I recently returned from a 2.5 week-trip to Southern France; a trip that seems to resemble a yearly pilgrimage—both within and without—to a sacred region of France that bore for a long time (and still does, obviously) so many mystical signs, imprints and landmarks: from ancient Mystical Schools, to Celtic influence, Roman infrastructure, medieval flourishing, and a rapidly-spreading Church of Amor supported by the Bons Hommes and the Bonnes Femmes (the good men and the good women); or Parfaits and Parfaites.
The main purpose of my trip was to attend a 7-day seminar (The Sacred Awakening of the Hidden Keys and Codes of Illumination: Languedoc, France http://www.judithkusel.com/blog/seminars-in-france/) led by Judith Kusel. The structure of the seminar was as follows:
3 days for Unit 1,
3 days of break and excursions, and
4 days for Unit 2.
Judith is the very person who did my soul reading 2.5 years ago and revealed to me my profound connection to the land of Montségur, along with a spicy pinch of “mission to pursue.” I have made some steady progress on the path of re-discovering, supported by the many ‘spiritual informants’ I since met along the way. My gratitude goes to all of them as I am diligently working on the puzzle of my spiritual life. In addition, Judith gave me an interesting piece of information, dating back to the second half of the 12th century, along with the advice to get to the land of France three days early. More on that specific piece as my story unfolds.
I had high expectations for this seminar, not so much in terms of knowledge, but in terms of spiritual communing with other souls—Ancient Ones, from what Judith had told us early. We were meant to gather at this time and every person who chose to make the trip was apparently led by her or his own soul. Where did my expectations come from, and what was I planning to unearth? I believe I still didn’t know as I wrote into my notebook on the first day, “What am I doing in this room?”
What I didn’t foresee were the learning conditions and the way the content was conveyed to us. We were sitting in theater style, with little prospect of direct interactions with our peers, except during breaks. Judith was sitting or standing behind a small table, lecturing to us as she followed her clearly delineated, information-filled PowerPoint presentation.
I quickly realized that this was not my favorite type of learning because I favor, since my ‘investment’ in The Art of Hosting a few years ago, a more egalitarian type of circle-gathering with so-called facilitators, as opposed to instructors. To make matters more challenging, the hardness and limited thickness of the chairs didn’t agree with my coccyx. It was difficult sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes. In a nutshell, hard on the body, and dry content in the mouth.
To spice things up a little more, the energy in the room didn’t feel quite supportive—for whatever spiritual or Divine reason. I am not gifted at feeling or sensing energies, either from people or in a specific locale, but this time it was so incredibly palpable.
What surprised me the most is that the energy felt exactly the same after our three-day break. None of these ‘vying energies’ had subsided. What was going on?
In fact, the second day of Unit 2 felt very climax-driven—read towards the bottom of the pit. We listened to a long mediation that morning, one that I couldn’t connect with, and I decided to leave the room to get a breath of fresh air.
I forgot to mention that I was also struggling with hearing difficulties, despite some recently-repaired hearing aids; and switching from reading glasses to capture my notes and no glasses to read the slides had an irritating effect on me.
Why were learning conditions so challenging? I knew there was a message for me in that personal ordeal and my thoughts, after some careful examination, led me to believe it had something to do with what I would call “self-leadership.” Taking initiative for my own actions, walking my talk, and not relying on someone else for something, knowledge, skills or spiritual information, which lies deep down within me.
As I discussed this situation with my friend Altair, he clearly advised me to ‘dissolve’ as I entered the seminar room and get reborn into a pure state of mind and a refreshed state of heart. Easier said than done, given the conditions.
And yet, suddenly, out of the morning blue, things turn around during the third day of Unit 2; the last day we would spend indoor, within the walls of this beautiful chateau des Ducs de Joyeuse.
That day was September 1st which happens to be, according to the French Roman catholic calendar, the feast day of St. Gilles. Several people wished me a happy ‘feast day,’ taking me by surprise because I haven’t spent September 1st in France for a good 20 years.
St. Gilles and the Hind
The atmosphere in the room had changed greatly and the topic at hand was no longer information-filled. Judith lectured that morning about Love and its various manifestations. Finally, the dense forest I was in had cleared into a clairière (prairie, or open space). What a blessing!
