No city in the world has embraced the feminine in its history, spirituality, art and culture more than Paris and no one adores it more than Andrew Harvey whose next book is Mystical Paris, and his co-teacher Gyorgyi Szabo who lived and studied for her doctorate there at the Sorbonne. This is a rare and beautiful opportunity to join Andrew in the Paris he has known since his twenties when he lived and studied and loved some of the most exotic and spellbinding people in his life. Together, Andrew and Gyorgyi will introduce us to a Paris infused with the feminine and pervasively divine in its adoration of beauty.
Paris was founded on a sacred geometry infused with the spirit of the divine feminine, perfectly embodied in the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Goddess statues have been there since ancient times, and sculptures of early Roman and Celtic goddesses, among them Vesta, Venus and Fortuna, as well as the sublime tapestries of the Lady and the Unicorn, can be found in the Musee de Cluny. It is thought that a temple of Isis existed near either St. Sulpice or St. Germain des Pres, and a celebrated Black Madonna has reigned on top of Genevieve's mountain since the 13th century. The city itself was first built on the Montagne St. Genevieve, named after it's visionary protectress and patron saint.
After the revolution the feminine was again exalted in the French emblem, Marianne, a bare-breasted woman holding a torch or a tricolor flag, symbolizing feminine power and justice. She holds a place of honor in town halls and law courts, as well as appearing on French stamps and coins. During this time the Louvre became a museum, forever associated with its mysterious Mona Lisa. Later, the exquisite Venus de Milo became a new emblem of the ideal feminine. In the lower levels, reigns a masterpiece of 15th century polychrome, the statue of a golden haired Marie Magdalene. Mary Queen of Heaven and Mary Magdalene reappear in the city in many forms.
To the north, the sacred hill of Montmartre (Mount Mercurii) invited another form of consciousness. Here St Denis was decapitated, and this cutting off of one form of awareness for another is typical of his namesake Dionysus. Vineyards still grow not far from where the impressionists painted and woman danced into the night. For in Paris, the feminine is admired in all its many forms. The city is suffused with sensuality from its cuisine to its fashions, which so elegantly celebrate all that is beautiful. The goddesses embedded in the sacred architecture of the city’s design, co-exist with all that tempts the sense of touch and taste and feel-the cafes, the perfumeries, the patisseries, and the parks, all lodged in a jumble of nooks and corners in a city over a millennium old.
A walking tour of mystical Paris with Andrew and Gyorgyi will yield a richly layered ensemble of meaning between geometry, architecture, history, and symbolic forms. The focus will be an exploration of how Parisian architecture was designed along geometric forms with different layers of archeological and historical depth. We will trace the edges the ancient templar quarter, walk underground in the Catacombs to feel the very earth Paris is built upon, and explore the energy matrix of the city. We will visit the gnomon in Saint-Sulpice church and examine the obelisks and arches, those star-shaped intersections that Napoleon built to create a new, mysterious alignment in the city, enhanced in recent years by the Louvre pyramid and the Grand Arche de la Defense.
Please note that on any walking tour, changes may occur in response to weather. Rain will mean more indoor time, and heat might encourage us to slow down and find cool indoor places as well. We will also make stops in green spaces and cafes for rest and restoration, and churches and chapels for meditation.
Some days are very full, and activities could spill into the next day if we run out of time.
Monday, July 9 On the first day Andrew will lead us along the stones of Roman Lutece, and we will meet three women. The first is Sainte Genevieve, the patron saint and protectress of Paris in the eglise St Etienne du Mont. In the Musee Cluny we will discover the Lady of the Unicorn. We will also meet Roman goddesses, Venus and Fortuna, along with Celtic gods on the Pillar of the Boatmen. Later, crossing to the island, we will meet Notre Dame de Paris.
Tuesday, July 10 On the second day we will cross the river to the Marais to visit some of the oldest private houses in Paris, leading us to the templar quarter, a sacred city within the city (many believe that the templars brought the black virgins to France), and the house of the alchemist Nicolas Flamel. We will then visit Notre Dame de la bonne Deliverance, a powerful black Madonna in Neuilly, just west of Paris.
Wednesday, July 11 On day three we go high up above Paris and breathe the air of Montmartre, then deep underground into the catacombs, and later receive the blessing of the Miraculous medallion. In the evening we will take a boat ride on the waters of the Seine.
Thursday, July 12 On day four we come to the alignment of science and spirituality at St Sulpice, then plunge into the spiritual stream of feminine beauty in the Louvre. We will explore the energetic alignment of the arches and obelisks that emerge in post revolutionary Paris, along with the more recent pyramid of the Louvre connected to the Grand Arche de la Defence.
Friday, July 13 On day five we explore the inspiration of the great impressionist painters at the Musee Marmottan, and nearby we will drink from a fountain, an artesian well bringing spring water from 700-meters deep beneath Paris. In the afternoon we will continue to explore beauty in the Petit Palais (Musee Guime). Our last evening will be a special meal together in the latin quarter.
With a passion that few scholars can match, Andrew will share the immortal stories of some of the philosophers, mystics, writers and artists who in different ways and in different ages have engaged in “sacred living” in Paris over the centuries. These include the medieval philosopher Pierre Abelard and his beloved student Heloise; the 14th century alchemist Nicholas Flamel, who according to legend was creator of the Philosopher’s Stone; St. Catherine Laboure, (1806–1876) who carried the request from the Virgin Mary to create the Miraculous Medal worn since by millions of Christians; the brilliant and volatile 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud, all of whose poems were written in less than a five year period; and poet and essayist Charles Baudelaire, best known for his work Les Fleurs du Mal; in addition to artists Claude Monet, founder of French impressionist painting, and post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne.
Fulcanelli (1984). Master Alchemist: Le Mystere des Cathedrals, Esoteric Interpretation of the Hermetic Symbols of The Great Work. (M. Sworder, Trans.). Brotherhood of Life: Albuquerque, NM. ISBN-10: 0914732145. ISBN-13: 978-0914732143
Harvey, A. (1986). Burning Houses. Houghton Mifflin: ISBN-10: 0395404266. ISBN-13: 978-0395404263
Warner, M. (2001). Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Human Form. University of California Press: Oakland. ISBN-10: 0520227336. ISBN-13: 978-0520227330
Whenever there is a question about what assignments are due, please remember this syllabus is considered the ruling document.
Student work will be evaluated in the following areas:
Please write a 15–20 page essay on the mystical dimensions of Paris with particular attention to the uniquely feminine aspects of the city’s history and ethos. Draw upon your personal experience during the pilgrimage and your reading of the assigned material.