ON our last day in Egypt I was determined to see the one last place on my list of sacred sites ... Heliopolis.
It was there that Hadrian, according to historian Royston Lambert, may have cast a magical spell that rebounded and resulted in the death of his beloved Antinous.
During that fateful final trip up the Nile, just weeks before Antinous died, it was said that Hadrian and Antinous stopped at Heliopolis.
From the day we arrived I was trying to get there but it kept getting pushed back for another day. Finally the last day came and I was not going to be dissuaded from seeing Heliopolis.
That is the town near Mennefer (Memphis/Cairo) where the Egyptian magician/priest Pancrates gave to Hadrian (or rather sold to him for an exorbitant sum) a magical spell which could bind another man's affections to him forever ... when the spell was cast properly.
If cast wrong, the spell would result in the death of the other man.
There was some speculation in ancient times as to whether the death of Antinous may have be related to this strange Egyptian spell.
It turned out to be an arduous ordeal across the worst parts of Cairo ... In the Rain and at rush hour ... all of which turned what I thought would be a short solo excursion ... into a four-hour journey.
I decided just to take a taxi ... made arrangements to meet everyone later at the Dervish dancers at 6:30 (actually I was supposed to go back to the hotel first then we would all go together).
The taxi driver didn't speak a word of English but when I showed him where I wanted to go he said okay ... as we left I realized that he thought I wanted to go to a Hotel called Heliopolis ... and he had no idea where to go.
Eventually he called a guy from the sidewalk who spoke a little English to translate ... and then he said he knew and off we went.
The taxi driver and I eventually could chat using the "translate conversation" function on my phone ... even he said that it was in a Bad Neighborhood.
Suddenly in the distance I see it ... The Giant Obelisk! ... one of the only Obelisks still standing in its original location.
There was a lovely little park surrounding it with what little remains of the once glorious city of Ra, where the Great Temple once stood, which is said to have been larger, older and more spectacular than Karnak.
The city where Orpheus, Pythagoras, Homer and Plato all came to study with the priests of The Temple of Ra-Atum.
It is also where Antinous and Hadrian came during their visit a few months before Antinous drowned, the place where the event in which Antinous said he would be willing to give his life for Hadrian occurred.
I needed to see Heliopolis
I needed to stand where Antinous once stood,
Where he willingly dedicated his life to Hadrian
So many obstacles tried to prevent me from getting there.
I went all by myself into the wild worst parts of Cairo, and paid a heavy fare to get there and back.
I spent as long as I could, absorbing the presence and power beneath what could be seen around me ... and thanked Antinous for making it possible for me to have this magical moment.
My last adventure in Egypt.
The way back was worse than getting there, I barely made it on-time to see the dervish dancers ... which was surreal in its self.
Then back to the Hotel to pack and head to the airport where I am now.
Heliopolis was wonderful ... and heart-breaking.
Egypt was wonderful and heart-breaking.
It has been the most powerful experience of my life so far and it will take a while to go through all that I have experienced.
The Obelisk of Heliopolis will stand as my final pilgrimage station in Egypt. Although so many obstacles endeavored to prevent me from getting there...I overcame all that came before me and stood in the footsteps of Antinous.