As a ‘spiritual tourist extraordinaire’, as I like to call myself, I have found that magical things happen when we gather in incredible places and when we reach pivotal points in our lives.
This is a tale of how that unfolded for me.
I am currently working on the story of a young girl who hitch hiked to the bright lights of London in the glamorous 70s and 80s.
The tale follows her into nude modelling, through drug addiction and her circumnavigation of the globe at 25 – a trip she nicknamed, ‘The Adventures of Fanny Hack-About Jones’ after a book she’d read. That story alone would put dear old Mr Grey in the shade!
Yes, I have lived.
The big 3 – 0 approached and as Saturn settled into where it had been at the moment of my birth, my spiritual roller coaster ride began.
My first adult experience that was clearly not of this world, occurred after a failed cold turkey suicide attempt while walking the as yet empty plains of Tenerife. My life had changed course, every cell in my body reverberating with “the message”, although I had no way of verbalising it at that time and indeed no expectation that anything like that could happen to me.
As I left drugs behind and deepened my spiritual practice these experiences became more frequent. They always seemed to be at their most profound when I was with people who had an important message or experience to share, often when I was travelling and in sacred locations here in Scotland.
The biggest changes came after Egypt, my spiritual home. The learnings I made, inspired and informed the writing of THE ME I WANT TO BE and indeed the subsequent chapters of my life.
Egypt 2001, with Simon Treselyan, Amr Elhelly and a whole bunch of other amazing folk was my first “official” adventure as a spiritual tourist. I fell in love the moment my feet touched Egyptian soil. I was a changed woman on a journey there was no coming back from. Nothing had prepared me for the growth that could, and did, occur with the right people, in the right places and of course with the right energy. I have been having a love affair with such journeys ever since.
Every time I have been in Egypt I felt this deep connection, this feeling of home. The Egyptians, as fey as they come (and I love the contrast of the modern Muslim and ancient pharaonic beliefs) were always telling me I had an Egyptian aura. Being me I assumed it was the latest chat up line until I discovered that Scota was an Egyptian queen and us dark skinned Scots are very likely descendants.
According to the historian, Bower, the Scottish people were not an amalgam of Picts, Scots and other European peoples, but were in fact Egyptians, who could trace their ancestry directly back to a pharaoh’s daughter and her husband, a Greek king. The queen’s name was Scota – from where comes the name Scotland. The Greek king was Gaythelos – hence Gaelic, and their son was known as Hiber – which gives us Hibernia. According to tradition, this royal family was expelled from Egypt during a time of great uprising. They sailed west, settling initially in Spain before travelling to Ireland and then on to the west coast of Scotland. This same race of people eventually battled and triumphed over the Picts to become the Scots – the people who united our country.
A new book, Scota, Egyptian Queen of the Scots, by Ralph Ellis, claims to prove that this origin myth was no made-up story but the actual recording of an Egyptian exodus that did indeed conclude in Scotland.
I believe the deep-rooted memories and longings that many of us feel are in our very DNA.
I began facilitating tours in 2003. Our groups visited the lunar based, other worldly site of Callanish many times, often around the Spring Equinox. I taught Sekhem at Brodgar in Orkney during the special moons of 2004 and 2005. In 2004 I had one of the most stunning of these experience – it was of a deep spiritual love that revealed itself in the centre of those ancient stones. The resistance of the messages I received over those 3 days from spirit were my undoing for the next 10 years, but yet another tale.
Of course more often I visited the very special sites around my home in Deeside, Scotland.
The first tour I led in Egypt was 2005. My dear friend and guide Amr and I did 7 in total plus a retreat to Sharm El Sheik. Sadly the revolution in January 2011 saw the end of those tours and it was in fact with a heavy heart I began my travels to Turkey. My story with Egypt does not feel over and I have a deep longing to spend quiet time there alone writing. I await the calling.
However, destiny would have it that I fell in love again, in an earthly way this time. My young lover showed me around his homeland with great pride – we visited Pamukkali, Izmir and Istanbul as well as visiting all the tourist resorts around Turkey’s incredible coast by car, bus, gulet and even tandem!!!
