Day #51 spent not walking, trying to heal the blisters from my 6 kilometer vertical climb yesterday to the magical space that is Saint-Salvayre. Also, keeping my feet in the pool water that is naturally fed from the healing waters in Alet-les-Bains, and the added sel (salt) in the water. I truly think it helped; I can at least walk this evening. And thank you to Rita and George who are staying here at Les Marguerites and brought me some bandages on their return from their day at Carcassonne. My two Bains-Aid strips I brought didn’t last too long. So sweet.
Just about finished with the book from Graham Simmans who lived at Rennes-les-Chateau for 15 yeas, researching, writing, and excavating ruins in Egypt. It’s antithetical to Pauline Christianity and many would consider heretical. Yet, we’ve learned ‘heretic’ means to choose. Many who chose the alternate from Roman Catholic ideology were burned or the heads were threaded onto spikes. Graham’s book has been one epiphany and ‘right on’ after another.
Maybe I’ll find a way to summa the contents. I think I’ve underscored every line in the book. Fascinating and connects so many thoughts throughout history, from the first century of gnostic teachings, and the fabrications of Pauline Christianity. Paul kinda did his own thing. And Graham’s writings, for me, was the thread through so much research and writing.
And Allysha’s book:
Read in tandem. :) Allysha’s book will be a trilogy.
On my balcony in Alet-les-Bains at the villa of Les Marguerites. Our sole mission.
If you explore this region of France, you must visit this magical oasis in Alet-les-Bains. Antoinette and Keith have created this tranquil and other worldly place of healing and refuge for 15 years.
Then you can explore Languedoc and find your own historical connections. Gnosis.
Catching an early bus from Carcassone to Spain to see my dearest friend from college who’s in Barcelona for a couple of days…only 4 hours away! Alpha Phi ℒℴve. J’adore living in Europe. Pictures tomorrow!
‘The stone with the Dove is to be found at Minerve, in Southern France at the site of an ancient Cathafortress near the region Rennes Le Chateau. It was carved by Jean-Luc Severac in commemoration of the 140 Cathars who were buried alive there in 1210 as a result of persecution by the Church of Rome. Elizabeth Van Buren writes about the Cathars in her book, THE SIGN OF THE DOVE:
“These people called themselves the Pure. They said that they were waiting the return of the Paraclete, the reign of the Holy Spirit. They were known as Cathari or Albigensians and were respected by the local clergy and the nobility, although they were considered unrealistic in their ideals.”‘
And when their numbers grew, and Catholic villagers started agreeing with their principles and apostolic living, the pope [Innocent III] had them brutally slaughtered.
The first image above depicts Cathars being forced to leave with nothing, not even fully clothed. The year was 1209. Word had reached many villages about the massive massacre in Béziers, so surrendered without a fight. The villagers in Carcassonne were trying to hold out in their heavily fortified castle (still gloriously standing today), yet their water supply was cut off from them, and they had to give in to the Inquisition.
The dove, in the second image, is a symbol of the Cathars, which is translated from Greek as ‘pure,’ which is how they lived their lives.
Maybe it’s the dove that had me thinking about Noah, and other Biblical stories about the Dove. I thought about the film Noah with Russell Crowe. I’ve only seen it once, in 2014, and thought it was brilliantly created by Darren Aronofsky who directed and co-wrote. Some powerful lines in the film speak to our issues today, like climate breakdown, viruses, and violence. Noah assures his grandfather that the end will come by water (purification), the grandfather was sure it was fire. Round II…fire. Grandfather got it right, Gaia is burning.
[Noah can be see on Netflix until August 31st.]
Other notable and timely declarations from Noah and his grandfather:
‘Men are going to be punished for what they’ve done to the world.’
‘The wickedness is in all of us.’
‘Everything that was beautiful, everything that was good, we shattered.’
I think I know why I was pulled to revisit the film again.
First day back out after a 10-day isolation. Hot. Very hot. Another heat wave is descending, like the fourth this summer. Everyone is talking about how unusual it is to be this hot for this long. The two women there were so kind and helpful, we communicated!, and they gave me some ideas since I hike everywhere I explore. I think I can make it to a sacred space that I visited once before, St. Salvayre.
Powerful, magical energy in this tiny hamlet with three houses and two farms. I was there a long while. The history is ancient with a Roman-type standing stone not far from the entry in this ancient church, again, party of the sacred geometry in the area. The church was built around the stone, still protruding from the earth. I hope to be there again in the next couple of days.
