Sacred Journeys - Pilgrimages from 2000 to 2018

The power of pilgrimage 

Ritual has the power to harness and release spiritual and psychological energy
resulting in physical changes.  With the power of intent, combined 
with the knowledge of the archetypal, mythic and religious nature of our
subconscious and soul, it is a powerful spiritual practise to travel
back to places of power and to enact the stories of our psyche.


'How might your life have been different, if, deep within,
you carried an image of the Great Mother,
and, when things seemed very, very bad, you could imagine
that you were sitting in the lap of the Goddess,
held tightly ...
embraced, at last.
And, that you could hear Her saying to you,
"I love you ....
I love you and I need you to bring forth your self".'
Erich Neumann, The Great Mother


"It was a dark night. A blood red full moon was hanging in the sky. We were standing on a beach, waves gently lapping in the background. I was one of a circle of 12, maybe 13 women. We were all dressed in black and a sense of awe and reverence washed over me. I felt spellbound and hardly dared to breathe. The old woman stirred the dark liquid in the 'cauldron' in front of her and she filled a huge round goblet with a deep dark red fluid. She held the glass high and the light of the moon reflected off the sides. She handed the glass to the woman in front of her, who took it with both hands. As she threw her head back, I could see the clear shape of her taut throat and as the liquid flowed down her throat, I became a part of her memory and her story. This happened with each and everyone of the women in front of me - as she drank the liquid, I became one with her, I merged with her memories and our stories were joined. I was the last one in the circle, being the youngest, and as the old woman handed me the goblet, she said to me : Drink the Poison and Find the Cure!'.

I was thirteen years old and lying on my bed with the yellow flower wallpaper next to me. I opened my eyes and returned from this vision. I had no idea what it meant, but from that day, it became my vision and purpose. And slowly, as I returned to the Otherworld, over and over, the answers were given to me and I was guided to the next step.

I shared this vision of mine at the International Goddess Conference that I hosted in South Africa in 2008, believing that this was the culmination of Her Call to me. Little did I know that the journey up till then was only Her preparation of the Way of what is still to come!

So walk with me as I start with the story nine years ago:

For many years I was happy to teach from many different spiritual writings, such as A Course in Miracles, the Gnostic scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita and so on. The deeper I entrenched myself into meditation and other spiritual practices, the more I discovered a gaping contradiction and inner conflict within myself.

In my practical work as a spiritual healer and alternative practitioner, working mainly with women, I found this same inner conflict reflected back at me. We, especially as Western women, living in our current, modern world, had at this stage of our journey, not had the luxury or privilege of asserting ourselves emotionally and spiritually. Nor have we had the privilege of having been received by the world as having the right to assert ourselves spiritually and emotionally.

And here we are, now embarked on a spiritual path which once again, is demanding of us to suppress and repress and to let go of this assertiveness. We are being asked to put others first and ourselves, as women, last. We are being asked to let go of our undeveloped ego and already non-existent personal boundaries.

On the one hand, I felt compelled to embrace these spiritual teachings as they somehow seem to resonate in my memory banks, but on the other hand, I found myself counselling women to do exactly the opposite!!

Time and time again, I found myself advising women to claim their lives back. To put themselves first and foremost, to become strong and selfish parents to their inner children, to fight for what rightfully belongs to them. As my inspired words became more and feminist in nature and virtually the opposite of what I, up till then believed, and were desperately trying to practise, I started to glimpse the incredible conflict within my psyche and entire being. It felt as though I was embattled between that which I have been 'taught' for lifetimes and that which naturally arises within my feminine self.
I tried to digest and assimilate these teachings as they flowed from my deepest awareness and understanding. It was as though these concepts were an organic part of myself as a woman. I tried my utmost to reconcile these powerful living concepts with the mental understanding of the spiritual path that I believed I followed.

But the conflict worsened as I observed women's psyches and inner worlds flowering and blossoming into healthy bodies and clarity of purpose and sense of self, as they applied these inspired teachings that I shared with them. At a deeper level, a more subtle and more powerful conflict was raging. Not allowing myself to pay attention to this subtle war raging in my own subconscious, I was urged from within to undertake a sabbatical from my wisdom and healing school and to undertake a journey into the unknown depths of my feminine soul.

And so started my descent, and like Inanna, I shed the seven layers symbolically through the next seven years of abstinence of teaching, counselling, healing and writing.

I finally listened to the urge to pick up a paint brush and a canvas and the images were born through me - I was possessed by the daimon of Her Voice - the images that were crafted by my hand were all of Mother Mary. I was never raised Catholic and had no real knowledge of Mother Mary as an image or as the Divine Feminine. Within two weeks four images of her stared back at me, Mary the Queen, Mary as the Lady of Grace, Mary as the Moon, Mary as the Gnostic Sophia, then followed Mary Magdalene and more and more.

I felt an intense call to undertake a pilgrimage to get to know Mary better and through many signs I was led to the sanctuary of Archangel Michael for his festival in the ancient village of Monte Sant'Angelo in Italy.

I travelled to the sanctuary of St Michael, San Michelle and during my travels in Italy, I found the soothing re-assurance in the image of the grieving blessed Mary and the suffering St Clare of Assisi. I found a deep sense of reassurance and hope in the images of these suffering women, not realizing that the anguish and suffering of my own feminine self found a sense of acknowledgement and acceptance in these images reflected at me. That deepest, unspoken, unacknowledged, repressed feminine self, found solace in the stories of these female Catholic saints and mystics. She found a new sense of hope of having found a voice, of being acknowledged and recognised as Sacred.

She had given the Call and it was up to me to answer.
And thus started the resurrection of my own feminine divine self.

I invite you along on my annual pilgrimages of the past fourteen years.

MONTE SANT’ANGELO : Sanctuary of San Michele  (parts of this was published in Namaste Magazine in 2001)

The small lead-stained glass windows made blue rainbows of light in my hand.  As I turned the icon, the silver wings glistened and the sword reflected gold sparkles.   I could sense the essence of the Archangel Michael statue and deep inside of me a part of me welled with a sense of yearning and I declared to all who cared to listen “From wherever this statue has come, that is where I am going!!!”

