Thanks to everyone who wrote me here or on Facebook. I’ve fed the snake, and I’ve got some good ideas of where I could take my projects next that I think some readers will like. I suppose it’s time to answer a few questions about my secretive trip to France.
Kenneth Hite asks:
While you were in France, did you go looking for the Rue d’Auseil? Or Averoigne? Or both? Or better yet, did you pretend to yourself that you did?
Strangely enough, I didn’t. I decided to keep my trip contained within a particular area – spending hours upon hours carting myself around the countryside in trains isn’t my idea of fun – which meant that I ended up wandering about Normandy and Brittany rather than heading south to Auvergne and Clermont-Ferrand, which is where I’d place Averoigne. Besides, I think Averoigne might have more to do with Smith’s internal world than a geographic location he never visited.
All in all, I had a week in Paris with side trips to Chartres and Versailles, two days at Mont-St.-Michel, one at St. Malo, one at Carnac, one at Rouen, and two at Bayeux. I probably should have switched off one of the Bayeux days for one at Carnac or Rouen, but I had a great time wherever I went.
And I never saw a hill steep enough in Paris that I could ever imagine it to be the source of the Rue d’Auseil. A friend did point me to the Court of the Dragon from Robert W. Chambers, and I happened across the gravestones of Baudelaire and de Maupassant sheerly by accident, which gave me a good dose of the weird nonetheless. The fact that it was a warm but gloomy October was also quite fascinating. I’ll have to use that wild night of wandering about the ramparts of Mont-St.-Michel, through the gloom and the wind, for inspiration at some point.
Did you go in quest of esoteric locales in France (Nicholas Flamel’s house and tombstone in Paris, etc.)?
It was a mixture of all sorts of places: famous historical sites, esoteric locales, cathedrals and fortresses, and whatever I happened to wander past on the way to them. I stumbled across Flamel’s tombstone in the Musée National du Moyen Age, and I ate dinner at Flamel’s house, which has since been turned into a rather nice restaurant. I dropped by the local Martinist chapter a few times, but I didn’t go in, not thinking they’d appreciate someone who spent so much time with grimoires. I walked to the Petit Trianon, not only for its historic significance but also to see the site of the Moberly-Jourdain incident. At Mont-St.-Michel, I came across the supposed home of Tiphaine Raganuel, a 14th century astrologer.
The highlight of the trip was the megalithic site of Carnac. The site is known for its long lines of standing stones, but it turned out to be a nexus of many prehistoric monuments in a small area. I’d been to Stonehenge and Avebury, but both are smaller sites with more tourist attention. At Carnac, I spent four or five hours wandering about menhirs and tumuli and dolmens, at times without a living soul about. It was quite an exhilarating experience.
Also, there was what occurred in the north transept of Chartres Cathedral, but that will be told at a much later time.
I don’t have the energy for a full-fledged travelogue, so feel free to ask any questions you like.