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Jerry’s excellent adventure: ancient Greece, Jerusalem

& the Great Pyramid: October, 2006

Ancient Greece, Jerusalem & the Great Pyramid

From Bird Guano to Frogs

In the 1970s, my brother Jim married Veronica. In 1993

Jim died of a heart attack. At his funeral in England, his
Irish wife, Veronica, was busy calling priests and ordering
food when my mother and I walked in. I remember
feeling ashamed of myself; I was financially and
emotionally drained by litigation I was in, and here I was
at my only brother's funeral, and part of my mind was
elsewhere obsessing and ruminating over ridiculously
mundane things. Veronica
had the incredible
presence of mind to stop
what she was doing and
sit down on the back lawn
with me. “Well, Jerry,
what's happening in your
life?” she asked. As I was about to answer and tell her of my inane
preoccupations, a bird shit on me. Not a small amount, but a huge
tablespoon of white bird dung landed kerplop on my funeral-black shirt. “Jesus Christ!” I exclaimed,
and Veronica actually began to laugh_probably the only time she had laughed that year! “Don't you
know what that means?” she asked. “In Ireland, it means you are about to receive some good news. It's
an incredibly good omen.”

Before “Oh, really!” could escape my lips, the phone rang. “Uncle Jerry, you have a call from
America,” shouted my niece, Siobhan. It was my wife, Anya, with news that my lawyer had called. The
case was over; I had won. I still had bird shit on my shirt when I got the news.

Synchronicity, meaningful coincidence, a mystical Jungian concept, started to get my attention. Indeed,
if my prankster brother was still around, it would be totally in character for him to have a bird shit on
his little brother_just as it would be in character for him to rescue his little brother if he could.

After that I started to wonder, more seriously: Is there a soul? Does it go somewhere? Is that all magic
and superstition, or is there something to the idea of eternal life?

That was thirteen years ago. In the last three years I finished work on a book called In Search of
Butterflies: The Quest for the Soul at the Dawn of the Third Millennium, which incorporates virtually
everything I ever learned about psychology. Two publishers are reviewing as I write this (fingers
“Krothed”). Research on this book led to this trip; I had a few critically important places I had to see
and pictures to take for this book_a tight nineteen-day agenda_so I took no prisoners (nor fellow
travelers). It begins in Greece:

I. Ancient Greece

Athens begins in about 800 BC. Its golden age is

marked at about 580 BC; by 148 BC it begins a long
series of occupations, plundered by the Romans, Constantine's Holy Roman Empire, the Turks, the
English, then the Nazis.

One fact gleaned on this trip, for the “things-I-never-knew department,” is that in 1923 Turkey and
Greece had some real problems. A mass repatriation of 300,000 Turks living in Greece began, as over a
million Greeks living in Turkish areas returned home. Such a huge influx of Greeks caused
overcrowding, unemployment and mass famine. Today few Greeks speak Turkish and vice versa. The
present conflicts in Cyprus probably have to be seen through these historic lenses.

Athens is named after a virgin, Athena, a

goddess whose most magnificent
monument, the Parthenon, actually means

The Parthenon

“virgin” in Greek. Overlooking Athens this

mathematically engineered masterpiece is five
times older than any building we could find in
North America. Built 500 years before Christ,
the marble pillars encode incredible
mathematics, the “sacred proportion,” and
various optical illusions which make up its

At the same site (the Acropolis or “high city”)

that overlooks greater Athens we find the
Theater of Dionysius, where the plays of
Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and
Aeschylus dazzled sophisticated Athenians.
For such a tiny country, just imagine how
much Greece gave Western civilization:
Homer, Hesiod (The Theogony) Hippocrates, Plato, Herodotus, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Euclid,
Demosthenes...and Socrates himself.
Below the Acropolis is the Temple of Zeus,
the largest ancient temple on the Greek
mainland. Zeus had an notable Oedipus
Complex. His father, Kronos, fearing a
Freudian takeover, swallowed his children,
but protected by mother earth (Rhea, or
Gaia) (see Jack and the Beanstalk for a
background), Zeus survived to castrate his
father, rape his mother, and sire the twelve
Olympians plus a few scores of
mortal/immortal hybrids. I wanted to go to
Mount Olympus to visit Zeus' stomping
grounds, but it was 200 miles south...and I
no longer a Freudian.

