Gaye Mack’s Blog

POST CATHAR ADVENTURE MUSINGS ON MESSAGES FROM OUR SOUL AND TAKING LEAPS OF FAITH

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

 Sadly five weeks ago I bid farewell to my Cathar adventure in France’s Languedoc/L’Occitaine region, returning back to Oxford for another week before flying home to Chicago.  My visits to the UK are always crammed full of seeing friends, extended family and business contacts; no time to reflect. But now back in Chicago, settling into my daily routine I’ve had time to play back in my mind what I took away from this experience and leaps of faith.  Surely part of my experience was to absorb factual information that will provide background for my next historical fiction book, Flight of Doves? Equally important, I’ve wondered, did I clear the unfinished karmic business of my 13th century life by returning to the ‘scene of the crime’, so to speak?  Those of you who have read my postings on Karmic Astrology won’t find this last bit surprising, yet this is what has surprised me; aside from grasping the academic immersion, I have yet to effectively language the deeper resonances of this experience which brings me to recognizing a greater, perhaps more important lesson which is this…

In our journey of our evolution, the assimilation, the download/upload of information from our Soul is not always identified much less realized as meaningful in a timely fashion. And yet, this process can profoundly affect us in ways to be determined, requiring faith in some measure. Surprising events, chance meetings, omens if you will, are there in front of us, waiting for us to consciously plug into rather than dismissed.  As a mundane example, it now seems that I’ve been offered three ‘interesting’ nudges regarding my curiosity in the Cathars that may or may not be significant. And, I’ve decided to pay attention as they’re so ‘odd’, filing them away in the back of my mind for future possible recall–they may mean something down the road…or not, who knows-they may have absolutely nothing to do with my writing but something else entirely, yet to be revealed.  Nevertheless … 

  • Two and a half years ago when I was finishing the final version of Murder of Crows, I knew I wanted to write my next book set against the Cathar story. At that time, other than my inexplicable draw to their history and persecution by Rome for their beliefs, I knew very few detailed specifics.  However, I needed a working title for the book. In keeping with the concept of my series, Flight through Time, ‘something’ compelled me to choose, ‘Flight of Doves’ for this new project; I haven’t the remotest idea of what drew me to it.  It wasn’t until shortly before my departure for France that I came across an academic notation that the Cathars were often identified by the ‘symbol’ of the Dove!

 

  • As I was reading various resources in preparation for my trip, I kept thinking that the simple robes or habits worn by the Perfects (Parfaits) were a dark blue, despite the fact that some academic authorities insisted they wore black.  This small fact kept niggling in the back of my brain…one of those things that keeps saying, “no that isn’t right, they wore blue.”  And, indeed they did as I was to discover upon further research.  It wasn’t a case of that they  didn’t  wear black, but more to the point, they were  known to also wear habits of dark blue.

 

  • And the stunner…while I was in the L’Occitaine, I received an email one evening from a woman I’d never met, explaining that she  accidentally had come across my website and blog posts about my forthcoming trip to Cathar country.  She went onto explain that she was actually from Mazamet, a town roughly 60 miles north of where I was staying that evening.  She detailed her deep interest in the Cathars, her current work in alternative therapies and asked if I taught classes on my work with Edward Bach’s flower remedies.  She also mentioned her study in astrology with particular interest in Karmic Astrology and her possession of all of the books written by my teacher and mentor, Steven Forrest.  But it wasn’t until I read further on that I was truly astonished!  She expressed an interest in meeting me as she lives about 45 minutes from my home in the Chicago area!  How can this crossing of paths possibly be explained as a chance ‘coincidence’?  Perhaps, but I choose to believe it isn’t. 

