R O A D T R I P ❗️
French Villages, castles, and an amazing memory in Montsegur at La Maison Sous le Château. Manual Citroën is the best. Always secure the smallest car you can and practice accelerations. :)
‘Immerse yourself in the medieval atmosphere of Puilaurens Castle, an impregnable fortress in Cathar Country, at the top of the sheer rock face. The walls and towers have been marked by time and are filled with history and legends. Can you find the “secret” passages leading to the giddy panoramas?’ We did!
Beginning the hike up to the castle ruins…
Annie Glenn in awe and loving Languedoc.
Michael inspired on his first journey out of the United States and ready to return.
The Square Tower dates from the time of the Crusade against the Cathars. The so- called “White Lady” Tower, where Blanche de Bourbon, granddaughter of Philip IV, was reputed to have stayed on her way south to her ill-fated marriage with the cruel Peter of Castile, has a duct through the wall that acts as a speaking tube.
Aged just fourteen in 1353, after three days of marriage, Peter abandoned her in favour of Maria de Padilla, imprisoning poor Blanche in various places in France and Spain, until the age of twenty two, when he had her murdered. Legend has it that when mists surround the castle, Blanche is wandering the walls in her misty veils.
Montségur Castle is a fortress built on the ruins of a previous Roman settlement in the Occitanie region of Southern France. In 1204, Raymond de Péreille, the Lord of Montségur, decided to rebuild the Castle which had been in ruins for 40 years. The refortified Castle immediately became the epicentre of an important Cathar community. Catharism was a Gnostic movement which deviated from the teachings of the Catholic Church and which spread like wildfire in the 12th and 13th centuries. Amongst other tenets, the Cathars believed that Jesus was not the son of God but merely an upright prophet and scholar. They believed that men and women were both essentially equal and that money and physical trappings were not important in life. Even though they lived lives of poverty, it is believed that the Cathars amassed great riches, since many members, who were people of ‘substance’, donated their property on joining and many well-wishers and patrons donated money to help the cause as well. On the other hand, at the time Pope Innocent III, as well as the Kings of England and France, were struggling with financial difficulties caused by investments in the Crusades in the Holy Land. A theory states that this was one of the main reasons why the Cathars, a peaceful Order, were branded as heretics and hounded to their deaths with such cruelty, even prompting the setting up of a special Inquisition for such a purpose. At the time, all their assets and lands were seized and divided between the Pope and the King of France during what became known as the Cathar Crusade or the Albigensian Crusade. Whole cities and villages were destroyed by the Inquisition, which targeted both nobles and peasants alike. Ironically, the supposed ‘treasure’ of the Cathars was never found, or at least, no one has reported its acquisition.
The hike up…
…and reverence for the bon hommes and bonne femmes who were murdered in the pyre because of their beliefs, and the greed and evil of Pope Innocence III.
From the book, The Manuscript. ☉
The Cathars considered themselves to be the true Christians. Part of their learning rested on primitive Christian, Gnostic, Jewish and Islamic ideas, which at all decisive points different from the Roman Church.
The daily bread was for the Cathars the spiritual bread, and both women and men could become priests, perfect, in their community. The Cathar movement had wide support amon the Languedoc population and when this support tended to spread to all of France the Pope, Innocence III, sent a monk, Bernard of Clairveaux, to preach against the heretics. He saw, however, that their services and morals were far more Christian than those of his own corrupt Church. He also admitted that he could find no fault with the parfaits of the Cathars. They only practiced what they preached. This was not to the liking of the Pope and thus he implemented the crusade resulting in the massacre of Montsegur.
‘A common legend which had been retold for generations by the descendants of the Cathars, was told by a shepherd from Montsegur as late as 1929:
“When the walls of Montsegur were still intact, the Cathars, the pure ones, guarded the Holy Grail there. Montsegur was in danger. The armies of Lucifer lay in a circle around the walls. They wanted the Grail, so that they could mount it in the emperor’s tiara, from where it had fallen to the ground when the angels were banned from Heaven. When peril was at its highest a white dove descendde from Heaven and split the mountain in two with its beak. Esclarmonde, the female guardian of the Grail, threw the precious, holy treasure into the mountain. It then closed again. In this way the Grail was saved. When the devils forced their way into the fortress, they were too late. Filled with anger they burned all the pure ones at the foot of the cliffs under the fortress on the camp des cremate, on the field where where the state was built.”
