After the start of my journey in Torino the Michaelsline has unfolded itself before my feet (or let’s say the wheels of my car) in an extraordinary way. The main focus was the part south of Rome. But before my arrival there I visited some other places, and remembered some of the place where I have been before.
I took up the thread again in Porto Venere, with the beautiful black and white marbled church that overlooks the sea. Here the Apollo line touches the coast, after having crossed the sea from Genova on. It is obviously an ancient sacred place, once dedicated to the Goddess of the Waters. My journey continues through Sarzana, where they preserve in the Chiesa della Madonna Assunta an important relic: a piece of the Cross, imbued with the blood of Jezus. Nearby I visit the archeological remains of Luni, long ago a place of veneration of the Moon Goddess. The Michaels line is not crossing exactly on this place, but I remain struck by the vicinity of male and female sacred places. And then, behind the high Apennine Mountains I know – and can nearly feel – the presence of the Michaels sanctuaries in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and Barga. The latter contains – again – a beautiful image of a double tailed mermaid, and a huge sculpture of St. Christopher, the protective Saint of Barga. I am beginning to feel that I am weaving a female and male line through Italy…
This time I do not visit Lucca, Pisa and Volterra, important places on the Michaels line – not enough time – , but again I feel the presence of the images of Michael and the sirena on the important Sanctuaries there. The Etruscan sirena’s actually come from Volterra. And again I realise that they are all important cities in the story of Matilda di Canossa. Instead I decide to drive along San Galgano, the impressive round church south of Siena, where according to legend a knight of this name put his sword in the rock after coming back from one of the Crusades at the end of the 12th century. A beautiful circled ceiling with 22 brown and white circles is overlooking the sword. A prophecy tells that once a knight will arrive here who can open the sky with his sword, after which the Madonna will descend from heaven and bring peace to the world. I interpret it as a prophecy of the return of the Feminine Divine. The valley of San Galgano is a good example of how the earth might look like when this will happen: peaceful, fertile and full of healing energy. Many spiritual communities have settled here during the past centuries.
My preparation ends at the Lago di Bolsena. Again not on the Michaelsline but an important area for the history of this Archangel. In the legend of Cristina it was he who saved this female martyr when she was thrown into the waters of the Lake with a stone on her leg. Michael is still highly venerated in t his area, amongst others in the Duomo di Cristina that is built on the place of an ancient temple of Apollo. Again the story of Matilda comes in, while it was she who brought the remains of Cristina from the Isola Martana – the female island in the lake – to Bolsena, after the famous meeting in Canossa. It is thè area of the Sacred Marriage, full of images of double tailed mermaids plus partners, as I discovered when writing my book ‘The smile of the Sirena’.
Driving to Fiumicino airport to pick up my friend Agnes van de Beek, with whom I will continue the journey southwards I realise how important it was that I touched the places that I have visited. It will enable us to draw the energy line from North-East to South-West. But it also makes me realise that it is not only the Michaelsline that we are following, but also the path of the Templars, and long before them the ancient pilgrims ways that are linking many Temples of the Sun and the Moon straight through Italy. These lines do not always coincide, but they are definitely connected. I feel prepared for the next chapter.
Travelling with Michael 3, Palestrina.
We start our journey in an ancient feminine place, the Temple of Fortuna Primogenia in Palestrina, an hour drive south-east of Rome. During antiquitity there was an enormous temple here, built in seven layers on the pyramid shaped mountain that overlooks the valley below. Pilgrims were only allowed to go there step by step, and the top layer was reserved for priestesses who guarded the eternally burning fire: approaching and getting initiated into the Divine is always a long road to go.
At the sixth layer, a former theatre, now stand a beautiful museum dedicated to Fortuna, We are too late to visit but from last time that I was here I feel the treasures inside: beautiful statues of Fortuna, with her cornucoppia (the horn of plenty), a special room with paintings of the Olympian Pantheon, surrounded by 24 double tailed mermaids, and a huge mosaic, originally situated in a lower layer of the Temple, where you see the overflowing of the river Nile. It clarifies the connection between Fortuna and Isis, both ancient Goddesses of the mysteries of the cycle of life.