And this is how my trip to Italy started.  A friend brought me the San Michele (Saint Michael as he is known in the Roman Catholic Church) icon from Italy.  The little statue found its way into my hands via another friend.  I had no idea where it came from other than somewhere in Italy.  I decided that the September school holidays would be a good time.  As I had to ask Granny to help with the house-sitting and taking care of my children, I moved the dates a week earlier so as to avoid taking her away from the rest of her family for her birthday!!!!  I had no idea at that time how important this shuffling of dates were!!!  As to the location of the San Michele sanctuary: that I left up to The Universe.

Three months before my departure date I discovered that the annual San Michele festival takes place on 29 September in a small town called Monte Sant’Angelo in the province of Foggia in Italy.  On the same day I discovered that this is indeed the shrine where my statue came from!!!  By having moved the dates of my trip to a week earlier, I had given myself three days to travel down to Monte Sant’Angelo to arrive in time for the festival!!  The annual festival takes place on the Saint’s day and it is dedicated to the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. 

Monte Sant’Angelo forms part of the Gargano Pilgrim Way.  The Gargano being that part of the Italian continent that looks like the spur of the boot.   The landscape, soil and vegetation in this part is completely different to the rest of Italy and it is believed that this section broke off from another continent with the moving apart of the continents.

My first stop was Rome.  I was almost overwhelmed by the richness and sensuality of Rome and the historical description of Rome as the ‘whore of Babylon’ came back to me.  The transition from my Calvinistic Afrikaans neighbourhood to this astonishingly beautiful city with its ‘in-your-face’ locals made the Romans appear almost flauntingly sensual. 

However, there was a deep sense of familiarity and the well-known as I moved around in Italy and a few times I caught myself thinking that it is wonderful to be back.  Italy is a country of angelic hues of pink, blue and white.  My brown sunglasses were too dark for the baby blue Italian sky and I soon acquired a pair of blue tinted sunglasses.  The clouds always reflect a muted white and they are tinged with pink or lilac most of the time.  Italy has the natural appearance and beauty of an oil painting done by one of the Old Masters.

I travelled by car from Foggia to Monte Sant’Angelo.  The village is the highest in the province and you travel up a breathtakingly beautiful pass.  On the left side you are flanked by the blue of the Mediterranean ocean and on the right the chalky cliffs.  Quite an experience when you are driving on the wrong side of the road in a little sporty left hand steering Lancia!  Little did I know that that was the easy part of the approach to the village.  As we entered the village I was confronted by the narrowest cobblestone streets lined with triple story white washed houses hanging over and nearly meeting in the middle in some places.  The village was a hive of activity in preparation for the festival and cars were parked higgledy-piggledy along the narrow and extremely steep streets.

Monte Sant’Angelo (Mountain of the Angel) has developed around ancient caves.  The main cave is situated on the Michael line that runs through the continents of Italy and England.  In England the well-known ruins of St Michael church was built on the this energy line on Glastonbury Tor. In the main cave a spring has been welling up for thousands of years.  Wells and springs have always been regarded as sacred places as it is seen as the ‘eye’ of the energy line running through the earth. This cave has served as the sanctuary of oracles, prophetesses and seers through the centuries.  The very first Archangel Michael devotees visited this cave for prayers, centuries ago already.  Before any appearance by the angel this place had already been recognised as containing his essence.  At the time of the Longobard pilgrimages the cave became a Christian site of prayer and veneration and it has been part of this five-stop pilgrimage ever since.

Michael appeared three times, between 490 to 493 AD, in this cave and his one appearance was in full view of the whole village!! The cave has since officially been declared by the Roman Church as being the sanctuary of Archangel Michael.

A beautiful white carved stone statue and a few other relics, sacred to the church, has been placed in the cave that now been turned into a church.

I stayed in the appropriately named Hotel Michael overlooking the impressive castle tower and the front entrance to the sanctuary.  A real bird’s eye view!  It seemed if I leaned over I could touch the bell tower!

Four o’clock Saturday morning I was awakened by the pealing of twelve different church’s bells.  The sounds of streets being swept and the aroma of brewing cappuccino drifted up to my room.  By five o’clock these gentle quiet sounds were replaced by a throng of footsteps finding their way to the first of eight masses to be held on every hour in the little cave-church.  A ritual procession snaked past my balcony and I was transported back a thousand years or more.  The townspeople were dressed in flowing white tunics led by a brass band.  Small children dressed as little Angel Michaels ran barefeet along – golden wings flapping.  The statue of Michael was carried aloft and a procession of swords followed! 

As you enter the cave of Michael a deep sense of peace envelops you.  Walking over the smoothened floor surface you become aware of thousands of seekers and pilgrims who have entered here with questions in their heart, looking for answers and a connection to the sacred.
The deep throb of Life resonating from the cave walls, has an overlay of hallowed awe and worship. 

The normally quiet pavements are lined with stalls and markets for the duration of the festival and the streets are filled with pilgrims.  As the sky darkens the mood changes and sultry Italian music fills the air.  Magnificent firework displays light up the sky for what seems an eternity. 

From Monte Sant’Angelo the other towns on the pilgrim’s way is easily accessible.  A tour of this area has to include a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, the home town of Padre Pio known for his miracle healings.  I also visited the Shrine of St Matthew the Apostle in San Marco in Lamis. 

As you travel along the winding roads through olive orchards and vineyards, you encounter small shrines dedicated to the local saints.  These shrines are open to everyone and you are welcome to say a prayer or put down a flower in devotion to your own sacred journey.

My journey in Italy took me next to the town of Assisi – well-known as the territory of the gentle monk St Francis.  Of great significance for me was the church and convent of Santa Chiara (St Claire) who was a dedicated protagonist for women’s rights in the Christian church of that time. 

What is remarkable in the whole of Italy is how many ancient pagan sites are still preserved.  These sites have all been claimed by the Roman Church and turned into Christian churches.  The Ancients understood the energies of the earth and built their temples on the most powerful sites.  As you enter some of these churches, it is as though you step into a sweeping vortex of energy and power.  In some instances the sound of the moving energy was clearly audible to me. The Temple of the Goddess Minerva faces the Piazza del Comune in Assisi and as you enter the dark interior of the church

From Assisi my intuition, still following the Michael leylines, led me to the ancient town of Lucca,  In the centre of Lucca I literally stumbled upon the most magnificent cathedral dedicated to none other than Archangel Michael.  On top of the spire of this tall cathedral stands an imposing copper statue of the Archangel, the jewels on his arm flashing in the dull sunlight!  The aura of this energy site was so clearly visible, it appeared like a rainbow after heavy rains.

