Blair MacKenzie Blake

(He who drinks well Will see God.

He who quaffs at a single draught

Will see God and the Magdalen.)

With the recent publication of The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, I have received hundreds of e-mails asking me about my thoughts on the book and its “stunning” revelation that the Holy Grail was not the chalice used at the Last Supper, but was in fact that penitent sinner from the Gospels, Mary Magdalene herself (who held within her womb the blood of Jesus while bearing his children). Having seen copies of the book on display at a local Barnes & Noble (along with other familiar titles about Jesus and his consort), I picked up one and took it home to read. After managing to make it all the way through the best-selling ‘thriller’, my first thought was of open astonishment. I was astonished with how incredible banal the book actually was. In fact, it seemed that there was nothing original in The Da Vinci Code at all, the entire thing being derived from the 1982 best-selling Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln. To me at least, the book wasn’t even in the same league as other ‘fictional’ best sellers dealing with the esoteric and Gnostic tradition such as The Eight and Foucault’s Pendulum. But since it seems to have renewed popular interest in the subject, I thought I would now give a preview (or tease) as to the possible solution to the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau and Beringer Sauniere that will soon be posted on www.dannycarey.org.

After a long day of hiking about the local countryside in search of the various landmarks associated with the Rennes affair, it was while sipping tea and sampling little squares of delicious cake in the Blue Apple Café at Rennes-le-Chateau back in 1998 that I first began to wonder if the phrase pommes bleues mentioned in one of the coded parchments that were allegedly discovered by Abbe Sauniere actually referred to apples (whether blue or not). Knowing that in the French language a pomme can be anything spherical that has a prominent color (see The Tomb of God for more information about the various meanings of the word), I recalled a curious bit of lore about the place. In writing about the death of Sauniere, many researchers describe the eyewitness accounts of a strange ceremony that took place on the terrace of the priest’s ‘chesspiece’ Tour Magdala. On the morning following his death, Sauniere was dressed in one of his ornate robes that was adorned with scarlet pompoms. His body was then propped in an armchair, and has the parishioners solemnly filed past the corpse to pay their final respects, several of them plucked the red tassels from his garment. In their book entitled Rex Deus, The True Mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau and the Dynasty of Jesus, the authors called this strange little ritual “inexplicable by any ecclesiastical standards and completely foreign to local custom.” Even today, residents of the village are mystified by this odd souvenir and its possible meaning. Although the ceremony is treated by other researchers as little more than a footnote, or as just one more of Sauniere’s eccentricities, it is perhaps one of the most tantalizing and important clues that the priest has left us as to the nature of the treasure that so drastically changed his life.

Knowing that even in modern French, the word pomme has a general ‘fruit’ meaning, it occurred to me that, rather than an apple, the parchment may have been referring to another red fruit: this being a pomegranate. Traditionally, pomegranates (from the Latin pomum granatum “apple of many seeds”) have been associated with sexuality, with fertility (due to the number of seeds the fruit contains), with death and rebirth, and was a Christian symbol of the Resurrection. To some, the pomegranate symbolizes one creative source becoming many, and this (as well as the idea that pomegranates were an exquisite delicacy that were served to visiting royalty) brings to mind the hypothesis of the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail and others of the royal Merovingian bloodline descending from the womb of Mary Magdalene. But there may be an even deeper, more esoteric association with the pomegranate. It was the only fruit allowed to be brought inside the Holy of Holies, and miniature pomegranates were sewn on the high priest’s robe when he made his yearly entry. Therefore, might the scarlet pompoms that were sewn onto the robe of Sauniere done so to represent pomegranates, and if so, was he trying to tell us something about having seen the Ark of the Covenant which was kept in the Holy of Holies? But this leads us to the question of what exactly was the Ark of the Covenant? A clue may be found in knowing that the verb for “making” a covenant is KRT, to cut.

