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Blog

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

Filtering by Category: "love"

The Pieta of Saint-Sulpice

Susan Marek

Saint-Sulpice stands at the corner of two small rues in Paris, not far from the Seine.  Her towering exterior, although lovely, pales in comparison to the mysteries and beauty inside.  There are gorgeous sculptures, paintings and stained glass wherever you look.  There is even a copy of the shroud of Turin in one chapel.  There is one piece of sculpture that caught my attention and continues to frequently occupy my thoughts. 
Pieta in Saint-Sulpice

Pieta in Saint-Sulpice


This piece is located in the Chapel of the Souls in Purgatory.  Purgatory, by the way, no longer exists, as decreed by the Pope. It is no longer a place, so much as a state of being. Wonder what happened to everyone who was there? The official guide book just lists it as "Pieta by Clesinger (1868).  Masterpieces of Saint-Sulpice, another book put out by the church, says, "Over the altar was set a stone Pieta between two angels, Clesinger's work." No sign. No plaque.  The books don't even have a picture, but they do dedicate about four, large, color pages to the church organ. Come on!  I am appalled by the obvious disrespect that is paid to this magnificent sculpture.  It is purposely overlooked for obvious reasons.  Look at the way Mother Mary is embracing both Mary Magdalene and Jesus.  Really take in the facial expressions of the Mary's.  It moves me to the core whenever I look at it.  Notice Mary Magdalene's hand under her beloved's.  It is both beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.  It brings up so many layers of thought and emotion in me.  Human mortality. Nature of Love.  Types of Love. Death. Life. Mother-in-laws. Church doctrine. Heresy. If I could find one, I would buy a reproduction of this for my home.  It is that powerful.  And it just one of the many wonders of this church. 

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...

Montsegur

Susan Marek

Montsegur, or safe mountain, sits a top a strangely shaped mountain.  It was the last hold out in the Albigensian Crusades, with the Cathars being burned at the foot of the mountain in March of 1244. 
Montsegur from parking lot

Montsegur from monument

Most of the group took on the challenge of hiking to the top.  It is a very steep climb through a small forest which then opened to a rocky path to the summit.  We stopped first at  monument to the Cathars who were murdered at the base.
Cathar Monument, Montsegur

Half way there...
Half way there

The fortress at the top of the mountain is not the Cathar stronghold.  It is a fortress build after the Cathars were driven out.  The king must of thought it was a great place to set up shop after the Cathars held out for so long. 

fortress at Montsegur

The original building was made from stone and wood.  The outline of some of the small rooms the Cathars used can be seen below. 
Cathar rooms at Montsegur

I got a strong sense of peace here and had visions of laughing children running through these rooms while adults worked and taught.  The view was spectacular.  Except for a few cow bells in the distance, we experienced a silence that was blessed and magical.  Besides a sense of accomplishment from making it up and down the mountain without dying, I felt overwhelmed by the love and peace of this place.  It is so interesting how many of the sites we visited had such atrocities committed in their midst, yet the energy is peaceful and loving.  It is truly a testament to how love conquers all and the way in which these beautiful Cathar people lived. 

I left southern France the next day and drove up north to visit Chartres and Paris.  First stop on the way, Vezelay!

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!

Mas Cabardes' Weaver's Cross

Susan Marek

Mas Cabardes is a tiny town nestled in the mountains north of Carcassonne.  This sleepy hamlet is home to one of my favorite pieces of heretical art. Unassuming on the corner of two narrow streets sits a lovely cross.  At first glance, it looks like a normal cross, with Jesus, angels, and Mother Mary.  The addition of John the Baptist and Father God are different, but not unusual.  It takes the name 'Weaver's Cross' from the carving of the shuttle under Jesus' feet.  Cathars were shepherds, so this is said to be a nod to one of their professions.
Weaver's Cross, front

Where it gets really interesting is when you view the back of it.  The back tells the heretical side of the story.  Mary Magdalene, holding a baby (who is now decapitated) is crowned Queen of Heaven by the angels while God looks on.  On her left is Archangel Michael, protector of the Divine Feminine, and the other is unidentified, but has pen and book in hand, ready to tell her story.

Weaver's Cross, back
The church in this town is small, but mighty, having special symbolism of its own and some fabulous energy as well.  Again, we saw symbols of the divine masculine and feminine, as well as dedication to Mary Magdalene.