This is just a morsel of my celebratory Italian tour!  The Michael leylines flow right through the country and as one follows the energy, it becomes clear that the Ancients were very aware of this power and understood how to harness its properties of inner authority, integrity, faith and righteousness.

I continued with the rest of my journey be completing the Gargano Pilgrimage.  This pilgrimage includes San Giovanni Rotondo of Padre Pio, the saint known for the stigmata, incredible healings and bilocation!

In my years of assisting others through their own transformational journeys, my healing and meditation room often filled with the fragrance of roses and a wind blowing indoors.  Many people had different explanations for this phenomenon and one of them was that this is the presence of Padre Pio.  I always try to not limit or label anything as I have found that as one's understanding expands, the interpretation of the physical manifestation, changes!  And this happens all the time.

When I entered the Padre Pio shrine I was struck by a powerful fragrance of roses.  There were many fresh flowers anywhere and I assumed this was what I was smelling.  I sat down near the resting place of Padre Pio's body and closed my eyes to receive the energies and presence of the place and the spirit residing there.  As I did so, it was as though someone surrounded my entire face with a bunch of roses and a silent wind started blowing around me.  The fragrance grew and grew and eventually I gave in to my human curiousity and opened my eyes.  But there was nothing, other than other people slowly moving around.  I closed my eyes again and the fragrance returned, even more powerfully and the wind started to pull at my clothing.  Those sitting next to me also noticed this phenomenon and I asked them to close their eyes and to partake of the divine presence.  

Later on in life, after many similar experiences, I came to call this energy, the presence of the Beloved.  I always experienced it most strongly when healing energy flowed through me to another.  And once I experienced it very strongly for myself.

Not so long ago I changed the direction of my spiritual path and left an organisation.  This met with resistance and opposition and I felt this energetically on many levels until it manifested in a serious painful physical injury and temporary paralysis. One of my very good friends and student of the past twelve years, assisted me with healing as I struggled to free parts of my soul and psyche.  The entire apartment filled with the pungent and beautiful fragrance of red roses!  The fragrance was so thick, it seemed like a cloud and it was present in every room, even the bathroom.  Since then I have smelled this fragrance in the ashram and temple of Sri Anandamayi Ma and also at the grotto of Lourdes, where The Immaculate Conception is present.

I had one item on my itinerary for Rome which had become passionately important to me : a visit to The Old City and then particularly, the Temple of the Vestal Virgins.  As you enter The Old City you are transported to a different world and a different time.  You could taste the difference in the air and as you walked on those ancient streets, it did not take much imagination to sense the scenes of old taking place.  That whole area is so charged with energy and memories it is tangible to any person entering with a sense of awareness.

As I walked through the massive archway a pillar glinted brightly in the sunlight to my left.  A sense of excitement almost bordering on panic, rised in my solar plexus.  I allowed myself to move towards the pillar, missing all the ‘important’ ruins on my way there, to the consternation of my mother, my travelling companion.  As I came to a stop I realised that this was one of the restricted areas in The Old City and I could not get close to the pillar, nor the remains of its temple.  As my mother caught up with me she pointed out on the map that this was indeed the Temple of the Vestal Virgins.  Well, my passion turned into an obsession.  It was as though one part of my brain lost all logic and reason.  I ended up buying an R80 entrance ticket to a palazzo above The Old City in the hope of having a view of the Temple, but to avail.  After hours of walking around the Old City and its neighbouring hills, I gave up!!  That evening I paged through my new guide book and found a section on the Temple of the Vestal Virgins.  Eight statues of the vestal virgins surround the courtyard of the temple.  The eighth statue has been defaced, the head was cut and her name scratched off.  The eighth vestal virgin was buried alive with a candle and a loaf of bread because she converted to the new religion called Christianity.  But then the penny dropped!  Her name was Claudia – the name of my three year old daughter!!  This was the first of a series of synchronistic and revelationary experiences in Italy.


Beckoning, calling

A beacon of light in the darkness.

 Winds swirling, moving white light blending with white cloth.

 A smile, a halo, hair or light?

 She is calling, walking ahead, leading, guiding, gently shining

 the Light.

I follow, one foot forward, then another,

tentatively, unsure, until finally,

breaking out in a run,

feet secure, heart pounding,

following blindly,

following Her. - Hettienne - 2004


Anandamayi Ma, the blissful Mother

In 2010 I spent time at the ashram of Anandamayi Ma in Haridwar, India.

It was after a few years of serious loss and letting go in my own life.

I attended meditations and satsang at her ashram.

Anandamayi Ma's words :

Question :  Is it difficult to know which is the true path?
Answer :  If you  sit with all doors and windows closed, how can you see the path?
Open the door and step out, the path will become visible.
Once on the way, you will meet other wayfarers, who will advise and guide
you as to your path.  Your job is the muster whatever strength you have to
get underway - thereafter help is assured.

All names are Thy name and all forms are Thy form.
Do you want deliverance from the bonds of the world? Then weeping profusely, you will have to cry out from the bottom of your heart: Deliver me, Great Mother of the World, deliver me!.... When by the flood of your tears the inner and outer have fused into one, you will find her whom you sought with such anguish, nearer than the nearest, the very breath of life, the very core of every heart....

The year after I found Mary's Well in
Glastonbury, I attended the International Goddess Conference in Glastonbury - the first of many to follow. That year the focus was on Bridie or Brigid and her swan.

If you have been following the story, you will know that Hestea/Vesta led me to St Brigit and Michael's Tower in Glastonbury.
I stayed in the same bed n breakfast as before and this time I shared the space with Sister Mary McAleese, a Brigidine nun from Kildare!

From her I learnt that Brigit is also known as Brede or Mary of the Gael! You may remember my mention of the one book that made such an incredible impact on my life. I read 'In this House of Brede' by Rumer Godden when I was fourteen - I still own that copy. I have given many books away since, but never that one. I could not explain to you why the book was so important, other than that I always felt that there was a story behind the words that only I could 'see'.

