online at

Note if you have emailed danwinter(at) - recently about TheIMPLODER- or - appreciate if you would remind me just after my return to Europe after Mar 9. (Bit of travel dance in the meantime)..

Hi, This is a special Spring 2010 - announcement from Implosion Group, Dan Winter , and
in Association with - Roger Green , &
- and (as you can see - ) Key Sponsors Across Europe..

Do Europe! Summer 2010-with Dan Winter and Vincent Bridges..

We have lined up in sequence.. (details below)
Do Turin, Italy - Late April (optional)
..then up to Prague-first half of May - (Direct flights:fr Milan) .. for Serious Alchemy, Angelic.. and Dee and Tantra Fusion series..- Events across Czech..
..then May 21-28 - come to the MAIN EVENT:

>>> St.Remy- South France- Magdalen Gypsy Festival with Vincent Bridges, Dan Winter & Valerie Sandelin..
NEWLY DISCOVERED- Dramatic Renne's like PENTAGRAM MAGNETIC around St.Remy
- where Nostradamus used that phase conjugate effect into his scrying water!

...then - join us early June- for THE MYSTERIES OF MALTA..!- esoteric explorations with Vincent Bridges, Dan Winter, & local experts.
Finally- On up to Ireland June 11-18 - directly after- to join Michael Rice, holisticarchitecture- and their whole celtic crew

---More detail will be added as available, however- the plan for St.Remy - South France (below)- the highlight event is clear-
Main Web Link to Roger Green- FengShuiSeminars - for this event:
please note that Roger needs your commitment soon for that one because the venue is MUCH in demand and beautiful at that time of year!

Mar 18-21: Dan Winter- Congress "Fly Intro the Light" - Riccione, Italy -

-- Turin, Italy:
Being Planned- Thurs 22 April : Casonova Costume Ball- Palazzo Paesana.. in Turin -with Vincent Bridges. Info: Khudai email: casakhuan(at)

24-25 April - Turin (Borgo Dale Conference Center) - "Ophanic Revelations" (Le rivelazioni degli angeli ofeni)" with Vincent Bridges


Ophanic 101:
An Introduction to the Art and Science of Angelic Communication

4/24 2010 – 4/25/2010 Turin, Italy

Led by Vincent Bridges, co-author and editor of The Ophanic Revelation and V. H. F. Alaerian Starbrother

Four hundred years ago, the angels came looking for Dr. John Dee, much as Michael Rene, the space visitor, sought out Sam Jaffe, the brilliant physicist, in the original "The Day the Earth Stood Still." What they communicated was a geometrical, symmetry- based, DNA- coded language pattern capable of producing a rapid expansion of consciousness and an increase in symbol coherent cognition. We can think of this shift in awareness as one from a local primate based consciousness to one that is non-local - that is universal or part of a much larger reality - and based on what we quaintly call now plasma physics. The angels, or higher intelligences, communicated this system as a kind of life raft and survival radio set from their awareness that mankind would need a shift in consciousness in order to survive the precessionally timed apocalyptic season that is closing in upon now.

Including the historical background of Dr Dee and Sir Edward Kelley and their angelic communication, along with how the system grew through the intervening years, this weekend workshop will demonstrate the basic tools and skills required to work with this powerful consciousness expansion process. We will examine the hardware, including the Holy Table, the Elemental Tablets, the Tablet of Union, and work with the basic operating system, derived from Renaissance magick, and the sacred geometry that underpins any understanding of the Ophanic system. The workshop culminates in a demonstration of the energy inherent in the Ophanic Keys or Calls, as we combine Alaerian Starbrother’s improvisational harp music with vocalizations of the Calls to create a truly unique magickal environment.

Vincent Bridges is the co-author of A Monument to the End of Time: Alchemy, Fulcanelli and the Great Cross (by Jay Weidner and Vincent Bridges, Aethyrea Books, 1999, 2000) as well as co-author of Mysteries of the Great Cross at Hendaye: Alchemy and the End of Time, Destiny Books, 2003, and Interlude with Sally Hemings: Diary of a Spiritual Healing by R.J. Gabriel, with Vincent Bridges.

He is also the co-author and editor of the forthcoming Ophanic Revelation. His shorter work is well represented on various websites, including, Alternative Approaches, Diagnosis 2012, Journal of the Western Mysteries Tradition, and many others.. Vincent Bridges is also a pioneer researcher in the field of psycho-acoustic therapy, a trauma abreaction technique using light and sound entrainment of brain frequencies, a pagan political activist and a world traveler, having organized and led tour groups to southern France, Egypt and India. Vincent Bridges has been instrumental in the creation of three schools or educational organizations, The Fifth Way Mystery School, The Newport Earth Institute in Newport, New Hampshire and Pendragon College, and has been a featured speaker at venues such as The International Fortean Organization’s (INFO) FortFest and the Subtle Technologies Conference, and the InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Center of Toronto, Canada, as well as a guest on the Laura Lee and Jeff Rense radio shows. He was also featured in The Learning Channel’s documentary Atlantis in the Andes (June 2001). He was featured on the History Channel’s documentary Nostradamus: 500 Years Later which first aired in December 2003 as the on-camera tour guide and Historical Consultant. He was also the featured historian for the History Channel’s Lost Book of Nostradamus (2007) and Nostradamus 2012 (2008).

Vincent Bridges currently lives in the Uwharrie Mountains of North Carolina, with his wife, the artist Darlene, and their two cats.

Alaerian Starbrother is perhaps the world’s only musical Hierophant both skilled in channeling and blending music with the flow of magical rituals and in leading Enochian and Kabbalistically based magical ceremonies themselves. A trained ceremonial Adept in two Kaballistically based initiatory systems, a third degree Wiccan, and skilled Enochian magician, he is also a spirit communicator with more than thirty years of mystical and psychic experience.

As a highly trained musician who has played the energy flow at literally hundreds of public and private rituals, Alaerian is virtually unmatched in his ability to enhance the group experience of ritual and ceremony by shepherding the energy with music and focused will. He is therefore without doubt the closest the Enochian ceremonial tradition has to an ovate, the Druidic High Priest and shaman who plays the energies of the Gods and Goddesses on his sacred harp.

His work composing, improvising, and channeling music on guitar, recorder, piano, and harp began in the early 1970s, complemented by his practical studies of meditation, astrology, and Tarot.

Since his initiation into the Golden Dawn in 1988 and his elevation to Adept status in 1991, Alaerian has served as initiating Hierophant and instructor in multiple Temples while simultaneously being the “Bard” who channeled music at public rituals throughout the southeastern United States.

In the 1980s and 90s Alaerian lived in an intentional neo-pagan community in the southern Appalachian mountains, bringing with him years of experience in spirit communication and energy work. There he came in contact with the awesome presences many people call Dragons, the spirit guardians of the natural world. He learned many things from the Dragons, and often says that it was the Dragons that taught him to use his music in the way he does, working with natural energy to communicate with spiritual beings and alter reality. There also, he experienced contact with the Sidhe, who initiated him into the use of the harp as a magical tool and gave him his geas as a Bard, which he follows today.

For over thirty years Alaerian has provided counseling for those who asked, in one of several mediums he has been led to study. He has several decades of experience using astrology as a tool to help others understand the underlying forces shaping their personalities and interactions. Parallel to his work with astrology he has spent an equal amount of time in the study and use of the Tarot as a tool for guidance and understanding. Although his study of multiple traditions has allowed him to absorb a fairly comprehensive set of interpretations for the cards, he generally finds it best to open up to the Higher Mind when doing readings for others, using the cards as a guideline, and allowing messages to come from the realm of Spirit as often as possible.

Finally, as a student of precessional astronomy and sacred geometry, he has been led to study the work of Dr. John Dee, and with his wife Dr. Teresa Burns has published an analysis of how the first 17 theorems of Dee’s Hieroglyphic Monad can be seen as “Outer Order” work implicitly leading to an understanding of the sacred geometry at the heart of the Enochian system. They have recently finished an article on the correct lettering of the Enochian Elemental Tablets derived from Dee and Kelley’s Great Table, and the three and four dimensional geometry it implies.

A career Metaphysician, Alaerian has devoted his life to the pursuit of a spiritual calling. Service to others, in many different forms, has been the hallmark of his life, for he believes that all life is ultimately One life, and that the divine spark in each of us can sometimes best be awakened through the power of music. As he has been gifted by the sidhe with the gift of healing song, so he has attempted to give…

---end Turin events insert.


---April 30-May 1-2, 2010: Dan Winter- Ancient Wisdom and Science of Consciousness- Conference- Bagnacavallo, Itay -

Dan Winter: Sat. May 1st - presentation at the congress in Bagnacavallo at 16.30 hours
> Sun. May 2nd - one day workshop on TheLoveTuner- and Biofeedback for Bliss..

> --Details of the Prague April 30 thru May 15 Events- Still being assembled


A series of lectures of well known specialists in the field of sacred geometry, alchemy, history and secrets of human DNA, Dan Winter and Vincent Bridges with a special guest Alaerianem Starbrother, that will be held in the Czech Republic on 30th April till 16th May 2010.


Friday 30th April 2010 at 15,00 ‚Äì 20,30 and Saturday 1st May at 10,00 ‚Äì 16,30 in the Maitrea facility, Prague 1, Tynska ulicka 6, lecture of Wincent Bridges peaked by a concert by Alaerian Starbrother:

The Hermetic Revolution in Prague: Alchemy and the Apocalypse: Rosicrucianism in Bohemia 1585 – 1620

April 30. 2010 Part One (15:00 – 17:30) The Apocalyptic Mission of John Dee and Edward Kelley to the Court of Rudolph II: Alchemy, Higher Intelligence and the Prophecy of a New Hermetic Rome The Hermetic Revolution began in 1585 with the arrival in Prague, the newly Imperial capital of Rudolph II, of Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley on their apocalyptic missionary journey through Poland and the Empire. The unique mixture, found only in Prague, of geopolitics and mysticism was fertile soil for their message. In this lecture we will examine how magic and mathematics, alchemy and angelology, visionary politics and apocalyptic prophecies created the environment of this spiritual and intellectual revolution. Dee and Kelley’s mission was apparently successful, resulting, thirty years later, in the Rosicrucian movement and the ill-fated reign of Frederick V, the Winter King of Bohemia.
Part Two (18:00 -20:30) Rosicrucianism in Bohemia: The Legacy of Dee and Kelley’s Mission The origins of the Rosicrucian movement are a combination of influences centered on Bohemia and the philosophy of Dr Dee. However, Rosicrucianism in its origin point came to a very bad end after the Battle of White Mountain. Following the life and work of Jan Komensky, we will examine the legacy of Dee and Kelley’s mission from higher intelligence in Bohemia and Prague. From this almost forgotten history of an attempt at a Hermetic and Enlightened revolution, one that was crushed by the forces of reaction, we can draw some conclusions concerning the intersection of politics and religion in our own time.

