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LANGUEDOC
(An excerpt from Rushing to Eva,
a Pilgrimage in Search of the Great Mother)
by Mary M. Leue
Down-to-Earth Books, 1985
Ashfield, Massachusetts

 

LANGUEDOC
 
 
...The bus to Lavelanet [from Foix] was filled with little, wide, brown peasant men and women who smelled strongly of garlic and shouted garrulously to each other with much uproarious laughter and banter throughout the trip. They seemed very friendly, but their "Oc" dialect was so strong, I couldn't understand them or converse with them. The bus driver seemed to know them, and each time one of them got off at stops along the road, there was much shouting back and forth. It was very gay. They seemed a separate race or sub-class of human beings.
 
The driver quickly found me a very pleasant woman taxi driver in Lavelanet to take me to the ruined chateau above Montségur, and off we drove through the hilly countryside at breakneck speed, circling ever higher and higher, crossing little bridges over rushing mountain streams, around great curves giving glimpses of the deep blue peaks beyond as we approached the ancient (thirteenth century) castle on the pinnacle. We came to a great curve in the road circling to the left around a flank in the hillside. To our right, the mountains rose above us, with a deep declivity between us. Somehow, I was not frightened as I had been by the mountains at Glen Coe in Scotland or the Fells in the Lake District in England. Instead, it all felt very right - as it should be. Suddenly I knew what I was going to see when we rounded the bend: a wide valley at right angles to the one at our right opening out between two high peaks with cow pastures on their lower flanks. And deep in the valley, a cluster of red-tiled roofs signalling the presence of a little village - my village, Montségur - although until this moment I had not known what to call it! Emotion, an overwhelming sense of grief filled my breast, but I managed to keep it inside as we drew up to the space where cars parked at the foot of the pinnacle. Then the taxi zoomed off, and I was alone with my feelings. 
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....The village of Montségur........ .My valley (from the château)......................
.
I burst into tears, gazing down and out onto the scene which unfolded before my eyes. I knew where I was! It was right out of my dream, if dream it had been; at least, the "sending" I had had with Kay Ortmans in her studio in the mountains above Santa Cruz. Deeply troubled, I had gone there to explore "past lives," hoping to find an answer to my inner sense of "wrongness." In this one, I had been abducted as a child from a castle on top of a high and treeless hill by soldiers on horseback and left in a lovely village in a valley with an older couple who had no children, and who cared for me as though I had been their own. They were poor farmers, and I had grown up very simply, working hard, milking cows, making cheese and butter, working in the garden, doing all the things farm folks do, very happily engaged in just living my life, which was so different from the lonely life I had had in that dark castle, where my only companions had been a great St. Bernard dog and my young nurse.
 
Then, during early adolescence, I had fallen in love - with a tall young man of great beauty of soul and body who visited us frequently. He was ten years older than myself, but I didn't really notice this fact, being so deeply in love. It had never occurred to me to ask how he felt! Then, quite suddenly, he was gone from my life, and I was bereft, utterly and completely. The "dream" had ended abruptly there, and it was all I had known of that life. But the grief I had felt was still very much a part of this life, particularly when I felt I had finally seen yet again, in this lifetime, the man I had loved then! And again, I had fallen in love and felt utterly bereft when he had gone out of my life once more! Now I finally had another part of the "story" to make my feelings more understandable, and thus, more bearable.
 
