This is the first part of a three part article looking into some of the specific points raised by Chérisey in his written propaganda in promoting the 'myths' at Rennes-le-Chateau. It refers to the work of Isaac Ben Jacob, who presumably bases much of his work on Anne Lombard-Jordan - who has very interesting views on Constantine, the Labarum, an artifact called the 'crista' and the Merovingians.
You can read the first part here
Some News and Twitter Feeds concerning general history and archaeology for those interested uploaded here:
This article - The Shepherdess Cipher In Search of a Solution by Tim Axon - was first published in 2005. I have uploaded it here for those interested in the workings of the famous cipher!
Its fascinating researching into this idea that a 'cult of the dead' led by Sauniere was apparent at Rennes-le-Chateau. While i, personally, currently believe this to be unsubstantiated - it is interesting when reviewing all the information published by the researchers advancing this theory to gauge the direction where the theory is leading. An interesting article (see here ) makes it somewhat clearer as to the nature of the 'beliefs' of this 'cult'. In the article it is stated:
'Penitents believe that Christ was never resurrected, that His rise did not occur. However, in their peculiar belief system, Christ's dead body is associated with a mummified corpse, and they believe that worship must be paid to the dead in order to enable them to be reincarnated on this earth. Amongst other things, it accounts for their worship of the Holy Sepulchre, and all the depictions of a dead, bloody Christ lying in a coffin that can be found in Catholic churches across the world'.
They further assert that:
'A prime example of the mingling between Christianity and the Babylonian Cult of the Dead created by the penitent confraternities: a depiction of a dead Christ, lying in a glass-windowed coffin. Therefore, the object of worship here is not really the person of Jesus-Christ and His life, but his dead body, his tomb (the Holy Sepulchre), and by extension, death itself, and any corpse of any origin'. (see photo above).
So what was Sauniere doing with the Talisman of Salvation? What was the aim, with his mortuary rite? If these beliefs of the cult were the same as those held by Saunière when he carried out rituals over dead bodies what on earth was Saunière advocating? What is this to do with a Book of Tobit, which absolutly has nothing to do with magical rituals over dead bodies, which i shall show ....
Its also interesting to note that although the authors in this article mention a quote by René Descadeillas where he muses that "The priest had caused several of his fellow townsmen to complain
to the Prefecture'. Descadeillas further wrote... 'Saunière locked himself in the cemetery at night and caused strange upheaval. The order was given for Saunière to stop turning the cemetery upside down. But what was he doing there? Why did he damage the graves? It's a mystery."
However, a close reading of the texts from the letters of those complaining about Saunière's activity of the time do not suggest that Saunière was 'turning the cemetery upside down'. What they refer to are that "M. l'Abbé had no right, after we had put crosses or crowns, to move, lift or dislodge anything" & "We are upset about the work being carried out in the cemetery, above all in the
conditions it has been up to now. Crosses have been removed, as well as gravestones, and at the same time this said work is neither for maintenance, nor for anything else". These letters were written in March 1895 and constitute the only evidence (i am aware of) where the parishoners are complaining about Sauniere's activities in the cemetery! That evidence suggests that Saunière was removing and repositioning crosses from graves and the gravestones/headstones themselves. Granted the parishoners may not have been fully aware of the extent of the activity of Saunière. If Saunière was indeed digging up the bodies of the ancestors of the local parishoners it seems remiss of them to just complain that he had moved the headstones and crosses on their graves!
In this article posted here - http://www.portail-rennes-le-chateau.com/sanch.htm there is a reference to a painting, supposedly of the tomb at Arles-sur-Tech [i am not entirely sure where the painting is found, perhaps in the church?], with a photo of the painting included in the article. The authors note the curious resemblance between this representation and the tomb at Arques - which Poussin allegedly painted in "The Arcadian Shepherds".
The authors of the article further assert that;
"What you should know is that Poussin's painting is only [a] representation among others of a tomb from which there flows springs of water. ... Indeed.... on Bibles of Stenay and Lille, [there are?] bookplate's on the cover page showing
Poussin's painting, this time with a tomb where the healing waters flow; and with the words: "sapientibus" .... It is not a rare case, as Guercino in 1618, and in the book "Cueur d’amours espris' by René d'Anjou (1457), the tomb is already associated with gushing
water. Would they be aware of the secret at Arles-sur-Tech?"