More than 200 hundred Cathars, men, women and children, chose by their own free will to be burned at the stake. According to an oral tradition, they had promised to return after seven hundred years [pp. 39-40].’
In memoriam at Montsegur.
Ani Williams is world-renowned harpist and singer, and has recorded more than two-dozen albums of original sacred music based on ancient spiritual traditions.
The back side of the castle ruins where remnants of the Cathars living quarters and community gathering sites for work and living.
Folks honoring the Cathars at Montsegur with dance and song.
Then in the chill of fall and winds, it was time to head back down, imagining…trying…the 200 + Cathars holding hands and singing their hymns as the fires from the pyre burned below them and their wicked fate to a tortuous death.
R E X M U N D I
Evil forces always swirling about.
And then it was a short drive down narrow lanes to the Village de Montsegur to stay the night at La Maison Sous le Château. Sadness. The museum was closed. Next time. So wanted to visit.
J’adore the village of Montsegur, almost as much as Alet-les-Bains and Limoux.
Cathar crosses everywhere and history whispered in the winds.
Up the stairs to our private room and bath and a warm meal with local vegetables, soup, pain, and vin…
…at the foot of the Pyrenees.
You must stay with Fred and basque in his warmth and hospitality, his cooking (!), as well as his knowledge of the Occitanie region, the Cathars…and Mariam.
I wanted to linger longer in this ancient village in Southern France.
Can’t wait to return. Thanks be to Gaia.
You must read this book!
Car returned and ready for a very hot bath. Fall has landed in Languedoc.
…and then the day came to a close.
Awake until 3 am writing, so the day in Limoux started a little later. A wonderful local yogurt for mid-morning nourishment with a banana and Nutella. French press coffee first, though, of course.
Cooler today, lovin’ it because the heat will return later next week after weeks earlier in the summer of 102+ days. Pas bon. Don’t do heat well. Maybe those days will be at the River Aude with the radical ducks.
After streaming the tour on the cobbles stage, pavés, it was time for my adventure to find la gare, the train station. Very lost. Sometimes the station is open, sometimes not, and when I found it, it was not. Schedules seem to change around a bit, so back tomorrow.
I am thrilled to learn I can take the train to Alet-les-Baines, a village filled with ruins, including the old hotel and lemonade factory that sits along the river, once occupied by Nazi soldiers, now for sale and featured in the book The Heretic, by Allysha Lavino. It’s the first in a trilogy; want to read it again. SO good. Historical fiction fills pages about the sacred geometry of Languedoc, and the late Sir Henry Lincoln’s spirit. Miss you, Sir Henry.
I spent a couple of hours researching St. Martin of Tours, Mithraism and Zoroastrian divinity. So many aspects overlap with Christianity, evolved long before Christianity, like monotheism, messianism, free will, judgment after death, heaven/hell/angels, e.g., Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Northern Buddhism and Greek philosophy.
From Robin Wall Kimmerer:
‘Imagine if humans hadn’t become obsessed by burdens and honored Indigenous practices and beliefs, a democracy of species, NO POLITICAL LOYALTIES ARE REQUIRED. Just one question: Can we agree to be grateful for all that is given? Respect to all non-human relations?” (Note: humans being only one of the 8,000,000 species, not above or below, but ONE.) She continues, “When allegiance lies with winds and waters that know NO boundaries, that cannot be bought or sold.” Oh how I wish we could, and begin again.
From Allysha Lavino today:
Yes. Love serendipity.
Think of it, a ‘culture of gratitude.’
I saw five elders sitting together in a communal open space, under the trees, talking for hours. No ‘smart’ phones or agendas, only dialogue and warmth. Gosh we need more of this.
Reading this paragraph from the states today. One of the reasons I do not want to go back. This is from a witness at the shootings in Highland Park on July 4th. Her elderly father was injured and her 9-year-old had ducked for cover and safety.
