Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010



In one of the seven valleys there is a village on the top of a mountain where Pilar and her companion sat at the spring and chatted. Later on, Pilar will go down to the river Piedra and weep in sadness, but that is another story.

The important thing is that in this village lives a witch of the Cathar tradition whose house caught on fire and she came out unscathed.

Your image next to the first fountain and your image with the witch is the eleventh test.

Continue walking toward the mountains. In a village Chantal met the devil, and to remember this feat there is a second fountain, where a frog drinks the water of the sun.

Don’t ask too much about the origin of this fountain – the inhabitants of the city will say that the writer create a story that does not exist.

Your image in front of the second fountain is also part of the eleventh test.

We thought perhaps that the monument where Bertha was nearly crucified in “The Devil and Miss Prym” could be correct.

So we stopped at St Savin following our visit to the grotto in Lourdes. When we arrived we went to Hotel Viscos and not knowing in French what a witch is I preceded to draw a broomstick with a witch on it.

To our absolute amazement we were pointed to a shop one of only 3 in the village although being Sunday it was closed! Although there was a telephone number on the door. Like Poirot Tom called the number and said we had arrived in St Savin and were hoping to speak with her. She told us to look around the church as it was beautiful and wait for her there. It was beautiful the doors banged themselves open and closed in the wind inviting us in and inside was the madonna which is spoken about in “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.'

We sat in their stunning hotel lounge with maps out asking all the questions we had about her miraculous escape form the fire and our thoughts on Lourdes. I had taken her some holy water from the fountain which we had collected that morning during the Italian church service.

It is funny we have ourselves spoken with several tongues during this trip and from speaking Spanish for 2 weeks to speaking French now every time I open my mouth Turkish comes out!!! As I have had a language over load so now I just draw pictures now to communicate and go into my own world smiling when people start speaking quickly in their designated language.

We spoke with Jacqueline (the witch) about the 9th test and she confirmed that the road as we thought was the roman road travelling from TAURBES to PAU and on the road was a restaurant called CUISINE DE FEMMES. AKA Where women cook! We took our photos and drove their immediately! There half way up the straight road which could only be roman! Was a small turning onto a dirt track. We travelled 4km down it and there in the middle of the cornfield was our dolem! The toughest task of them all!

We did handstand and cart wheels and just as we started to take our clothes off an old couple walked over the hill in the middle of nowehere a perfect moment to get our Kodak capture! We felt exhilarated and liberated. Until the silence realising that the only task left was the 12th which from childhood I had known the story of the General St Martin and we have a children’s book at home with him on the cover re counting his generosity as a warrior in a battle himself himself.

Before leaving the Jacqueline we were going to stay in Hotel Viscos she called her friend and he had some rooms for us to stay in so she had given us his number and the village name which is very close to St Martin so we drove there arriving in the late afternoon at the most magnificent Chateau in Montgaillard!

A roaring fire ignited the room. Our dirty clothes were made clean, our energy restored by rocks in the garden outside and our hunger and thirst quenched.

We had arrived exactly where we wanted to be to reflect on our quest.

Knowing that we had completed all of our tasks and the last was to find the guardian.

Knowing that even where we were, we at that moment had once again found our guardians. This final part of the quest we knew would be accomplished very soon……………………




A young girl sees another girl dressed in white. The girl in white asks her to dig a hole, eat the earth and drink the water. A spring is born there.

Drink this water, and wash your face with it.

Your image in front of the place where the spring was born is the tenth test.

We knew that the 10th clue was Lourdes so we traveled there to take go to the grotto.

We stayed the night in Lourdes which to be honest is like a Holy Blackpool. Or Amsterdam with the focus of religion instead of sex.

It is possibly better in the summer but my feelings were negative from the moment I arrived everything had changed. The peoples skin colour was even faded and their attitudes totally different to everything we had experienced over the last 2 weeks. The final blow for me which is very trivial was asking for hot water for our flask and a mint tea bag (Tom banned flasks of coffee on the trip!) and she charged us 4 EUROS!

