A new José Stephens Article
An Extraordinary Journey Through Asia Minor and Time.
Several weeks ago I sent out an e-mail from Cappadocia, Turkey announcing Angeles Arrien’s sudden and unexpected death from complications of walking pneumonia. Your responses were overwhelming and I am deeply appreciative of all the thoughtful e-mails and messages that we received in the days following. I mentioned that her death came in the window between two eclipses and at a time around the fifth conjunction of Uranus and Pluto, a huge configuration including Mars and Jupiter to boot. We have spoken of this at length in recent forecasts, articles, and recordings. Certainly Angeles’ death for me was totally unexpected (Uranus), powerful (Pluto), big (Jupiter), and highly impactful and forceful (Mars). I mentioned in the e-mail we sent out that something had occurred that mitigated my sadness at her passing but at the time I just couldn’t formulate the words to discuss it. First let me explain the context of our surroundings at the time.
The morning we received the news was the new moon and the solar eclipse following the planetary configuration of a few days earlier. Being in Cappadocia, we embarked on a day of touring around this powerful and sacred landscape. For those of you unfamiliar with Cappadocia it is a magical area in central Anatolia known for its extraordinary rock formations, beautiful valleys, hot air ballooning, and ancient Christian churches completely carved out of rock. There is some evidence that Saint Paul visited Cappadocia early on, preaching the new Christian theology shortly after Jesus’ passing. It is known for its hermits and early monastic communities, all experimenting with these teachings and discovering its essence in practice. Eventually Saint Basil arrived teaching that being a hermit did not allow for service and he convinced them to come out of their caves and form service oriented communities with the mission of moving outward into the world to do good deeds.
During the Byzantine era many Christians arrived to escape persecution elsewhere and they carved out church after church, each with amazing paintings depicting biblical scenes based on the gospel of Saint James, making them different from the more typical paintings based on the four gospels from the official New Testament. These churches can only be described as amazing art galleries containing extraordinarily powerful energy around their altars. Many of the churches are in various states of ruin but there is something quite special about visiting them, even if your theology is not Christian, as many of the tourists are not.
Lena and I rented a car for the day so we could visit the beautiful valleys around the area and explore the back roads looking for unique and special sights. The day was somewhat stormy with big clouds building up to thunder storms in the area and we passed in and out of them as we visited old monasteries, churches, and caves. In late afternoon we were driving back from visiting a massive underground city built by Phrygians during the seventh century B.C. They built a number of these cities to shelter many thousands of people and their animals from marauding armies passing through the area. The city we visited was seven stories deep and not for the claustrophobic to visit.
After a beautiful and leisurely drive we passed a dirt road leading to a side valley and decided to take it to see where it would go. After several miles we came to a dead end where we found ourselves to be the only car at a spectacular vista point. A sign pointed to a path leading down to another ancient church carved out of a rock spire and well hidden from view. Entering the silent underground church we realized we were in a most sacred space with square crosses painted on the walls like medicine wheels depicting the four winds and round snake like altar steps that were nothing like we had seen anywhere else. The Energy in there felt to me as powerful as I have felt visiting Machu Picchu. Whoever said Mass in there so many centuries ago certainly knew what they were doing. These holy places were nothing like modern day Catholic Churches, many of which have no power whatsoever.
After saying some very personal and strong prayers around the ancient altar we left some offerings to honor the site. I will say that I included Angeles Arrien in my prayers and tearfully thanked her for her influence in my life, wishing her a smooth and successful transition, and letting her know that she was deeply loved by so many people. As we left that little church there was some thunder and lightning and rain began to fall in big drops. On our way up the path to our rental car Lena pointed out a huge dramatic rainbow forming in the sky behind the church. The rainbow intensified and became one of the brightest, most colorful, and clearest rainbows I have ever seen. A second rainbow began to form above the first one. Both of us stopped in our tracks unable to take our eyes off the apparition. To my amazement the left side of the rainbow ended exactly in the church we had just visited. Suddenly I felt a strong presence behind me and I heard a woman’s voice asking, “Do you like my rainbow?” It was Angeles Arrien’s voice. I was stunned and tears came to my eyes. I responded with, “Yes, it is so beautiful.” Then she began to speak some messages to the effect of the following. “Things will get hard. There will be some difficult challenges to face and soon. In the end it will all be good. Do not worry.” She knew I would share this so she did not have to tell me to. I cannot tell you if these were her exact words because I was so surprised and these things do not happen in a rational way. In my mind there was no doubt it was her message accompanied by an intense indescribable feeling of great love.
