal the wounds.’
The rest of the night I go in and out of consciousness and one mantra reverberates through my mind: ‘May the Light conquer all darkness…’ In the early morning, around 4 o’clock I see Anne sitting next to me meditating. I can’t get up yet. I lay next to her and join the silent meditation in complete darkness. But then the magic happens… I see the sun coming up. Not outside in the desert, but inside myself. Just as clear as a real sunrise, I feel inside my body how all darkness disappears, how all my fears and doubts vanish like mist, and the Light of Consciousness pervades everything. Ra, Aton, Surya, the Sun… The light has won. Without a shred of a doubt I suddenly know how all darkness in the world is just an illusion and will disappear when the sun appears at the horizon. And that is what is actually happening. Inside and outside, where hundreds of people witness the sunrise. I’m immense thankful for Anne sitting next to me. She has the same experience as I do. Somehow we did this together: going deep down into the darkness to bring back the light. And with the support and help of so many others, who heard the call and did their part in raising the light of consciousness. The ritual has been accomplished. The healing between men and women – the masculine and the feminine – has started. The heart has conquered.
I feel immensely relieved, happy, and when we leave the hut to have breakfast, I look at the morning dawn… The sun is rising. How magical, and at the same time: how mundane. It happens everyday. But I know deep in my heart something has shifted. In myself and in the world. A new dawn has started. Our ceremony and journey to get there has had an impact, and I feel the joy of a thousand suns rising: everyone who has joined the night vigil or who meditated one moment or another undoubtedly has felt the same joy and inner connectedness. No words are needed.
As quick as the whole event took place, as quick it all ends as well. The first people are already going down, farewells and goodbyes are said, and I try to linger a bit to enjoy the scenery. I know we wil loose most of this pristine, pure awareness as we are going down, back into the world, but a new tone has been set. What we wil do next, I have no clue. I embrace Anne. We did it. All of us.