We went to Catholic Mecca and we saw the grotto just as we were about to get our photo we were shewed off the parapet as a service was about to take place and the priests arrived. I will not write my feelings here on what I saw or felt in Lourdes but I did leave feeling depleted of energy and slightly confused about the dogmatic approach that religion can take.

We washed our faces in the holy water and drank the liquid of life and left.


Posted by Picasa



Continue toward an old Roman camp that was baptized with the name of a Phoenician princess.

Ask there for an old Celtic monument in the middle of a corn field. If no-one knows the answer,

Take the old road that leads to the city where a king lived who decided to put food on the table of all the residents of his kingdom. Walk three to five kilometers, and just before you reach a place where women cook, turn right and go straight ahead. You will find the monument.

Your image in front of the monument is the ninth test.

Well we looked and looked traveling from Montsegur to Rennes Le Chateau to meet Henry Lincoln. Lincoln co-wrote the pseudohistorical book Holy Blood Holy Grail, which became the inspiration for Dan Brown's bestselling novel, The Da Vinci Code. Which is why we thought he could help with the dolmen we were looking for although alas he did not have the answers!

So we went to a small village were we asked a team of runners who were going to conquer Montsegur if they knew of the dolmen. Its funny everyone everyone in France says with such conviction that they know exactly what you are looking for that Tom and I have stopped getting over excited now. The runner RAN us to his friends house where he and his wife made us coffee sat us down and started phoning around their friends and family for help. Soon the whole village was helping and everyone knew the answer!

They were completely adamant that the king who put food on the table of his kingdom was Henry IV! Who was born and reigned in PAU.

Henry was nicknamed Henry the Great (Henri le Grand), and in France is also called le bon roi Henri ("the good king Henry") or le Vert galant ("the Green gallant"), a reference to both his dashing character and his attractiveness to women. He also gave his name to the Henry IV style of architecture, which he patronised. He is the eponymous subject of the royal anthem of France, Marche Henri IV.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Posted by Picasa


There was always risk, a single risk: that one person might meet with more than one Soulmate in the same incarnation, as had happened millennia before.”

This is the story of Brida, a young Irish girl, and her quest for knowledge. She has long been interested in various aspects of magic, but is searching for something more. Her search leads her to people of great wisdom, who begin to teach her about the world. Her teacher senses that Brida has gift, but cannot tell what that is. Meanwhile, Brida pursues her course ever deeper into the mysteries of life, seeking to answer questions about who she is. She meets a wise man who dwells in a forest, and teaches her about overcoming her fears and trusting the goodness of the world, and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the music of the world, and how to pray to the moon. She seeks her destiny, as she struggles to find a balance between her relationships and her desire to become a witch.

Quotes I think you will Love!:

“Because anyone who comes into contact with sex knows that they’re dealing with something which only happens in all its intensity when they lose control. When we’re in bed with someone, we’re giving permission to that person not only to commune with our body, but with our whole being. The pure forces of life are in communication with each other, independently of us, and then we cannot hide who we are.”

“Choosing one path means abandoning others - if you try to follow every possible path you will end up following none.”

“Face your path with courage, don't be scared of people's criticism. And, above all, don't let yourself get paralyzed by your own criticism.”

“When you find your way you cannot be scared. You need to be brave enough to take wrong steps. The deceptions, failures, lack of enthusiasm, are tools that God places in our way to reveal the path.”

“The path to wisdom is not being afraid to make mistakes.”

“Whenever you have to find about something, Plunge right in!”



Montségur is a commune in the Ariège department in south-western France.

It is famous for its fort and was one of the last strongholds of the Cathars. The present fortress on the site, though described as one of the "Cathar castles," is actually of a later period. It has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture since 1862.


The ruins of Montségur are perched at a precarious 3000-foot (1207 m) altitude in the south of France near the Pyrenees Mountains. Located in the heart of France's Languedoc-Midi-Pyrénées regions, 80 km (50 mi) southwest of Carcassonne, Montségur dominates a rock formation known as a pog — a term derived from the local Occitan dialect — pueg, or puog, meaning "peak," "hill," "mountain."


