Mysteries of Israel | 8 days mystical Tour

8 days mystical Tour

Mysteries of Israel - Grand Tour– 8 days

Day 1. Jerusalem's Mysteries – The Jewish Temple and Kabala
A temple is a place where chaos turns into cosmos (order). The Jewish temple in Jerusalem is the foundation rock of the world; the building of it was the founding act of Jewish ritual. At its time it was the most impressive building in the world, full of magic and secrets. On this day we will walk in the footsteps of Kabala - the Jewish mystic tradition - and get to know the secrets of the Jewish temple.

We will start our tour by going up the Temple Mount. For one thousand years, this was the site of the Jewish Temple, the most important and impressive building in the entire ancient world. Today it is the site of yet another impressive building – the Dome of the Rock. We will discuss the reasons of building the Temple at that exact spot and the consequences of this act. Afterwards we will visit the impressive archeological excavations of the southern and western walls of the Temple Mount, and see models and presentations of the Temple in ancient times. We will tell the history of the Temple from its building, through the different phases of its existence, to its destruction. We will continue by going to the Jewish quarter of the Old City and visiting the Temple Institute, where the Temple comes to life again through the reconstruction of its utensils, clothes and objects.

We will walk the streets of the Jewish quarter visiting synagogues and kabalistic artists, concentrating on 3 figures that lived in Jerusalem and had key roles to play in Jewish mysticism. The first is Naimonaides, who started the Jewish quarter in the 13th century. The second is the divine Ari, who was born in Jerusalem in the 16th century and turned Kabala into what it is today. The third is Rabbi Shalom Shaarabi from Yemen, who was the head of the first kabalistic yeshiva in the 18th century. In the afternoon we will  go down to the City of David and Kidron Valley, to see remains from the First Temple and Second Temple periods, including the palace of King David, the Hezekiah Tunnel, the Pool of Siloam, the Absalom Memorial and more. We will finish our tour by visiting David's tomb on Mount Zion. King David is the representation of the divine spirit called Shekhina in Kabala, and he is the one who founded the city.

Night in Jerusalem

Day 2. Jerusalem's Mysteries – In Search of the Holy Grail
The search for the Holy Grail is an inner search for spirituality and the possibility for a higher human existence. Jesus enabled this possibility, and Israel is the place where Jesus manifested himself. The life of Jesus is a mystery, and the traditions and relics that he left behind unfold that mystery. The secrets that are hidden in the architecture and art of the many churches of Jerusalem reveal secret esoteric traditions, like those of the Templars, the Freemasons, the Order of the Rose, and others. 

 We will start our tour by visiting the holiest place in the world for most Christians: the Church of the Holy Sepulcher - the place where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. We will look at 3 sacred objects: a 900 year-old sword, a lance that became the Spear of Destiny, and a stone cup that stands for the Holy Grail. We will tell about the Holy Grail traditions and the appearance of the search for the Holy Grail in crusader times.

After lunch in one of Jerusalem’s many restaurants, we will walk the Via Dolorosa and go towards the Armenian quarter to see some of the more ancient churches and communities of Christians in Israel. The churches of the Syrians, Armenians, Maronites (Lebanon), Copts (Egyptian) and Ethiopians will all be visited on this tour, each a whole world unto itself. They preserve the ancient Gnostic mystic tradition of Christianity. Our tour will continue by going to the Syrian church, which dates from the 1st century!  There we will hear Aramaic singing. According to the Syrians, this is the house of the Apostle Mark and the first church in history. From there we will go to the Maronite church, with a beautiful view of Jerusalem; there we will hear the interesting story of the beginning of the Maronites. We will continue to the Coptic and Ethiopians complexes near the Holy Sepulcher to hear about the Gnostics of Egypt and the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia.

As we walk through the streets of Jerusalem, we will visit churches, old ruins and fortifications, and see the chivalric ideas and spirit come to life. The program of the tour includes sites that relate to the Hospital, Templar and Teutonic orders. During the tour we will tell about the Gnostic mystic Christian tradition as it appears in renegade sects spreading from Egypt to Syria, Lebanon, Ethiopia and Armenia, eventually appearing in the great Cathar movement of southern France in the 13th century.

We will finish by going to the Armenian quarter, where we will get acquainted with traditional Armenian ceramic making, participate in Armenian prayer in St James Cathedral, and hear about the Armenian heritage and culture.

Night in Jerusalem

Day 3. Jerusalem's Mysteries – Messianic and Sufi Islamic Traditions
Jerusalem is the place from where Muhammad ascended to heaven during his miraculous night journey. This ascension is considered by Sufi mystics to be the change from the horizontal journey – coming to Jerusalem - to the vertical journey – meeting god; a change that is the cornerstone of spiritual quest. Therefore, during the centuries Jerusalem became a center for Islamic mystics. More than 70 “Zawiya” (Sufi centers) were active here during the Islamic periods, where the required spiritual transformation took place. Some are still active today.

