Gaye Mack’s Blog

THE LEGEND OF A CATHAR TREASURE LIVES ON 800 YEARS LATER

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Writer's Work Leave a comment

Even though it’s been nearly 800 years since the massive fire at Montségur when over 200 Cathars were exterminated at the hands of the Catholic Church, legends surrounding the Cathar Treasure remain. Through the years treasure seekers and speculators have included the holy crusaders who put siege to Montségur’s fortress for nine months prior to the 1244 fire, the 1930’s amateur archaeologist, Otto Rahn (speculated to have provided the inspiration for Spielberg’s Indiana Jones), literary Illuminati, esoteric explorers and even historical fiction writers. Many have searched– all have wondered.

In prior posts concerning this medieval religious sect, I noted their propensity for eschewing trappings of the mundane world. This rejection was based on their belief that the physical world and their incarnation in it was not a creation of God but rather a creation of Satan. In adopting this belief, the dedicated Cathars, known as Parfaits (or perfecti), not only rejected the idea of procreation, they did not partake in the consumption of any food which was a result of procreation. As material acquisitions for their own needs were kept to a bare minimum, it begs the question, how did the legend of a Cathar Treasure arise?

Among the various authoritative resources on the Cathars, author Zoe Oldenburg, tells us that by the end of the twelfth century, the Cathar movement of the Languedoc had amassed a considerable fortune. To begin with, the majority of Parfaits were men of substance who turned over their property to the church. In addition, there were also credentes, ‘rank and file’ members, who left legacies of their entire fortunes to the church. While the Parfaits never broke their vow of poverty according to Oldenburg, they accepted all donations which were then used to provide support to the poor and those in need in the cities and surrounding countryside. They also maintained communes which incorporated schools, monasteries and hospitals. 

While such amassing of property and goods certainly would be considered a ‘treasure,’ references to ‘The Cathar Treasure’ often imply it was something of far more importance including the Holy Grail… which of course has never been found. Speculative circumstances surrounding the Treasure’s disappearance vary.  One version tells of three Parfaits and another man, possibly a mountain guide, escaping the flames on the early morning of March 16 by repelling down the side of Montségur’s pog with the Treasure. 

Oldenburg surmises that the Cathar cache consisted of goods for trading as well as gold and silver coins.  This certainly makes sense given the atmosphere of persecution and brutality of the times. However, perhaps even more precious to the Cathars was that for them, the Treasure consisted of their most sacred books and writings which were critical in helping maintain allegiance to their dogma and tradition. This possibility makes even more sense as literature in the early middle ages onward, was considered as precious as gold in many cases. Whatever the truth is, to this day the location and substance of the Cathars’ Treasure remains a mystery. However, legends and myths die hard and certainly this one has much life left in it.

 

 

 

cathar memorial II

SYMBOL OF THE CATHARS-DOVE IN FLIGHT

 

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WELCOME TO THE ENGLISH HISTORICAL FICTION AUTHORS’ ‘MAIN CHARACTER’ BLOG HOP!

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work Leave a comment

This post is a departure from what you might be expecting, as I’ve been I have been tagged by fellow English Historical Fiction author, Mark Patton, to take part in a “Main Characters” blog hop.  The concept of ‘blog hops’ between authors is to introduce aspects of our works to readers and of course to support our writing colleagues across the ethers. For this ‘hop’ the  idea is to introduce a protagonist from a published or anticipated to be published novel. I’m currently working on the third novel of my historical fiction series which takes place across 12th, 13th and 21st century lines, mainly in Great Britain…although the current work in progress is built upon the esoteric story of the Cathars, the Gnostic sect persecuted by the Inquisition in 13th c southern France.  If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll have seen earlier posts on this gentle group of Christians labeled as heretics by Rome who met a fiery end at Montsegur on March 16, 1244.  

 

IMG_1453

Possible layout of fortress at Montsegur 1244

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

 

 Each of my books is grounded in actual historical places, people and events around which I then build fictional characters and story. The participating authors in the blog hop are asked to address seven questions about their chosen protagonist.  My second book which is featured in this ‘hop’  is written in ‘alternating narrative’ which means that similar to the works of Diana Gabaldron and MJ Rose, the main protagonist is subject to images and influences from a past life–this said I’m going to introduce both of my female protagonists to you!

1. What is the name of your character, and is he or she a fictional or a historical person? 

In the 12th c portions of this bookEdana Morggon is the main protagonist who then re-appears as Dr. Dana Morgan in the 21st century.  Both women are completely fictional although, the characters they meet in both time frames are very much historical.