The earliest signs of human settlement in the area date back to the stone age, around 80,000 years ago. Evidence of Roman occupation such as Roman currency and tools have also been found in and around the site. In the Middle Ages the Montsegur region was ruled by the Counts of Toulouse, the Viscounts of Carcassone and finally the Counts of Foix. In 1243–44, the Cathars (a religious sect considered heretical by the Catholic Church) were besieged at Montségur by 10,000 troops at the end of the Albigensian Crusade. In March 1244, the Cathars finally surrendered and approximately 220 were burned en masse in a bonfire at the foot of the pog when they refused to renounce their faith. Some 25 actually took the ultimate Cathar vow of consolamentum perfecti in the two weeks before the final surrender.

In the days prior to the fall of the fortress, several Cathars allegedly slipped through the besiegers' lines carrying away a mysterious "treasure" with them. While the nature and fate of this treasure has never been identified, there has been much speculation as to what it might have consisted of — from the treasury of the Cathar Church to esoteric books or even the actual Holy Grail.

Montségur is often named as a candidate for the Holy Grail castle — and indeed there are linguistic similarities in the Grail romance Parzival (circa 1200–1210) written by Wolfram von Eschenbach. In Parzival, the grail castle is called Monsalvat, similar to Montségur and with the same meaning: "safe mountain, secure mountain." The name of Raymond de Péreille, the actual historic seigneur of Montségur, has a slight similarity to the protagonist of Eschenbach's epic, the knight Parzival. In Jüngerer Titurel (1272) by Albrecht von Scharfenberg, another Grail epic, the first king of the Holy Grail is named Perilla.

Myths and legends apart, the history of Montségur actually is both dramatic and mysterious. The siege was an epic event of heroism and zealotry: a veritable Masada of the Cathar faith whose demise is symbolized by the fall of the mountain-top fortress (although isolated Cathar cells persisted into the 1320s in southern France and northern Italy).

The present fortress ruin at Montségur is not from the Cathar era. The original Cathar fortress of Montségur was entirely pulled down by the victorious royal forces after its capture in 1244. It was gradually rebuilt and upgraded over the next three centuries by royal forces. The current ruin so dramatically occupying the site, and featured in illustrations, is referred to by French archeologists as "Montsegur III" and is typical of post-medieval royal French defensive architecture of the 1600s. It is not "Montsegur II," the structure in which the Cathars lived and were besieged and of which no trace remains today.

This is a discrepancy that the French tourist authority underplays and one that Cathar enthusiasts often overlook, especially when discussing Montségur's alleged solar alignment characteristics said to be visible on the morning of the summer solstice. This often mentioned solar phenomenon, allegedly occurring in an alignment of two windows in the fortress wall, has not been scientifically surveyed, measured, recorded, or confirmed.

The Groupe de Récherches Archéologiques de Montségur et Environs (GRAME) (Archeological Research Group of Montsegur and Vicinity), which conducted a definitive 13-year archeological excavation of Montségur in 1964–76, concluded in its final report that:

"There remains no trace within the current ruin of the first fortress which was abandoned before the 13th century (Montsegur I), nor of the one which was built by Raymond de Péreille around 1210 (Montsegur II)..." (Il ne reste aucune trace dans les ruines actuelles ni du premier château qui était à l'abandon au début du XIIIe siècle (Montségur I), ni de celui que construisit Raimon de Pereilles vers 1210 (Montségur II)...)[1]

The small ruins of the terraced dwellings, immediately outside the perimeter of the current fortress walls on the north-eastern flank are, however, confirmed to be traces of authentic former Cathar habitations.

The Nazis at Montségur?

The Nazis learned of the myths surrounding Montségur from a man named Otto Rahn in 1929, one year after the probable formation of the Ahnenerbe, an institution for research into German racial and cultural ancestry. Rahn wrote two bestseller Grail novels linking Montségur and Cathars with the Holy Grail: Kreuzzug gegen den Gral ("Crusade Against the Grail") in 1933 and Luzifers Hofgesind ("Lucifer's Court") in 1937. Rahn joined the SS "Totenkopf" unit as a junior NCO in 1936, the same year that Heinrich Himmler took overall control of the Ahnenerbe, proclaiming himself chairman of the Kuratorium. Rahn was then seconded on detached duty to the South of France in search of the Grail. Himmler's wish was to try and rediscover and reinvigorate Germanic culture. On 13 March 1939 as reported in the National Socialist newspaper Völkischer Beobachter — three days before the anniversary of the fall of Montségur — Otto Rahn mysteriously froze to death on a Tyrolean mountain top. His death is believed to be likely a suicide.

