Dear Reader, thank you for visiting. This blog is a continuation of my story about journeys and experiences in France. The story has taken longer to write about than the actual time in France! This is because the story is actually woven into a very large part of my life and is evidence of how spirituality and awareness unfolds and expands in the living mystery school we call life … you can find all the parts on the France Pilgrimages menu tab.
Peter and I had taken a long journey in many senses of the word to get here. There was a sense of home-coming and some relief at reaching Rennes-Les-Bains. We both had our own as well as shared memories and I think we were feeling the sense of the great wheel turning on being back here. For me it was bitter-sweet to be back here with the memories of exactly 3 years ago in 2014. So much of my life experiences are connected to this place; it seems that Rennes-Les-Bains is somehow acting like a pivot around which much has turned. We arrived mid evening and found our accommodation to be quite basic, or even a little grim in fact. It’s a small village and there seems to be a dearth of nice self-catering places to stay but never mind, it was in a great location only steps away from the main square and frankly, it was enough just to be here.
Rennes-les-Bains is of course deep in the well-known mystery that surrounds the area and the village of Rennes-les-Château. For me though the area now is much more about the deeper mystery of the eternal feminine.
We had booked 3 nights here and were looking forward to relaxing, travelling little and allowing things to organically unfold. I had a mystery to follow; that of discovering the source of the salty River Sals which runs through the area. This river is where Magdalene was said to carry out baptisms, in the Fontaine d’amour (and you can see my photos from the 2014 retreat in the first part of this blog series). The subject of salt, and source, had come intuitively to me during the inner instruction I received about re-visiting France again in 2017. Though it was a rather sparse, vague intimation, I knew immediately that it was a deep and significant intimidation of many layers and felt too it was connected with the River Sals.
I knew that the reference to salt was also about the alchemy and metaphysical subject of salt and I have carried out a good deal of research and searching on this and at the same time I am aware that it is often better to leave aside looking into what others have written or discovered about salt as this does create preconception. I know that direct experiential insight, ‘knowing’ is in fact a far more powerful experience and learning for me than any research I might have done. The reference to salt was not new to me either as on and off for some years now I had pondered on salt and the deeper meanings/function of it for some years. In particular this quote from the bible was something that I kept on coming across:
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again?”
Since I first became aware of the quote I wondered about it and it now rings so true for me for I know I lost much of my flavour over the past few years and this trip was working to restore it in a multi-dimensional way.
This more recent salt/source intimation was somewhat ‘validated’ during a conversation I had with an acquaintance who guides people around the area and appeared to have made a similar connection. My agenda for Rennes-Les-Bains therefore was to find the source of the Sals!
A Magical Meeting
The next day was another beautiful sunny day and after a lazy morning we headed to the square. We ordered a pizza and beer and reminisced about the extraordinary coincidences of 2014 dining there with Taj and each spotting an acquaintance we knew, who were actually dining together!
We were also chatting about the source of the Sals and doing some internet searching on the topic. I had just been talking to Peter about a friend Marie, whose house we almost stayed in 3 years ago, might know the location as her house was in Sougraine, the village just beyond Rennes and where the river would be sourced above. Though she no longer lived in the area I was about to message her and at that moment my attention was drawn to the sound of a car door shutting and I watched as a lovely woman jauntily moved down the street and into the square. Now I had only met Marie the once, but this looked very like her. I just stared as she passed, incredulous and yet not believing it could be her – I meant here are coincidences and synchronicities but really? Anyway, she passed me by without recognition and went into a house in the square…I sent the text anyway.
Five minutes later, as I was watching the house in the corner she emerged without her sunglasses, I had also removed mine. There was no doubt now that it was Marie! As it usual in these serendipitous moments we were both delighted and somewhat awestruck, even slightly overwhelmed at the odds of it happening and we had a sweet, tearful reunion. She was only here for another hour and had been visiting her daughter in another village and popped into Rennes to see an old friend. Marie now lived in Berlin and had an hour before leaving to catch her flight back.
Though she had no clue about the source of the river Sals, both Peter and I had at the moment Marie came over, simultaneously found the same site on the internet which gave precise directions to the source. Marie’s surname sounds like river (I won’t give the actual spelling to protect her identity) and of course, her first name is Mary.
All this is what I nowadays refer to ‘resonance’ happening – I used to think of it as synchronicity until an experience a few years ago changed the way I interpret reality and I began to move from seeing events as cause and effect to seeing reality created through sympathetic vibrational resonance. (See this blog for more on resonance) When things/events became so inter-linked that I couldn’t make sense anymore about how such unlikely things could be happening, I had to find another explanation, as cause and effect were simply too limited to explain the reality I was experiencing. Once I began to see events through the eyes of resonance, it became a lot easier to understand how even the most outrageous of synchronicities and coincidences happen, and to some extent, it removed a large part of the mystery, some might say magic, of such experience. This is only part of the case as along with understanding of how we create reality comes peace. However there is no doubt that the ‘entertainment’ value of synchronicities, the fascination in them, starts to diminish once you see how resonance works in the creation of reality.
