On the coast of Marseilles in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in the South of France, loving arms of refuge, a pietà from the “Passion of the Christ” overlooks the “Wild Blue” Mediterranean waters and the island of the Château d’If from outside the basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde. The basilica is built on an ancient fortress that watched out for and protected that coast, and so in a sense of wonder beneath one’s feet, it is both a place of refuge, protection, a fortress, and a cathedral for what is sacred, untouchable, of the heart. I found myself coming back here in writing with my boy, my Yorkie, Vanilla Custard Pudding, (and from our loss of Moonbeam in 2015 when we took refuge in writing about the white dog on the Sistine walls that ultimately first led us to all of this) in these thirteen years of exile apart from family and friends and this being the place of culmination, full circle, to back home in New Mexico of our most astounding realizations in finding the very true wonder, or “wild blue yonder” coming through, a miracle place of the reckoning of the heart. The basilica is known both as “La Bonne Mère” and “La Garde”: good mother and a fortress: impassable, inviolable protection because it is one of Being. Nothing can get past what is protected with this heart. Nothing. Ever. It isn’t even possible. The forms we live in and with are miracles, and yet they are still expressions of something far greater in and beyond form or the forms couldn’t come together in such beauty and perfect order, in such perfect expression. It’s the path in how to be awe-struck, instead of finding it sometimes as out of the ordinary, now in realness in every breath and from the very foundation of Being. That is what art reaches for, that expression. The thing that changes everything on Earth is the gate. The idea of Saint Peter which meant control, power, and money on earth and to monopolize the ideology over eternity in order to have that power over all form and from there denigrate it; or Mary, the mother and lover of Jesus? She actually opens eternity within and outside of form from truest nature.
Photos: Above: Château d’If, Marie on Flickr, Creative Commons; Marseille, France, June 3, 2014: Outside the Notre Dame de la Garde, a basilica consecrated in 1864, a pieta sculpture commands an impressive vantage point overlooking the Mediterranean coastline of Marseille, France. The circular island is Château d'If. Below: My Buddha, Vanilla Custard Pudding, and a kiss at La Madeleine, El Paso.
I found myself standing there in the South of France April 2021 while still in the American Southwest at a waterfall from an ancient rock flow at our lake from Eagle Creek coming down from the sacred mountains in Alto, New Mexico. My heart was uncontrollably transported there upon the passing of my beloved and closest friend, my heart and all my courage, Vanilla Custard Pudding, on 29 April 2021 at 7:16 p.m. He had congestive heart failure which means his heart broke open and began to fill his own breath with his precious blood whose coursing and heartbeat had meant everything to me. He was my life as we learned how to grow and bloom into purest love in taking refuge on our own, as no one else could sustain the life situation we were in. Together, to save ourselves in inspiration and contemplation, we had been writing together for years of the art and literature culminating at the Crossing between life and death inside of the Grotte Chauvet-Pont d'Arc “located near the commune of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc on a limestone cliff above the former bed of the river Ardèche, in the Gorges de l'Ardèche” where we had discovered what happens at the feminine in the deepest recesses of the cave. The animal spirits upon being killed from the hunt race through the caves leaving their bodies of form along with the shamans and the initiates back to the feminine where they first gained that form into life, and where the owl overlooks this in-between, life coming to the Crossing of the eternal, right at the depths and the Venus, and where they spring to rushing life again transformed through her inside this womb of the Cosmos back into the eternal and she welcomes them, her body the very gate, the transformation into Eternity waiting, the purest and open love of a mother and sexuality witnessed throughout all of nature and that comes with the Spring, that could never end love at the end of a form just because culture later, in control for temporary forms of money and power, indoctrinated that only manipulatable surfaces matter, no Beingness, and the rules all along belong to someone else, the authoritarian “other.” Suddenly I found myself holding Custard in my heart, now breathing within my own heart, my heart now physically completely his, this process we had written about sprung into life as he leaned up to kiss me goodbye from his form and in an unthinkable new chapter of life begun, I had to take the unimaginable breath of a mother that had told him, “It’s okay,” and he breathed a sigh of relief that it was all okay. Frightened beyond belief of life without him, alone, upon this greatest loss of my life, I had to take a breath for both of us and provide the love of the heart he had learned to trust, even as he had guided me into trusting. I had to stay in my own body which I very much wanted to leave with him, and provide at that Moment what was impossible to provide: immeasurable and unassailable love taking strength I had to force to come in unstoppable