We will start our journey by visiting the Dome of the Rock, the place from where Muhammad ascended to heaven, the third most holy place for Muslims in the world. The site contains many places relevant to different traditions that have developed in relation to the night journey. Leaving the sacred grounds we will walk the streets of Jerusalem and see the remains of the ancient Sufi centers, following in the footsteps of famous mystics and sages who lived in Jerusalem, learning from their words of wisdom, which are still relevant today.

We will teach about Bistami, the first man to reach the station of “Fana” (dying completely in god); Rabaa el Adwiya, the poet of love, who wanted nothing but the love of god; and others. After a lunch break in one of the many restaurants of Jerusalem we will continue on to the Mount of Olives. According to all 3 religions the promised messiah will come to Jerusalem at the end of times from this mountain to the east – a belief that has made the mountain sacred. We will visit the ascension site that Christians and Muslims believe is the place of Jesus’ ascension, and that Jews believe to be the place of the ascension to heaven of the Jewish divine spirit, which left the temple before its destruction. We will see a sacred Sufi shrine, and some of the other churches on the mount, that have beautiful panoramic views of the city.

Night in Jerusalem

Day 4. Mysteries of Israel - Judean Desert and the Dead Sea
Since antiquity, the Judean Desert has been a place of refuge for prophets, sages, mystic sects, hermits and renegades. Here John the Baptist worked, the Essenes lived, and the Christian monastic movement developed. The canyons and gorges of the desert conceal many secrets; the lowest place on earth, the Dead Sea, is also a place of spiritual rebirth.

We will star our tour by visiting the Qumran – home of the Essenes, a spiritual community of healers and holy people that lived over 2,000 years ago, who practiced the sacred and secret Jewish traditions. From amongst the Essenes came John the Baptist.

We will continue our tour by going to the place where Jesus was baptized, on the Jordan River. Nearby we will find Gerasimus, one of the more impressive Judean desert monasteries, and learn its interesting story. We will visit other desert monasteries in the nearby canyon of Wadi Kelt, and hear about the meditation tradition of "Hesticia" practiced in these monasteries and the possibility of Theosis – man turning into a god or semigod. As one of the church fathers, Atanasius from the 4th century, put it: "God appeared in man (Jesus) so that man can become God."

In the afternoon we will bathe and eat lunch at the shores of the Dead Sea - the lowest place on earth! The water is without organic life because of the salt, but it is home to other kinds of life and has healing properties. We will climb the cliffs overlooking the Dead Sea to experience the desert in silence. If time permits, we will end the day with a visit to a place sacred to the Muslims and Sufi mystics - the tomb of the Prophet Moses. After sunset we will drive to Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee to begin the northern part of our tour

Night in Tiberias

Day 5. Mysteries of the Galilee - Pagan and Megalithic sites - Golan Heights
On this day we will begin to discover the some of the most ancient and beautiful places. These sites are of pagan tradition that existed in this land before the time of the Israelites. Not many know that Israel hosts some of the most impressive megalithic sites in the world, dating from 5,000 years ago, including a huge stone circle in the Golan Heights. 

We will start our tour from Mount Hermon, the highest mountain in Israel. Snowcapped during the winter, this was the "Olympus" of Israel, mountain of the gods, and it is here that Abraham made the first covenant with God, in which he was promised to inherit the land. Below the mountain is a large water spring, the source of the Jordan River. The Banias Spring is an ancient pagan site dedicated to Pan – the god of nature in Hellenic times. The site was part of the ancient city of Banias, where Jesus revealed himself to Peter. We will see the ancient remains of that city, including an impressive palace of one of the Jewish kings from 2,000 years ago. Nearby Dan, a beautiful nature reserve today and a sacred site in the past, is the place of the ancient city of Dan or Lieish, as it is called in the Bible. Dan is one of the most ancient cities in the world. It houses a 4,000 year-old arch, the first-ever built, and a 5,000 year-old Canaanite city wall. We will visit an altar of standing stones dedicated to the pagan gods and an impressive altar the Israelites built here to the Jewish god, Jehovah. This altar is the exact size of the altar in the temple in Jerusalem, with a golden calf on a stage in front of it. Today one can see a reconstruction of the altar and stage, overlooking Mount Hermon and Lebanon. Surely this is one of the most sacred and beautiful places in Israel.

