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View on Rocamadour
View of Rocamadour

At equal distance between the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees Mountains in an area called South West France is a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Better known as the Black Virgin of Rocamadour.
The shrine was once one of the most famous religious sites in the whole of Christianity. Even today the shrine attracts millions of visitors.

The first glimpse of Rocamadour is breathtaking it is truly a beautiful sight, its setting is one of the most extraordinary in France. Perched on the side of a cliff, the village seems to defy the force of gravity.

A view very real and tangible at yet beyond space and time, for some a gateway to heaven, to others a doorway to other dimensions.

The guidebooks tell us that Rocamadour is named after St. Amadour, which translates in local Occitan dialect “he who loves the Roc”.

In 1166 a body was found in a miraculously preserved state in a burial crypt beside the chapel of the Black Virgin Since the 15th century the general consensus is that the body was that of Zaccheus. His wife is well known as Saint Veronica the kind woman who wiped clean the bloody face of Jesus while he was carrying the crucifixion cross...   Husband and wife fled Palestine and settled in this region of France. Before his death while living as a hermit at Rocamadour, angels guided Zaccheus to a Pagan shrine dedicated to the earth. Mother Goddess, which he replaced with a Black Virgin sculptured by Saint Luke.Worship of the Mother Goddess was very extensive throughout the Roman Empire, the most common in France being Cybele and ISIS.

After Henry II King of England and western France (father of Richard the Lionheart) was cured of an illness, word spread of the miracles occurring at Rocamadour. Already by 1172 a 127 miracles were recorded, the multitudes were starting to pour in.

The stairway of Rocamadour

But for some the pilgrimage was imposed by lay-or church tribunals, the suppression of the Cathar heresy was in full sway during the 13th century.
The repentant pilgrim was dressed in clothes and a large hat covered with crosses. Probably this entailed masses of abuse for the pilgrim while passing through villages on the road to Rocamadour.  Half starved, tired and sore from blows and missiles, the penitent was stripped on arrival at the shrine. Dressed only in a shirt chains were attached to his arms and neck. A slow painful climb, 216 steps up the Great Stairway on hands and knees…The penitent would be brought before the Black Virgin where it was hoped the Virgin would drive out the ‘demons’. He pronounced his ‘amende honorable’ and a priest recited prayers of purification. If the ceremony was completed to the satisfaction of the church dignitaries the penitent would be declared ‘cured’. The pilgrim received a certificate and a lead medal in the image of the Black Virgin to prove to the world that he was forgiven.

The chapel of the miraculous Virgin dates from 1479, the previous chapel was crushed by rock fall. The rebuilding was commissioned by Denys de Bar, Bishop of Tulle, his coat of arms are above the doorway.

The de Bar family is reputed in the best selling book the ‘Holy Blood and Holy Grail’ to have close connections with the Priory of Sion. The shadowy organization made famous by the best seller ‘The Da Vinci Code’.
Iolande de Bar was grand master of the order, and daughter of Rene de Anjou. Her son also Rene studied in the same circles and patronage as Leonardo da Vinci.
These studies were esoteric by nature and entailed Alchemy and Hermetic thought.

Above the gothic doorway cut in the rock is the legendary Durandal, the famous sword of Roland, knight in the army of Charlemagne.
Inside the chapel the devout light candles, there is an air of serene tranquility. The walls are adorned with items related to the pilgrimage.
Hanging from the roof the 6th century bell, which miraculously tolls of its own accord to warn sailors of storms and foretell miracles.
Above the alter the Black Virgin 66cm high carved from walnut wood. According to the guide books (Michelin) the statue could date back as early to the 9th century.

Black Virgin of Rocamadour
Photo : Black Virgin

 What no guidebooks say is that she strongly resembles the Egyptian Goddess ISIS together with her infant son Horus.

Like the Black Virgin ISIS is a protector of sailors.
Jesus and Horus were both born in a stable and both births are celebrated on the 25th December.
Both the Virgin Mary and ISIS were worshipped as a virgin goddess and named the Queen of the Stars and Heaven.

The saints most closely connected to the Black Virgin cult are St. Anne, St. Blaise, St. John the Baptist and St. Michel.
At Rocamadour on the forecourt of the Black Virgin are 4 sanctuaries dedicated each to one of these saints.

St. Michel
Opposite and on a higher level is the sanctuary of St. Michel. The chapel contains a 13th century painting of Christ and the Evangelists with St. Michel in discussion with the devil while ‘weighing souls’.On the outside wall is a 12th century painting of the denunciation and visitation of the Virgin Mary.

St Michel is the legendary adversary of the dragon (Rev 12) identified by early theologians as Satan, Lugh the Celtic Sun God and Lucifer. He guards the doors to the underworld to prevent evil access to the world of man.
Often churches dedicated to St. Michel are in close vicinity to Iron Age forts from the Celtic period.
Looking down at the shrine of the Black Virgin, St. Michel is maybe well aware of her Pagan past.

The Chapel of St.Blaise is built on a fortified house that protected the Great Stairway.
St. Blaise is specially invoked for sickness. The crossed candles, the symbol of the Saint, were applied to the throat of a young boy, miraculously removing a fish bone, what saved his life. This ritual, the blessing of the throat is still performed today.
Ean Begg in his book ‘The Cult of the Black Virgin’, states that Wotan the Teutonic God was Christianized by St. Blaise. The cross of St. Blaise is similar to the rune of Wotan, the Teutonic rune of the eagle. This eagle was used as symbol by the Teutonic Knights of Palestine.

Like the Egyptian Goddess Nepthys, who accompanied ISIS in the underworld, St. Blaise accompanies the lady of the underworld, whose feast candlemas proceeds his by a day.