I now realized the setting of this lifetime, the larger history of that little fragment I had experienced before. The history now was the tragic story of the Cathars, that Christian sect of great spiritual beauty and love of life which was declared heretical by the Inquisition and wiped from the face of the earth in what has been called The Albigensian Crusade, a name given to the Cathars because many of them were said to come from Albi (they were in fact centered in the region near Toulouse, but encompassed a far greater realm than Albi). The "crusade" had actually been an excuse for destroying the independence of the entire region called by its inhabitants as Occitanie, but called by others Languedoc because of its dialect - and bringing it under both the Crown and the Church. This was accomplished by the slaughter of close to a million people, the razing of towns and cities, the wholesale destruction of an entire culture! A group of some two hundred Cathars, most of them "parfaits" (the Cathar priests, both men and women in the Cathar faith), the last remaining group of resisters against the invading armies, held out at Montségur for nearly a year. When they were finally forced to capitulate, the entire group, men, women, girls and boys, were seized and dragged from the stronghold at the top of the rock down to the "Fields of the Cremated" (the "Camp dels Cremats," where a memorial now stands) and were all burned alive on a great pyre, while the monks stood by chanting the "Te Deum." This terrible event was in effect the last act of the tragic drama which put an end to their faith as a living cultural pattern. The world is the poorer for the loss, for this faith was one of such simple goodness, beauty, and intense love of life in all forms, its disappearance has left us all bereft!
 
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Pogue with the château ... . Commemorative stele
 at the top.........................................................
 

The deep sobbing I was doing felt a kind of cleansing of the spirit, perhaps partly because it was a way of bringing what had felt like a purely personal grief up to a level which had so much more universal significance, even though my own part in that drama had been such a small one. Stopping at the stone stele erected to commemorate the scene of the final martyrdom of these beautiful people, I wept again, and added a tiny bit of dried yarrow I had plucked on Silbury Hill to the wild flowers already lying at the base of the monument. Far above me I heard the voices of children calling to each other, and caught glimpses of the group as they climbed in and out of the thick growth of scrubby trees and bushes that covered the steep hill to the fortress. I started my own climb, which was a long, grueling one, especially for the last hundred feet or so, which was nearly straight up. I had to stop often, completely out of breath, and occasionally, intensely giddy.

 
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Inside the walls
 
Arriving at the top, I felt very shaky and unsteady, and could hardly even climb the short iron-runged ladder which led inside the castle building itself. There was not much to be seen inside, so I laboriously climbed down the ladder again and threaded my way along the narrow path which led to an archway through the fortress walls themselves. The children and their leaders, two men, one of whom seemed to be the teacher and they a school class of boys and girls of around eight or nine years of age, were all there inside the high stone walls of the enclosure, and had evidently just finished eating their lunches. Several of them came over to me and began asking me questions about myself in a very friendly way, which I answered as well as I could, then asked them in turn if they knew the history of the château. Yes, they did. I felt happy to share this experience with them. Just then, the teacher called them all together, and they all trouped off out another door at the back, and disappeared off somewhere for a further exploration of some kind.
 
I was alone, but their fresh young voices kept me company as I sat in the stone doorway facing the valley, to shelter from the fine, misty rain which had begun to fall. I ate my bread and cheese and drank water from my little glass bottle. Far below, I could see cows moving slowly across the distant hillside as they cropped grass. Their bells tinkled with every step, a plunk-plunking music that went on and on, and sounded very peaceful. Wisps of fog blew across the mountain peaks so far above the valley, and the sun came out again. I looked down onto "my" valley, knowing, even, where "our" farmhouse had been, far down the narrow valley between the high peaks - gone now, of course. I was looking on an entire way of life which had filled with me with great joy and satisfaction. My grief had been, and was, for the loss of that whole world, not just for my own love of that one man, precious as he had been and still was to me. Seeing this, I felt strangely comforted by the place itself, by the children, by the sun and the rain and the sound of the cowbells and the soaring and everchanging faces of the mountain peaks! It felt like a place out of time, a never-ending music beneath the changing images of my daily life to which I could return at will.
 
