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"The brain is, in essence, a musical instrument—taking bits of material from a world of chaos, then shaping and modulating them into one graceful, lyrical stream."
-- [Stuart Isacoff, in The Wall Street Journal, "This Is Your Brain on Music," 12/18/2009]


Basye is a hamlet in the Appalachian foothills of Virginia, very near the West Virginia border. Its immediate neighbor, only a mile and a half away, is the village of Orkney Springs. As is the case with Sedona AZ and Asheville NC - two vortex centers - Basye and Orkney Springs are places to which people are drawn "somehow." This site is about that. We first encountered both the energies and the questions about them when we attended a symphony orchestra music festival in Orkney Springs back in the 1990s. When we started this, it was tongue-in-cheek -- but as we got deeper into the experience, the unique setting and histories, we have revised our own skepticism. Something is going on -- and what it is, is more interesting and more profound than Sedona-style vortex energy.  

images/stories/tomdrive200.jpgThis site. The Basye Vortex website is about the mystery of natural energies and, ultimately, about the nature of reality and our potential by respect to it. It is not about the Basye family, after whom the settlement was named -- although we do look at the derivations and the family history. But just to be clear: we have no relation to the Basyes or to any of the original families of the Basye area. Nor does this site pretend to be even a poor history or travel guide to Basye - Orkney Springs. The site was created, in 2002, mostly because no one else had done it, but it didn't happen by accident: we've spent a lifetime studying cognitive science -- that is, the nature of perception, the quantum universe, as well as mythology and spirituality, Tibetan Buddhism, sufism, Judaism, Kabbalah, gnosticism, Indian mysticism and the ancient Egyptian religion. 

[image: Tom, official vortex cat. Gentle and unpretentious; aware of subtle energies; adaptable and noble. In other words about as good as we ever hope to be ... Tom can be reached at email: javapapillon |at| yahoo dot com. To expedite matters, he may have to channel his answers through an imperfect human intermediary. But that's an ancient tradition among the priestesses of the Egyptian cat-goddess Bast.]

Saint-Sulpice and St. Germain des Prés. Our enterprise, Studios Saint-Sulpice, was named after the now-famous Baroque-era cathedral in Paris. In the mid-1990s we created a whimsical Geocities website devoted to Saint-Sulpice, and we were convinced then that Saint-Sulpice was a vortex, and referred to it via the French word "tourbillon." The same word, as we were to learn later, was used by René Descartes, the mathematician-philosopher who conceived (or reintroduced) vortex energies in the 1600s, to describe the substance of which space was composed and the force responsible for the motion of astronomical bodies. Later the relevance of Saint-Sulpice and the neighboring, equally famous church of St-Germain des Prés, became apparent in a way we had not anticipated. 

"Vortex." Vortices have a scientific definition, but as used by the so-called "New Age," they are natural spiritual or psychic energies believed to be palpable at certain places on the planet. Part of the mystery is how, if such vortices indeed exist, how it is that some manmade structures seem to amplify or even generate energy that is supposed to be a projection of nature? The cathedrals of Saint-Sulpice and St. Germain des Prés are examples of the phenomenon, as are Stonehenge and the Great Pyramid. A clue to the answer may be that both our symbols and our experience of vortex energies are embedded in human consciousness, in perception itself and that the explanation is not ever going to be entirely a material one -- i.e., Sedona's vortex energies cannot be explained by the iron ore and purported magnetic profile of the rocks as physical entities.

"Are vortices real?" We think so, given a certain set of qualifying statements, but we are not "promoting" (see also our FAQ on this question). We are too intellectually curious to be believers, never mind evangelists. We think of ourselves as investigators; ones with both a scientific and a mystical interest in the phenomena in question. Although we find substance in some New Age beliefs, we are not New Agers, either. We think many theories about location-based psychic vortex energy are very shaky, or worse -- the only thing that is for certain, is that people have these experiences and the phenomena should be better understood. We think this effort matters in principle. 

"Singularities." Although it is a cliché these days to say so, humankind's understanding of the world is evolving at a mind-bending pace. But it doesn't have to be just a cocktail party platitude: scientifically oriented innovators such as Ray Kurzweil have quantified the pace of change. In Kurzweil's case, it is related to a noumenal yet objective threshold event, a radical transformation in consciousness he calls "the singularity" -- a term brought into popular culture largely through the work of physicists such as Stephen Hawking, who use it to refer to the boundary conditions around black holes and to the incomprehensible changes occurring at the beginning of our universe, a.k.a., the Big Bang. (Read Kurzweil's promise of $40 trillion to you.) Kurzweil's singularity differs from that of the term in physics, because the former refers to an effect of accelarating technological change, not specifically to the condition of matter and energy in the universe.

