The Prophecies is set mainly in the mysterious landscape of Brocéliande in Brittany, but there also scenes set in Berlin, Paris, Freilichtpark, Ascona, Wewelsburg, Bad Saarrow, and that great inland sea in the south of Brittany, the Golfe du Morbihan.
Rather incredibly, you can stay and sleep in all the key locations – in the houses where Geneviève and Gillard lived, even in the sinister castle of Wewelsburg.
I had an incredible time visiting many of these places over the last five years as I worked on the book, and I’d like to share some photos, travel tips and suggestions for a fascinating holiday you could take visiting one or more of these sites.
Let’s begin with Brocéliande.
The Manoir du Tertre, where so much of the story in The Prophecies occurs, is a fabulous place to stay if you want to experience the mysteries of Brocéliande. The Manoir is run as a Bed-and-Breakfast and it has an extraordinary atmosphere. I find it utterly charming – and very unusual. The feeling of energy there is powerful and uplifting – perfect for spiritual work. It feels as if it is truly a portal to the other dimension. No wonder Geneviève became a medium growing up and living in such a place! Perhaps the energy is so intense that spending decades there unhinged her in some way, but you needn’t worry about this if you are not planning on staying that long. Some people find the portrait of Geneviève that hangs behind the beautiful oak staircase unsettling. There are tales of ghosts and strange happenings, but I have only had good experiences there, and our children once spotted a triple rainbow appearing in the sky above the house. Here is the Manoir’s website. By staying there a few nights or a week you will be in the perfect location to explore the whole region.
You can walk around the old airbase at nearby Point Clos. You can see the trees planted by Commandant Ernst for his arboretum, now fully mature, and in the undergrowth you can see the remains of swimming pools and barracks.
Is just a few minutes away, and it’s the perfect place to begin your exploration of Brocéliande. Visit the 13th century abbey to see the ivory crucifix that probably inspired Gillard to create his image of Christ on the cross. Visit an incredible interactive museum – La Porte des Secrets – that initiates you into the history, myths and legends of the forest – some big EU grant helped to create it – it is truly astonishing.
Paimpont’s little High Street reminds me of Glastonbury – it’s full of shops catering to the fascination of tourists for the forest’s magical and mythic associations. Pop into the café-bookshop Quinte-Essence of the Crystal Forest, where can learn about owner Anne-Marie Quintin’s workshops on the Tarot and crystals. Here’s a link that lists all the shops.
Eat Brittany’s favourite dish – a crêpe – by the lake. You can then visit Geneviève and René’s tombs in the cemetery or walk around the lake to see the grotto of Notre Dame in the woods. Here the Virgin Mary was reportedly seen by a healing spring.
Not far away, you can visit the Château de Comper near Concoret, which houses the Centre de l’Imaginaire Arthurien. There you will find scenes from Arthurian legends, and in summer there are associated exhibitions, events and themed walks. Next to the castle is a lake, where some say the fairy Viviane lives.
This is where many of the scenes in the book take place. You can stay in Henri Gillard’s rectory – it is now a gîte. Make sure you visit La Maison des Sources, with its tiny esoteric bookshop next door. Here is Michel, one of the owners, in the shop:
Have lunch or a coffee in the garden, or indoors in the restaurant/gallery. Then visit the well of St.Onenne to make a wish perhaps, before visiting the church. Notice the story of St.Onenne depicted in stained glass, the Arthurian paintings and windows, the Golden Mean noted on the old beam, and much more – as described in The Prophecies. Don’t miss the image of the Holy Grail on the floor near the altar, and the sentence
inscribed above the entrance to the church. Remember Henri Gillard wanted his Grail church to act as a living ‘spiritual school’ through its images and symbols. You can find his writings in the little shop across from the church, which also sells books and postcards and holds exhibitions.
The Valley of No Return & Deeper into the Forest
You can spend days walking in the forest that borders Trého, following the river Aff, climbing up to Arthur’s seat to gaze across at the red cliffs that Gillard cycles to in the book. You can walk to Viviane’s tomb, sit beside the Fontaine de Barenton, where it is said Nimue enchanted Merlin, and you can walk beside the Fairies’ Mirror, that fateful lake that Hermann gazed into, to see his troubled reflection gazing back.
An hour’s drive south will bring you towards the warmer land of southern Brittany. I don’t recommend a visit to the St.Avé psychiatric hospital which lies in the suburbs of Vannes. The city itself is far more interesting. It is where Gillard inherited a flat which he gave to the Church. His nemesis, Bishop Bellec, let a friend of his live in it, and when he forced Gillard to retire, he told him to go to an old cleric’s home. Near Vannes you come to a vast inland sea…
The Gulf of Morbihan
Drive to Locmariquer and visit the remarkable dolmen the ‘Table des Marchands’ – well worth the entry fee you will be charged. Then have lunch overlooking the water in the restaurant where Geneviève and Gillard ate: La Vahine.
Take a boat out to Gavrinis. Here’s an excerpt from the book:
‘The boat began bouncing as it hit waves stirred up by the wind now blowing in from the sea. “In a moment you are about to experience the most magnificent of their creations. The tumulus of Gavrinis is the jewel in the crown of all Neolithic monuments, more splendid even than the famous site of New Grange in Ireland… We think of these places as tombs of the dead. But some scholars believe that since they were built like great bellies of the Mother Goddess, they were also used as places of initiation, of rebirth – places to commune with the ancestors, to pray for
their guidance and protection before being born again into the world. Perhaps this was the special destiny of just one member of the tribe, what we might call a shaman today, who would enter this dark tunnel to sit alone amongst the bones of the departed. Or perhaps it was the privilege of an elite, a priestly caste, whose role it was to peer beyond the veil of time and seek augury and make offerings. Or perhaps all the tribe came here to honour their ancestors and seek rebirth.” from The Prophecies by Philip Carr-Gomm.
While you’re in the Morbihan region, you could stay in a hotel on one of the islands, and all the incredible megalithic sites of Carnac are not far away.
The Grail church in Tréhorenteuc has its dark twin – the castle of Wewelsburg in Westphalia, Germany, where the SS began creating a Grail crypt and a Grail study room. You can visit Wewelsburg today with its permanent exhibition, ‘SS Terror’, which details Himmler’s insane plan to turn the castle and surrounding region into the headquarters of the SS – including that special division of the SS that Hermann worked for – the Ahnenerbe. And you can stay the night there too, because part of the castle is now a Youth Hostel.
And if you feel like soaking in some black mud or swimming in healing water, you could visit the spa in this lakeside town near Berlin.
We’ll finish our tour of locations in The Prophecies by visiting…
Take a boat out onto Lake Maggiore. Imagine you can see Carl Jung and his friends sitting on the lakeshore in Olga Froebe-Kapteyn’s garden, holding their Eranos Conferences, talking about myth, psychology, religion. Walk up to Manescia, the Mountain of Truth, and see if you can spot Rudolf Laban, Hermann Hesse, or Kropotkin amongst the shadows…
Before you go, read Martin Green’s fascinating Mountain of Truth – The Counterculture Begins, Ascona 1900-1920