May 1.2010 Part One (10:00 – 12:30) The Science of Divination- Learning to Communicate with your DNA through the Language of Light. Four hundred years ago, contact with a higher form of intelligence was achieved. Could this higher intelligence be within our very DNA? This lecture covers how the basic divinatory systems of east and west, The I Ching and the Tarot, are based on the structure and coding of DNA, and how the received language of Dee and Kelley contains valuable clues on how to consciously communicate with your own DNA.
Part Two (14:00 – 16:30) The Sacred Geometry of Consciousness From galaxies and nebulae to our DNA and the atoms around us, consciousness, as an awareness of structure and shape, is all around us. The ancient sages called this awareness sacred geometry and explored various ways to visualize these shape as a means of shifting consciousness to deeper levels, including perhaps direct communication the vast information within the DNA itself.
The Angelic Harp: Concert / Performance (19:30 – 21:00) In this concluding portion of the workshop, we will experience how these various components and sacred geometries come together in a ceremonial setting. Using the harp improvisations of Alaerian Starbrother and the inspired art work of local Prague artist Christian del Risco as or guide, the group has the opportunity to explore and experience the spiritual richness of one of Prague’s unique treasures, the Ophanic Keys of Dee and Kelley. More info: http//

Friday 7th May thru Sunday 9th May in Haluzice u Kyjova , Czech - Vincenta Bridges‘ seminar
Geomanthy, Earth Grid, DNA, The Earth Grid. More info:;

Wednesday, 12th May 2010 at 9,30 in front of the Astronomical Clock of the Town Hall in the Old Town Square, Prague.

A Tour of Esoteric Prague ... details at link:
A special full day’s walking tour of the heart of the magic city of Prague, focusing on Old Town, the Jewish Quarter, Mala Strana and Prague Castle.

Contact: Eva L., eva (at) More info:

Thursday, 13th May 2010 at 15,00 ‚Äì 20,30 in Maitrea facility, Praha 1, Tanska ulicka 6, Dan Winter‚Äôs lecture:
Guest Appearance and Presentations Include: Vincent Bridges (above) , also Canadian Alchemist Scientist- Paul Harris
Sacred Geometry: Fusion Physics and the Principles of Alchemy
With introduction to the history of alchemy in Europe (special guset Vincent Bridges)
More info:

On Saturday 15th May, 9,30 – 18,00 and Sunday 16 May 9,30 – 13,30, there will be a lecture of Dan Winter in Brno, Czech. Venue to be announced

Tantra and Bliss Experience- The Sacred Geometry of Fusion.

  • Biologic history and purpose of Tantra and Bliss.

  • How human plasma fields implode and accelerate into perfected distribution: the true meaning of Heaven and the Divine.

  • History of biofeedback for peak experience: Brainwave and Heart biofeedback experience with Dan Winter's HeartTuner and BlissTuner.

  • Inroduction to how Shamans and dreamers and Near Death Experiencers navigate with an aura or plasma bubble which is centripedal / implosive.

  • History of shamans as star navigators: Ceiling at Dendera and Cathar history of navigating human plasma as 'dreamspell' into stars.

  • -Finally- a brief and controversial Extra Terrestrial History of DNA: from Draconis / Dragon / Annunaki to the family of URAS / URU- the real ancestors of URope.

  • How the Nephalim 'Fallen' DNA can re-ascend into sustainability by simply learning how biologic charge or plasma is fractally attracted into genes and blood.
    ( a tour with the article series: info:

-------------.. next .... come to our Main Event! nearby South France...

The Heart of South France Mysteries

Nostradamus, Da Vinci, The Black Madonna, Mary Magdaline, Holy Grail and The Secret… Includes the world famous Gypsy Pilgrimage at Saintes Maries de la Mer, France

May 21-28, 2010

Join us on our 6th year of discovering the deep mysteries of South France. Held this year at St. Remy and Les Baux.
Main Web Link to Roger Green- FengShuiSeminars - for this event:

Venue | Price | How to get here | Highlights | Itinerary | Study Notes | Grail Mysteries | Provence | Vincent Bridges | Photo Gallery | Testimonials | Tour Leaders

Vincent BridgesA unique tour and retreat event based on the latest research, presented here for the first time, by internationally known Nostradamus authority Vincent Bridges, connecting Nostradamus' prophecies with Leonardo Da Vinci's most heretical art and providing clues to Provence's ancient, almost forgotten, variety of early Christianity. It was this alternative form of Christianity that provided the historical and spiritual underpinning of the original Grail legends.

We will explore, on the ground, the locations and images of the true history of the Grail, from the Grail Castle of Les Baux to St. Trophime's hermitages and the Alyscamp, the most renowned of medieval burial grounds to the quarries of Glanum and the standing stone of Da Vinci's Virgin in the Rocks, from the gypsies of Ste. Maries-de-le-Mer to the rugged grottoes of the Magdalene, and of course, the lost city of Glanum Livii and its nympheum, center point of Provence's accidental pentagram.

What do the Holy Grail, Mary Magdalene, The Da Vinci Code, The Cathars and Templars, Rennes-le-Chateau, The Golden Ratio, Alchemy, Pharaohs, Freemasons, ancient scrolls, and scientific and modern physics all have in common? The only way to find out is to come to the South of France to explore and study with two of the leading experts in Ancient Mysteries, Vincent Bridges and Dan Winter. Or you might just wish to come for the French food and countryside!

Vincent Bridges is one of the world's foremost Nostradamus scholars and is featured in nine documentaries on Nostradamus airing on the History Channel, History Channel International, and the Discovery Channel, including The Nostradamus Effect, Nostradamus 2012, The Lost Book of Nostradamus, and Nostradamus 500 Years Later, on which he was the historical consultant and the on-camera tour guide. Read more about Vincent Bridges.

Basic logistics

Arrival day: May 21, St. Remy-de-Provence
Departure day: May 29
8 nights accommodation
Price includes accommodations, lunches, coach transport and tuition seminars, 7 days of tuition, tours, sacred sites in the heart of SOUTH FRANCE.

Bookings and payment

Please note: This is a premium time of the year to be in St. Remy-de-Provence, and most hotel rooms will be booked out by end of March. In the middle of our study retreat is the Gypsy Festival, considered to be one of those "I have to do it in my lifetime" events, and so attracts people from all over the world. It is a first in, first served situation with room availability. Our advice to you is BOOK EXTREMELY EARLY.

Please email Roger Green first to see if there is any room left for you... You can then conveniently pay in Euros with the paypal link on the booking page. You can also pay by bank transfer (email for details for USA/UK bank) or International Money order. American or UK checks accepted.

Price- To secure your booking:
Non-refund deposit € 500 per person
Book and Pay before March 21st: € 2000 per person
After 21st March, if spaces available: € 2350 per person

Price includes 8 nights accommodation, tuition fees, local transportation, site visits, all breakfast and lunches. Does not include getting there or returning home or evening dinners. You will have the opportunity to either eat at the hotel or at the many very beautiful local restaurants offering French cuisine! Price does not include drinks or wine at lunch time.

Book Now!


  • 8 nights accommodation at Ch√¢teau de Roussan (4 star)
  • 7 days of tuition and seminars
  • tours of sacred sites
  • breakfast and lunch each day
  • all transport once you arrive


fountainCh√¢teau de Roussan
Route de Tarascon
13210 Saint-Rémy de Provence
Phone +33 6 10 130 103

Fully renovated, the historical farmhouse of Nostradamus' brother, giving you a 'total experience' of this unique study tour and retreat with Vincent Bridges and Dan Winter.

A Four Star hotel, close to all of our sacred sites, St. Remy and Ste. Marie-de-le-Mer and the gypsy festival. We suggest you take a look at their website, its absolutely beautiful!

Some double rooms available (first in, first served), twin share rooms and then triple share rooms.

Above quote is based on per person, does not depend on type of room.
Sorry, no single rooms available. At this time of year, we are lucky to get a room!

How to get here

map of regionIf you are flying into Paris:

From Roissy Charles de Gaulle International Airport
From the airport you can catch the TGV (which is a very fast modern train) to AVIGNON (approx 3 hrs travel time, they leave very frequently approx. every hour.)

If you wish to go into central Paris- you can catch an airport coach in to the train station called Gare de Lyon. (approx 35 mins.) From Gare de Lyon train station, catch the TGV to AVIGNON.

French train stations are easy to navigate- just ask for this town and they will tell which platform and when the next train is. Don't bother pre-booking. These trains run frequently. It takes three hours from Paris to AVIGNON.

From Avignon there is bus connection to Saint Remy de Provence (only 18 km). We will collect you from the center of town and take you to our fabulous, fully restored historical hotel.

Read more about transfer to Saint Remy from other locations/airports.

eiffel tower


  • Nostradamus’ birthplace
  • friendsLes Baux de Province, Grail castle carved from the rock of the peak of the Alpilles
  • The Valley of the Ancients
  • Ste. Marie-de-le-Mer and the gypsy festival
  • Druidic sacred site
  • Tremarie and the site of Da Vinci’s St. John
  • The Virgin in the Rocks
  • hermitage sites of St. Trophime
  • The church and the cave of Sarah the Gypsy
  • The Alchemist Garden
  • Ste. Marie Madeleine and St. Sauveur Cathedral.
  • Teachings from Vincent Bridges
  • Teachings from Dan Winter

Discovering the True History of the Grail and the Sacred Geometry of Provence
St. Remy and Les Baux – Nostradamus, Da Vinci and the Secret…

tree-lined boulevardVincent discovered what dramatically is a 5 sided magnetic line geometry being key to the function of St Remy- the trigger site of Nostredamus’s work. This is also the geometry around the tower of the famous  alchemist John Dee
used to make gold in the south of Prague, recently discovered in our last Prague retreat in 2009 called the Alchemy of Prague review.

