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.  

 

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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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PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE~ EVOLUTIONARY ASTROLOGY’S VALUE & YOUR SOUL GROWTH IN 2014

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Balance, Karmic and Self-Discovery Astrology, Uncategorized Leave a comment

 As I’ve discussed in previous posts, the science of Evolutionary Astrology is about transformation. When we study a client’s birth chart through the evolutionary lens  we’re presented with a powerful tool that metaphorically offers a map and compass that reveals our Soul’s unique agenda and pathway for this lifetime. On one hand, this process presents each of us with the opportunity to confront psychological karmic energy using metaphorical scenarios from a distant past that’s in our bones, haunting us at an unconscious level.  In essence this elusive energy is holding us back from personal growth.  Understanding these dynamics in the present offers us the opportunity to create or fashion a future path which supports our intended evolution at the Soul level.  

 Thus, the mission of the Evolutionary Astrologer is to counsel the client as to what went wrong in the distant past, help them understand how they were affected in that lifetime and to discuss possibilities of choice in how to change their script going forward so that they can manifest their ‘Soul’s greatest good.’ True, not all of us are meant to find the cure for catastrophic diseases, eradicate poverty, be on the cover of Time or win a Nobel Prize, but to quote Dr. Edward Bach, “everyone has a job to do,” and more often than not, we can never know how we have affected someone’s life, positively or negatively.

Astrology is ancient, vast and complex.  Used appropriately, it combines the hard science of mathematics with interpretive subjectivity often integrated with skillful intuition. Never about pre-destination it’s grounded in the belief of free will of choice.   This said,  Mary Plum, an editor for The Mountain Astrologer magazine has beautifully stated the scope of Astrology and its practice in her recent blog:

“Sometimes, I become very aware of the complexity and subtlety in the ways we astrologers inhabit this world. This can happen when a non-astrologer friend makes a comment or asks a simple question that somehow requires an intricate response — or, at least, evokes in me a chain of thinking about how to begin to talk about the way I see the planets’ movements and geometries at any particular moment or about any particular subject.

There is, of course, immense variability in how astrologers practice: the methods and techniques we use, the personal philosophies and beliefs that inform our approach, and how we apply our art — that is, to what end are we working? But essentially, we astrologers are living in a shared world of watching and listening to the motions in the celestial sphere, in that charming and olden-times phrase, the vault of the heavens. We know that something is being conveyed or signified by the motions of the planets.” 

Now as we welcome in a new year, we’re given the opportunity to pause and reflect on what has gone before, how it’s affected us and choices we can make going forward.  Wishing all of my readers and clients,  astrological and those who work with the Bach Flower Remedies, a healthy, abundant and fulfilling 2014!

 

 

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          JANUARY 1, 2014~0:01~CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

            For Information on Evolutionary Astrological Readings or Bach Flower Remedy Evaluations with me, Click Here

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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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