According to the Bible and other sources, such as the book of Enoch, the Golan in ancient times was a place of giants. In the afternoon we will visit a few places that traditionally are associated with these giants. We will start by visiting the huge and impressive castle of Nimrod, located at the foot of Mount Hermon on the road to Damascus. Here resided a mysterious mystic Islamic sect called the Assassins. They were close to the Templars and because of their use of political murders gave their name to the word assassin. The size of stones and the enormous castle made the locals believe it was built by giants and they named it after the giant hero Nimrod from the Bible. We will next visit sacred groves, held by another mysterious and mystic Islamic sect called the Druze, who today populate this area. We will pass through Druze villages and see one of their sacred tomb sites, near a lake that is inside an extinct volcano. Traveling south through the Golan Mountains, we will make our way by foot to one of the most surprising places in Israel: a giant stone circle 5,000 years old. This is the mother and father of all stone circles in the world. It seems that the tradition of megalithic stone circles that reached its peak in Stonehenge and Avebury in England started in Israel many years before. The stone circle called "Rugum Hiri" is 150 meters in diameter! It is directed towards the rising of the sun on the longest day of the year.

Night in Tiberias.

Day 6. Mysteries of the Galilee - Astrological Day
We will start the day by visiting the remains of Bet Shean - the best preserve roman remains in Israel. The Romans believed in astrology and in the 3rd century it became their official religion. From Bet Shean we will go to one of the summits of Mount Carmel, where the prophet Elijah built an altar of 12 stones, one for each of the Israeli tribes. We will have a beautiful panoramic view of the entire north of Israel and talk about the association of each of the 12 tribes with the 12 astrological signs and the 12 regional parts of the land of Israel. on the way we will visit the ancient synagogue of Bet Alpha, with a beautiful mosaic of the zodiac. We will talk about the importance of astrology in ancient Jewish tradition.

From Mount Carmel we will drive back to the sea of galilee On our way we will visit two ancient and sacred sites that are off the beaten path and not in the itineraries of regular tourists: the place of prophet Yitro, the most sacred place in the world for the Druze sect, below the extinct volcano of Hittim. The second site is the forgotten Roman city of Susita, situated on a high hill, east of the lake and with a great panoramic and unusual view of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan Valley. These two places are spectacular and add another dimension to this day, a chance for a quiet time of meditation and reflection.

Night in the Galilee

Day 7. Mysteries of the Galilee - Christian sites - Sea of Galilee and Nazareth
We will start the day by visiting Mount Tabor, the mount of transfiguration and one of the sacred and energetic places of Israel. We will walk in the woods around the summit to get a beautiful panoramic view of the Galilee and to have a quiet moment in nature. From Mount Tabor we will drive We will continue on to the city of Nazareth and visit the Basilica of Annunciation and other beautiful churches, looking at the mysteries of Christian belief and annunciation. We will learn about the symbols in the church and the meaning of colors, numbers and shapes. In the afternoon we will return to the Sea of Galilee, where we will go around the lake and visit the sacred Christian sites of Kfar Nahum, Tabha, and Cursi, the place where Jesus lived and performed his miracles. There we will meet with monks and priests and bathe in the water.

We will finish our day by going to the Mount of Beatitude, where Jesus gave the Sermon of the Mount. Nearby there is a very interesting Christian community that built a beautiful temple-like complex. This day will offer an opportunity to bathe in the hot baths near the Sea of Galilee in the evening.

Night in the Galilee

Day 8. Mysteries of the Galilee - Kabala and Sufi Mysteries in Tzfat and Akko
We will start the day by going to Tzfat, the city of Kabala; there we will meet with Kabala artists, visit the extraordinary synagogues and follow in the footsteps of great Kabala scholars such as the Divine Luria and others. We will continue on to the village of Meron, the burial place of Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai, author of the Zohar. There, in the most important place in the world for Kabala students, we will tell the story of the appearance through Rabbi Simeon of the secret Jewish tradition, and walk in the forests nearby to the remains of ancient synagogues and study centers. In the afternoon we will drive to the city of Akko whilst enjoying the beautiful views of the Upper Galilee. The countryside is made up of forests and small villages of different minorities; we will stop for lunch in one of these villages.

Akko was the most important city in the world during the crusaders’ time; the Templars had their headquarters in Akko, as did the Hospitallers, the Venetians, the Genoans and the crusader kingdom. Akko is a world heritage site and keeps its ancient atmosphere within the city walls. It is the ancient port city of Israel with a beautiful marina and impressive remains from crusader times, including the halls of the knights. Akko also hosts an important Sufi order that has its spiritual world center there, a beautiful complex within the city walls. We will visit the crusader halls and the Sufi shrine, and meet with the Sufi mystics. Akko is also the most sacred place for the Baha’i religion followers, and north of Akko within a beautiful garden is the grave of Bahahula, the founder of Baha’i; we will visit the gardens and other Baha’i sites in the city. On our way back to tel aviv we will be able to see the bahai gardens in Haifa by night.

 

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