Firstly the owners/printers of the Bibles with bookplates [i have not seen them] have obviously adapted the Poussin painting for a reason. Sapientibus, i believe, means wise .... so i am not at all sure why this would be indicated in association with 'healing waters'. The biblical connection and water is fairly obvious [see my article referred to below].
It may also be important to note that the painting of a tomb at Arles-sur-Tech shown in the article may simply be a representation of a casket associated with Abdon and Sennen, perhaps those that hold the Saints' relics as detailed in the picture below.
What is more as the authors say - it could just be the representation of the 'Holy Tomb' at Arles and nothing whatsoever to do with a close resemblance to the tomb depcited in Poussin's famous painting [as the author's suggest above]. Below is the tomb at Arles, and this is why the tomb in the painting looks as it does.
And actually, the assertion that because the tombs depicted in these paintings show tombs associated with healing waters, and look like the Poussin tomb, they must surely refer to the 'secret' [what secret?] at Arles-sur-Tech, in this article HERE i show a different reason for these tomb depictions with water and a theory that might have a more closer connection to Rennes-le-Chateau perhaps ......
Its kind of distasteful isnt it? Bérenger Saunière might have been practising a 'cult of the dead' ritual. That in the backwaters of his tiny church in Southern France Saunière went further than he was supposed to do and started selling a mortuary 'ritual' for his own material gain! Breathlessly it is concluded that this was the root origin of the unexplained incredible wealth he amassed. Saunière built his domaine and the Magdala Tower and the Bethany villa to broadcast this "fact"!
Its all very distasteful because the origins of the 'Cult of the Dead' and what the ancients got up to with corpses doesn't make for nice bed-time reading. Drinking the blood or eating the flesh of those seen as Gods - the most modern incarnation of this idea being Christianity and the 'Last Supper'. Ritually anointing of would be kings with the blood of ancestors or those seen as Gods. Are we to believe that a ritual based on these old ideas was being practiced at Rennes-le-Chateau? Or was the form much more 'modernised' than these archaic rituals? Why would people, religious people, in the 19th century, whether from a 'penitent' group or whether from a plain old monastery background, be interested in a 'Cult of the Dead'? A 'Cult of the Dead' that had been outlawed by the Church centuries ago, as horrific pagan rituals which have some kind of magical component, but which the researchers announcing this new theory believe has survived through a network of old Cathar remnants, whether individually or as a group.
You may ask why the Cathars have been brought [dragged?] into the mix? Apparently they practised a solemn ritual at the moment of death that was the equivalent and derivative from this old 'Cult of the Dead' ritual.
What kind of form did the ritual take that Saunière performed? Why were 'people' willing to pay him handsomely for it? How did the people even find out what he was doing? It isn't like Saunière advertised the ritual in the 'ad's' he put in the local press and magazines, is it? All that was indicated was that he was willing to say a mass on the person's behalf! What were the 'payee's' getting for their money? And why did the whole ritual revolve around a 'notorious Merovingian Talisman'? Why did people even believe Saunière? Why did they even believe the ritual 'would work'? What is the connection between the personal view of individuals regarding the ritual, as opposed to the Confraternity groups who adminstered so called ritual burials of the dead, whether criminals or not?
The team of researchers headed by Isaac Ben Jacob have asserted that their theory fits the evidence available to explain what Saunière
was dabbling in. The belief for their theory is evidenced solely in the writings of master prankster Philippe de Chérisey - and not from Saunière. The evidence is mainly garnered from the poem Le Serpent Rouge and some private letters of Chérisey available on the internet as well as Stone & Paper, the so called final testament of Chérisey.
The main points that allowed the team to develop the 'cult of the dead' ritual theory are summed up here:
1] Firstly because of Chérisey's obsession with Mary Magdalene. After he had realised that she was being used - not as a biblical character or Saint, but as 'a falsely Christianised Isis, goddess of the Egyptian Cult of the Dead. She presided over mortuary anointing and embalming rituals' Chérisey realised something irregular was going on.