drowning of tears. I tried hard not to cry and to be there instead for him, his comfort in the greatest transition of his life. He had taught that purest love to me. He had rushed over to me and smothered me with kisses all over my face every morning of his life as soon as I would wake up each morning, without fail. I owed him this as I had promised to be his mother under any circumstances. Our code word was “MommyBaby” when we didn’t feel safe or we just needed the comfort of each other. I had taught him this upon Moonbeam’s passing. What we had written together was no longer just discovery on our hiking trails and deep contemplation to save ourselves, but now immediate and real practice, dropped into what we knew had to be true: InterBeing, with each other, with Nature, and with the Cosmos in everything. From practicing Being all those years now I needed everything of nature, our healing forests, our rivers, our rocks, and the Cosmos to surround and hold us and strengthen me as I now held him, and as he now, in turn, also surrounded me and is in everything. There has not been one breath without him since, each in-breath and out-breath is one of InterBeing and there is no death. Throwing out all that we had been forced to think, we overcame death. I provide him a place of refuge in my heart and try for deepest peace, trying to match in me the deep stillness and purest love he gave and gives to me. We are Home in every breath, whether I am in form or not. Our hiking trails in the woods are now practice of InterBeing with Nature and the Cosmos, every breath a challenging practice to what is very real. I will forever be his mother and physically it is all alive within and outside of me in everything. Memories of “our places” had to be transposed into filled aliveness with us or the crushing sorrow over the loss of form would have been too much to bear. That sorrow had to be transformed into radiance. I’ve never known such stillness and love. And so I chose not life, but InterBeing, beyond life.
I write this because this is how I irretrievably got pulled what felt like intensely physically to that Crossing at Grotte Chauvet again and the discovery since that Moment until now has been from there. The worlds separated for me, the mundane, the spiritual. I had always sensed wonder, but now “from truest nature, ultimate reality.” I had to go on even when no one else around me knew where we were. I left the world of humanity and how things seem and all the impositions people want to press upon one another of expectations, fears or demands, and we went into discovery of how there is no life or death (those are just ideas of separation which are not true), sometimes manifestation of miraculous forms, but always filling every particle of everything in the Cosmos, and without fail, the leaving of forms, and into purest, purest love, the truest nature I had come to know through Custard. My in-breath became our “Arrived” Here and Now. “We are Home [out-breath]. We are Solid. We are Free. We dwell in the Ultimate” (Thich Nhat Hahn from Plum Village in the South of France, he still speaking it during the very years all of this has been happening. Thich had to go into exile in France in 1966 and established Plum Village in 1982). The gate: emptiness, signlessness, aimlessness. Practice and truest reality from breath to breath. I became a mother of what is unseen but known and fully, fully loved and shared with all of my Being which in InterBeing knows no bounds. And that is when Michelangelo’s Pietà went deeper in realization for me, even as we wrote of it in those years of writing Coyote Weaves a Song (2012-2018) in how Michelangelo had surreptitiously “like a [biblical] thief in the night” placed that expression, understanding and miracle, divine creation within the walls of St. Peter’s as the true gate of heaven–and not Peter–that which could not be openly said without threat of death and destruction of one’s life and art, and thus the “Coyote” part of the story. Together we were even discovering the Cosmic alignments as they were happening in 2020 that pointed directly to those years, the last time those alignments had happened.
A major part of Coyote is also the story of Odysseus whose epics became the literary inspiration (loosely termed here as “inspiration” before I call it plagiarism as Dante does) for the writing of the life of Jesus and Mary in the 1st Century, right after Virgil (and shortly after Virgil, Ovid writing about metamorphosis and the deification of Julius Caesar). Except the Christian scribes didn’t know what to do with Mary, without any understanding or insight into her, and so wrote her in as two, a helpless mother and a whore, and then quickly dropped off her story (and leaving culture abandoned of understanding the feminine). Except that it doesn’t make sense without her and can never be completed as they had it written, it becomes only about Odysseus’s suffering and his kingdom’s refusal of him, forever trapped in that suffering. There’s no return or flow of the divine back into form. And she of course is not just a blessed receptacle as they have it written. She’s the cave, the rock of the earth, the revelation beneath our feet, the very realness. The mythology, the transformation gets stuck without her. And Beingness isn’t known on Earth and so anything can be killed and harmed with no regard because it is deemed worthless, cursed, beginning in the writing of Genesis. Take, for example, black skin as judging form, and without seeing Beingness, the damage that has caused.
