Few medieval periods have attracted as much fascination as 12th century Languedoc in Southern France, where mysterious new spiritual and artistic impulses arose whose echoes linger to the present day. In the High Middle Ages this beautiful region was home to multiple esoteric streams including the Troubadours, the Cathars, the Templars, and the legends of Mary Magdalene.

We see the emergence of the Troubadours, heralds of romantic and courtly love whose origins remain something of an enigma. Were they inspired by the Sufis of Andalusia or did the Count of Bordeaux, the first troubadour, draw on other complementary sources? Certainly they created a culture of high artistic sophistication permeated by erotic mysticism. Their ‘queen’ was Eleanor of Aquitaine who brought their influence to the royal courts of both Paris and London.

No one can visit Languedoc without being moved by the brilliant but tragic experience of the Cathars, Gnostic Christians probably connected to the Holy Religion of Light that had its origin in the teachings of Mani, the 3rd century Mesopotamian prophet who spoke of the unity of Christianity, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism. At one point, this first world religion was practiced in an enormous arc from Southern Europe to South East China, a largely neglected phenomenon that can truly be described as a hidden tradition. Our Quest will delve deeply into the mysteries of the Cathars and their beliefs.

And of course we think of the Knights Templar whose enormous influence grew out of the Crusades and whose noble mission made them one of the most powerful forces throughout Europe until their suppression a hundred years after the Cathars. The stories and myths of Mary Magdalene also permeate southwest France, beginning with the tale of Mary’s boat washed ashore at Saintes Maries de la Mer, the point from which French Crusaders departed for the Holy Land and where today Europe’s Gypsies gather for their annual festival.

Our Quest will meet in Carcassonne, the most beautifully preserved medieval city in France in a region famed for its wine, its culture, its landscape and castles, and its sunshine. We are fortunate to be joined by speakers deeply imbued with the spirit and history of the region. As always, the conference will include music and art that evokes this brilliant and poignant time. We will hear the sacred chants and songs of Languedoc and taste some of the music of the Troubadours performed on the instruments of their time.

And we will journey to Montségur, the Cathar stronghold that still exerts a strong grip on the imagination, and the chateau of Puivert where troubadours inspired and entertained the nobility with their subtle and elegant art. After the conference, the way beckons either south to Catalonia with its wild beauty and hilltop villages, or east to Provence, the Rhône Valley, and the unspoiled nature of the Camargue. Each of these areas is filled with rich and extensive spiritual history that gives us yet another link in the golden chain of esoteric wisdom that our Quests have now followed for twenty years.

We hope you’ll join us.