When those nuns told me that Brede was St Brigit, the key fitted the door and the following year I travelled to Kildare, Ireland to the sanctuary of St Brigit, Mary of the Gael.
The nuns are Brigidine nuns, living in Kildare in Ireland. They are part of a community known as Solas Brihde, devoted to the all-encompassing Celtic St Brigit : saint, poetess, protector and healer.

They have restored the original Brigit sacred pilgrimage site along with a small publication, guiding pilgrims in the power and symbolism of the pilgrimage to Brigit.

The original site dedicated to Brigit, Celtic Goddess, is still to be seen in the grounds of the Catholic Church 
erected on the same site.

This shrine, near Kildare, was located near an ancient Oak that was considered to be sacred by the Druids, so sacred in fact that no one was allowed to bring a weapon there.

The shrine is believed to have been an ancient college of priestesses who were committed to thirty years of service, after which they were free to leave and marry.

2012 - Walking in the footsteps of Mary Magdalene
in the South of France

Six weeks ago I undertook a pilgrimage to France. My main focus was the festival of Sante Sara, the gypsy saint and the annual gathering of the gypsies in Les Saintes Maries de la Mer and from there to Lourdes. I am a pilgrim whom does not belong to a religion, one who follows the religion of the soul (in the words of Thomas Moore) and my pilgrimages have taken me across the globe. Each stay has always further dissolved my sense of a separate self and has taken me deeper into Unity Consciousness. I am always happy to see that hidden pockets of the separate self is revealed and that the transcendent and radiant Presence in these sacred places, replaces all discordant notes within. A pilgrimage has a wonderful way of revealing the Love Within. Ultimately, it seems to me that our biggest obstacle as human beings are that of Trust! Trusting ourselves, trusting our feelings and our vulnerabilities with others, trusting the goodness of Life, trusting that everything that is happening to us is meant to be and ultimately trusting God. This is not a 'bad' thing - most probably a very effective protective device - and merely part of our journey as human beings back to Unity Consciousness - the complete Knowledge that we are not separate from Divine Will.

I was blessed with many wonderful and powerful visions along the way (some which I will share with you in this blog and others to follow) and messages repeated reinforcing the understanding that Forgiveness is the salve that makes us (w)holy. Forgiveness in the largest sense of the word. And as we forgive ourselves, we realise that we have to forgive God and that the God that man created, truly does not exist. 'God' is complete and total Forgiveness, or Prema (unconditional love) and therefore forgiveness is not necessary. But it is a long journey to integrate these incredible paradoxes and to see that the marriage between spirit and body truly does exist and that that is our journey here - to make sacred the mundane self.

One of the beautiful visions that I had was how each human being is on the symbolic cross, suspended between heaven and earth and stretched across the heart. On the one side is the seemingly 'positive' inner voice and on the other side is the seemingly 'negative' inner voice - both waging war on the person hanging from the cross. This is true suffering which takes on many layers and dimensions. And trying to judge positive from negative becomes a never-ending quagmire of psychology, biology, personality traits and so on. Salvation comes from the flowering of the heart, the sacred heart within, which radiates the light of the living Christ. 

These Divine archetypes seemingly transcend our human lives, but in the sacred marriage the soul meets Spirit and a new way of living and understanding is born - a deep peace within which surpasses all understanding - the inner voices are dissolved and Love is the world.

Our first stop was St Maximin la St Baume where we stayed in the old cloisters of the Basilica. The adjacent Basilica houses the relics of Mary Magdalene. As with all sacred places, saints, myths and legends, there is always controversy and dispute about the truth of the legends as well as the relics. As we know, religion is a powerful political tool. Personally, I choose to see the entire spectrum of religion, myth and legend as an archetypal journey. We, ourselves, embody these archetypes and these inspirational lives and stories of these almost superhuman beings, is to me a cross road where the archetype and the physical meet and cross. 

One cannot ignore the power of the names given to these characters - the names in themselves are archetypal. Also, if you pay attention to the ley lines where the sacred places are established and where the waters run from the sacred springs and well, you can see the presence of the Divine, marrying our world with the Spiritual world.

Staying in the old cloisters was a very humbling experience. 

This was the view from my room in the convent which has now been turned into a hotel.

Right next door, as part of the complex, stands the massive St Maximin Basilica of Mary Magdalene. 

We visited the Basilica more than once. We also visited the chapel at the grotto where Mary Magdalene spend the last thirty three years of her life at La Sainte Baume. I experienced the same divine Presence at both these sites. The Presence of the Divine Feminine known as Mary Magdelene. I can only describe it as a very very gentle, loving and forgiving energy. It felt as though the energy was vibrating in gentle, yet powerful waves of nurturing and embracing : an energy with a very specific vibration and colour which I will now recognize immediately again. Each time we visited the Basilica and its many shrines, we were reluctant to leave Her absolute Beauty.

This is the statue of Mary Magdalene placed just outside the crypt where her relics are kept.

Here is picture taken during the Mary Magdalene feast day. Her skull is behind this mask which is taken out for the procession.

The Basilica contained many statues and a shrine dedicated to Mother Mary, the Mary Magdelene crypt and more. The most beautiful Mary Magdalene statue graced this church. The picture does not really do justice to the presence that radiates from this beautiful image.

Here is a picture of the Lourdes shrine in the Basilica : a small taste of what was still to come.



Does it make sense to you if I tell you that I am almost loathe to put my beautiful experiences into words?  Almost like when you had a magical dream and you do not want to limit it to mere words?  I find that words can never describe the unseen and the Mystery of it All.  I also know through very real and tough experience that phenomena of divine love comes and goes and that we spiritual travellers are not to become attached to those experiences.  So I quietly treasure them in my heart and I know that it is these mysteriously divine experiences that carry us through the tough times.  So therefore I share with great passion!  I am doing my best not to rush through the entire trip, but to give the vignettes to you in their deep colour and vibration that they came to me.

So from St Maximin we take the car and set out to explore.  We only have a few things in mind during this entire trip :  cathedrals, Divine Mary, Mary Magdalene, and flea markets for our artistic endeavours.  And flea markets was indeed a major component of this pilgrimage and the most wondrous divine synchronicities which none of us will ever forget - but that I am keeping for another posting.

At the local information office we found a poster about a Gypsy festival in the nearby village Rians.  Remember, we are in the land of the gypsies and on our way to the Gypsy festival in Saintes Maries along with 20 000 gypsies - so I suppose they have fairs and festivals all the way there!

