An interview with Patrice Chaplin
February 23, 2012 by Ani Williams
Four years after being asked by Quest Book Publishers to interview Patrice Chaplin for her book ‘City of Secrets’ in November, 2008, Patrice and I have initiated our first project of working together for a May 2012 pilgrimage in Girona, Spain. Though our paths have taken us on uniquely individual journeys, a shared song thread can be found weaving between Patrice’s writings on the Cabalistic sound rituals and my own path of sound medicine.
According to Patrice, the Cabala traditions and the rituals practiced by the secret society of Girona, used chant and sacred sound for raising one’s energy and opening ‘the portal’. Interestingly, the Book of Splendour, or Zohar, was thought to have been composed in Girona in the 11th or 12th century. This book compiles many of the Cabalistic and esoteric teachings of Judaism presenting the transformative power of music and voice:
‘Musical instruments, like that of David, were used by all the prophets in order to
enter into an ecstatic mood before receiving the spirit of prophecy.’
—Soncino Zohar, Shemoth
Music prepared the prophets and the environment to open a dimensional door, similar to Jacob’s Ladder. The Zohar speaks of the Bath Kol, Daughters of Voice, who were Hebrew prophets and singers. Their sounds opened the gates of heaven to receive the prophetic voice of Shekinah, voice of wisdom.
In research conducted by Dr. Juan Acosta at the University of Washington Medical Center, we found that immediate altered brain states occurred both while chanting or listening to the harmonic tones on my Songaia Sound CDs. Sound research in Russia has documented positive changes in not only brain states and cellular activity, but changes in DNA structure using sacred sound and chant!
In the 1950’s Patrice, then just a teenager, left England to study languages and taste the life of a true bohemian in France and Spain. She stumbled upon an ancient mystery in Girona, Spain, a town steeped in medieval grail secrets, Cabalistic documents and a mysterious history.
According to Chaplin, Girona was host to numerous famous European actors, mystics, priests, alchemists, and artists mentioned earlier and including the 19th century mysterious priest Berenger Sauniere.
This priest and his little church dedicated to Mary Magdalene in Rennes le Chateau, France became famous in the many books written in the last century on the grail legends and the heretical Bloodline stories as posed in Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Da Vinci Code.
Patrice was enchanted by the magnetism and power that exudes from the region surrounding the Pyrenees’ Mount Canigou. Over her many subsequent journeys to Girona, Patrice was told of numerous appearances there of a Lady of Light with a cup, thought to be Mary Magdalene. She was pulled into a strange series of experiences regarding ancient Cabbalistic grail traditions by her associations with her Spanish lover, a member of a local secret mystical sect.
In The Portal, Patrice takes us deeper into the practices of this mystical sect and her journey through the Venus Magical Square and eleven ancient sites in Catalunya, Spain and Southern France on her Grail Quest.
Ani: Patrice, thank you for agreeing to this interview regarding your latest book The Portal. I am certainly looking forward to working with you this year at the portal sites in and around Girona, Spain!
In your book, you mention that Girona has artifacts dated to 8000 BC and abundant water was certainly a factor in attracting early settlers to the area. How does the use of water factor into the rituals at the portal sites?
Patrice: There is a water passage from the Barraca, a hidden water well there. They used the water at site #1 at the hidden well. Some of these waters emerged when there was an apparition, it came gushing up and then the community put a tap on it. There are many water passages in the area. There are three rivers. The sign for Girona is water…water is often associated with miracles.
Water also indicates female presence. The well at the Barraca, site # 1 on the Venus Square, has a strong presence, a strong energy. Opposite the Barraca is where the Lady with the Cup last appeared in 1976. There is a shrine marking it. The initiates that stay in the Barraca always visit the well.
(In The Portal, Patrice writes that Magdalene visits the Barraca well and that the water is healing. I should also explain what Patrice mentions about the magic squares in The Portal: “There are magic squares for different planets and Sun and Moon…magic squares were known in ancient Egypt, India, Persia.” …also in China created by mathematicians in 650 BC. In the Venus Square you have what is called the sigil or ‘signature’ of the Great Bear constellation in which can be identified as eleven sites, the number of which constructs the journey.”)