And now it was time to go. I started down the mountain, holding onto branches of the tough, wiry bushes that grow on that steep slope, coming finally, slipping and sliding, to the stone monument at the edge of the field. Here I sat down to rest and wait for the taxi and to enjoy one more time the loveliness of the surrounding hills and valleys. And here came the children, exploding down the mountainside, their hands and arms filled with branches of fresh, glossy green leaves, which they laid at the base of the monument, more and more and more until it was piled high! Then came the men after them, nodding to me, and all came to rest at the foot of the memorial. The teacher spoke with them all for a time, and then took his accordion from his back and started to play Gascon folksongs, one after another, the children gathered around him, sitting and standing. (although exactly how I knew they were Gascon I'm not sure, looking back!) It was a moment out of time for me. I felt included in their lives, and their frequent glances told me that they felt it as well. Finally, it was time for them to leave. Chorusing their "au 'voirs," off they ran down the slope, piled into their van and drove off round the bend. I was left alone, again with the wind, the rain, the "brouillage (mist)," the cowbells, and the presences of that place, so gentle, so dear.
 
The rain was now coming down in earnest, so I found shelter by the side of the road under the roofed-over sign giving information about Montségur, a dry space about six inches wide, and waited with my thoughts and feelings for the taxi to come. Right on time, it swept around the bend and pulled up with a flourish. As always, my nostalgia and reluctance to leave were submerged in the delight of the moment, which felt like the release of being found and brought home after being lost in a strange land - as I had indeed been, in the past of another lifetime, or its simulacrum, albeit a poignantly tender and moving one. As we zoomed around the descending curves of the road, I glanced back once more for a parting glimpse of that lost world. It had vanished into a thick curtain of white, billowing fog!
 
Night was falling in the square with its bumper-to-bumper "circulation " (traffic) in Lavelanet when I caught the car (bus) for Foix, along with a busful of high school students, evidently just now returning home for the day - and a rebellious and delinquent crew they were, defying the driver by inserting their own cassettes (of American hard rock) into the musical loudspeaker system French buses all seem to have and turning it up to ear-splitting volume over his protests, and smoking throughout the bus, which is not permitted. The ringleader seemed to be one boy sitting in the very rear, but it was enforced by two henchmen in the front, who would turn up the sound every time the driver turned it down! I had heard one driver, between Orléans and Chartres, threaten to evict a young man who had lit up a cigarette in the rear, and was quite sure he was willing and able to enforce his ruling, but this man, older, more resigned in manner, let it go, so the few of us who felt oppressed endured the discomfort as best we could until the last boy had finally descended and disappeared into the dark. ...

 

I have included the last few pages of the second edition because the material in them represents the real dénouement of the trip. Without them, the experiences I describe in the book as having occurred at Montségur in the Pyrenees (which I have not included, for the sake of brevity) make no sense!  You may order Rushing to Eva by clicking here.

 

AFTERWORD:
 
The following is a long excerpt from a letter I wrote some five months after my return from Europe to my dear friend in England (identified as "Peter Thornton" in the story) from whom I had originally learned about Montségur and the Cathars. It was he whom I had identified, in my past lives work in California, with the "tall young man" with whom I had been in love during my thirteenth century - Cathar - lifetime, and with whom I have had since the late sixties a very special kind of relationship difficult until now to rationalize - perhaps on both sides: friend, but more than friend, family but not family, mutual spiritual counselor, but more involved than counselor - a relationship most accurately described, I believe, as karmic.
 
The "Roger" referred to is Roger Woolger [q.v.], a marvelously gifted and scholarly past lives therapist whose education and training include degrees in psychology, philosophy and comparative religion at Oxford University and the University of London as well as training as an analyst at the Jungian Institute at Zurich, Switzerland, and further training and experience as a past lives therapist and researcher with a training and research group in California. [Click here to see a review of his book Other Lives, Other Selves.] Eight of us from the community of which I am a founding member had been working with him one evening a week since the previous January, learning to guide each other and ourselves being guided through our own past lives, with Roger himself taking charge of particularly traumatic experiences. It should be borne in mind that the description I give is a mix of my own images and supplementary details drawn from Zoe Oldenbourg's very detailed and well-researched account of the "Albigensian Crusade," Massacre at Montségur.
 
In March, Roger took me through the fire. He began by having me say out loud the words that were uppermost in my feelings. It was, "I've lost him!" I screamed and screamed with the pain of that acknowledgement, and the whole thing came flooding in. I was in our farm kitchen and you were talking with my parents (foster parents). I was making cottage cheese at the other side of the room.
 
