Tuesday, September 26, 2006

France 3- Captivated by the Pristine Pyrenees and Blossoming of the Children Sept. 5-Sept. 26, 2006

Dear Family and Friends,
As we prepare to leave France, let me give a quick overview of where we have been in France. After arriving on the ferry in Roscoff, we made our way to Carnac in the south of Brittany for about 10 days (written about in our France 1 blog). Then we headed to Mont St. Michel, a spectacular church built on a small island surrounded by the tides coming in and out, known as the largest or most spectacular change of tide in the world. And it is all situated on a site of very powerful earth energy. Then we headed to the Normandy coast that Icasiana wrote about in France 2. On our way to Chartres and Paris we stopped in Lemans and saw the Cathedral there. The Lemans Cathedral is the most beautiful and magnificent masterpiece that I (Gabriel) saw of all the churches and buildings we have seen. Of course it too is built on a place of powerful earth energy as all the old churches are. After stationing ourselves in Chartres, we visited the cathedral there but were not able to walk the labyrinth that is only open on Friday. Then we went to Paris on Sunday, a low traffic day, to see the Eiffel tower, and visit the Lourve and Musee D’Orsay museums. Back in Chartres we headed to the south of France, proceeding slowly and visiting dolmens and other ancient sites along the way. Through the rain we reached the Pyrenees and stayed there a luscious week. There we walked along the Compestella route and went to Lourdes. From the Pyrenees in the Southwest of France we have proceeded east to Annecy to then enter Switzerland through Geneva. Here’s the inner story of our last 2 weeks in France.
To get to our most up to date info go to our blog site at: www.oursacredjourney.blogspot.com or check our web site at: www.gabriel-icasiana.com.

Magical France – Power Over Us

Majestic views, magical stones, magnificent food, and very kind people. We just don’t want to leave France. The transformative events that have occurred with our family have been powerful and have shifted us at the very core. We made the conscious decision to take each day slowly and follow spirit; to allow that which will unfold instead of making a steadfast itinerary to follow … This slow dance has brought us through many small towns and small campsites throughout northern France. Our van does not like to go over 60 mph, so we are required to drive at a slower pace, and it has suited us very well. We are able to go through the country roads, soak up the beauty of the majestic fields, take pictures, and glide through the druid forests and feel how alive it is here. Yesterday, Gabriel, Elijah and I went to Le Mans Cathedral. It was stunning. Over the years from 1080 to 1400 there were 7 major reconstructions of this megalithic cathedral that kept adding to its glory and surprisingly to its beauty. What an amazing masterpiece. Kate and Matt had asked to stay at the campsite since they wanted to work on the gift they were creating for Elijah’s first birthday. It’s a totem stick. They found the lovely piece of wood at Le Menhir De La Roche in Gorron – a perfect stick found near the sacred stones. We believe Elijah will be able to reconnect to the energy of the land by touching his totem. Gabriel took them to the store and they bought a rasp and sanding paper to shape it and create a smooth finish. They have been collecting special pieces to add to the stick, crystals, feathers, stones, acorns, and other magical pieces that will catch Elijah’s eyes. We’re all contributing small precious items to complement it.

Chartres – Labyrinth Dead End
We are now headed toward Chartres, Paris, eventually to the south of France in the Pyrenees to the town of Oloran, and wherever else we are led to stop. Gabriel had been to Chartres many years ago and marveled at the labyrinth at the Cathedral in Chartres. He was not able to walk the labyrinth his first time there, so we look forward to all walking its magical path. I have never had the opportunity to walk on a labyrinth before. I have a sense that it will be transformative to walk through it in a meditative trance and be led, led closer to God. Well, as fate would have it, the only day the labyrinth is open is on Fridays. Unfortunately we arrived into town on Sunday and didn’t want to wait another six days to walk around the labyrinth. Se la vie!

