While he was cutting my overly long hair,my stylist, who had just returned from Lebanon, told me about his recent visit to his homeland with his two young sons.
The first thing he shared was that his friend from the CIA warned him “Don’t Go, it’s too dangerous.” But N went anyway. His family fled Lebanon years ago when conditions were far worse and he wanted his sons to see the old homeland.
While he was visiting Lebanon, he took a tour to places he had never visited, as well as a few he had seen years ago. He described one place in particular, Baalbek, where he said he experienced what the Romans called the Genius loci or ‘spirit of place’.
He spoke so vividly of his experience at Baalbek, I could feel myself there with him. I consider myself a fairly rational and average person, who is perhaps overly analytical at times, but some places are so spirit filled even I notice. Some think it is a déjà vu experience (what would we do without French and Latin expressions?), but when this happens to me, I begin to wonder if I lived another life.
Of course, the feeling of having “been there before” or “it’s happening again” can occur because one has actually been there before and remembers it in the subconscious. More than once, a writer has used repressed memory as a literary device. For example, Agatha Christie used it in The Sleeping Murder. Readers love it.
Christie spent many years excavating various archeological sites in Western Asia, and probably experienced the Genius loci or spiritual connection herself on more than one occasion, but writing for a skeptical world she always offered a rational explanation for these occurrences.
However, digging around 4,000 year old pyramids in Egypt or equally aged ruined tells in Mesopotamia must have evoked spirits more than once. I would have given my eye teeth to have her adventures.
Temple of the Sun (left) and Temple of Venus (right)