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  • Susan Dawn

Europe Days 9 - 11: Full-Circle Carcassonne

Tuesday, October 3 - Friday, October 6

France at 40. I recently saw a Facebook memory pop up from October 2015 where I woke from a dream that I was in a specific town in Northern France and declared someday I'd return. It seems going back to France was a dream that was seeded even before three years ago, when the thought of this spiritual pilgrimage first entered my consciousness, and it happened. I still can't believe I'm here and it has happened.

In 2015, I was on the verge of the hardest relapse yet. Everything was turned upside down, and I think this was right around the time I finally surrendered to the circumstances of illness and quit my corporate job. I had no idea what the future had in store or even if I had a future. All I could do was keep my dreams alive and keep moving forward one step at a time.

You can’t ever convince me manifestation isn’t real. You can’t ever convince me we aren’t creators of our destiny. You can’t ever convince me we aren’t powerful and magical within ourselves, as part of the powerful and magical Universe around us.

I didn’t make it to Northern France this trip… Maybe that’s France at 41.

Carcassonne was exactly as I remembered it and also nothing at all like I remembered it. Maybe that's what happens with the passage of time and the growth of a person--structures stay the same but you're different, and so everything feels fresh, renewed.

To understand the significance of this trip and what I mean by this full-circle journey, you have to understand my first trip here. I was young--just turned 25--and spending a month on my own in a little village called Labastide-Esparbairenque thirty minutes from the city of Carcassonne. Months earlier, I saw an ad for a writer's retreat in a magazine and applied to their barter program. On November 4, 2008, I was off on the adventure of a lifetime. I would miss my connecting flight from Paris to Toulouse, which meant I would miss my train from Toulouse to Carcassonne, which meant I would miss my ride up the mountain to the inn. I was a wreck, and I continued to be a wreck as I spent evenings writing in the library by the fire with other program residents and days painting a stone cellar and staircase, composting in a cliffside garden, and rolling logs down a mountain to be chopped for firewood. It was more than I ever dreamed I was capable of, and I discovered within me a strength, courage, and independence I never knew I had.

I was also a hot homesick mess. Little did I know then that this would be the activation for my first major spiritual awakening. Because my homesickness and anxiousness didn't subside, the owner of the inn took me to see her friend, Yves, in a nearby village. A psychic medium, Yves performed reiki on me and then we talked about my fears.

My return trip still had some hiccups, but I was calmer, and it went smoother. I realized that all along the way, I had been guided by angels--from the homeless man in the train station who helped me find a taxi in Carcassonne, to the taxi driver who sang along to Bruce Springsteen up the mountain, to the man who sat near me when I was sleeping overnight in the Paris airport (yep, missed my flight on the way home, too!) and talked to me about the TV show Columbo, to the female janitor who handed me a packaged sandwich from her cleaning cart when she saw me sitting on an airport bench. There has never been a doubt that God was working through each of them to ease my heart and keep me safe. When I got home, I met the woman that would become a sort of spiritual mentor--sessions that would aid in my healing journey and psychic development courses that would help me understand and open my gifts.

Of course, I wouldn't consciously know any of this until years later, during my ascension activation. I've always believed that everything in life is interconnected, even if we can't see the threads just yet. Looking back, I can now see how those threads had been woven throughout my life to bring me here.

And now I'm back in Carcassonne, closing a chapter and a significant part of my life.

 * * * * *

England and Lourdes were full of activations and emotional moments, but in Carcassonne I felt nothing but joy. I could feel the old timeline collapsing around me, like I was closing out that chapter in such a beautiful and profound way. There, again, I was walking the same cobblestone alleyways as fifteen years ago, unwinding the past and rewriting my future with every step.

We stayed at Hotel le Donjon in the heart of the medieval Cite de Carcassonne--a fortress that overlooks the river and the rest of Carcassonne. This citadel is a city unto itself, with shops, restaurants, and hotels within its ancient walls. I had a brief moment of doubt once I realized that we were staying in the location of the historic dungeon, especially considering that my friend and I are both psychic empaths, but once again this trip has been divinely led. Our contemporary room was situated through a beautiful garden courtyard that felt nothing but peaceful.