Ani: In stories I have received from some of the scholars and mystics, the Venus transit was honored ritually at ancient sites like Rosslyn, Scotland and in Italy during the 15th c, during the time of the neo-Platonic academies. A Venus transit occurs approximately every 120 years and was treated like an alchemical birthing of light of the Sun radiating through Venus and illuminating the Venusian principles of love, harmony, perfection.
Do you feel the Venus Square portal sites will be activated by the Venus transit June 6, 2012?
Patrice: The people around Girona say that yes, it is a beneficial event. The way we found out about it was through people like Ingrid and the other Cabalists, who used measuring devices to check the energy level at different sites. Venus would activate the portal sites to higher than normal levels. (Venus transits come in pairs, 8 years apart, and the last transit of Venus passing in front of the Sun occurred in June 2004.)
Ani: And our group will be there less than a month before the transit. Hmmm. I’m thinking of the Hymn to Hathor from Denderah, Egypt that says,
‘The sky and its stars make music in you’.
Images from ancient Egypt portray initiates receiving Venus’ rays of light and resonance into their third eye centers. We will be open to possible new music while we are visiting these sites and see if there are sounds that can assist us in connecting and deepening our experience.
Ani: In The Portal you write about a rattle of Isis being found in the French woman’s garden. Is this relic in the keeping of some of the inner group at Girona?
Patrice: Luiz at the Arc Bar was the one who first mentioned the rattle. He said there was a part of her rattle found in the French Woman’s garden. The society holds that, you can be sure of it.
Ani: Is the Barraca garden where later rituals were carried out after the Torre Magdala and the French lady’s house were torn down?
Yes, after the Torre was torn down, they carried on the rituals at the barraca garden…but that site was always used for rituals. It’s a very important site. It was the first place where Charlemagne had a vision of the sword of light in the sky and it is where one would enter Girona. It was the ancient gate of the city. You would come up the narrow path and pass the barraca and the guards would decide to let you in or out.
Ani: So it was always a portal of one sort! Another of the sites in the Venus Square is Collioure, one of the most picturesque seaports on the Mediterranean. There is a strange little white chapel jetting out toward the sea here, which feels to me to be a possible Isis site. What do you feel?
Patrice: Collioure is the portal site representing transformation. Friends who live in the next town Banyolles, say that it has a very strange and magnetism and draws artists, filmmakers and mystics. They acknowledge strange energies there.
The whole religion of Isis was brought over to that coastal region. So it is very likely that the chapel there could have been used by those worshipping Isis, as along the coast further into Spain near the ancient Roman and Greek ruins at Empuries on the Costa Brava.
The whole circle of sites including Collioure, and going up to Marseilles, Le Beau, all of that area would be where ancient people landed, including the Romans, who worshipped Isis. And the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks all brought their art and ritual pieces. There are probably relics all over the entire region.
Ani: There have been many appearances of the Lady with the Cup in the area around Girona. When was her last noted appearance?
Patrice: The last big appearance was in 1976, when the whole community turned up to see it. But before that, there had been recorded ones like on the Lake of Banyolles, which was seen by a nun, so they couldn’t question it. (In The Portal, Patrice notes The Lady with the Cup had also been seen in the region in 1902 and in 1890).
The basic thing about the Lady with the Cup is that she is recorded in the Catalan paintings and literature going back to the 12th century. When I was doing research in this, I kept coming up with the premise that if you want to find the grail or the Magdalene, or the female with the cup, you would go to Catalonia, because that is where the remnants of this are. A lot of the art depicting The Lady With the Cup went up into the Pyrenees.
Ani: The Zohar, Book of Splendor refers numerous times to the use of sound and sacred music being used to open ones awareness and access the voice of heaven. Since the Zohar is believed to have been composed in Girona in the 12th or 13th century, what connection does this have with the use of music and the portal sites listed in your book? In the rituals the ‘society’ used, do you know what mantras were used?
