I grew up in California just over the hill from Berkeley. Consequently, I was exposed early to metaphysics and what was then called the New Age, with its robust ideas, ideals, and optimism. Pyramid power was everywhere in the early 1970s, so much so that even the builders of the Transamerica building in San Francisco caught on to it. Their own version has become iconic. That building proved to me that we were ahead of things. Californians, I told myself, knew more about spiritual matters than everyone else. I was proud of that building and only now see how misplaced, naïve, and, well, arrogant that was. But I was a young eighteen year old.

Empty sarcophagus in King's Chamber, Great Pyramid

Empty sarcophagus in King’s Chamber, Great Pyramid

So that was my background. When I found myself in Egypt in the early 1980s, it wasn’t a revelation that I should want to meditate in the King’s Chamber in the center of the Great Pyramid of Cheops. I don’t actually remember, but I think it might have been during my second trip that I set out to meditate there. I brought eight large candles (which I could hardly carry) so I would have enough light, as I was sure it was going to be dark in there…and what if they had lights but they went out? Since my husband was leading a tour group simultaneously, I decided to go alone.

Interior ascent Great Pyramid

Interior ascent toward the King’s Chamber

What possessed me to get up before anyone else and bribe the guard to have an hour alone before the tourists arrived, I’ll never know? I soon found myself alone in the Great Pyramid with an Egyptian guard standing nearby. Was I crazy, foolish, young, stupid, or brave? My heart was pounding so hard I could barely breathe.  I was stiff, frozen with fright for most of the hour, as I worried about being alone and wondered if I was safe …instead of focusing on the spirituality of what I was doing. Absolutely nothing spiritual came out of this fiasco. I simply had to haul those candles back down a difficult descent, though there were marginalized stairs.

To this day, I want to go back to the Great Pyramid and do it again. But time passes and things change. My husband was generally too busy on subsequent trips to participate in my plans, and when one gets older and perhaps wiser, they don’t go alone. I would still like to sleep in the Great Pyramid. From time to time, I ask a friend or a new acquaintance about the possibility.

Going into the King’s Chamber to meditate today would be quite an expedition. Plus, how do you get permission? Do you bribe someone, like in the old days? Would it even be safe to go to Egypt now? I recently saw Zahi Hawass, the past head of Egyptian Antiquities, in a television commercial encouraging visitors to return to Egypt. But news from the Middle East is scary, and that keeps the tourists away. I read a comment somewhere that even the camels at the pyramids are going hungry because so few foreigners are going now.

It’s so different and its happened in my very own lifetime; I guess that’s why I find it so shocking. Returning to the peaceful Egypt I knew is just a dream today.