I don’t see myself going to any crowded areas for the next—I don’t know, maybe not forever. And, you know, I don’t want to be afraid for the rest of my life. I don’t know how I’m going to feel in a few weeks, in a few years. I’m not saying I want to give in to the people who are doing all these terrible things. But how can I feel safe to go anywhere without wondering who’s got a gun in their hands and what they’re going to do?”
Being here is physically and mentally removed from the ugliness, violence, and greed, all known characteristics now of the United States of America. The whole world is watching.
After walking for hours, settled in the square for an aperitif.
A beer sounded so good, and, it was a very ‘good year.’ :)
Oh, one more thing to share today. Simplicity can not be overrated.
‘During our conversation, I commented how so many had discovered the marvellous area of the Languedoc and its people, thanks to him and his writings. This, I believe, is the true treasure and Henry Lincoln’s lasting legacy.’
Henry Lincoln: Co-author of book that inspired The Da Vinci Code
The controversial ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ pioneered an area of research that spawned countless other works in the alternative history genre
by Marcus Williamson
Henry Lincoln in 2001. Prior to his literary career, he wrote scripts for ‘Z Cars’ and for ‘Doctor Who’ (Alamy)
Sir Henry, has died at the age of 92. [1930-2022]
I will miss you, Henry. Our Templar. Thank you for Languedoc, and Saint-Salvayre. For Mary. J’adore.
Henry said to me in this sacred space, “This is a special place, I hope you realize that.” Indeed. Transformative and indelible experience, being within the Sacred Geometry.
‘Mary (Magdalene), it is your own heart that will be the adjudicator of this, in our present are we stand at a crossroads in our history.
From the Gospel of Mary Magdalene:
‘Be of good heart; and if you are discouraged, be encouraged in the presence of the diversity of the forms of nature. Those with ears let them hear. The child of humanity is within you.’
I had so hoped, and longed, to see you again and share in your wisdom, in our beloved Languedoc. Gentle travels, Sir Henry. My heart soars knowing you know. -dayle
“Oh bloody hum.” “Yay.” -Sir Henry ღ
Father Richard Rohr
Center for Action and Contemplation
Once we allow the entire universe to become that alive and dynamic, we are living in an enchanted world. Nothing is meaningless; nothing is able to be dismissed. It’s all whirling with the same beauty, the same radiance. In fact, if I had to name the Big Bang in my language, I’d call it the Great Radiance. About 13.8 billion years ago, the inner radiance of God started radiating into forms. All these billions of years later, we are the continuation of that radiance in our small segment of time on this Earth. We can either allow it and let the Infinite Flow flow through us, or we can deny it, which is really what it means not to believe.
This is not something I can prove to anyone. This is nothing I can make logical or rational. It’s only experiential, and it’s only known in the mystery of love when we surrender ourselves to it, when we grant the other inherent dignity and voice—the plant, the animal, the tree, the sky, Brother Sun and Sister Moon as my Father Francis of Assisi put it.
Beguines, the ‘world’s oldest women’s movement…’
Some historians believe they banded together after losing their men to the Crusades, which left behind mainly criminals and louts — beguines were not confined to the cloister. Many ministered to the poor and sick outside their walls. Lifelong celibacy was not required either. They could leave the order and marry (but not return).
Traces of these remarkable women and their idiosyncratic spiritual ways can be found today in the urban islands of quietness they once called home. Known as beguinages or begijnhofs, several dozen of these compounds are still intact (to varying degrees) from England to Germany. Ten years ago Unesco declared a select group as World Heritage Sites. No country has more beguinages (29) than Belgium, and a trip to inspect a few in three cities seemed like a pleasant way to spend a spring day, especially given the ease with which one moves by train in that convenient nation.
In its modesty, this beguinage is reminiscent of a poorly endowed college at Oxford. The bourgeois values of peace and tidiness govern all beguinages, elements that look forward to the airy clarity of the Enlightenment rather than back to the Gothic sublime of the Middle Ages.
These were “independent women who defined for themselves what it meant to live according to gospel values. Beguines were not nuns. They used their sources of income to purchase homes near the chapel or parish church where they gathered together for prayer. They emerged in the midst of a so-called first renaissance when European society was transforming itself from a narrowly defined structure of a great many peasants.