2. When and where is the story set? 

The primary historical setting is Glastonbury Abbey in England’s west country, just before the Great Fire of 1184 as well as ruins that remain in the 21st century. For those who have never been to Glastonbury, it’s one of those places that abounds in extraordinarily deep history, legend and myth.  King Arthur, Joseph of Armithea, Edward I, Henry II and The Goddess, each figure heavily into Glastonbury’s magic.  However, in 1184 and 2010, my protagonists are faced with events that involve the fire(and its suspicious origins), political ambition, greed and psychological dysfunction… all having to do with mystical secrets believed to have been embedded within symbols placed in the floor of the abbey’s ‘Holy of Holies’.

Scan0008Partial Ruins of Glastonbury Abbey

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

3. What should we know about the character? 

12th c Lady Edana Morggon is a wealthy widow who accompanied her father and greedy, abusive husband to the Holy Land. Following the deaths of both men on crusade, Edana was imprisoned but surprisingly rescued by an unusual Sufi named Ghali.  Ghali for reasons only known to himself and Edana, enlists desert mystics to educate her in sacred arts and medicine before they both return to her estate in England.  Edana is a woman unusual for her time as she’s fierce in personality, smart, gifted and fairly self-sufficient…but she also harbors secrets.

21st c Dr. Dana Morgan is  a wealthy, University of Chicago historical archaeologist with expertise in ancient scripts, but who also possesses an inherited, although unacknowledged, gift of psychic sensitivities.  As the 21st c opens, her archaeologist husband of five years has suddenly died. Overtaken by grief, Dana retreats to the safe haven of her favorite aunt, Lady Fredi Morgan at her Oxfordshire estate.  When Dana is introduced to two historical archaeologists from Oxford University, she unwittingly becomes embroiled in 900 year old Glastonbury mysteries that have resurfaced and threaten her life.  Equally distressing, Dana comes face to face with  a past life through Edana Morggon. However predictably, as a scientist, she resists acknowledging such a possibility exists.

GLASTONBURY FLOORPhotography courtesy of Karen Pfiefer

 

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up your character’s life? 

Historically, Dana has categorized her feelings into intellectual exercises as a means of protection ever since the sudden death of her parents when she was fifteen. However, when she learns that her husband had a secret life which ended in suicide rather than murder, she struggles to come to terms with heart centered emotions she can’t control, her sense of failure in judgement and the recognition of her inherited psychic sensitivities.  As Glastonbury’s 12th century story resurfaces in 2010 through events that threaten her life, Dana is forced to deal with these unresolved aspects of herself.

5. What is the personal goal of your character? 

Dana has to learn to accept who she really is as well as putting trust in relationships, especially with men.  In addition, with the help of Edana Morggon, she begins to recognize that the veil between worlds is thin and can transmute to reveal universal truths.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? 

The book is entitled, A Conspiracy of Ravens’.  You can read more about it under the ‘Historical Fiction’ link on my full website: http://gayemack.com or under the link for ‘clients’ on http://globallionmanagement.com

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

 ‘A Conspiracy of Ravens’ and its predecessor, A Murder of Crows’ are currently represented by Peter Miller, CEO-Global Lion Intellectual Property Management, who is actively seeking a home for them.

 

 

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KARMA & REINCARNATION AT THE HEART OF EVOLUTIONARY ASTROLOGY

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Uncategorized, Writer's Work Leave a comment

The field of astrology has grown tremendously over the years, slowly reclaiming the respect it had with the ancients.  Practiced and followed authentically, areas of specializations in this field especially Evolutionary Astrology, can be used as helpful tools to understand differences between ourselves and others, chart financial trends, alert us to health issues so we can be pro-active and offer us paths forward in our evolution, just to name a few examples.  When I say, ‘used and practiced authentically’ I mean that astrology should not be viewed as a tool of fate or ‘divination’; authentically means ALWAYS having the ‘power of choice’, the power of ‘freewill’.  

As I’ve written in previous posts, Evolutionary Astrology is a  specialized lens wherein our Soul growth is at the heart of the matter, grounded in the concept of karma and reincarnation.  Where it differs from what we might think of as ‘traditional western astrology’ (i.e., I’m a Leo and love to wear jewelry!), the core of this lens rests in the concept that the Soul is eternal with an agenda of evolution toward our highest good.  This development is worked toward and achieved through lifetimes of experiences in the physical body. In my practice, when I analyze a natal chart I’m actually ‘seeing’ two charts.  There’s the chart cast for the time of birth of course, but these symbols also tell me(and other Evolutionary Astrologers) about the ‘growth’ agenda the Soul has in mind for this life time.  