Patrice: They had chants. In the rituals I attended that lasted for hours, there was a lot of chanting. It sounded like plainsong. And what I actually heard in the French Woman’s Garden, coming from her house sounded similar, but somehow disturbing. It was definitely a transforming sound. I wanted to run away from it. It obviously shows I was not ready for initiation, I can tell you, at that point. I know Jose had the same experience later on. It just showed that those who were using sound, were prepared in some way before using it. They were able to receive it and stay intact.
And of course, there are the sounds coming from portals. What comes from the portal can sometimes include amazing sounds. Some people that have gone into a portal experience were transported by music. Two composers visiting one of the portals heard music that is beyond anything that they had experienced before. The music comes from the portals at times, but not always.
In my recent trip to Girona I was taught quite specifically that F# was the devil’s note, it is a tri-tone, and not a good note. That was such a big thing for me, because F# always had such a place in the portal experience.
(Author’s note: The F# tri-tone is the note occurring between the fourth (F) and the fifth (G) interval when using C as the fundamental. In early music, the church banned the use of the tri-tone F# and the tone became known as the ‘devil’s note’. In our era, F# is simply one of the 12 tones used in the western musical scale. Interesting to note, F# is used currently in metaphysical circles as it relates to Heart Chakra opening—ah, the relativity of belief systems, from the devil’s tone to opening hearts!)
Ani: Regarding the sounds that you have heard in the French Woman’s Garden or at portals, would you describe them as sounding like voices, or bells?
Patrice: I would describe it as sounds that are musical and unlike anything else. The ones I have heard had a tremendous resonance for me, I can feel very moved and elated. The place where there was a sound like voices was at Devil’s Cave.
Ani: Oh, the site where you had to walk a long way across stones that you describe in The Portal?
Patrice: Yes, the sound was created by the wind blowing through the volcanic stones because they have holes in them…the Traumontana winds moving through them was like singing, but not by human voices.
Ani: I know what you are saying. At Chartres Cathedral I heard a symphony of ringing in the air, but it is difficult to describe. It is similar to the overtones of a crystal bowl, but multitudes of frequencies all blending together.
Patrice: Yes, that’s more like it.
Ani: At certain powerful places I can hear that ringing in the air. Also I have heard a deeper type of sound at certain places, a low mantric chanting.
Patrice: Yes, some of the sounds as you go along the path of the different sites, you get the language. The initiate gives the language, whether you understand it or not. And in the end, each place had its own primal sound. You could start it up, and the site would echo back to you. You could hear it. That was very exciting; it was one of the most exciting things about the experience at the portal sites, the underlying language.
Ani: That is one of the most exciting things to me as well; when we can witness a tangible interaction with the energy of a place. I love your term, an underlying language. And now science is finding that to be true with String Theory, by identifying everything in creation with a vibration.
Thank you so much Patrice for taking the time and I look forward to working with you on the tours!
“Whatever the gods do, they do by song….
All things are summoned by this praise song and encouraged to come joyfully into being.”
Marius Schneider, Cologne University
A brief biography of Patrice Chaplin’s accomplishments:
Patrice Chaplin is an internationally renowned playwright and author who has published more than 25 books, plays and short stories. Her most notable work includes Albany Park, Siesta, which was made into a film staring Jodi Foster and Isabella Rossellini, Into the Darkness Laughing, Hidden Star, Night Fishing, and Death Trap.
As a Bohemian in Paris during the 50’s and 60’s, she spent time with Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. She was married to Charlie Chaplin’s son Michael and during her avant garde journeys through occult circles, her friends included Salvador Dali, Jean Cocteau (The last listed Grand Master or helmsman of the Priory of Sion, the secret society mentioned in Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code), Lauren Bacall, Miles Davis, author Umberto Eco and experts on the esoteric practices of the Cabbala in Spain.
All photos copyright © Ani Williams unless otherwise noted.