The Temple of Isis

Halle at the temple of Isis, from her last trip to Egypt

Experiencing dawn at the Temple of Isis at Philae should be a part of everyone’s holidays in Egypt. However, usually only people going for spiritual travel will get to have this incredible opportunity.

We took a bus from our cruise ship, arrived at the ticket booth in the pitch black, and then stepped onto a ferry that took us over to the small island where the temple is located. Moved stone by stone when the Aswan Dam was built, the temple looks as if it has sat in the same spot for thousands of years.

Just before we dock in the darkness, our guide Emil motions to the boatman, who switches off the motor with a flick of his wrist. These holidays in Egypt are powerful, spiritual travel with the extra oomph that makes all the difference.

It was still, so still. The inky water lapping at our hull was the only sound as we drifted across the lake. Suddenly, looming like the outline of a mountain, the temple appeared in the distance. Tears appeared in the eyes of many of our guests — we don’t know why, but this place inexplicably moves us, and for several on each tour it is their hands-down favorite.

Another signal and the motor pushed us through the water to the dock. Emil signaled to me and I led the group out of the boat and up through the outer temple walls. As always, my shoes came off the very second I hit the first wooden walkway.

We moved through the outer courtyard and into the inner chambers, headed towards the sanctuary and our pre-dawn ceremony. Pigeons hooted softly overhead. Cats – the island is home to several – yowled and purred at our legs as we walked, welcoming us into their temple. Isis would have appreciated this — felines were sacred to the ancients.

No matter what everyone expected prior to that morning, their holiday in Egypt will be unforgettable, spiritual travel at its best. Moving sure-footed in the dark, the wood under my feet still warm from the sun the day before, I guided our group into the holy of holies and toward the mysteries of Isis…

The Dawning: Egypt 2012 is from December 9-23, 2012, including 12/12/12 and 12/21/12.