Tarascon has a special story of the Tarasque. The Tarasque was a fearsome and legendary dragon who brought nothing but trouble to the local villages of Southern France. The king sent out knights to slay the dragon, yet none succeeded.
It was none other then Sainte Martha, sister of Lazarus and Mary of Bethany (also known as Mary Magdalene) that changed all this. She charmed the dragon with her songs, leading the tamed dragon back to the city. However, the people of the city were still afraid and killed the dragon in the night.
This Beauty and the Beast story is a powerful reminder of the dragon that lives within us. The dragon is a powerful symbol of our spiritual powers, it’s is known in Asian cultures, and in Mesoamerica it is Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent.
We will take this time with the energy of the dragon to work with the energetic forces of the dragon within ourselves. What do we fear?
What inner beasts are we trying to tame? Are we trying to tame? Are we trying to slay the beast or simply love it? Can we hold those fears and inner-monsters in compassion, just as we do the parts we see as divine? As Sainte Martha showed us, it is all divine.
Crossing the Rhone River, we go from Tarascon to Baucaire. This place has a dragon of it’s own, known as La Drac. It seems to like lavender sales ladies. But we’ve spent enough time with dragons for the day and this one hasn’t been seen for centuries, so we’ll leave it in peace.
What we will do here is visit the Beaucaire Castle. Beaucaire and it’s castle have strong connections to the Cathar people who once fought so hard to keep their way of life. Here we will begin to understand the story of these people from the 12th Century, people known simply as the “Bons Hommes” or “Good Men”. It is a sad history, as the Cathars were wiped out in the Catholic Inquisition. Yet, Beaucaire held strong in the fight and was a turning point in the career of Simon de Montfort, the crusade leader.
Our afternoon will be spent in Beaucaire, exploring the castle and what the town has to offer.