Local sources reported that on the 700th anniversary of the fall of Montségur, 16 March 1944, German aircraft overflew Montségur in strange formations, either Celtic crosses or swastikas, depending on the source of the reports.[2] Some claim that Alfred Rosenberg, Nazi Germany's ideologue and author of The Myth of the Twentieth Century, was aboard one of the aircraft. It is alleged that the purpose of the aerial demonstration was to mark the fulfilment of the prophecy of a 13th century troubadour that at the end of 700 years following the demise of the Cathars, "the laurel will be green once more".



Cross the mountains following in the direction of the east, then walk NW. At the top of one these mountains rises a fortress where Brida discovers her past incarnation.

Your image at this fortress is the eighth test.

This was another fairly easy test as the only experience Brida has outside Ireland is in Montsegur. We travelled from Montserrat around lunch time and arrived around 4.45 as the sun was starting to dip behind the Pyrenees. So we climbed up knowing we would be slightly late to arrive at a house 70km away with direction somewhere screwed up in the bottom of the car!! Still we walked up the mountain telling each other it would take 10 minutes up and 10 minutes down and we would be on our way knowing it was more like an hour!

It took us 10 minute just to catch our breathes and the catch the view!


Montsegur has almost a cult following, attracting Cathar history enthusiasts, hikers and lovers of charming small French villages. While its magical allure has been relatively undiscovered by Americans, this tiny Midi-Pyrenees village is simply oozing with atmosphere. It is located in France's Midi-Pyrenees region (and the lovely Ariège Pyrenees department) on the edge of Cathar Country. Montsegur Chateau is arguably the most significant monument to the Cathar religious sect. The Cathars believed in a natural, humble lifestyle and criticized the Catholic church relentlessly. It is in the Montsegur castle ruins that hundreds of Cathars held off Crusaders for months. When they were finally conquered, they were given the choice to renounce their religion or walk into the flames. Most chose a fiery death.

As you approach Montsegur, Mount Pog will appear between mountain peaks. Topped by the Chateau Montsegur, Mount Pog is a popular hiking spot for Europeans. While it doesn't take long to climb, it is challenging. It takes about 20-30 minutes each way, but they are a long 20-30 minutes. The aspects that make the climb difficult are precisely the secrets to the Cathar success in holding off Crusaders for so long. Today, there are wood planks to make the climb easier. Legend has it that local villagers snuck food and supplies up to the Cathars by climbing the mazelike pathways, as the Crusaders remained frustrated at the mountain's base.


We made it! Will update you tomorrow in Lourdes just now having met lots of people to find the 9th test which is tough going back to the text books! Thank you to everyone for all your love and support watch this space...................................... Good night x


Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


[22:32:01] India Staunton says: Seriously Mill- try and get some good shots of you on this exped - black and White would be a good look with a blurred background - get Tom Boy to do them


Posted by Picasa


Posted by Picasa




Follow in the direction of the sea which is surrounded by earth. Close to a big city, a legend says that the angels came down from the skies and sawed the rocks to build a throne for the Black Virgin who is found there.

Your image in front of the place where the Black Virgin is found is the seventh test.

This one was the easiest and ironically I was helping in a crossword recently and the clue was regarding Montserrat….. Or was it ironic??? Was it a clue for the quest before I knew the quest existed….. Rahaha!

So close to a big city in Barcelona and the black virgin I knew was here from Tom and I coming here in March 2004, We arrived and asked if they had room to stay for 2 nights in the monastery high up in the mountains we needed to map out the next 5 quests and as luck would have it they had one room left as a big party was arriving the following evening. We had stopped and bought supplies in the store at the foot of the mountain before so we were prepared to camp but very happy to be given a room. Downstairs they have wifi too! A blessing in disguise we have become cyber pilgrims! There is the odd look from the Spanish ladies who by the way are absolutely tiny (height wise) and ALL WEAR FUR COATS I fit in very well. (being tiny width wise myself!!!)