Under the half-circle formed stairways to the Museum stands a special statue of Voltumna. She overlooks the valley beneath, but also the territory reaching out to the Adriatic see, towards the place where according to legend Aeneas once set foot on the Lazio territory – one of the roots of the founding of Rome. But Voltumna also looks towards the Eternal City itself. She stands in a special alignment with the Foro Romano ànd with the Vatican. In that way she creates a line between important Solar Temples, amongst others by the Solar Symbol – the small sun that stands above the entrance gate of Palestrina, put here by the Barberini family. It’s the family of Pope Urbano VIII who rebuilt the Vatican in accordance with the Egyptian town Heliopolis, and who brought the remains of Matilda to St. Peters Basilica. Everything is connected…
Before Fortuna’s statue we do a small ceremony to initiate our journey, with the help of our solar and lunar discs, and a beautiful flower of life in the middle – feminine and the masculine combined towards unity and creation. I ask for the blessing of this most important Goddess, and remember how she has guided me in my journeys of the past ten years. First during my stay in Bolsena, where she was known as Voltumna, the great Goddess of the Lake, often represented as a double tailed mermaid. Later during my journeys along the Matildaline, all the way from Mantova to Rome. Now I invoke her power to further trace the line to Southern Italy. During the rest of our journey we will meet her several times again, often to our own surprise.
Travelling with Michael 4, Alatri.
Our next stop is Alatri, a medieval town with ancient roots, far away in history. Our intention is to visit the St. Francis Monastery, with a fresco labyrinth with Christ in the centre. We will be guided by Giancarlo Pavat, a friend from the international labyrinth movement, who was involved in the restoration of the labyrinth, and in the research that led to its interpretation. And what a moving visit it was… The labyrinth is sitting on a wall, seconded by a fresco that shows a lifted veil with ancient symbols of oneness: flowers of life, circles, branches, birds, spirals and circles, all in complete harmony. To me it seems as if they represent the alchemy of the soul on its journey towards the Divine. It would fit quite well with the message of the labyrinth next to it. In its circle we see Christ as Pantocrator, wearing a white tunic and a golden mantle. In his left hand he is holding the Holy Book, while his right hand points towards the entrance of the labyrinth. The message seems clear: it’s an invitation to go the road inwards – the inner pilgrimage – that in the end leads to knowledge of the sacred, guarded and transferred by Christ himself. To say it in modern terms: the fresco depicts the journey towards the Self.
Our friend explains us that the fresco is probably made in the 13th century by a monk of the Franciscan convent, with the support of the Templars, who were present in many towns of southern Lazio. It was never intended as a walkable labyrinth, but rather a vertical image, Initially it was probably behind the altar on the wall of a church that doesn’t exist anymore. The pilgrims could thus visually connect with this rich symbol on their journey towards the Holy Land. We leave the place in complete awe. I realise that we have not only seen a unique representation of the (soul)journey through the labyrinth, but I also feel that we had indeed to connect with this place at the beginning of our journey, like we connected with Voltumna/Fortuna on the day before. Nothing happens by coincidence.
In the afternoon our friend guides us further through Alatri, together with the local archaeological expert. The town is built around an impressive Acropolis, built with huge blocs of stone that look similar to the ones that both of us have seen in Peru. They are earthquake resistant, important in this area that – like Peru –for long struggled with seismic activity. The acropolis was in ancient times only accessible through two gates, a small and a large one. On top you can see still some of the remains of the Temple of the Solar God that once stood here. What makes it all quite amazing that the acropolis is aligned with Carnac in France and with the Gizeh pyramids in Egypt.
Astronomical experts say that there is a special alignment with the summer solstice, and with the zodiacal sign of Gemini. On top of the Acropolis, where once stood the Solar Temple, now stands the Cathedral of Alatri that houses a peculiar relic, called the ‘Ostia Incarnato’, a host that according to legend turned into flesh. To me it as if the symbol of the risen Christ, that is encapsulated in the labyrinth fresco, has been chosen to sanctify the ancient place of the Solar God. We finish our tour on the acropolis, again with the ceremony with the solar and lunar discs, to remember and honour the Sacred Union, and to join the strong energies of this place in the line that we our drawing to Southern Italy.
But our visit to the area isn’t finished here yet, a next chapter is waiting for us in the Alatri area. Giancarlo Pavat offers to guide us at the following day through and around the nearby town of Ceccena, where we will visit a recently discovered sanctuary.