Several factors propelled this renaissance and supported the emergence of the beguines, including the Crusades and courtly culture, emerging cities and their fledging universities, a new money-based economy, the growth of lay spirituality and the cult of the Virgin Mary, as well as new monastic orders.
Additionally, there was a phenomenon called vita apostolic, which means the ‘apostolic life’ or ‘the life of an apostle.’ Beguines were a powerful expression of the vita apostolica.
Leading profound simplicity, beguines pooled their resources in order to serve the sick and destitute by building and operating infirmaries and almshouses.
- Hildegard of Bingen
- Marguerite d’Oingt
- Gertrude of Helfta
And many women became beguines as a result of their newfound literacy.
A heretic is a person who allegedly corrupts established faith doctrine, often by selecting a limited set of beliefs and denying the other parts of orthodox teaching.
It was a highly charged political environment in the medieval world.In a society strongly defined by each person’s specific place (such as belonging to the guilds or merchants, to aristocratic or religious classes or the the peasantry), beguines were violating their ‘God-assigned place’ in order to serve the gospel.
Beguines were under church investigation at different ties and in different parts of Europe for their spiritual independence.
While most beguines were quite orthodox, there were some religious laywomen who did join the Cathars, the Free Spirits, The Spiritual Franciscans, and other suspected heretical movements.
Most challenges of heresy, however, were politically motivated. When beguines challenged inept clergy, they made priests and bishops angry. When beguines condemned the red and corruption within the church, they made the church hierarchy angry. When beguines denounced the cruelty done to innocent laypeople through interdict, they made the popes angry. Beguine preaching would always make some men in power angry.
Beguines showed great strength and persistence and collaborated with fellow seekers, tolerated diversity, and raised difficult questions; they exercised both communal and personal wisdom and freedom to follow God as they felt called.
The story of the beguines affairs that women have contributed far more to spirituality and culture than history books have traditionally acknowledged. Their voices proclaim a divine presence that years for relationship with each of us.
These medieval women offer us hope and a fresh path: to think creatively, to collaborate to achieve change, and to live with prophetic courage.”
“A movement, rather than an order, there was no single style or pattern of beguine life.
While reacting against the wealth and ostentation of secular society, the beguines did not see poverty as an end in itself, rather they encouraged the development of the virtues of charity, humility and companionship.
Beguines worked in hospitals, visited the sick in their homes and established infirmaries.
As the church became increasingly paranoid concerning the presence of heterodox teachings, and brutal it its attempt to eradicate those it conceived of a threat, beguines, along with Jews, witches and various other sects, found themselves vulnerable and subject to frequent accusations of heresy, with often terrible consequences.”
The French mystic Marguerite Porete was burned at the stake in Paris in 1310, after a year and a half of imprisonment. Her crime was to repeatedly refuse to appear before the court of the inquisitorial commission to answer charges relating to her book, The Mirror of Simple Souls. During her trial, she refused to swear the oath required of her by the inquisitor’s office and she showed no remorse for having violated an injunction to withdraw her book from circulation after it had been publicly burned several years previously. Many who witnessed her execution were said to be moved to tears by her piety.
Little is known about Porete, apart from the record of her trial and what can be gleaned from her writings. It seems likely that she was associated with the beguines, a women’s religious movement which spread across northern Europe during the 13th and 14th centuries. Although the beguines devoted themselves to charity, chastity and good works, they took no religious vows and their lifestyles varied greatly, from solitary itinerants (of which Porete was probably one) to enclosed communities. The beguines were part of an era of vigorous spiritual flourishing during the Middle Ages. They were condemned by the Council of Vienne (1311-1312), which also condemned the Free Spirit Movement with which they were sometimes (and probably erroneously) identified. Although the beguine movement declined dramatically in the 15th century, some beguine communities survived until the early 20th century. The beguinage in Leuven in Belgium is a Unesco world heritage site, and to wander through its quiet cobbled roads and enclosed gardens is to feel a poignant sense of the lost history of women’s lives.
And this, by Allysha Lavino…recommend highly.
My review from 2020 for Amazon, Trust the Magic:
What did you see today?
What did you learn today?