Nearby, on some small mountian peaks, sits the site of Lastours.  It is the site of three separate Cathar chateaux and a fourth castle built as a prize to the victors after the Cathar chateauxs were conquered.
Lastours

The view was breathtaking and the hike up to one of the towers was worth the effort on that particularly warm day. Most of the group chose to hike to Cabaret, the chateau originally owned by Etiennette du Pennautier, patroness of the troubadours and defender of the Cathars.
Cabaret (left)

There is one remaining tower that you can climb up from which to enjoy the spectacular vistas.  Many of us spent about an hour up there, singing and dancing, a fitting tribute to the woman who celebrated the arts, music and courtly love!
Me in the Cabaret Tower
Another busy day full of beauty, mystery, and the Divine.  Oh...and wine.  :)

Rennes-le-Chateau

Susan Marek

Rennes-le-Chateau is at the center of all things mystical and magical in the Languedoc region.  Rumors of Egyptian rites, time slips, and portals to other worlds abound here.  What I do know for sure is that it is full of more mysteries than answers, and beauty abounds.  The view was breathtaking from atop the mountain on which it sits.

  The streets were quiet as we approached the infamous church, which holds most of the town's secrets.  Dedicated to Mary Magdalene, this place of worship has a gorgeous statue of Mary Magdalene above the door with an interesting inscription.  At first, it seems as though it proclaims the place as "terribilis," but translated properly in this context, it means 'awesome'.  Awesome it is, indeed! 
Mary Magdalene at Rennes-le-Chateau




As I entered the church, Rex Mundi was waiting to greet me.  One would not expect to find a devil at the entrance to a church. Rex Mundi means 'king of the world,' and to me, represents the ego and our attachment to earthly things that block us from our true path. 
Rex Mundi

But on top of the statue sits four lovely angels, each making a portion of the sign of the cross, assuring you that all is well.  A fascinating statue to be sure!
Angels triumph over Rex Mundi
For me, the energy in the church was a little "swirly" (it's a technical term...). It was noticeable once I was inside the main part of the church.  There was so much to see within the church itself, like gorgeous statues of many saints, an ornate altar with a lovely relief of Mary Magdalene in it, painted by the priest, Berenger Sauniere, who brought this church back to life with a mysterious fortune at the turn of the 20th century.
altar with Mary Magdalene relief
The source of Sauniere's fortune is unknown, but the money started pouring into this small parish after he discovered something in a pillar of the old altar during a remodel.  The papers found in a hole in the top of the pillar were said to contains secrets that were never revealed by Berenger or any of the people he entrusted with them. 
altar pillar - no, it isn't upside down.  Sauniere had 'Mission 1891' carved upside down.  The hole is at the top.
Symbolism is all over the church.  There is layer upon layer of messages and secrets here.  Next to the church are the presbytery, Villa Bethania ( the home Sauniere built but never lived in) and his gardens.  The gardens contain two magnificent towers, the Magdalene Tower, which served as Sauniere's library, and the Conservatory Tower, which was a green house.  The Magdalene Tower is spectacular.  Inside, walnut bookshelves line the walls, and the spiral staircase leads to the top of the tower.  I could feel the energy swirling in the tower before I reached the door.  I had to catch myself a few times inside to keep from falling because the energy was so strong.  I didn't stay long because of it, but proceeded to the conservatory where the energy was a little calmer. 
Magdalene Tower

Conservatory Tower
After visiting the towers, the group headed to another part of the Sauniere's original garden called Jardin du Marie for lunch.  There, we ate under the sprawling branches of trees and were treated to a short talk about local lore by the restaurant owner.  A harp concert followed, and then we did some shopping at the fabulous bookstore located at the foot of the garden.  The shop items reflected the mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau: Books, Magdalene medals, Templar crosses, Egyptian statues and shiny crystal jewelry. 


Rennes-le-Chateau brought up mixed emotions in me.  The church itself was so multi-layered in terms of energy and emotions.  A LOT has happened there, and for me that day, it was quite jumbled when picking up on energies of the past and present.  There is a definite air of mystery around the church and grounds, much more than you can see.  I came away quite melacholy because I was on energy overload and processing quite a bit.  I would love to go back after reading and learning more about the history and symbolism so I could focus on a specific area of the church or gardens.  You could spend years here and not uncover or decipher the town's secrets.  The next place we visited was quite the opposite of Rennes-le-Chateau...