I chose a more Jungian destination_the

temple of Apollo at Delphi, 120 miles north.
It is at Delphi that we come upon the Oracle
possessed by a peculiar divine insanity and
in touch with the collective psyche's more
futuristic functions. The ancient inscribed
motto one sees as one enters Delphi is
“Know Thyself.” What an appropriate place
for a psychologist to visit! There is also a
more mysterious inscription: “You Are.” We
wonder what that means. Does it mean “We
exist, are eternal, have everlasting life, and
we should live in the now, as in the Power of
Temple of Zeus Now,” or is it more akin to the Biblical “I am
who am”?

A Revelation: “Chanteen”

I wandered about the temple. It's beautiful, but one's more cynical side says, “Big deal. This is just a
view site_a wonderful, pretty place to
build something...anything.” It overlooks
a lush set of valleys, a body of water, a
small city on the water_just a nice place
for any ancient land developer with taste.
Ah, not so fast, my cynical friend! Delphi
is weird. It forms isosceles triangles all
over the place. Many cities in ancient
Greece are equidistant from each other, so
the following made rather perfect
isosceles triangles with Delphi: Delphi-
Athens-Olympia; Delphi-Eleusis-Iolkos;
Delphi-Megalopoli-Figaleia; Delphi-
Pella-Corfu [There are more!].
When the oracle spoke (in her heyday her name was Pythia), she went below to sniff some volcanic
fumes, got appropriately stoned and spoke in tongues. The priests interpreted her babble to render
intelligibility to the famous oracles. All around the temple there are “treasuries,” or ancillary temples
where gifts were bestowed by those grateful for the correct predictions which streamed out of the
oracle's mouth. Judging by the ancient opulence of these treasuries, the oracle must have been right on
quite a bit.

Perhaps a hundred sundry tourists

were crawling all over this place
taking pictures, but none were
meditating or trying to contact the
oracular source themselves. This is,
after all, a symbolic and sacred place,
so why not sit, close your eyes, ask a
few questions? I did. I wanted to get as
close to the oracle's location as I
could. I closed my eyes and got one
rather definitive answer, but all of my
other queries were ambiguous.

A guide saw me and said I was the

only one who was doing what one should be doing when they came here. That made me feel a bit less
strange. I had decided that night would be a great time to try to remember my dreams, so I was
prepared with pen and paper.

This subjective moment is really the most important moment of my trip, so before we go any further,
remember that Delphi is a temple to the sun god Apollo, and that Apollo's major function was to drive
four horses that pulled his chariot across the sky. Each morning Apollo would pull the sun across the
sky (dusk to dawn), and that made up his major workload: “Apollo shot out arrows which can
symbolize the rays of the sun that bring light and insight.”

On the bus back to Athens I met a man named David, a professor who
worked for thirteen years in Saudi Arabia. A Minnesotan by birth, this
rotund expatriate was interesting and articulate, had a unique
perception of the world, and liked Vivaldi and Bill Evans. A few
times I found myself saying, “What does that word mean that you are
using?” I like speaking to someone when their vocabulary is over my
head. At the end of our two-hour bus ride, I gave him my email
address and said, “Let's correspond. I really enjoyed talking to you.”

That night I had probably one of the ten most important dreams of my
life. Here it is:

David is standing in front of me and says, I just bought some

Chanteen stationery to write to you.” I said, “Well, that's a new one,”
(referring to the word “Chanteen”). He says, “I thought you'd like
that! (as if he intended to choose that word).
I woke up and wrote down the word “Chanteen,” then went back to sleep. The next morning I
remembered the dream, but forgot what kind of stationery he said he was going to write me on.
However, I remembered that I'd written the word “Chanteen” and said, “Wow, that's weird! I have to
look this up.” I went to the hotel computer, checked and, and there was
nothing, so I decided this was just a nonsense word that my frontal lobes tried to make sense out of in
the dream (referred to as the “neurophysiological theory of dreaming”).

