I have forever been drawn to the desert. The shifting colours uncluttered with the trappings of life. The Berbers call themselves "Imazighen", meaning the free. Whilst in Marrakech recently, I crossed the High Atlas mountains to visit the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, a place that acts as a gateway to the Sahara desert. Made up of a group of earthen buildings surrounded by high walls, a 4000 year old Berber culture continues here as it ever was. Salt, a precious commodity worth more than gold was once protected in the high tower on the summit. This was my Glastonbury Tor in the desert. A hill, a tower on the highest part, presenting a gateway to another world.
I had a guide on this part of my journey. It wasn't easy to get him to drop the mask that had become his profession, showing tourists from other cultures around his home and his tribe. A man with four sisters and five brothers, he had been born in this place to parents who did not have enough wealth to send all their children to school, so he, from being a small child, had been offering his culture to tourists and pilgrims. His manner was softer with me. He knew I was on a journey and encouraged me by explaining the different stages on the climb and suggested I could stop at any one of them if I so wished. During his lifetime of crossing the river and climbing the ksar, he had learned to speak six languages fluently. Whilst he spoke, his mask dropped a little and I saw the proud, strong man with sadness in his soul. He was a warrior, and whilst this place and the sociocultural dynamics of its people are protected by UNESCO, I did not see a man of a free tribe.
I caught this image and was struck by the connection between the boy and his horse. I also saw a deep sadness eliciting a profound beauty filled with arcane secrets. Stood in the dried bed of the Oued Sous, the River of Salt, under the blazing sun for thirty minutes, about to climb a high castle, my guide told me the Berbers were happy to help 'disabled' people get to the summit. I declined, knowing this part of my journey needed to be done without assistance. "The desert shatters the soul's arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert we trust God or die", counsels Dr. Dan Allender, the pioneer of a unique and innovative approach to trauma and abuse therapy...and so I trusted. No horse. Just me. Carrying a rock from the river bed. But oh, what a picture I take with me of the horse, and the people, that would have borne me to my goal. It might be mooted that God sent me the horse to ride upon, however, deep in my spirit, I knew that part of my experience was also the physical test. Perhaps it was I that was examining myself, perhaps it was a spiritual warriors test...who knows. It felt damn good, regardless.
My experiences are as yours - filled with challenges, pain, joy, laughter and love.
The settings of our scenes might be different but along our journey together, we will discover similarities and shared experiences.
Adventure with me for a while, for it is in the Journey, we become One.
High Sierra Winter Solstice
Postcards from America (1)
God's Own Country
An Avalonian Anniversary
..'And did those feet?'
Glastonbury/Avalon of the Heart
Finding Colour in the Grey
Lessons from Morocco
Under African Skies
The Earth Mother
The Glastonbury Unity Candle goes to Knight's Enham