2] The suppressed Secret Gospel of Mark fragment. This fragment revolved around a 'ritual' at Bethany, [which] was essentially hijacked by Chérisey. All the elements of this ritual are symbolised at Rennes-le-Chateau and in fact are reflected by Chérisey in his writings. For him, the Villa Bethania, Mary Magdalene and the tomb for example are all symbols for the 'Cult of the Dead'. Whatever the Bethany ritual was - that is what Chérisey believed Saunière was replicating or using a form of! The researchers have also seen an origin of the cult in the Book of Tobit.
3] All the traditions associated with Magdalene and various other ideas related to her are amalgamated on to the Saint along with the legends of what Saunière found in 1891 by Chérisey!
4] What Saunière found in 1891 was a 'Talisman of Salvation'. He found it in a 'secret necropolis' - a secret necropolis which turns out to be the crypt under the church at Rennes-le-Chateau. The entrance to this crypt was revealed to Saunière in the small parchments he found in the Visigothic pillar. These are not the parchments we know and love, but some other handwritten testaments. Chérisey found all this out in a space of three years (between 1964 and 1967). The Visigothic pillar is alleged to carry a design on it which hints at this talisman (see image below)!
5] Chérisey's term - 'ransacked house' in the poem Serpent Rouge is an allusion to the crypt at Rennes-le-Chateau. Rather contradictorily the Jacob team of researchers assert; 'Rennes-le-Chateau was the receptacle of something which had been preserved in the ancient former village church, St Peter in Chains'. How, then, did it get to the crypt under the Magdalene church?
6] According to the researchers the Comtesse de Chambord gave 1000 francs to Saunière so that Saunière could be assisted financially in locating this 'talisman'. It seems that the Comtesse already knew that it was in the crypt and 'used' Saunière to find it. Did she give him a plan to return the relic to her once he had found it? Did Saunière ignore that?
7] Perhaps because of some wish for the significance of what the demise of the French Monarchy would mean at her death and the end of that particular family line, and all that that entailed (including the loss of such symbolism and mythology attached to the Monarchy) the 'Comtesse relieved her conscience of a heavy family secret ....'
8] That 'heavy secret' would appear to be information on this Merovingian talisman and its location.
9] After he had successfully found the relic, Saunière began to 'offer a ritual, on behalf of his clients, which used this talisman he had discovered in the crypt'. It is not clear whether this ritual was 'invented' by Saunière, or whether this 'pagan relic' had always been used in this manner. It is also not clear whether the Comtesse intended the 'relic' to be used in this way by Saunière, or whether she had only been attempting to save it from historical oblivion by making sure it was retrieved. One would think she would have had a plan after the finding of said relic. If it was a family heirloom of the Chambords, what happened to it after Saunière died?
10] For the Jacob team, Chérisey had said that these rituals took place in the 'Secret Room' or the crypt in the church at Rennes-le-Chateau and that the price for the ritual was 'related to the fee of Judas'. There was no indication by the Comtesse de Chambord that she thought Saunière would go on to do this! The ritual and the object itself (which is to be identified with the 'Crista') later came to the attention of distant family relatives of the Chambords (i.e. the Habsburgs) well after the death of Chambord.
There is so much in this 'theory' that is currently unsubstantiated, that it is hard to keep abreast of it all. However, the most essential thing for me is firstly to look at the main claims. Just what is a 'Cult of the Dead'? What was the ritual at Bethany? How could Chérisey appropriate the 'symbolism' of the Bethany 'ritual' to suggest something akin to this was going on at Rennes-le-Chateau?
Especially as the researchers suggest that Chérisey based his idea of the ritual somehow on a 'Secret Gospel of Mark' fragment, itself not altogether accepted by historians as an authentic Gospel fragment, and which is also not related to a 'Cult of the Dead' ritual but more akin to a 'baptism' ritual for some.
What would a 19th century priest think he could do in a mortuary ritual of the sort offered? And what use would an ancient relic be in these rituals? Was it something he [Sauniere] thought up independently - somehow relying on the Jewish Book of Tobit and the giving of money to 'bury the dead' as his guide? How was the relic useful, particularly one with the history already attached to it and its confusion with a Gold Cross of Solomon/Toledo (if indeed they are to be identified as the same things)?
What we must say is that this theory is gleaned only from the 'works' of Chérisey, which may turn out to be important. Supposing Chérisey has read all the 'signs' wrong?
