The Travel Tour of Toledo begins. We gather together on the front steps of the NH Hotel or as we all lovingly now call it the HU Hotel. We peer out into the sunny morning with our sleepy eyes and the cool air on our skin feels refreshing as we begin with our morning logistics from our tour guides.
We walk to the Toledo park and gather around for a moment of attunement with John Morton. After our morning attunement, we are ready for our day. We take a gentle walk to the Cristo de la Luz Mosque. The Mosque is the only one of ten that once existed in the city, which remains largely as it was during the Moorish period.
An inscription “in the name of Allah” is written with brick in Kufic script on the mosque. In 1186, the building was given to the Knights of the Order of St John, who established it as the Chapel of the Holy Cross (Ermita de la Santa Cruz).
We ventured further through Toledo streets enjoying the culture and the scenery. The cobblestone roads are enchanting to walk on as you imagine the days when horses with carts walked through these streets.
Our next stop is the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo which is often said to be the apex of Gothic architecture with a French influence. It is considered the most impressive building in this style in the country. It was built between 1226 and 1493 on the site of the ruins of a mosque, which, in turn, had been built on the site of an ancient church. The builders borrowed elements of Muslim architecture influenced by the Mudéjar style from the Moors in the design, especially in the cloister. The entire building is a masterful work of art.
Lunch is awaiting around the corner for us as we feast at Toledos’ most famous restaurant and enjoy lamb, Hake fish and delicious desserts and cafe con leche.
Onward we go to visit the El Greco in Santo Tomé Church. The Santo Tome Church is a beautiful church dating from the 12th century. At the beginning of the 14th century, the church was in a ruinous state and was rebuilt. The church is home to a famous painting by El Greco The Burial of Count Orgaz. El Greco was one of the most important and influential Spanish artists of all time not only as a painter but also as an individual, and his deep influence that he had in the shaping of Toledo’s history in the 17th century. The El Greco painting has layers and layers of tones, textures, and colors and the story is enchanting as Pilar our tour guide describes the details and stories behind each character in the painting.
Next is the Santa María la Blanca museum and former synagogue in Toledo, Spain. Erected in 1180, it is considered the oldest synagogue building in Europe still standing and owned and preserved by the Catholic Church.
The Del Tránsito Synagogue is next and was built in 1356. The Synagogue is famous for its polychrome stucco work. The Synagogue became a church after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and military headquarters for Napoleon. It is fundamentally plain with white walls and as you gaze upward to catch the stunning architecture of the ceilings and the vast height of the room.
Enthusiastically we board the bus. Not just any bus; this bus is a double decker with the group seating on the second level and the first level for the driver. The views from the front our stunning and I am compelled to keep the camera rolling.
We arrive at the hotel a bit weary and hungry. Some folks attend the Damascene workshop while others saunter off to the hotel for much-needed rest.
Damascening is an art of encrusting gold, silver, or copper wire on the surface of iron, steel, bronze, or brass. The name “Damascening “comes from the city of Damascus, which was popular for its damascened wares as early as the 12th century. Damascened work of high quality is still produced by craftsmen in Spain, Egypt, and Iran.
It is late in the nite and off to bed. See you all tomorrow Live from Madrid with John Morton!
Love & Light, Julie
Touring Videos by Julie Lurie
Touring Photos by David Sand
Join Us in Planting Light Columns wherever you are and Light up the World together.
Here are two handouts from John-Roger on “Light Columns”
Click here | Planting Light Columns #1 by John-Roger
Click here | Planting Light Columns #2 by John-Roger
David Sand’s Column
The easy part is over, which was getting there: staring out the window of planes and buses while floating through SE’s, allowing the energy to fill me as the trip is prepared in Spirit. That’s the receiving part. Now comes the immersion in the karma with the on-the-ground (both literally and figuratively) start of the trip. We’re walking around all day in the searing Spanish sun, and then slipping into the dimness of 500-year-old churches, cathedrals and synagogues. If you just looked at the physical level you might see us sweating, bumping into each other, falling behind the tour guide, looking for bathrooms. And on the psychic levels we’re clearing, sending Light, walking through what can feel like cobwebs— the psychic soup of centuries of human longing, desire, celebration, fighting, disappointment, pleading with God…and begging to do it all over again. (Listen to John-Roger’s seminar “The Ectoplasmic Aura” to get a sense of what that psychic soup, or “ectoplasm” is and how to deal with it.)