You and they were talking seriously about what was happening, and I wasn't listening, being so focused on my infatuation with you! You were so tall! They were influential Cathars in the village, and you had been living there, although that was not where you came from. Or perhaps you were at the chåteau and had come down to make arrangements for the siege at the chåteau. You were not a parfait, but you were a Cathar. But you and they had many connections, so you had been coming fairly often. It was summer.
 
The next scene was of climbing the steep path to the château. It was very hot, and the sun was bright. I was barefoot, and carried two bundles wrapped in cloth. Then we were there.
 
I was surprised to see a wooden floor in the open part of the château [Note: This comment refers to the fact that I visited the ruins of the château at Montségur during my pilgrimage in 1984, and took the photographs above]. You were mostly busy with the other men, and we were women and children inside. I don't remember my parents there. They must have lived in one of the huts outside the walls. I only saw you in glimpses from time to time, and you had no time for me´- or I for you. I was busy helping with meals and the care of children - and the sick and wounded, as time went on. I became increasingly aware of the beauty and grace of the women, and in particular, one woman who I think was Raymond de Perella's lady, Corba, who was incredibly kind to me. The noise of the siege was unceasing, and very demoralizing. It was summer when we first went into the chåteau, never to come out until the very end, the 17th of March.
 
On the night of the 14th, we were fasting, and chanted and prayed all night. We went into the little upper room where the slit windows are, and when the sun came through, it struck the disc and lit the whole room with a golden blaze. 
 
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..... The upper room. . .Light streaming through east-facing window
 
And, [Peter], I saw God! I saw my golden globe, high in the air! It was an ecstatic experience. I received the consolamentum along with a number of others. I was nineteen years of age, nearly twenty.
 
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Cathar cross
 
I remember that you went over the wall and were let down on ropes sometime during the next day or so, but Oldenbourg's account says you hid until the burning was finished and came down then. I think you went over the wall first, and hid outside with the disc and whatever else there was, perhaps a chalice and a plate, because there was no place to hide inside the chåteau. There were four of you; some accounts say three, and a guide. You and Mathaus (you were one of three brothers) had gone over the wall with the coin earlier and gotten away, and he had come back. I think you must have too, because my deep grief comes only when you left on this day, not earlier. They say Amiel Aicart, Hugo, Poitevin, and another, perhaps a guide. That could have been you. You would have known the terrain, having gone before, also where to hide the treasure.

The [following] day they dragged us down the mountain, with our hands tied behind our backs and threw us over the palisade fence, into the pile of brush and wood, which was already smouldering. I found myself there so abruptly, somehow expecting a last minute reprieve until that very moment, that I simply could not believe it was happening. I thought you would come and rescue me. I didn't really understand that it would happen. I was a profound coward, and had put all my hopes and dreams into the future, with the present a way of piling up merit which would somehow bring about that future I wished for, which centered around you and Christ, and I was very unclear in my mind about the difference.

I adored the lady who was so beautiful to me and whose purity filled me with such love and joy, and I wanted as much as anything to die well and purely in her eyes, but it was a romantic ideal of death. She is my "Lady," my "Irishwoman" of the poems. The actuality of that death was too much for my reality sense. I totally lost my sense of communion with the group. I could not let myself know anyone was also dying there except myself. The process of the choking, the burning, the hopelessness of the reality of that process of burning to death did something to my inner spirit. I knew I could not go on living, that was clear, but also, as I got to the end of the hideousness, I found I could not believe that it was all right just to die, to let go of the horror and the pain, because this total denial itself cut me off from completion of any kind. I felt stuck in the total evil of my sin against the Holy Spirit. I could not go to heaven. I could not look on my burnt body to know it was gone. I could not look at the bodies of the others. I froze myself into a space with no form or substance, an eternal darkness in which I could not be with anyone nor could I even be alone, because I could not allow myself to be. I felt condemned by my utter failure either to live or to die to a kind of outer darkness that could stretch forever.