But then I Googled the word and discovered that it really was word in the Navajo language. It appeared
in Navajo poetry as “the Chanteen” and the function of the chanteen was, like Apollo, to raise the sun
up into the sky. Incredible! Here is the Navajo discovery:

They looked up and saw two rainbows, one across the other, from east to west,
and from north to south. The heads and feet of the rainbows almost touched the
men's heads. The men tried to raise the great light, but each time they failed.
Finally a man and woman appeared, whence they knew not. The man's name was
Atseatsine and the woman's name was Atseatsan. They were asked, “How can this
sun be got up?” They replied, “We know; we heard the people down here trying
to raise it, and this is why we came.” “Chanteen [sun's rays],” exclaimed the
man, “I have the chanteen; I have a crystal from which I can light the chanteen,
and I have the rainbow; with these three I can raise the sun.” The people said,
“Go ahead and raise it.”

So the “Chanteen” does what Apollo does; it raises the sun into the sky. There are a few things to pay
attention to here. (1) I never read any American Indian literature; (2) I certainly never encountered any
Navajo poetry; (3) Chanteen is not a nonsense word, but something that comes out of the silt of some
other psyche_not mine! That is actually something I talk about in my book. Is our psyche just nothing
more than the sum total of our own individual life experiences, or do we have the capacity to tap into a
more universal mind (a collective psyche), another symbolic archive to which we have access?

David, in the dream, is saying he has some Apollonian stationery, Sun god stationery, and he uses a
Navajo word to carry the message. David is a messenger from the collective psyche, the same place the
oracles came from. This was bewildering, delightful and confirmatory. This is a large interior chunk of
what my journey was about.

Back to Athens. Miscellaneous observations:

Athens is sometimes grubby, but it is filled with

people talking, smoking and living. Restaurants
seem to be open and people schmoozing until 5 a.m.

I saw very few police, lots of people crossing streets

against the light, and through all the apparent chaos
there seemed to be an organic lawfulness. People
were polite, even to Americans. Women could walk
alone along dark alleyways without any thought to
their safety. There seemed to be an unseen safety net
here. Even in the immaculate marbled subway you
just validate your ticket (no turnstiles to stop you)
and off you go. There is a sense of trust somewhere
in the air which does not exist in American cities. I saw no homeless people and very few beggars, but
apparently the average college graduate earns only about $800 per month.

Street food and wine were not memorable, but one souvlaki totally blew me away. Souvlaki is kind of
like Greek lasagna.

I came on a mission to Greece, a quest to touch the ancient life here, not to understand the present, but I
was delightfully surprised by both. This was the navel of western culture, of philosophy, democracy,
rational thought and civility. To summarize one author:

The magnificence of Hellenic life lasted no more than a century and a half, but this
short time was enough to make Greece the holy land of civilization: human thought
was born there. This small city changed, in the moral order, the poles of the earth.
The East had given birth to wise men, but under them the people were no more than
docile flocks ruled by the master's voice. In Greece, for the very first time, humanity
became conscious of itself.

II. The Holy Land

The most famous Jew in the world, and the most famous human being of all time is undoubtedly Jesus
Christ. Almost 32% of all the people on this planet consider him God_I'm talking currently!

I was raised Catholic from age five to age seventeen, and became angry and resentful over my
indoctrination for many years. In my forties, Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung reminded me
that it is important to try to understand the meta-meanings of the
myths into which we are born. (“Did the Virgin Mary have a hymen,
or does the virgin birth instead symbolize the need for all human
beings to be born from the spirit and not the flesh?”)

Norman O. Brown says it similarly: “From literalism to symbolism,

the lesson of my life.” Touché, Norman!

Jerusalem was astonishing. I never saw so many churches,

monasteries, abbeys and cathedrals all in one place. Pilgrims from all
over, black Abyssinians, choir-singing Sri Lankans, Russians, and
Polish, French and Spanish groups swarming over these temples and
stations of the cross.