It’s not always a glamorous job, this traveling with the Traveler, but the work is spiritual, which means that it’s such a joy that the other levels don’t matter much. We’re working dogs who love our work, and our Master, and there are lots of treats. We see angelic art and architecture and our tour guide has a very wide knowledge of art history. We have a gourmet lunch in a top-notch restaurant—probably the best (homemade) bread I’ve ever had. John does little mini-seminars or blessings that are another type of treat— a quiet, inner break that adds points of stillness and space in the bustling day. Today John brings in the Light and peace in a beautiful setting in a park. And there’s always sleep, the ultimate treat. Finally sitting down in a comfortable chair after photographing puts me to sleep and I miss part of the meal. My “friends” decide to pick up my camera and photograph me while I’m unconscious, which I discover only at the end of the day going through the photos.
It’s nice work if you can get it. As the working dog part of us and the spiritual part of us cooperate and blend, we become something larger, more inclusive, and the clearing takes place. J-R has often said to “put flesh and blood on it” when talking about spiritual things, but I never really understood what he meant. I’m realizing that it’s not just a way of appreciating old scriptures. I’t’s a way of incorporating all levels so that the clearing can happen. The discomfort, the hot sun, the lungfuls of cigarette smoke as you pass through crowded streets, the dodging of cars in narrow alleys, the musty smell of the churches, the crick in the neck as you look up into the incessant stimulation of sumptuous sculpture, gold leaf, and stained glass— all of that unites all the levels into a swelling symphony of pain/pleasure. Pure pleasure is an illusion, a dream, a ghost. It has no reality, no life. The immersion in the physical, including the discomfort, separates the psychic ectoplasm from its heaviness and history, and reveals for what it really is—weightless wisps of energy, ghosts, mist for the grill—and it evaporates as we walk through it.
J-R set the tone for these trips, and for me in the early days it was rougher going. We weren’t nearly as adept at clearing, and the planetary karma was thicker. I think it’s a much easier ride now, and we’re like the cleanup hitter after a lot of the dirty work has already been done. It’s a day of church-hopping, art-perusing, and historical lectures. I have to admit that I don’t listen to the tour guides all the time. I do what I call “creative listening.” I let the words float through me until I hear something that sticks, that strikes a chord inside me, that I remember, that has energy or charge on it, and I know that’s for me—whether for my own healing, or as the answer to something I’ve been wondering about, or as something I’m going to be sharing with others someday.
What strikes a chord in me is that all the influences in art and architecture in this confluence of cultures—Moroccan, European, Arabic, Moslem, Christian, Jewish—were at one time seen as compatible and as containing common threads, so that a building of worship in Spain (a church, temple, etc.) could include several influences at once without people creating conflicts between the different traditions. This was a medieval attitude that faded when people became more mentally-focused and more educated (I think it’s also less heart-centered and more sophisticated) and each religion carved out and defended its territory in the mind. The other historical fact that struck me was that the long persecution of the Jews in Spain wasn’t simply a government action, but that actually the Jews were tax collectors and allied with the king and the government bureaucracy, and their persecution was in part an anti-governmental reaction.
At the end of a day of walking around Toledo we get our first taste of The Bus—a modern contrivance that’s a state-of-the-art enclosed double-decker where everyone rides at the top, which takes us to magnificent views of the city. John does a Moment of Peace at the top that you’ll probably see someday.Then back to hotel to pack for Madrid.