Not tons of energy yet out and about, and with the heat, pas bon. 98 today. Had to stock up on my water supplies, too. I drank a ton of liquids over the last 10 days; very little appetite.
No one is masking.
Infections are way up all over France. The woman who owns my building may be finally able to leave the hospital tomorrow after 11/12 days. Her sister and daughter are here now to assist her. She had to be put on a respirator at one point, and she has underlying medical conditions, too. My hope is that she’ll start masking…and her family. Long covid is causing major health problems now. In Italy, one of the heaviest hit areas for Covid back in 2020, now reporting massive numbers of diabetes along with heavy reports of neurological ailments. And…Monkey Pox. Those numbers are going up, too.
‘Everything that was beautiful, everything that was good, we shattered.’
We’re going to need a lot of doves.
Started ce jour with the bells of Saint-Martin. Then, the adventure began!
Ode to Le Tour. Found it at a local marche…the bike of the maillot jaunt.
Knew it was going to be unbearably hot with the heat dome over Europe, fires burning.
I was thinking last night that although the Tour is winding through Limoux, the final stage before rest day on Monday was finishing in Carcassonne. I decided to take the bus (sometimes a train, not sure how it’s determined) and see what I could find. What I didn’t anticipate when I was riding into Carcassonne is the Tour route would effect our drop zone which is typically la gare, the train station. We made numerous detours and then landed in an area I wasn’t familiar. The driver, who apparently took a wrong turn and had to back the bus up…impressive…didn’t speak any English and after trying to communicate in my weak French, she mimed that I should follow the other people. Many didn’t know how to trek the long walk back to the train station, so we grabbed our phones and fired up our maps. Finally made it to the city center and just started looking for the tour. Already rationing my two large bottles of Perrier because of the heat with no idea what was about to unfold!
Then, the adventure began!
I spotted splashes of yellow. 🟡
I started trekking to find the route to the finish. I found a spot just past the finish line and since it was early and a lot of the spectators hadn’t filled in yet, I settled into my space.
There was music and announcing, and sponsors of the tour handing out all their tchotchkes. Very fun. A bike cap, a Skoda bag, a polyester vest…trop chard to wear…a bucket hat, too! Just like Emily in Paris. :)
My favorite sponsor gift and probably kept me from heat exhaustion, literally, was a sparkling canned beverage. Yummy. Their vender came back and gave me three more (!) and somebody else was handing out bananas. She was so sweet. Trop chaude! So grateful. It really helped.
I couldn’t sit on the asphalt because it burned my bum it was so hot. Five hours of standing in 41 C heat…106 Fahrenheit. Brutal. And so fun. I kept thinking about the guys racing in this heat. I was standing and trying not to pass out. They were biking hard and fast, sometimes their speeds clocked in at 72 KPH (45 MPH on the stage). Many climbs. The Tour put special heat protocols into place because of the dangerously high temperatures. Some of the guys, it was reported, wanted the stage to actually be cancelled due to the heat. With a warming climate and the devastation it is causing, maybe the Tour will need to be moved to the edges of the season in the Tours ahead. Our world is changing…fast.
When the riders get close, all the vehicles start driving in! The sponsors, the team buses, the team cars, the press motorcycles (So fun seeing Bradly Wiggins come in with his motorbike driver. And then there’s a fun parade with the sponsors and their vehicles.
Jumbo Visma’s bus! Many excited to receive it. When they went past, many in the bus didn’t look happy. Come to find out they lost two riders today, one to injuries over the course of the Tour, and another rider after a crash due to more protesters who were blocking the middle of the road.
The Tour is a massive and masterly organized operation; they set-up and tear-down for every stage and it’s all seemingly seamless.
That’s how they get those awesome finish shots. With the camera operator in place, we all knew it was getting close.
All the superfluous vehicles and dignitaries removed, it was quiet. Then the overhead finish screen, “4 kilometers to go!” Cameras ready, the pounding of the placards begins. And then the guys bolt around the final bend. Sprint finish! Wout in the green, couldn’t make out the other two, thought it might be Fabio Jakobsen from Quick Step who replaced Mark Cavendish. (Thought about him so much today; would love to have seen him.) I positioned my camera, hoped for the best, yet I wanted to watch it live! The clip worked although it was holding it low so I could see the riders! It was thrilling and so knock-out fast. How is that kind of power, control, and stamina able to be sustained after 106 degree weather and 202 kilometers! It’s nuts. Incredible, unbelievable athletes. They love Le Tour in Carcassonne. Moi Aussi. (Me, too!)
