Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

Rennes-le-Château and Rennes-les-Bains

GUEST POST - Montségur from Rennes-le-Château

Bruce Marsh lives in Canada and visits our region whenever he can.   Another trip is due!
  I see my experiences in the Languedoc as a multi-faceted crystal, with images and experiences changing as the light changes.  There were endless doors to open. For many people Rennes-le-Château begins and ends with the mystery of Bérenger Saunière and the controversy surrounding a treasure that he is said to have found hidden in his church.  This too is where my journey began.  
    I heard about the village through a video game that referenced a series of historical enigmas, mysteries with roots spanning from Scotland to the deepest south of France. The game itself was short lived and eventually discarded, but I found my mind frequently wandering to Rennes-le-Château, prompted by a fascination with the esoteric and its endless supply of secret societies, cryptic messages, and mysteries declared both solved and unsolved.  I had discovered a topic that had consumed many a theologian and historian over the years, and the puzzle was appealing.
     As my family grew,  I found myself in academic situations where religious differences needed to be addressed and I started the long process of trying to reconcile the belief systems of many mainstream and less-mainstream religions.  
    With my mind full of historical and theological facts I quickly discovered that the facts mattered little to my audience.  Faith gives way to logic and logic gives way to faith, in equal measures ideally; but not in my own experience.  I found myself thinking about a new way of life, a land and soil upon which I had never set foot, and a people I had never met.  
    The mystery broadened as my readings about the Templars, Saunière, Mary Magdalene and secret knowledge wandered outside Rennes-le-Château and into the surrounding lands.  With the family mostly grown by now, my wife Gina and I decided to look inward and ask ourselves what we truly wanted.  We set out on separate journeys, one on her path to Scotland and Rosslyn Chapel, the other led to Puivert near Rennes-le-Château, the different lands calling out to each of us in unique ways and for not entirely different reasons.  
    By now the puzzle that I had been looking to understand at Rennes-le-Château had changed considerably, from an historical to a  spiritual interest.  What was once a puzzle waiting to be solved had become a quest to confirm something yet to be determined, and something to do with the land surrounding Rennes-le-Château, and the people that resided there, the Cathars.  With the unknown in mind, I booked a trip to Rennes-le-Château via Puivert, with no agenda other than to simply show up.  
    Before I left, I read as much about the Cathar people as I could digest in the short period of time.  I read the Gnostic scriptures, the views on the life and death of Mary Magdalene, the final days of the Château de Montségur with horrifying accounts of barbarity delivered in the name of God by the Roman Catholic Church, then the rites of love communicated through song by troubadours in the courts of love, and the presence of the Divine Feminine in her many forms throughout the Languedoc.
    I felt entirely connected and it welled up inside me.
    The violence blessed by Pope Innocent III was unimaginable, and I felt the flames.  The Cathar’s love for each other was immense, and I felt welcomed.  Their spiritual practices seemed natural and logical. I found their belief system to be very close to the ideals I had arrived at, without prior knowledge of the Cathar people, through my theological studies, and that raised more questions. Why had the persecution of the Cathars resonated so clearly with me?  
    During meditation I searched, with thoughts and images revealing themselves in increasingly relevant ways.  The door from Rennes-le-Château had opened and the Cather people had now entered. It seemed as if distant memories were being reborn or confirmed as the Rennes-le-Château puzzle took on a different form and direction.  
    It was suddenly clear; I was about to experience these places in person, enjoying their beauty, feeling their energy, and  I wondered with as much honesty possible, if it was not for the first time.  I was excited, in a way I’d never experienced before.  How does one explain the feeling of going home to place never visited?  My feelings were as irrational as the religions I had spent so much time researching.  
    Past lives - I had accepted the concept.  I found myself feeling and thinking about love, but in a different way. The romantic ideals held so high in the modern world seemed hollow as I read about ancient initiation rites and the harnessing of sexual energy through meditation and other practices.  I read further about the links between sex and religion throughout history and how these natural practices had been suppressed.  Love became all important, and not the clichéd love seen in movies and romance novels, but love in the sense of the deepest fulfillment of desires through the natural outpouring and sensing of love’s energy.  This was to be part of the Languedoc discovery.  I was to experience the Divine Feminine, be it in the form of Mary Magdalene or otherwise.
 Chateau Puivert.JPG 