Although humankind used to think it knew, today, with the increasingly expanding role granted to the brain in the fabrication of human experience, we do not know whether the world is "physical reality" or mental construct, or -- more to the point -- what the difference is, really, between the two. Our conceptual frameworks are get trapped in circular references. If chemical brain states compose perceptions, then qualities of the world are states of mind, and we can honestly begin all over again the project of understanding. World-stuff is mind-stuff -- which, more or less, is what eastern philosophy has been saying since its inception. 

Today, the west is catching on, bit by bit. 


Religion and science. The scientific philosopher Karl Popper used to say that there are two kinds of truths: those already proven false, and those not yet proven false. This notion was recently recirculated by the wickedly brilliant investor-philosopher Nassim Taleb in Fooled by Randomness. Brain science and quantum physics have redefined the universe fundamentally, not just in details, and sometimes laws don't even need to be proved false in order to be appear no longer to be relevant. Since everything, from the most objective reality to the most subjective intuitive state, is merely an organization of fundamental energies, old philosophical disputes about whether everything is ultimately subjective or objective, "inner" or "outer," are no longer useful. We've moved on, although some people haven't noticed. 

The problem with religion, as a participant in this conversation (and with the evolution of human understanding is general), is that it is, largely, finished with the inquiry; since religion believes it has found the truth, it is only concerned with bringing people closer to it (see our page on Descartes and how the whole vortex concept was created in order to appease church authorities and make astronomy and cosmology acceptable). The abandonment of the effort to keep asking and overturning cherished beliefs is the explicit definition of "dogma" -- truth that cannot change. Religion is patiently waiting for the world to catch up to its eternal truths -- but meantime in science, the very foundational concepts are melting like Dali's clocks. 

We mention that because vortex energies -- or beliefs about them -- seem to be equally annoying to both science and religion. Science is data-centric and doesn't like "beliefs" that resist empirical verification; religion likes them, but wants to specify which ones we should have. Vortices offend science because they suffer from a dearth of verifiable data and they bother religion because they present just another aspect of "secular confusion" and the intellectual promiscuity of the New Age. To be noted, we are not scientists in our day job (international consultants, writers, artists and computer scientists, yes) and we don't have a religious agenda either -- but based on reading, we think that vortex experiences are both scientifically interesting and encounters of a potentially religious nature. Hence, we are not trying to undermine religion by means of New Age concepts (we've been accused of that). Quite the opposite, we think that the great religions can primarily be traced back, not to a human craving for security, or even to a cynical manipulation of society by the priesthood (the two standard explanations for religion by atheists), but to an authentic, primal and often overwhelming encounter with something that transcends human understanding -- and that is then identified, by the experiencer, with the creative force of the universe. 

So we will be happy to disagree with both scientists and theologians: religion at core is not a matter of belief. No need to get so serious about it... as Nicholas Nassim Taleb said: 

Scientists don’t know what they are talking about when they talk about religion. Religion has nothing to do with belief, and I don’t believe it has any negative impact on people’s lives outside of intolerance. Why do I go to church? It’s like asking, why did you marry that woman? You make up reasons, but it’s probably just smell. I love the smell of candles. It’s an aesthetic thing. [from article, "Nassim Nicholas Taleb: Prophet of Boom and Doom," by Bryan Appleyard in The Times (London), June 1, 2008.]

The layered reading. Some of the most powerful approaches for understanding the spiritual multiverse in which we find ourselves, and the "intersection of the natural and the sacred," come from deeply pious systems of interpreting Scripture. You can find these in every part of the Judeo-Christian tradition (and beyond it). For instance, Christianity has its gnostics, and Christian thinkers today are absorbing the significance of the Nag Hammadi texts, discovered in a jar in Egypt in the middle of the last century. These texts in our opinion do not contradict the Gospels but amplify them, giving them further resonance for meditative understanding. In the same vein, Kabbalah (the Jewish Kabbalah, meaning "tradition," as distinct from the renegade occult systems borrowing from it, which are usually spelled with a "C" or a "Q") is first and foremost quite simply a mystical approach to interpreting the Torah, a way of viewing the holy text as layered, so that the literal meaning is merely the visible surface of the deeper levels -- the symbolical, allegorical and images/stories/confitemini200.jpgmystical. 