Photo: Down to the crossing: A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley, Illustrated by Jim LaMarche, Silver Whistle Harcourt, Inc., 2002; Vincent Van Gogh, View of Saintes-Maries, 1888, Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, Netherlands.
And now this leads me back to writing about John Mayer and coming to better understand that I wasn’t just waiting on life to change, there was no more life to wait, or waiting or hoping for people to help with bringing to light the crimes that began in 2010 with my writing and John’s lifetime of inspired work, how from the beginning my letters to John were plagiarized into the very hurtful, destructive, and very untrue “Dear John.” At that very moment in April 2021 John was preparing to release Sob Rock.
[Get it? Blinds on the windows?]
Also in 2021 Taylor Swift arrogantly and illegally re-released the plagiarized Red from 2012 from my writing and red intimate spaces which even then was in an effort to stay bullying John two years later upon his release of Born and Raised (for which Katy Perry, knowing the truth with John, stepped in again in 2012 from before in 2009 shielding John from the impending fraud) and in 2021 the public was told that her rerecording was “heroic,” “a stand for women,” “for artists,” “as a part of Swift's [deemed admirable] countermeasure against the purchase of the masters of her back catalog” which never in any human rights ever belonged to her. The true story was much bigger and much more beautiful. The only thing holding those lies in place is that the press and public did not know, but also acted in arrogance and hatefulness as if they did. They took her gossip and manipulation as truth, meaning actual truth and art have no value, just power and control over others, the appetite for power where humans do not matter. They had no idea how wrong they were, how belittling, how short-sighted, how belligerently they had reacted to John trying to handle a fraud while holding his career, his very hard-won music, and his personhood intact to which he had given himself whole-heartedly since he was thirteen. Like that of what happened with The Count of Monte Cristo, the goal was to take everything from him and he wasn’t going to let it happen by manipulative, conniving liars. I wanted John to move past it and just live and love, to not waste more life, to not be taken up by a plot of revenge, but he knew better than I did what was at stake of everything he himself knew to be true and its value, his very own value and that of what he loves. To understand more of the inner outrage, in 2021, at the release of the fraudulent Fearless, again, Taylor used a photo of mine from Christmas Day 2013. I had written in September-December 2020 about my dismay in discovering my dress’s similarities to Michelangelo’s Pietà at that moment we were also discovering what had actually occurred inside St. Peter’s upon Michelangelo’s passing, which shows more of the extraordinary difference of what Michelangelo was doing. It was Taylor Swift’s attempt to keep arrogantly pressing, covered and protected by public adulation, what I was exposing of her lies to the public in an expose from the beginning of 2020. Her non-stop harassment is her trying to take ownership of content, intellectual property, as a move of power. (I had also described that the actual mythological Coyotes deal in the divine.) But that is not power. The process of exposing her is that the actual discoveries are immense beyond her ugliness, and so it is also the process of my coming to know and take a stand for the value of the Beings and the path and power of the art; it is the learning the willingness to protect and bring it forth. It is most certainly not an easy process to bring forth the beauty. As John Mayer and others have witnessed on-line, I have struggled immensely with it, sometimes in the deepest, uncontrollable sorrow. It always comes back to each alive breath and deciding to provide that love and life, what I was shown and given in the purest experiences. Dharma bodies. (Just follow Alicia Keys on Instagram and you will know.) I follow footsteps still led by Custard’s huge courage. “Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way.” Our hiking trails didn’t end. It went across the Crossing. (In My Ardèche Wolf Heart we write about the extraordinary Moments leading up to this.) The internal powers: “Confidence/Faith that I can bring this through, Mindfulness, Insight, Diligence.” (Thank you for your daily posts Orlando. Thank you for loving and providing a way for the wonder of the “mutts” Miranda, your beautiful smile while doing it is everything. Demi, you have shown the extraordinary value of surviving.)