There is also no mention of the involvement of Plantard in this theory. Plantard himself has no interest in a 'Cult of the Dead'. But he shows every interest in a very important tomb in the vicinity of Rennes-les-Bains. And whether you accept Plantard or not, he is a very important player in the later RLC myths. There is, as yet, no suggested involvement of other local priests (Boudet for example, Gelis etc) - surely Saunière could not do all this alone? And why would Marie Denarnaud be a party to such a macarbre cult of the dead?
There is no explanation or proof showing Saunière had the relic.
However, there is certainly evidence that Saunière was actively looking for something in the old area of ancient Rhedae castle and the church domaines. However, there is not a whisper or a suggestion by any writers on the subject, contemporary with Chérisey, or even contemporary with Saunière, that Saunière was involved in a 'cult of the dead' ritual. Indeed, all the suggestions were that Saunière was 'looking' for something (which also explained why he uprooted some graves in the cemetery), usually expressed in terms of a 'treasure'. The testimonies of the locals, that there was a msytery at Rennes long before Saunière arrived which spoke of a 'treasure' seems to have nothing to do with a 'Cult of the Dead'.
I attempt to answer some of these questions about this 'Cult of the Dead' ritual and the involvement of Saunière here! I also look into the theology of the Bethany ritual to try and understand what it is that the Jacob team may think, via Chérisey, was going on and what this ritual offered by Saunière was.
You can read more about Isaac Ben Jacob's theory and the points i
have raised in the original article here:
Its great to hear that the Archive project is moving along ..... Henry Lincoln reports:
"The current phase will take quite a time. The necessary sorting and copying will take many months. Thousands of documents, photographs, transparencies, recordings, scribbled notes, drawings and scraps of film must be reassembled into a coherent and accessible resource. It can't happen over-night ! But you may take it for granted that we are not wasting time … "
It will be a great asset to all serious Rennes researchers. If you need any help Henry, let me know ....
See HERE for more ...
I'm sure most researchers in this genre are aware of the speculations of Isaac Ben Jacob. He is interested in the artefact that Cherisey makes many references to - the Gold Cross of Solomon. This 'gold cross' is firmly linked to the church of St Germaine des Pres and Childebert. In the musing's of Isaac many diagrams have been put forward suggesting that this Crista is an 'ornament' (an imcomparable ornament at that according to Abbe Sugar) and is a representation of this mysterious artefact (see below).
This artefact has been linked to the Emperor Constantine and his Labarum, usually with the statement that the Labarum was really this artefact added to, or manipulated by Constantine to create his military standard. Once linked to the Labarum researchers have then analysed what the Labarum was and the nature of the vision of the Cross at Milvian Bridge, the Chi Rho.
The Chi Rhi is a chrisme, or 'the' chrisme .... (☧) a Christian symbol consisting of two Greek letters Χ ( chi ) and Ρ ( rho ), the first affixed to the second. These are the first two letters of the word Χριστός (Christ). It also sometimes reads like the monogram of Christ, and is often found with the letters α (Alpha) and ω (omega). These letters, which surround the Greek alphabet, symbolise all: the beginning and the end. The chrisme perhaps has another form involving Greek letters I ( iota ) and Χ (chi) as initials of Ιησους Χριστός (Jesus Christ).
The chrisme has also taken on the appearance of a six- pointed star1 in art often identified with the star that guided the Magi. Moreover, the Greek word thus formed when the alpha and omega is added to the chrisme - ἄρχω2 means "head, go , head start" and refers to the dual characterization of Jesus Christ, the founder and first leader of the early Christian Church. It is still found in the East, specifically in the eastern part of the ancient Roman Empire.
Cherisey spends an inordinate amount of time discussing these issues regarding the X & P, ἄρχω, the phrase 'In this sign conquer' and the Jewish Star of David (i.e. a six pointed star) - suggesting that Cherisey is trying to link all these concepts in some obscure way, possibly to the crista artefact3.
The Merovingians are said to have obtained this relic/artefact and Isaac and others have speculated that this artefact is represented in some fashion on their coins (see images below).
In the immediate above photo (on the right) it has been suggested that this represents the 'artefact' deconstructed, and one can see a P and an S. This P and S can be found in chrisme inconography thus, and is perhaps again an obscure reference to the artefact for those 'in the know':
In fact, a logo in the church at Rennes-le-Chateau is said to be
Sauniere's play on this PS by using his own initials BS to draw attention to this artefact once again!
