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City of Secrets: An interview with Patrice Chaplin


"The Grail is a living force, it will never die; it may
indeed sink out of sight, and for centuries even, disappear…but it will rise to
the surface again and become once more a theme of vital importance."
–‘From Ritual to Romance' by Jesse Weston.


Patrice Chaplin is an internationally renowned playwright
and author who has published more than 25 books, plays and short stories. Her
most notable work includes Albany Park, Siesta, which was made into a film staring Jodi Foster and
Isabella Rossellini, Into the Darkness Laughing, Hidden Star, Night Fishing, and

As a Bohemian in Paris during the 50's and 60's, she spent
time with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. She was married to Charlie
Chaplin's son Michael and during her avant garde journeys through occult
circles, her friends included Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau (The last listed Grand
Master or helmsman of the Priory of Sion, the secret society mentioned in Dan
Brown's Da Vinci Code), who gave her a starring role in one of his films, Lauren
Bacall, Miles Davis and experts on the esoteric practices of the Cabbala in
Spain. City of Secrets is the extraordinary true story of one woman's journey
to the heart of the Grail legend.

In her book City of Secrets, Patrice traces her
journey through the foothills of the Pyrenees, the land where the wanderings of
the Grail and its Troubadours of the heart have left their indelible imprint.

In the 1950's Patrice, then just a teenager,
left England to study languages and taste the life of a true bohemian in France
and Spain. She stumbled upon an ancient mystery in Girona, Spain, a town
steeped in medieval grail secrets, Caballistic documents and a mysterious
history. According to Chaplin, Girona was host to numerous famous European
actors, mystics, priests, alchemists, and artists, such as the 19th
century mysterious priest Berenger Sauniere, filmmaker and author Jean Cocteau,
Salvadore Dali and Umberto Eco.

Patrice was enchanted by the magnetism and
power that exudes from the region surrounding the Pyrenees' Mount Canigou. Over
her many subsequent journeys to Girona, Patrice was told of numerous appearances
there of a Lady of Light with a cup, thought to be Mary Magdalene.  She was pulled into a strange series of
experiences regarding ancient Cabbalistic grail traditions by her associations
with her Spanish lover, a member of a local secret mystical sect.



Mystical Septimania — Southern France and
Northeastern Spain

It may be helpful to the reader to know some
basic history of the region covered in Chaplin's book. During the 1st
century C.E., surviving Jews had to flee the devastating Roman persecution in Palestine
and some founded centers of learning and mystery schools in Alexandria and in
the lands far to the West on the Mediterranean coast in France and Spain. According
to the groundbreaking book Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent, Lincoln and
Leigh, there was a curious commingling of renegade groups not in resonance with
the church of Rome beginning in the 5th and 6th centuries
in the region: a Jewish princedom, Merovingian kings, said to be descended from
the lineage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, and Visigoths, who sacked Rome in 410
C.E. and brought relics and treasure to the region. (See Septimania–Jewish
Princedom map.)

Scattered throughout the foothills of the
Pyrenees, centers of Jewish mysticism and Cabbala flourished into the medieval
era. A loosely knit Grail Community which existed then included The Knights
Templar, Cathars, Troubadours, the purveyors of Courtly Love and Cabbalists.

This area of Septimania has long been a
hotbed for legends of our mistress of the Grail, Mary Magdalene. There are many
stories telling of her widespread ministries in this region during the years
following the crucifixion. In both Rennes le Chateau, France and Girona, Spain
there were matching towers built in her honor.


Two Magdalene Towers

Chaplin states in City of Secrets that the two
Magdalene towers created a magnetic path that was connected to Egypt, thus
energizing the land so that access to other dimensions was possible. She says
that Torre Magdala in Girona was built in 1851, perhaps coinciding with
Bernadette Subiros' vision of Our Lady at Lourdes just across the Pyrenees. This
Magdalene tower also marked the site of an appearance of the Lady of the Cup in
Girona. One of the major pilgrimage paths to Santiago de Compostela, Le Chemin
de Saint Jacques passed through Girona, and countless pilgrims through the
centuries would have stopped here. The Hebrew scholar Gershom Sholom believes
that the esoteric Hebrew text, the Zohar, or Book of Splendor, was compiled by a
Jewish scribe in Girona in the 12th century.

The other Tour Magdala, dated to 1901, was constructed
by the enigmatic priest Berenger Saunier in Rennes le Chateau. It is located
next to the famous Magdalene Church filled with coded grail imagery. Interestingly,
both the small village of Soubirous (French spelling of the name of Bernadette
Subiros, Our Lady of Lourdes visionary) and the Cave of Magdalene lie directly to
the Southwest of the French Tour Magdala, pointing in the direction of Spain's
Torre Magdala. This southwest alignment is also marked by an anomalous red tile
in the floor of the Tour.

Sauniere built his home between the Tour and
the Magdalene Chapel and called it Villa Bethania. Bethany was the town in
Galilee, home of Mary, her sister Martha and brother Lazarus. Beth-El, Hebrew
words meaning house of God, is the name given by Jacob in Genesis 28 to the
place where he had his vision of the ladder reaching between heaven and earth.

In the Genesis story Jacob
uses a stone for a pillow and falls into a deep sleep. He dreams of a ladder
reaching into heaven, upon which angels are constantly ascending and
descending. When he awakens, Jacob cries "Terribilis est locus iste", how
awesome or terrible is this place!

Over the entry porch of his Magdalene chapel,
Sauniere inscribed the words 'Terribilis est locus iste'. Why would the priest
inscribe Jacob's words if not to say that Rennes le Chateau is a Gate of
Heaven, a place where the veil between heaven and earth grows thin?


Jacob's Ladder
and the Gate of Heaven

In his dream, Jacob has seen
the opening between dimensions, normally only accessible to angels and
prophets. According to Christian mystics and Gnostics, this Gate is available
to all serious initiates. This ladder between the mundane and the heavenly
realms is developed by practicing the ancient work of inner alchemy. As in Egyptian,
Taoist, Vedic, Buddhist and Christian esoteric knowledge, one extends one's
sphere of possibilities with conscious breath work, meditation and using sacred
sounds to vibrate and awaken the inner cauldrons of power, or energy centers.

The Djed Pillar or backbone
of Osiris is a more ancient version of Jacob's Ladder. Many of the Christian
esoteric traditions are rooted in Sumerian and Egyptian practices, which
included the opening of the five senses to awaken the sixth and beyond. Ritual
anointing with aromas of a high frequency, such as spikenard, frankincense,
myrrh and cedar was practiced by the Myrrhophores, priestesses of the temple
such as Mary Magdalene, Hathor and Isis. Sacred sounds, chants and incantations
were used to open doorways of perception and raise the djed, or kundalini.

In the Naassene Sermon, a
text said to be based on a teaching given by Jesus at the Last Supper, this raising
of the Shakti, or Kundalini is called reversing the flow. This process creates
the upward-flowing river, thus relieving the normal gravity and human focus on the mundane.
Unlimited worlds of potentiality open in the initiate who develops the inner
balance of connection between earth and sky. (For more reading on the
Naassenes, see the book Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes, The Initiatory
Teachings of the Last Supper
by Mark H. Gaffney.)


The Sacred Mount Canigou

Sitting equidistant between these two
Magdalene towers is the sacred Mount Canigou, dedicated to John the Baptist.
This great mountain was an important ceremonial center for the ancient Celts,
the Mithraic Sun cults, early Christians and medieval pilgrims. Canigou's high
iron content exudes a magnetic pull to time's eternal spiritual seekers,
similar to Sedona, Rennes le Chateau, Teotihuacan and other places with
iron-rich red earth. Many hidden mysteries permeate the region between these
two mysterious towers of Magdalene.

According to Chaplin, ritual artifacts and
secret documents had passed between Rennes le Chateau and the Girona Jewish
enter over the centuries. She also mentioned in her book that Mary Magdalene
had brought relics to this region after landing on the coast of France. This
area of Septimania also has numerous sites dedicated to Isis from the era of
Roman presence, circa 200 B.C.E to 400 C.E.

Patrice writes in City of Secrets about the chemistry of interaction between grail
adepts and the energies in specific locations. "Calling up of the Cup could only happen in certain sites depending on
the power of the ley lines and the pulse of energies in that precise site. One
is Girona, the other is Rennes le Chateau, and the third is St. Sulpice. (The
church in Paris) The sites have to be
linked and energized so the process of initiation is possible."

The following is a phone interview with
Patrice Chaplin at her home in London on November 23, 2008.


Patrice, you were one of the first to write about these grail mysteries and
Mary Magdalene, years before the recent popular books by Dan Brown and others.

Patrice: Yes, I
guess I was.


think it's wonderful that as a young woman in the 1950's, you were pioneering
in this work at a time when few others were delving into the grail story. In
City of Secrets you mentioned that in Girona, medieval Cabbalists were
experimenting with ritual journeys into other dimensions. You describe their
preparation for rituals, which included fasting, meditation, and of particular
interest to me, their use of breath and continuous chants to reach a hypnotic
state and open a portal… a Jacob's ladder to other dimensions of reality. Do
you know of any sources for further information on how these rituals were

could look at Umberto Eco's books, because he witnessed some of these rituals
in Girona. He wrote a book called Foucault's Pendulum and he got a lot of
information from Luiz at the Girona bookstore. Umberto certainly witnessed a
ritual, even though he will always deny he did. There's also a Caballist book
called The Sworn Book; there are only a few copies of it in the world. Umberto
Eco said he had based his ritual on the information in The Sworn Book. This
book was in Girona, but the Caballists have it now.


Is the
Sworn Book from the medieval times?


[Author's note: The full title is The Sworn
Book of Honorius of Thebes, or Liber Juratus
, (Book of the Laws). According to
author Joseph H. Peterson, "… is one of the oldest and most influential texts of medieval
." The Sworn
Book lists the 100 sacred names of God and 42 angels, each representing a
letter of an alchemical alphabet. The sacred names and letters constitute the
vibrational aspect of Cabballistic initiation rites. Also listed are specific
herbs and aromas suggested for purifying the archetypes of the twelve zodiac

Regarding the Girona-Cabbalah initiation
rites and the use of sound, the medieval Hebrew esoteric text called The Zohar
(The Book of Splendor, and possibly written in Girona) references numerous
times the use of chants and sacred music to precipitate the prophetic state. The
Zohar sites that musicians would play the harp, lute and cymbal to prepare the
prophet to open to the voice of heaven. One of the Hebrew words meaning song, Shir (Shin-Yod-Resh), is very
closely related to the word Shur (Shin-Vav-Resh), meaning "to see. This is
another indication that song and mystical vision are related.]


are the titles of your two upcoming books?

second one is called Mr. Lazarus. Lazarus is a nickname they gave to Sauniere.
The other book is called Make the Next Call to God, which is about the journey
through the portal. Both books are a continuation of all the material which
keeps coming. The second book has a lot about Salvador Dali. I spent time with
Dali at his home in Porlligat on the Mediterranean.  


Oh I
look forward to this book, I love Dali. I visited his museum in Figueras, Spain,
and was fascinated by an entire room dedicated to his study of alchemy. I
remember a series of drawings there that seem to depict the initiate's journey
up Jacob's ladder. In the 1980's I was selling Dali's art and he would come to
me in dreams and demonstrate his magical abilities and rituals.

was into all these transformation mysteries and going into other dimensions. He
did an amazing painting of his going into another dimension at Perpignan train
station…it's in the Figueras Museum.


I was
interested in the Caballistic sound  traditions mentioned in your City of Secrets book, as I have sung
and observed the transforming power of Hebrew, Aramaic  and Egyptian chants for many years.

A lot
of the work I'm doing now is on F# sustained, I've witnessed transformation
with F# sustained. Some of the physicists know about it. It's the tone I've
been told about. It comes from one of the portals. It certainly transforms
blood and DNA. It's like in Roslyn Chapel, with the musical instruments on the
ceiling. When they are played together, they form an F# tone. And if you play
an F# sustained on a drum with powder on it, it makes the maze at Chartres
Cathedral. F# does many things. The second book Mr. Lazarus has a lot about

[Author's note: Patrice refers above to the
principle termed Cymatics, in which grains of sand, powder or liquids form
coherent patterns when specific sounds are generated. Although I am not
familiar with the research in F# that Patrice refers to, in my work with sound,
F# corresponds with the Heart Chakra. Every frequency has unique correlations
and each individual responds differently to specific sound frequencies,
according to their needs. For more information on specific tone correlations


suggestion that you mention in City, that Mary Magdalene may have landed south
of Narbonne at Leucate, do you know of any documents that mention this?

all heresay. I really don't know. The area has amazing waterways and it's just
parallel with Rennes le Chateau. It's a wonderful place. It's worth looking at.
And that's where Magdalene would have landed if it's true. We don't really know
if it's true. I have no proof. I get my information from things that come in
the back door from the Vatican or from things that people tell me in Girona and
materials that have been given to me that have been hidden away in people's
cupboards. They will pull out a paper, and there will be Sauniere's face
looking up at me.

[Most French legends speak of Mary Magdalene traveling
in a rudder-less boat without oars or sails, arriving at Saintes Maries de la
Mer in Provence, where the gypsies still celebrate in an annual festival in
late May. The stories tell of Magdalene arriving with her sister Martha,
brother Lazarus, Mary Jacobe, Mary Salome, perhaps Joseph of Arimathea, and a
young girl named Sarah. In several ancient traditions, the person arriving in a
rudder-less boat would have been the heir to the throne. Many believe Sarah was
the daughter of Jesus and Magdalene and would have been the female heir to the
Davidic royal line.]


have been on quite a trek. Are you still going back to Girona?

very much so, but I don't do any searching anymore, although I have been
offered things that are interesting. Girona has many secrets.


have to explore more in that area. There are many mysteries and legends there.
You mention in City of Secrets that Isis worshippers brought a secret to Spain
when they came ashore at L'Escala 4000 years ago.

It was
actually at L'Emporius Brava, which is above L'Escala, which is the more well-known
name. The Phoenicians came there and the Greeks, and we know the Romans came
there. The Phoenicians came in their ships and went to Mount Canigou to mine
the salt.


your book you mention the ancient ritual sun stones. I was shown one near St.
Michel de Cuxa, at the foot of Mount Canigou. There is also a mysterious large
rectangular stone with symbols at Rennes le Chateau. These could be the relics
of ritual traditions in the region more ancient than we know. We do know of
Druid and Mithraic sun worshipping groups that were active in the region of the

Magdalene and the appearances of the Lady of the Cup in Girona, did you ever
meet anyone who witnessed this vision?

Oh yes,
many. Some experienced perfume, others perceived her made of smoke or honey
colored light and she gave the feeling of great healing, unlike anything else.
The people who witness the vision are completely changed.


of the other appearances of Our Lady are experienced with sounds of bells,
chimes and birdsong, such as Maria Guadalupe in 1531 at Tepeyac, Mexico. In
your book you mentioned chimes and a gong being heard when she appeared.

that's right. In another appearance of the Lady of the Cup, she came to the
well by the barraca near the French Lady's garden near the Torre Magdala. It's
where Charlemagne stayed when he first came to Girona. He also had a vision of
Our Lady there. When she came they said at first that it was a fallen angel and
then it appeared clearly to be the Lady with the Cup.  

The effect of the Lady with the Cup is
like a million gurus in one, so that the divine nature of that apparition or
presence, is such that people feel that everything is alright and always will
be. That is
what the people who were there have said. Her appearances have occurred
repeatedly there, but the church won't accept it. They say that it's Jesus and they
created a shrine to him where her mark was left at the site. Those who
witnessed the appearances were never allowed to say much about it. The woman
who voiced her experience the vision of The Lady was put into a mental home
until she agreed to say that it was really Jesus. All the witnesses there saw
the Lady with the Cup and they were familiar with it. They have images of her
in the Catalan art, even from medieval times…it was the lady with the cup.


there a message that you would like to leave the readers?

important thing in the story is that people work with the resonance, the
energies to bring about good. All of the other details are less important. One
must be prepared, though and sufficiently developed on the path of awakening.
Also when working with the strong energies at these sites one should use
protection, spinning golden light from the top of the head downward and around
the soles of the feet.


Patrice's final recommendation is similar to what
the medieval alchemists termed the Great Work, the true journey of transformation
and awakening. For two millennia the French and Spanish foothills of the
Pyrenees have been a place of refuge for displaced groups considered heretics
by the Roman church and kings who were threatened by the spiritual power of
these groups: Cathars, Basques, Jews, Merovingians, Gnostics, healers and
Knights Templar, all persecuted for their dedication to a path less traveled.
And yet these ancient keepers of the grail mysteries chose the path of love and
the original Christian creed–do under others as you would have done unto you.
Do what you will but harm none.


City of Secrets: An interview with Patrice Chaplin by
Ani Williams on November 24, 2008. Additional commentary © December 2008 by Ani

Image by fdecomite, courtesy of Creative Commons license.

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