Join Kayleen Asbo for an unforgettable journey as we weave together history, myth, art, music and contemplative practice as a doorway to our own creativity and transformation. In sights of stunning natural beauty, we will encounter the living myths, traditions and legacy of May Magdalene and her companions as we follow their footsteps from the charming seaside village of Saintes Maries de Mer to the gracious and elegant city of Aix en Provence, the forest of Artemis and the Grotto of the majestic mountains of La Sainte Baume to the resting place of her relics at the Basilica at Saint Maximin la Saint Baume and the heart-opening monastery of Saint Michel du Var.. This is an intimate pilgrimage for just 7 women.
This is an intimate contemplative journey for those who wish to drink deeply of both the beauty of the historical sites and the transformative potential of the spiritual practices associated with Mary Magdalene. Each day will have a contemplative circle of chant and meditation, and we will share in many experiences: an essential oil making workshop, an anointing ritual, creative writing journaling, icon meditation, and the practice of Lectio Divina.
May 28: Arrival in Aix Afternoon arrival at Hotel des Augustins, a 12th century convent which has been transformed into a comfortable, quiet thee star hotel where Medieval tapestries and stained glass windows combine with high speed internet access, soundproofed and air conditioned modern rooms and a gracious and kind staff . Nestled in the heart of the historical Aix en Provence, you will be in easy walking distance from the famous Cours Mirabeau and Place de la Rotonde, a pedestrian-only area filled with elegant water fountains, an abundance of quaint cafes, excellent restaurants and a thrice- weekly farm and flower market, Our hotel is the ideal starting point to walk and discover this charming city in your free hours. We will begin with a warm welcome in our opening circle and then share an elegant dinner together..
May 29: Saintes Maries de la Mer Traveling by air conditioned private coach, we journey to Saintes Maries de la Mer, legendary site where Mary Magdalene and her companions arrived by rudderless boat. In a ritual of our intentions for our journey, we will create a sand labyrinth together on the warm shores of the Mediterranean. After a group lunch at a charming seaside restaurant, we tour the Basilica where the relics of Mary Jacobe and Mary Salome, two of Magdalene's companions, reside. We will learn about the Festival dedicated to Saint Sara, patroness of the Gypsies and Romani peoples, and then descend into the crypt to behold this revered Black Madonna and learn Medieval pilgrim songs.
May 30: Aix and the Cathedal of Saint Saveur Today we explore the heart of Aix en Provence, touring Saint Saveur Cathedral , built around the Roman site where legend claims Mary Magdalene, Martha and Lazarus taught. We will encounter another Black Madonna, Our Lady of Hope, as we share in music and guided meditation. Today is market day, and after our tour, you will have time to wander the Medieval alleys laden with flower markets, gorgeous linens, enticing cheeses and chocolates. In the afternoon, we search for Magdalene's image at Musée Granet, renowned for its collection of painting, sculpture and archeological artifacts.
May 31: Marseille Today we travel 45 minutes to the bustling city of Marseille. From the highest point in the city, we will take in the dazzling view of the Mediterranean before exploring the ornate Byzantine style Basilica, Notre Dame du Gard. A delicious three course lunch awaits us at the harbor below where we will will dine with a seaside view over the old port. In the afternoon, we explore the opulent Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille which houses the relics of Saint Lazarus. We end our tour of this historic city at Abbey Saint Victor, descending into the lower church to discover the history of the first double monastery for women and men in Europe, established by John Cassian in the 5th century. We will have a moving ceremony in the crypt with the Black Madonna, known as Our Lady of New Fire before returning to Aix; dinner on your own.
June 1: La Sainte Baume and Saint Maximin
Today we journey high into the mountains where May Magdalene spent the last thirty years of her life as a hermit in contemplation. After a preparatory circle in the chapel of the hostellerie, we will enter the mystical "Forest of Silence" (dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis for 700 yeas before Magdalene's arrival) and then ascend the pilgrim path walked by centuries of seekers, arriving after about an hour at the Grotto. Inside this cave, a sense of deep timelessness awaits. On our return journey, we will stop at the Basilica in Saint Maximin to behold the relics of Mary Magdalene and her friends and companions, Saint Sidonius and Saint Maximin before returning to Aix .
June 2: Saint Michel du Var Our final excursion will take us to the French Orthodox Monastery of Saint Michel du Var, In the morning, we will tour the extraordinary frescoes created by iconographer Vadim Garine (See video below) and lean about the alchemical symbolism behind the images. After a bountiful lunch served al fresco next to the lake, we will have a workshop in making perfumes and essential oils. Veronique Flayol will guide us in the tradition and symbolism of the flowers and precious oils mentioned in the Bible. In the grove next to the swans, we will share in an anointing ritual together before our celebration dinner.
June 3 A final closing circle and ritual of blessing after breakfast and then independent departure
Costs 3840€ per person, an additional 200 euro for hotel accommodation on the evening of May 27 (advisable) All payments will be arranged through Saint Baume Voyages, the tour operator for this pilgrimage.
Price includes: -Tour guidance by Veronique Flayol and all lectures by Kayleen Asbo - 6 nights accommodation with bountiful breakfast at the historic Hotel des Augustins in Aix en Provence in a single room with private bath, tourist tax and energy compensation included - 3 lunches (Stes Maries de la mer, Marseille, Saint Michel du Var) - Opening and closing dinners at Aix en Provence - All entrance fees to abbeys, monasteries and museums - Air conditioned minivan transport services for day trips