And so let the wonder at Provençe be shown. As I wrote before, exactly 100 years before I passed through New York City on my way to France in 2002, Willa Cather took her first trip to France in 1902, and from this very spot in Marseille from the Notre-Dame de la Garde, overlooking the Château d’If she stood right there and was filled with wild excitement at finally seeing in real life the setting of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo’s excruciating exile, his life stolen, and his imprisonment in the prison on that isle for thirteen years, the exact number of years of this lie held against John. Drawn here by life itself, this is a story not of death, but what happened when we got pulled back to that Crossing so strongly that for a very long time I felt that is where we physically were and even my environment was telling me so–wildly so, even through Van Gogh there in Arles and what he painted there, when two wild, purple irises bloomed right on Cussie’s passing right where the picture above was taken, a spot we would visit often. And at the end of our waterfall is a miraculous “Yellow House” like Van Gogh's. There was now a whole new wonder of discovery speaking which could only be done in InterBeing, as on the other side of the veil, if one wanted to understand that very Pietà, if one wanted to know the realness that awaited was story-filled and beyond imagination. This was what it meant in being forced to go further when I thought we were already beyond human endurance of the time apart from other humans and the fraud perpetuated, but staying true always pushed us further, deeper, into the hard wonder and to the deep roots of things.
Here is a recap of the road map of what I’ve written recently: In 1912 Willa Cather returned to New York City from Arizona and New Mexico (where I live) where she had a life-changing realization from the South of France from the ground beneath her feet here on the ground of the Southwest at the very moment that the Titanic sank with no grounding beneath its standing. She returned to the East to publish “The Bohemian Girl” two months later, a story she wrote before she left, and what would become the beginnings of Breakfast at Tiffany’s plagiarized by Truman Capote that would bring Audrey Hepburn back to New York City for a second time from Provençe, first for Gigi on Broadway, and then to assist George Axelrod and the producers of Breakfast at Tiffany’s to return the stories to their rightful and inspired author and therefore to the genius and magic of it that awaited which was far beyond what Truman envisioned just for himself. In 2010 I had come to New York City and that was at the beginning of my work, likewise, being plagiarized as Willa’s had been, even on the same topic, a screenplay I had written years before called Dinner at Tiffany’s, just an idea I had about New York City and old movies and romance “after the kiss,” and my own miraculous experiences there. Now in the 13 years since, because of life, I have been writing and discovering the further. In 2002 on my way from New York City to France I had crossed paths with Willa, in another uncanny crossing, by exactly 100 years from her first trip to France in 1902, the Provençe she would find the meaning of in the Southwest. Now I had come back to her Provence footsteps, unknowingly before I would discover her connection. The first time writing of there I had only been aware of her affinity for France from the food and culture heritage transported to the Southwest in her Death Comes for the Archbishop.
One might think that there is no way that this story could keep also being about Audrey Hepburn, as I have traced these Cosmic events and her personal choices from A Nun’s Story through Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Paris When It Sizzles, briefly touching on the story and evidence, and how likely her light and triumph and formidable spirit had something to do with what was in the air when it was agreed that Michelangelo’s Pietà would come to the World’s Fair in 1964, leaving St. Peter’s for the first time ever for a culturally transformative trip to New York City. But on this very trip of Willa’s in 1902, she first went to London where she wrote an article to her home newspaper which has in it the very seeds of My Fair Lady, a decade before George Benard Shaw’s play Pygmalion. The travel article is called “London: The East End.” In those same articles sent back home as she traveled, too, from 1902, are the beginnings of the “Huckleberry” Girl from the river that Truman would lift, and George and Audrey put back. Although there is too much to tell in one article, it is Audrey’s spirit that gets conveyed more here of what she was standing for and bringing to the roles that was, even silently, changing culture, and just the same for me, there are spirits just the same, like that of the beautiful hearts of Katy Perry, Selena Gomez, Hailey Bieber, and Maren Morris among so many that have quietly stood strong to what is real in the face of what only appears to be real. [Just look a little closer.] Whether it is AI or a human deception, not having the truth means not having the true art and not being fully alive. More is at stake than just lies.