It is true that the whole of the France trip itself including the planning and aftermath was an experience of resonance at work and this worked like a spiral, gradually becoming more obvious and powerful as we reached the centre, which was Rennes-les-Bains in 2017 just as it was for me in 2014. When I’m there it feels like I am in the centre point of a gravitational pull where the veil is so thin, where there is no time between cause and effect and simple imagining can makes things happen almost instantaneously.
Here in the Languedoc we knew we were at the centre; the deepest, most southerly part of our journey geographically, literally and emotionally. Our activities here were to be deep in nature, springs, mountains, rivers, cave…deep earthly experiences and deep in body, relaxing, massage, resting. We had all in all 5 days in the south after which it was our turn around to head north and east. Right now though we were heading in the beautiful sunshine out on a short journey to Sougraine area to find the salty source which we were happy to discover was very easy to find thanks to the blog. (There’s some great information on the salty source on this blog.)
The Salty Source
Like the blog authors we left the car at the bottom and hoofed it up; it was a lovely walk up beside the river through mountain pasture and I was grateful for the shade of the trees as it was still pretty hot plus I was tired from the journey and lack of sleeping well. We reached a car parking area and found a track up through the woods which opened out onto the clearing and here was the salty source which bubbles up from the ground. All my fatigue instantly vanished and I felt renewed just being here; I felt such joy, peace and comfort being here. I had a lightness of spirit and soul and I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay overnight, to camp out under the stars, and I wanted to bring others here to, just to simply be and soak up the energy of the place.
“Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other” (Mark 9:50b)
This is a quote I just found in the bible (honestly, I hardly know the bible yet it is proving a very interesting source of meaningful and appropriate salty quotes, not to mention giving me some new and deeper interpretations to chew upon.)
We had fun there, like children exploring. We tasted the water and were so astonished at how incredibly salty it was! Apparently at times it can be twice as salty as the Mediterranean and I can easily believe that. We marvelled at how green the algae in the salty water was – how did it manage to grown in such a saline environment? We scrambled up to the source itself, bubbling magically out of the ground through rocks, coming down from Mt Bugarach (which is in itself known as a mysterious, sacred mountain.) A couple of tourists arrived and we had a brief and pleasant conversation with the older lady marvelling at the saltiness; I could tell she was similarly affected by the place. I bathed my feet in the super cold source and we explored the little huts where peasants evaporated water to obtain salt for selling…salt for sale (see how the words are connected here…) Sel-cell-salt-sell-self-sel(scot’s for self)-sale (Italian for salt) sel (French).
In the months after France I have continued to meditate and research on salt and my understanding is expanding on this vast topic – I am now more interested and fascinated than ever to discover how incredibly significant this humble compound is no matter which level of interest is looked at. Today I came across the term ‘A Covenant of Salt’ which is found in the Old Testament 3 times. As I said, I am by no means a scholar on the bible, however over the years ‘knowings’ which have come to me are often to be found in the bible and I have learned that the truth is not restricted to one place or another, nor one book or another, but in a ‘both and’ way and not in an ‘either or’ manner.
A Covenant of Salt is an eternal covenant; one which cannot be broken. This I sense refers not only to an agreement between people, and between people and God, but on a much deeper level, this is an agreement between us and our Source. Are we are a compound that cannot be unmade? Salt of the earth =truthful and with integrity. These are not just fanciful descriptions – they are facts of existence, and there is no choice in the matter – they are so. The attributes are not separate from the substance, so the substance must be that too.
The Weather Turns
The next day autumn arrived early to the South of France. The weather was cooler but fine for a morning walk around the village to the red spring/source and Seat of Isis – I’ve little to report on that as it’s another well-known power point that I feel very little at and I went there to see if that had changed much, but it hadn’t and though I felt a deep sense of calm in the chair there isn’t much else to share. By afternoon it was raining with unusually cool temperatures of 15C. The weather stayed wet and cold like this for the next day too and we took the opportunity to rest a lot, sleep late, read, talk, cook for ourselves nourishing meals and importantly, give massages. I’ve mentioned previously that the giving of touch in the form of massage was an important aspect of this trip – though I’ve been in favour of touch and massage for many years now (including doing tantra massage professionally for 9 years) it wasn’t until this trip that I truly, deeply realised just how much it helps in the integration process, and this is of course especially if you’re the type who is in their head a lot, analysing and intellectualising the spiritual initiation and journeys of consciousness. I remember when Deborah Anapol and I were planning the first retreat to France that she said the Gnostic initiates were constantly massaged during certain initiations and this struck me at the time as being accurate and very interesting. I’ve since tried to find confirmation of this unsuccessfully.