The chapel of St. Anne
was restored in the 19th century. The 15th century doorway is from the ‘Hôpital-Beaulieu’ at nearby ‘Issendulos’. The orders of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem are better known as the ‘Knights of Malta’.Together with the Knights Templar and the Teutonic knights they formed the military backbone of the crusader forces in Palestine.
The Hospital-Beaulieu was run by the Dames of Malta and was a feminine establishment.

St.Anne - Dame of Malta
Dame of Malta

St.Anne is the mother of the Virgin Mary, sometimes her cult replaces that of the Black Virgin. She is for some the mirror image of the mother Goddess of Matriarchal society; always present, rarely revealing herself, and when, reluctantly, sometimes as a Black Virgin. Her Pagan counterpart could well be the ancient Egyptian Goddess Nieth. This Goddess conveys many of the qualities significant to the Black Virgin Cult. Nieth was the oldest and wisest of the Goddesses, to whom the Gods themselves appealed for judgment.

John the Baptist is seen by many researchers to have strong links with Gnosticism and Egyptian schools of magic centered around Alexandria.
Even today this Gnostic tradition has survived among groups like the Mandeans also known as the Nazoreans of Iraq (Marsh-Arabs). To them John the Baptist was the true leader and Jesus a follower who broke away to form a rival group.
The Gnostic teachings of Alexandria spread via Galicia in Celtic northwest Spain (Santiago de Compostella) to the Celtic church of Ireland.
In 664 the Church of Rome absorbed the Celtic church (synod of Whitby). The Gnostic thinking went underground to surface later in Hermeticism-alchemy, Rosicrucianism and Scottish Freemasonry. Another Gnostic movement spread by the Bogomils became widespread throughout Southern France - Northern Italy and Bosnia. In France they were known as the Albigensians or Cathars.
The chapel at Rocamadour of St. John the Baptist was founded by the local ‘Valon family’.

The Black Virgin and the Knights of St John of Jerusalem
In the surrounding countryside of Rocamadour are many buildings and churches which once belonged to the knights of St. John. The possessions of the order were greatly enlarged after the abolition of the Templars in the 14th century, when their Priory’s and farms where given to the order.The esoteric side to the order is only proven by circumstantial evidence.
The fact that they where devoted to the Black Virgin is evident if only by their abundant presence in the region and by de devotion of Jean de Valon.
The ‘grande-prieures’ (abbesses) of the order at ‘Hôpital-Beaulieu d’Issendulos’ from 1540-1716 were from the family of Gourdon – Genouillac – Vaillac.Close members of this family (1524 Galiot de Genouillac – maitre de artillery de France) built one of the most impressive ‘Renaissance chateau’s at nearby Assier. Another close family member, Antoine de Gourdon-Cènevières, built a “cabinet d’alchemie” in chateau Cènevières. While in Florence Antoine was initiated into the works of Hermes Trismegistus by a master Alchemist.While in his early twenties during a visit to Malta Count Alessandro Cagliostro was introduced to Alchemy by the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta.
Cagliostro introduced Egyptian Freemasonry to France in 1782 with both male and female lodges.
On receiving the Popes permission to visit Rome in 1789 he was promptly arrested on arrival and imprisoned by the inquisition of charges of heresy and political conspiracy. He died aged 52 in the San Leo fortress in 1795.

The rise and fall of the Cult of the Black Virgin

Inspired by people like St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Eleanor of Aquitaine the worship of the virgin was at its peak in the 13th century.
The cult became reminiscent of the worship of the Mother Goddess of Antiquity. Troubadours transformed this spirit into poems, saga’s and songs, the Grail Romances were born. In the early 13th century the inquisition was created to eradicate the Cathar heresy. A 100 years later the Knight Templars met the same fate.
A dark cloud fell over Europe; thousands of men and women were accused of heresy and witchcraft and burnt at the stake.
To combat new forms of heresy, towns and villages were geographically split up in congregations, confession was introduced and Pastors were put in charge. The Bishops in turn controlled them. Together with the 100 years war against the English Throne and the Black Plague, the cult of the Black Virgin was dealt a fatal blow from which it never really survived. The decline continued throughout the Wars of Religion right up to the French Revolution. In the 19th century the Bishops of Cahors have done good work in restorations on buildings and chapels at the sanctuary.
Today Rocamadour is the 2nd historical site in France after Mont St. Michel in Normandy.

In search of the lost City of the Celts : Uxellodunnum

Most people have enjoyed the tales of Asterix and Obelix, the two brave Gaul’s who with their village defied Julius Caesar after he had conquered Gaul (France). Asterix and Obelix were fictitious; a similar village did exist, not in Brittany but in southwest France in today’s department ‘The Lot’.After the leader of the Gaul’s, Vercingtorix, had surrendered Caesar, the Cadurci (Ultic tribe) still held out in their hilltop village Uxellodunnum. Led by the Chieftans Drappes and Lucterius, fierce resistance was given to the Roman Legions. The Cadurci are remembered by the name given to the capital down of ‘The Lot’, Divona Cadurcorum, Cadurca and today’s Cahors.Scholars dispute the actual site Uxellodunnum. The Gaul’s (Celts) did not unlike the Romans write a detailed account of the Gallic Wars. The description of Uxellodunnum given by the Romans fits four possible fortified hilltop towns in ‘The Lot’. The fortified towns were named ‘Oppida’. Solid earthworks and dry stone defenses surrounded all four possible Uxellodunnums. In our DVD magazine ‘Et in Acardia Ego’ and publications we will investigate the four ‘Oppida’. In our first DVD magazine we will investigate the site ‘Oppidum De Murcens’, close to the old Roman road to Cahors.

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