As you arrive in the valley of Chartres, the magical Chartres Cathedral appears, as if floating over the trees and mist, creating a surreal feel to this small town in France. Chartres is a mystical land with a feminine energy that has flowed here for thousands of years, even before the time of Christ.
Chartres Cathedral has been an important pilgrimage destination for centuries. Legends say that the site was revered as a sacred site dating back to pre-Christian times, when it was a sacred well worshiped by the Druids. It has continued to be held as a sacred place in one form or another from that time.
Chartres is one of the oldest and best-preserved cathedrals in all of Europe. Perhaps her state of beauty and preservation has something to do with the way it was built. Our own Mystic and Spiritual Guide, Finbarr Ross, tells us that when they were building Chartres, the workers would come to work each day and begin their work day with a meditation. In the meditation, they would connect with their heart energy, as they prepared to start to work. If they were not in the right heart space that day, they wouldn’t work.
Perhaps the loving energy of this building, steeped in perfect intention, is the reason it calls so powerfully to us. Everyone that has visited Chartres Cathedral on our Sacred France tours reports that it has a transformative affect on them. It is a favorite sacred site along many wonderful stops on the France Tour.
The deeper energy of this sacred place stems from the well known as Puits des Saints-Forts, or the ‘Well of the Strong Saints’. Pilgrims originally came here to perform rituals with the water, praying to the early Christian martyrs that were said to have been thrown into the well. The well is now under the cathedral, and there are seven rivers flowing from it, carrying a strong feminine spirit throughout the land.
This sacred place has long been used as a center for spiritual learning. The outer walls of the cathedral hold statues of the saints and depict stories of the bible as a way of teaching the people who couldn’t read from the sacred text. There are statues of Moses and the Ten Commandments, Mary and Jesus, and many other prophets and their stories.
Some other special features of the cathedral include the famous relic, the Sancta Camisa, a tunic that is said to have been worn by the Virgin Mary at Christ’s birth. The cathedral is filled with angels and gargoyles, figures and carvings, all bringing in and holding the sacred energy for those who visit.
In the center of it all is an ancient labyrinth built into the stone floor, still used by many pilgrims today. With mathematical precision, the circumference of the labyrinth is almost exactly the same as the Rose Window on the west side. Both the labyrinth and the window line up with the west entrance, with the labyrinth the same distance along the floor from the entryway as the window is from the ground.
Walking the labyrinth brings the experience all together. The labyrinth is an ancient symbol of wholeness. Walking it is a journey into our own center, and it bringing our connection to Self back out again as we trace our steps outward, returning to the larger world. Walking the labyrinth at Chartres can be a life-changing experience.
When you visit Chartres, remember to keep that connection to your own sacred essence alive within you and let the journey back out of the labyrinth continue as a journey outward as you go back to your everyday life. Hold the energy and love of Chartres within you as you leave Chartes, awakening to the golden flame that dwells within your heart – and carry it with you everywhere you go.