Roger says expiation is one of the strongest impulses there is, and the only thing I had in my mind was the need for expiation, only I didn't even understand that that was what it was! No one could help me. It was too late. The deed had been done. I had gone, with no perceptible space except horror between them from "too soon" to "too late." I had wanted to experience life, and it was too soon to die. Now it was too late for me ever to die properly. One is only allowed one death, and I had blown it! Do you see what I did? I forgot that God had given me his grace! I absolutely wiped the entire experience of conversion and consolation out of my being! I wiped it out so totally, I didn't even perceive that I had done so! That is the sin against the Holy Spirit.

Roger made me come down and look at myself there on the pyre. It was horrible! I was a mass of char, and my face had a kind of grimace on it caused by the exposure of bone. Then he made me look at the bodies of the others. When he saw I could not experience myself out of the body, he had me go quickly to the next life. Again I saw nothing but darkness, but as he said the words "see yourself," I had caught a quick impression of myself manacled hand and foot in a dungeon, lying in utter darkness. Roger says martyrs sometimes become addicted to martyrdom and experience it again and again in life after life. What I never understood was how deep-seated the guilt was which I felt in being this martyr! I knew survivors of massacres feel guilty, but no one has ever said those who die may also feel guilty, depending on the way they die!

This life is so important to me, I cannot even begin to express it all. I think I shall be learning from and about it for a long time to come. I keep seeing things about myself in this life which come from then! A great part of myself has been "stuck" back there unable to move away from it. I have even repeated the conversion experience with people I saw as very holy and as believing in me, only to be deceived in my commitment. That has happened several times. I seem to repeat it again and again. I once took instructions in Catholicism at a convent near my college, walking over there once a week for several months. The Mother Superior was a magnificent human being. But I never did receive baptism, after my mother asked me to promise not to until I was 25 (I was 20 at the time). Now I understand why.

 
MORE ON THE GRAIL:

The following is an excerpt from another letter to my English editor friend ("Peter Thornton") written early in 1985 concerning the Grail tradition:

 
Roger Woolger [Ed. note: click here for a review of Roger's splendid book, Other Lives, Other Selves], the Oxonian-Jungian Past Lives man down the river we visit every Thursday, told me in detail what his vision was at Montségur last summer. He says it has to do with the mystery of what happened during those two weeks of truce, and what was smuggled out of the fortress. He is quite sure he knows. It is your (and his) vision, only the image I have is yours - of the sun coming through the slit window [ the image which which I reproduce above].
  
Roger referred to Peter Tompkins' The Great Pyramid and the orientation of the temple of Luxor to catch the sun's rays at the solstice or the equinox. He mentions the festival Michael Baigent speaks of on the last day of the truce (he has read Holy Blood, Holy Grail), and says it is his belief that they did indeed have the Grail and were von Eschenbach's Grail Castle with its lord Perilla or Perella). He says the Grail (the material form of it, that is, not the esoteric) was a huge, burnished gold disk, concave, dish- or bowl-shaped!
 
My own tranced experience of the event, pinpointed by my subsequent reading, is that we fasted and chanted all night long, in preparation for the equinoctial sun's appearance through that window, with the Grail disc set to receive the light. It was the culmination of a long preparatory ritual. The rays came through, dazzling like your picture, and hit the disk. The room sprang into a blaze of golden light! Everyone there was instantly transported to a celestial realm in their inner beings. Any doubters were totally filled with joy and Being, disbelievers were converted; they came out from that ceremony a single people united with God through Jesus! It was finished. During the early mornng hours of the 16th, a little group of men carried the Grail disc over the wall, let down on ropes, and took it away to keep it safe, probably to a cave under the fortress. The rest came forth, were brutally dragged down the mountain and were all burned in a great pyre where the plinth is now, in the "Champs des Cramatchs" (crémats), according to Zoë Oldenbourg's account (Massacre at Montségur). Oldenbourg says of the castle on Montségur:
 