Driving through the Rain to the Pyrenees
Yesterday was a difficult day. (This is Gabriel at the writing board again). We were driving from our campsite in Limoges, France and heading south to the Pyrenees, to the town of Toulouse. It was to be about a 4 hour drive to Toulouse, and when we started out it began raining. It continued to rain the whole day. This van we have is not particularly easy to drive in good conditions, but in a continual rain, it is very difficult and stressful. The defroster works, albeit the defroster is me wiping a towel across the windshield, every 45 seconds. There are leaks that come in various places that include under my feet and under my wife’s feet. The wind was blowing something fierce and at times throwing our not very sea worthy vehicle port and starboard. We finally arrive in Toulouse about 4 hours later, but we’ve arrived at rush hour and it is a big city. The traffic is horrendous and getting through and around the city is not so easy. Icasiana wants to stay in Toulouse and I want to get out. Usually I will consider her desires and discuss it together, but in this situation, I’m driving, so we’re leaving. As we continue we look at a campsite, but it looks like a ghetto campsite, very high security with metal fences and sliding gates – probably maximum security. It did not feel very good so we left and continued looking for a place to stay. This brought back memories of a rainy night in Greece when all the motels we looked at were full and we ultimately stayed in the van, but that van was not designed for sleeping. That was a memorable and most difficult night, and I will spare you any more details. I think I said that last time. I decide to park the van nearby where there is a creek and a pond so my wife can cook dinner and then proceed through the outskirts of the city when rush hour congestion is finished. While Icasiana cooks, I take the baby for a walk. While in the van he is fussing and squirming around, as soon as I take him outside, he quiets down and focuses on what’s around. He is entranced and happy, and it is raining. We sit together and watch the water by the pond, marveling together. When we return to the van, Matt and Kate are still inside. Here is Daddy and baby outside in the rain, while the young buck and buckette are inside. What’s wrong with this picture? They remedy the situation and go outside to play basketball together. Icasiana finishes cooking and the kids are still playing, so we eat together. The meal is wonderful, salmon with rice and soup. Have I mentioned how good the food is in France, how fresh and wholesome and how deliciously my wife cooks it all up? Anyway, when I finish I go to get the kids, and Matt is in a funk. Kate is happy. She already had her funk in the morning, after which I assigned her a writing assignment about “what is more important, human relationships or the things that we own”. When she wrote that assignment, she had a very emotional response and a healing. She gained a significant insight into herself and her attachment to material things that left her feeling uplifted. Later in the day it would be Matt’s turn to receive his bitter medicine. We call it this because it is bitter to face these kinds of things, but it is medicine that helps us to heal and grow.

Basketball and Another Life Lesson
Matt and Kate had been playing basketball and Matt had gotten very discouraged when he didn’t play as well as he would have liked, to the point that he was distraught. He didn’t want to come back for dinner because the voices in his head were telling him how worthless he was. Aah, the tricks that our mind plays on us when we don’t feel good about ourselves. We had a talk, and he was not ready to shift. We all let him be where he was without pushing him. He was able to shift on his own later after being with his little brother Elijah, and seeing how much Elijah loved him unconditionally. By the time the kids got back to the van to eat dinner and we had driven off again, it had taken much longer than planned and now it was dark. Now the driving became treacherous for me. We looked at a couple of motels and they were all booked up. So we continued. We finally got out of the city area, but there were no places to stay anymore. So we kept driving into the teeth of the rain, me barely able to see the road and other cars. At one point, there had been an accident and traffic was closed to one lane. As we drove through I was about to defrost the window and didn’t see the gendarme (policeman) who was directing the traffic and was right in the road in front of me. When I finally did see him I reacted intensely and was able to steer away from him safely and into the lane to the right without incident. I had been going slowly so it was not a sudden or severe turn, but it was upsetting to my passengers, especially my wife who has asked to remain nameless for this part of the story. As the evening drive continued, the stress level seemed to increase in the car, and the comments for safe driving directed towards me seemed to increase and to my ears sounded very shrill. My wife was not feeling safe while I was feeling unfairly questioned, harshly spoken to, and getting more than a bit perturbed. I was feeling less tolerant than usual, and was not appreciating her helpful comments. At first I thought my wife was reliving a past life and thought she was speaking to someone other than her present husband. After one comment that was particularly irksome to this writer, I told my wife, “Why don’t you drive?” She didn’t particularly appreciate that suggestion. We were able to clear it in the middle of the night upon my prompting and come back to a loving space. Well you know, we humans do struggle sometimes. Everyone got a chance to have their turn on this day including me. Very soon, the next day, I was shown that I needed to be a little more humble about receiving recommendations when I clipped a parked car when I was parking next to it, as my wife was telling me to watch out for that car. The damage was very slight, there were no dents and their car could be buffed out. Fortunately this lesson was more of a whisper than a loud shout. Life can be very humbling. As it turned out, after all the rain, and the continued rain and the lateness, we treated ourselves to a motel room for the night for only the second time in two months. We have been camping during this time. Earlier in the journey we were in motel rooms every night, now it was out of the ordinary and a treat. We woke up the next morning to a beautiful sunny day and could revel in the fact that we had arrived in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains.