Dan Winter will explain the phase conjugate nature of how THAT geometry made the plasma field of Nostredamus scrying projective to the future.. and was essential to the  Alchemy of Dee and Kelly.. just as it as key to building a successful Necropolis- city of the dead - at Rennes le Chateau (Holy Blood Holy Grail, the Da Vinic Code), where for the last 5 years, our study group has been holding a retreat review.

Gypsy Pilgrimage Saintes Maries de la Mer, France

flower stallEach year, thousands of locals, gypsies, pilgrims and tourists travel to the picturesque seaside town of Saintes Marie de la Mer to participate or witness this incredible Gypsy Pilgrimage. It is held in honour of Sara the Black or Black Sarah, the patron Saint of Gypsies and the three Marys - Mary Magdelene, Mary Jacob and Mary Salome - which give the place its name as the 'Marys of the Sea'. The pilgrimage includes an impassioned all-night vigil and a procession leading a statue of Sara down to the sea where she is ritually washed in the cleansing waters. Like all good gatherings, the event is accompanied by music, dancing and feasting. During the celebrations the town swells in size as over 10,000 gypsies and worshippers from all over the world flock to participate in this age-old ritual.

The Grail Mysteries in Provence: Discovering the Grail in the Sacred Geometry of Provence

A unique tour and conference event based on the latest research, presented here for the first time, of internationally known Nostradamus authority Vincent Bridges, connecting Nostradamus’ prophecies with Leonardo Da Vinci’s most heretical art and providing clues to Provence’s ancient, almost forgotten, variety of early Christianity. It was this alternative form of Christianity that provided the historical and spiritual underpinning of the original Grail legends. We will explore, on the ground, the locations and images of the true history of the Grail, from the Grail Castle of Les Baux to St. Trophime’s hermitages and the Alyscamp, the most renowned of medieval burial grounds to the quarries of Glanum and the standing stone of Da Vinci’s Virgin in the Rocks, from the gypsies of Ste. Maries-de-le-Mer to the rugged grottoes of the Magdalene, and of course, the lost city of Glanum Livii and its nympheum, center point of Provence’s accidental pentagram.

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Friday 21st May

Arrival, evening conversation/discussion – St. Remy-de-Provence

Saturday 22nd May

Overview- the True History of the Grail and the sacred geometry of Provence, morning lecture.  Afternoon walk in St. Remy, including Nostradamus’ birthplace and the archeological museum, then south of town to Les Antiques and Glanum. Dinner and discussion in St. Remy.

Sunday 23rd May

Walking tour and lecture – Les Baux de Province, Grail castle carved from the rock of the peak of the Alpilles, The Valley of the Ancients, Druidic sacred site and meditation center, and along the Alpilles ridge to the Tremarie and the site of Da Vinci’s St. John. Return by way of St. Paul de Mausole and the quarries of the Virgin in the Rocks. Back to St. Remy in the evening for dinner and discussion.

Monday 24th May

Leave for Arles early morning, with stops at Montmajor and Castellet, hermitage sites of St. Trophime. Exploring Arles; St. Trophime and the Place de Republic, the Roman arena and then on to the Alyscamp. Lunch in Arles and then back to St. Remy for the evening.

Tuesday 25th May

Ste. Marie-de-le-Mer and the gypsy festival; the church and the cave of Sarah the Gypsy. Leave early from St. Remy, lunch and dinner in Ste. Marie-de-le-Mer, then back to S. Remy for evening.

Wednesday 26th May

St. Remy and afternoon in Alchemist Garden. Quiet morning in St. Remy to recuperate; then side trip to Alchemical Garden and the hilltop fortress and village of Eygalieres. Late lunch in Eygaliere, then back to St. Remy.

Thursday 27th May

Leave early morning for the Grotto de la Ste. Baume, Salon and Aix. Morning hike in and around Ste. Baume; then Aix for the heretical art work at Ste. Marie Madeleine and St. Sauveur Cathedral. Lunch in Aix; and then back to Salon-de-Provence for Nostradamus’ house, St. Michel de Apocalypse, and his burial spot. Back to St. Remy for dinner.

Friday 28th May

Early departure for Tarascon and St. Gabriel chapel, Beaucaire and Great Tower of Nimes. Lunch in Nimes, then onto second Le Baume grotto, Pont-du-Gard and then, back to St. Remy for evening.

Saturday 29th May

Departure day.

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Study Notes

ancient ruinsEvery year the Roma celebrate and worship their patron saint, Saint Sarah, also known as Sara-la-Kali (Sara the black) in the coastal village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in the Camargue region of the Provence, Southern France.

There are several stories connected to the dark faced Saint Sarah, and especially her origins offer some interesting tales.

Legend has it she was the servant of the other locally celebrated Mary Saints. It is believed that at the beach they erected an altar to pray, but soon thereafter they dispersed. The relics of Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Mary Jacob are said to be kept in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer and each has their own annual pilgrimage. These women are believed to be the first people to witness to the empty tomb just before the resurrection of Jesus, and especially the Mary Magdalene cult is very wide-spread in the Provence.

An alternative legend of Sara-la-Kali states her as a pagan of noble birth, later converted to the faith of Abraham.

And last but not least, a most intriguing explanation, believes her to be the local, Christianized manifestation of the Indian goddess "Kali". The ceremony in Saintes-Maries closely parallels the annual processions in India, the country in which the Romani are believed to have originated. During the Indian pilgrimage celebrations, statues of the Indian goddess Durga, also named Kali, are immersed into water. Durga, a consort of Shiva, is usually represented with a black face, as is Saint Sarah. The Indian goddess Durga or Kali is the goddess of creation, sickness and death.

The Gypsy pilgrimage of Sainte Sarah is a unique, spiritual festival, vibrant and colourful, offering a deeper insight into the lives and culture of this ancient nomadic tribe, we call gypsies, the Roma.

The Grail Mysteries in Provence: Discovering the True History of the Grail

By Vincent Bridges ©2010

St. Remy and Les Baux – Nostradamus, Da Vinci and the Secret

"As far back as I can remember, I have in front of me a barrage of mountains whose hillocks and slopes, cliffs and narrow valleys were blue from dawn 'til dusk; a blue that varied in intensity according to the time of day. This is the chain of the Alpilles, surrounded by olive groves like some mountain of ancient Greece and a lofty keeper of legends and glory..."

"Caius Marius, the savior from Rome still popular throughout the region awaited the barbarians at the foot of this rampart, behind the walls of his camp; his trophies have been gilding under the sun of Les Antiques, near St. Remy, for two thousand years..."

"On the steep rocky cliffs of the mountain ... the princes of Les Baux built their stronghold. The gracious chatelaines held their courts of love in the fragrant vales of Les Baux... at the time of the troubadours."

"Oh delightful fragrances! Oh light! Oh gentle nature's peace; what longings of paradise you place in my child's soul..."

Fredric Mistral
The Empire of the Sun

Think of a triangle, with a town and its castle at each of the points (Avignon, Salon and Arles). There’s a river on two of the three sides, but the third side drifts so openly toward the marshes of the south and the sea that the delta might as well be an island. Across the center of the triangle, almost due east to west, runs a jagged chain of sharp cliffs and steep valleys known as the Chaine des Alpilles, the Little Alps. In actuality, they look more like an Impressionist version of the mountainsides of ancient Greece, shrunken to a more human scale, and placed like a stage set in the middle of a rocky plain.

The Little AlpsA few million years ago, the pressure from the growing Alps and the Pyrenees buckled a portion of the ancient seabed and thrust it straight up into the air. As the sea retreated, the bed on either side of the buckled rock silted up and became a stony and desert-like plain, the little Crau to the north, and the Crau to the south. The chain of limestone peaks that separates them runs roughly 20 miles, from Eyguieres, the eastern edge and the highest peak at just under 1,500 feet, to St. Gabriel in the west. At the widest point, the Alpilles are barely three miles across. Small in scale, but rich, as Frederick Mistral put it, in “legends and glory.”

The legends began six thousand years ago when the Neolithic hunters formed small communities in the safety of the mountain-top caves and springs at Les Baux and Eygaliere. Around three thousand years ago, a proto-Celtic civilization developed, one that welcomed the Greek traders who arrived half a millennium later in the 6th century BCE. Three hundred or so years after that, when Rome arrived in the first flush of its empire building, the Ligurians were cultured philosophers who had dwelt in peace so long they had virtually forgotten the art of war. Rome saved them from the more nomadic Celts sweeping down from the north, but at the price of their independence. The Salian confederation of Ligurian tribes was defeated by the Romans and within a generation the entire region was annexed as Rome's first province, the Provincia Narbonenis. A century later, Augustus and Julius Ceasar made the roads back to Rome, and in doing so made Celtic Gaul Roman. The first province, Provence, quickly became the center piece of the transalpine empire.

Ruins at GlanumNestled in a narrow valley to the north of the Ligurians' sacred mountain stood the ancient capital of Liguria, the Celto-Greek city of Glanon, Romanized as Glanum Livii. Founded half a millennium before the turn of the Common Era, Glanum's authority depended on its close relationship with the Druidic priesthood at Les Baux and in the Valley of the Ancients at Cordes. In the Roman era, it was eclipsed by Arelate (Arles), which had wisely backed Julius Caesar in his dispute with Pompey in 49 BCE. Even as Arelate grew, Glanum adhered to its old ways, absorbing first the Romans, and then in the middle of the first century CE, an influx of Jews from Palestine and other parts of the new Roman Empire. Some of these Jews were followers of a rabble-rousing magician, Jesus the Nazorean, who had just claimed the ancient throne of David in Jerusalem, and been executed for treason by the Romans for the attempted restoration of the ancient lineage. The fleeing followers included, perhaps, members of Jesus' immediate family. As they spread throughout the region preaching their Gospel, the cultured and thoroughly Helenized Druid philosophers were also converted to the new faith. From this unique blend of spiritual influences would grow an alternative version of what, a century or two later, would be called Christianity.

