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Monday, 2 April 2012

Peace Project - Gallipoli

Awake at 5am, I can’t sleep. I’m mesmerised by the thoughts I had in Istanbul about the power of prayer.

Isn't asking for something for an outcome for yourself, family or friends in whatever language still a prayer.  It made me think of what we ask for and why?  Is this my second question?

When you ask for Divine Intervention it becomes a prayer, that request then asks with the unimaginable power of  hope and faith.  Without hope and faith, it’s an empty request. 

And with that answer in mind I start to contemplate what awaits us today as I map in my mind the winding route through the Gallipoli peninsular.

There are only 3 of us staying at The Crowded House Hotel.  Certainly not crowded!  But I suspect the naming of this ‘up market’ hostel is also connecting itself with a great Australian band. Especially as they turned on the sound system with ‘Don’t Dream it’s Over” as soon as we arrived. I can see very clearly that this is also our time of connecting with Stu’s birthplace and my spiritual home if not my physical home for the time being.

We arrived last night after a long drive from Istanbul and battled the wind and vertical rain to find some food in the tiny village of Eçeabat.  It’s ‘off season’ here so most of the hotels are undergoing renovations in readiness for the onslaught of tourists from all over the world.  From April to September when the weather is more friendly the whole peninsular is awash with people, coaches in their hundreds, walkers and independent travellers all hungry to learn more about this place and the events that happened here in WWI.  The other tourist needs are also closed so our choices are very limited and in some way I find it nicer that there's only locals around.  So after a fabulous meal, we were quite literally blown back to the hotel and settled down to have a well earned beer or two at the bar!

Obviously our party for two looked too inviting to miss for the other traveller – enter Warren from Brisbane complete with his own hip flask of 'Bundy', who joined in the singing and conversation late into the night.  He told us he had come to scatter his dad’s ashes.  His father like so many Australians who would love to visit this land couldn’t make the journey while he was alive, so Warren made sure he rested here.  Sleep well Warren’s dad and God speed Warren on your journey around the world.

Gallipoli is a word that most people would recognise as the name of a film.  I can't remember it ever coming up in my history lessons at school in England, in fact I only became aware of it's importance once I had moved to Australia. 

So here's a wee little lesson....

I was told a story, more than once, while in Turkey that I haven't been able to confirm yet.  The story goes. Before WWI the Turkish had ordered two ships to be built in England and they had at that time paid for them in full.  War broke out with Germany and the Turkish wanted to stay neutral.  Their ships were ready but the British would not deliver them. The British needs for all available ships were more urgent and refused to reimburse them for the money that had been paid.  Enough to get anyones back up!  Enter Germany and they then offered two ships fitted and equipped and asked for no money! The Turkish then took up Germany's offer and joined them in the war.  Was this the beginning of one of the worst cock ups in recent military history

supplied by Norman Einstein under the GNU Free Documentation License 
The nearest I have got to finding anything near this story comes from World War I by Rodney P Carlisle  a great book and an immensely interesting read. It states that the close relationship between Turkey and Germany scared the Allies, only then did they refuse to supply their ships. Backed up by the about Turkey website.  

I don't know what the truth is, people lie all the time, you could call it manipulating the truth.  But whatever the truth, this action was caused by fear and to be driven by fear is counterproductive.

The Dardanelles Straight is a very important shipping route that leads to Istanbul and through the Bosporus to the Black Sea affording direct access with so many strategic countries. 

I'm afraid that my views on War are very simple.   War is directed by people who sit in a comfortable office who have very little respect for the people on the ground who are carrying out orders.  This comes under the guise of fighting for your Country and your freedom.  I get that motivator, we all want to feel safe and free to carry on as we have always done, but I don't get the way it is done.  Everyone has their own agenda, whether it is to further their career, status, power or money.

The higher up the pecking order goes the less altruistic they become.  I guess Churchill was no different, the following comment is straight from the BBC History website, click to get the full picture.
"In the aftermath of the Gallipoli disaster Churchill lost both his high office and his political reputation. It was considered that he had been led astray by his 'amateur strategy', and allowed his personal enthusiasms to over-rule the advice of naval and military experts. Throughout the inter-war years it appeared that his glittering career had been cut short by events in the Dardanelles."  
The Gallipoli Peninsular pays homage every year to two rather large and public events. 