Through the symbols we’re able to see ‘something’ that went wrong in the past, a piece of ‘karma that has ripened’.  The individual has now come to a stage in emotional development where they’re strong enough to face what that ‘something’ was.  There’s now opportunity to go forward, to change the channel this time around.  This said, it needs to be reinforced that we’re working with emotional energy ‘imagined’ through metaphorical story, as obviously it’s impossible to know the specific details of ‘what happened’.  In this story the person was ‘vexed’ by something or someone that had power over them, offering no choice but to succumb. Or, perhaps they were the ‘vicious rat in the woodpile’, behaving badly…very badly. This time around they’re now much stronger emotionally, but somehow carry a sense of familiarity with the past.  Such nigglings could be wrapped around situations or people that ‘did us in’ or visa versa; same script, different actors. 

Recently there’s been a lot of ‘traffic’ in the heavens affecting all of us.  I know several people who are dealing with major effects of the slow-moving planets across their natal chart.  For some,  Pluto, the planet of transformation, is conjuncting, opposing or squaring their Sun, Moon or Ascendant-sometimes simultaneously; Neptune, the planet that can bring confusion, disillusion and fantasy or Saturn, the task master of the material, are hitting these power points for others.  ALL of these possibilities are extremely challenging, but also bring opportunities because in some way, they trigger major life-changes and choice. What to do? Herein lays a key element separating this field of astrology from other lenses. 

Evolutionary is partially descriptive, but not entirely; it’s also ‘prescriptive’.  In other words, when an Evolutionary Astrologer ‘metaphorically’ looks at what went wrong in the ‘chart behind the chart’ they can offer remedial options so that the client can get off the mouse wheel and not repeat patterns of the past that got them in trouble in the first place. There could be one particular life reflected or a chronic pattern of behavior from the core of our being reflected by the symbols and the patterns between them in the present chart.  

Every astrologer has their own style; some prefer to have background information beyond the date, time and place of birth from a client before they analyze a chart.  I do not; it’s just personal preference, but I want to be surprised, and surprised I usually am.  I have yet to see a chart wherein the past has not bled through to the present…this is FASCINATING.  And, even more fascinating is when the client looks at me and says, “I’m so relieved; I thought I was making this all up, that I was crazy…you have just confirmed what I’ve been feeling for years.”

 

GLASTONBURY FLOOR

 PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF KAREN PFIEFER

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A PEEK INTO THE VATICAN’S MEDIEVAL PAST WHEN ASTROLOGERS WERE REVERED

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Worth the Read, Writer's Work Leave a comment

A recent article by Edward Snow sheds an ‘interesting’ light upon the high, spiritual value in which astrologers were held by medieval Rome.  Sadly however, ignorance, fear and religious control issues proved to be the death knell for this sacred science. Fortunately  in more recent times, wiser perspectives are bringing legitimate astrology to forefront again.  Through the lenses of evolutionary, cartographical,  financial and medical astrology for example, outmoded, fear-mongering myths are finally being relegated to the dungeon.   Snow’s article is certainly ‘worth the read!’

Saint Peter’s Basilica an Astrological Triumph

When the Holy Father and other sixteenth century leaders of the Roman Catholic Church sat down to plan construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome the first person they reached out to was not Michelangelo or any of the other architects or designers who worked on the project.

“Saint Peter’s Basilica is considered by many to be an enduring affirmation of a centuries old theology and a grand example of Renaissance architecture. Astrology may not come to mind immediately for the millions of visitors who take in the spectacle of the awe-inspiring building each year, but construction of the church was in fact begun on a certain date and at a precise time chosen for its astrological significance,” says Mary Quinlan-McGrath, a professor of art history at Northern Illinois University (NIU) and author of Influences: Art, Optics and Astrology in the Italian Renaissance.

Quinlan-McGrath writes that before any work began the astrologers of Pope Julius II established that the horoscope for the start-up of construction (April 18, 1506 at 10 a.m.) correlated with both the horoscope for the presumed birth of the world and the birth horoscope of Christ.

“The locations on the horoscope chart of the Sun, Venus and Mercury indicated benevolence while that of Saturn and Mars suggested power and longevity.  Jupiter’s location was propitious as well, promising wealth,” she observed.

Quinlan-McGrath says Pope Julius II and his Renaissance architects believed that “the concordance of the heavens and the radiation emanating from the cosmos provided protection for the building at the time of its founding and, in turn, the building would continue to radiate these powers upon the people associated with it over the centuries.”

In the current era, modern astrologers aren’t likely to go along with the date their medieval counterparts used for the birth of the world.  And the date divined for Christ’s birth is suspect as well.

However, despite these factual stingers, most contemporary astrologers would probably agree that Vatican astrologers did an excellent job of finding an enduring electional chart for the start of construction.

Using modern computers, astrologers can swiftly pull up a birth chart that displays the heavens precisely as they looked on April 18, 1506 at 10 a.m. in Rome.  The planetary alignments on that day were exceptionally harmonious – with one notable exception.

