Sacred France: The Beginning

Secrets of the Cathars & Mysteries of the Magdalene Tour June 2015


October 2014 and a friend mentions a book, ‘The Book of Love.’ This book is an ancient tome hidden somewhere in a small Tuscan village, a gospel according to Jesus Christ.

History and reading, my two loves…I jump on the Internet and discover there is such a book, a modern book written in 2009 by Kathleen McGowan.

Goodreads – Once there was a gospel written in Christ’s own hand: a treasure of almost unimaginable magnitude, referred to by the Cathars of medieval France as, The Book of Love.

I am hooked. From that day my life took an unexpected change.

I devoured ‘The Book of Love’ then realised this was the second in a trilogy. So began my journey into a history that is at the core of our very existence. Is the story fiction or fact, or some of both? Does it matter? The Magdalene Trilogy opens our hearts and minds to real places, real events and stunning women of strength and commitment whose lives have influenced generations. Although couched in some fictional events these books remind us of those who have died in the pursuit of ‘a love conquerors all’ world.

I google Kathleen and discover she takes tours in France, Italy, Scotland, Ireland…to places in her books…a chance to walk in the path of her protagonists…a chance to be in the company of a bestselling author. I email and ask to be put on the mailing list for the next Sacred France trip.

By January 2015 I am in, booked, flights booked, arrangements made. I will be sharing a room, Kathleen will decide on my roomie.

June 2015…Paris, one of my favourite cities, I decide to stay overnight, rest after my long flight and then travel onto Marseille where the tour begins.



After a good night’s sleep I wake at 6.30am, shower, change the bandage on my arm, I have third degree burns from hot oil splashed down my left arm a week before my trip, then have breakfast. I am in Paris and there are two things I always do…walk on Ponte Alexandre III Bridge and visit Notre Dame to say hello to Jeanne de Arc. A big walk, but the morning is magical, the sky cobalt blue the streets clean. I walk to the Seine and head east.

The bridge is a short distance from my hotel. The first time I saw this bridge was in 1994. Since then, every time I visit Paris I take a walk over and back and marvel at its beauty. I stand in the corner and watch tourists and Parisians walk by. Today I write a story in my head of lovers from a different time, paths once crossed and now missed. Paris does this to you.

I walk down the steps to the river path and travel east. I am lost in my own imagination, alone in Paris, but surprisingly comfortable.

Before long Notre Dame looms before me. I cross the bridge and enter through the front door. I first read of Jeanne de Arc in my Grade 3 reader, some 57 years ago. Her story resonated with me then and still does today. To die so tragically at the age of 19…after my mishap with hot oil, I shudder at her unspeakable death.

I bow to her courage and head back to the hotel. My shuttle is due at 11.30am, my flight to Marseille 4pm.

After a long day I finally arrive in Marseille at 6.30pm. The hotel shuttle is waiting and although the hotel is only across the road, dragging a bag across the bitumen is not conducive to longevity of a suitcase, so I ride.



The friendly hotel staff direct to my room. My roomie’s name is Sharon. We have met online and are friends on Facebook. She is in the shower when I enter the room so I call out to let her know I am there.

When she emerges from the bathroom I am taken aback. She looks different to her Facebook photo…she has beautiful long grey hair, her age, not sure, although considerably younger than me. We are immediately comfortable with each other having spent some time chatting online. I have a quick shower and we head downstairs to meet the others.

Dinner is at 7.30pm. We sit around the bar…a meet and greet is in full swing. A babble of noise fills the hotel bar as twenty-six women and three men become acquainted. We meet Isobel who is Kathleen’s friend and partner in this tour—a beautiful English lady with a soft voice and a heart large enough to gather in the world. But for now we are entranced with the energy flowing throughout the room, the rest we discover after twelve days together.

I am waiting patiently for the arrival of Kathleen. I wonder what she will be like. Is she Maureen from her books…is she the American version of Isobel…and then she is in the room. Short, red haired, a smile to light up any space, colourful…she embraces the room and those in it with her energy.

We move into the dining room and after dinner we introduce ourselves. A diverse group… I am the only Gemini and only Australian. We have people from USA, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, UK. They are doctors, scientists, past life practitioners, teachers, nurses, business owners and authors. Many are Leos, Aries, Librans and Scorpios. The room is abuzz…the transformations have begun.

Both Sharon and I are awake at 4.30am. We talk for a while, then try going back to sleep but we are too alert, waiting for the day to start. By 6am we have learnt much of each other. We have discussed archetypes, spirituality, our lives, our family, our hopes and dreams.

7am, we shower and head down for breakfast. When I look around the room and hear the many different conversations playing out, I realise Kathleen has an innate sense of people’s personalities and has paired each one of us to their other half.

By 11am we are on the road to St Maximum-la-Ste. Baume. This is the region where Mary Magdalene spent the last years of her life.

  1. Avatar
    • Joanne on October 28, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    And so it begins. So looking forward to this magical trip down memory lane. xx

  2. Avatar
    • Miranda on October 28, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    Love this reminder of that magical trip and can’t wait for the next installment! X

  3. Avatar
    • Sharon on October 29, 2016 at 10:53 am

    I am there with you all over again. Can’t wait to relive the next chapter. V, you are such s delight. Love your words.

  4. Avatar
    • Kathi on October 30, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Oh Virginia! Thank you for taking me back! I’ve already begun to cry. Dammit. xx

  5. Avatar
    • Baraka on October 30, 2016 at 3:05 am

    I loved this so much! These memories fill my heart. Thanks Virginia…more please!

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