The blend contained some surprising spiritual influences. More than a millennium before Glanum was founded at the foot of its holy Mountain, the Egyptian traders of the 18th and 19th Dynasties arrived. The Egyptians built trading forts off what was then mouth of the Rhone, near the present day Ste. Maries-de-le-Mer, and travelled up the Rhone as far as Lyons. In the Greek era, trade flowed freely from Alexandria by way of Massilia (Marseilles). With the trade came an influx of ideas and philosophies from the east. In the late third century BCE, Buddhist missionaries arrived, dispatched by King Asoka in India to preach the Eight-fold path to all the ends of the earth. For the next three centuries, small enclaves of Buddhist hermits could be found living in the ancient grottoes and caves of the region. Helenized statues of the Buddha have been unearthed in the caves near Lamanon, and in at least one grotto reportedly used by St. Marie Magdalene, north of Nimes. This unique overlapping of influences created the very cosmopolitan and syncretic context from which the new faith emerged, appearing suddenly and full blown with the fervor of a Jewish messianic cult, the compassionate techniques of the early Buddhists, and an emphasis on the Goddess-mother and child, that is pure paganism, recognizable all the way back to the first Neolithic hunters.

Virgin statueSt. Remy-de-Provence, where statues of the Virgin and Child still bless every important street corner, grew from the ruins of Glanum's destruction. Depopulated first by Diocletian's persecution at the end of the third century CE, there was little left to sack by the time the Visigoths arrived in the early fifth century. At the turn of the sixth century, the area was revitalized and given a new name by one of those odd quirks of fate that seem to drive the history of the Dark Ages. The Visigoths made Arelate their new capital and Alaric II proclaimed himself king of the new empire of the Goths. They were opposed only by the newly Christianized Merovingian Franks under Clovis. Declaring that it was against God's will that the fairest portion of Gaul should be ruled by heretics and heathens, Clovis invaded the south and defeated Alaric II at the battle of Vouille. In the bargain, he became the master of southern France all the way to the Pyrenees.

During the campaign, Clovis travelled the ancient Roman road from Arelate to Avenio (Avignon) and camped with his army in the fields north of the ruins of Glanum, around what would come to be called Les Antiques. While camped at Glanum, Clovis experienced a miraculous visitation from his mentor, St. Remy, who prophesied for Clovis the future of his dynasty -"The Kingdom of France is predestined by God for the defense of the... only true Church of Christ. This kingdom shall one day be great among the kingdoms of the earth..." - as well as his personal future - "At the end of his most glorious reign, he shall go to Jerusalem, and shall lay down his Crown and Scepter on the Mount of Olives..." Clovis was so impressed by this experience that he gave the entire area to the church of Rheims, and so the new hamlet that grew on the site was called St. Remy's town. Clovis went on to become the greatest of the Merovingian Kings, and St. Remy-de-Provence remained, however obscurely, woven into the sacred tradition of French kingship.

Eygaliere hilltopThe fortified hilltop villages, such as Eygaliere, fared better in the next few centuries than did the new towns such as St. Remy. Hit hard by the plagues of the sixth century and the Arab invasion of the eighth, a small measure of stability returned to the region with the rise of the Carolingians. The area around St. Remy became virtually independent as a kind of Dark Age city state, and survived in this form until the rise of the Lords of les Baux in the middle of the tenth century CE.

Around 950, a local nobleman named Hughes claimed by right of descent - the ancient lineage once again - the old Roman watchtower and Druidic observatory at the entrance to the Valley of the Ancients at Cordes, directly in the center of the Alpilles. Perched like a vast boat - hence the name les Baux, the beam or keel of a ship that would in local usage come to mean any sharp uprising of rock - floating to the south of the sacred mountains, the terrace has an unobstructed view of the entire southern horizon, making it possibly the most significant Neolithic and megalithic astronomical location in all of Europe. Militarily, the site commanded both the Roman road to the north, through the passes it looms above, and the east/west road across the Crau, which ran directly below the rocky fortress. Possession of this site made Hughes and his descendants the masters of the medieval empire of the sun.

Les BauxThe Lords of les Baux adopted the idea of a semi-divine lineage, proclaimed by Clovis after his vision at St. Remy, and combined it with the ancient local traditions of Druidic astronomers to produce what to their contemporaries was the odd idea that they were descended from the third wise man, Balthazar. But from within the local mythic context, this was the only description possible for a tradition that clearly preceded Christianity, even as it recognized and embraced it. Of course the Druids of the Valley of the Ancients had foreseen the new age in the sky, so why shouldn't they have sent a wise man, a magi, in search of the meaning of the Star? The Lords of Les Baux took the mythic Star, shown with 16 rays, as their family crest.

At the height of their power and influence, the Lords of Les Baux ruled roughly one hundred villages and hilltop keeps on both sides of the Alpilles and by the late twelfth century had taken on a role in international power politics. Their support encouraged Frederick I Barbarossa in his end-run around the Roman church, resulting in his 1179 coronation as King of Arles. The facade of St. Trophime in Arles, designed and sculpted for the occasion, has a frieze depicting the entire story of the Magi as a direct nod to the influence of the Lords of les Baux. It was also the time of the Troubadours, who sang at the courts of love held in Les Baux, Romanin and Roquemartine, and the Cathar heresy, which the Lords of les Baux embraced, as well as the first appearance in written form of the Kabbalah, the transcendent light mysticism of the Jews, whom the Lords of les Baux held as being under their direct protection. The troubadour cited as the source by Chretein de Troyes and Wolfram von Eschenbach for the original Grail legend, one Guyot de Provence, was a vassal of the Lords of les Baux, and it is therefore not unusual to find images and motifs from the Grail Romances springing to mind as one contemplates the fortress of Les Baux.

Right portalThis small area, from St. Remy and Glanum up into the sacred mountains to les Baux, seems to be the origin point for what could be called the western mystery tradition. From the Grail legends to the ancient neolithic sages, from the founder of the Merovingian dynasty to the third wise man, the Lords of les Baux and the intersection between troubadour poetry and the Cathar heresy, from goddess worship, and Mary Magdalene, to the Kabbalah and Buddhist hermits, this spot describes and defines the essence of the mystery of Provence. From this central location at the antiques of Glanum, we can draw a fifty kilometre circle that encloses the sites sacred to this mystery, including Arles, Tarascon, Nimes, Salon-de-Provence, and Ste. Marie-de-le-Mer. Within this circle, we can trace the development of an alternative form of Christianity, the true history of the Grail in fact, and how this esoteric history impacted and influenced the course of mainstream events.

Within a generation, a mere thirty years after Frederick I’s coronation in Arles, all would be on the verge of ruin, as first the Pope and then the French King launched crusades against the heretics of the south. After invasion and inquisition came the first waves of the Black Death, and the Lordship of les Baux passed to the Counts of Provence. In the fifteenth century, this was Good King Rene D'Anjou, who gave Les Baux to his second wife, the beloved Queen Jeanne. It is fitting that in its final days of independence, Les Baux was ruled by a Queen. After her death, King Louis XI of France destroyed the fortifications, but Les Baux continued to be an important fiefdom. In the sixteenth century, it passed to the Marechal of France, Anne de Montmorency. With the good Marechal, we arrive in the time of the region's most famous historical figure, Michel de nostra domina, or Nostradamus, who was introduced at the court of Catherine Di Medici by Montmorency. The sixteenth century was a crucial point in the history of France and Europe, and Nostradamus was part of all the diverse intellectual currents of the era. Within his lifetime, his influence would begin to shape the events of European power politics, and after his death his shadow would continue to haunt the future, touching even our more rational age.

Rue HocheMichel, eldest son of Jaume de nostra domina, a local grain merchant and notary, was born in mid December 1503 in his grandmother house on the Rue Hoche, the main street of the ancient Jewish section of St. Remy-de-Provence. He spent his first fifteen years in St. Remy, playing in the shadow of Les Antiques and absorbing the region's legends and history from his two grandfathers. At that period, Glanum was a legendary memory, but one that was accessible to the adventurous. The crypt of the small chapel of St. Jean, a few hundred yards from Les Antiques, opened on to the ancient buried temple of the Goddess of the spring, the nympheum, of Glanum. And from there, miles of underground water chambers and sewers were available, running from Glanum and the monastery of St. Paul de Mausole out to the ancient quarries and beyond. His youth in St. Remy, with its mixture of myths and ancient history, had a profound effect on the future Seer of Provence. In six quatrains of his famous Prophecies, he returned to the scenes of his youth, implying that a great secret, the local myth of the "Silver Goat," would be discovered there one day.

At fifteen, young Michel departed for the university school at Avignon, the scene of the French Captivity of the Church in the fourteenth century and still the center of the region's intellectual life in the sixteenth century. In September 1521, his studies interrupted by an outbreak of the plague, Michel left Avignon and began his first period of wandering. By 1529, he was in Montpelier where he applied for admission to the medical school. One of his fellow students, the already famous humanist Francois Rabelais, Latinized Michel's surname as Nostradamus. Nostradamus never received his doctorate, and by the early 1530s he had settled in Agen, in southwestern France, in order to study with the Italian humanist Julius Ceasar Scaliger. Nostradamus married a local girl, and quickly had two children. But disaster struck, and both his new wife and their two children died of the plague. By 1534, Nostradamus was on the move again.

AvignonFor a decade, Nostradamus wandered the south of France, from Provence to the Basque coast and Bordeaux and back again. By 1544, we find a contemporary mention of him studying the plague and its treatment with Louis Serres in Marseilles, and then, a year or so later, he was summoned to Aix and Salon to organize the fight against the plague. He was so successful that the next year he was called to Lyon for the same reason. These exploits made him well-known, and along with the division of father's estate, he found himself wealthy enough to marry the most eligible young widow in Salon-de-Provence, Anne Ponsard. But before he could settle down to wedded bliss, Nostradamus found it necessary to make a trip to Italy.

teacherOf all of Nostradamus' mysterious periods of wanderlust, these last journeys to Italy are perhaps the most odd. He married Anne, bought and began to refurbish a house in Salon, and then left for a two-year excursion. It is hard not to consider that he was in some way summoned to Italy, or at least compelled by reasons more powerful than just gathering recipes for his book on cosmetics. His old friend Rabelais was in Italy, and may have been the source of the invitation. Nostradamus alludes in his later works to collecting a number of volumes on occult philosophy, during this trip and his later visit in 1555 - 56, that would later serve as the source of his magickal practices. Soon after the election of Pope Julius III in 1550, Nostradamus returned to Salon-de-Provence and began the work that would make him famous for the next half a millennium.

Nostradamus’ rise to fame began within a few years of his return, becoming a sixteenth century superstar within the decade when his prediction of Henri II's death came true. Before his death in 1566, he was the confident of the Queen of France, and officially proclaimed the royal Councillor and Physician in Ordinary to the Crown. He charted the future of French Kings, Henri II and his sons, discovered the founder of the next dynasty, the ten-year old Henri de Bearn, recognized a future Pope, and composed a history of mankind's possible and alternate futures in the Green Language of the Hermetic adept. And he accomplished all this without having his work placed on the newly developed Index of prohibited books, or even running afoul of the Inquisition. That alone shows that Nostradamus had many friends in powerful places.

