* "Let us go straight to Chartres!"
Henry Adams, Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres
Pilgrims yesteryear and today take sacred paths to mystical sights and experience city lights and country paths. Some we walk, some we view from the air as we fly in planes over oceans and mountains, or see on computer in various forms, TV or DVD. Some pilgrimages we dream and some we imagine.
One of my friends went to Paris, "I feel like I am standing in a spiritual journey through time."
As part of a college reading assignment, I trudged along with Henry Adams, our tour guide, as he introduces the reader and his nieces to sacred sights in France. When Henry Adams spoke the chapters, The Twelfth Century Glass and The Legendary Windows in Chartres Cathedral, I sat bolt upright. I absorbed colored light of past and present as I read:
"Now let us enter!"
It was the blue that spoke to me first:
"....The limpidity of the blues [sapphire]; the depth of the red [ruby]; the intensity of the green; the complicated harmonies; the sparkle and splendour of the light, and the quiet and certain strength....The artist...toiled, like a jeweler setting diamonds and rubies, to increase their splendour. If his use of blue teaches this lesson, his use of green proves it...." The blue is probably from cobalt. Ground up sapphires and rubies would not have chemically given the richness and purity of light and tone in the twelfth century blues and reds.
"Now let us walk about."
Reading The Windows
Cathedrals are encyclopedias in stone and glass. These are teaching pieces. The viewer in the middle ages read pictures rather than print.
Henry Adams speaks:
"With too strong direct sun...the windows...become a cluster of jewels-a delirium of coloured light...."
"The artist didn't care a feather or a fig if a knight on his horse looked like a dog or a donkey...." and a blue knight on a pink horse might appear in a window all for the impact of color and line. "And he [the artist] never sacrificed his colour for a laugh...."
I am imagining Taurus (inscribed "Tavrvs") the Bull in the Zodiac Window as I write. He is pink? Maybe it's my computer? Taurus has a firm upward looking expression. Plant forms in intense gold, bold red, and sharp white accent and complement him.
Memories in Pictures
The twelfth century glass of the Zodiac Window donated by Count Thibaut of Chartres is my favorite. Here the Count rides his white horse. "Some say the twelfth century glass is the finest ever made." I ask then and now, "What's a Zodiac Window doing in a Christian cathedral?"
I am captured by Pisces and Capricorn (the Sea Goat). Their design and play of light and color invites a closer look. I deeply feel the fish scale painted brush strokes of Pisces and the shoulder muscle structure boldly stroked on Capricorn. I also see the painted brush strokes in the eyes of the white horse pictured above. The same aggressive eye is painted on Taurus the Bull. I feel power and fiery intent!
The Zodiac Window has twenty seven medallions featuring the signs of the current Zodiac plus the labors of the months. For example, December is the month for feasting. Christ in Glory between Alpha and Omega unifies everyone at the top.
Rose windows, jeweled pendants, blaze with personality:
"When the eyes...are directed to the north, the Rose of France strikes...with an almost physical shock of color, and, from the south, the Rose of Dreux challenges the rose of France."
"Everyone knows there is a war between the two!...."
"The artists...[in the thirteenth century] have coarsened their colour scheme...discarding blue in order to crush us under the earthly majesty of red....From the north transept Blanche [of Castile] flames out on us in splendid reds and flings her Spanish castles in our faces."
The artists of the stained glass windows left no traces of signatures, but only the interplay of ever changing cosmic time and a riot of light and color.
"Such things must have been always felt rather than reasoned....one sees, in mere light alone, the reaction of hundreds of energies...."
Cut Stone: Precision and Harmony
Teaching~Learning, shows Pisces in Zodiac Window along with Dr. Paul Lam's thoughts about teaching and life (Aug 2012), Encounters with Michael, The Artist Meets the Archangel, (Feb 2011)
* www.fullbooks.com thousands of free full text books online including Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres,1905, by Henry Adams. I wrote books in my imagination at age 18 as I read his stunning word images and joined in a pilgrim's journey through time itself.
Chartres Cathedral, A Scared Geometry, DVD, discoveries from Prof. Keith Critchlow and Malcolm Miller, author and Cathedral Guide at Chartres.
The Stained Glass at Chartres, Halwag Publishers, Berne Switzerland. Many years ago I purchased this brilliantly colored small pocket book on a sacred journey into the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
www.shirleymaclaine.com Shirley MacLaine, actress, author, dancer, and spiritual teacher takes us along The Camino, her personal Sacred Walking Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
http://taichiforhealthinstitute.org Paul Lam, M.D., a family practice physician in Sydney, Australia teaches Tai Chi for Health programs. Empower your life with Tai Chi for all ages and all levels of practice.
request free PDF free illustrated E-Book, Silver Butterfly Create A Vision
Song: There is a Mountain by Donovan
"First there is a mountain then there is no mountain then there is...."
Sacred Destinations: Zodiac Window Donor Panel: Count Thibaut of Chartres. Google Images
Stone and Glass, pencil drawing of York Minster, UK, by Emilie. A flash bulb of light in the lower area looks like a small figure.
Blue Rock from Pennsylvania, patio design. Stone cutting art is like piecing together patterns in stained glass windows.