Minerve - Still a Working Town

Susan Marek

Despite being the site of a Cathar massacre in 1210, Minerve is unexpectedly peaceful.

It's narrow streets wind up and down the diminutive hill on which it sits, overlooking a beautiful gorge.  It is hard to believe that is was the place that 140 Cathar "parfaits" were burned for heresy.  Energetically, Minerve had a blanket of loving energy over it, almost like a dome, protecting it and maintaining the feeling of love that so penetrated the Cathar society here once.  It felt physically soft and calm.  The group spent time walking to the Cathar memorial

and then journeyed down into the gorge, following the path of the martyrs.  While walking, I had a vision of a line of parfaits walking down into the gorge, two by two, men and women.  One pair were helping each other down when the woman slipped and the man gently caught her before she tumbled down the steep slope.  It was such a gentle, loving gesture juxtapositioned against the harsh reality that awaited them at the bottom.  There was an overwhelming feeling of sadness, which you would think wouldn't be unusual except that the sadness was not for themselves.  The Cathars were grieving the fact that their conquerors were so misguided.  The Parfaits were genuinely concerned for their persecutors!  At first, it took me by surprise, but knowing the little I know about their ways and beliefs, I should have expected nothing less.  It was actually quite lovely and a true "Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do" moment.  At the site of the burning in the gorge, the group said a prayer for them and spent some time in silence.

One member of our group began to sing a song, inspired and divinely guided in that moment.  We were all moved to tears.  On our way back up to the town from the gorge, I 'saw'  that Minerve was not just a place of memories, but in actuality is still a "working" enclave of the Cathars.  There is a funnel of energy that exists over the town, that channels the Way of Love into the energy of this world. These people are still here etherically, holding a space for love to remain.  Demori!

On to Rennes-le-Chateau...

Begone, Ego!

Susan Marek

Last week I was on vacation at Walt Disney World.  At the Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park, there is something called The Great Movie Ride.  It is a slow-moving car through re-creations of scenes from classic movies.  One scene you pass through is The Wizard of Oz munchkin land set.  At one point the Wicked Witch of the West pops in and threatens Dorothy.  Glinda the Good Witch comes in and saves that day, saying, "Ha, ha, ha! Rubbish! You don't have any magic powers here! Begone before someone drops a house on you too!" The Wicked Witch of the West disappears in a puff of smoke, and Dorothy begins her journey down the Yellow Brick Road.

It occurred to me that I could use that same technique with my ego.   Not the house dropping part, but reminding my lower self that it has "no magic powers here" in my heart where my higher self lives.  When you get overwhelmed with self-doubt, criticism, worries and fears, explain to your ego that it has no magic powers and to begone!  Then follow the yellw brick road.  You may meet with crazy trees and flying monkeys along your path, but in the end, the power to return to your higher self is in your hands, or in Dorothy's case, her feet.

Just say 'No!' to Resolutions in 2010!

Susan Marek

The New Year is upon us.  After recovering from a night or perhaps an entire year of overindulgence, bad habits, and unfinished business, most feel January 1st is the time to begin anew.  Sounds great.  The method of choice by most people is to make resolutions for the coming year.  I heartily disagree.  Just say 'No!' to resolutions!  Let's take apart the very word, resolution.  Re = again.  Solution = an answer to a problem.  So put it all together, kids, and what does it mean?  An answer to a problem...again!  Resolutions are always made from a place of a problem, a place of lack, a place where we see something is being wrong.  How long have you actually kept to a resolution?  Honestly.  A month? A week? A day? I have gone down this wayward path many times.  Sometimes I am able to keep it up for a month or two, but then lose my resolve and go back to the old way of doing things.  The problem is, when we make resolutions, we are coming from the same mindset that got us into the mess to begin with.  I propose a different method to affect change.  I am a firm believer in affirmations.  Look!  Even the word firm is in there.  Firm = securely or solidly fixed in place.  Positive affirmations come from a place of abundance, love, a place completely opposite from where you were.  You cannot tell me you were in a place of abundance when you were lamenting your maxed out credit cards.  Instead of "I resolve to spend less money," try "I am grateful that I have plenty of money to save." We are still talking about saving money, but the affirmation keeps us in a very uplifted, powerful place.  Instead of 'I resolve to eat healthily and exercise more," use "I love and respect my body.  I honor myself with good food.  I am energized and refreshed when I move my body."    It may not always be easy, but it can be that simple.  So celebrate the New Year and release your old habits.  Begin anew, but from a positive place.  Affirm, not resolve, and watch the changes begin.  Happy New Year!

