Skip to main content

12 Signs of the Zodiac: Carrying on a Tradition

With just 8 days before departing for our next pilgrimage on January 9, 2014, I’m dreaming about the first leg in Jaffa Israel!   Jaffa is one of the oldest cities in the world, just south of Tel Aviv and dating back to ancient times. This charming port city’s name is derived from the Hebrew word yafah (הפי) meaning “beautiful.” Old Jaffa, one of the most popular Mediterranean destinations, dates back to antiquity; not only was it an important religious setting, but it held a strategic military location at the top of a hill with a view of the coast.

Although many visitors focus on the history of Jaffa, since it is marked by conquest, I’m intrigued with it being a locale for miracles.

Four times, Old Jaffa is mentioned in the Old Testament, in the books of Joshua, Jonah, Ezra, and Chronicles. Kings David and Solomon used the port of entry for importing timber to build temples. In the Acts of the Apostles, it is written that Peter performed the miracle of the resurrection of Tabatha, the widow, in Jaffa.  He received a vision from G-d there, expressing that there should be no discrimination between the Jews and the Gentiles.

2406519663_89a073e1e0_sAstrology is the inspiration behind the beautiful Wishing Bridge, connecting Peak Parkand Kdumim Square in the heart of the Old City. At the entrance to the bridge sits an intricate and beautiful stone mosaic of the twelve zodiac signs.

And the bridge displays smooth, dark wood embraced by 12 bronze plaques, each representing a Zodiac symbol.


Scorpio:13175049-scorpio-zodiac-sign-on-the-wishing-bridge-jaffa-israelAquarius: images-8

Local legend holds that if a person grasps the appropriate astrological plaque while making a wish and gazing out at the Mediterranean Sea, his or her wish will come true.

Unknown-1 Nearby, the Zodiac Fountain in Kdumim Square, combines effects of water, lighting, and stonework to complete the representation of the 12 chalkstone zodiac sculptures in fascinating, original designs.

The Fountain offers passersby yet another chance to make dreams come true. We will toss a coin into the fountain and intend that our wishes will be fulfilled.

A salvage excavation at the site was conducted as part of the digging work for the Fountain. The findings found under the Fountain corroborate an old legend mentioning the existence of a magical wishing well located in that very place—Anyone who tosses a coin in it and makes a wish has her or his wish fulfilled on the spot.  Oh, yes, I’ll be tossing in my coin!

The zodiacs also appear in the street names of Old Jaffa and the Wishing Bridge connecting Jaffa Hill with Kdumim Square, such as Rehov Mazal Dagim – Pisces Street.

The artists of the bridge and fountain are carrying on a tradition that goes back millennia. An ancient mosaic in extraordinary condition discovered in an archaeological exploration of a 4th-century synagogue in Tiberias shows the 12 signs of the zodiac, surrounding an image of the sun-god Helios. Ancient zodiac imagery has also been found in the south of Israel.

Story 4. Dear Elizabeth Lesser

Dear Elizabeth,

In 2012, I read an article you wrote that was published in O Magazine.  Your topic became a prompt during a writing bootcamp I was in last year.  It caused a spark within me to ignite and has since burst into a flame atop a tall torch shining its guiding Light on a transforming path between my female ancestors and me, and beyond.  It was “Mamisma!”  THE writing prompt perfectly fitted to descend me into the past.  To my surprise, however, it turned out to be a “calling” from my future!  One thousand words spilled through the ink onto my paper, and …

Sacred Pearl Tours was conceived!

In a whisper, Mamisma conveyed a message to lead a pilgrimage for women of all faiths to Israel. Nine months after finishing the bootcamp, I realized the heat of my desire had been propelling Sacred Pearl Tours’ pregnancy.

Elizabeth, you might be wondering what Mamisma has to do with an interfaith women’s pilgrimage?  First, I must tell you—having never heard that word, you activated my curiosity and I rapidly scanned the article wondering what the heck was Mamisma?  Since I knew you are a co-founder of the Omega Institute, and that it’s emphasis is on personal and cultural transformation, I expected I would learn something important about the relationship between Mamisma and feminine power?  And I did.  Mamisma is a force!  You said it is “femininity defined by mature and maternal qualities.”  Mother love!  You went on to say, “But one need not be a mother, or even a woman, to be motivated by mamisma.  It’s available to anyone who values the power of the heart.  Mamisma is not to be confused with machisma, which is the sister of machismo. The world does not need patriarchy to be replaced by matriarchy.  It needs mamisma. It needs women to harness their hearts and drive the chariots of love into the center of town.”