In that the number 22 crops up time and time again in the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau, several investigators have made connections between certain anomalous features in the ostentatious church and the 22 trumps (known as the Major Arcana or “greater mystery”) of the Tarot deck (for example, July 22 is the Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene for whom the church is dedicated, there are 22 letters in certain key phrases carved into the church, there are 22 teeth in the design of the entrance to the churchyard cemetery, there are 22 crenels in the Magdalen Tower, etc.), whose symbolic designs may have been incorporated into the eccentric decorations by Sauniere. Both are associated with alchemy and the alchemical goal of gold (i.e. the transformation of the alchemist into a more refined, perfected state of being). But this parallel symbolism might also extend to one of the cards of the Minor Arcana. In Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth, the Three of Cups, called ABUNDANCE, are pomegranates filled bountifully to overflowing, symbolic of the riches we receive of others. Writing of this particular card, Crowley says that it “requires great subtlety of interpretation.” As the card is said to represent Mercury in Cancer, this might have something to do with Mercury being the guide of the souls of the Dead. But more about this latter.

In The Da Vinci Code, the murdered Louvre curator is found gruesomely positioned in the pose of Leonardo’s “Vitruvian Man.” This is one of the clues (in the less than ingenious plot) that leads to the treasure of the code. But in real life, the brutal murder of Abbe Gelis, priest of Coustaussa just north of Rennes-le-Chateau, may hold additional clues as to the whereabouts of the treasure of Berenger Sauniere, although this might not have been intentional as was the death pose of the fictional Louvre curator in Brown’s book.

On the eve of All Saints’ Day in 1897, the reclusive priest (who was a friend of Sauniere) was viciously attached in the kitchen of the presbytery of his church. Having first been savagely struck down by a pair of heavy fire-tongs, the elderly Gelis was then repeatedly struck on the head with an axe, so much so that the local paper (Courrier de l’ Aude) reported fourteen grisly wounds there, along with multiple skull fractures.

Although the walls and ceiling were splashed with blood, and the body lay in a great pool, no hand or footprints were found. Even stranger perhaps, the dead priest’s body had been reverently laid with his hands carefully folded across his chest. A small note was placed next to the body upon which was written ’Viva Angelina’, an indication perhaps that the murderer might have been a priest himself (Abbe Sauniere?). Adding to the mystery is that nearly 800 Frs, were left in the drawers of the of the presbytery although there was evidence that the place had been ransacked with some of the priest’s private papers removed. Today the brutal murder of Abbe Gelis remains unsolved.

“There is then a sublime country where bread is called cake, and it is so rare a delicacy that it may beget war between brothers.”

Charles Baudelaire, translated from the French by Aleister Crowley.

On March 4th 1999 e.v, I accompanied Bob and Danny Carey and Micheal Flamm to the South of France. The Main Purpose of the trip was to obtain precise measurements of a neo-Gothic tower (La Tour Magdala) perched on a hillside in the tiny village of Rennes le-Chateau. Having several years ago written a screenplay (THE RED SERPENT) about the mystery surrounding the village, I, along with the others, was interested in checking out some of the local landmarks associated with the Rennes affair- landmarks with strange names such as "The Devils Armchair", "The Poussin Tomb", "The South Seed" and "The Black Spot". For those not yet familiar with the story, I will give a brief introduction to what is considered by many to be the grandest of all puzzles.

The Mystery centers around the impoverished parish priest of Rennes-le-Chateau, Berenger Sauniere, who, in 1891, while engaged in a minor restoration to the run down village church, discovered several parchments hidden inside an old baluster. Supposedly, these parchments contained coded messages which put him hot on the trail of a fabulous treasure. Whether or not this was buried in the church crypt, which he found after exhuming an ancient Carolingian flagstone from the choir floor, or he found it elsewhere in the vicinity of the Rennes valley is not known. What is known is that after his fateful discovery the priest became very wealthy, spending, until his death in1917, the equivalent of around 5 million dollars. The list of the possible treasures is long indeed, as the history of the region is steeped in legends both colorful and turbulent. This is the tapestry of which the Cathars and the Knights Templar were the guardians of the Holy Grail. Visigoth and Mervingian riches are said to be buried with the lords of old in royal tombs beneath ruined chateaux here. Even the lost treasure of Jerusalem (possibly including the Ark of the Covenant) may have found it's way to the Rennes plateau.