Puivert, the castle of the troubadours
   My journey began with my arrival at Ammarosa in Puivert village where I was greeted by my hosts Anaiya Sophia and Luc Tibor Erdos, and we talked into the evening about so many of the topics I’ve  mentioned. I told them my plans essentially consisted of no agenda whatsoever other than to take the time to understand what I was feeling.  I would wake with the morning sun and let the winds take me where they willed.
    My days at Ammarosa began early each day with kundalini yoga.   It was a new experience, combining meditation with focussed exercise, and I found myself simply wanting to breathe the air, as if the occasion to do so had been missed and long overdue!   
    It was spring and the blossoms were fresh in the morning mist. I spent the next week either exploring with Anaiya and Tibor, travelling on my own to interesting places or just wandering, open to where I might end up.  This is the joy of travelling alone, as anything is possible with no agenda and the smallest details can be enjoyed with no justification.  This journey was more about personal discovery than historical tourism.   
    Spiritual events did occur as I had hoped, but not where expected.  Rennes-le-Château was beautiful and didn’t disappoint, the most notable feelings being found by watching others react to the church, some sobbing, others sitting quietly, and others curiously studying the details so well documented elsewhere.   I found myself wanting to be outside on the grounds, with its panoramic view of the land, revealing its treasures, the breeze from beside the Tour Magdala providing a warm embrace.  
    The presence of the Divine feminine is strong in the Languedoc, and Mary Magdalene’s presence is strong in Rennes-le-Chateau.
     Rennes-le-Château was emotionally warming and communicated feelings of love, but it wasn’t until I approached Monségur that the truly unusual occurred. I was approaching the “pog” with its castle.  I became extremely emotional, hearing multiple voices reaching out to me in a strange mix of sorrow, and shame. I felt as if I was hearing the cries of the oppressors, those delivering judgement, and feeling the shame of their actions, while also hearing the forgiveness of the persecuted.  There was no fear and no joy felt in this experience, just an incredible heaviness, and when I reached the base of the pog, I felt weak as if I was carrying much more than myself.  I have no explanation for what I felt other than being a lightning rod for the emotions of the participants on all sides of the horrors that occurred there 770 years ago to the day, my mind providing some sort of confessional altar for the dead. I climbed the 1500m to the top of the pog and spent many hours meditating and walking the still snow which covered remains of Cathar settlements.  A truly significant experience given the intensity of what I was feeling.  
   Later this feeling was repeated, but without the voices, at the Cathédrale Saint-Maurice de Mirepoix, with a specific location behind the nave causing me to nearly collapse in sorrow and tears, to the point where I needed to leave the cathedral just to breathe.  There too I spent countless hours alone, looking at the artwork and reading the names of those lost in war, many bearing my family name.  The sceptic in me repeated this event several times over the next weeks, with a similar effect at the same location each time.  My understanding is that horrific events occurred in that cathedral.  I have no logical or rational explanation for these occurrences in either Monsegur of Mirepoix.  
    I travelled from town to town meeting locals and enjoying another way of life.  Hours were spent in medieval squares sipping beers, smoking hand rolled cigarettes, and watching.   On my more rural outings I was accompanied by Scarlett Amaris who provided her wealth of esoteric knowledge, typically filling in the blanks as I wondered about the history and lore of the region.  I understand now why people can spend a lifetime there is still have so many unanswered questions.  Chalabre was also a favorite destination, and specifically Yobaba Lounge, one of the most amazing homes I have ever experienced, with an equally charming hostess, Gertrud Mayer.         
    My journey was to understand my connection to the land, clarified somewhat through my experiences at Monsegur and Mirepoix.  My need to enjoy the land and breathe the air was satisfied in my wanderings through small towns and Cathar castles with Anaiya, Tibor, and Scarlett, as well as on my own through the back roads, never really sure of where I’d end up.  But there was another aspect to my journey to be addressed and I was reminded of it every morning in my view from Ammarosa as I gazed at the courts of love, Chateau de Puivert.  I saw music, dancing, and romance and I missed my wife of so many years.  The Languedoc had been almost too much to contain alone.
    I called my wife simply saying “Baby, you need to be here.”   
    Within 24 hours we had a romantic embrace at the Toulouse airport, and we set out to the Languedoc together, this time with me as the guide, re-visiting many of the places while discovering new and intimate ones.  This was romance in the truest of ways, our passion for each other growing more than we imagined possible. I showed her my home, and quite possibly, our future.  It was a demonstration of the power of love’s energy magnified by what I saw as the blue light of love.  This was our love as we had never known before and it filled us both to the brim.

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