I was in the tomb where Jesus' body came up missing and where they
declared him risen from the dead. This is the holiest church in
Jerusalem, the church of the Holy Sepulcher. I asked a guy to take my
picture at the entrance, and he did. He said he was also an executive
Where Pontius washed his hands producer for Good Morning America and asked if I would submit to an
of it all and set Barabas free interview. I agreed. The program was supposed to air on November
13, but they ran it without my wonderful comments. Anyway, he
asked me “What do you think of Jerusalem?,” and I said “This is a religious Disneyland!” Then he
asked me to comment further and I said “Well, if there is no God, then this is the absolute citadel of
collective insanity. but if there is, then this is the very epicenter of man's most divine and sacred
connection to God. I mean, look. Jesus resurrected from this very place. A block down the street,
Mohammed did the same. This is really a very archetypal and divine place.”

That’s probably why it didn’t run.

All the religions except Buddhism seem to be here:

Judaism, Islam, Orthodox Christianity, Roman
Catholicism, Southern Baptist Convention. There is
even a place on the roof of the Holy Sepulcher, which
houses a monastery of Ethiopian monks who live in
prison-like monastic cells.

There is a church for everything. A church where Mary

was born. A church where Jesus fell. A church where
Mary died. A church where Jesus was whipped (the
The room where the Last Supper was held
Church of the Flagellation). A church where Veronica
wiped his face. (There is no Veronica in the Bible, but it
doesn't seem to deter the construction of churches.) If Jesus farted, the spot would be marked by the
church of the Holy Flatulence.

The old city is really cool. Tiny, ancient streets, some where the
slippery marble is even 2,000 years old.

This is a place of pilgrimage. People here are making a life

journey_like me_and they have tears in their eyes, prayers: Jewish
rabbis praying in the center of the street (where they suspect the
first temple once stood), Sri Lankans singing in the church of the
Virgin Mary, with tears streaming down their faces, obviously
swooning that they have finally arrived at this place. This is
everybody's hadj, strong emotions here, moments that are cathartic
and visceral to everyone from the redneck evangelical from
Alabama to more reserved Orthodox priests from the Ukraine.

My most
emotional moment was inside the tomb
where Christ's body disappeared. Looking up
through the ceiling of this church (right) you
get such a feeling of leaving and ascending.
Well done architecturally! But the emotional
moment came when I put my hands on the
slab where Christ's body lay. I mean that is
the place where Jesus' body was. Touch it!
Freaky! A billion other people have put their
hands there too, sure, but it does something
to you_at least to a person with my religious
background. (I'm no longer a Catholic, by the
way, but that does not seem to diminish the
Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The entrance here is the
tomb where Christ’s body was placed, then disappeared.
To the right is inside the tomb, a slab of stone where
Christ’s body was laid after his crucifixion.

Probably the most beautiful church in Jerusalem is

outside the old city on the Mount of Olives. It boasts
golden Russian cupolas and was built by Czar
Alexander III (right) This is where Jesus appeared to
Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection. It was
closed on the day I came, but I spoke Russian outside
the door and a Russian nun let me in_to the grounds,
but not to the church itself. Next door is the Church
of the Ascension where Jesus appeared to his
apostles after his death (and Doubting Thomas put
his finger into Christ's belly).

I wanted to get a picture of myself at the most

profound mythic site of Christianity, Christmas and
the manger. Trouble is the Three Wise Men, the
sheep, all the hay_that's located in Bethlehem at the Church of the Nativity, and that's in the Palestinian

I met a Palestinian cabby who said he could get me

into Bethlehem. We drove there. Then I went right
into the church, crawled down into a bit of a cave,
and had my picture taken right where Jesus was born,
where the Three Wise Men presented the Holy
Family with frankincense and myrrh (boy, is myrrh
strong!!)_and then I split. (My camera was lost, so I
lost this picture and had to download it—left).