To some, however, what the priest discovered was not a monetary treasure, but an explosive secret - a secret which he was paid handsomely never to reveal. Whatever this secret may have been, Suaniere took it to his grave, but not before sparing no expense to re-decorate his small church in a most bizarre fashion. When he was finished cramming it full of flamboyant, near blasphemous imagery, the interior had been transformed into a treasure map of sorts - a way for which the priest to finally reveal to the world the world the source of his inexplicable wealth.

Besides bringing to our attention to some of the clues to be found in the church's garish plaster statues, bas-reliefs and stained-glass windows, Rennes investigator, Henry Lincoln also discovered certain controlling features in the Latin text of one of the mysterious coded parchments which revealed a geometric design in the form of an irregular pentacle. This led him and other researchers to discover a similar, although enormous natural pentagon formed by five perfectly aligned mountain peaks in the region. Amazingly, this pentacle of mountains is ringed by a circle of ancient churches. The structured landscape (including a triangle of castles) also contains a grid system which is believed to be nothing less than the layout of a gigantic temple stretching for miles over the valley. (Note: one can verify this pentagonal geometry using map - 1GN Map 2347 OT Quillian) Most interesting, however, especially for students of the occult, is the fact that this Pentacle of Mountains appears to be interlocked with a six-pointed star (Seal of Soloman) with the center fixed on a place known as La Valdieu (The Valley of God). One can only imagine the efficacy of a properly performed ritual in the center of pentagram/hexagram that is many miles in size. And it is the X marks the spot that we, ourselves, wanted to find.

From Paris, we fly to Toulouse. There we rent a van and drive south to Carcassonne, our base in the South of France. Taking the D118 road, we drive through Limoux and Couzia before reaching Rennes-le-Chateau, some twenty- five miles south of Carassone. At the village we take careful measurements of the crenellated tower which Sauniere constructed to house his library. But, it may have served another purpose, that of a marker for the genetic layout, or, perhaps, its basement concealed the entrance to a tunnel complex. A quick glance behind the creaking iron door doesn't reveal anything in the darkness, so we return to the terrace to enjoy the breathtaking view of the valley below.

Next, we drive to the nearby village of Coustaussa with its ruined castle. Though any excavating in the area is strictly forbidden, here there is evidence of hopeful treasure hunters. As we wander through the ruins, the wind picks and it gets quite cold. We decide to leave the crumbling walls for the warmth of our van, no richer for our trouble.

Early the next morning we start out for the castle of Montsegur. Constructed at an altitude of 1,207 meters, this was the last stronghold of the Cathers who, in the 13th century, were persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church in what was known as the Albigensian Crusade. Hoping to stamp out the heretic Cathars, Montsegur was besieged by an army of thousands of knights and soldiers. Finally, on March 16, the fortress fell and 205 Cathars were burnt alive by the Inquisition. According to legend, weeks before, several of the occupants made a daring escape, carrying with them the Cathar treasure. What this was is unknown, but many believe it was the most sacred of all objects - the Holy Grail. As we climb to the top of this almost inaccessible fortress in a blinding snowstorm, we are reminded of the genocide of the Pope, as bouquets of flowers have been placed on a lone marker of the horrors that occurred here. In the ruins of the castle there is evidence of a recent ceremony having been performed, probably on March 14 by those of the Cathar faith.