I’ve been trying for hours to get the video from my iPhone to this website…not working. So I did some screen captures. If I’m able to figure it out, I’ll edit and re-post later. Crazy exciting!
WOUT! Right in front of me!
And Sepp Kuss from Jumbo Visma. They’re going to need him so much now after losing two key riders. Incredible domestique and all around talented rider, 27 years old from Durango, Colorado. One of my favorites to watch. So happy I spotted him! Looks depleted and beat. Much needed rest day tomorrow.
The best. Vive Le Tour! 💛
And a sweet post-stage interview with the sprinting finish winner for stage 15, Jasper Philipsen. Rock ⭐️. He’s worked so hard for this moment. Very emotional. First stage win at the Tour. At the 12:15 mark.
AND! Images of the podium. So. Many. People. I was the only one I could see wearing a mask besides the riders and worker bee’s. 😳
The beast. Wout van Aert keeps the sprinter’s green!
Jonas Vingegaard keeps yellow and his time distance from Tadej. They are so equally matched.
Stage winner and first Tour de France stage win, Jasper Philipsen.
Battling for the yellow…still holding the youngest winner jersey, Tadej Pogacar. His team, UAE, and Jonas’ team, Jumbo Visma, are struggling with dropped teammates, after Jumbo’s dominance. The Tour is wide open!
King of the Mountain jersey winner, Germany’s Simon Geschke. Lots of fans at Stage 15!
And these guys. Best seat on the Tour! They had a clear shot of the finish and the podium.
Or, maybe this guy. :)
18 years since I’ve been at the Tour watching Lance win his 6th with his gold helmet down the Champs-Élysées. (Thank you, Theodore.) Carcassonne was
A M A Z I N G
Incredible experience. Beautiful country and people. Now, I need to keep hydrating, cool down, and replenish for Tuesday’s stage 16 as it goes through Limoux, about 1:15 pm local time!
Bonne nuit. ❀
La Gare day!
First, it was the bus from Limoux to Carcassonne.
It was a day of learning and confusion. 🙃
And angels on my path when I needed help the most, like Suni from Pakistan who gave me a full tutorial on train travel in France, helped me download some European train apps before he caught his train. He has lived in Germany, speaks fluent German, extremely fluid English, and is learning French. He is trying to secure a visa so he can work in France and attend school. He told me, “I can’t go back to Pakistan. There is no future for me there.” Meeting people from different cultures, speaking different languages, observing their behaviors and kindnesses truly fills and renews my spirit. Another person I spoke to along my different stops and exchanges said to me when I told him I was from the United States, “It’s very dangerous there.” The whole world is watching. A co-passenger on another train as I was making my way slowly to Grenoble explained one of the announcements over the intercom system for me that passengers were being warned about a pick-pocket on the train. I told him, “I wish we had more pick-pockets in our country, instead of guns. He paused and said, “It makes us very worried in Europe.” He’s from Italy and lives in France. His name is Claudio. He explained that we are citizens of the world and it doesn’t matter where we’re from, it effects all of us. My heart. Indeed. So beautifully expressed.
The train moving through Sète, Languedoc, France, on the Mediterranean coast. Established 1,000 years ago, it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. It’s on my list to visit.
12 hours later I made it to Grenoble. Trees line the downtown with a very hip, young vibe. Apparently it’s a university town with over 60,000 students here. The population is around 165,000. A very different feeling from my beloved Languedoc region. It’s about an hour east of Lyon. Beautiful area—mountain ranges and massive history. Can’t wait to explore. It was dark when I arrived. Photos tomorrow!
I’m reading another book on Cathar history. Can’t wait to share.
Reading on the trains today, I had to pause and reel in the reminded awareness how awful, awful…humans have treated each other over the centuries and continue still. In this instance, crusades and inquisitions, torture and burnings at the stake. This journey today on a micro level reminded me how kind and compassionate and caring the human species can be. We’re one of 8,000,000 species on the planet. And we’re destroying it…and each other. And it never stops. We just find different ways to mutilate and hate. For millennia.
Again, the question simmers: Are humans, by nature, good or evil? Or, does society corrupt? Rhetorical. Been thinking about it a lot lately, though. Perhaps it’s why the Cathar landed on duality, to help explain it, and understand.
Rex Mundi. More later on what was considered Cathar heresy.