Ascending on the Pyrenees
That sunny morning quickly turned, and it rained on us for a total of three days. Boy were we wet. A highlight was going to the Laundromat and watching our clothes drying in the dryer. Life is different on the road, in a van, with three kids. What was I thinking? No, you know I’m just kidding. Aren’t I dear?

When it did finally clear, it was majestic. The air was so fresh, the colors of the grass and trees and mountains were so brilliant, it was like everything was glowing. We had been introduced to friends of Kim’s (from Hereford in England), Harriet, her husband Jean Jacques and their two daughters, Alice and Matilda. They took us hiking along the Aspe River, which runs along the pilgrimage route called the Santiago Compestella Route. We shared a wonderful day together and over this time developed a nice rapport. Jean Jacques has a strong affinity and appreciation for the natural world and when he told us of his connection with the pixies (or nature spirits as we know them), the momentum really picked up and we felt right at home.

Lourdes – A Vision to Behold
We were very excited to visit Lourdes, the sight where Mother Mary appeared to a young girl named Bernadette who was removing her shoes to cross over the river. She became St. Bernadette after Mother Mary had appeared to her several times, the first being when she was 14 years old in 1861. The site is a grotto next to the river, where a natural spring sprung up after Mother Mary appeared and still provides pristine water for those who come to Lourdes. The day broke with wetness on the ground, and a pure clearness that had the sun shining through the wetness leaving everything aglow. The drive over was gorgeous with the Pyrenees mountains rising in the background and the Gave Pau (river that flows from the Pyrenees) following us along. We took our time meandering on the country roads and letting the day build. We made a stop at a dolmen along the way, it was a stunning time of the day, crystal clear all around, and of course, like all of the stone places, it was on a place where strong earth currents are present. As we looked and saw the dolmen and felt around it, I was struck with the idea that they were much more than a burial site as they have been described. What I was receiving was that they are portals between this world and the spirit world, and that instead of their importance being as burial sites, they are places of transition for those dying. These stone sites are built on places of power, where the spirits are more accessible, and where it is easier to connect to the other side. This would be an important insight in light of what was to come later in the day. For that I will give the computer pen over to Icasiana.

Stones Help in Preparation
As we left the Dolmen site, I (Icasiana) heard a voice tell me clearly that much would be revealed while we are at Lourdes. It was Mother Mary’s voice, kind and reassuring, but very clear that my life’s work would be shown to me at the Grotto of Lourdes. I had been to Lourdes 12 years before – Kate was a baby at the time. I was so excited to return to Lourdes with my family this time. I wanted to be fully prepared to receive any messages about my path. I didn’t mention anything to Gabriel about what I had heard at the Dolmen, I just wanted to see what unfolded at Lourdes.

Lourdes – the Faithful and the Faith-sellers
Lourdes is a bit of a dichotomy. On one hand, it’s an extremely holy site, not only because Mother Mary appeared to Bernadette several times there, or that it embodies such delicious natural beauty – a backdrop of the majestic Pyrenees mountains blanketed with green grass and evergreen trees, but it also rests in line with some very powerful earth energy lines. On the other hand, it’s a bizarre tourist trap. Many star hotels from one to five stars, restaurants flashing neon signs of their special meals. Souvenir shops selling everything from cheap plastic Mother Mary bottles for the holy water, to Rosary Beads the size of Texas, and every other religious doodad you can think of. Coming through that part of Lourdes I close my eyes and walk past the stalls very quickly to get to the Grotto.