In addition, to add a nice layer of cream on the cake, we ended up the day in a circle, sharing our experience of the past few days. Feeling true to myself, I jumped at the occasion and shared my initial frustration, dealing with the energies, as well as the clearing and lifting up I had felt that day.
I also rectified what needed to be rectified: my contribution to humanity in terms of self-leadership. The Friday prior, at the end of Unit 1, I didn’t hear the question (what is your contribution to humanity?) that was asked of us as we closed the first three days and gathered in a circle. Instead, lost into my own down-the-pit adventure, I shared what I collected in the garden over the lunch break: rosemary and the significance I attributed to it: Rose Mary.
What I just shared concerns the factual, or material part of my journeying to Southern France to attend Judith’s seminar. There was, to corroborate the experience, a spiritual filigree as well. It was, in hindsight, a stop we (a family of friends from Sweden and I) made in the small touristy town of Mirepoix. We were not meant to take that route and yet it seemed something, someone was leading me to the church at the end of the town square. Even restaurant owners, when asked about the possibility of using their bathrooms without consumption, pointed out to that church. Divine guidance.
What caught my attention in that beautiful church is the presence of a labyrinth; not on the ground, not a walkable one, but a framed one as the picture below shows. I had never seen such a representation of a labyrinth, and the path appeared to be made of little white stones, glued together, forming a real labyrinth.
I was led to this labyrinth in Mirepoix during the 3-day break between Unit 1 and 2. This spiritual tool to access deeper levels of consciousness started to take on more significance as the seminar progressed. I started seeing the analogy with my own walking. Were the first five days a test of Purgation (name of the first phase as we walk toward the center of the labyrinth)? And did I experience some form of Enlightenment on September 1st (day 6) as it seemed I could finally see the Light.
And what Union (the phase walking back out into the world) would mean to me?
Day 7, the last day of the seminar, would provide me with some clarity and a wonderful answer in the form of a message from within. We spent the day outdoor, at a gorgeous site down the southern hills of Rennes-le-Chateau. A retreat center called Les Labadous.
I didn’t connect to the meditation we did on the plateau that morning. I wanted to remain hearing aid-free, and that had its disadvantages. Judith’s words got carried away in the wind, blessed that we were with hardened cow dung. An eagle made its way around us in the sky, as if signaling something meaningful or auspicious to our group. It was a peaceful, love-filled morning and yet, I spent most of it in my mind. What happened to that desire to commune with the rest of the group?
Things changed a bit as we headed back to the compound, about ¾ of a mile away. Lunch awaited us and there was ample time for rest and relaxation, in this soothing environment. We then gathered for the final sharing, in a circle, in the Arcadia Room. This is when the message (I had been unknowingly waiting for a long time) came up – clear and crisp.
“It is time to shine your Light, Gilles, bright and clear.”
Along with it, mesmerized by the beauty of the natural environment, came the inner desire to initiate a gathering at this very site during the following spring. A gathering whose framework would match the path of the labyrinth: a phase of Purgation (3 days), one of Enlightenment (out in nature for 2 days), and a final one of Union (3 days).
I received a remarkable confirmation of this inner message the next day as I attended a Catholic wedding in the Paris area. Friends of mine were marrying their daughter. The bride and groom had made a selection of texts for the service.
One of them was an excerpt from the Gospel of Matthew, 5: 13-16, which I would like to present in both French and English.
Comme les disciples étaient rassemblés autour de Jésus, sur la montagne, il leur disait :
« Vous êtes le sel de la terre. Si le sel se dénature, comment redeviendra-t-il du sel ?
Il n’est plus bon à rien : on le jette dehors et les gens le piétinent.
Vous êtes la lumière du monde. Une ville située sur une montagne ne peut être cachée. Et l’on n’allume pas une lampe pour la mettre sous le boisseau ; on la met sur le lampadaire, et elle brille pour tous ceux qui sont dans la maison.
De même, que votre lumière brille devant les êtres humains ; alors, en voyant ce que vous faites de bien, ils rendront gloire à votre Père qui est aux cieux. »
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the Light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.
15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
16 In the same way, let your Light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
I was home, so to speak. No other confirmation was needed. Only action.
