By the time we reached the car from Templštejn, it was already early afternoon and after a quick stop for a late lunch, it was pretty much already dark. So we headed towards Mikulov on the border with Austria where in the morning the plan was to climb up Holy Hill.
Mikulov is a beautiful town at the southern end of the Pavlov Hills and in the wine growing region (Palava is probably my favorite Czech wine). The town was founded sometime in the 12th Century and is today dominated by a fine Chateau at the center of the town standing on a rocky hill called Zameckÿ vrch. It was originally a Romanesque castle that was rebuilt in Gothic form and then as a Renaissance chateau and is now a museum. The town center is made up of cobbled streets and small houses. Mikulov is also famous for having had the most important Jewish community in Moravia prior to World War 2 and there is a large Jewish cemetery in the town. It is a pretty town and full of things to do and visit.
However, my objective was the hill forming the eastern boundary of Mikulov called Svatÿ Kopeček – or Holy Hill. I had never climbed it in all the visits I had made to the town over the years – frankly, I was too lazy to climb 330m of Jurassic limestone! The hill is holy because it is a pilgrimage site that had 7 stations of the cross and a chapel at the top built to thank God for saving Mikulov from the Plague by Cardinal Francis of Dietrichstein (1570-1636), Bishop of Olomouc. According to the Town’s website the history of the hill and the buildings on it is rather difficult to reconstruct,
The first building was probably a chapel dedicated to the protectors against the plague of St. Šebestiánovi. Its foundation stone was consecrated on July 2, 1623 and the whole building was completed in 1630. At that time, a Stations of the Cross with seven chapels representing seven passion stops were probably already built. Accurate reconstruction of the original Stations of the Cross is very difficult today. It can be assumed that in addition to the Chapel of St. Sebastian , bell tower and chapel of the Holy Sepulcherit also included chapels having the order numbers 1, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 today.
In this form, the appearance of Holy Hill remained unchanged until the mid-18th century. In the years 1750-1776 was then built seven more chapels, which was at that time filled with a mandatory number – 14 stops. The whole new Stations of the Cross were solemnly consecrated on 1 September 1776. Thus, the complex got its final appearance, which since this year comprises a total of 17 masonry buildings. Unfortunately, the completed complex served only 10 years on Svatý kopeček. During the reign of Emperor Joseph II. In 1786 the Chapel of Sts. The Stations of the Cross, together with her, ceased to serve the Stations of the Cross. The whole set of buildings was destined for liquidation and was saved from the final destruction by the fact that it was a private property of the Dietrichstein family.
He decided to preserve the buildings and use them for private purposes. However, the whole area began to deteriorate. It was not until Augustine Bartenstein came to the office of the Provost of Mikulov that the pilgrimage site was restored to faded glory. In the years 1862-1865 the entire Stations of the Cross including the Chapel of Sts. Šebestiána and belfry repaired. On the Feast of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary (8 September) was the Chapel of St. Saint Sebastian consecrated again. Since 1865, therefore, two traditions were united – the Stations of the Cross to the Holy Hill and the pilgrimage to the Mikulov Black Madonna of Loreto. Anna (today’s Dietrichstein tomb).
The tradition of Marian pilgrimages, begun in 1865, when the statue of the Mikulov Madonna is brought to the Holy Hill, was interrupted only once, in 1938-1945, when pilgrimages were banned. At the end of the Second World War, the entire Way of the Cross was greatly damaged, but immediately after the end of the war work began on its reconstruction. Thus the first postwar pilgrimage to the Holy Hill took place in September 1946. This year, the property rights over the pilgrimage site were transferred to the collegiate chapter of St. Wenceslas in Mikulov, the church became not only spiritual but also responsible owner.
But, the Bishop probably had another motive as well when creating the way of the cross and chapel on the hill. He was able to use the hill then known as Tanzburg Hill and rename it to Holy Hill. Tanzburg Hill (Tance – to dance) was actually known for its long pagan history and legends say that the name originates from the dancing performed on the hill to celebrate nature and fertility. It still has a reputation for its strong Earth energies and for an ability to heal and bring fertility. Although it is hard to find much detail about the pagan past of the hill, it seems that it had a long history and a reputation that includes witches sabbats and even a legend about a dragon and a princess! So the Bishop did what the church was very good at – christianize a pagan holy site.
