Ghost From the Past

 

An Unusual Aspect of My May 2005 Return to Paris

 

This May 2005 business trip to Paris is unusual.  Because I usually only go in Sept/ober or in March?  Not just that.

 

I was given a chance to upgrade my room for the same price, since I am a loyal customer and the hotel is not full.

 

So, what? Here's what:  my room!

 

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Again so what?

Look at the wallpaper and drapes. First the drapes:

 

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Now the wallpaper:

 

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A little bit closer on the wallpaper, and focused on what got my attention, water lilies!

 

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Again, so what?

 

OK, it has been about 10 years since I was in this very room. At that time a co-worker came over to see my walls, which I had described to her. She was staying elsewhere in the hotel. She told me that this was not how Monet painted water lilies. Monet, she explained, never painted the water between the lilies (no water was painted here either), he painted what the water reflected.  This wallpaper only mimicked that with some occasional shadows.

 

We found this quite profound when we turned that around to how we see people. We look at what they reflect, knowing we can't determine their true nature that way. And what they reflect may be a carefully crafted facade.

 

Some time after I got home, I spoke with a friend of mine in Texas and she asked me who this dazzling, loving presence was that was cocooned around me in my hotel room? And what was all this lily stuff about?

 

Huh?  Prodding her a little, she said there were two distinct images that came to her as she thought of me at one point, and only one point, during my trip. She "saw" me being  surrounded by a brilliant being of love, and was at the same time looking at water lilies. Yet I was in a hotel room. [This very room. As I said.  Ten years ago.  Hence my reaction to seeing it again.]

 

I confessed I had some discussions with a co-worker who visited me in my room, with whom I had an extraordinary chat concerning water between water lilies’ in Monet paintings being visible only in terms of what it reflected. I said I was sure we liked each other, probably liked each other a lot, but was this the loving bright presence she had seen all around me?

 

She responded with this, as far as I recollect it now: ‘No, it is very unlikely that this is a living human being, almost impossible. This loving presence is not in this world, and the name Beatrice keeps coming to mind in association with this entity. An extraordinarily brilliant love-entity. That is what I saw surrounding you in a brilliant love-light cocoon.’

 

That was the point in time at which my seven-year quest for Beatrice began, and it ran me through re-reading and re-telling the story of Dante and his Beatrice on this web site. That got me some notoriety with an academic having me tell that tale, condensed, for his monthly newsletter on the classics.

 

Then came the study of the mystical Beatrice of Brabant, and there my interpretations were based on a translation into modern Dutch that I found on the Internet. I contacted the person who posted these translations. He corrected them with respect to one point. He was a scholar whose website specializes in this particular Beatrice’s visions. He is devoted to her memory and to making her visions widely known and reads. (I am not the only man with a Beatrice-obsession!  So there.)  There was also a Beatrice of Nazareth I read up on.  These Beatrices are all discussed on the last half of this long page (click to go there) on this website.  

 

Those three Beatrices were fully capable of being exactly who my friend saw.  My friend's strange gift is being able to experience life in two realms at once. (A gift? Definitely. A burden? Definitely.)

 

But after posting materials related to these two Beatrices, somehow the obsession remained. Until, one late evening on the Internet I ran across another Beatrice.

 

Beatrice de Planissolles (discussed on the web page just linked above, which gives excerpts from her and her lover's Inquisition trial transcripts) as well as at great length on a picture/story set of pages that tell her story and show the places she lived), just seeing the name electrified me before I even had a chance to read about her run-in with the Inquisition. Look her up (‘Google’ her) for yourself, and read the Inquisition trial records for yourself (see above link for samples from the important parts). I used those records and a little intuition/imagination to tell my version of her life story.

 

This one was no junior goddess calling me to repent and experience the Divine Presence, as had been the case with Dante’s Beatrice. This one was no mystic visionary explaining the workings of the Cosmos and our privileged place in it as the spiritual (love) extensions of Godhood (God=Love).

 

This Beatrice was a woman with several daughters, several husbands, and several affairs, one of them forced on her by a corrupt parish priest, likely obtaining acquiescence by threatening to otherwise reveal her heretical Cathar beliefs to the authorities. When you have two children, and the Inquisition’s victims are daily news, you do not take such threats lightly.

