Secrets of the Cathars and Mysteries of the Magdalene
with Kathleen McGowan & Philip Coppens
June 29-July 6, 2011
Since 1995, we have been exploring the mysteries of Sacred France. The journey has been a magical and transformational one through a world filled with magic and mysticism, and steeped in some of the most inspirational stories in human history. Over the years we have shared these mysteries with you through our books, Kathleen through the fiction of her Magdalene Line series and The Source of Miracles, and Philip through a number of non-fiction publications, all inspired by the powerful energies of the Languedoc.
For years, people have been asking us to lead tours or retreats to the places which have inspired us the most. Now, more than ever, we feel the time is right to open the doors to “Our France” and share with those of like minds and hearts the elements that cause us both to call it our Spiritual Homeland.
It has taken us over a year to design this, our first retreat, together. Kathleen has had experience with tours, and has interviewed others who have visited the Languedoc on tours in order to refine the retreat model and learn from the past. First, we found that the constant moving from location to location, hotel to hotel, can be exhausting for tour participants and contradicts the “retreat” environment that helps to truly assimilate the rich and powerful experiences. Instead, we have opted to stay in one location for a week, allowing for real relaxation. There will be plenty of moving around during day trips, and you will cover a lot of territory, but your time will be focused on having those experiences rather than packing and unpacking every day. We have adopted a lovely, privately run and very special hotel as our base – and leased the entire property, so it is solely ours for the duration of the retreat.
Our goal for this retreat is to truly welcome all who attend into the warm and magical community that we have been blessed to be a part of in France for the past 15 years. From the moment you arrive, you are family. All of your meals, including wine with dinner, are included in the price – and we hand select most of the wines you will be offered based on local experts and our own preferences. We chose to do this so that you literally have nothing to worry about and can truly relax. We have a French chef at the hotel and will be visiting some of our favorite local restaurants along the way. Every location is chosen because it is truly special, filled with local flavor and has become a favorite in our years of visiting here.
Please note that this is not a “tour” per se – it is a spiritual and historical journey, and we ask that everyone who chooses to attend arrives in the spirit of community and open-minded exploration. Experiences in this region can be very intense and transformational. They can also be just plain fun. Be prepared for anything. The region has a way of designing the journey for you – there is a reason that this land has been sacred ground for thousands of years! You will notice that there are a few places in the itinerary where it says: “if conditions allow” or “when possible”. This is because, unlike the USA, rural France does not operate on traditional schedules. The village woman who has the key to the church we want to visit may be called away on an emergency or something unforeseen. But know that we will take every precaution in advance to ensure our ability to see everything listed. But also know, if for some reason we cannot access something on the itinerary, we will find something equally wonderful to show you! There are so many gems in this region, it would take years to see them all!
We are strictly limiting the number of attendees on this journey to ensure everyone’s maximum enjoyment.
Your Guides on the journey are:
Kathleen McGowan – International bestselling author of The Magdalene Line series, including The Expected One and The Book of Love, both inspired by her own adventures and experiences in this region. Kathleen will take you to many of the locations in her current and future books. In fact, you will be observing her research processes as she prepares for a new historical novel on Cathar women.
Philip Coppens – Author, investigative journalist and television personality, Philip has written many articles and non-fiction books, including a bestselling book on Rennes-le-Chateau (in French) and was the publisher, editor and/or adviser responsible for many other books on the mysteries of the region (including The Templar Revelation and Patrice Chaplin’s The Portal). He is an expert on the astonishing church of Notre-Dame-de-Marceille, which we will visit with his guidance.
Isobel Denham – Activist and humanitarian, known throughout the region as “Isy”, she has been guiding pilgrims through Sacred France for many years and has a broad and inspiring understanding of the Cathar culture and the history of the Black Madonna. Her knowledge, warmth and generosity of spirit was such an inspiration to Kathleen that Isobel became the model for one of the characters – also named Isobel - in the bestselling The Book of Love.
Your Home Base for the journey is:
Maison Templiere, House of the Templars in Belvianes
The “Maison Templière” in Belvianes is a unique place in the High Valley of the Aude, in the heart of Cathar Country. It is a converted water mill, sitting on the edge of the River Aude, just south of Quillan, and has beautiful gardens, fountains and fruit trees. The rooms are simple yet comfortable, entirely typical of this region of rural France. All rooms have private bathrooms. Because the hotel was created as a retreat center for pilgrims, there are no televisions to distract you in the rooms.The first edition of the tour is sold out, a second one is coming:
“The Templar House” has a swimming pool and a restaurant that serves typically French traditional cuisine accompanied by international specialties, which you will taste during your stay. Wines – reds, whites and sparkling - from the excellent local vineyards will be served with the meals and during our celebrations!
The property and village are rich with history and situated on the pilgrimage road to Santiago de Compostela. In fact, the local church is dedicated to St James. The village dates back to the 11th Century and was part of a Cathar settlement.
We have the entire hotel to ourselves for the duration of our stay, so this will literally be our home. But if you want to stay longer, and explore the region either before or after the organized itinerary, then you are more than welcome to stay longer – ask, and we will arrange this for you. The hotel is privately owned by a community of healers who are committed to the energy of love, peace and tolerance – there are no borders between spirits! Thus the energy of the place itself is in total harmony with what the Cathars were teaching, making this a truly unique location.
Sacred France 2011