Now, we are back to that Moment in 1902 and Willa standing at the Notre-Dame de la Garde looking out at the Château d’If of a story she was passionate about, The Count of Monte Cristo, and the supreme plot of revenge from this very spot, a dungeon, a life taken away, stolen with lies, and here this pietà, too, a Station of the Cross, which is actually not Mary, but Saint Veronica, the one who in religious folklore offers her veil to Jesus to wipe his forehead, and when he gives it back to her it has the miraculous image of his face on it. It is so reminiscent of Penelope weaving a “shroud” for the return of Odysseus, and it being she who knows his true divine identity, that he is not dead, of he who washes up on a shore here in the Mediterranean. Scholars show that the name of “Veronica” may have been derived from the fact that the image of Jesus’s face on the cloth was known in Latin as the “vera icon” meaning “true image”: the “weave” showing the true image. Or as it was understood in the ancient world, the weave of Poetry. (The eternal ‘middle voice’ that acts upon the writer, and not the voice of authoritarian dogma.) And so here on the shore of this cathedral is Saint Veronica giving her veil–with Penelope is the passage between life and death, back from death–and being handed the true image of the face of the man whose identity would become known as his truest identity, that of the divine, or the ultimate reality, the truest nature in form. Her shroud or veil is the proof: her weaving lets his identity be known. Her weaving is Homer’s as well. There is a reference to this veil in the year 1011 as a “scribe identified as the keeper of the cloth” and its history develops along the same time as the stories of Mary Magdalene arriving in the South of France, the time of the troubadours and medieval romance such as Tristan and Isolde. The stories were here coming to life where they could bloom best, and religion in that powerful path of art, too. Willa wrote from this very spot: “It was not until I saw the little white island of the Château d’If lying out in the sea before the old harbour at Marseilles that I awakened to the fact that we were at last in Monte Cristo’s country, fairly into the country of the fabulous, where extravagance ceases to exist because everything is extravagant, and where the wildest dreams come true” [ . . . ] “the clouds had broken by the time we looked out from the old harbour at Marseilles and the sunlight played on the white cliffs of the little island, and the first shock produced by the colour of the Mediterranean, coupled with the name of the Château d’If, were enough to heat the fancies that all day had been as wet as the dripping olive trees. Even had the famous state prison not been there, I think the sailors that ran about the harbour would have recalled to me the story in which Dumas put the Arabian Nights to shame. The Château d’If was the beginning of a marked change in our feelings. In a moment one felt the kindling of something that had burned in one long ago, when one lived and suffered and triumphed with Edmond Dantés. The prison and its island, I found, were quite as important to me, quite as hallowed by tradition, quite as moving to contemplate, as Westminter or Nôtre Dame” (Willa Cather in Europe: Her Own Story of Her First Journey 144-145) (emphasis mine).
100 years later after Willa I would be in France before any of these discoveries would happen with me, not knowing the discoveries that would be underneath my feet, our feet, starting at Chauvet with Custard and I hiking here while there, just as Willa had come to New Mexico and realized Provençe in the same lightning-bolt embodied fashion. And in 2000, with John on his way to New York City to record his first album, we had already crossed paths in Texas on Red River St. right before this trip to New York and France. Now what was beneath Willa’s feet in 1902 in the South of France, before the caves nearby were even re-discovered, was the very ground that held the revelations I would have of Grotte Chauvet and the feminine, now a full circle of what she had found here beneath her feet where I live that became her writing on the feminine. The very earth of foundation of the very real. And when I visited France in 2002, the current movie of The Count of Monte Cristo had just been released that year–the very story of which she was looking at over at the Château d’If. Two years later the actor of the wrongly accused Edmond Dantés’, Jim Caviezel, would also play the crucifixion of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ (2004), the sculpture here of which we speak.
“Prepare for Adventure. Count on Revenge.”
