White Ladies in Cathar Country BOOK
Published 7th May 2015
Front and back covers
Have you ever had the feeling; "I can feel her but she's nowhere in sight?" (That's a quote from the song "Witchy Woman.") I have sensed this so many times when visiting off-the-beaten-track places in the Corbières and Ariège regions of southern France. She was here, she was here!
Who were the White Ladies of legend in the remote mountain strongholds of the Corbières and Ariège? We sometimes have glimpses of them, when we find for example, echos of a matriarchal past, or ancient folk legends of ladies dressed in white, or ghosts on castle ramparts, howling into the wild wind.
Were these stories just pagan nonsense of an illiterate people? Or was there something else, deeper and more mysterious, going on?
I researched for nearly three years and there was so much to uncover that many friends joined me and sent their stories and pictures. Those distant valleys behind the mountains truly hide the secrets of a spiritual past little dreamed of. It's an area where women were rarely downtrodden by a patriarchal society and where goddess worship reigned supreme. It was a time when religion was not a thing apart from everyday life, but a time when all was one and there was no difference between the world of the visible and the world of the invisible . . .
The White Ladies live near water, the energy and spirit of water being deeply feminine or, less frequently, underground, for the caves and grottos represent the eternally safe mother's womb. Water and earth, both deep, both profound, both the basis of a fascinating countryside where mysticism is only a step away.
"La dame blanche" they say, the white lady, or "Notre Dame" which means Our Lady. The old legend had changed into a new one . . . and so I explored the Our Lady churches of Languedoc. Many people have seen "Our Lady" and many have sensed her presence. Mary Magdalene, especially at Rennes-les-Bains, was a white lady.
The White Lady is a concept hard to describe in words. While trying to define, capture, visualise, my feelings and the feelings of others, I made some amateur films, as part of the process of understanding. For a 3-minute film near the great river Aude ( a girl's name here) click and enjoy here.
About the book
It's 220 pages, beautifully illustrated in colour, size 16cm by 23 cm. Most of the chapters are about places to visit with detailed directions. Then there's also the "fairies" so real we feel we know them, not quite good but not quite bad . . .
The price in the shops at Rennes-le-Château will be 14€95 but of course you can buy directly for a price that includes postage.