Final Preparation Through Prayer
Throughout the day, I had been consciously breathing deeply to clear my body. I even, to Kate’s dismay, played the OM sounds of the Dalai Lama. She wanted to hear George Harrison, but I knew the Dalai Lama chanting was what I needed. Before we went in, we said a prayer, burned sage and set our intention for the visit to this holy site. As I was walking down the pathway, past the shops and hotels, I started feeling such a connection to all the people I came in contact with. I was pushing Elijah on his Pram (stroller) and people would smile and nod, or say Bon Jour. I would return the pleasantry, but it was deeper than that. Each person I connected with eye contact, I had a strange sense that I knew them. I felt a great preparation by God and a physical connectedness to spirit and to all other beings.

Enveloped by Sadness
As soon as we arrived into the square, I am struck with deep sadness and sorrow and I start crying as I watch the people and hear the music that is guiding a procession of people with maladies, and their caretakers. First I see the infirmed people on stretchers, being wheeled at the front of the procession, then in wheelchairs and other small blue carts, some kind of wheel chair from the hospital, there were hundreds of people, both with illness and nurses and caretakers as well as priests and nuns, supporting these people in their desire for a healing. There were people from many countries, France, Italy, America, Portugal, Africa and many others that I couldn’t see their name tags with the country noted. Many come on a pilgrimage; others come as individuals seeking a healing. It is said there are spontaneous healings that occur – people leaving their crutches or wheel chairs after going through the procession, or being touched by the holy water from the Grotto. I didn’t personally witness any, but I did see some amazing lightness come from people’s faces as they walked through the procession and touched the wet stones of the Grotto which has holy water streaming down from it.

I believe my sadness came from a deep knowing of being with someone so very ill and feeling the desperation for getting well in the caretakers and the infirmed. The desire to be healed, the desperation to be healed – this feeling was so strong at this site, it overwhelmed me. Some of these people looked like they were literally on their death beds their faces appeared twisted and desperate and filled with pain. I wondered if they were expecting a physical healing, or if they would find peace in their hearts to let go of this physical world and transition into the spirit world of eternity. The kids, looked at me quizzically, but then realized they’d seen me many times in this state, and just walked beside me while I pushed Elijah. Gabriel, who totally supports me, was there to hug me when I needed one, or place his healing hands on me so I could go deeper into the trance.

Our First Walk through the Grotto
The line to walk through the Grotto was extremely long, and the guides hurry the pilgrims along the pathway. There are many helpers along the way who assist people to go to the front of the line if they are in wheel chairs. Well, when they saw us pushing Elijah on the pram, they asked us to follow them. This kind man made a path through the hundreds of people by asking them to move aside as we went to the front of the line. At first I was pretty pleased by getting to the front of the line, but then I realized that as you walk along the stones, there are many crevices and chasms in the stones that have amazing energy emanating from them, and those we missed as we moved quickly by. When I turned the corner where the Grotto is, I was nearly knocked over, I felt very dizzy and spacey. The energy was immense and intense. I had been here before, 12 years earlier, but never like this – I was a tourist then, today I was on a mission.

My Affinity of Mother Mary
I have had an affinity for Mother Mary my entire life. Even through the years that I left the Catholic Church, I always held a special place in my heart for Mother Mary. In the past few years she has come to me through her voice and images. I look forward to her voice and the messages she gives me – I trust her implicitly as she reflects the voice of God, in the feminine form. I had a strong feeling that once I walked through the Grotto and was able to still my mind and body, I would be hearing from her. Well, it took about an hour of sitting; I needed to breast feed Elijah, drink lots of water, breathe deeply, receive an adjustment from Gabriel, and then finally, I reached a place of stillness.