18th March  Martyrs' Day and Dardanelles Naval Victory
This is the Turkish national day to celebrate the turning back of allied forces in the Dardanelles straight as they tried to push their way through a tiny opening from the sea to be able to head straight up and attack Constantinople (Istanbul). But there is so much more.  The fighting then continued from the lower tip of the peninsular at Helles Point by the British & Allied Forces and from the west side of the peninsula around Anzac Cove by the combined Australian and New Zealand forces. Again the Turkish managed to fight off the opposition and send them home wounded. Those that didn't make it lie in numerous graves around the 33,000 hectare Peace Park or Gallipoli Peninsular Historical National Park.

25th April – Anzac Day 

This was the first major battle at Gallipoli that the ANZACS - the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps had fought as a combined unit.  In both countries ANZAC Day is possibly seen as the birth of their national consciousness and this commemorative day outstrips the Day of Armistice or Remembrance.

Every year a Dawn service is conducted at the Anzac Commemorative Site which is attended by absolutely thousands of Australians and New Zealanders. Believe it or not this Celebration actually lasts for 2 days.  The programme starts on the 24th continuing through the night to the Dawn Service and then more services around the peninsulars' respective sites during the day of the 25th.  It's not for the feint hearted, there is no shelter anywhere - as I so well know, so whatever the weather you are out there braving it. And if you participate in the complete programme it means walking about 10 miles through some very strenuous terrain. I guess it's all part of sharing in the discomfort that all the troops had to go through.

A day to remember the people who fought in this battle.  Anzac Day is not a celebration of victory of winning a battle, but a day to celebrate the lives of every soldier. Just as we would remember a friend or family member that lived his life. It is also a very special day for The Australian and New Zealanders as a tribute to their Nationalism, their belonging and their renowned mate ship.

For me my memories of Anzac day are parades, sprigs of fragrant rosemary in lapels and dawn services. Diggers in the RSL, complete with their medals, playing TWO UP, as today is the only time you can gamble in public! And of course not forgetting Anzac Biscuits.

The Tour Begins

The closer we got to our first destination the less talkative we became until in silence we parked the car. There was not another soul in sight.  Who else in their right mind would go out in this weather?  I had so many layers of clothing on I was now resembling the Michelin man.  But despite all the layers we were both shivering in the 2c temperature, now take into account the wind chill factor, which reduced that to -6c!

Our first stop was Anzac Cove and the Beach Cemetery.  What struck us as we looked at this landscape was the almost impossible task these guys had.  The beach is a narrow strip of sand and rises steeply upward.  You know yourself what it's like trying to fight for your own piece of beach on a hot day in England, this was horrific.  Feeling for these guys and hearing over and over again "are they crazy sending us here, it's impossible"  the silence was broken when Stu said "They must have been in their rowing boats, looking up it this and wondering who on earth was giving the orders to do this - it's madness?"  Say no more.  The cemeteries are beautifully kept, little oasis' in an otherwise natural wilderness.  I had no overwhelming emotion but the tears were streaming down my face.  I was numb.

I've been to a lot of cemeteries, call me weird.  Everywhere from tiny churchyards where Billy Smart the famous Circus boss is buried to Highgate in London where Carl Marx amongst many other famous people are resting.  I find them amazing, the beauty, tranquillity and the abundant information engraved on the headstones is mind blowing.  Tiny churchyards in the Australian bush to less formalised resting places, as in the mass grave in the forest at Kragujevac in Serbia, the memory of that still makes me shudder, but that's another story.

I have visited The Somme,  Changi and Kranji in Singapore, Kanchanaburi and Chonk-Kai War cemetery in Thailand.  I've been to the prisoner of war camp and travelled what is left of the brutal Death Railway alongside the River Kwai.

Just writing this makes me realise how war has shaped my interest.  I don't set out, well most of the time, to visit these places, it just seems to happen.  Like a magnet pulling me in.  Even on an innocuous trip to Pullman near Chicago, I met a very lovely but seriously affected man, who, it transpired had pressed the button that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.  The consequences for him of that action I can't even fathom, "I was just following orders" he said searching for some understanding from us in the group.

This in Gallipoli was something else. Maybe this was the headliner in a life of visits to war to show the Sheer Futility of it all.  Nothing else I had seen brought this home to me more than this tiny cemetery on the shore of Anzac Cove.  These boys most no older than my own Son here today were slaughtered as they stepped off the boats.  For what?  I just know that a mother wouldn't send her son to war like a father would.  I know in my bones that women wouldn't engage in fisticuffs and gun battles.  I know that the word mother and all it entails, holds a key to achieve peace.

I came across a memorial to a Trooper in the 3rd Light Horse Brigade and it reminded me of a patient I had in Australia.  An actor who was tragically injured on the last day of filming of the Australian film The Lighthorsemen. An absolutely stunningly handsome man who also starred in the miniseries Anzacs, who was after the accident paralysed and had locked in syndrome. It only added to my feeling of numbness.