This was my life from 2012-2015. I was there during the June 2013 ‘riots’ in Taksim Square. Seeing first-hand the massively slanted and inaccurate reports on the international news was no surprise after seeing similar during Scotland’s 2014 Independence Referendum, yet for me it was another pivotal point.
Soul Sister Seda
The riots had led to cancelled trips including the detox retreat I had planned to attend. However, since I was already in Turkey, the facilitator said: come visit anyway. That’s how I met my dear soul sister Seda, my Turkish doppelganger. How strange to walk into a room and see yourself! We looked so alike, the locals in Datca, now “home” for me when I visit Turkey, think we are sisters – the only difference being I look more Turkish than her!!!
Seda is a yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner, and like me, her work is her life, so you can imagine it took all of 5 minutes before we began planning retreats.
Our first, THE ME I WANT TO BE: RETREAT 2015, was aka “Not the Detox” The group, all dear friends now, made it a holiday to remember –
As you can see from the testimonials the retreat exceeded everyone’s expectations and Seda and I sat down to make it an annual event and build up to more.
Sadly world politics had another idea and we were on the move again.
The world gets smaller and more of us are becoming professional nomads so with the help of my dear friend, Maggie Erotokritos, another soul
sister, met on yet another incredible journey, Peru … yes coming soon! THE ME I WANT TO BE: RETREAT 2016 became “Carry on in Cyprus” –
Instant karma’s come to get ya!
Highlights to one side, 2016 was a difficult year. it was true for me on a personal level, but in fact 2016 was the end of a huge karmic cycle and I was certainly not the only one who faced challenges. I found myself questioning beliefs I had espoused with fervour from when I began teaching in the 1990s. I entered the year blissed out having just done 6 weeks in India but it took all of my strength during the following months to even remember there was something other than the negativity “reality” was presenting. Only the connections with spiritual sisters and brothers over the years and the deep sleep of that winter allowed me to emerge anew with 2017.
I am so grateful for 2017 and the experiences it has brought me.
The beginning was tough, still rocking from the karmic clear out of 2016 and dealing with its aftermath.
That energy held me until mid-way through the year. Things had kicked off about 12 weeks after I did Primal at the Osho Meditation Centre in Pune in January 2016, the ensuing roller coaster ride continued until I seemingly completed the cycle with the Tantra Course at Osho Afroz in Lesvos this July. For me the 2 courses and the 2 places were utterly different. Afroz was something else – the people I met and how we lived felt so blissful and full of love. I experienced a profound healing there, made great friends and took sannyasin – committing to live life in totality. The name I was given on initiation is Deva Upchara which means divine healer – I love it.
In many ways I returned to Cyprus in 2017 as it was the easiest thing to do amidst the upheaval that was going on for me personally. I am very grateful I did as it gave me the chance to thoroughly explore the Natura Beach Hotel. The Natura is a totally, organic eco hotel. I was so impressed that I am working on a different style of retreat for next time we visit, one more suitable to the natural surroundings and peace that offer a deeper dive into self-reflection. There will be, meditations, yoga, walking, swimming, openings to creativity and most importantly the allowing and letting in of ease which in these times is the only thing that can set us all free.
It also became very clear that The Me I Want To Be: Retreat, flagship retreat for my book is meant to go nomad. It was always intended to be a lower cost retreat. So to keep it accessible for all, we are exploring the possibility of Portugal. I’ve heard some really great reports and with the direct flights from Aberdeen – the upshot being if you can fly from Aberdeen you can fly from anywhere! Jessica (my daughter) and I will go exploring soon. Let me know if you have any suggestions as to where????
2018 – in numerology an 11 so as fast a year as 2017 but with the softening of love from the number 2. Predicted to be a year of abundance. I am already grateful because 2018 will see me back in Datca, Turkey with Seda for the detox retreat we’ve been working on so long and creating Portugal with my daughter. Yes the me I want to be indeed 🙂
I have plenty more places to visit and stories to tell – I would love to know if they resonate with you and what you would like to hear more about.
Thank you for reading and blessed be.