But my driver and I were about to leave when we

discovered that he thought I brought my passport,
The spot in Bethlehem, in the manger, were Christ and I never thought I needed it. Here we were in
was born. They built a church around it called the Palestinian territory, and I couldn’t get out without
Church of the Nativity documents. We were turned away at one checkpoint.
There I was, stranded with Hamas, Al-Fatah, and no
passport. A block away about fifteen Palestinian policemen with machine guns were arguing with
Hamas gunmen. I was actually quite scared, but my driver said, “I am your brother. I will get you out
of this.” So we went to another exit gate. He told me to pretend I was his relative. They searched the
car for bombs, but let us go through without checking my I.D. Whew!

On the way out I took a good look at the wall_the recently built 400-mile-long wall now separating
Israel from Palestinian territories. I can't tell you how sad it makes you feel to see it. It just elicits a
raw, naked emotion of sadness to see
this new Berlin Wall. An irrational,
unspeakable emotion of total sadness
descends on you when you get close to
this thing. My politics didn't change
from this trip, but one statement kept
coming back, from psychiatrist Fritz
Perls: The more you resist, the more it

I think that is very true for the Israelis

and very true for the Palestinians...and it
is profoundly sad.

By the way, the feeling of hatred in the

Palestinian population is, to this naive
observer, palpable, seething. You can
sense it; you can see it in their eyes.
I was at the Wailing Wall, the Jewish holy site, and watched and listened while I was there.

The Wailing Wall sits very close to the

Dome of the Rock. This is the not a
mosque, but a shrine to the resurrection of
Muhammad. Muhammad made his
“Night Journey” here and ascended into
heaven in 687 AD. This place has some
other historic attributes. It was the original
site of Solomon's temple a thousand years
before Christ. It was where Abraham
sacrificed his son. It was the place where
the Ten Commandments were enshrined
until about 587 BC when they
disappeared. Today it is the third holiest
site in Islam (after Mecca and Medina),
and it is thought the destruction of this
place or its defilement will be the trigger
that sets off Armageddon.

Security is very tight here.

Miscellaneous and California-tainted observations about Israel:

There are no jazz clubs in Jerusalem.

It is impossible to find gefilte fish, corned beef, pastrami or matzo ball soup here.

Russians are everywhere; there is even a Russian TV channel.

No one wears Spandex or seems to jog, exercise or ride bikes for physical health here,
in Athens, or in Egypt.

III. The Great Pyramid

Just as I didn't go to Israel

but to the Holy Land, so I
didn't come to Cairo, but to
the Great Pyramid. The city
of Cairo, however, blew me
out of the water. This was
my first experience with a
great, overpopulated,
polluted megalopolis. What
a place not to visit!
Seventeen million people
and counting. Garbage
everywhere. People
everywhere. Scoundrels and
hucksters everywhere.

Only on the Nile was there a

sense of relief, but even in
front of the Four Seasons
Hotel right on the Nile there
were plastic bottles, garbage
and papers blowing around.
Cairo runs right into the city
of Giza, and that lower
upper-class slum (all the
buildings seem to be painted
brownish gray) runs right up
to the very base of the

But when you see the Great

Pyramid (Cheops), you just
awe...transfixed...and you
hear yourself saying, “Jesus
Christ, who the fuck built this?!!!”
If the shrines of Jerusalem are 2,000 years old, and the temples of the Golden Age of Greece are 2,500
years old, the Great Pyramid is 4,500 years old!
I just looked at it, stunned, for ten minutes.

If you ever felt human beings had been

influenced by, or contacted by, extraterrestrials,
or if extraterrestrials had any influence over
human affairs, I think the Great Pyramid is the
best example of this. It is awesome, weird,
wonderful. One of the Seven Wonders of the
World, it absolutely and unequivocally deserves
this accolade.