There is a steep path up the hill to Lone Pine, it passes Shell cemetery on the way to the end of the path 1.5 kms later.  Taking a depth breath we started up this hill, after 50 yards I was beginning to question my sanity, Stu asked "Do you really want to do this?" "No I don't" I answered "but I have to" we carried on battling through the gale force wind, the sleet and rain and trudging through the sticky mud that clung to our boots.  It was as thick as treacle, picking up stray stones and grass as we inched up the path, at one point leaving my boot in the mud with my foot hanging in the air.  Strangely enough the foot I've had so many issues with over the past few years.  I took it as a sign I was now free of all the challenges that had plagued my right leg for most of my life.

I offered Stu the essence we were 'cooking' on our travels.  "No thanks Mum, the harder it is for us, the easier it is for the essence to work"  He's his mother's son for sure.  We both laughed when I stated "if the boys can do it whilst being shot at, we can do it too." The top of the path opened up to reveal a road that we could have so easily taken in the car.  So much like our own life journeys that are taken up steep rugged territory rather than the easy way.  But this is one journey I will never forget, it did something to me - and to Stu.  It will stay in our minds forever.

Lone Pine Ridge and yet another cemetery with more and more memorials and busy with men clad in bright yellow protective wet weather clothing getting the stands ready for the ceremonies that will take place in the comings weeks.    We carried on our criss crossing around the peninsular following our intuition and letting it take us to where we needed to go. Paying our respects to every nation involved in these battles.

I can't describe with any clarity the feeling of total silence and numbness we both felt during the day.  So many cemeteries, memorials and bunkers, far from becoming immunised against the sheer enormity of it, the feeling grew and grew until we were both frozen both physically and mentally.  Overwhelmed I couldn't take it all in then and I'm still struggling now.

When I asked why I was here, I was reminded of the memorial that said Peace Perfect Peace

I can't convey what I felt during this day in words and a few photos wouldn't do this any justice either.  So here is a montage of the photos I took in the order that they were taken.  You'll have to excuse the water spots on some of the shots, it was absolutely chucking it down and as you'll see at one point up the top it was snowing.  Please bare with it and please watch.

Just click here for the video

Friday, 30 March 2012

Peace Project - Istanbul

Thoughts from a grey, wet, windy and rather chilly 2c in Eçeabat not far from Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsular, Turkey.

It’s been an interesting two days. We landed in Istanbul very late on Friday night and hit a traffic jam.  Apparently it’s not an unusual thing, the traffic can come to a standstill at any time day or night for no apparent reason. I know from my own experience on the motorways of England that yes this phenomenon can and does happen, but at 11pm on a Friday night? 

There are a staggering 13.26 million people living in and around this City.  Everywhere is heaving, the Grand Bazaar is wall-to-wall people, locals mingling with tourists. 

There are smells and sights to enthral and take your mind to another world and an amazing array of things to just simply buy or barter for, so much more fun and they expect it.  Everything from peacocks to leeches, gold to pottery, rugs to clothes, spices, dried fruits and herbal teas to knock you out, wake you up or keep you going.  We were both seriously flagging before being offered the cup of the sweetest red nectar, my lips have ever encountered in the form of pomegranate flower tea.  Wow what a difference!
Being swept up by the crowd and moving as one line of human energy, not able to extricate yourself from it by the lure of something that catches your eye as you move past.

The tilt of your head upwards reveals the old Constantinople replaced on ground level by a façade of the new Istanbul.

There was only one place on my list, that is THE LIST that I’d been given, of places to visit in this City

Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya

An impressive building for sure, originally built about 1500 years ago.  They don’t make buildings to last like that these days. This mammoth building was once a church and a mosque but it’s become a haven to the millions of visitors to its life as a museum now.

The lighting reminded me of ethereal lights floating in the great hall at Hogwarts.  

Icons of  Jesus and Mary alongside Islamic texts.  

Evidence of the removal of crosses carved into marble and stone which only exacerbated their status not obliterating them as had been hoped for.

You can’t wipe out a religion with a hammer and chisel; the thought of replacing one God with another is foolhardy.

I asked what I was here for, the answer; “The Prayer”

And so I listened…………………. To all the prayers that had been said within this building’s walls throughout its enormous history.

They were all asking for the same things, some were saying thank you for listening to me, others, giving thanks for prayers answered and others still silenced into submission by their loss and devastation.  God doesn’t care how you come to God as long as you do.  I took this as proof, if at all it was needed. 