... Since the rock was at least 3,500 ft. high.and difficult of access, it offered a natural defensive position; but at first sight looks as though whoever built the fortress made a mistake in setting it on so lofty and remote a pinnacle. There are ruined fortresses aplenty surviving today perched on crests and hill-tops overlooking main roads, rivers, or mountain passes; Montségur is one of the unusual ruins which is so positioned as to dominate nothing, to lead nowhere. The building must have been influenced by the site's natural beauty rather than its practical advantages. We can find churches built in similarly improbable places - on rocky escarpments or isolated peaks, sites either designated by some miraculous vision or hallowed by a pagan tradition overlaid with Christianity. The choice of Montségur as a site may suitably be compared with that of Rocamadour or Saint-Michel de l'Aiguilhe; but the area shows hardly a trace of any cult that would have justified the erection a temple in this precise spot. Furthermore, the architecture of the fortress does not resemble that of any religious edifice - though it is hardly that of a normal fortress, either. It is dictated in the first instance by the shape of the rock; but despite this it is constructed according to a plan which seems to have aimed, first and foremost, at catching the light, and orienting the walls in relation to the rising sun. The queerest detail about the structure, however, is to do with its two gates, and what is left of the windows in the main keep. No mediaeval fortress...can boast so monumental an entrance gate as the Great Gate of Montségur...a detail of this nature shows that the fortress was not regarded solely as a defensive military installation.
 
All these considerations might well lead us to assume that, either originally or at some later point, Montségur was associated with a cult - possibly a sun cult...The Cathars, so far as we can tell, did not pay any particular homage to the sun; the ancient Manichaeans did, but it is unlikely that a Manichaean sect could have survived for so long in this particular region. Still, if in such remote and unfrequented parts something of the Manichaean tradition did manage to survive, it would have aided the diffusion of Catharism; and thus Montségur would have gained favour among the heretics as having been a place of refuge for their religious predecessors...It seems highly probable that local tradition attached a certain importance to the fortress of Montségur, and regarded it as a relic left by the boni Christiani of olden times.As we have seen, the Cathars did not in any way regard themselves as innovators, but claimed to be guardians of a tradition that was more ancient than Catholicism.
 
From the book:
 
Dr. Christine Downing, Department of Religious Studies, San Diego State University, author of Goddess:
 
...Your account of your journey is very moving - and the visits to Greek and Cretan sites stirred up so many memories of my times in those places. Including the knowledge that the "official" (Evans) version of Knossos was missing a deeper truth. I like so much the simple naturalness of your account - its everydayness - which makes your naming of the sacred dimensions come across as true and compelling...  

With appreciation, Christine .....

 
From Roger Woolger, PhD., Jungian analyst, Past Lives therapist; author of Other Lives, Other Selves; author, with Jennifer Barker Woolger, of The Goddess Within:
Loved your Goddess book. It lives among our treasures! 

Love, Roger.......

Foreword:
 
I seem to lean to cryptic personal symbols virtually unsharable with other people, so I'd better explain the title of this account, "Rushing to Eva." As any mother will tell you, we tend to get hooked on our kids' TV viewing habits. When my older sisters' kids were little, it was "Kukla, Fran and Ollie." Ours, when we finally got our set, was the cartoons - re-runs of very old ones like "Felix the Cat" and odd, primitive European ones in translation.
 
It was one of the latter which began to run around inside my head, and which forms the title of this account of my pilgrimage in search of the Great Mother. The cartoon depicted a strange little man who is always on the go, searching, pressing forward, madly in love, who incessantly murmurs to himself as he travels, "Rushing to Eva...rushing to Eva." I have often found myself repeating this same formula as I would drive somewhere in the car bent on an errand of love and urgency. The strange phrase has stuck - that, and the sense of the urgency of his act of love. Why am I "rushing to Eva"? A short while ago a friend lent me a book to read called The Key in which the author asserts that the name of the Great Mother Awa (Eve, in our version of the Old Testament), often coupled with that of her consort Oc or Og, appears hidden in place names all over the globe. He cites the phrase "Cry havoc!" for example, as one form in which these names have entered our language, condensed down from Awa, or Hawa, and Oc, uttered as a battle cry. Reading about this (hypothetical) Awa, I gradually began to realize that I knew who She was! I was recognizing my Goddess - the one I had been calling "The Irishwoman," after the Queen of the Fairies who appears in Charles Kingsley's Water Babies, and again, in several of George MacDonald's children's stories - as Irene's grandmother in The Princess and the Goblins and The Princess and Curdie, and as North Wind in At the Back of the North Wind.
 