Messages from Above, Beyond, and Through the Veil
The first image I saw was a large oval table with several people sitting at it. The people in transcended form and sitting in the seats of prominence were Mother Mary, St. Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio, Mother Mary was in the center. There were also six “human” beings present, that I recognized, including me and Gabriel. We were being told about our life’s work and what we need to learn before we could continue. I was shown a man in Italy namely “Oberto” that would be able to provide us information and training on death and dying, while assisting those making the transition. He would teach us what happens to the body before and after death, what the transitions are, and how these stages need to be cared for and honored and how to hold space for the passage into the spirit world. The next scene was at a conference that I was speaking at about my experiences of assisting those who had made the transition. In this scene I was speaking to hundreds of people, caretakers, healers, medical personnel and sick people. I was telling the story of our preparation before Mark’s passage, Kate and Matt’s father. (I have written this account called “Mark’s Passage” which can be accessed from a link on our website at www.gabriel-icasiana.com, go to the travel update on France 3). Gabriel spoke next about the passage of his father and how he was able to hold space for his family and for his father during his transition. Our work was traveling around the world, speaking about the transition and teaching people how to hold sacred space for the person making their passage in an honoring way.

After my trance, I asked Gabriel about the person named Oberto. He said that there is a man at Damanhur, one of the places we are planning to visit in Italy that has studied the transition of life, and has written a book on death and dying. His name is Oberto Auraldi. We will see if we can study with him on the subject of death and dying and will be grateful for whatever insights he can provide us on this important work of shifting from being afraid of dying and avoiding it to honoring the process and holding space for those making the transition.

Blossoming of the Children
One key part of this trip that must be told is the transformation of Matt and Kate. Icasiana and I dealt with a lot of resistance and upset, especially in the beginning of the journey. They both expressed their extreme displeasure, many times, (and at especially irritating moments) about being forced to go on this trip and being taken away from their friends. In addition to this displeasure often directed our way, we were dealing with old patterns of hurtful ways of communicating and acting out, and disrespect toward their parents (or parental guardian as I am often reminded by Kate as to what I am). I’m sure many parents in America, and probably Britain, can relate to what I am referring to.

Matt started calling me “Dad”, on his own choosing. That was a turning point. This said to me that he was trusting me to guide him and that he accepted me in the role of father. And he calls me dad even when he’s pissed off about how I may be challenging him.

Matt’s breakthrough was expressed by him in a recent writing that moved many of our friends to tears because of his amazing revelations and emotional honesty. We are continually amazed at his insights and willingness to keep exploring this terrain. We still also deal with hurtful behavior, and go through conflict as we call him out to look at his actions. Later, he has often come forward and acknowledged how he needs to work on these areas. He keeps healing and inspiring even as he is still a 12 year old, acting like a 12 year old, learning how to deal with frustrations that are a part of life. Kate recently had a major breakthrough herself. It was not as dramatic as what Matt’s looked like, but it was a profound shift for her in her being willing to wake up to patterns she has been controlled by that have been destructive to her and hurtful to those around her. Her path to recovery has been slower as she has been in severe shock since her father died over 2 years ago. She has been angry and sad under the surface, and her confidence and stability has been shattered. Her willingness to reflect about her shattered confidence and why she is so influenced by others was a profound awakening for her. It came after she and I had a long talk about her taking responsibility for her actions and realizing she is the creator of her life. When she acknowledged her fears, a doorway opened for her and she has shifted from resisting to trying to do her best. As this journey has continued, Icasiana and I have marveled at how the children have been willing to be vulnerable and confront what has been difficult to confront. As deep healing has occurred, there has been a joy and a harmony in the family that is so cherished. Did I mention that there have been many confrontations and challenges in this area along the way? There still are, but the level that we function at has risen and risen. This one-year journey has been such a blessing in so many ways, and in family relations it has been huge. We continue to thank creator for the abundance and the opportunity to be on this amazing journey into our souls.