Whatever we make of his prophecies, there can be no doubt that they have continued to fascinate us. Each era has seen the reflection of its own time and problems in Nostradamus' enigmatic verses, but he was right enough, often enough, with his predictions that our fascination is warranted. From a historical perspective, we can see Nostradamus as part of a reformation movement, not just within the church or the state, but an attempt to chart out the reformation of the human spirit through the vehicle of time. Nostradamus saw himself in the larger tradition of the Old Testament prophets and others such as the Sybils of ancient Rome and the more recent Joachim of Flores. But, and here's the important twist, he also saw himself as a man of the renaissance, a man of science, pragmatic and empirical. His prophetic abilities were to him a kind of future science, known to the ancients, dimly reconstructed by the scholars of his era, but surely to be perfected sometime in the long reach of human history. In that sense, we can see his Prophecies as an attempt to communicate not just across time, but across levels of awareness as well. 

St Michel churchThe mystery of Nostradamus is ultimately the mystery of the region itself, the ancient empire of the Sun. From the Druid Seers of Les Baux, the philosophers and early Christians of Glanum, to the Merovingians origins of St. Remy, the Magi of Les Baux, the Cathars, the Kabbalah, the Templars and the legends of the Grail, Nostradamus' vision rested on a solid basis of local myth and tradition. For example, just out Nostradamus' back door in Salon-de-Provence, where he would have to have seen it everyday, is the Eglise St. Michel-de-Apocalypse. On its arched tympanum we find not just St. Michel holding the sealed book of esoteric knowledge, but also posing as Ophiucus, the serpent holding esoteric 13th sign of the zodiac marking the center of the galaxy. Below his central figure is a lamb and shofar horn, the horn of judgment, beneath a Templar cross. Around these central figures are "Green" language images of the Tree of Life along with the Merovingian fleur-de-lis. Nostradamus had but to take a walk in the evening to contemplate, on one church front, the deepest core of his philosophy.

With all that in mind, Nostradamus’ six quatrains about his native region become even more important. Could Nostradamus’ quatrains point to the secret connecting all of the unique spiritual and historical threads that come together at St. Remy? And could that secret have been known, and painted, a generation before Nostradamus by one of the world’s greatest artist, Leonardo Da Vinci? Unveiling that hidden secret leads us directly to the story at the heart of the Grail myth, allowing us to see beyond the shadowy outlines of history. The legends and the romances play their part, shining light on pieces of the puzzle, but without the key understanding left by Da Vinci and later Nostradamus, the central component of the larger story would be missing.- see main link above

“…of the arch of Sextus Where the pyramid is still standing… the temple of Artemis… from between two rocks Of Sextus Mansol… at Mausole death and the tomb… MANSOL in the cavern of goats, Hidden and seized, pulled out by its beard…”

Arch of Sextus at GlanumThe arch of Sextus still stands at les Antiques at Glanum, as does the quarry stone the locals call “les pyramid.” There is a temple of Diana/Artemis in the ruins of Glanum, which no one in the 16th century knew about, and the two rocks of “Sextus Mansol” suggests a very real place. But who or what is Sextus Mansol? And why death and the tomb? A secret object, hidden in the cavern of goats, and pulled out by its beard? The clues grow stranger, even as a pattern emerges.

Sextus suggests the six pointed star of Solomon, commonly called now the Star of David, but a perennial symbol of Judaism. And Man and sol, man of the sun, and even sol(o)man, Solomon. Man of the Son/Sun also suggests early Christianity and even Mithraism and Sol Invictus, two close competitors with Christianity in the second and third centuries. So Nostradamus is implying that some very important relic, perhaps a tombstone, connected to a Jewish messianic cult figure who was the Mansol, Solomon, savior, etc. is hidden in the goat caves of the ancient quarry near Glanum.

Les PyramidesNostradamus hid these clues in his massive Propheties, combining them with other connections and clues to events that are some how involved in the “prophecy’s” fulfilment. But we can be fairly sure that Nostradamus intended these key phrases and images to stand out. Think of it as the bait…

However, Nostradamus was unaware that a generation or more before, another visionary artist had also placed some of these concepts in the geography of Glanum and Les Baux. When we turn to Leonardo Da Vinci, we find not just a deeper mystery, but the key to its solution as well.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo was born in 1452, the illegitimate son of the notary Ser Piero di Antonio da Vinci and a local peasant woman Caterina, who was perhaps the major influence on his life. He was raised in his father’s house, where his stepmother, Albiera di Giovanni Amadori, alternatively ignored and mistreated him. At 17, he was apprenticed to a respected Florentine master, Andrea del Verrocchio, and studied both painting and sculpture. His earliest known drawing is a landscape of the Arno Valley from 1473, and by the late 1470s he was producing small paintings of his own as well as adding figures and details to his master’s works.

Florence was a wealthy and bustling city-state controlled by merchants and ruled by the banking family of Medici. Leonardo was later to comment somewhat mysteriously: “The Medici made me and the Medici destroyed me.” Lorenzo de Medici was Verrocchio’s patron, and he was acquainted with Lorenzo’s more esoteric interests. Verrocchio himself was reputed to be involved in magic and alchemy as well as mathematics and music, and may have passed these interests on to his pupil, Leonardo.

Lorenzo’s court, and indeed all of Florence, was crowded with secret groups and shadowy societies, some public and religious, and others more exclusive. Cosimo de Medici, Lorenzo’s father, supported the two greatest occultists of the age, Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, and was responsible for the Corpus Hermetica’s translation into Latin. Lorenzo himself was the Grandmaster of a Neo-Platonic society called the Confraternity of the Magi, founded by his father. Also, a loose association of heretical, and even neo-Cathar, groups existed, referred to as the Companies of Night. Some of these heretics were artists, including prominent figures such as Sandro Botticelli.

In 1476, Leonardo was twice anonymously accused of homosexual activity but never charged, probably for lack of evidence. This accusation seems to have been the beginning of his obsession with secrecy, but there may have been more to it than appears on the surface. The accusation involved one Jacopo Saltarelli, who is described as a known heretic as well as a sodomite. Charges of heresy were common in Florence, and The Guild of Saint Luke, to which both Leonardo and Saltarelli belonged, was known for its heretical members rumoured to be part of the Companies of Night.

Adoration of the MagiBy 1478, Leonardo had his first major commission and was moving in a circle of young artists, among them Sandro Botticelli, whose works exhibit some interesting esoteric and heretical symbolism. Margaret Starbird focuses on Botticelli’s disguised Mary Magdalene paintings in Woman in an Alabaster Jar, and from these works it is easy to see that there was some sort of Magdalene underground in Florence. Leonardo may have absorbed some heretical ideas from his birth mother Caterina, who was rumoured to be an Old Believer, a surviving sect of the Bogomils. Later, Leonardo employed an old woman called Caterina as his housekeeper, and this may have been his mother, as Leonardo was especially solicitous of her well being. In that case, her influence, perhaps as a Cathar-like heretic, may have been profound and long lasting.

But we must keep in mind that Leonardo was not a confirmed believer in any sort of Christianity, heretical or otherwise. He was also not an occultist, although his vast curiosity would have led him to examine their claims closely, and he saw much of the Renaissance’s “science” as simply superstition. Leonardo was essentially a rationalist, not a visionary. So his acceptance of a heretical view of the dominant religion was not a matter of faith but more of rebellion against the established church and its social order. From the late 1470s onward, whenever Leonardo was forced to deal with Christian themes, which was almost all of his commissions, he seems to have taken great pains to work in heretical images and implications. Something in him took great pleasure in flaunting his knowledge in the face of ignorant faith.

Perhaps this impasse, this pull in different directions, caused the failure of his first two commissions. Of the first nothing remains, and very little may have been done, but the second, the “Adoration of the Magi,” survives in its half-finished state. This, in its curious way, is the most clearly heretical of all Leonardo’s paintings.

reminder of Salvadore DaliCompleted a few years earlier in 1475, Botticelli’s Adoration inspired Leonardo to attempt his own version. However his insight into the scene is more advanced than Botticelli’s. The moment pictured is the same: The Christ Child, in what is traditionally considered a pre-figuration of the Eucharist, blesses Balthasar, the third wise man, as Joseph and a small crowd of retainers look on. But Leonardo took these elements to a new level of intensity and strangeness.

Our modern vision is reminded of Salvador Dali by the ghostly horsemen, broken arches and stairway to nowhere in the background. These surrealistic images were meant to suggest the back-story, conflicts and travels, of the three wise men. The middle and foreground are taken by the adoration itself, with the Virgin and Child at the center of a roughly triangular arrangement. In Leonardo’s version, the stately crowd of retainers have become a semi circle of raving worshipers. Just above the Virgin’s left shoulder stands a large tree, The Tree of Life or the lineage Tree of Jesse, and just behind that is an enigmatic figure pointing up with one hand and toward the Virgin and child in the foreground with the other.

enigmatic figureThis is Leonardo’s signature gesture. He would repeat it in every significant painting to the end of his life. What he meant remains somewhat obscure, but from this first representation we can gain a glimpse of its implications. The mysterious figure is pointing to the Star/Tree, and apparently explaining the phenomenon to a group who are staring at the Star/Tree rather than at the Virgin and Child. (Star/Tree is used here because Leonardo didn’t paint a star, the Star of Bethelem, and clearly meant for the Tree to stand in for that image.)

The small group who see the Star/Tree are the initiates, the few, and they are being instructed by a hidden teacher, the secret knowledge that knows the astronomical insight behind the public mythic expressions. Just below this image is a man with his hand to his brow looking with astonishment at the Virgin and Child. Curiously enough, his features closely resemble those of Peter in the “Last Supper.” Behind the Virgin is Joseph, here offering a crust of bread, which is ignored while the Child blesses the offering of the wise man.

small group who see the starAs the esoteric and heretical symbols pile up on top of each other, our attention is drawn to the two enigmatic figures that frame the painting. On the far left is a hermit or a philosopher and on the far right, looking out of the painting, is a young knight, a Parsival-like figure. Art history tradition from the late 16th century holds that this young Grail knight is a self-portrait of Leonardo, suggesting that he painted himself into the story. If that was indeed Leonardo’s intent, then the information in the painting expresses Leonardo’s “initiation” into the mysteries of the Grail.