I was interested in only Cheops, the largest of

the three pyramids. It has the most physics to it.
There are enough stones in this structure to
build a six-foot wall around France! They are so
precisely cut that to this day no one really
knows how they did it.
There is no mortar, but fitted granite that has stood, undisturbed, through 4,500 years of earthquakes,
floods and volcanoes. It stood so well that today the northern tip of the pyramid points precisely to the
magnetic north pole. Its height with respect to its base delivers pi to the second decimal place. If you
multiply its height times 10 to the tenth (a
billion), you get the closest point that Earth
comes to the sun (the perihelion). The base
is not a perfect square but bends in just bit,
just enough to compensate for the curvature
of the earth, implying that whoever built
this knew the circumference of the earth
when they engineered it. It was the tallest
building on Earth for forty-four centuries,
only to be surpassed in the eighteenth

(Remember: Human beings had nothing to

read, that is, no written language, only five
hundred years before this mother was built!
All the math they thought the Greeks
discovered was already here two millennia
before the Greeks “discovered” it.)

I went inside to the very center of the pyramid. One crawls through a four-foot opening. Only 100
tickets are sold for this. When the vents of the pyramid were eventually opened, a rush of air stabilized
the temperature. The King's Chamber, the center of the Great Pyramid where we crawled, is sixty-eight
degrees all year long, right in the middle of the Egyptian desert_air conditioned for four millennia.

So inside the pyramid is supposed to be the center of healing, with unusual magnetic energies. Even
food is supposed to remain unspoiled here. The king's chamber is about 20x20x40 feet, a clean, smooth
room with no writing or hieroglyphics at all. As five of us entered, a yoga hippie was in the center
chanting “ohhhmmm,” so I thought I'd try my hand at it. I stood in the center of the King's Chamber
and started my “ohhhmmm.” For some strange reason, I sang the lowest note that I can sing (G below
C), and it was low, strong and overpowering. It just filled up the room. I was amazed at the echo-
resonance reverberating through my voice...and through me.

I did it again, just for good measure, and felt something strange inside me. Not to make a big deal out
of it, but since I was in the pyramid I feel a certain absence of fear in my life.
(How nice if that lasted!)

On the Nile
Nearby is mankind's first block-long, maximalist sculpture, the Sphinx. The enigma of the Sphinx,
solved by Oedipus, is that it represents man. Whatever the interpretation, it is also stunning. You can't
get very close, but I had a wonderful Egyptologist guide who was superb in explaining things. These
stones are some of the biggest in the entire pyramid complex, many tons, and cut perfectly.
Solid granite cut from a
single stone to form a 90
degree angle

I also went to the Museum of Antiquities, where I saw the usual stuff: an 18-
foot mummified crocodile, a mummified dog and cat, a pharaoh's condom,
King Tut's 120-pound solid-gold sarcophagus. I was most impressed by
Ramses II. He's in very good shape for 6,000 years of age. I think it is
important to be buried in salt and then properly embalmed.

I couldn't wait to get out of Cairo. Its suffocating overpopulation and

pollution is like Guadalajara to the power of 15. I really felt that twenty
years from now this area of the world will be unfit for human habitation. It
reminds one of the movie Soylent Green. (Rent it if you haven't seen it!) But
the pyramid was a stunning jewel. Awesome!

Completing the Circle

This journey started in England at my brother's funeral with bird shit. Well, last year his beloved wife,
Veronica, died at the tender age of fifty-nine. I came to her funeral, too, and now here I am with their
daughter, Siobhan, at the burial site. The stone has been changed. Both Jim and Veronica are now
buried in one spot, and the stone reads, “Together again.” I stood there in contemplation and a moment
of silence. Then, as suddenly as a bird shit on me thirteen years ago, Siobhan blurted out, “Oh, look at
that!” It was a frog. A little frog jumped on top of Jim and Veronica and nestled himself under a leaf.
This journey is pregnant with symbols from bird shit to Chanteen, but frogs also have major symbolic
meaning. They change from tadpoles to something else. They are symbolic of a change of state, going
from form to another, of metamorphosis, as in “Kiss a frog and it will turn into a prince.”
The symbolic meaning of a frog in the textbooks is that it is a symbol of resurrection. How fitting that
this symbolic little guy would alight on top of my brother and his wife. This is where my pilgrimage
began, where the seeds of my book began, and where my nineteen-day trip ended.

Thanks for reading this.

Jerry Kroth
November 2006

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