Travelling with Michael 5, Ceccano
Next day we got some big surprises. We expected to go a church in the forest, but it all came out differently. When we stopped the car we were in awe for what we saw. It was not a church but a small stone circle with huge stones. Stones like you find in Avebury and Stonehenge. This report is written by Agnes, since she worked most intensively with the energies on this spot.
This was a natural temple from perhaps millions of years ago, probably from the Palaeolithic times. We left the cars and approached the circle. In front was a, like I call it, Key Stone. Normally I would not feel the energy straight away, but now I did. It felt good and I even had the feeling I could see the energy at that spot. Like seeing three dimensional in a silvery light with moving particles. It felt like entering other dimensions.
I knew immediately that there were crossings of power lines. Selma and I measured both female and male energies and also still points, with zero-energy. We continued a small overgrown path through the woods. At a certain moment we confronted a big wall of huge stones linked together. I felt some resistance and we decided to use our small sun and moon discs and my symbol of the flower of life and made a small altar, after having asked permission. Although I am not a singer, I knew I had to bring in sound. So I sang a mantra from Tibet, which I have been taught a long time ago and which I have been using over the years during my travels. I could feel something shifting and even one of our two male friends got the chills.
We continued our rough path. Sometimes we, Selma and I, needed a male hand to overcome some height on those big stepping-stones. The stones became more overgrown. They had not completely shown their face and energy yet. Roberto who was with us, has worked on clearing the stones literately from all the mosses and earth and he said he came here also to clear his mind and to feel connected with his own stillness.
Then another stone showed itself from a little distance, he had a face like a devil. I felt resistance again, but after acknowledging him and bringing him in the light, the energy changed. More and more faces came forward. They are living energies, waiting to share their stories and knowledge with us. They talk to us, but only when we ‘see’ them. I saw one who looked like a big skull. When we walked on I had to think of the dinosaurs and asked myself if they could have lived here. A few minutes later our guides told us that indeed there was found evidence that they have been here.
Little did I know that my expectations of finding a little church in the woods would turn out to be this huge cosmic temple. My instinct tells me that there must be a connection with the other Sun and Moon temples on earth. Also that there was a divine timing on doing our “work” on this spot, as that morning of the 22nd of April it was full moon, even a Wesak full moon. In ‘our’ wood temple we connected at the right moment with the great cosmic portal in this time of big change…
After having lunch with our guide Giancarlo, we were connected with a different kind of energy, namely the Roman energies in visiting the castle in Ceccano. Also the Second World War played a role here and had taken lots of victims. From the centre of the little town you can only see an old tower and an entrance gate amongst the Italian houses. You can hardly imagine that there is this huge castle space behind the houses. There were two entrance gates.
We entered the one outside the centre, it was a bit of climbing and we found ourselves in a kind of court room. Our guides told us that the noble family that built the caste managed for long to keep the territory outside the influence of the Church State. Remarkably for us one of their counts took at the end of the 13th century the initiative to build the Cisterzentian church and convent in San Galgano. Again another silent thread on our Michaels journey became visible…
In the castle during the second world war prisoners were hold and they began to restore the frescos on the walls, one of them Jesus on the cross, with eyes wide open, and behind him a touching fresco of the Madonna. This place asked attention for clearance, which I gladly focused on. The energies were in one part of the castle very different from those in another part. I was told by my inner voice to do some clearance work. I had the feeling that that was the reason we were brought here. A complete different energy than in the woods. Layers of stagnant energy were waiting to be released.
We finished our stay in Ceccano in a little Templars church, called “the little lady in the forest”. Once, in the 13th century, it stood in the middle of a forest, outside the medieval walls. Now the church is dedicated to S.Nicola, like we know him in Holland. He has a quite realistic statue inside the church. In some way we felt a connection between the stone circle and the Madonna in the Woods. Sanctuaries come in all forms and sizes, and you learn to perceive the connection once you can feel the energies…With this gift in our hearts we left Ceccano, on the road to our next stop.
Travelling with Michael 6, Benevento
Our next stop is Benevento, a town halfway Napoli and Puglia. I knew of this place that it was the capital of the Longobardan Empire in Southern Italy, and an important place on the Templars route to the Adriatic. But to our surprise the town had more to offer. During our first walk we find an obelisk that probably comes from a temple of Isis, that was once situated here. Again, it leaves me in awe. Although the ‘offcial’ story starts with the permanence of the Romans, it is clear that there are traces of more ancient Italic civilisations here. Plus traces of the Troians, that we will meet in more of our stops along the road.
