The following is a chapter of my book “A Mytics Journey to the Sacred Sites of France” Raylene Abbott
I just have been traveling through the area of Béziers to go on a pilgrimage to the small village of -Herault. We were searching the Black Madonna Notre Dame de Bethléem. We arrived in the ancient village that had once been dedicated to the Roman god Heraclia. We walked through the village streets, looking for the central church of the village. We found the church, but upon our entry, we realized it was not the home of the Black Madonna. But the church had a sacred art exposition, which we then attended. Inside we saw many sacred objects. I stood before the relics of Joan of Arc, St. Theresa of Avila and St. Theresa, the little rose. I bathed in the spiritual presence of these sacred relics, which contained the hair or bones of each saint. But what intrigued me, were two beautifully carved wooden spiral columns. This type of column is often found in the village churches of France. As I have mentioned before in my writings, these columns are used in sacred architecture as the conductors of the Ley-Line energies. The magnetic currents from the earth are directed upward though the columns which run up the walls of the church. The energy travels into the church steeple that spirals into the heavens. This makes the church a place where heaven and earth meet. These particular wooden columns were decorated with carvings of grapes growing on the vine. You might remember that Christ referred to grapes in many of his parables. Looking at these columns made me reflect about all the vineyards we had traveled to in France. Southern France is rich with Ley-Line energies. Between these sacred energies there exists fertile earth filled with vineyards. I began to understand how the subtle Wouivre system worked through the grape vines. The spirits of the Nagas live in the water. When you look closely at the vines of the grapes, you can see the serpentine energy expressing itself with every twist and turn of the vine. The fruit of the vine is made into wine and wine is the blood of the land. The vines are the veins of the black virgin herself. Wine has been a sacred sacrament in ancient European cultures, even older than the time of Christ. Jesus was an initiate of these ancient mysteries and when he raised his cup at the last supper, he said, this is my blood. He also took the bread and said, this is my body. He asked us to do this in his remembrance. Why did he say this? Christ knew who he was. He was anchored in the Presence of his own immortality. He fully realized that this ever-changing world of matter, which includes our bodies and our genetical conditioning (the blood), is only temporary. Christ was asking us through the sacred sacrament to remember who we are beyond the world of matter. We can remember the power of the sacred sacrament of wine the next time we are around a dinner table with friends. The simple act of going around the table and saying blessings with each sip of wine creates a sacred circle of well wishing for every one at the table. The wine toast is a form of this ritual. But rather than doing one or two toasts, each person prays on each sip of wine. You might be surprised what can happen to a dinner party when this takes place at a table.
We moved through the village of Pezenas to find Saint Ursula, where the Black Madonna resided. We walked through Saturday’s vegetable market and turned down a narrow street and found the Church. We walked in to find an old woman who greeted us and she pointed the way to the Vierge Noir. I knelt down on a marble slab that was in front of the chapel of the Virgin. She was magnificent. Black as coal and dressed in garments of gold. You could truly feel the power of the icon and the centuries of prayers that had been offered in this holy place. There were local women of the village that were dedicated to caring for the Black Virgin. They realized the power of this icon and had cultivated their own prayer power through years of dedication. I saw one woman from the village, then another, and another and offer their prayers. Then afterwards they chatted in the back of the church. It was as busy as a sewing bee. This Black Virgin has existed since 1311. She arrived alone on a boat in the harbor of Bologne. It was purchased by the Knights of St. John and brought to this church of St. Ursula. This icon was known for its miracles of protection in the epidemics of 1852-1854. It also delivered protection against drought for 7 years around 1840. It protected the area, while other surrounding areas were affected. I began to enter deep into meditation as I knelt before the Virgin. There are many different meditation postures in the East. I find kneeling is also a particular posture to receive the energies of a sacred place. Your knees are in contact with the ground and the posture of the body is straight. So the energy flows freely through the body. The marble slab under my knees gave me a good connection with the foundation of this sacred ground. The radiance of Notre Dame was golden. The more I stared at her, the more the Golden Light unfolded around her as her inner essence revealed itself to me in vision. The darkness of her skin felt completely connected to the deep secrets of fertility that laid beneath the earth. It was like being in the Presence of the Earth Goddess in her full power and splendor. It was absolutely electrifying. She was like the concentrated power of the mountains, the vineyards, the field of lavender and the groves of olives.
I was awe-struck. The silence arose. My body stiffened as the sacred also ran through me. My head bent back from the force of the energy I was experiencing. No thought. No mind. Just the unfolding presence of experience. Tears began to roll down my cheeks for the Blessings I was receiving.
She was Grace. I felt the prayers of the old caretaker joining and weaving together with our prayers. I began to pray for all the ones I loved, for all the ones I knew and met along my way. More and more faces of people came into my consciousness. I realized when I am in such Grace, it is a good time to remember others and place their needs at the feet of this healing Virgin. She was Black Isis. She was the Earth Mother. She was the Ancient Voice of Wisdom that can only be cultivated through experiencing life. She was the Sacred Marriage of Christ in the very atoms of matter. She offers an invitation of this great wedding feast on the altar of your own heart, letting the matter of your own physical form become a living vessel for consciousness. I felt her secrets.