 

The last affair of her known life landed her and her last known boyfriend in the clutches of the Inquisition, and in jail. Did affairs put you in jail in those days? Yes, especially if you were from a prominent family of Cathar heretics, who had a ‘free-love’ attitude and despised marriage.  It was even worse if your partner/boyfriend was a Catholic priest, obviously one seriously contaminated by your immoral Cathar ideas about sex and love not requiring either marriage (a Catholic invention that served the evil god of this world) or conception (the evil god’s plan was to ensnare as many souls as possible into this world, which is his creation and dominion). [Some things I like about the Cathars, some things I don't: their attitude toward this mortal life is terribly negative. But not at all so different from some of their Catholic contemporaries who also decried this fallen state of anguish and pain and who also thought celibacy {avoiding marriage} was a holier path.] 

 

But what makes this even more interesting is that the young priest did have limited scruples, and talked her into moving to his home town in Spain where they could be married: in his Pyrenean valley the Bishop was in a state of rebellion against Rome’s edict against married priests, and allowed his priests to be married! This suggests both influenced each other. They spent a year in Spain as man and wife. Then came back to France, and Inquisition-trouble.

 

Her boyfriend astounded me, I saw in him four character defects that I shared with him to some degree or other at some points in my life. [I do believe I have grown out of most of them this lifetime--thanks for asking.]

 

Apparently he did not change his ways during the time covered by the story. Not too long before the historical story ends, when he was probably pushing into his mid-30's, he was temporarily separated from Beatrice because they were pretending to not be an item, since they were under close watch by Inquisition spies. Perhaps to allay suspicions of their secretly still being an item, he allowed himself to be observed engaged in some improper conduct with some other woman in one the parishes where he had found priestly employment. It wasn’t just an affair that would do him in with the Inquisition. It was having an affair with a suspected heretic that would be his undoing. So another affair, this time with a soundly believing Catholic.  What a great cover!

 

Was this cad me in a previous life? I do not think that totally impossible. If so, whatever I did to dismay Beatrice in that life did not stop her from visiting me in this life. And her timing coincides with my changing into a new, more intuitive, human being. Like that water in Monet’s paintings I had spent my life time making sure I was always reflecting what I wanted people to see me as. Then I stopped all the intellectual pretenses, smoke and mirrors, and became a much simpler and more open me.

 

The smoke and mirrors that defined me to myself and to others were deliberately thrown out. I became emotionally naked, open instead of closed. I had discovered my intuitive side and, more importantly, I had discovered that my intellect was not me – it was a tool I needed to be effective in this life. A very important tool to be sure, but not my only path to understanding or sensing reality.

 

Maybe in that moment of my newfound naked clarity, my soul’s window was wide open, giving Beatrice an opportunity to step in to just to say ‘Hi, remember me?’ although the way it really felt was “Hey! You! Remember me!”

 

I told the story of Beatrice and Bartelemy in 2002, and, to my surprise and even disappointment the Beatrice-urge dissipated.  It just went away. I had done as I had been commanded: I had remembered her. And now when I ‘Google’ on her name I am pleased to be in the forefront among those discussing her life.

 

As I noted in the very first item under my 2005 yearbook, the proprietor of a castle I mentioned in the story of Beatrice and her boyfriend, Bartelemy Amilhat, sent me an email with some pictures of the interior of his castle, and invited my wife and I to come and see the place. We will do that.

 

He confessed that since he read this story he was now haunted by fleeting glimpses of these two lovers sneaking around the hills around his home. Poor guy. Now he is haunted. Maybe he was one of her husbands, or lovers? Maybe. She had a good husband, who, coincidentally, was also a castle-proprietor {the chatelaine actually}, one whom she loved and had her two children by. He died young and left her a widow. That is when her troubles began. But, as we cast other men for the play of her life story, I reserve the role of Bartelemy for myself.

 

She and Bartelemy were an item over 700 years ago. So, in this life, continue call me Abe. Don’t call me Bart unless your name is Beatrice and you have been dead many, many centuries. Then call me anything you want, I am sure I deserve it.

 

So, the crux of the story is that ten years ago, in this very room with this very wallpaper, I apparently was touched by a Beatrice whom it then took me seven years to find.  As Paul Harvey would say, "Now you know the rest of the story."

 

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