Ussat-les-Bains – 2 nights
We were supposed to have a guided tour of the Cathar caves of initiation (the same caves I’ve still to write about the first experience in 2014) but our guide had to cancel at the last minute, this wasn’t so much disappointing as a little surprising as we’d only just spoken with him a some days previously to arrange it, plus we discovered our accommodation was only 2 houses away from where he was, so it all seemed to be aligned nicely. However it wasn’t to be and we decided we would try and find the caves ourselves, which we did and spent some time in the dark inside the complex of 7 caverns. We just stayed at the entrance to it and I confess I was afraid to go into a complex not knowing if I would get lost. Peter however had no such fear and next time he said he would go through the complex. Even that gives me cause for fear and I’d probably be worried about him not coming back out!! We then found the Bethlehem cave which is the cave of final initiation of the Cathar initiates. This is the cave that has the pentagram carved into the wall where in 2014 I got up into it but this time I was less fit and didn’t try it. Peter did very ably though and then later on he gave me more massage – what a guy.
Situated in the Ariège River valley, Ussat-les-Bains, like Rennes-les-Bains, is also a thermal spa well known for its rich mineral water with curative properties. There’s another village joined to it called Ornaloc and the commune is referred to as Ornolac-Ussat-les-Bains.
So the theme of water, springs, salt, mineral water, rivers, caves, nature was evident here too.
From Ussat we headed west via Montsegur Castle which we only looked at from the road. We then headed to Nebias and spent a good couple of hours in the breathtakingly beautiful and mystical Labyrinthe Verte . Once again I had bitter-sweet memories as the previous time I’d been here was with my now ex-husband whilst staying at Monsegur however the beautiful sunny day, the company, both human and nature spirits, worked magic upon me and my mood lifted quickly. This place is deepest green nature, thick with nature spirits. It wasn’t until we were leaving that we realised that we’d gone through three distinctive levels or zones at this place, both physically and energetically. This mirrored our overall trip and also that of entering a cathedral building – through the entrance vestibule, then the nave and then the apse/altar. Some may also notice this is also echoing that of the triple goddess, with maiden, mother and crone. Or Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene and Black Madonna/Virgin. For me this trinity ‘pattern’ was to come to life even more vividly during my final massage with Peter after we returned to his home in Paris.
Heading North and West
North east onto Sete that evening to stay with a dear friend of Peter’s for 2 nights. I’d thought about visiting Beziers or somewhere else but in Sete we had lovely weather gain and I was feeling I’d had quite enough of Cathar and deeply emotional/spiritual experiences! Instead we had delightful meals out and explored the town with Peter’s friend. I really appreciate the opportunity to have such amazing changes in scene and content – the variety is a balm to my soul.
From Sete we headed a little north to Saint Maries de la Mer where we had lunch and visited the chapel. I had a profound experience which started on the beach as we arrived, remembrances of incredibly happy times though I’d not been there in this lifetime. I was highly energised. The chapel felt like home to me – I remembered it and the feeling of being there was deeply nurturing. I walked up the aisle like I owned it – so interesting to get that sense of complete and utter ‘rightness of being’. It is built on an underground spring which is visible from the chapel but not accessible, said to be the reason Mary Magdalene chose the spot to make home in. Yet another spring/source and by the time I had got this far, the theme of water, springs, source, salt was evident though not the meaning. There is also the famous salt – Fleur de Sel de Camargue from the area which is associated to Mary Magdalene by the pilgrims and seekers who come to this place.
The energy/area of the Camargue is incredible and I find it hard to describe it – it definitely reminded me of Corsica, and there is indeed something very different about it, as if it were another country almost. Certainly it evoked or awakened cellular memory for me and touched me profoundly. I can feel it now in my body as I tune into the area as I write about it.
Our next stop was Aix en Province – this was unscheduled until we got to Rocamadour when Peter received a call from a lady connected to his friend in Sete; she was asking him about tantra massages for herself and a friend. Why not call in after Sete then? They were delighted and so she hosted us overnight in her beautiful home in Aix-en-Province.
From Aix we headed north with an overnight stay in Vienne which is a town I felt resistance to once I was there, especially in the cathedral, though it was probably Peter’s favourite cathedral. Next day we head back to Paris which was a long drive and it was very good to get back home to Peter’s apartment.
I’d like to finish here and leave the last part for another day because what happened to me during a final massage from Peter was one of the most extraordinary revelations of my life and gave me knowing (gnosis) on the nature of reality, religion, the Virgin Mary, Mary Magdalene, the Black Madonna and Nature herself.
If you’d like to see more pics of the trip: https://photos.app.goo.gl/19PiPuhU3U2w3BM43