Torah Readings. This way of viewing the literal meaning of the Bible as a projection or surface of a more substantial structure of energies -- is quite relevant to "vortexes," because some natural landscapes and manmade structures serve to project energies that are not accessible at a distance: we need to be within their physical and psychic aura. Call it the sphere of presence: to access the deeper meaning we have to examine the literal meaning meditatively. From the starting point of focusing on what a text actually means, Kabbalistical interpretation moves organically into the layers of associations and reaches toward the mystical essence that equals liberation. Similarly, Islamic mystics use the term "Marifa" to describe direct knowing, that is, the knowing that perceives into essences...

If there seems to be a Judeo-Christian bias to this site, that is mostly "parallax" -- an effect of the reality that many of the power spots we consider are located in predominantly Christian regions or have Christian symbolical connections which should not be ignored. The inverse of that acknowledgment is that "Christian symbols" are not, in fact entirely Christian only, but -- as has been established through scholarship -- they have in turn acquired aspects of their meaning, if not essences, from preceding traditions. Statues of Isis holding Horus were assigned to represent Mary and Jesus; Christmas is the winter solstice celebration which represented eternal life living through the darkest part of the year and then rising again with the return of the light; and so on. This historical layering is everywhere around us. 

The visionary divide. In Orkney Springs VA,  the Episcopal Church is in effect husbanding the heritage of native Americans who lived in the region a very long time ago. The Episcopalian retreat center is, it seems, built on top of an ancient re-awakening vortex. So the presence of the native cultures and the forces they found sacred can still be experienced as a layer of the spiritual experiences people report having in Orkney Springs. The Episcopal Church is the perfect steward -- yet it would not be unreasonable to imagine that there must be a natural partition, a sort of synaptic gap yet to be bridged, between Christian theology on the one hand and vortex energies on the other, colored by native American visions of the sacred. These seem to be emanated by the earth, waters, and karst structures of Orkney Springs, concentrated in the very stones of which the Cathedral Shrine of the Transfiguration, under the direction of The Rev. Edmund Lee Woodward, was built.

Cathedral with Its Own Meridian. This is covered elsewhere on this site, but we should say a word about the cathedral here, to explain what first piqued our curiousity...

The Église de Saint-Sulpice is a Baroque church in the center of the Left Bank (the "6th Arrondissement," otherwise known as Saint-Germain des Prés) of Paris, midway between the neighboring church of St-Germain des Prés -- a structure with an equally remarkable history and presence -- and the Luxembourg Gardens. The Saint-Sulpice cathedral was built in the seventeenth C. on top of an older church. It is alleged by occultists that this older church was in turn constructed near the site of an ancient temple of Isis and directly on the ruins of a temple dedicated to the Black Virgin (probably the same temple is referred to since Isis and the Black Virgin are closely related if not identical).

Saint-Sulpice is considered by New Agers to be a global energy center - emanating a certain deep spiritual frequency, specifically one that heals, binds together opposites, knows matter to its foundation ("prima mater") and sustains feminine energies. The emblem of these functions in symbology is the second trump of the Tarot deck, the High Priestess, also called "Isis Veiled." The figure is seated on a throne and holds the book of knowledge on her lap. The famous mismatched towers cohering in the same edifice somehow symbolize this very aspect of knowledge of the foundations. If the foregoing is true, Saint-Sulpice plays an important role in the planetary energyimages/stories/ruegaranciere_160.jpg body and many things in and about this edifice - its design and artworks, from the towers to the gnomon and the Delacroix frescoes whose selection goes beyond coincidence with reference to these themes - become more interesting and are cast in a new light. [Image: the bulbous back of the church and the rue Garancière.] The church marks, by means of a copper strip set flush in the floor, the "Paris meridian" (actually, the "Sulpice meridian" -- the Paris Meridian, to make things confusing, runs 300 feet to the east, behind the church..). The Greenwich Prime Meridian is the "line" by reference to which local time is set throughout the world, but until a little more than a century ago, the Paris Meridian used to fulfill this function. Due to oxidation and for occult reasons, the Saint-Sulpice metal strip is known as "The Rose Line." The practical use of meridians, other than for establishing time zones, is for mapping, navigation and for astronomical measurement. The occult function of meridians has to do with spiritual orientation and focus, the spiritual zero meridian being in the Holy Land.