This can be understood by looking at the hermit/philosopher at the far left. In the Grail Romances, of both Chretien and Wolfram, there is a scene where a hermit, Trevizant, informs Parsival of his lineage and the nature of the Grail. This is perhaps the allusion Leonardo is making here. The story of the Grail is an alternative version of Christianity, one where the Eucharist is the ritual of anointing, not the bread and wine of the church’s Holy Communion. Here, it is Balthasar who receives the blessing, becoming the founder of the true church, and to the medieval understanding this pointed directly to one spot: Provence.

hermit at far leftAs examined earlier, since the early 11th century, the Lords of Les Baux, the rocky outcropping of the Alpilles in Provence, claimed descent from the wise man Balthasar. The stories in the medieval Golden Legends are the inspiration for the scenes in the background of Leonardo’s painting, and it clearly locates the events in Provence. King Rene D’Anjou absorbed this claim in the 15th century as Count of Provence. He was an ardent collector of Grail legends, and this alternative view of Christianity’s origin was possibly passed on to the intelligentsia of Florence and Milan by King Rene’s exclusive Chivalric society, the Order of the Cresent. From this inspiration came Cosimo de Medici’s related order, the Confraternity of the Magi.

It is just possible that Leonardo, through his contacts in the Guild of St. Luke, made connections with the more aristocratic and esoteric “Magi.” His father, a wealthy Florentine notary or lawyer, may also have had contacts with Order members at Lorenzo de Medici’s court. It was Leonardo’s father who secured his first two commissions, so we might suppose that part of the “promotional” process was an introduction to the intellectual elite at court.

Vasari repeats the curious story that Leonardo was sent to Milan in 1482 by Lorenzo de Medici to present Ludovico Sforza with a silver horse-head lyre that he had designed and on which he played like a virtuoso. The image of Leonardo as a young and handsome troubadour, playing ethereal music on a silver lyre, is one that is somewhat at odds with the common perceptions based on the self-portrait from his later years. But Leonardo gained entry to the court of Milan as a kind of Renaissance rock star, rather than as a painter or a scientist. However, even given his beauty - see the Parsival image in the “Adoration” - and his talent, there is still an element of a deeper connection behind Leonardo’s acceptance at Ludovico’s court.

teacherFor one thing, Leonardo left his “Adoration” unfinished when he hurried off to Milan in the winter of 1482. The monks of San Donato a Scopeto never complained and eventually had another version painted. The non-completion of his first commission is even more telling. This was for the government itself, a painting for a chapel in the Palazzo Vecchio, and the lack of any response to Leonardo’s complete abandonment of the project suggests strong support from high places. The conclusion is that Leonardo was under the protection, from as early as 1478, of the elite at Lorenzo’s court. Just why, and for what reasons, remains a mystery.

Apparently as part of this semi-official involvement, Leonardo came into contact with members of the Order of the Crescent and the Confraternity of the Magi. We may even speculate, given the subject matter of the “Adoration,” that some time around 1480 Leonardo was actually initiated into the Order, or a variant of it. It was this same current that would initiate Botticelli and serve as the source for his Magdalene paintings of the mid 1480s. We can even find traces of the Magdalene tradition in Florentine painters as seemingly orthodox as Fra Angelico, and it is not hard to imagine all of these artists being influenced by the same source, King Rene’s Underground Stream.

The core revelation of this initiation, the key mythos, may be seen in the images of the “Adoration.” Leonardo himself, traditionally, is the young Grail knight to whom the story of the True Tree, the Grail and its alternative church, is being told. The details lead us, through common medieval legends directly to Provence, and therefore to King Rene D’Anjou. The coherence of the symbols is convincing enough to suggest that initiated or not, Leonardo had discerned an important, and heretical, secret. And he painted it in so obvious a manner that the secret was virtually on display for all to see. Even to the Medici this may have been just too much.

fountainAnd so Leonardo was dispatched to Milan, to the court of Ludovico Sforza where he could exercise his talents more freely. He offered his services to Ludovico in a famous letter, where he barely mentions painting and dwells instead on military engineering and sculpture. At Ludovico’s court there many bright young practical thinkers, doctors, engineers, architects, men of fact and experience, and this intellectual richness fed Leonardo’s insatiable craving for information in ways that would have been impossible in Florence.

Leonardo never felt the need to leave Milan, until circumstances and the French King compelled him. He stayed for seventeen years and the variety of duties he was called upon to perform, from the founding of cannons and the installation of central heating in the palace to supervision of pageants and festivals, appealed to his multifaceted nature. Ludovico’s father, Francesco Sforza, was a founding member of King Rene’s Order of the Crescent, and Ludovico was its Grandmaster in the 1490s. This link was perhaps another reason why Leonardo felt safer in Milan.

Soon after his arrival at Ludovico’s court, Leonardo received his first commission, an altarpiece for the Franciscan Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception. This commission led to twenty-three years of acrimony and legal entanglements, before Leonardo completed it in 1506. That painting, which is now in the National Gallery in London, is not the only version. An earlier “Virgin in the Rocks,” now in the Louvre, existed and while it is clearly not the painting described in the legal documents, it is not clear when it was painted or exactly how it ended up with the King of France.

Kenneth Clark, the renowned art historian, was of the opinion that it was painted in Florence, finished at roughly the same time as the “Adoration” was begun. Leonardo took it with him, in this view, when he made his move to Milan as a demonstration of his mastery of painting. And perhaps, as we will see below, he used it as proof of his understanding of the Grail secrets.

Virgin in the RocksThe Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception was offered a copy, which is in keeping with the painting’s secondary status as a screen for the altar statue and the small amount the Franciscans were willing to pay for it. Leonardo sketched out a version, and then abandoned it, possibly after Ludovico Sforza bought the original. The Franciscans sued, and eventually, but only after Ludovico’s death, Leonardo finished the painting. In this second version, Leonardo left out certain details, and added others, that made the scene more acceptable to its orthodox patrons.

The original however is almost as heretical, although in a much more subtle manner, as the “Adoration.” The Franciscans wanted, according to the contract, “Our Lady and her Son with the angels, done in oils with the utmost care…” Nowhere is there any mention of John the Baptist. This alone argues against seeing the original “Virgin in the Rocks” as stemming from this contract. It is clearly far more than a simple Madonna and Child with an angel. If the Brothers had wanted John the Baptist included because of some special fondness for him, we can be certain he would have been included in the contract. However, they made no reference to him.

For one thing, including John the Baptist at all was rather odd and only vaguely orthodox. There is only one small reference in the Apocryphal Gospels that suggests a meeting between Jesus and his cousin John at an early age, but it is so tangential, and does not directly name John, that we might safely ignore it as a source. So why is he there at all? The motif of the rocky wilderness was symbolic of the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, but the addition of John the Baptist adds an oddly disturbing note to the painting.

Even more curious is his placement. The infant John kneels beside Mary, whose right arm and hand embrace him as her cloak, in a protective gesture, falls around him. She is also looking down at him with an odd tilt of her head, one that we will see again in the “Last Supper.” John is praying toward the other infant, Jesus, who is blessing him. Mary’s left hand hovers above the infant Jesus’ head. Stranger still is the enigmatic woman, considered to be an angel, with one of the most elegantly beautiful faces of all time, slyly looking out at the viewer and pointing, in half of Leonardo’s signature gesture, toward the infant John.

grotto or quarry?The location is also distinctive, as if it is a quarry rather than a grotto, with two outward views. One looks out on a rocky and mountainous landscape of sharp cliff faces, and through the other can be seen a curious upright stone of the kind left behind by Roman quarry masters to show the depth of the excavation. Just above is another indication that the scene is an old quarry. Two craved slabs of stone, forming a V, cross a crevice like support beams in a roof. On top of the enclosure just as it would be in an old quarry, the ground level of trees and grass can be seen.

Leonardo was trying to communicate something important in the first version of this painting. The angelic woman looking out at the viewer is dressed in the traditional colors of the Magdalene, and as in Botticelli’s work, has golden-red hair. She is pointing to John, protected by Mary, while supporting the infant Jesus. The painting confuses the issue of which is the Christ by doing away with halos. Were it not for the gesture of blessing by the infant Jesus, there would be no identifying clues. The issue is further confused by the fact that the angel/Magdalene seems maternally connected to the infant Jesus.

We are left with the impression that somehow John the Baptist, or at least the infant supposed to represent him, is more significant than Jesus himself. This is a decidedly unusual view for an Immaculate Conception altarpiece. Leonardo would return to this theme of John the Baptist as a youthful Christ-figure several more times, most famously in one of his last works, so it must have had considerable power for him.

But even more curious, the longer one studies the location depicted in the painting, the clearer it becomes that Leonardo was trying to describe a real place. Not one that he had seen personally, but one in which certain signs, which could be described to him, made its general location obvious. A mountainous region of sharp cliffs and small peaks where an ancient quarry retained its upright stone, a place possibly connected with the Holy Family’s flight and the Magdalene. Considering the legends of Mary Magdalene and her family arriving in France, at St. Marie-de-le-Mer, then location alone points to the Alpilles and then to Glanum, the only Roman quarry left with its marker stone still standing.

water bearerThis original painting ended up with Ludovico who apparently gave it to Louis XII of France, where it passed to his son Francis I. He was so moved by it that he later offered Leonardo safe haven in his last years in the Chateau country of the Loire Valley. The Brothers waited, impatiently, for twenty-three years until after Ludovico’s death for their version, in which there is no pointing hand, and everyone has halos. The location is also subtly altered to make it more a fantasy landscape than an indication of a real place. This painting was displayed for several centuries at the monastery, but the original, with its odd clues to a heretical mystery remained sequestered away in the French royal collection until after the Revolution.

A little more than a year after Leonardo finished the “Last Supper” his comfortable sojourn in Milan was shattered by the overthrow of Ludovico. By that time however, Leonardo’s fame was international and one of his royal admirers was Louis XII of France, the new de facto ruler of Milan. Louis XII was familiar with Leonardo’s “Virgin in the Rocks,” it may have been given to him the year before by Ludovico in their early negotiations, and as soon as he could he came to see the “Last Supper.” Leonardo wasted no time in proposing a new commission to Louis, and he produced a design cartoon of Mary, with Jesus and John the Baptist, perched on her mother St. Anne’s lap. He would later return to this theme, but after a few months, Leonardo abandoned this version, and Milan.