Equipped with a GPS and a map of France we easily find Rians and a gypsy wedding in progress!  My one regret was that I only took my very small digital camera along so I have very few good photographs.

We took a stroll through the village and its gypsy fair and eventually found our way to a very very old cathedral perched high on the hill.  It was the Notre Dame de Nazareth dedicated to the Miracle of Fatima.

As I said previously, I had a 'wish list' in my mind - it was not a serious matter, but there were a few things that I had been hoping to experience and to find.  One of those was the Presence of the Sacred Heart as known by the devotee and apostle Saint Margaret Mary.  If you have been following this blog and you know my mystery school work, you will know that the Sacred Heart is at the core of all my visions and experiences with the divine.  A blogging friend and fellow Marian, The Woodwife (see her blog on my links) told me about  Saint Margaret Mary after she appeared to her in one of her dreams.  Something about this particular saint caught my attention and I went looking for some more information about her.  That is when I discovered that the Sacred Heart was first seen by her in a vision and it became her mission to bring its Presence and teaching into her religious tradition.

We walked into the very impressive cathedral.  You can see some of its dimensions in the photograph.  The afternoon light was streaming in through the windows and glinting off all the gold.  The church contained many shrines - all of them pertaining to me and my story specifically :  Padre Pio whom I have visited in 2000 - you can read the story on this blog and also on Shaman-She Who Knows, my other blog - and who has played a pivotal role in my development as spiritual healer;  Saint Anne, my mother and daughter's patron saint.  Yes, we adopted her as patron saint as we are not Roman Catholic!  and we all three share the name Anne.

And then as I turned to the right, there she was Saint Margaret Mary


Mary of the Sacred Heart

Images of the Divine carry enormous energy and Presence.  There are various ways of explaining it, but the ancients believed that the Spirit of that aspect of the Divine lives in Its image and form.  I have demonstrated the power and size of the auric field of sacred images to people who are not so sensitive to energy.  You can test the auric field by using a pendulum or kinesiology (muscle testing) to prove it to yourself.  

The Presence of the Sacred Heart was both visible and palpable to me - it was like the abundance of a fruit tree laden with fruit or the expanse of a lavender field.  The love of the Sacred Heart is infinite and expansive, like an ocean and we bathed in the soft lavender light of that church.  As we left, we walked almost straight into a cherry tree, covered with ripe luscious fruit!! 

Aaahh such is the ways of the Divine!  Never in either/or, but always in both and everything.  Nothing is excluded : not man-made images and statues, traditions or rebellions :  it all comes together in the Sacred Heart of the World.

A very blurry picture with the name of the Sacred Heart by her feet :

Mary Magdalene and Lourdes Pilgrimage - Part Three

Statue of Sante Sarah in crypt

The Mary Magdalene and Lourdes pilgrimage started off as the intent only to attend the annual Gypsy festival of Sara la Kali in Saintes Maries de la Mer.  It has been my wish to attend this festival for about six years and I kept on putting it off.  I was attracted to spend time in this energy of two worlds coming together :  the Christian and the Hindu traditions of faith. And the festival did not disappoint.  I stepped into a magical world of legend, myth, faith and miracles!  

Last year I stayed in India for a few weeks visiting the many temples of Kali Maa.  The previous year I attended the Navratra the Festival of Nine Nights dedicated to the Hindu Goddess Durga Maa.  And now, participating in the festival of Saint Sarah le Kali, the Black, was magical and opened my mind even further to the unity of all people, all religions and traditions!

Hindu Goddess Kali Maa
Kali Ma is the fierce goddess in the Hindu tradition.  She is the Mother of Kundalini and the bringer of change.  She is often feared as change does not honour resistance nor reluctance, but calls for surrender to that which we have no control over.  She is known as the black or dark mother, 'Kali'.  And here, in the South of France, in a small Catholic Church and as Queen of the Rom (Gypsies), reigns the saint Sara la Kali - a fusion of the dark mother and one who serves Mother Mary.

This festival has been taking place for the past fifty years and attracts 20 000 roma (gypsies).

Gypsy wagon parked in main road Saintes Maries de la Mer

Legends are rife about the origins of the dark skinned Sainte Sarah - both the Rom and the Christian version.  The Roma speak their own language, they have a very distinctive culture and are wanderers and travellers, with a strong focus on music, dance and passion.  It is said that the Roma originally came from India and found their spiritual mother Kali Ma, in the black saint Sarah.  

The festival always takes place on Sante Sara's sacred day 25 May. The week before the caravans stream into the small sea side village.  As we travelled many motorhomes passed us.  The gypsies live in these modern motorhomes and many have enormous trailers behind.  They travel from fair to fair across France and Europe and sell their wares, such as hand made knives.

A wonderful exotic and festive market is on for the entire week before the religious festival days and the mesmerising sounds of the flamenco guitar can be heard far and wide.

Children and adults dress up in traditional gitane clothing

 Outside the church of Saintes Maries de la Mer you will find flamenco playing gypsies, dancing girls, small girls handing out images of Lakshmi and older women selling the holy medals of Sante Sarah, indicating that you have arrived at the destination of your pilgrimage!  What magic!!

Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Abundance

  Saintes Maries de la Mer is a quaint village known for its white horses from the Camargue, the black bulls and the three Saints : Sara, Marie Salome and Marie Jacobe.  Legend has it that they arrived here on the beach with Mary Magdalene.

On the first feast day Sara is lowered into her crypt and dressed in layer upon layer of cloak representing all the prayers.  The crypt is underneath the church and the heat from the thousands of burning votives makes it almost unbearable.  For the Rom this is a homecoming.  They travel here once a year if they can, but those living further away in other parts of Europe sometimes only make it every few years.  They catch up with family and tears are flowing.  During her festival, those who seek her healing and blessings come to touch her skirts, put scarves around her neck, offer flowers, light candles, and give thanks for miracles and prayers answered in the preceding years. She is paid homage to in the Gypsy Prayer, a copy of which sits framed to the right of her feet. Combined with the intense sounds of the gypsey crooners outside the church, the smell of burning incense and one's own heart, this makes for an intense experience - and all of this before the actual celebrations have even started.