It is interesting to me to realize that She survives in the British Isles primarily in folktales and children's fairy stories, while on the continent, She appears more as Herself, but in Her Olympian or Her Christian form: broken into her various sub-archetypical attributes, as myths about goddesses like Hera, Athena, Isis, Demeter, Sophia, and so on or as one of the Christian saints like St. Ann whose roots actually extend far back into pre-Christian times; or in Her deified yet still human guise as Mary, the mother of God, whose worship still forms the chief focus in churches all over the continent.
 
It is this Goddess Awa in Her many forms, guises, names, nationalities, aspects, of Whom I have been catching occasional glimpses throughout my life, and for Whom I have been searching. I believe I found Her on this trip - or, at least, I think I encountered a few of Her many manifestations. She is the same Triple Goddess of whom Michael Dames writes in his books The Avebury Cycle and The Silbury Treasure.
 
Avebury - Awa's bury or burgh - where the Marrying Maiden was worshipped by young men and women in love, who danced, garlanded, down the two avenues which lead, curving like great snakes, to the central henge circles where the nuptial rites were to take place; Silbury Hill, that huge, conical earth mound which Dames believes is a great Neolithic womb, surmounted by a round all-seeing eye, representing the Mother crouching in labor - the Harvest Goddess; and, in Her most terrifying and awesome aspect, the Death Crone, who gives to the dark interior of the West Kennet long barrow its atmosphere of foreboding and, for some, unfathomable dread, in spite of the sanitization of its "restorers!"
 
There were other places too, as I discovered to my great joy. She is not confined to any one place or historical period. It is simply that we have called Her by so many names - in contrast with the name of God who since Moses, at least, perhaps since Ikhnaten, has been seen only as One and indivisible - that we have forgotten...forgotten that He is also She, that whatever we call Her/Him and in whatever language, out of whatever cultural context, the Lady is still and always the Lady. It is to Her that I dedicate this account.
 
Foreword to the Second Edition:
 
It may seem odd to the reader to include such a plethora of circumstantial travel detail in an account of a journey which was essentially a pilgrimage. But focusing my attention on details is not how I experienced it, do you see? That comes afterward. Looking back, it seems to me that I was in a state of altered consciousness from the moment I boarded the bus from Albany, New York, en route to the Port Authority in New York City which didn't cease until I stepped off that same Greyhound (or its twin) around two in the morning five weeks later. Maybe this should properly be two separate accounts, one of the inside, the other the outside of this journey, but I can't really do that, because so often they felt inseparable.
 
Writing up an account of the journey has re-created a kind of consciousness which has much the same seamless quality as that which I experienced during the trip, and feels almost as though it had written itself. I don't feel as though it would be right to tamper with it very much, so have left it pretty much the way it came out. For this reason, my book may never find a regular publisher, since it transgresses the laws of publishing categories. Since, however, this trip was a pilgrimage to find"Her," that is as it should and must be. Instead, I have set up my own little publishing company Down-to-Earth Books, to give it a proper book form.
 
From the point of view of the reader, it is to be taken as a partial and on-going account of a process which is still unfolding for me. This second edition contains quite a bit more of the "story" than the first did, because so much more has occurred since it was first written. It may still not strike a reader as hanging totally together, but that is at least as much because such is the nature of the process as it is the ineptness of the writer. Or so it seems to me.

- Albany, New York, 1986.