In a nano second I was transported back to Eton the morning of the London Underground bombings on the 7th July 2005.

Lu and myself had heard the news and we wanted to help in anyway we could.  I set up a triage in the treatment room of the different sites around the Capital and we split the disaster areas between us to help by sending energy and opening up a clear avenue for those who had lost their lives to pass over and to give support to all those emergency services involved in the rescue and clearing of human and mechanical wreckage.

I had the bus which was travelling to Hackney Wick, co-incidentally a couple of miles from where I was born but I was talking to the now disembodied spirits wandering around in total confusion about what had happened to them after the blast ripped the top off of the double decker bus.  I explained as gently as I could what had transpired at Tavistock Square outside the BMA building and that unfortunately they had lost their lives in this explosion and the quickest way to feel better would be to cross over here and now to this opening they could collectively see but were all too frightened to explore.

They asked, “Where will we go?”  “Back to God or The mass of Universal Energy that we all come from.”  I said.   A young man tanned skin and thick dark wavy hair asked me where he should go, I told him to follow everyone else.  He said “but their God is not my God” “Oh darling, there is only one God,” I answered.  “Then I do not deserve to go, he said and turned and walked away.  I called out to him but he ignored me.

I often thought of this young man and what had happened to him in the last weeks of his life here and what had become of him since that horrific day and in those times sent my own prayers and energy to him.

One day nearly two years later, while recollecting this story to a patient he appeared in my treatment room.  It caught me by surprise to say the least and I asked him if he was ok. He smiled - “I am ready to go now to God, if you can help me”

Why does being human create this conflict?  Any conflict, religious, cultural, gender, the list is endless.
I had come here on this trip with a list of places to visit.  As I said, the list was given to me ‘by upstairs’ with only these directions.
These are the places you have to go to in this order.  Leave the door open for the magic to happen.  Listen to directions along the way and allow yourself to be led to places you may not have gone to. Be vulnerable but aware. Ask at each step why you are here, listen for the answer and all will be clear.

Don’t you just love them?  All they ever give me is puzzles. But they have never let me down in my entire life and I don’t see why that should change now.  So I have my first answer and also my own first question.

A tourist who knocked me nearly off my feet brought me back to the present. I looked around this marvel of architecture and art in the form of mosaics and sculpture.

Hagia Sophia the Church of Holy Wisdom from the year 360 became the Greek Patriarchal Cathedral of Constantinople, then a short spell of 57 years as a Roman Catholic cathedral until 1454 when it served as a Mosque for nearly 600 years. Since 1935 it has served as a museum.

It’s history as a place of worship makes you dizzy with the comings and goings of different factions with the respective religions. As one culture take over another the rulings as to the worship one must follow also changes. Earthquakes, fires and general collapse saw the building restored, rebuilt and added to.   As a museum it epitomises the futility of fighting over a God that exists for all of us.  Mosaics plastered over by Islamic orders with up to 7 layers now restored to reveal beautiful works of art.  

You just cannot brush anything under the carpet or hide it under plaster that was created with so much love and beauty. 

I think the original edit of the prophet said ‘let any woman into the mosque to pray’, again a religion changed the rules to suit whoever was in charge at the time now sees that the Men Only Club is rife amongst most of the Mosques in the world, by only admitting men into worship and pray.  Thankfully this building now allows all and sundry to enter and marvel at it’s history.  And when you stand in front of the outstanding mosaics of the former Cathedral, whatever your religion you have to smile and say how beautiful.

So God in whatever form is now open to all whatever your race or religion. Perfect.

Hungry and very cold, we tried to find a restaurant called 360. The taxi driver sped over the bridge got cranky because of the traffic, backed up a one-way road then backwards up a hill and left us with some vague instructions on how to find it.  I stopped someone in the street to ask directions, would you know it, he had a t-shirt with 360 on it - again some more vague instructions.  We never found it.

But yet another message “360”

The driving is manic they seem to have their own rules of the road.  The saying that was to follow us around was “it’s Turkey, anything goes”

Mel and John
Our hosts for the two days were Mel and John and the peanut that grows inside Mel who will be born in Turkey to British parents.  They have been fabulous friends, guides, taxi drivers and great juicing makers of the abundant oranges and pomegranates..  As we said a sad farewell to them in Istanbul our journey as intrepid explorers starts with a five-hour drive to the Gallipoli peninsular. A million thanks guys!