The period from 1500 to 1506 was one of restlessness and unsettled travelling. Leonardo left Milan for Mantua and then Venice, but returned to Florence by the spring. There he embarked on a fruitful period, painting a new “Virgin and Child with St. Anne,” and other smaller works. In 1502, he set out on a trip across northern Italy making maps and design fortifications for Cesare Borgia, and again was back in Florence by the spring of 1503. That year he painted the Mona Lisa, and started on the great mural, “The Battle of Anghiari,” for the council chamber of the Palazzo Vecchio.

This was inadvertently destroyed, or at least severely damaged, once again by Leonardo’s proclivity for experimentation. By 1506, he was once again in Milan, working this time for the French governor. With only brief visits back to Florence, he stayed in Milan until 1512, when the French were expelled, and then travelled to Rome with the Medici Pope, Leo X. This lasted until Leo’s death in 1516, when Leonardo accepted the offer of Francis I and moved to a chateau near Cloux in the Loire valley, where he remained until his death in 1519.

St. JohnLeonardo in this later period painted several works with similar vaguely heretical content, most prominently his “St. John” and “St. John in the Wilderness.”  Indeed in his “St. John in the Wilderness” he openly displays the key to the secret. Imagine that the young St. John from the Virgin in the Rocks has grown up and is sitting on a rough hewn rock from the quarry nearby. The foreground suggests a similar landscape, and in an early study for the work, perhaps done in 1510, the rock is very prominent. This is quite specific in its detail; it has the feel of a real place. In fact, the background rocks/castle in the finished version suggests at first glance the odd peaks in the left hand side of the Virgin painting.

But as we look closer at that background, the connection dissolves. Here we see not perhaps a mountain peak, but a square keep in rock surrounded by water, a virtual island. A fantasy landscape perhaps, which is strange, combined with the specific detail of the figure’s location. The sensation of the painting is that the distant background is somehow removed, in time and space, from the frame of the figure on the rock. Could the strange rocky island ever have existed?  If we assume that our St. John figure walked up from the quarry of the Virgin in the Rocks, at Glanum, to this high seat, then we are looking out from the Alpilles onto the Crau. And down there, in the first century AD, were in fact three rocky islands standing isolated above a marshy flood plain. One of them would become the Abbaye de Montmajor, which shelters, in the shadow of its square Benedictine church, the chapel of St. Pierre, hermitage spot of an unusual Provencal saint, St. Trophime.

sketchCould Leonardo be pointing to a connection between his mysterious St. John and this real local saint? Curiously enough, St. Trophime is best known for leaving his knee print in a sarcophagus lid in the Alyscamps in 50 AD, and Leonardo goes to great lengths, as can be seen in the early sketch, to capture that knee as a counter weight to the pointing finger. In this sense, the finger is pointing to St. John, while showing off his knee, as if to say that yes, I’m the one who left the knee print; I’m the true St. Trophime, holy triumph and trophy all at once. Combined with the ancient view of Montmajor, the identification becomes concrete.

Three of Leonardo’s paintings, “The Adoration,” “the Virgin in the Rocks” and “St. John in the Wilderness,” point us directly to some kind of alternative Christianity in Provence. The Adoration introduces the importance of Balthazar, the third wise man claimed by the Lords of Les Baux, and the Virgin of the Rocks suggests that the quarries at Glanum had a connection to both Jesus and St. John. In the St. John painting we see that child grown up, identifying himself as the local St. Trophime. Leonardo, as much a trickster as Nostradamus, has left us the major clues to discovering the secret of the Grail.

Nostradamus however knew nothing of Leonardo’s heretical work. Therefore his six quatrains, enigmatic as they are as a whole, do provide a sort independent verification of the secret displayed so cleverly in Leonardo’s paintings. Nostradamus’ “Sextus MANSOL” and Leonardo’s St. John seem to be pointing at the same local legend, that of St. Trophime and the holy stone of the Alyscamps. The connection point, as Leonardo suggests, is somewhere between St. Remy and Les Baux.

The Secret...

One point is clear. Leonardo, like Nostradamus, was in touch with various levels of what was an almost forgotten heresy in his time. When we gather together the clues that Leonardo has given us, certain threads become clear, at least in their confusion. The Virgin Mary, Jesus’ mother, is confused with Mary Magdalene, and the infant Jesus is confused with his cousin John, or perhaps with another “St. John” altogether. These confusions are covers or blinds for a deeper meaning. They tell us that the Virgin is actually the Magdalene, and that Jesus is, in some obscure way, the same as the ever-present “St. John.”

That’s why Peter is astonished in the “Adoration.” It is Mary Magdalene’s child by Jesus whose birth is honoured in the “Adoration.” This child, symbolized in Leonardo’s coded images as “St. John,” has a prominent, although obscured, role to play in the early history of Christianity in Provence as St. Trophime. He is somehow also a “Christ,” one that is worthy of being honoured by Jesus himself.

But most important of all, Leonardo is telling us that the Church of Rome, Peter’s Church, is not the real church; it is in fact a persecuting and betraying entity that has suppressed the Sophia wisdom of the Master’s Bride and most intimate disciple. Leonardo is a true Grail Knight, as shown by his portrait in the “Adoration.” He is one who protects the secret by hiding it in plain sight, a coded message in a bottle, addressed to those seekers who come after him.

In that way, he and Nostradamus have much in common.

The Accidental Pentagram in Provence

© Vincent Bridges 2010

Vincent BridgesEarly on in my research on the Grail in Provence, I noticed something unusual about the landscape. Not only was the region roughly a triangle, the delta of the Rhone delta, with a small mountain range across the center, but the area around Glanum seemed to be the center or connecting point of some kind of invisible web that apparently animated the larger landscape. The pattern was hard to make out as it wasn’t an alignment of churches or shrines, or even pilgrim routes, but a structural component, formed by geology, which shaped the pattern. Humans, for thousands of years, made use of the pattern on the landscape, without perhaps ever being aware of it directly.

From the top of the Alpilles, the view to the south is unobstructed to the horizon, which on a clear day is the Mediterranean. To the east is the Luberon hills and above that the edge of the Vaucluse plateau. To the west lies Nimes and the rough hills to the north of it, and due north the view is clear all the way to Avignon, the papal city at the confluence of the Durance and the Rhone. Further north is the Rhone valley and beyond that looms the hills and gorges of the Ardeche.

It is plain to see that the rivers, the Rhone and the Durance have shaped the landscape, and other rivers emptying into the Rhone have created even more contours and gorges around the edges. This creates the tension of the landscape, defining the places that suggest “holiness.” The confluence of the two great rivers would have been an obvious sacred site, now co-opted by the Catholic Church, as would the spring at the base of the Holy Mountain of the Alpilles. The line between them, slightly west of north, continues up the Rhone valley until in the Ardeche it hits a small village called St. Mountain, Holy Mountain, where there is a grotto, the Grotto de le Ste. Baume, said to be one of Mary Magdalene’s hermitage sites.

crossWith one line, we have connected three very ancient and sacred locations, two Holy Mountains with grottoes and springs and the confluence of the two rivers that shape the landscape. To the ancient people who inhabited the valley, these were unmistakably sacred sites and their alignment would have been seen as a spiritual, and actual, axis of the region. The curious point is that attribution of a cave or grotto in the Ardeche to Mary Magdalene, la Ste. Baume.

Traditionally, the better known chapel and grotto in the Massif de la Sainte Baume, far to the southeast from the Ardeche and almost on the coast, has been seen as the focus of the 12th century’s stories of Mary Magdalene’s penitence and hermitage. There seems to be no connection at all to the Ardeche in any of the surviving Magdalene legends, yet there it is. More than just the grotto, the region is full of Madeleine names, including the sharp bend in the Ardeche River and the Templar hospital and fort defending it. Perhaps the Templars were the source for the local and somewhat late Madeleine/Magdalene tradition; however the evidence for long term habitation and importance as a sacred site, going back to the Neolithic era, includes a set of monoliths near another grotto a few kilometers east of the Magdalene cave.

This spot marks the north end of the axis line from Glanum, through the confluence of the rivers and on to the monoliths, which are on the same level as the Robinet de Donzere, the rocky out cropping that forms the narrows of the Rhone, just before the Ardeche empties into it. This clearly, from deep prehistory, was the gateway to the valley and the delta beyond. And the connection from the gateway, in the far north, to the center, the sacred springs and caves of the Alpilles in the delta, is also quite clear. But there must be more, even if this is the main line of the invisible web.

peopleMy next logical step was to draw a line on my map connecting the Ardeche’s la Baume grotto with the more famous one in the far southeast of Provence. This line ran along the edge of the Vaucluse plateau and near many famous cave and spring locations, including Fontaine de Vaucluse and Pernes-le-Fontaine, but no odd attributions to the Magdalene. The line crosses the Durance northwest of Aix-en-Provence, passes west of the Forest of Peyrolles and the Montagne Ste. Victorie and east of the Chaine de l’etoile, through a gap marked by range of low hills to the Grotto and its chapel. From there, aligning yourself along the low pass or col in front of you, would direct you along the water edge of the Vaucluse and on to the Gateway of the Rhone. Because of its 12th century overhaul and the continuing presence of the Catholic Church, we have little evidence of Neolithic habitation near the grotto or chapel, but the importance of the site clearly predates its Christian adoption.

Our next line, from Glanum’s sacred mountain to the Grotto and chapel of la Ste. Baume, makes this clear as it encloses Aix-en-Provence to the south. Aix was originally named Aquae Sextae Salluviorium for the thermal spring of sweet water around which the Romans founded a town in 123 BCE. So the idea of a sacred spring is reinforced by the lines connecting the center and the two widely separated holy grotto locations, as they converge on the most famous holy spring of the region. Also, the line from Glanum to the Grotto la Ste. Baume falls in between the Montagne Ste. Victorie and the Chaine de l’etoile, with an even better and more direct line of sight back to the eastern Alpilles. This gives us a triangle, tilted from the north to the southeast, centered on Glanum’s sacred mountain.

