Surprise Discovery Of Magdalenian Mega-Art On The Aix Mountain: Majestic Open Secret Of The Lost Civilization (cont.)
By William Glyn-Jones
Sainte-Victoire as Category 2 Sacred Site : the Carving
The big mystery concerns not simply the leonine profile that is visible from this perspective, but something else, something which appears to be of manmade provenance, and has yet drunk in the rich evening wine of three billion sunsets. I'll take you back now to the moment when this first became apparent to me.
The previous day I had read the delightful concluding part of Paulo Coelho's wonderful super-selling novel about an Andalucían shepherd, The Alchemist, a story that encourages us to journey into life's great adventures by paying attention to serendipitous omens. Like old Don Quixote, I had been affected by reading this romance, but not in a way that made me want to put on a war helmet and joust with giants. Coelho's book is about fulfilling one's Soul's desire or Personal Legend, which in the case of its protagonist, the Andalucían shepherd Santiago, involves a journey to see the Great Pyramids of Egypt. Later that day, during a road trip to San Tropez, Mont Sainte-Victoire (which at that time I had never heard of) was pointed out to me as being famous because of something to do with Cezanne. So when, the next day, I opened up an English magazine about France in general in the middle and saw there a double page spread devoted to the mountain and the artist, it seemed to me like just such a significant coincidence. The coincidence itself was not the most extraordinary, but I was primed to take note of even the more subtle signs. If you've never heard of something, then suddenly you hear about it more than once from sources not connected by basic causality, prick up thine ears. So anyway, apt for adventure with ears up-pricked, I surveyed the photos in this magazine article and the general sphinx-like profile was immediately obvious. Then for some reason - whether due to an inner prompting or just plain good luck - it seemed that looking for more evidence of this leonine epiphany beyond the simple outline would be quite natural, yet I must have really felt that I was doing this on the most outside off-chance, just playing, because when I actually saw what I was looking for I felt a tingling mixture of deep surprise, delight, bewilderment, awe and fascination:-
Right at the part of the simulacrum where the face should be I saw, smiling knowingly back at me... the regal delineations a lion's face.
Was this common knowledge? Why didn't the article mention it? Was it a case of one of those things that people haven't noticed, despite it being openly visible, simply because it is so far beyond what they expect to see? Were these lines formed from bushes randomly spaced, or were there actual cuts into the rock? And, Alchemist message taken on board and still influencing me, some part of me wondered perhaps a little quixotically whether I should also ask: was the rediscovery and revelation of this treasure part of my own "Personal Legend"?
I began an intense period of research, which did turn up the odd passing mention of the lion profile, but nowhere was the lion face spoken of. This, I decided, was left for me to do. If the lines were produced by cuts into the rock, I knew that the face took the mountain from Devereux's Category 1 sacred site - the recognisable natural form - to Category 2 - one enhanced by human action. Soon I would realise it was also an ideal Category 3 sacred site.
Going closer here in the image below we lose the desired angle, so the face is less clear (the eye indentation in particular being less clear), but what is definitely clarified is that we are not talking about a few randomly placed bushes just happening to cast the simulacra of a lion's face from a distance, but rather we are dealing with an actual cut into the rock. It can be seen here that the line of the mouth forms a well-defined ledge quite distinct from the lighter pocks on the surrounding rock face.
An archaeologist with knowledge of rock working who was also a capable rock climber might be able to shed light on the question of whether this is just an astounding coincidence - simulacra upon simulacra - or whether, as seems far more likely to me, it is the result of human action, that is if the 15,000 years of rain and ice have not removed all traces of such evidence. Either way, the image of the lion face is simply there.
If, as seems to me to be the case, this is a human-made enhancement, then for the reasons I've presented already the Magdalenians are, as far as I'm concerned, the most likely sculptors. If so, then we can only marvel at the daring and skill involved, the herculean commitment, the sheer creative genius of the concept, and the wisdom, from the Hermetic point of view, the alchemy of place. As an art historian will quickly tell you, perception of works of art is embedded in culture. Strip away all modernity and imagine how the hunter-gatherer people of the Lost Civilization saw this, then translate it back to the modern age, and the result has all the majesty of Atlantis.
And if it's just natural erosion, even then this would seem to be a coincidence with something transcendent about it.