In a Sanctuary Filled with Sacred Prayer...
from "Remember Me" by Mark Schultz
Visiting Chartres Cathedral was a special pilgrimage for me, recommended by my friend Melinda. It wasn't on the original itinerary, but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the whole trip. I arrived on Autumnal Equinox, September 22, 2012. I was there specifically to tour the crypt beneath the magnificent Gothic cathedral.
After viewing the brilliantly colorful stained glass windows and stepping into the center of the famous labyrinth, I took a seat on one of the chairs near the labyrinth center (chairs are set up on the labyrinth every day except Fridays, when the labyrinth may be walked). I reached my hand down on one of the petals surrounding the center. Immediately my hand was drawn down into the deep well of the energy vortex and stuck like glue to the floor surface. At the same moment I also experienced a lifting energy, as though I was growing lighter and growing as tall as the soaring cathedral ceiling. It was dizzying, intriguing. I closed my eyes as the sensation continued to lift. I felt like a hawk spreading its wings to catch a thermal to soar above the clouds, circling and gliding effortlessly above the ordinary world in this extraordinarily beautiful place of worship. Both grounded and lifted. Here in this body, space and time, and yet, spirit spiraling heavenwards.
It made me wonder if, as energetically sensitive as I am, could I walk the labyrinth, and what that experience would bring? Well, I'll have to go back for that. Great reason to return. I walked around the sanctuary, stopping to light candles before statues of St. Theresa and Mary, Our Lady of the Pillar, saying prayers for me and for humanity. My prayers were directed to the Great Lady, the Goddess who was worshipped here millenia before this magnificent structure was built. I had brought my energy here for the turning of the wheel, from summer to autumn, in the year 2012. I moved closer to the window that depicts the story of Mary Magdalene, marveling at the bright blues and reds of the glass and the brilliance of the light shining through.
Finally, it was time for the tour, which was in French, so I admit I missed a lot of detail, but the energetics of the underlying structure of the cathedral were crystal clear. In the basement, there is the evidence of previous iterations of the church, and ancient well and spring, and ruins of an older tunnel which would have run beneath an earlier structure. As we continued along, strains of music began to whisper. Beautiful, plaintive cello, matching the longing of the divine feminine to be unearthed, uncovered, and commanding reverent presence again. As we turned the corner we were asked to wait a moment while the concert finished. How my visit serendipitously intersected with a group of German tourists serenaded by a cello, I will never know and always appreciate, smiling inwardly. As the cellist completed the piece she was playing, our tour quietly moved into the chamber. The cellist was playing in front of the altar to the black Madonna, Notre Dame Sous Terre, the statue of Madonna and child that replaced the original which was destroyed during the French Revolution (just as the plaque at the center of the labyrinth was removed and melted down to make ammunition).
|Notre Dame Sous Terre|
This underground Madonna held more symbolic force for me. Relegated to the underworld, she holds court over a much more ancient tradition of revering the sacred feminine, the Great Mother Earth who sustains us all. I prayed here too, and left gifts of crystals instead of candles, intending to anchor my energy there so that I could find my way back in meditation and journey work.
Entering this sacred site of worship of the power of the feminine and motherhood, I felt a sense of completion, of returning to source. I tarried there, leaving only when it was obvious that I had to follow the tour group and catch up. A moment with Our Mother, the Ancient One who predated architecture and established religion. And here, I grasped the energetic experience of the labyrinth above-- As above, So below. Grounded and uplifted. Balanced between Earth and Heaven; Dark and Light; Feminine and Masculine; on the Equinox, when the light is balanced. Blessed Be.