And where does our strength as women come from, Elizabeth, for us to have what’s needed for harnessing our hearts and driving our chariots?

Could it come out of the stories from the lives of women who came before us?  Are we their conduit?  Have they been pumping that Mamisma through us, into the women who came after, and for those who came after them, and for those who will come later?

Are we the conduit for the Pearls of Wisdom grown by our ancestors?  Do we have a duty to our female lineage to turn toward their stories and listen to their life journeys to find the Pearls of Wisdom in us?  And if we continue our journey within, will we each come to the Mother Pearl?  As conduits, do we need to connect first with our own Mother Pearl to build the muscles required to drive love into the center of town, and into the lives of those who come after us?

The Pilgrimage to the Mother Pearl in Israel was conceived for us women to pump our Mamisma!

In Mamisma, Elizabeth, Thank You!

Jacke Schroeder

Craving Peace: Stringing Wisdom Pearls Along the Path to Peace

Last year, I participated in a Heal My Voice collaborative book project and became one of the contributing authors of Inspired Voices: True Stories by Visionary Women.  Now, I have been working on a story for an upcoming Heal My Voice book project called Harmonic Voices:  True Stories by Women on the Path to Peace.  Without needing to ponder for long what category of Peace I would be writing about, or what Peace means to me, my intuition centered me on “Inner Peace.”

Story Three.  During the summer of 2012 I entered a writing boot camp.  For 10 consecutive days I wrote 1000 words and forwarded them by midnight to the boot camp leader, Max Regan.  Following those provocative days, I looked back through the 10,000 words and found something thrilling!  Eye-opening memoir was pouring through the ink onto the papers.

On first glance, it felt a bit hazardous as I was discovering how my own life had been influenced and affected by the lives of my female ancestors.  I identified how I was linked with those who came before me and those who have come since.  And I acknowledged how many “knots” had formed within me and among all of us—mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, and in our relationships—because of those continuing linkages.

To my surprise, I felt uplifted while facing the truth of their “not so nice” qualities and characteristics, which were left lingering in the stories of their lives.  In hindsight, I understood that for many moons my soul had been craving the untying of those knots, craving peace—Craving Inner Peace!

Unbeknownst to me, while my discovery was happening, pearls of wisdom were saturating me.  I felt compelled to make some changes in how I was relating to others, and myself.

pearlsWisdom Pearls were being strung.

The driving question I asked myself repeatedly central to inspiring the sacredness of the obstacles I met when taking action to make those changes was, “What would happen if I decided to tell the mi-nute truth about my life?”

Phil Cousineau, in The Art of Pilgrimage, said, “What is sacred is what is worthy of our reverence, what evokes awe and wonder in the human heart, and what when contemplated transforms us utterly.”

Over this last year I’ve further investigated the lives of our Matriarchs and my female lineage—gathering, reading, writing and telling stories about them.  My daughter and I even traveled to South Florida to gather stories from our 99-year-old Uncle.  And I’ve been telling the truth about things that happened in my life.

I followed the sometimes rocky and sometimes blissful path.  I arrived at Inner Peace.

To take the first step on the Path to Inner Peace, you may want to try this right now?  Visualize your female lineage standing behind you.  (If you don’t think you visualize, you can know they are there or hear them or smell them or feel them.) Behind you are your mother and your father’s mother.  Then standing behind each of them is your mother’s mother and your father’s mother.  Then standing behind them is your mother’s mother’s mother and your father’s mother’s mother.  And so on.

Notice what you notice.  Notice how you feel.

Feel free to share what you discover.  Let us hear your Voice!

**Heal My Voice is a nonprofit organization with the mission to empower women and girls to heal grief, loss, and trauma, and reclaim their inner authority so they can discover and use their leadership skills in their homes, communities, and the world.  Heal My Voice develops projects that encourage leadership, community building, and the reclaiming of each woman’s voice.  Book Circles are at the heart of what Heal My Voice does.

It Takes a Tribe to Manifest a “Calling!”

Story Two.  I heard a “call” to lead this Sacred Pearl Tour, the Pilgrimage to the Mother Pearl in Israel.  Like all previous spiritual “calls” I’ve received, just because the telephone rang didn’t mean I answered it…right away.  It took some convincing for me to take action.  This time was the same.