To take this research further one has to look at the rest of the writing by Cherisey. In particular i am thinking of his alleged poem 'Le Serpent Rouge'. In this article here (especially in the Introduction) i discuss Cherisey's allusions and then take this one step further here.
So is the artefact something along these lines?
What is fascinating is that Isaac Ben Jacob drew in other elements .... which promote a link with the Book of Tobit and fish.
There is another name by which Christ was known in the early years - and this was ichtus. The Ichtus is ancient Greek, (ἰχθύς / ikhthus ("fish")) for a Christian symbol used in the first century to the fourth century, and then in the twentieth century, as a graphic symbol representing a fish which consists of two arcs, and an acronym (or an acrostic). These letters form the beginning of each term in the phrase "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Saviour".
Two books prefigure Christ and his Passion as the Fish: the Book of Tobit and the Book of the prophet Jonas (in the Old Testament) with the "Sign of Jonah." It is also alluded to as the abundant fish as a sign of abundant life in the work of the prophet Ezekiel .
These assertions are directly referred to by Cherisey in conjunction with the Gold Cross of Solomon, the Oriflamme and the Labarum. He has pilched it from the work of Paul Le Cour.
This is the epitaph at Autun for Pectorios (late IIth - early third century) discovered in late nineteenth century and often studied, which refers to Christ as the name ichtus acrostic twice engraved on the stone:
«Race of the divine heavenly Ichthys, who came among mortals to hear his immortal words! Friend, your soul buried in the sacred waters, the waters that give eternal wisdom with all its treasures! Take the Ichthys in your hands, eat and drink, satiate yourself
with this sweet food the Savior's has its saints. Ô Ichtus, Ichthys, O master Saviour, hear my desires! My mother looks at you in
joy, I pray with her, O light of mortals!"
Optatus of Milevis explains the meaning of this acrostic in Book III Against Parmenianum. It connects the acrostic Ichtys to the Book of
Tobit, with the fish foreshadowing Christ as in the Book of Jonah.
"Hic piscina is that in Baptism are per invocationem fontalibus undis vocitetur. Deceased piscis nomen secundum appellationem Graecam, in continet uno nomine, quod est ΙΧΘΥΣ Latinus JESUS CHRISTUS, DEI FILIUS, Salvator. hanc your piscinam, quae in omni Catholica per totum ORBEM terrarum, ad vitam humani generis, salutaribus undis exuberat; transduxistis ad voluntatem
vestram and solvistis singulare baptisma, ex quo Baptism are hominibus matured facti sunt ad tutelam "
- Optat of Milevis De Schismate Donatistarum Adversus Parmenianum
When checking out the ichtys symbolism i was brought right back to where we started - labarum, serpents, le serpent rouge etc when the following blazon was presented as illustrating the quote by Optatus. The image is shown below and is the blazon for a town in France named St Raphael:
I can certainly see why a town called Saint Raphael would have a blazon representing Tobias and the Angel. But why does Raphael carry a long cross entwined with a serpent? There are those who claim to have seen the Crista, and that it is indeed a long tall aretefact!
This image of a tall cross with a serpent entwinded at the top is similar to a painting found in the church of Notre Dame du Cros.... except the serpent is 'live'. Is this the painters oblique reference to a tall cross with a serpentine form at its head? i.e. the Crista?
Im sure there are perfectly plausible and acceptable explanations for these 'anomolies' - but i still cant help wondering whether, in France at least, these anomolies can have another meaning. And if they do - is it tantamount to the knowledge Cherisey was trying to impart?
1] See; http://www.rhedesium.com/the-tombstone-of-marie-hautpoul-de-blanchefort---key-of-a-secret.html
2] See; http://www.rhedesium.com/the-tombstone-of-marie-hautpoul-de-blanchefort---key-of-a-secret.html
3] See http://www.rhedesium.com/the-tombstone-of-marie-hautpoul-de-blanchefort---key-of-a-secret.html
Welcome to the blog of Rhedesium
My name is Sandy Hamblett, inspired and passionate researcher of the mysteries at Rennes-les-Bains.