 

These points bring me back to the issue of being awake to messages from our Soul which often function as safety nets when we risk taking leaps of faith.  As essence of Spirit, we incarnate into the body so that our Soul has the opportunity to evolve and grow through lessons that can only be learned through the physical world, some very hard karmic experiences.  In such times I often recall the scene where Harrison Ford as Indian Jones is teetering on the edge of a dizzying precipice, a death gorge beckons below.  His pursuers are closing in fast, his choices are two:  succumb to capture or risk safety by taking a ‘leap of faith’ across the abyss, knowing that if he misses, death is certain.  Just as he steps into the void an image of a lifesaving bridge suddenly appears; clearly a metaphor for taking a leap of faith–the very foundation of the Cathar’s philosophy–that ‘faith’ in the unseen, the non-physical, is greater than we can possibly imagine.

minerve monument

The Dove is a work of art created in 1982 by Jean-Luc Séverac, a Minerve artist, to commemorate the 140 Cathar Parfaits (Perfects) who were burned at the stake in 1210.

The stele is placed in front of the door to Eglise Saint Etienne in a small square off the rue des Remparts.  In describing his concept, artist Jean-Luc Séverac wrote, “The Cathars raised themselves above the material world…..so I made the dove, not out of stone, but out of light – the absence of matter is the only way to represent the Cathars.” (kindly contributed by Vernonique Frede-Markscheid)

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DOES THE PISCES FULL MOON REFLECT THE 13THC CATHARS’ VISION ?

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

If you’ve been following me on Facebook, you’ll have guessed that I’m back from my adventure to the L’Occitaine region in the French Pyrenees, land of the 13thc heretical sect known as the Cathars. While I’ve posted from time to time about this fascinating community, the opportunity to learn more of their extremely complex history in the midst of incredibly difficult landscape, far outstrips reading about them.  Amazingly they survived for years against Rome’s continuous and brutal assault until their final end by fiery execution at Montsegur in 1244.   When climbing very difficult steep and rocky ground up to a ruin that’s 3,400 ft above a parking lot as is the castle at Montsegur, questions tick over in the mind; how did they manage, how did they get provisions up there, how did they survive the winters? Simple answers to such things are beyond comprehension.

To quickly review:  the Cathar movement which regarded the hierarchy of the Catholic church with all of its trappings, as a greedy, self-serving entity, grew out of the Balkans.  It spread to various regions in Europe starting in the late 12th century but nowhere did it spread like wildfire as it did in the Languedoc of modern-day France, aided and protected by some of the region’s most powerful nobility, particularly Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse.  When on January 1208 Brother Peter of Castelnau, the papal legate was assassinated by one of Raymond’s officers, Pope Innocent III found his excuse to declare holy war upon Raymond’s vast territories which had been a ‘nest of heresy’ for years.  The Papal floodgates were then open that resulted in years of unspeakable brutality against this gentle, peace-loving community.  So what was it in their basic belief system that made the Cathars such enemies of Rome?  

Besides their disdain for the obvious excesses of the Church, the Cathars believed in Dualism.  For them, the physical world and everything in it was a creation of Satan(including the body and procreation) while purity of spirit was gained through a direct connection to God or the Divine.  In their view, a belief system that supported a corrupt  hierarchy and homage to a Pope was the very embodiment of Satan.  Nevertheless, they were known for their compassion as healers, providers for the poor, sources of spiritual guidance, herbalists and yes, astrologers, which brings me to the forthcoming Pisces Full Moon on Thursday, September 19th.

 With the Moon in this cosmic  and compassionate sign of the zodiac, represented by its glyph of two conjoined fish swimming in opposite directions, we’re reminded of the transcendence of duality…’we can be of the world but not in it’; each of us is uniquely part of a much bigger picture, indivisible from the vast oceanic Universe.  Is it any wonder that some references on the Cathars note the Perfects or Parfaits (those who had taken vows of devotion) wore belts displaying the Piscean glyph as part of their simple habits?

In Evolutionary Astrology, our goal is always to look and work toward who we were meant to be, not who we think we are compared to others.  As this week’s forthcoming Piscean Full Moon waxes, perhaps its light will remind us of this intention as no doubt it may have done 800 years ago for the Cathars.

 

 the view of cathar country

View from Termes Castle~site of the longest siege during the  Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars

The 1550 ft steep climb up to the castle ruins ends on a hilltop surrounded on three sides by a ravine formed by the river Sou. 

Photography ©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

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