What did you love today? (p.79)
Henry Lincoln chose to See, and now, Allysha has chosen to See with the eyes and wisdom of the Divine Feminine in The Heretic. Having both discovered their place in the universal pattern, Allysha invites us through beautiful and brilliant storytelling to find our own place through sacred geometry while meeting the Good People, the ancient Cathars, in Southern France. Reading The Heretic, I had the remarkable context of a Sacred Mystery Tour with Allysha and her husband, Mark, co-led by Sir Henry, to visit the sites revealed in the Languedoc region of Southern France. My hope is that if you’ve landed in this virtual space—”nothing is done par hazard” (p. xv)—either directed by the Divine Feminine or a passionate friend, you, too, will be called to physically explore the ruins and profound spiritual places Allysha excavates in the pages of The Heretic. If not, this book will be your experience. Allysha has magically captured through character and compassion the Wisdom resting beneath all things, the dualism of good and evil. During this time of pandemic and global social sadness, Allysha reminds us through her ancient research and inspired writing that suffering cannot destroy us, beauty is in everything, “though the world around us was filled with the shear chaos of the unknown” (p. 217). She gently encourages us in her story to “trust the magic,” as she gathers what Emily Dickinson called the fruits of the spirit: patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. It is Lily’s discoveries along with her young ethereal guides at the old hotel in Alet-les-Bains who encourage us to charge the awakening. I didn’t want this book to end—gratitude to Gaia it is a trilogy! Allysha, “thank you for your wisdom…your joy…your peace…your guidance…your strength…your love (pp. 265-266). As Henry writes in his Forward, “The world has been preparing Allysha for this task for years, unbeknownst to either of us.” Baphomet, friends…the path awaits.
Author Beatrice Bruteau [1930–2014]: “We need a new theology of the cosmos, one that is grounded in the best science of our day, so that all the world turns sacred again.”
‘The journey to becoming the hero of your own story isn’t easy … but it is a well-marked path.
There are certain signposts, trials, and tribulations every hero must undergo in the process of becoming. While Your Path will certainly be your own, there is a crucial first step to embarking on any quest.
ASK TO BE SHOWN THE WAY.
This might look like a prayer, a wish, a hope, a whisper, a willingness, a plea … It is a conscious pulling on one of the strings of the quantum web, so that the music of the Quest may begin.
“…it’s all part of the process. The Initiate has to set out on the quest without knowin’ where she’s goin’. It’s in all the stories … Along the way, there are clues and tests. The Initiate has to gain new awareness and use all her skills to survive and complete the quest.” ~THE HERETIC
The key to questing is that you don’t know where you’re going. It is all ways a journey into the UNKNOWN. That is how I know that we’re all on a Quest right now.
I may not know what the terrain ahead looks like, but I do have some experience with the process. No matter where we go, or what we may become, the spirit of the Quest is the same.
The possibility of initiation is being offered to each of us.
Will you ask to be shown the way?
It will take courage. You’ll have to choose in every moment. And you do not get to know the way. It is a step of trust … of courage … into the Unknown.
It may not be for the faint of heart …
But some of you are ready.
I can feel it.’
‘…remember, it just means to CHOOSE.’
“Wonder and amazement are as old as the Earth. Magic, myth, and merriment are our deep inheritance. As the world changes – we change – yet the beauty of this birthright shines ever-bright within and around us.
I’VE GOTTEN SPECIAL PERMISSION TO RELEASE ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHAPTERS of THE HERETIC to YOU!”
“Don’t worry — no spoilers! I just want to let you in on where the story begins … with a village priest in a hilltop hamlet called RENNES-LE-CHATEAU, and the CODED PARCHMENTS that would change Everything.
Whether you’re already a Heretic (remember it just means ABLE TO CHOOSE) who’s been waiting not-so-patiently for this book to be released
… or a Heretic-in-training who’s just learning about the limitless possibilities in store for you ~
I HOPE YOU’LL LOVE DIVING INTO THE ADVENTURE.”
“P.S. If you have any friends who are into ancient mysteries, spiritual transformation, codes & ciphers, or math & magic … make sure they get on our mailing list right away! www.AllyshaLavino.com/Join-the-Heretics
The Kickstarter Campaign launches January 14, 2020 with the first opportunity to pre-order THE HERETIC and other amazing offers, but the EARLY BIRD SPECIALS WON’T LAST LONG!”