And now what lies beyond, so much further beyond the lies. The Château d’If was the site of Edmond Dantés’ false imprisonment for 13 years. It has been exactly that amount of time since the press and public believed “Dear John” and John’s standing in his career and reputation were taken from him, the very nature of the lies against Edmond, and it happened right at the time I would have come to know John in 2010, thus explaining Taylor Swift’s abrupt, preemptive move to put the false as quickly into place as possible before the “opportunity” left. In the 2002 movie version, Edmond’s “friend” Fernand Mondego witnesses a letter given to Edmond by Napoleon Bonaparte who is imprisoned on Elba Island. It was the same with John with a letter from me witnessed and intercepted that became the false lyrics of the song. I wrote to him on Tumblr and did so quite privately by leaving a comment and then only posting on my own page in case he wanted to read it without tagging or mentioning him. In this movie version from 2002, the rest follows: Fernand “lusts after” his fiance. “Envious of Edmond’s good fortune, Fernand and Danglars [whom Edmond has been promoted beyond] inform on Edmond regarding Bonaparte's letter.” Then “Villefort, the city's chief magistrate, has Edmond arrested,” and when the situation is seen to be personally beneficial, Villefort “burns the letter [the evidence that could be used against Villefort] and orders Edmond imprisoned in the Château d'If.”
Then for the next thirteen years while Edmond suffers in the dungeon, their public standing is manipulated with these lies. Six years into the imprisonment, “Edmond is startled in his cell by an eruption in the ground revealing another prisoner, Abbé Faria, a priest, who has been imprisoned for 11 years after refusing to tell Bonaparte the whereabouts of the treasure of the Spada family.” It is that treasure that he will give to Edmond to find, and which he “implores him to use it only for good.” When “Edmond establishes himself in Parisian society as ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ with Jacopo as his manservant,” he “swears vengeance on those who conspired against him.” It seems like it is against what the Abbé wanted from giving him the treasure of knowledge and the gold. Twisting through the plot to incredible revenge, it comes down to that to Fernand, who first appeared to be his friend, that it has always been about money and power and the use of people: “Fernand attempts to flee, but changes his mind upon realizing that Edmond has everything and he has nothing, and challenges Edmond to a fight to the death.” It is lovely that John was born on the coast of Bridgeport, CT, our own coast.
Willa’s set her last novel of her life, Hard Punishments, which was unfinished and (she asked for it be) destroyed, here in the South of France at the Papal Palace at Avignon that she first visited on this trip. That novel, with only remnants remaining, was about, I believe, what would happen to her work if people realized what she had done in all her works before, a tongue cut out, maimed thumbs of writing. She could not say too much. But this was the countryside with the relics of the Madeleine, Mary Magdalene. But it is here that that maimed tongue is put back into place, in really kind of a miracle. This is a different time, a time she probably dreamt of as she had kept writing of the embodied feminine through the sinking of the Titanic, two world-destructive World Wars, and the atomic bombs, first detonated here in her beloved New Mexico that would not have been lost on her, the beautiful country she traveled through on the way to El Paso, the destruction of worlds, of what she had written of the Madeleine right up the road in Santa Fe. 100 years later I have the opportunity to write the stories coming to life as they have wildly for me, and because that freedom is alive, to find the will and the way to invite it all to life. Alive in this place in Provençe that she became so passionate about was the still venerated medieval legend of Mary Magdalene arriving here just after the crucifixion of Jesus, just a little further beyond the view of Château d’If in Marseilles, coming ashore in a boat, according to the folklore, from her home in Magdala located on the Sea of Galilee (now Migdal, Israel), from a culture that could not let her Be, continuing just a little further to the bouche, the kiss, the consummation of le Petit Rhône at the Delta, the Camargue, at the comforting feminine cove waters of the Mediterranean and where the wild white horses of pure delight in spirit and form run free, the perfect place for her arrival where life would be lived differently–consummated that could not be in the biblical scriptures because they did not understand the mythology from which her story springs to life. Very early on in writing John, those Camargue white horses running free were one of the early posts I had made on Tumblr. The spirits of the horses bursting to life are also at the in-between of the feminine, from the surface of the water and from the eternal depths within the cave at the Venus and depicted where the place of the eternal spirits would rush from the Venus into eternity, and also match the Homeric epics and the spirits of the horses Telemachus speaks of about his home in Ithaca, and being different from the spirits of the horses trained for war. And so that Ardèche River which shaped the rocks and wombs at Chauvet, making way for the artwork from the very hands of looking at the cosmos, is the waterway that then leads to Le Grande Rhône and Le Petit Rhône and to this arrival at what is now known as Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, which also arrives here from Poetry, literature, art and archeology from ancient Magdala, Jerusalem, and Rome to this place more alive and free. It is the place of the beginning of crusades and troubadours’ reckoning of love. Even Van Gogh visited here in his loneliness and painted A Fishing Boat at Sea, 1888 and Fishing Boats on the Beach at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in June 1888 like that of legend arrived, and here for him, it was in experience of tranquil, exquisite beauty washing up on the shore. He was going home to Arles where he would paint Café Terrace at Night in September on the very days 100 years later my Moonbeam would pass on the same dates as Dante’s passing.