This is not the first time this kind of thing has happened in my life. Yet every time it has occurred for me, there is a consistency to its delivery. After my friend Jan’s passing many years ago she came up behind me like that and spoke to me and later when one of our great Huichol teachers, Guadalupe passed over, he did the same thing. For some reason this is the way those that have passed choose to communicate with me. On a number of occasions when I have given readings for those who have had someone close die and I have been able to contact them, they have always approached from behind me.
The rainbow did not let up for quite a while. We returned to our hotel and rested up and that very evening we attended a sacred ceremony given by dedicated Whirling Dervishes that we found very beautiful and transforming.
Traveling in a shamanic way always teaches us about the energy of the places that we visit. Since that part of the world is filled with history and layers upon layers of spirituality and civilization, it was very interesting despite some of the common travel challenges such as trying to stay well and making sure we got enough sleep. Travel requires flexibility and the nature of the times along with the theme of integration was higher centered at times and difficult at other times. We were also very aware of the power of the portal created by the eclipses and the astrology that some were taking as an exit point and some were taking as a time to bid for power. There is nothing like taking yourself out of your comfort zone to allow for old childhood patterns and unfinished business to come up for review and re evaluation. Not to mention that the land itself and what it carries in historical energies can trigger past life memories and subconscious material for review and release.
In Southeastern Anatolia close to Syria, is the region of Asia Minor characterized by tumultuous volcanic and earthquake prone lands, warred over by Hittites, Persians, Assyrians, Byzantines, Crusaders, Ottomans, Mongols, and Arabs. This is the land of Abraham, the birthplaces of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity where agriculture and civilization was first thought to have developed and flourished in the Tigris Euphrates river valleys. This is a land where early Christianity flourished but then was eventually overtaken by Islam, the primary religion in modern day Turkey.
Here we visited a number of dramatic ancient sites including the great stone sculptures at the very peak of Mount Nemrut, an ancient volcano with an improbable man made pyramid at the very top. Then on we went to Sanliurfa, birthplace to Abraham and Job in Biblical lore, an ancient pilgrimage center and the jumping off place to Gobeckli Tepe, the world’s oldest shamanic temple. This is a relatively new archeological site going back twelve thousand years, completely shattering the various theories about how long ago people were working together cooperatively building sacred structures. The huge stone structures were carved with the most refined animal figures of all types. Realizing that these sites we were visiting were truly the most ancient on earth and how much had transpired there, Lena and I knew there was much work to do. Who knows the amount of karma created by who knows how many people in those very locations. These are regions that hold the imprints of conquest after conquest, ambition after ambition, massacre after massacre, birth and death and all the things in between.
These are sites that like outdoor museums hold pointers to so many parts of ourselves that had been lost there, confused there, frightened, angry, and sad there, and perhaps truly crazy there. There was much to forgive, much to neutralize, much to recapitulate. And so we went to site after site, blessing and clearing, forgiving, neutralizing, releasing the patterns in the new tradition of shamanism without borders. This was satisfying but not always easy because it stimulated things, brought up old junk to process out. There were times that I felt outraged at what had historically happened in these sites.
For example we visited the site of the world’s oldest university at Harran, only six miles from the Syrian border. Abraham was known to have studied there and some the world’s greatest Greek philosophers taught there. It had a library and like the one in Alexandria in Egypt it was ransacked and destroyed by invading armies bent on total destruction. Now if you know me you know that almost nothing is more upsetting to me than the burning or destroying of ancient libraries of sacred scrolls. So I had to look and see that all of this perceived tragedy was my illusion about the reality of this physical plane. I make the ancient scrolls real and then I dream they were lost or destroyed. In the ultimate reality nothing really happened and there is no one to blame. I realized I had to take responsibility for whatever I thought occurred because it seemed to happen on my watch as a human being. Or maybe it never really happened at all. It was no more real than the current drama of my life I am dreaming.