It’s bitterly cold, raining and the grey skies overwhelm our journey south, the radio becomes monotonous, as does the landscape of rock and flat brown earth.  We stop at an outlet just before we see a sign to Çanakkule. We find the cable we’ve been searching for to link the iPod to the radio in the car, our mood lifts and so does the landscape. There are now trees, green grass and even the water of the Sea of Marmara as we meander through the tiny road that takes us to Eçeabat.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Peace Project - Energy

This morning I was contemplating the bigger picture of this journey and the astrological movements and it’s interpretation that Sue so kindly offered for the duration of this trip.

As many of you know I always take into account the astrological influences when an essence is born.  But it’s not only the birth of that essence that is important. 

Any essence maker will tell you that they are only one part of the co-creation of this alchemical mix. The journey of making the essence, is a huge part of the gestation period when the essence is growing to maturation.

Just like the creation of a human, you have the two physical makers male and female and the history of their ancestors as held in their DNA.  The second part, the spirit of the new being and it’s history of all the life it has seen since time began.  And of course the third aspect, the celebration of the life of the new being as mapped out by the astrological imprint at the time of birth.  During its time of forming in utero any happening good or bad can affect the little being about to pop out. Or if you like it's subconscious triggers. 

I often talk about energy as vibration or music; its waves, tones and harmony that create a symphony of sound.  What has this got to do with astrology? Musica universalis (the Greek translation is, music of the spheres) is an ancient philosophical concept that the movements of the celestial bodies creates a sound, an inaudible harmony. This vision reminded me of the tattoo I had during this gestational period. Well actually both Stu and I had the same tattoo in the same place! 

Its written in Elvish and translated is Ainulindalë – the sound made by the Ainur (primordial spirits) together with Ilúvatar to create the world. Ainulindalë is the first chapter of Tolkiens, Silmarillion.

Isn’t it wonderful how synchronistic events lead us down a path that we follow, if we only listen to the instructions.

So with thanks to Sue here is her interpretation of the sound we’ll be following on this journey.

Full Moon on Thursday (9.41 GMT) is augmented by the proximity of Mars to the Moon, aspected to Venus, Jupiter and Pluto (all in Earth signs), so should make it easier to manifest ideas and dreams.

There are some powerful grounding energies around for a while. 

The New Moon on the 22nd is the day after the Spring Equinox - with 4 planets in Aries is indeed new growth stimulated by the need for change. Any action needs to be very grounded to make full use of the karmic potential on offer! The Spring Equinox on the 20th is where the full inspiration and ideas needed for the New Moon become both apparent more available to all!

Not long now! Bx

PS Found this on You Tube  - Ainulindalë

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Peace Project - Goddess

It's been a while since I posted anything here and it's only the impending departure to follow the gestation of my latest 'baby' into the depths of Turkey that has you asking for an update of it's wellbeing, that I've revisited the land of The Flower Healer.

Friday is looming ever closer and I'm sure I haven't done enough preparation...........3 years and counting, which has me asking - Are we ever satisfied with what we've done?  In my case a resounding no,  I put it all down to the parenting I had, nothing was ever good enough.  On the plus side I never cut corners and always give everything I possibly have and at times squeezing just a little more into the project.

I look at the schedule I have and see that maybe I've squeezed just a little too much in this time.  

The flower that started this Turkey/Greece trip
I have the necessary papers, passports, tickets and brand new £10 note for the visa in Istanbul.  What's all that about, surely they would/should take it in their own currency?   My camera has had an overhaul, although I'm still waiting for the courier to deliver it.  And a new journal is ready for the copious notes.

As some of you know this essence is looking into balancing the female and male energies. We need some help that's for sure. Upstairs tell me, for the male to be protective the female has to be vulnerable or is it the other way round?

I've just realised I have two men with me for half of the trip. Son No 1, Stu is coming for the whole trip to look after me, now that's a first! 

I don't know if I have a vulnerable mother look, maybe it has nothing to do with being a vulnerable mum but just a female.  And as for my offspring - just becoming a man, taking responsibility and showing he's the stronger one, (he should be, he's at the gym weight training 3 times a week)!  I must remember to let him to carry my bags! And man No 2 - well,  my friend Sharon has lent me her husband Oz for a week, he did a grand job last year of looking after me when I broke my foot for the second time in 2 months,  so I know I'm in safe hands.

The magical picture for it to happen (courtesy of Nichola)

Before this journey goes any further I want to thank everyone for helping this trip come to fruition.  Whether its giving us a bed for the night, painting a picture of their view on a magical place, where miracles happen,  good luck charms, prayers or thoughts and even husbands!  A lot has happened to bring me to this point.  Stories that you couldn't write about, but somehow I think I may just have a crack at it!

Thank you everyone.  Speak soon.X