It is still the feminine Mediterranean of Crete, a re-routing of those tears (in Dante’s Inferno) into an alive flowing river and what is to come of what he shows of Beatrice written in the very years of the legend coming to life here, during Dante’s own lifetime, now free again here to speak and magically doing so, and from which is actually also the place of twenty-six art-filled caves and shelters from thousands of years before, always coming from the beginning art of humanity and footsteps, even a child’s and a wolf’s, together. Our writing was culminating here and Willa sensed it. Bob Dylan, a gypsy at heart, likely expressing the saintly Roma-heart of his wife Sara, composed “One More Cup of Coffee” from here, inspired at the Roma festival in 1975, which takes place every year on his birthday, and for the Black Saint Sara, like his Sara’s name. The song’s album, Desire, was released during the Rolling Thunder Review tours. From that trip to NYC in 2010 when I went to find Dylan’s old neighborhoods to December and John singing “A Face to Call Home” from the Village Underground, the former Gerdes Folk City, in 2012 Bob Dylan and I would come to take the same literal road together at the very same moment, the very month of the 50th anniversary of meeting Suze Rotolo in 1962, and what became the covers of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. I love that both Odysseus (Homer) and Dylan were also arriving here where the art could live, like a river, always finding it truest path.
It is then at this small village, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, where the small boat is said to have arrived with Mary Magdalene, la Madeleine, fleeing Jerusalem, c. 42 A.D. In a wild, other-wordly connection with the Madeleine and with Willa again, and it coming to life for me, from January 42 A.D. in the hand of Cosmic alignment, the planet Pluto, the planet of deep transformation, of death and rebirth of the psyche, was at exactly 0° Capricorn. A Pluto return happens about every 248 years, and so can only have happened eight times since her boat washed ashore. In 2008, the very first time I visited Santa Fe and the oldest mission in the United States (which was built right after the passing of Queen Elizabeth I and while Shakespeare was still alive; built upon a much older Native American kiva from the time Dante was in Italy writing the Divine Comedy) and the oldest capital city, and also walked into the photograph (going into a camera shop), not knowing then, Willa had taken of herself in front of the Cathedral Basilica from the La Fonda Hotel balcony while she was writing Death Comes for the Archbishop, at this first visit in 2008 Pluto was at exactly 0° Capricorn. Capricorn is the house of power, structure, and authority, which has a great deal to do with Willa’s very different construction of the cathedral there in Santa Fe to the feminine and inspired from Provençe, come alive in the Southwest as she had first done with her realization of The Song of the Lark through to her final work at the structure of the Palais des Papes in Avignon–she herself very much looking at the “structure” and roots. It is during this time from 2008 to the present that the plagiarism that happened to her also happened to John and to me. (It began with John in 2008.) The legend of the Madeleine’s arrival at the Camargue continues that over time she “traveled on to Marseille, on to Aix, some twenty miles north of Marseille” and “retreated to a mountain cave on the plain of Plan d’Aups known as La Sainte Baume (47 AD).” The Pluto Return of the year after, 48 AD, matches to the minute the photograph that I took in the dress like Michelangelo’s Pietà on Christmas Day 2013. The next year on (what would be my birthday) 10 July 49 AD was a return in 2014 when Custard, Moonbeam, and I left Texas permanently. Now, fifteen years into this, Pluto is at the anaretic, critical degree of 29°40 of Capricorn, the same alignments that would encompass Mary Magdalene’s life in the South of France in which she is said to have lived in a cave in exile, and our writing had brought me here, too, in exile, and to the Crossing in the cave and the realization that the Pietà is also the Crossing, no birth, no death, transforming suffering into radiance in her arms. It is one of the most beautiful realizations of my life, as