In this same town of Harran was an ancient temple of the moon and another one to the sun. They knew the exact orbits of the planets, the monthly and yearly movements of the sun and moon through their understanding of mathematics, geometry, space, and time. Back then there was no separation between the sciences, philosophy, and the understanding of the influences of the planetary bodies. Learning was not divided as it is today but was all inclusive. In those times, in that place the moon goddess was called “Sin.” Now think about it. The ancient meaning of the word “sin” biblically speaking is to miss the mark. Now, could it be that to misunderstand the movements of the moon, to miss getting the moon exactly right could be disastrous to crop growing, harvesting, and such things, perhaps even detrimental to personal events? Did the changed meaning of the word “sin” actually come from not understanding the phenomenon of the moon, not getting it right, not paying attention to this ancient symbol of the feminine? Is that what got so distorted and confused as to make people feel they should be guilty and ashamed of enjoying their bodies and their lives? What a game of telephone history is!
Our travels took us to Rhodes and the most ancient temple of the goddess Athena, Greek virgin goddess of knowledge, philosophy, justice, and truth; Onward to Ephesus and it’s ancient and destroyed library, and to its enormous temple to Artemis, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Today it is mostly a pond with hundreds of turtles and frogs swimming about among the broken pieces of columns. The power is still there, nothing has been lost. In fact we watched as bus load after bus load of tourists arrived there, took a picture of the one standing column and left within five minutes without even going into the site. That was good for us. Lena and I stayed for a couple of hours just sitting and wandering and soaking up a thousand years of worship to the ancient virgin goddess of the hunt, the mountains, and the ancient shamanic cult of the bear; sister of Apollo; daughter of Zeus. It was magical.
At Ephesus we visited what is thought to be the last home of the Virgin Mary, brought there by St. John after the crucifixion to hide her from the Romans who sought her death. Whether it was or not is not important. The site is truly sacred and powerful, visited by thousands of Christian pilgrims and by three popes. Interestingly it is within a couple of miles from the formerly massive temple of Artemis, the former virgin goddess honored in that region. Is that an accident? (In a future article I will explore the whole notion of virgin goddesses).
The high hill overlooking Ephesus also has the ruins of an ancient basilica dedicated to Saint John the apostle, a much loved teacher who lived in Ephesus until he was one hundred years old. I climbed the hill and visited the spot where John was thought to have penned his gospel at age ninety two. For me this was meaningful to visit the site of an ancient fellow writer and to see where he was inspired, an incredibly beautiful spot with a view of the oceans and the great mountains as a backdrop.
We flew back to Istanbul from Izmir, a town that seemed to have no significance until we learned that that very morning three hundred or more coal miners had lost their lives in a mine disaster that threw all of Turkey into grief and political crisis. How did that happen that in all of Turkey we found ourselves there at that time? When we got back to Istanbul there were demonstrations against the current administration about the condition of the mines and their lack of inspections and so on. In the neighborhood we were staying there were protests and police presence, explosions, tear gas, and general mayhem. I don’t remember smelling tear gas since Berkeley in the early seventies and Peoples Park. Turkey seems to be on the verge of a big crisis. This is a fractured land with a long history of mayhem and warring factions. Times when it has been peaceful are relatively short. Once again the wheels of change may be turning. Who knows what is next for this land of history and the criss-crossing of cultures and religions?
Currently many people are angry and upset over the blocking of You Tube, the jailing of journalists, the crushing of free speech, what they feel is a fascist turn of the government. The situation is concerning for American policy makers who have long seen Turkey as an ally and are now seeing the potential of it moving closer to Islamist law due to the leanings of the current administration. Time will tell what happens but right now there is trouble in River City.
Although there are the usual stresses of travel we both highly recommend a visit or perhaps many visits to this powerful and historical land. Being so close to Greece it can also be visited in conjunction with a visit to that country as well. What most people do not know is that almost all the sites of origin of the Greek pantheon of gods are in Turkey, places formerly occupied by Greeks and Romans. While Turkey is strongly masculine due to the strong presence of Islam, Greece right next door is strongly feminine. This makes for an interesting contrast and balance to be experienced, felt, and processed.
Who can say how much our trip was influenced by current events, by the strong astrology, or by our own internal developments. I certainly had an experience that I will never forget. Although these lands have many temples to Apollo and other male god figures it is not lost on me that most of the sites we visited were female goddess sites and that the trip was influenced by the passing of one of my most influential mentors, a female. How this ties together is still being revealed and will be for some time to come. I know it is powerful and the timing is perfect and where it is leading I do not know but it will be good as Angeles promised.
May the goddess be with you.