In the crypt of Sainte Sarah
On the feast day a mass in celebration of Sainte Sarah is held early in the morning.  The church is packed full and every bit of standing space is taken.  The overflow of people stand outside in the courtyard and loudspeakers bring the service outside.  The chanting of 'Sante Sarah' at times completely overpower the voice of the priest and there is not a person who does not sing along!  What an experience of intense passion!  The statue of Sainte Sarah is then carried along the main road of the village and down to the sea.  There is a strict hierarchy to the procession.  It is led by the town elders on their white horses, then followed by representative of the various Gypsey tribes and families, then the priest in a motor vehicle and then the various parishes from across Europe who bring their colours and emblems to be blessed.  And then those taking part in the procession.  The procession took four hours to reach the sea - this walk would normally have taken 15 minutes.

The horses are decorated with paint spots

After the statue had been immersed in the sea water, everyone enters the water as it is now sanctified.  As in Hindu traditions, it is an act of purification and sanctification to be washed by the waters of the mother (la mer).
Sante Sarah on her way to the sea

Sara, toi la sainte patronne des voyageurs et gitans du monde entier,

tu as vécu en ce lieu des Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

Tu es venue d'un lointain pays au-delà des mers.

J'aime venir te retrouver ici, te dire tout ce que j'ai dans le Cœur,

te confier mes peines et mes joies.

Je te prie pour tous les membres de ma famille et tous mes amis.

Sara, veille sur moi!

(Sara, patron saint of travelers and gypsies the world over, you who lived in this region of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. You came from a far-away country from across the seas. I love to come and find you here, to tell you all that I have in my heart and in you confide my sorrows and joys. I pray to you for everyone in my family and all my friends. Sara, come to me!)


Sacre Couer Montmartre, Paris

I am writing to you from Paris. It is still early and quiet - the sun has been up for a while and is shining softly on the very Parisienne facade of the building across from me. What a busy city and probably not the best time to visit as it is peak season. I have spent a week in London with my teenage daughter who absolutely loved the shopping and the vibe and the crowds. I have been looking forward to the Paris leg of our trip as when I was here the previous time (pregnant with my now travel companion) I could not do many of the places I intended to this time. I love to travel and each time is different. This trip I often contemplated on the material world and people's obsession with the physical and physical appearance. I mused about the necessity of a spiritual path, be it religion or a more free way of embracing the idea that the Divine is in everything. And as the Divine is in everything, then those who lead a life focused only on the material is not separated from the Divine in any way. These were merely gentle musings on my part as I do know that it hinges on consciousness and one's awareness, but I am always very interested in others' ways of experiencing life and the profane. 

Yesterday we visited the Sacre Couer in Montmartre along with hundreds of tourists. The beautiful and sacred atmosphere of the church was virtually non-existent with tourists disobeying the instructions not to take photographs, children touching everything, you get the picture. However, my daughter and I was determined to immerse ourselves in the energies and we were not disappointed. We both felt the light humming in our hands and arms as we approached the beautiful golden statue of Mother and Child. It felt like a door opened in my chest and throat and a million birds flew out, suffusing myself with the Love that includes everyone and everything. Next we entered the Virgin chapel. The walls were covered in images of the sacred woman in Her different roles and aspects. The compassionate and nurturing energy was intense and palpable. The air here was cool and soothing and it felt like an expanse of space. We stayed as long as we could. The earth has chakras or energy centers that has higher vibrational energy than other spaces. We are aware of the restorative power of water and the ancients knew about wells. Mares is Latin for oceans of water and Marie is the French derivative and Mary of course the english. Ma mere means my mother and la mer means the sea. I have walked the Mary and Michael leylines over two continents and the Mary line follows the rivers and the sacred points are always at a well. We can survive without food but we cannot survive without water. The Divine as our sacred mother is the ability to nurture and nourish ourselves on all levels, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Our Divine Mother is here, present with us, in our physicality (70% of our body is water, a small ocean by itself). She is in our cells, hearing every thought, every word, witnessing every act of self-care and self-acceptance. In Hindu Tantra the divine mother is known as Shakty, the active force and power of Shiva, (the male god) in this world. Mary, the blessed Mother, is the active nurturing and creative principle of God, the heavenly Father, in this world. Everywhere in Paris she is depicted with a child on her hip - such a typical stance of a mother. She is holding her divine Son, He whom She has given birth to; the mother of a new life. In the same way we daily and even hourly, give birth to a new life We create through every thought, with our attitude and through actions. Every thought resonates and vibrates in the waters of your body and sponsors an entire creation. As we repeat Her name in Love, She responds. Ave Maria 

Yesterday we visited the Chapel of the Miraculous Medal. What an incredible and wonderful experience! I will share with you as soon as I have found the right plug adaptor today. I will also try my best to figure out how to upload pictures from my iPad that I have with me. Till tomorrow Blessings Hettienne

Pilgrimages to Our Lady of Lourdes

To me, the Blessed Mother is not limited to any religion, any dogma or any culture.  
The Soul has its own religion and that is where you will find Her and Her many faces.
She is present for all 
Her Grace enfolds everyone
You only have to become aware of Her.

Wherever I travel in the world, I visit Her sacred shrines.  I have visited Kwan Yin in Ayutthaya in Thailand;
Kali Ma in Her many temples in India;
I have attended the Navaratri and Durga Puja, the nine nights of the Goddess in Varanasi;
the holy well and holy fire of Brigit in Kildare;
the Goddess Temple in Glastonbury 
and I have participated in many Goddess Conferences in Glastonbury
hosted by the Temple of Avalon and Her priestesses
and I have facilitated the first International Goddess Conference in South Africa in 2008
to name some of my pilgrimages to the Holy Mother

all of these have been numinous experiences
that touched me deeply
and brought great insight and healing to my mind
for our conflicted nature as human beings

me so profoundly
Our Lady of Lourdes.

I did not have high expectations of my visit to the Grotto and the City of Lourdes.
I had seen many pictures and thought I knew what to expect.

At the grotto I fell in line with the other pilgrims, waiting my turn to touch the walls of the cave and its dripping water.  The atmosphere was light and joyful, although many stood and kneeled deep in prayer.  As I approached the statue of Our Lady where She appeared to St Bernadette, I could feel an
intensification of the energy, a slight vibration and a humming sound.  The closer I came, the louder the sound became.  The sound was over and above the sound of the rushing waters.
As I put my hand out to touch the dripping water and I raised my eyes, 
a column of light was visible to me,
shimmering and dancing.
My first impression was that it is a giant candle, but then my logical mind
realised that this is not possible.
The only way I can describe it is 'a flame of living organic light' :
Her Divine Presence made manifest in this world,
visible to my eyes.