Saint-Sulpice is a stone's throw from the church of St-Germain des Prés, the oldest abbey in Paris, and from the most famous cafés in the city. Brasserie Lipp, Café de Flore, Les Deux Magots have been frequented by celebrities, artists and writers, from Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir to Lauren Bacall, Johnny Depp and Kate Moss. All of that justifies a partial focus on the artistic and cultural "moment" and momentum of which Saint-Sulpice is a part, and which is as it were embedded in our subject (subtle energies, their essence and meaning) in general. Alas our original, whimsical web site, dedicated to Saint-Sulpice, where you could read about Salons, French plays, marivaudage and all, has been taken down due to Yahoo's elimination of the geocities franchise (for which it had paid a ridiculous $1bn plus in the internet bubble days) -- what a travesty all around. We hope to rebuild the site eventually...

Today of course "everyone knows" the Église Saint-Sulpice, due to the popularity of Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code. The church is now the object of a high level of interest, much of which is annoying to the church authorities because they perceive it to be misguided, worldly and certainly based on false doctrines originally hatched in Holy Blood, Holy Grail (a bestseller published in the early 1980s), and borrowed by the even more popular Dan Brown. Most readers of The DaVinci Code are not aware of the degree to which the locations of the Saint-Sulpice cathedral and its older sister, St-Germain des Prés, have been involved in gnostic and mystical history practically since the founding of Lutece (the city of Paris) itself. But more about that later...

Visitors also know Saint-Sulpice (the church itself) for its architecture (mismatched Baroque towers), music (the Saint-Sulpice organ is world-known), patrons (from Victor Hugo to Catherine Deneuve) and mystical artefacts and artworks. Picasso's mistress and model Dora Maar attended images/stories/stsulantcarre300.jpgSaint-Sulpice until her final days. [image: the cathedral, 19th C. print by Villeret, from the Wikimedia Commons.] The artworks in the church include three murals by the guiding light of romantic art, Eugène Delacroix, and among these is his "Jacob Wrestling the Angel"  - an image that speaks, in dramatic terms, of the meeting of the human and the divine. From that theme, then, we have taken a hint for our task here, which is to serve, to the degree we are able, as "concierge" - i.e., candle-bearer - and to shed light on the esoteric aspects of the Basye area and Shenandoah Valley. You may contact us via email.

We are pleased to say that our choice of name predates the publicity generated by recent revelations. Since 1995, Studios Saint-Sulpice has developed and worked on many content-centered web sites. Our original site, which looked quite "web-antique," was just recently taken down. It was devoted to French 17th & 18th C. thought, moeurs, art and theater.

As mentioned Saint-Sulpice houses a great masterpiece of romantic painting,  Jacob Wrestling the Angel, by Delacroix. That work is a glyph of the search for understanding vortices -- like an encrypted file containing so much of relevance to the theme of how a human recipient can become sensitive to higher vibrations.

Like others, we have become interested in these phenomena in the Shenandoah Valley, the historical and cultural "interfaces" they provide and, on a larger scale, the whole matter of the "planetary grid" (so-called) of occult influences. Is Basye connected to other global vortex centers through some kind of planetary network of energies? - it seems so and if it is, what does this connectedness mean? What do we know about that network?

The Global Network. In the last two decades, many best-selling books (The DaVinci Code was totally imitative and derivative in terms of its message; The Templar Revelation and Holy Blood, Holy Grail are far more original sources) have pointed to a global movement that is revising our understanding of Christianity and also of femininity. Cover articles in Newsweek, Time and the like, have brought awareness of the subject to a wider audience. Hence the relationship of the energies of Basye (and the seven springs, call them the "seven sisters" a.k.a. the Pleiades, of Orkney Springs, VA) to goddess-worship - both as a historical and contemporary fact - seems even more relevant at the moment. Intriguing questions abound. Why, for instance, were the Senedo of the Valley (if indeed it was this mysterious tribe) known as "The Daughters of the Stars"? We also think there is a relationship between the Basye mystery, broadly stated, and recent speculations about Christian esoteric traditions, the Templars, Mary Magdalen and the legend of the Holy Grail; and though Basye is far from Europe and the Holy Land, it seems that on inner, occult levels, it is related to the foregoing in astonishing ways. So the major focus of this web site is the connection, established on a level of subtle energies, of the Basye region to Mary Magdalen and the cult of the Black Virgin; to ancient Egyptian mysticism, the goddess Isis and her dark sister Nephthys; the Paris churches of Saint-Sulpice and St-Germain; and, finally, to other recognized vortex centers in places like Peru, Sedona, Arizona and Egypt.

Image: The family of the author, who is in the middle. My mother's nose did not look like Dylan Thomas's. It's the sunlight. Honest... ;) Though we are a family of poets, writers and artists.


 Copyrights: © 2002-2009 Studios St-Sulpice; All Rights Reserved unless otherwise noted.

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