In the little time that we can spend here, we visit two important places. First a church dedicated to Santa Sophia, modelled after Hagia Sofia in Constantinopel. It feels like a pure feminine sanctuary, which is underlined by the presence of Monastery of Benedictine nuns next to the Church. But here too we find a beautiful old fresco of S. Michael, as if he wants to make clear that he is guiding us all along the way. We have an amicable meeting with the woman in the bookshop of the church, who is most interested in my story about Matilda di Canossa. She suggests us to go the Ipogeo under the Cathedral of the town.
And what a good advice, again. The Ipogeo houses the tombs of some the Longobardan counts from the end of the first millennium. Matilda must have known of them. But here you also get a flavour of the ancient sanctuary that was once situated here, again far before the Romans arrived. Again we are doing a small ceremony of cleaning and connecting, in order to continue our weaving work. Then, in the small museum next to the crypt, we stand eye in eye with one of the most beautiful Mantle Madonna’s I have ever seen. A clear sign that we have visited an ancient feminine place, and a good stepping stone to continue our journey. Through the two churches we visited we have connected Michael with the Feminine Divine again.
Travelling with Michael 7, Monte Sant’Angelo.
After a journey of several hours in which we slowly descend into Puglia, we arrive in Monte Sant’Angelo, at the Gargano peninsula. It is extremely cold for this time of the year, and we are glad that we have been able to book two rooms in the beautiful Hotel Sant’Angelo, just across the entrance to Michaels Sanctuary. It’s an Italian holiday: the sanctuary is full of pilgrims, and Mass is being celebrated all day through. Pope Francis has proclaimed 2016 to be the Year of Mercy, so many are arriving here to do penitence. We descend along the long stone stairs that start right behind the entrance door. On the walls you see signs left by the pilgrims here, amongst others special carvings of hands and feet. Millions of people have passed before us here…
Then, at what seems to be the bottom of the Sanctuary, you enter a churchlike place, that is built all around S. Michaels Cave. In the cave, on the altar next to a Longobardan chair stands Michael’s statue. But more touching is the small niche at the back of the cave, the place where according to legend Michael appeared in the third century after Christ and asked a local shepherd to build a sanctuary for him. Next to him stand two beautiful statues, one of the Trinity, and one of a special Madonna. After Mass we take the opportunity to stand on the spot where the Michaels and the Athena line cross, right before the altar. I am feeling a strong and beneficent energy again, an important addition to the cord that we are weaving on our journey through Italy.
More places are catching our attention. In the Museum of the Stones underneath the church we admire a beautiful collection of Longardan style sculptures, amongst others with Christ Pantocrator and Goddess-like Madonna’s. The guide explains that this space was in Longobardan times the corridor where the pilgrims were received, long before the construction of the church. At the end of the corridor you can still see the remains of the old Scala Santa that they climbed on their knees in order to do penitence. They then arrived in the cave, which was still open, and with purifying water streaming through it. I suddenly can imagine the journey made by Matilda, and also her father Bonifatius, here, in order to do penitence, with much more hardship compared with the modern pilgrim. Matilda still figures in the stories about famous visitors told by the local population. I can feel our connection again….
Next to our hotel is an impressive complex of three churches. Above the entrance is a rose with four mermaids, their tails intertwined, with in the middle an eight pointed star. I have always interpreted this as the mermaids guarding the Gate to Heaven, since eight is the number of eternity. But now I get an even more profound intuition. Behind the Gate is a church dedicated to St. John the Evangelist that according to the information plate represents the Ascension as announced in the Apocalypse. Again a special fresco of S. Michael on the otherwise sober walls. Were the mermaids placed there as guardians of the journey towards the New Jerusalem? It would again explain why there are so many churches where you meet both Michael and the mermaid, a theme that I addressed in my book ‘The smile of the sirena’….
The cream on the pudding of this visit was a book that I got recommended by the guardian of the museum that shows that Monte Sant’Angelo is built on Neolithic sites. Many dolmens and caves have been found here, and also a huge standing stone that is aligned with the summer solstice. It confirms again that Michael’s sanctuaries were frequently built on spots of the Solar Gods of antiquity, and that they were venerated together with the Earth Goddess. Gargano, the name of the peninsula, comes from Gorgon, one of her names. To me it seems that the people who lived here long ago knew of the crossing of the leylines in the cave. To them we owe the fact that we are standing here now, and that millions of people have been here, as hermits and pilgrims, and as inhabitants who guarded the ancient mysteries and adapted them to new times. It’s not the end of our discoveries, though, more secrets are awaiting us…
Travelling with Michael 8, Northern Puglia.
The story is by far not finished yet. After our departure from Monte S. Angelo we pay a blitz visit to Northern Puglia. Our first stop is Siponte, where we visit a beautiful white Longobardan church that just had been repaired, supported by Unesco. The church is famous because it was the Bishop of Siponte who was in the 4th century involved in the recognition of the apparition of Michael and the building of he Sanctuary on the mountain. Later on it was one of the points where the Templars embarked to cross the sea to the Holy Land. Above that it’s also a solstice church: at 21 July the sun shines through the central window straight into the church. Although the church is from a stunning beauty its energy doesn’t touch us so deeply as the other sanctuaries during our journey. To me it feels as if the ‘spirit of the place’ hasn’t survived the all too perfect restoration.
We travel through to Trani, a town where the Michaelsline touches land again after having traversed the sea starting from Monte Sant Angelo. The Cathedral of Trani is exceptional: it’s situated on a piazza on the seaside, with three churches on top of each other. A strong cold wind comes from the sea that prevents us from staying here very long. I have enough time, though, for a remarkable find. 35 years ago I was here, and made a picture of a sculpture next to the door: a lion with a human being between his legs. For years it has been hanging on my wall, without understanding its meaning. Writing ‘Queen of the Vatican’ I came closer, though. And now I find a mermaid behind the lion, with a being in her arms that seems like a crocodile.
After having discussed the sculpture with some friends I come to hypothesis that the statue of the lion and the human person express the love between God (mediated by Christ) and Man. The crocodile could express the borderline (and its crossing) between the unconscious and the conscious, but also the whimsicality and the risk that goes with crossing. I tend to see the entire sculpture as a message that we have to go through these boundaries in order to reach a state of divine love. And that would accord very well with all the instances right now where I have seen mermaids as guardians of the Gate of Heaven. But maybe it’s just my preoccupation…
We continue our journey in the direction of Castel del Monte, a huge octagonal castle on the top of a hill. You can see it from afar. And that was also the intention of its owner, Frederick II, who commissioned its building in the 13th century. It was a display of his power over this part of his Dukedom that he built from Sicily further eastwards. But it was never designed as a political power centre, but rather as a place from which spiritual power radiates in all directions. It’s built on an ancient sacred mountain, and – more significant still – it is completely constructed in accordance with the Golden Ratio.
Frederick II was at Sicily already famous for integrating Christianity with influences from Muslim wisdom cultures. Castel del Monte is a grandiose example of this. And it’s not only situated on a special hill, but also has a special connection with the waters. There is an underground river here, and in the heydays of the Castel there were also water containers on the eight towers. They brought the heavenly waters down to the rooms on the first floor where Frederick entertained his guests between the hunting parties held in the environment. It’s a huge alchemical structure, unprecedented. Going around through the rooms we felt the strong energies here. We shouldn’t have missed it on our journey.
Still a little bit bedazzled we arrive at the B&B that we found through the Internet, Poggio Tafuri, an old farmhouse in the middle of the olive- and vine yards. We are welcomed by the owners, who make us a most tasteful meal with the vegetables from their garden. During our one-day stay here we discover a deep soul connection with the place and its owners: nothing happens by coincidence. Cristina offers to guide us to another – unknown – Michaels cave nearby, next to the town of Minervino. It resembles the famous one but it’s far more intact and it touches me far more deeply. The priest of the local Michaels church is our guide here, what a gift…
After descent along a long very ancient stair – again a walk of penitence – you reach the bottom of the cave, with a beautiful altar of Michael. From the stone formations it is clear that we are in a VERY ancient cave. What particularly strikes me are the four columns of an old Minerva temple, that has probably been here. In the Etrusco-Roman times Minerva was one of the shapes of the Earth Goddess, the protector also of the stonemasons. Again we find Michael in connection with the Goddess. And, behind the altar, we connect with the masterpiece of the cave, as far as I am concerned: a small natural baptismal font, made by the water that drops from the ceiling. To me it seems that the pilgrims were baptized here with the waters of Mother Earth. Definitely a place to come back…