Long ago, in the period that my soul journey started, I had some deep encounters with archangel Michael, both in my dreams and in my energy body. It deeply changed the direction of my life path. Amongst others it was one of the forces that brought me to travel through Italy. In my book ‘The smile of the sirena’ I take my readers with the hand on my journey of discovery about the connection between Michael, the double tailed mermaid and the labyrinth. In the years after publishing the book my journey continued and gained in depth. I visited several sanctuaries of Michael and other saints along the Italian part of the Michaels line that is running through Europe, for example in Porto Venere, Pisa, Volterra, Assisi and Gargano. Now, living in 2016, it is time to resume this adventure. In the month of April I am be travelling from Torino to Puglia, to continue the connection.
At 9 April I am driving from Milano to Torino, curious to see and feel the Sacra di San Michele, the place where the Michaels line enters Italy, and curious to explore both its position of and the details in the Church. Just after Torino you can already see the sanctuary from a great distance, towering majestically as a guardian over the entry of the Val the Susa, the valley that leads towards the French border. After driving through the medieval town Avigliana I encounter the first signs that I am travelling through an ancient sacred area: two beautiful little lakes, and a winding road with big guardian stones at its sides. In my imagination I can see the pilgrims and the processions that passed here, from the lakes (places of the feminine) to the high rock (usually a place of veneration of male sky gods). The energy of the sanctuary starts to attract me like a big magnet, like is has done with thousands of travellers before me.
And then his majesty suddenly arises before my eyes, far more impressive than I had ever thought from the pictures. After walking the path to and through the huge entrance door I can feel nothing but awe. A large and steep stairway guides the pilgrim through the first part of the building. It’s called the ‘Stairway of the Dead’, and is surrounded by tombs of monks. A school class is sitting on its top, while the teacher tries to explain them the meaning of the symbols at the door at the end. I hear her telling about sirena’s who are sitting there: my curiosity is abounding. Then, when it’s my turn, I am passing through the door, the Door of the Zodiac. To the right stands a column with all the zodiacal signs, to the left four columns with zoomorphic symbols. The farthest is the most interesting for me: at its bottom are four griffins, and on top four double tailed mermaids, with their tails they encircle the column.
By now I have encountered this motif of four mermaids more often, in S. Miniato in Firenze, in S. Stefano in Bologna, in the Room of Divina Sapienzia in the Palazzo Barberini in Roma, ànd near the Sanctuary of Michele in Puglia, the counterpart of the one I am visiting now. My interpretation – as explained in my book ‘Queen of the Vatican’ – is that together they are carrying the Vault of Heaven, and are thus connecting Heaven and Earth. And in fact this is confirmed by the architecture of the place on which I am standing. The official information tells that the Stairway of Dead stands symbol for Earthly Life, while the Door symbolizes the crossing from Death to Resurrection into the Light. And the last ramp before entering the Basilica is representing Purgatory….
In this regard it is interesting that the sirena’s are sitting on top of the column, guarding the boundary between heaven and earth. And that they are carried by the griffins, an ancient symbol of the arrival of the Christ consciousness. Male and female are intrinsically connected, and are together carrying the pilgrims on their journey towards a higher form of spiritual consciousness. My pendulum confirms this: one side of the door shows a strong masculine, and the other a similarly strong feminine energy. In the middle they merge in oneness…. The Door of the Zodiac is a real energy gate, and maybe the Michaels line and the Athena line are crossing here, as in the centre of the sanctuary in Puglia. The Michaels line consists in fact of two lines: the Apollo and the Athena line that are meandering together through Europe, forming the Kundalini of our continent. At the crossing of the two, the energy vortex is at its strongest: it’s worth your while to linger there for some time.
After climbing the last ramp I am entering the church. The first sunrays of this spring are softly shining through its windows, and Gregorian singing is filling the space. Still some monks are living here, and taking care of the sanctuary and the pilgrims. The church is decorated by frescos of rare beauty, and by tombs of some of the counts of the area that once wished to be buried here. Then comes the greatest surprise (although I knew that it should be here somewhere): a fresco of a huge San Cristophoro with his legs in the water of the river through which he is carrying the Christ child. Between his legs fishes and frogs, ànd a beautiful double tailed mermaid. As is frequently the case the feminine is overseeing the boundary towards the other world, the river that the soul has to cross in order to arrive in Paradise. In his famous poem Dante attributed this role to la Contessa Matilda….
Later on I am reading that the Mount was already a place of veneration in Neolithic times by the shepherds and farmers who lived in the area, and was guarded afterwards by the Ligurian and Celtic tribes who lived here. That might explain the presence of Christophoro. I am beginning to suspect that he took over the role of one the Alpine male mountain divinities that were venerated here in ancient times, as was the case in Barga, the beautiful town in the Tuscan Garfagnana, where he replaced the mountain god Penn, who gave his name to the Apennines. As in Barga the Sanctuary is built on an ancient sacred place, at a crossing of leylines, it seems to me. And then the Sanctuary is also guarding the transition from high Alps to the valley from Torino, since long ago a sacred area.
This is confirmed when I am returning to Avigliana and its two beautiful lakes. All around me I see the snow covered mountains of this special part of Italy. I begin to imagine that the Sacra San Michele has been a sacred centre since times immemorial. As is often the case it was appropriated and protected around the year 1000 by the Longobards and the Benedictines, who turned the places of veneration of the ancient sky gods into churches for Michael. Before finishing my visit I encounter a Sanctuary for the Madonna of the Lakes in Avigliana. The information tells me that it was built in the 15th or 16th century on the place of an ancient sanctuary, in an endeavour to fight the heresies in the valleys of Piemont. It confirms my earlier intuition about the spiritual meaning of the two lakes as places of veneration of the feminine. Hence also the presence of the mermaid between the legs of Christophero?
But is also reminds me of the nature of the work that I am doing while making this journey: reconnecting the ancient and the Christian religious tradition, by remembering and honouring the feminine in a way that fits our period of history. We have to recuperate it from its association with the dark forces of the devil, which are often represented in Michael killing the dragon, and replace it with honouring the Earth as a sanctuary in itself. I will be doing this by opening, together with a friend, the energy at some special places along the line, and by using all my senses. It’s a continuation of the work that I have done in the past years in the Etruscan landscapes and in the sacred places of Matilda di Canossa. Will keep you posted!