On day three we drive to Rennes-les-Bains. In the contrast to Rennes-le-Chateau, the village is swallowed by shadows and has a decidedly sinister aura about it. Looking around, the place seems almost deserted, save for a small boy who watches us from- well- the shadows. Believing we have come to the right spot on the road, we park and proceed to scale a muddy hillside. With labored breathing, we soon find the object of our search. This is called Fauteuil du Diable (the Devil's Armchair), a large boulder carved in the shape of a throne. On its lichened surface we can see strange symbols and markings. A few feet away is a small bubbling spring in the shape of a circle (Source du Cercle). We take turns sitting in the Devil's Armchair, for apparently that is what the treasure hunter is supposed to do. (NOTE: Of the many bizarre decorations in the church at Rennes-le-Chateau, the first is a statue of a hideous devil that greets visitors at the door. He has been identified as Asmodeus, the legendary guardian of treasures. He appears to be crouched in an awkward, half-sitting position, for his armchair is missing. It is elsewhere. Also his thumb and forefinger form an "O", a hint, perhaps, of the small spring in the shape of a circle.) Seated in the armchair, more to catch our breath than anything else, we look out over the hillside in the direction of a possible hidden treasure.

Next, we look for " The Poussin Tomb," or at least the rubble that remains of it. Several years ago, frustrated with treasure hunters trespassing on his property, the owner of the land on which it stood smashed the stone tomb to pieces. The significance of the tomb, located to the right of the road between Serres and Arques, is that an almost identical tomb is featured in Nicolas Poussin's famous painting, THE SHEPHERDS OF ARCADIA. Painted in the background of the pastoral Arcadian scenery, certain landscape features of the Rennes area(including Rennes-le-Chateau itself) can be seen. What is more is that an analysis of the 17th-century painting reveals it to be encoded with pentagonal geometry. This reminds one of the message on one of the the coded parchments found by the priest: SHEPHERDESS NO TEMPTATION THAT POUSSIN TENIERS HOLD THE KEY...

Leaving this pile of rubble we next decide to search for "The Black Spot," a copse of trees in a tiangular field near the center of the Pentacle of Mountains. Having some difficulty locating this field, perhaps because the picture we have was taken over twenty years ago, we decide to search on foot. Trudging through farm fields near "The Valley Of God," we scramble down to a group of trees where we discover, almost completely hidden by the dense growth, more ancient ruins. This, we believe, is what researcher David Wood called the"Place of the Seed" - the X marks the spot on the trearusre map - whose location he decided to keep a secret. The ruins we search through match the picture in his book, GENISIS, but the description of the terrian doesn't quite gibe (was it changed for dramatic effect?) Disappointed that we can't find "The Black Spot." but excited by our accidental discovery, we return to Rennes-le-Chateau. Over a cup of hot tea in the Blue Apple cafe, we have our first encounter with a group of new-agers who believe the treasure concealed in the area did in fact include the Ark of the Covenant. Having first banished the greys (that's right, the standard grey aliens) from Bugarach,one of the churches that form a circle around the Pentacle of Mountains, the Knights Templar took the legendary Ark to America where they experimented with it. The result was the Meteor Crater in Arizona, which in turn wiped out five Indian nations. Hmmmm....

Before leaving the village, we take one last tour of the church. Posing for photos by the santuary group of the devil, Asmodeus, we are all smiles as we foolishly mock him, unaware that later we will barely escape joining the ong list of those who have met with an ill fate here- those who could not leave the mystery alone. While driving back to our hotel in the early hours of the morning, we skid off a twisting, rain-slicked road, rolling our rental van over several times before coming to a stop at the bottom of a ravine. We climb out, apparently okay, protected, perhaps, by the huge pentacle we are now standing inside of. Or maybe Asmodeus' powers just aren't up to par. We know that a couple of years ago the devil's original head was lopped off by someone in a misguided attempt to rid the place of its evil influences. Nevertheless, while picking up our books and things ejected from the wrecked van, I recall the Latin inscription the priest had incised in the lintel above the enterance of the chuch: TERRIBILIS EST LOCUS ISTE - THIS PLACE IS TERRIBLE.

A final thought: During his youth back in Kansas, I understand that Danny was once given a traffic citation for plowing into a stop sign. In his defense, he claimed hat he had lost control of the car while swatting at a rather large wolf spider that was crawling up his leg. Well this time it was a grey-colored animal of some type that ran in front of the van which caused him to crash. Although I didn't see it, according to Danny, it may have been a dog... or perhaps, the Templars didn't get rid of all the greys at Bugarach after all.