Staying here is like living in a little piece of paradise and I suggest everyone visits here once in their lives. After unpacking I went running up to around 1200m until it was too icy and I realised if I fell that nobody knew where I was and even though I would probably feel like an angel in that moment my time to fall had not come yet so I ran back down the stepped mountain for more pasta and red wine and laughter.

I slept like a small child the energy here and the silence is overwhelming. We woke at 8 and had a wonderful Spanish breakfast then went climbing all day past small shelters which were still inhabited by monks and large crosses. Do I feel closer to God and more spiritual? I certainly feel at peace with the world around me and know that I am closer to understanding my own religious views and thoughts on how to “BE” and take my part in this world.


A rugged mountain not far from Barcelona is home to one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in Spain: the Shrine of Our Lady of Montserrat.

Since the 12th century, pilgrims have been drawn to the mountain to venerate the miraculous statue of the Black Madonna (La Moreneta). In 1996.


According to Catholic tradition, the statue of the Black Virgin of Montserrat was carved by St. Luke around 50 AD and brought to Spain. It was later hidden from the Moors in a cave (Santa Cova, the Holy Grotto), where it was rediscovered in 880 AD.

According to the legend of the discovery, which was first recorded in the 13th century, the statue was discovered by shepherds. They saw a bright light and heard heavenly music that eventually led them to the grotto and the statue.

The Bishop of Manresa, present at the discovery, suggested that it be moved to Manresa, but the small statue was discovered to be so heavy it could not be lifted. Thus the Virgin had indicated her will to stay on Montserrat to be venerated there.

By the 9th century, there were four chapels on Montserrat, of which only one remains - St. Aciscolo's, which is in the monastery's garden. In the 11th century, the abbot-bishop Oliba founded a monastery on the mountain of Montserrat, next to one of the chapels. Many miracles were reported through the intercession of the Virgin Mary at Montserrat.

According to historians, it was then, in the 12th century, that the statue of the Madonna and Child was made. The Madonna statue soon earned widespread fame as numerous miracles were associated with the intercession of the Black Virgin of Montserrat.

Many of the first missionary churches in Mexico, Chile and Peru were dedicated to Our Lady of Montserrat and many saints and popes have visited the shrine over the centuries. St. Ignatius Loyola made a pilgrimage to Montserrat after being injured in war, and it was soon after that he wrote his famous Spiritual Exercises.

Due to the great numbers of pilgrims that flocked to Montserrat throughout the Middle Ages, the monastery was enlarged from its original humble size. In 1592, the grand basilica of Montserrat was consecrated.

In the late 18th century, almost the entire sanctuary was destroyed during the Napoleonic invasion. But due to the widespread devotion to the shrine, it was soon restored.

In 1881, Montserrat's Black Madonna was crowned in accordance with Canon Law and proclaimed patron saint of Catalonia by Pope Leo XIII.

What to See

The Monastery of Montserrat, located near the top of the 4,000-foot mountain, is home to about 80 monks. The monks welcome visitors and invite them to participate in their daily celebrations of Mass and recitations of the Liturgy of the Hours.

The Basilica, next to the monastery, is home to the revered La Moreneta, or Black Virgin. To visit the statue, enter the church through a side door to the right.

The statue of the Virgin, known in Spanish as La Moreneta, is a small Romanesque statue made of wood. It depicts a seated Black Virgin with the child Jesus on her lap. Her dark color is due to changes in the varnish with the passage of time.

The basilica also holds one of the monastery's most noted attractions, the 50-member Escolanía, one of the oldest and most renowned boys' choirs in Europe, dating from the 13th century. At 1pm daily you can hear them singing "Salve Regina" and the "Virolai" (hymn of Montserrat) in the basilica.

Walking paths and a funicular take visitors to Santa Cova (Holy Grotto), the traditional site of the discovery of the Black Virgin. The grotto dates from the 17th century and was built in the shape of a cross. The funicular goes halfway, but the rest of the trip must be made on foot. OR RUNNING AS I FOUND OUT! xx


Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa