The frequent switchbacks and the severe pitch of the road made the drive up the steep hill to Rennes a bit of a challenge.
Before I knew it, after all those years since college, I was finally in Rennes-le-Chateau. It felt like entering a fairy tale village complete with water tank and cozy stone cottages. There was even the kirk-kur-kur of a cock, the bird of dawn.
It was showtime!
I crawled around the tiny streets in my car (which seemed totally out of place here). I passed a bookstore (which got my heart thumping), the restaurant Les Pommes Bleues, which happened to be out of business (not exactly a good sign), and a few stone doll house cottages. I could live happily ever after with mon amor in one of these, I thought to myself. I parked the car in a central guest parking area.
Stepping out of the car I left the dawning of the age of Aquarius behind and transposed into an earlier and simpler time. Delicious wood smoke puffing from multiple chimneys and the erotic odor of fresh-baked bread filled the air: an eerie quiet too.
I stood on the sheer cliff admiring the astonishing, no -commanding -- view from Rennes and took a deep breath of icy fresh air that gusted over me from the snow-white peaks of the Pyrenees to the south. It felt like a breath of life had breezed through my soul.
No picture in any book, or even my wildest hallucination, could have prepared me for the breathtaking beauty of la val dieu ('the valley of God') spread out before me, its vastness cut by patches of small gardens and fields of grass gently blowing in the wind.
To my right only a couple of feet away way was the bizarre neogothic tower I had fantasized about duplicating on the sheer cliff overlooking the lake at my home. Hanging over the enormous valley below, it looks imposing, almost evil, like a bullet that was stopped dead in its tracks before penetrating its target.
It is called the Tower Magdala. Feverishly, I strode to it. The mid-day sun had baked it warm. My palms absorbed the energy radiating from the tower. Oh, God! I felt my first Rennes epiphany.
La Tour Magdala was named after Magdala the hometown of Mary Magdalene. It was completed in 1905 by Berenger Sauniere, the mystery priest of Rennes, on the sight of an earlier building which, according legend, had exploded into the skies in the fourteenth century, long before the first recorded use of gun powder in the west.
In front of me was a strangely level mountain across the valley. Funny, I'd never seen pictures of that mountain in books.
Down a narrow path the runs beside the Tour Magdala I found the Holy of Holies of my search: the Church of Mary Magdalene.
Dedicated to Mary Magdalene in 1059, the church at Rennes was built on foundations said to have been laid by the Aryan Visigoths c. 410 AD.1 However, there is evidence that they built on much more ancient foundations. A clue to its earlier builders is given in the ancient name for this site: the Temple of Isis, the Egyptian goddess of the elements.
The strangely level mountain top across the valley is called the Temple of Osiris, after her mate.
The combination of its ancient and modern history holds the key to the secret of the Blue Apples.
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