Medieval astrologers used the sun, moon and visible planets in their calculations.  On the Basilica’s electional chart the major stressful aspect is a hard, right-angle alignment between the sun and Saturn, with Saturn dominantly controlling that space on the horoscope wheel astrologers look to for insights on financial matters.

Astrologers in any era would notice that the angular relationship between the sun and the planet associated with hardship and delays (Saturn) would be challenging.  And, in fact, the project was plagued by more than a century of financial woes and construction delays, Quinlan-McGrath points out.

Presumably, Vatican astrologers were mindful of the economic stressors the project was fated to face, but had supreme faith in the positive, long-range outcome promised by the electional map.

In her book, Quinlan-McGrath examines the astrological context of the founding of Saint Peter’s as well as the creation of other works of art and architecture in Rome, such as the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace and the lavish Villa Farnesina of Agostino Chigi, an extremely wealthy banker.

She notes that astrological thought permeated the Italian Renaissance.  Scientists used mathematical measurements to chart the heavens and theologians and philosophers harmonized religious doctrine with astrological readings, making Saint Peter’s a product of its time.

“The belief that celestial forces could operate through works of art and architecture was not obscure or magical but in harmony with the philosophical, religious and scientific beliefs of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries,” she explains.

 

 

 

St. Peter's Basillica 1

                                                                        

                                                                           CONSTRUCTION COMMENCEMENT

                                                                               OF

                                                                                 ST. PETER’S BASILICA

                         

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WHAT OR WHO WAS BEHIND GLASTONBURY ABBEY’S GREAT FIRE OF 1184?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work Leave a comment

The Great Fire of 1184, which all but destroyed Britain’s oldest site of Christianity,Glastonbury Abbey,  is legendary.  For 900 years, myth and speculation have flourished as to the cause of this catastrophic event.  The majority speculation put forth by historians is that unusual winds on the morning of May 25, 1184 were responsible, causing an entry curtain to the ‘Holy of Holies’ in the ‘Ecclesia Vestuta’ (old church) to catch fire from burning candles.  Regardless of the cause, the initial sparks of flame combined with the high winds took the famous abbey to the ground in a matter of hours; it’s precious documents destroyed along with its treasures melted by heat and countless graves of monks, abbots and saints.

 However, when I was researching this event for my historical mystery, ‘A Conspiracy of Ravens’, I discovered Adam of Damerham.  Adam was a 12th century monk who wrote a history of the abbey and where the Glastonbury fire is concerned, Adam had an entirely different theory as to its cause.   Following the death of the beloved Abbot Robert in 1178, King Henry II assigned the position of ‘Custodian’ to Peter D’Marcya Cluniac monk who had some kind of relationship to Henry.  Despite the desires of the Glastonbury monks for Henry to name a proper abbot, the king stalled.  With no abbot in place it gave the wily monarch direct access to Glastonbury’s wealthy treasury, a resource which Henry needed to finance his wars with the French. Thus, as a compromise, he named D’Marcy to oversee the Glastonbury community.

 Unfortunately Peter proved to be very unpopular for a variety of reasons.  He nearly drove the abbey into the ground financially, was relentlessly diabolical in his scheming to manipulate his way to the abbot’s chair, not to mention suspicions that Peter  ‘compressed’ (as in eliminated) certain monks who were obstacles to achieving this goal. As an interim solution and effort to appease the monks, Henry then appointed Hugh of Avalon(who would later become Hugh of Lincoln, the most revered saint after Becket) to ‘supervise’ D’Marcy.  Things did not go well with this arrangement either.

 By December of 1183, the hatred of D’Marcy was beyond rampant. Further to his other machinations, Peter lusted after the secret behind the zodiacal floor in the abbey’s ‘Holy of Holies, believed to contain Christianity’s deepest mystical mysteries.  In one final scheme to endear the monks to his cause of obtaining the ‘abbot’s chair’, D’Marcy, his mental state now suspect, planned a ‘faux mass’ on Christmas Eve in the ‘Ecclesia Vestuta.’  This blasphemous act was the last straw with the Glastonbury community and one can only imagine how the monks reacted.   Adam of Damerham speculates that in retaliation,  D’Marcy set fire to the abbey.  Interestingly, historians note that while he survived the fire, shortly afterwards D’Marcy died from ‘unknown causes.’

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REMAINS OF THE GREAT ABBEY AT GLASTONBURY

Photograpy©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

A Conspiracy of Ravens is the second book in my trilogy, ‘Flight Through Time’, represented by Peter Miller, Global Lion Literary Management. ‘A Flight of Doves’ is now in production 

  Additionally, for Information on Evolutionary Astrological Readings or Bach Flower Remedy Evaluations with meClick Here

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