I didn't journal as much as I wanted or expected to here in Carcassonne. I felt very present in my exploration of the city, as if I could feel my energy renewing itself. In a call home to my parents--which itself was a stark difference from my trip fifteen years ago, as back then I was limited to emails and phone cards at the village's outdoor phone booth--my dad asked me if I felt like I was home. Yes... and no. Yes, because I was in France, and France has always felt like the home of my heart. Yes, because I had been here before and that familiarity was encouraging despite how anxious I'd been during that last trip. But also no, because my journey with Carcassonne is complete.

Here are some of the highlights from Carcassonne...

  • We met so many wonderful people on our trip that led to joyous interactions. I joked with my friend Luna, who is British, that I'm American so I talk to everyone! It's true that connecting in this way--even just brief glimpses of connection, even for just a moment in time--is what lights me up. We met a fun group of older friends in the gardens of the sister-hotel while we were enjoying a glass of wine. The two couples were taking pictures, and I offered to take one of the four of them. It turned out they were celebrating a birthday, and we all introduced ourselves and had a lovely conversation.

  • We spent an afternoon browsing the shops, and I immediately spied some Le Petit Prince items in a small tea shop. I'm a sucker for The Little Prince--it's been one of my favorite books since I first read it in French class when I was sixteen. As I was selecting a few items to bring home with me, the owner of the shop offered us some hot tea to try. Honestly, these might seem like such simple and mundane moments, but they're magical to me. I also found a French tarot deck in one of the shops on our last day, which felt like a wink from the Universe.

  • We decided to spend a day outside of the fortress and across the river in town. By divine providence, it was a Thursday--which meant market day! I remembered the market on the square from my first trip and was excited to see the center of town again. I was nervous about the twenty minute walk, as I'd already done so much walking and was beginning to feel it (I still have to be mindful of my health), but we passed picturesque spots and gardens where I could pause for a bit to rest. The square is surrounded by cafes, so we stopped for breakfast before continuing to explore. I had tea and a pain au chocolat (warm, gooey goodness!), bought a pear at a fruit stand, and later had a mille feuille from a local patisserie--which was my ultimate food goal for France!

  • We took a relaxing boat ride along the Canal du Midi and then returned (in a taxi!) to the fortress where we dressed for dinner and had a luxurious three-course meal in a courtyard filled with hanging lights and olive trees. The food was exceptional and something I had been looking forward to on this journey, and although I didn't indulge quite as I would have liked, I enjoyed every experience. It should be noted that goat cheese salads have since become a favorite!

On our last day in Carcassonne, we decided to do some more leisurely exploring around the fortress. We'd been to half a dozen churches and sacred sites at this point and we were both a little worn out, but there was something about this cathedral in the heart of the city that drew us in.

I'd respectfully refrained from taking pictures inside of the churches throughout our trip. Those experiences and images would be forever etched in my memory instead. However, inside the Carcassonne Cathedral, which I later learned was called Saint Michel (Saint Michael) Cathedral, I was magnetically drawn to the blue stained-glass window. This one was situated on the right transept (or wing) of the cathedral, wooden benches for observing situated below it. I was transfixed--I felt like I couldn't move as I stared at it, held in that spot by an unknown energy that I could feel but couldn't consciously understand.

Luna was across the way and called me to the other window that I hadn't even noticed, so engrossed in the one before me. She mentioned that they might be acting as a portal, as she, too, felt like we were receiving some sort of codes and activation. The colors themselves felt very akin to the masculine and feminine energies, particularly in their specific locations. I still don't consciously know what was happening, but I trust--as with my other experiences along this journey--that all will one day reveal itself.

* * * * *

My life has taken me full-circle in so many magical ways.

Throughout that first trip fifteen years ago, I felt so guided and protected. Everything that could go wrong did, but I figured it out and had strangers supporting me, recognizing with gratitude the magic of the universe.

Fifteen years later and I’m traveling on a similar journey. Everything has been divinely guided, joyful, and effortless. Having gone through my own spiritual journey and strengthening my connection to myself and the Universe has been instrumental to growth and maturity. I’m not on my own this time, but I never really was then, either.

Life has not been easy the past fifteen years. I’m putting it lightly because there’s now a lightness within my heart. There had been so much pain and struggle and suffering, and also the overcoming of it. My heart is so full of happiness, and I’m so thankful for everything that brought me here.

Full circle.


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