Leaving the Pyrenees and onto Damanhur in Italy
We were so glad we had gone out of our way to come to the Pyrenees. It has been pristine, magical, and inspiring. We had been taken to the ancient Compestella pilgrimage route, we had made a wonderful connection with Harriet and Jean Jacque’s family, and we had felt inspired by being in the presence of the mountains, rivers and valleys. Driving back to the east of France was a bit of a let down. Now we saw a lot of trash along the roadsides, many industrial complexes, and a bit rougher. We were now leaving France feeling so grateful for our time here. We were crossing the south of France through Montpelier, and then up to Annecy, to then head into Switzerland, the land of the Alps. After Switzerland we will head to Italy to see Florence, Rome, Venice, Tuscany, Assisi, and of course Turin the nearby city to Damanhur. I (Gabriel) had visited Damanhur once 5 years ago and had been so inspired by what Damanhur embodies through their vision and demonstration of what is possible to create in this world. Check out their web site www.damanhur.org. They are guided by spiritual principles, not religious doctrine. They are forward thinking and presence oriented, creating artistic masterpieces, all in the service of the divine. Damanhur is a model of a sustainable eco-society; it is a group of people working to inspire the creation of a better future.

Matt’s 12th Birthday
Matt recently turned 12 on this trip. I am so proud of how he has had an expansive awakening, an igniting of the essence of him that I had seen in him when he was first born. He had been shrouded in judgment and shame by his father’s perceptions of him. The change in Matt has been remarkable in the past 2 years since his father died when he was nine. He has had a positive male role model in Gabriel, which has made his journey to healing so much faster and deeper. We will be in Spain by November, Matt’s birthplace (as well as Kate’s). It will be wonderful to remember this place and the time of his birth. Matt was born at Rota, at the US Naval Hospital near Santa Maria (the place where Columbus’s voyage began). We celebrated Matt’s birthday with toasts and prayers. Matt spoke of the changes in his life and what he hopes for the future. Truly powerful medicine for all of us.

Thanks to all of you who took time to write to Matt. He has been reading all the e-mails and has been encouraged by the support he has received. God bless you all.
Bon Soirre.

Letter to Elijah on his 1st Birthday
Dear Elijah,
Just the idea of writing to you on your first year I find myself feeling so emotional. I am in awe of the spirit of you, little boy. I am in awe of how you move through life, of your pure heart and how you are so full of joy and passion. You express yourself very clearly, it is very easy to know what you want. It is amazing to see how you are a magnet for good things, of drawing people’s heart open as they come into your presence. There is a sweetness about you, you have a deep awareness of what goes on around you and an ability to relate to people on a soul level.

You express total joy and you just are. When you look at me, it is with total presence. Whatever you do it is with total presence. Your soul whispers to me of your future- as a person connected to creator and your soul’s purpose.

There are certain tendencies you have that have shown themselves already. If we are inside you may be crying, as soon as we go outside the crying stops. You express such rapture when you are in the natural world. Your whole being comes alive, you will be shaking your body and moving in rhythm and dancing on your daddy’s shoulders as you revel in feeling and connecting with the life around you.

You show yourself also to have quite a natural passion for music. If I am playing the piano you become quite insistent about getting your chance to join in. You reach for the keys and push me aside. I can only laugh and marvel at what is so obvious.

This journey is not what we thought it was going to be. Icasiana and I thought we were going to visit sacred sites around the world. Actually we’re just the custodians to take you to these sites so that you can be fed by these mysterious places of power and wisdom. We thought we were taking you on this trip, it’s turned out that you have been taking us. It has been such a joy to carry you around to all these places and have you sing your sweet songs into my ear.

You are whole, there is no break in your connection with the creator. Everything about you is luminous. I feel so honored to be able to be in the role of father to you. I’m willing to be the booster rocker for you, to help you get out of the atmosphere till you can guide your own life. I believe you will go much further than I can imagine.

Being father to you has been the crowning of this life for me, it has caused me to live through my heart and I feel my soul pulsing through my life. My hope for you is that your connection with source is maintained and that you are able to grow with that intact. My dream for you is not about what job or profession you have, or about what you may accomplish, my dream for you is that you continue to live through your heart, that you touch all living beings from your soul, and that you have the freedom to explore as your spirit directs you. May your life be soul directed.

I just want you to know that you just being you gives me such joy.

Your loving father, Gabriel

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