This message, and all what had happened until it was delivered, informed my Thursday evening virtual gatherings. From alluding to the Labyrinth to the journey within to the need to shine my Light bright and clear.
Our September 1st gathering was entitled, ‘Walking the labyrinth of Life.’
There are two other excursions that I would like to report; they both occurred before the onset of the seminar.
Judith had told that she had a vision of me going up a mountain in Montségur, wearing a brown tunic, and accompanied by a woman with long dark hair. I was carrying a satchel with two scrolls in it, and buried it somewhere. It was my mission to recover these scrolls.
The information was confirmed by two of my ‘spiritual informants.’ One even gave me a timeframe as to when this occurred: between the years 1160 and 1177. This person asked me to visualize the scrolls and asked that “what belonged to me be returned to me.”
It is with that mindset that I visited Montségur, staying in fact in the village under the pog for three nights. My first attempt at climbing the mountain was definitely a humid and a jetlagged one. I made it to the top, my feet wet, and couldn’t find anything around.
For my second attempt, on August 23rd, I decided to get up early and enjoy the sunrise over the top of the mountain. I was equipped with some tools; a trowel, a pair of gardener’s gloves, a flashlight and some sage I wanted to burn within the castle’s walls. The sun was supposed to appear at 7:08 and I started my climb at 6:30. On the way up, even before I got out of the wooded area, a message came through—from within:
‘The material is not as important as the spiritual.’
Did it have anything to do with the mission I saw myself embarking on? Perhaps.
The fact is that I didn’t find any scrolls ‘up there,’ although, admittedly, I still looked into a hole in the dungeon with my flashlight. And still burned some sage in and around the castle. Needless to say, the experience witnessing the appearance and rise of the sun was grand and unforgettable, illuminating. An orb seemed to usher the sun, like a guide or a protector.
Another excursion that left a taste of ‘inachevé’ (un-completed) in my mouth is the trip I took with my friend Magali to the town of Opoul-Périllos, a couple miles away from the Mediterranean. Right before flying to France, I had finished reading a thick book by Danish author Lars Muhl entitled, The O Manuscript. It is an account of the author’s spiritual journey over a period of 10 years or so, summed up in three parts: The Seer; the Magdalene and the Grail. Toward the end of the book, both the author and the heroine of the moment, Ish-a-tar, find themselves in a place called Salveterre; Lars Muhl in the 21st century and Ish-a-tar in the 1st one. Salveterre is a monastery where Mary Magdalene is said to have lived, and it was Ish-a-tar’s goal to meet with her and receive guidance.
Magali and I were on a similar pilgrimage, knowing Salveterre (or what is left of the buildings) is located right above the village of Opoul. Périllos lies four or five miles beyond Salveterre, in a desert-like area, and has been attached to Opoul after its last inhabitants left at the end of the Second World War.
There are three chapels in or near Périllos. One is dedicated to St. Michael, another one to Ste. Barbe, and the last one to Ste. Katarina. Here is what Lars Muhl writes (on page 511) about the village of Périllos and the main chapel (the one dedicated to St. Michael).
There are those who think that Périllos fits into the legend of the Grail. In one of the oldest stories of the Grail, Perlesvaux, it is said that the one who is seeking the Grail ought to visit the “Chapel of Périllos.” The Knight of the Grail is the “Chosen One” or “Christ,” who places himself in the empty seat, the Seat Perilous, at the Round Table of King Arthur. When we consider that the legend of the Grail originates in the mystical figure of Kyot, who apparently lived in Narbonne, it is perhaps not so very strange that we are also talking about the area of Périllos.
Unfortunately, the “Chapel of Périllos” was closed. It is open to the public one day a year, on Pentecost Monday. And our request to get the key at the city hall of Opoul was turned down.
I would like to close with one insight I gathered during the seminar—one that shone in the midst of all the knowledge and energy we were blessed with.
Judith taught about the civilization of Lemuria during Unit 1 and mentioned that all souls on Lemuria were androgynous. Somehow, this piece of information rang true to me, dearly and deeply. At the same time, I thought about an informant friend of mine who had mentioned Lemuria to me earlier this year. I contacted this person and, mystically, she had felt my energy calling.
Old souls reuniting?
Yes, most likely; and for what purpose?