A place of power and won­drous beauty for 2000 years

Who was the mys­te­ri­ous woman, Mary Mag­da­lene – pen­i­tent whore, or em­pow­ered priest­ess, prophet­ess and healer? We set out on a quest to find an­swers in the south of France.

Living Now - - Contents - by Gerry Tay­lor-wood & Richard De Welles

We en­tered the silent For­est of Baume* in Provence, France, hand in hand. As­cend­ing the well trod­den pil­grim stairs, it was as if the an­cient Druid for­est wel­comed us. Some trees – oaks, elms, and beech – are over two thou­sand years old and could well have wit­nessed the ar­rival of the small grief stricken fig­ure of the woman known as Mary Mag­da­lene.

*(Baume trans­lates as ‘balm’ re­fer­ring to the Spike­nard balm Mary anointed Christ’s feet with at the Last Sup­per.)

Leg­end has it that Mary was ex­iled af­ter the cru­ci­fix­ion, and that she and oth­ers, in­clud­ing Je­sus’ un­cle, Joseph of Ari­mathea, were set in a boat with no oars or sails from the Holy Lands, and were meant to per­ish. She ar­rived safely on the shores of Provence and was met by the Druids who knew in­tu­itively she was com­ing. Joseph of Ari­mathea trav­elled on with the Holy Grail chal­ice of the Last Sup­per to Bri­tain.

It is said that, in her grief, she tore the clothes from her body as she en­tered the for­est, to be­gin her time of soli­tude, yet overnight her hair grew to her feet, cov­er­ing her naked­ness. There are many works of art in France de­pict­ing her thus.

Some say that she was there with a young woman, Sara; pos­si­bly the child of the union of Je­sus and Mag­da­lene, and some say her Egyp­tian hand maiden. The Gi­tan, or Gyp­sies, later adopted Saint Sara as ‘Queen of the Gyp­sies’, and this is cel­e­brated every May in Stes Maries de la Mer.

Cross­ing a field strewn with Star of Beth­le­hem flow­ers, we en­tered the sa­cred druidic for­est. Our foot­steps fell lightly upon the an­cient mar­bled steps worn by the feet of pil­grims for over two thou­sand years. Not a bird sang, but silent beauty was all around. The at­mos­phere was drenched in the gen­tle en­ergy of the Mag­da­lene. We were ex­cited, in ex­pec­ta­tion of an ex­pe­ri­ence rarely felt in a life­time.

Mary Mag­da­lene be­came Abbess in this area of Provence for 22 years. Af­ter her death, her relics were kept in the lo­cal monastery. Cen­turies later the monks feared their be­ing stolen by bar­bar­ian tribes. They wrapped them in an oil­skin cloth and hid them at the back of a cave. Af­ter their dis­cov­ery in the 12th Cen­tury, they were taken to Rome, and the Catholic Church au­then­ti­cated the relics as be­long­ing to the Mag­da­lene, and she be­came the Pa­tron Saint of the South of France.

Much later Mary Mag­da­lene be­came the Pa­tron Saint of the Knights Tem­plar. She in­spired their acts of courage and chivalry as they fought the bat­tles of the Cru­sades to hold Jerusalem. To­day she is the re­turn­ing Di­vine Fem­i­nine, an ex­am­ple to all women of her power, en­durance, love and spir­i­tual prow­ess.

For cen­turies the pil­grim path has du­ti­fully been trod­den by kings, em­per­ors and heads of state of France, who were all obliged once in their life­time to walk this path and ven­er­ate the relics of Mag­da­lene. This has been a place of power and won­drous beauty for 2000 years.to­day, stat­ues of golden an­gels guard the cas­ket of glass that holds her tiny skull and bones.

My body trem­bled, my eyes welled with tears as, in­cred­u­lous and full of awe, I re­alised I was stand­ing be­fore the re­mains of Mary Mag­da­lene, Christ’s com­pan­ion, prophet­ess and priest­ess of the House of Bethany. We turned to one an­other, moved be­yond words by this deep and pro­found ex­pe­ri­ence. To­gether we were united in de­vo­tion, our male and fe­male en­er­gies en­twined in our own per­sonal sa­cred mar­riage. n

Gerry and Richard have led twenty-three sa­cred jour­neys over the past twenty years. Richard is a crys­tal healer, teacher and artist. Gerry is a yoga teacher, astrologer and writer – to­gether they have de­vel­oped three spir­i­tual ed­u­ca­tion cen­tres in Aus­tralia, Eng­land and France. www.grail­haven.com

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