hard as it is to do that. As this has culminated, on the day that I fly to NYC this Tuesday, 14 March 2023, my first trip since 2010 seeing John in concert there, Pluto will be at 29°49, an exact square to the minute of my Rising Sign (Ascendant, Descendant, physical identity and self-expression, and social identity of romantic relationships, the cusp of the 1st and 7th houses) of 29°49 Aries, also a Critical Cardinal in the burst of Spring (or Persephone from that Pluto/Hades). It is also intensified that it is a quincunx to my Anaretic Moon (where the Moon is passing through as I write this) at the same degree and minute of 29°49 Virgo. My Moon exactly conjuncts John’s 29°10 Virgo Venus, my emotions tied to his love, art, and music. (There are more huge conjunctions with this like John’s Rising Sign in Libra, or justice, the balancing scales.) My Descendant is also a conjunction with my Classic Critical Cardinal 26° Jupiter in Libra (or justice). In October 2022 Venus kissed the Sun there for the first time in Libra since Willa’s childhood in the 1870s, and did so directly on my 29° Descendant. It last happened in Libra in 1879 when Willa was six years old, and in-between the publications of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884). Those of course figure prominently in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and that alignment occurring right at the moment in October/November 2022 when I finally saw what Truman Capote had done, and . . . in the house of justice at the critical degree.
While John was on his Sob Rock tour in April 2022, his wonderful created “memories” of the late ‘80s (when I was in high school), I was here in New Mexico writing the manuscript for La Madeleine and discovered that when I was 15, in 1986, right in his rewriting these now romantic early years, the remains of an archeological boat, “the oldest freshwater boat ever found,” was discovered along the shore near Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene.
The boat was radiocarbon dated to her and Jesus’s lifetimes there, and even had a pottery cooking pot and oil lamp like they would have used. And so, unlike almost every other Jesus and Mary relic that can hardly make literal claim to be dating to the very years, here was an actual boat that they could have actually been in, and just like they would have seen and taken on the water between their cities, Capernaum and Magdala. It had been preserved in the clay for two thousand years right where Mary would have stood on the shores of the water, perhaps even looking at Jesus. Before this was discovered, there was some artwork excavated the year John was born, in 1977, in a villa on the shore of Magdala. The mosaic in the floor of the villa just off the water is “one of the earliest mosaics with ship depiction” and the “technique apparently following the black-and-white style” [ . . . ] “especially known in Italy (1st-3rd centuries CE)” [ . . . ] and “reflects tight art connections with the early Roman Empire of the 1st centuries BCE-CE” (Zaraza Friedman’s “The Ship Depicted in a Mosaic from Migdal, Israel”). Thus, beneath Jesus’s and Mary Magdalene’s very feet was a depiction of a boat with which they were familiar and it being tied directly to Italian art. With the “Gospels” also showing a strong connection to the Homeric epics and Odysseus, the details of the artwork show how ancient Greek mythology was playing a role right at their feet. Zazara shows the connection: “An earlier example of pointed broad stem similar to the Migdal ship is evidenced by a sailing ship (associated with the story of Odysseus), depicted on an amphora dated to c. 330 BCE. On the port stem of the Odysseus ship is depicted an oculus with eye-lashes. The brownish-red tesserae placed on the port stem of Migdal Ship, also indicates an oculus. Odysseus’s ship has a crew of four rowers, one helmsman and Odysseus tight to the mast.” But of course we know he doesn’t stay there. Just as I had been writing about the Madeleine’s arrival in the South of France, here I discovered a very boat and Odyssean artwork at Magdala that would make true the arrival of the art and its aliveness on the other end of this, at the kiss, at le Petit Rhône at the Delta.
Excerpts are from my unpublished manuscripts My Ardèche Wolf Heart, La Madeleine, and From the Crossing (© 2021-2023)