And overwhelming and immense feelings which I am at a loss to name.
A feeling of such incredible fullness and completeness which has stayed with me ever since.

A hundred thousand harps take you
like wings and sweep you up out of silence.
And your primitive wind is blowing
the fragrance of your marvelous power
to every being and to every creature in need.
- Rainer Maria Rilke


Full moon at Notre Dame - Swan Blessing Pilgrimage September 2014

I woke up from my afternoon nap, blinded by a great
golden spotlight turned on in my room.
At first all I could see was thick golden light,
like a golden carpet and then I saw her,
standing in this light.

I immediately recognized her as
Joan of Arc or Jeanne d'Arc
 as she is called
in France.

Joan of Arc's banner

I bought a tiny Jeanne d'Arc statue,
on the last day of my recent trip, at the
 incredible town Chartres.
We had a train to catch and there was no time to ask myself
why I am buying a statue of 
Jeanne d'Arc when there are so many others,
seemingly more fitting to Chartres, on the shelves.

I gazed at this compelling apparition
and presence
or does one call it a Vision?
Nothing small about her.
In fact very little about her presence
is captured in the tiny statue other
than the banner that she carries.

I gazed at her as long as I could
absorbing the message that I
could hear with my heart.

Never waiver from your Vision.
Stay committed to your heart's desire
and passion and continue
to walk towards the Sun.
Let no obstacle nor challenge
prove too big to overcome.
Use your power of prophecy!

She showed me an intense and clear
path of light, as thick as a carpet of gold!

Let me start at the beginning.

Before I set off for my pilgrimage earlier this month
(September 2014)
 to Paris, Lourdes, Lisieux, Chartres, Rome and Assisi,
I received very clear guidance that the Swan and her
energy will play an important role in this pilgrimage.

My very first pilgrimage I set out on was to Italy in  September 2000
to attend the Archangel Michael festival in Mont' San Angelo.
On that trip I bought my very first Mary statue and my very first
rosary.  I visited the ancient city of Rome and was
fascinated by the Temple of the Vestal Virgins, especially when
I discovered the story of one of the priestesses, named Claudia.
My own daughter was born two years previously and I had
named her Claudia, not for any particular reason.

I never managed to get to the Temple of the Vesta as they were
busy with archeological work and I had to be satisfied with looking
at images in books.  But this led me to her counterpart Hestea and
to her Irish counterpart Bridget and my subsequent pilgrimages
to Glastonbuy and St Bridget in Kildare.

(You can read about these pilgrimages elsewhere on this blog)

St Michael Tower with engraving of Bridget on the Tor, Glastonbury

St Bridgit shrine in Kildare

Myself at St Bridgit shrine in Kildare

One of my first paintings of Bridgid and her Swan

A shadowbox I made a while ago - see the beautiful white swan,
the two swans in the right hand side and the wings on
the little Victorian skater girl - also the bird in a cage!!

The first few nights we stayed in Paris, right on the doorstep
of the magnificent Notre Dame.  At night we went to sleep with the
pealing of the bells of the Notre Dame de Paris, Our Lady of Paris.

The very first morning that we stepped out of our apartment,
we saw the incredible sight of three white swans on the Seine
and I was reminded of the guidance of the blessing
of the presence of Swan.



Statue of Compassionate Mother of the World
in my garden shrine

You must give birth to your images. 
They are the future waiting to be born ....
fear not the strangeness you feel.
Just wait for the birth .....
for the hour of new clarity - Rainer Maria Rilke

My quest is, and has been, to give expression to
the mystical vision that is alive in my inner world,
both in a way that will add beauty and meaning to my own life
and to the world of which I am an active
participant, and to, very importantly,
understand that mystical vision.
And then to go out and share my understanding
with others so that we may all benefit
from the fruits of the Tree of Sophia.

Soulcollage images created by myself

Blessedly we are living in a time of
religious freedom, and if we have the courage
to break away from our mechanistic following of
our religious traditions and heritage
and our familial conditioning, we can read
and study the many religions of the world.
Even more powerfully, and importantly, we
have the freedom and option to heed the
Inner Voice which is without sound,
and to craft our own Religion of the Soul.

I have a strong sense of the inner world
and see it reflected in fairy tales, myths, legend
and religion.
Some of these inner visions have stayed with 
me for all my life and they have acted as my
Guide and Guardian Angel, as well as Daemon.
Sometimes they have guided me into very difficult
places of great challenge and loss but always,
eventually, to greater understanding and meaning.

In the first part on the Swan Blessings, I visited
the image of the Swan and how some of it has
played out in my story.
Today I am focusing on the second part of the
vision, and yes, they are related, in a very
unexpected way!!
The second vision is that of 
Snow White and her glass coffin.

Through the different phases and cycles in my life, this image has had
different meaning and interpretations for myself on a
personal level.

I did not fail to notice the correspondence between the
fairy tale and the incorruptible bodies of the saints
in both the Hindu and Catholic traditions

Image from
The body of St Terese of Lisiuex
Notice the similarity in the flower wreath around the head
Santa Chiara in Assisi

There are various interpretations on the level of
the psyche as to what these images mean.
I choose to rely on my own intuition and feeling.
When the 'colours' of the image and the meaning
that I uncover in my own understanding, lines up,
then I experience a great sense of release,
a letting go, followed by a birthing of inspiration
and renewal on many levels.

Probably because of the belief, in Western patriarchal religion,
 in separation and the original sin and fall
of humanity from their existence in Eden,
there is a deep-seated belief in personal
unworthiness.  Or maybe this is a deep-seated
stream in the human psyche, a basic duality
as seen as the other side
of the double-headed face of Janus,
symbolising our dualistic understanding and beliefs.
On the flip side of this coin, there is the also deep-seated
knowing that we are indeed the Holy Sons and
Daughters of God, holistically one and whole,
no separation and no distinction between good and
bad, dark and light :  both the light and its shadows
praising the Creatrix.