Lorien Eck was one such convincer.

lorienabout3 This past winter I went to San Francisco for the Wisdom 2.0 Summit.  There were thousands of people attending who were doing business on the cutting edges of Mindfulness and Technology.  In the middle of the roaring crowd, I missed the phone ringing and then barely could hear the voice message being left by a stranger who was inviting me to dinner for that night.  She had seen my post on Facebook that I would be at the Summit and she was going to be in San Francisco for the day.  She knew me from a virtual business-networking group we both belonged to and she said she looked forward to meeting me. I accepted the invitation.  With so many people to meet at the Summit, why did I say yes?

I believe in the power of the mysterious and the synchronistic.  Tickets to the Summit came to me at the very last minute when supposedly they were sold out and I believed there were important personal and professional reasons for them coming.  And, it was quite unusual to receive a telephone message like that one.  My curiosity was peaked!

When she pulled up in front of the Convention Center, her friend Lorien Eck was sitting in the back seat of the car. Our dinner was electrified!  That I was thinking of leading a pilgrimage for women to Israel came tumbling out from my mouth.  I could see Lorien’s mind churning; she was excited!

Lorien is an artist and creative process workshop leader. She is drawn and inspired by the land–its history, colors and textures.  Her art reflects what she “receives” and it awakens your heart and nourishes your spirit.  Of course, Israel being the Holy Land, Lorien’s art fits perfectly with Sacred Pearl Tours!  She offers sessions with individuals seeking self-understanding through her Soul Cosmology Paintings as well as offering workshops for groups both nationally and internationally.  Look at Lorien’s exquisite paintings for purchase at Lorien Eck Fine Art

Meta-Morph-Osis-V_L_EckBackground6.jpgI could have never guessed that Lorien would be a member of my Tribe, helping me manifest the “call!”  Take a look at the BEAUTIFUL background of

Thanks so much, Lorien!  I think of you every day!


Your Future! Has It Ever Come “Calling” For You?

Have you ever thought about where good ideas come from?  When I started telling friends about Sacred Pearl Tours, they asked what made me want to lead women on a sacred journey to Israel and how did this begin?  My thoughts weren’t concise.  I wasn’t sure enough to give them a direct answer.  Instead, I started telling them stories about experiences I had been having over an extended period of time, and how I was being effected by those experiences.

One way I’m going to use this blog space is to tell you some of those stories along the path to choreographing the Women’s Pilgrimage to the Mother Pearl in Israel.

(As a side note… I can get kind of “out there” and esoteric when I tell personal stories.  One friend tells me I’m speaking Jackenese when I go into that mode!  Not to worry though…I always get back on track when I veer off.  So please bare with me… and let me know if you need me to clarify anything.  I’d love to converse with you here!)


Story One: Dame Freya Stark is one of my heroines.  She was a passionate nomad.  Born in 1893 in Paris, Freya was a resourceful and scholarly travel writer who was the first Westerner to journey through many regions of the Middle East.  She wrote 24 travel books and autobiographies and eight volumes of letters from the 1930’s to the 1980’s. Many of the books were based on often hazardous journeys by vehicle, camel and donkey. One godson, Malise Ruthven, wrote, “Traveler Through Time: A Photographic Journey With Freya Stark,” a tribute in which he observed: “Freya never lost her passion for acquiring fresh knowledge and new skills. Writing, like travel, she saw as the pursuit of truth.”


Dame Freya said, “There is a great moment, when you see, however distant, the goal of your wandering. The thing which has been living in your imagination suddenly becomes a part of the tangible world.”


Do you have any recollection of that ever happening to you?  I believe it is exactly what happened to me!

Three springs ago, during a 3-hour workshop with four other women in New Renaissance Bookshop in Portland Oregon, Ingrid Kincaid, the Rune Woman who changes lives with ancient wisdom asked our group two really hard questions.  One was this:

Not caring what anyone else thought, if you could do anything with your life, knowing you wouldn’t fail, what would you do?


She instructed us to take out a sheet of paper, and without thinking jot down the first three things that came to mind.  I put my pen to the paper, started writing, and to my great surprise the first answer was “Be a Tour Guide on the Appalachian Trail.”  Ha!

I thought about where that idea could possibly have come from?  I remembered many years earlier knowing a man named Gene S. who accomplished something that historically very few people do–he hiked the entire Appalachian Trail from one end to the other.  I wondered if perhaps I was to get in touch with him again.  So I Googled him.  I found who I thought could have been him, left a voice message on the phone I thought could have been his, but I never heard anything in return.  And I never gave any more thought to being a Tour Guide.

Until now. Three years later!

My future came calling for me. 

Has yours?

(More to come…)