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Blog

Susan Marek's blog about angels, chakras, spiritual living, and more.

Filtering by Category: "France"

Vezelay!

Susan Marek

The drive to the north of France was lovely.  We passed chateau after chateau as we wove our way down country roads and through small villages toward Vezelay.  Our mission:  another church with mystery!  Vezelay is a small town with a quaint main street that leads uphill to the church.
Vezelay

This town is very much steeped in the Mary Magdalene traditions, with sea shells (one of her symbols) on buildings and embedded in the street.

The church has interesting carvings above the imposing doors and even small rats carved into the foot of one column!


Inside, the inner portal to the main body of the church has an intricate carving of Jesus along with the astrological symbols.  Unexpected and fabulous!  Who would have thought Jesus would share space with a Capricorn?

There is a chapel to Mary Magdalene across from the crypt.  She is holding the alabaster jar against her abdomen.
Mary Magdalene, Vezelay

Imbedded in the pedestal is a piece of her thigh bone.
Mary Magdalene reliquary, Vezelay

In the crypt is a beautiful reliquary containing a larger piece of her thigh bone.  Don't you think the reliquary looks Egyptian?
Mary Magdalene reliquary, Vezelay
The Crypt, Vezelay

There are beautiful statues of saints throughout the church, as well as some painted saints on the columns.  In addition to the Mary relics, one of the most fascinating things was something that wasn't on display.  It is the "host holder" that holds the sacred communion host for adoration.  It caught my eye on a sign in the church.  I think my jaw dropped open when I saw it.
Ankh, Vezelay

The holy Catholic sacrament is displayed in an EGYPTIAN ANKH!  LOVE IT!  In many of the shops in town, there are references to the Church, Egypt, Freemasons, and paganism.  What a unique and mysterious combination!  I love Vezelay!

After  brief visit, we left and made our way west to Chartres...

Mystery of the Black Madonna

Susan Marek

Before this trip, I had little knowledge or understanding of The Black Madonna.  These ladies sit in many churches in France (and other countries) and are misunderstood and discounted by most visitors.  There are many theories on why the Madonnas are black (or were black - many have been white-washed by the Church), but my personal feeling is that these Madonnas represent the divine feminine, an earthy, mothering, goddess aspect of I AM that brings forth creativity and renewal.  They are linked to Mary Magdalene, who also represents those qualities.  They exude love, compassion, understanding and hold secrets to not only the past, but to our present and future experience on our relationship to ourselves, each other, and the divine.  Upon returning home, I started gathering material on the Black Madonnas and am going to do some research on this lovely lady..  She fascinates me because of what she is said to represent, because the Church is SO threatened by her coloring it feels a need to paint her, and because her mystery is a source of information on a higher place. 

Alet-les-Bains

Alet-les-Bains


As if Black Madonnas weren't enough to keep me busy, I was introduced to the world of encoded stained glass windows.  I saw some of the most amazing windows in a little town called Alet-les-Bains.  The windows of this small church have Stars of David build into the supports for the windows and colorful, intricate glass within the frame.  Each tells a story, of course, but many were hard to see because of the height of the windows.  I was instantly obsessed with the symbolism in these windows and will have to add discovering their secrets to my list of things to do.  But I think, perhaps, the Madonnas and the windows have some shared secrets that are waiting to be discovered...

Black Madonna, Alet-les-Bains

Black Madonna, Notre-Dame-de-Marceille
 Oh, and we saw Nostradamus' house today.  It was a good day!

Another day, another castle...

Susan Marek

Oh, where to start today? Another chateau.  Yawn.  Another gorgeous view.  Sigh.  Just when I thought that the events of the day before were life-changing, another day came and additional miraculous places and experiences presented themselves. We started the day in Arques chateau, the beautiful remains of another Languedoc castle.  This place is extremely special energetically.  There is a lovely, divine current of energy that can be felt on this property.  The views from the tower are stunning, and the inside is cozy and light.  I am feeling somewhat selfish today with my experiences there and won't be sharing every detail, but here are some pictures which will help convey the beauty of the place.

Arques Castle

Arques Castle

view from Arques Castle

Arques Castle

Next stop was the Gorge of Galamus, a magnificent gorge near Bugarach mountain.  Built into the side of the steep rock walls is a hermitage, which houses a grotto dedicated to Mary Magdalene. 
hermitage in Gorge of Galamus

The hike into the gorge was not terribly difficult, but the rocks on the path were slippery due to the thousands of shoes that have polished them to a shine. With a small river bubbling in the background, I made my way to the entrance of the hermitage.  It was pleasantly cool inside and above, someone rang a bell, which at one time, probably called people to prayer.  Today, it beckoned me in further into the sacred space, which opened into a surprisingly large grotto.  It was breathtaking, with the high ceilings and soft candlelight.   After the requisite picture taking, I settled into a natural stone seat in the back of the grotto.  Mary Magdalene is said to have taught the Way of Love here, and from the energy that is imbued in this space, I truly believe that. 
Mary Magdalene Grotto

There is a palpable softness and feeling of love that emanates from the stone.  I had a powerful, personal experience here, which I am not ready to share, but it has left me changed.  This is a place of heaven on Earth with all of its human-ness and divinity expressed together. 

And for all you orb lovers, look closely at the last picture.  There are a few that joined us in the grotto. 

Alas, tomorrow there will be no chateaux.  But the mysteries keep coming!

Sacred France - wine, churches, and cassoulet - Oh my!

Susan Marek

I just got back from France a few days ago and thought I had better make an attempt to put words to the amazing experiences I have had over the past two weeks.  Please be patient with me as I tell you all about my adventures. There is so much to say (and not say) about what happened that I will have have to give it to you in bits and pieces. To say that I had a great time is an understatement.  It doesn't do the experience justice to even state that it was life changing.  I am altered in a way that cannot be adequately described.  My adventure started in Toulouse, France, where I was introduced to an incredible group of people, who would become my close friends by the end of the trip.  We were whisked away to a beautiful retreat center in the Languedoc region, which is marked by fields of sunflowers and miles of grape vines.  After being welcomed with a wine tasting of a stunning array of local wines, we had a delicious dinner and went to bed.

We woke up to fresh croissants, gluten-free bread, meats, eggs, and fruit.  Ah, to be this spoiled every day...  The first stop for the day was the walled city of Carcassonne.  You may have seen it in Kevin Costner's Robin Hood movie. 





Carcassonne was energetically very interesting.  When I first walk through the gates and along the city wall, I felt nauseous.  It shifted energetically as we walked into the city to the cathedral.  As you walk into the church, you are greeted with this sign:



I love the "Roman Catholic Cult" part!  Ha! The church itself is energetically interesting.  There were both "good" and "bad" pockets of energy throughout the church.  One area in particular affected me tremendously.  It was a small chapel with a lovely statue of St. Anne teaching Mary, and there is a red book under her foot.


On the floor in front of her was the burial site of a cardinal who was sympathetic to the plight of the Cathars.  I had a very strong emotional reaction when I approached the chapel and had a vision of a young woman sprawled out over the tomb, wailing with grief.  I was overcome with the desire to shoo people off his grave marker on the floor.  The woman's relationship with this man is unknown, but she was definitely distraught over his passing.  I didn't take any pictures of the marker because it felt disrespectful and wrong to do so.  She wanted his resting place to remain sacred, I think. 

There was also excellent shopping in Carcassonne, as well as delicious duck cassoulet for lunch.  After lunch, we headed to Minerve, the site of one of the Cathar massacres in 1210 during the Albegensian Crusades.  More about Minerve tomorrow...