As we climbed the hill, you immediately notice the white Jurassic limestone. It is hard and quite angular making it difficult to walk. Many of the stations of the cross occupy recesses or small caves in the limestone. It’s quite a climb actually and although it was a beautiful sunny day with a blue sky and not a cloud in sight, the wind howled and froze any uncovered flesh. The steep climb though keeps you warm. It also brought home the idea of dragging your own cross up a hill to your death…. so it serves its purpose. Every step of the way is blessed with the most amazing views of the town and at the top, the vista is amazing.
Of course, the Chapel and the bell tower were both securely locked an inaccessible. But honestly I wasn’t there for them. I got out my diving rods and started hunting for the energy center. It wasn’t at the bell tower as many websites suggest but actually a bit further behind it and the Chapel. We sat for a while taking in the peace, the energy, and the amazing views. I meditated there for a while but then resumed my search. I soon discovered a rock outcrop in the middle of a shallow depression on the edge of the hill. My rods crossed over the stones whichever way I approached them and I was soon sat on the shiny surface of the rock. I could feel the pulsating beat of the Earth’s heart.
It was then that I noticed that the stones seemed to crop out in the center of a circular depression. Was I imagining it? The back of the circle seemed to be natural outcrop but as it turned around in front of the stones, it seemed to me there was deliberately placed rocks. The more I looked and examined with my Geologist’s hat on, it seemed to me there was a circle here with the stone and center of the energy in the center of the circle. I couldn’t convince my companion though.
I again meditated and engaged in some mental ritual. I was rewarded with images of swords – an image that I used to see in my late teens and early twenties and one that I physically saw on the Island of Eigg in Scotland (story is recounted in Inner Journeys: Explorations of the Soul). I was amazed and surprised by these images which were vivid and full color. It seemed to me that the sword represented a calling of some kind – an idea I explored in meditation for a while. I then beckoned for my companion to come down from the seat she had sat on to bask in the energy and views and to come to the center of the energies. She was a bit doubting to say the least until she too sat on that rock.
When you find this sort of a place and this sort of energy, you never want to leave. You could be content to stay there snuggled up in Mother Earth’s pulsating energy forever if allowed. There is power there. I wanted to see where the energy went – I was expecting a line you see. But, starting from the stone – the center – the rod sent me in a circular motion around and out from the rocks – a sort of Fibonacci curve shape! I shared this with my companion who remains a tad skeptical of dowsing and energies in general. No matter which way I looked at it, this energy was not a line going from one pole to the other but a vortex with a spiral shape around it. At this point, I was getting some funny looks from other folks on the Hill – it was really busy! – and so I decided to sit again and take it all in.
Eventually, we ran out of time and needed to make the descent again but vowing to return. I had found what I was seeking – real Earth energies and I had connected with it and seen images and gained guidance that would, since it is reputed to be a healing energy, give me a troubled night…..I won’t go into what form that took but by morning, I realized that I had faced something I had found shameful in my past and finally recognized it as an issue and started on resolving it. It was a healing. My companion told me that she had now the energy to start her week at a challenging job.
We had one quick stop to make – a quick recce for another trip perhaps and more of that in the next installment.
In the evening and alone, I was able to google for information on the hill. I was particularly interested in whether my impressions of the stones as the center of the energies was correct and whether there was a circle of power there. The first thing I did was go to Google Maps in Earth mode and zero in on those rocks and there it was – a near perfect circle around the rocks just as I had seen there….. I am convinced there is something there of a more ancient nature. I then stumbled upon a blog of a Czech person who highlighted mineral deposits around the country and had visited the Hill in search of Calcite crystals. He had taken a pendulum and he remarked at the strong Earth energies and how his pendulum had gone crazy – not by the bell tower – but on top of a small rocky outcrop. Could it be? Yes – there was a photo there with him, pendulum and smile sitting atop the very same rocks. Validation?