Mystical Verbs

Susan Marek

Per Merriam-Webster, a verb is "a word that characteristically is the grammatical center of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or mode of being, that in various languages is inflected for agreement with the subject, for tense, for voice, for mood, or for aspect, and that typically has rather full descriptive meaning and characterizing quality but is sometimes nearly devoid of these especially when used as an auxiliary or linking verb."  I like to think of them simply as mystical words of action, the action of being or the action of doing.  Our whole life is one big verb.  From the minute we are born to the moment of our transition, we are being and doing.  Crying, pooping, whining, crawling, walking, running, screaming, laughing, learning, loving.  We are spirits having a human experience and use these actions to learn more about ourselves and how we relate together as a collective group of souls.  Our actions determine the kind of experience we have as well.  Do you play, love, laugh and learn?  Those actions help us stay connected to our higher selves.  Whining, crying, lamenting, not so much.  We can also perform the action of being.  Being angry is not as fulfilling as being joyful.  Being hopeful is a much higher vibration than being desperate.  Sometimes just being is all we can do.  Often, we cannot change our circumstance, at least right away, but we can change our actions.  We change our verb, and miracles happen. 

What verb are you right now?  I am "WRITING' and "PONDERING" at the same time. You don't need to limit yourself to just one.   Try verb multitasking.  I challenge you to 'LEARN," "LOVE," "LAUGH,"  and "PLAY" all at the same time.  Are you happy with your verb?  If not, then change it NOW.  You have the power to create miracles.  Change your verb, change your world.

Decisions, decisions!

Susan Marek

When faced with an important decision, it is natural for us to ask others for their advice and opinions.  Sometimes, we agonize over making the right choice and become stressed and anxious because of it.  In the end, it is not what your parents, your spouse, your children, your best friend, your therapist or the checker at the grocery store have to say about your choice. It is all about YOU and what YOU think is the best course of action.  YOU are in charge of your path.  Pay attention to what your heart is telling you.  You know what you need to do.  TRUST your intuition.  I have yet to find someone who regrets a decision that came from their heart. 

Remember that your angels and guides, who are messengers of God, are with you to support you and lend a helping hand.  They are full of great advice and many of them LOVE to talk.  The catch is you have to ASK for help.  They cannot help you until you ask because you have free will to make decisions and they can't infringe on that right.  Ask for help, but stay empowered, and remember that you are the one who knows what is best for you.   

Saying "I Love You"

Susan Marek

Recently, my father has been ending our phone conversations with "I love you."  For some people, this may be routine, but for my dad, it is something new.  For all thirty plus years of my life (you didn't think I was going to give away my age that easily, did you?), I have known my dad loved me through his actions, but rarely his words.  Our physical goodbyes were hugs and pecks on the cheek. Our phone calls ended with, "Talk to you soon."  But within the past month or two, things have shifted.  At first, I was surprised, but I had presence of mind not to drop the phone or stutter when he said "I love you" before hanging up.  What was going through my mind was, "Who are you and what have you done with my dad?"  I thought maybe I had not heard correctly.  I returned the sentiment and hung up, still in shock.  The next time I spoke with him, I waited to see if he would do it again.  He did.  "Third time's a charm," I thought the next time we spoke.  By golly, he said it again.  I am beginning to like this habit. 

I am not sure what has changed in my dad's life to prompt him to verbalize his affection.  For some people, it could be an illness or a challenging time that causes them to reflect on their relationships and change their behavior.  For others, perhaps therapy.  To me, it doesn't matter why he has emotionally opened up.  I am just happy to be the beneficiary of this sentiment.

Today, please tell those special someones in your life that you love them.  Hugs are wonderful, but nothing beats a genuine, verbal "I love you." You will not only brighten someone else's day, but I guarantee that your divine light will shine all the brighter because of it.  Spread the love!