This deep seated belief in personal unworthiness
gives rise to a  need and yearning for
perfection and purity.  As an artist I am privy
to this need for perfection and it really spells
death for all creativity and art.
Creating art, as does life, demands great courage and risk taking.
Our Western way of thinking and striving for material
success, negates all creativity and art-making
and denies the beauty of Creation, both in its
light and dark aspects.

Snow White and the Saints in their incorruptible bodies,
spell death.  Yes, that is obvious, you are saying.
But they are resurrected in various ways.
 So it is a form of a living death; 
 a suspended state of neither being awake nor
being asleep, but outwardly perfectly beautiful,
 staying forever young.
And as we know, our society values eternal youth
beyond gold and jewels.

I see in these images the desire for perfection.
The glass encased face of eternal beauty.
She is not ravaged by the demands of life;
she does not create nor make art, nor participates in life
and the living. 

A perfect mask that will be acceptable
to the mind of the self.  A role that is to be enacted
under the maestro of the archetype of the ego.

And the opposite for this perfection
is messy living with its huge emotions and conflict.
So in that belief system, it follows that soul and body
are in conflict with each other :  that the earth
is not paradise and that humanity  is doomed
by its own mortal flesh and blood, its senses and
sensuality, its primal instinct and wayward nature.
Humanity is stuck in a glass coffin of perfectionistic
and purist ideals as God, the All, is only present 
in the Light.

In this light (I could not resist the pum),
the mind blocks the consciousness from
understanding and awakening to the tremendous
and awesome meaning of God equals 'Good'.

I see that many have moved away from the
patriarchal religion and are desperately looking
for a new way.  A way of wholeness.
A path that is based on Beauty, Compassion,
Truth and Wisdom.
But, alas, unless you do your own soul-searching and
your own wild-crafting, you will in no time find
yourself walking a well-trodden path leading
to the same places of separation and division,
of transcendence as opposed to participation,
now merely parading new names and banners.
Now these places are often called Light Spirituality,
Enlightenment, self-improvement and
mostly Light and Love and once again, there is
an attitude of either-or.

In trying to bring balance to a Western patriarchal
system by only focusing on the matriarchal, a new imbalance
is being created. 
Can you see how the opponent serves your transformation?
How the ever-happening imbalance brings
growth and new birth and new life:

 Balance equals perfection.
Perfection equals stagnation and death.
In trying to control conflict, in denying
tension and differences, no new life
can be created.

If one only looks at the cruficixion and you forget
about the resurrection, then you miss the entire
message of the Christ.  A Course in Miracles
devote many chapters to this understanding.

One plus one equals three :
new life is born from struggling and discord.
Living with the tension of the opposites,
allowing disagreement and another's
voice that differ from yours, to be heard,
brings awareness to the glassy mind,
of the awesome beauty of creating a life
that has meaning.
Unity and a wholistic understanding of
God and Its Kingdom, which is Us,
is a paradoxical approach of both/as well as.
A sacred trinity of one plus one equals three.

There is a place where all the rivers converge
and that place is the Sacred Heart of humanity.

September 2015

Rose in the rose garden of St Therese's convent
in Lisieux France

St Therese is referred to as The Little Flower or
the Woman that was born to love.
When I discovered small statues of this Carmelite
Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, I was fascinated.
If you are a reader of my blogs you will know that
I am not a traditionalist nor a religious, but a
follower of Divine Love  in all Its many forms.
St Therese called me over many years and eventually
I made the trip to Lisieux, about 90 minutes' train ride
from Paris.

Lisieux is a beautiful French city with an old world  charm.
The beautiful Basilica dominates the view down the street
leading up to it.

This statue and mosaic is in the crypt of the Basilica

I discovered a free-spirited young woman who possessed
a deep insight and clarity into the Truth of faith and love.
Her life spoke of many miracles, including
the Smiling Madonna.

In the Basilica was a magnificent and unusual statue
of Jesus - a dancing Jesus on the Cross!!
I did not take any photographs as it was forbidden
in the main part of the Basilica.
But I will never forget this amazing image :
it spoke clearly of St Therese's philosophy and understanding
of the true sacrifice and the intersection of heaven and time.
The Basilica was built after St Therese's death and
I did not find any real sense of her presence there.

But then we walked down to the old part of town
to where she lived and grew up as a child and also
to her convent and its rose gardens and the small chapel
of the Carmelite Sisters where the remains of the saint lies.

Image from
The body of St Terese of Lisiuex

Statue of Saint Therese in Lisieux in her convent garden

And here we were all deeply touched by a sweet, loving
and fragrant presence.  A very sweet honey-like fragrance met
us long before we arrived at the garden.  I smelled this same
fragrance at the sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes.

We picked some of the roses and offered them to 
St Therese.

The offering of our rose petals in her arms and at her feet
St Therese, Lisieux, France

The energy in the chapel where her remains lie, were
intense.  One cannot describe that which we do not
have the vocabulary for.  But I received a very clear
and distinct message sitting there which resonated
deeply with my heart and on my return home
I started implementing this message into my life.

Having been in her energy or presence, has had a deep impact
on me and the way that I perceive the world.
She has and still continues to strengthen my belief in the
power and Grace of the innocent and purity of heart.
Even when the world shakes its head in disbelief and
disapproval, St Therese's child like faith and inspiration
lives on and radiates like a fragrant rose its beautiful scent
into our hearts and minds.

There is no artist who does not like his work praised, and the Divine Artist of souls is pleased when we do not stop at the exterior, but penetrating even to the inmost sanctuary which He has chosen for His dwelling, we admire its beauty. - St Therese d'Lisieux


  1. Dear Hettienne, it is a long time ago - 2001, and I'm not 100% sure you are the Hettienne I knew for a short while; you knew me as Jade and I had written a book called Spinnelap that you helped me launch. I would love to connect again, I'm in this haven called La Magia de la Montaña in the foothills of the Andes, Chile with a lot of exciting things to share. Have also continued along a spiritual path and self published "Heal Your Feminine Essence" this year. Well, hope it is you. If so, please drop me line on this page or my e-mail is If not, thank you so much for your amazing stories and beautiful blog. Mother Earth bless You!

  2. Wow, I'm beyond words right now, just reading some of this info is very touching to my inner being

  3. Oh my email of you would like to write

  4. Oh my email of you would like to write


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