But where are the lines for the western and the southern directions? It just felt like there had to be more of the pattern there, and so I kept on looking.

fortI turned my attention to places with a Magdalene connection, and immediately it occurred to me that Ste. Maries-de-le-Mer, with its Sarah the Egyptian grotto and fresh water spring, was, as the Magalene’s supposed landing spot in Provence, an obvious choice. A line from Glanum through the sacred mountain to Ste. Maries-de-le-Mer runs through Les Baux and the ancient Drudic valleys, so that felt correct. The line from La Ste. Baume to Ste. Maries-de-le-Mer passed the Chaine de etoile to the south and along the coast north and west of Marseilles and created a counterpart to the eastern section of the larger triangle.

So, I looked west toward Nimes, which had a large nympheum and spring as the center of its ancient settlement. The nympheum is just below the ancient Greco-Roman watch tower, the Tour Magne, with its odd multi-lingual connections to Magdalene/Magdala, (The words mean roughly the same thing in Latin and Aramaic, “great tower”.) However, Nimes, for all its suggestive connotations, has never had a direct Magdalene connection.

But to the north, in the Gorges de Gardon, there is a curious story about the Magdalene’s original, pre-la Baume, hermitage spot. A few kilometers up the Gard from the Pont-du-Gard aqueduct, this Grotto de la Baume is the only one without the Sainte prefix, indicating that it was a hermitage for all Baume, or cave dwelling anchorites. In fact, a Hellenistic 2nd century BCE statue of a seated Buddha was found in this grotto, indicating that it was used by many traditions as a hermitage spot. The story is that the Magdalene spent a few years there soon after her arrival, then was miraculously flown across Provence to the Grotto southeast of Aix by an angel. This immediately caught my attention, because, assuming an angel would fly in a straight line, then a line connecting the Grotto de la Baume and the Grotto de la Ste. Baume would pass directly over Glanum’s sacred mountain.

map of glanumI now had two western triangles, centered on the grotto north of Nimes, and a southern triangle anchored by Ste Maries-de-le-Mer, to accompany the north to southeastern original triangle, and all focused on Glanum. But it still felt incomplete. Four lines from the sacred mountain above Glanum connecting Magdalene caves and springs, making a larger sense of some ancient mother/water goddess connection and this knowing continued as part of the early Christian/Magdalene anchorite tradition. The southern triangle along the sea felt whole, it needed no division into smaller pieces like the western section. However, that northern to southeastern triangle seemed to beg for another division to match the western sections.

And then it hit me. If I just continued the line from Ste. Maries-de-le-Mer through Les Baux and Glanum until it touched the long side of the triangle, then I would indeed have five sections or triangles; northeast, southeast, south, southwest, and northwest. And the center would be a pentagonal alignment focused on a spot on the top of the sacred mountain above Glanum…

This is what I call the accidental pentagram. No one planned it, but the ancient pattern of goddesses and caves and springs, and the legends grafted onto them, point to the larger archetype on the landscape. I had four interconnected sacred sites, with Glanum at the center, but could there really be five? What of that point where the Ste. Maries/Les Baux/Glanum line crossed the long side of the triangle, could there be something there that clinched the connection?

On the map, there was nothing there but a bend in the road coming down across the Vaucluse plateau from St. Didier to Sausaune-de-Vauclause. But, when I began to look closer, I found something truly strange. In the odd bend in the road where the lines crossed was an old hermitage and shrine to a local Dark Age local saint, St. Gens. On the right hand wall of the hermitage is a large dark stone said to be the hidden location of St. Gens’ cave and perhaps either his tomb or where he awaits the end of the world. Gens, in the local dialect, is pronounced as “jean” and so we have a mysterious St. “Jean” or John with a cave hermitage/tomb and above that a miraculous spring.

buildingRecently, I redrew my original somewhat rough diagram of the accidental pentagram. In making it more accurate, I stumbled on a very important point, literally. In my first version, I knew the intersection point was somewhere above Glanum, about halfway between Glanum and Les Baux, on the slopes of the Mount Gaussier, the sacred mountain, but locating the exact spot required a better map and a larger scale. When I did that, I found that the spot where the five lines of the Nuit star/pentagram meet fell just off the side of the old road that climbs from Glanum and St. Remy over the Alpilles.

I had accidentally stopped at that very spot in 1999 and noticed the similarities between the spot and the foreground and rock seat of Leonardo’s St. John in the Wilderness. I was so impressed that I looked up the painting in the Louvre, amazed that Leonardo Da Vinci had placed his oddly heretical saint on that hillside in the Alpilles. And, this particular spot turns out to be the exact location of the pentagram’s center…

With this, the pattern of our pentagram seems complete. Four Magdalene sites, caves with springs, and a fifth connected to a mysterious Gens or Jean, with a cave and a spring, and all focused on Glanum and its nympheum, a temple to the mother goddess of living water. This ancient sacred pattern on the landscape provides the most vital clue of all to the mysteries of Provence and the Holy Grail. As the true history of the Grail in Provence emerges, these curious locations – a Templar hospital and grotto, the church’s chapel and grotto, the gypsy’s sea-side shrine to the Maries, the old hermitage site above Nimes, the hidden saint and his tomb in the Vaucluse, and of course Glanum – will develop into key, but hidden, components of the story.

tour leaders

Join Vincent Bridges, Dan Winter, Valerie Sandelin and Roger Green for a retreat and study tour of a lifetime!


A Word From Vincent

This trip began for me 40+ years ago when I read Wolfram's Parsival in high school and realized that the whole Disney fairy tale world of the miraculous Grail might just be true somehow. The quest to uncover the story I sensed beneath the pageantry of the Grail Romances made me a historian, instead of an English teacher, and has kept me on the outskirts of Chapel Perilous, where the Siege Perilous sits in wait for the Perfect Knight, for my entire adult life. And, while I am far from a Perfect Knight, I have done my small part to map out the terrain of the wasteland and the road to the Holy Mountain of Montsalvasch.

Along the way, as my Quest connected me to places I never dreamed were involved, I learned an important fact: nothing is better than seeing history on the ground and close up. That's the way discoveries are made, from a personal ground level approach. And that's what I would like to share with you on this very special pilgrimage and quest, an up close and personal on the ground look at the true history of Grail as it developed in Provence.

We literally walk through thousands of years of history, from ancient Greece and Rome to the late 19th century of Van Gough, guided along our way by the master of time himself, Michel de Nostradamus, who was born in St. Remy and grew up in the shadows of the antiques at Glanum, wandered throughout Europe and then settled in Salon-de-Provence just the other side of the Alpilles to write his famous prophecies. And it is this unique juncture of Nostradamus' prophecies and the heretical work of Leonardo Da Vinci that eventually led me to the key discovery behind the true history of the Grail.

On this trip we will lucky enough to stay at a beautifully restored chateau from the early 18th century on the farm once owned by Nostradamus' brother Bertrand. The Chateau de Roussan is a real treasure, a glimpse back to an earlier time and a direct way to connect with local history. There might even be a ghost or two wandering the halls. In St. Remy, we will examine the places where Nostradamus was born and grew up, allowing us to absorb something of the very atmosphere of this very special place and its most famous native son. And along with Nostradamus, we will follow the trails left by Van Gough and Da Vinci, and delve into the secrets of an almost forgotten alternative form of Christianity.

At the center of this hidden history of early Christianity is the family circle of the three Marys, their brother and nephew Lazarus and the curious New Testament saint known as The Triumph. All of this information, and much more - including St. Maurice and the Theban Legion, connections and clues from Rennes-le-Chateau, Good King Rene's Grail quests and Frederick Barbarossa's coronation in Arles, Gypsy Guardians and Grail Processions - came be found in my new book, The Grail Mysteries of Provence: Discovering the True History of the Grail, available from Inner Traditions in the spring of 2011.

So join us as we explore, on the ground, the locations and images of the true history of the Grail, from the Grail Castle of Les Baux to St. Trophime's hermitages and the Alyscamp, the most renowned of medieval burial grounds to the quarries of Glanum and the standing stone of Da Vinci's Virgin in the Rocks, from the gypsies of Ste. Maries-de-le-Mer to the rugged grottoes of the Magdalene, and of course, the lost city of Glanum Livii and its nympheum, center point of Provence's accidental pentagram. As we visit and explore the sites connected to this hidden history, we can begin to piece together a glimpse of the true origins of the Grail Mythos

May 27- 30, 2010: Part One - (4 Day) Course Intensive- Turin..(Leaving S.France a day or so early) Part 1-Complete Course Curriculum - with Dan Winter- Turin- English & Italian (German Available) - info: (Italy) +39-0161468313 - or or New AssociazionePhi

Aug 26-29, 10: Part Two - Advanced Course Intensive- Turin..


Sacred Sites Tour - Templar Mysteries and The Grid-
at The Isle of Malta! - June 4,5& 6
- with Vincent Bridges and Dan Winter

Planned is a major presentation with Vincent Bridges- a talk on the History of the Templars and their possible connection with Malta.This should be of great interest to historians in Malta especially because of its connection with the Hospitelier Order of St. John which co existed with the Order of Knight Templars and inherited the properties of the Templars when these were disbanded.

Then a weekend by Dan Winter including talks on the Evolution of Consciousness and Coherent Emotion,the Secret Science of Ecstacy and Immotality, and Implosion- the fractal Science of Spirit.... these topics are all interconnected ...

Included will be a talk on Biological Architecture and Sacred geometry and Healing of the Earth Grid, which would include field work to tap the energies of the Sacred Sites in Malta and perhaps throw light on their role and relevance in the global awakening occuring on the planet today: Can You Feel A Magnetic Line for Yourself?

The host for our Malta experience is Alfred of , contact:

--then.. come to Ireland with us!

Ireland Summer Retreat with Michael Rice
Mastering Sacred Geometry Building

A unique live-in retreat- June 11th is arrival day ( )
An easy to get to location in the heart of IRELAND

Part one: June 11-14.
Part one is held at Michael Rice's Sacred Geometry design retreat center.
A  three day workshop on the theory, hands on experience and practical applications for building sacred geometry dwellings.
Accommodation is basic dormotory style. We will share men / women rooms. Some private double bedrooms are available for couples. It is an all inclusive package- tuition, accommodation and all meals are provided, except one night where we have an off-site dinner party. Meals on site are macrobiotic quality vegetarian. The dinner party on third night is an optional  full catered event at a local estate house. Dress: bring some practical work clothing. Temperatures are mild- to warm, however it is Ireland- so bring a rain coat.


Then in July:



Details of Major Conference in POLAND- in September to be Announced

Also- Tour: Mexico and Chile in October 2010- to be Announced