Original information and clues: Alaise, south of Besançon, in southern France
In 1994, whilst researching places which could be significant in terms of earth energy, I came across an article about a Frenchman called Xavier Guichard (Hitching, 1978). Guichard was not a professional archaeologist, but rather the Director of Police in Paris; and an acquaintance of George Simenon, who is said to have used him as the inspiration for his police chief character in the Inspector Maigret stories. Guichard was also Vice-President of the Prehistoric Society of France and, in 1911 had been researching the origins of ancient European place names. He came to the conclusion there were three basic ones, one of which was Alesia. In 1936 he published his findings in a book called “Alesia Eleusis. Enquête sur les origines de la civilisation européenne” i.e. ‘Investigation into the origins of European Civilization’. His investigations suggested a link between prehistoric sites based on the word Alesia and its derivations e.g. Alaise, Ales and Alles. The book was a limited edition and most copies were lost in bombing campaigns of the Second World War, when Guichard also lost his life. More people have heard about this book than have actually seen or read it and, because new sources often repeat information, errors have inevitably been introduced and replicated; and, in some circles, the book has achieved cult status.
Guichard believed the name ‘Alesia’ had been corrupted into many forms: from Eleusis on the Nile Delta, to Kalisz in Poland, Alessano in Italy and La Aliseda in Spain. As he researched these places and place names more closely, he found two common features: landscaped hills overlooking rivers; and a man-made well of salt or mineral water. They were thought to be sites where ancient travellers, including pilgrims, would stop and drink the life-giving waters. He found more than 400 sites in France alone, which seemed to be placed in a vast geodetic system, centered on a remote ancient site called Alaise, near Besançon.
Guichard plotted 24 lines, of which four, were oriented towards solar phenomenon i.e. the equinoxes and solstices. To him this suggested a carefully constructed design that would have required a mastery of both astronomy and planning. Indeed, he believed the system was not only prehistoric, but actually dated from the last Ice Age about 12,000 years ago. He based this conclusion on the observation that place names with these derivations ceased to occur in locations (latitudes) that had been covered by ice during the last Ice Age.
Later research and insights:
Many readers of this material, including Francis Hitching (Hitching, 1978), have seen a similarity between Guichard’s place-name derivations based on Alesia; and the English word ‘ley’, which Alfred Watkins (Watkins, 1925) had used to define the lines that went across the English countryside, joining up sacred places and key features in the landscape. Hitching concluded that fundamentally, both Alfred Watkins and Xavier Guichard were in agreement. They believed the ancient sites of early man did not happen by chance, but were placed carefully in a developing pattern.
Following the clues on the ground: July 1995 and June 2013
In 1995 our journey of discovery started in Besançon, a mediaeval town built around a fortified citadel and protected on 3 sides by a lyre-shaped loop of the river Doubs. Despite many hours poring over maps and atlases, we had found no reference to any town or village called Alaise, just south of Besançon. Hence our first port of call, on arriving in the city, was the tourist information office, located across the river from the old citadel. In the tourist office, they hadn’t heard of Alaise either; but after some searching, we found a detailed map of the area and discovered a very small village of that name, about 40 kilometers to the south-east. A selection of French ‘Carte Bleu’ maps, the equivalent of OS 1:25000, were immediately added to our rapidly increasing library. The level of detail on these maps was exactly what was needed.
We drove south out of Besançon along small, narrow country roads, which wound their way up and down scenic hills and mountains. This area of the Doubs is very close to the French/Swiss border and is renowned for its spectacular views and lush, green, fertile countryside. As we traveled along, we found ourselves crisscrossing major energy lines everywhere. I noted as many of them as I could on our maps and one day, given time, perhaps I’ll plot them out to see what patterns are made and how they match up to Guichard’s original. At all times though, the feeling was one of spirals of energy, not straight lines.
We stopped for lunch alongside meadows filled with colourful, wild flowers and hosts of butterflies. The energy felt almost warm and comforting and it was clear that if there was a major energy portal around, it had been protected for eons of time, by a people who lived with the land. As I stood on the edge of one such colourful field, I was thinking about the many other energy sites we have visited and the tell-tale signs in nature that something ‘big’ was around. I smiled as I spotted two eagles in the distance, circling in the sky above. That was a definite clue. Eagles and other birds of prey soar on thermals, which of course are energy vortices. For us, seeing eagles here was a sign we were getting close.
Alaise was a tiny village of about 20 houses, dominated by a church and its ancient bell tower. As we parked the car, we immediately felt a connection between the church and a statue of the Virgin Mary, on the roadside in front of us. We dowsed a female line of energy following an underground stream that flowed down the hillside, through the statue, directly through the bell tower/front porch of the church and out through a dragon-headed water pipe in the cemetery wall to the road. In 2013, I found many locations with similar dragon-headed water pipes. Including one on the side of a house in Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne; and several at communal washing areas across the region.
My mind immediately went to images of the dragon energy of the Michael and Mary lines in the UK (Miller & Broadhurst, 1989). Over that weekend in 1995 we were to ‘stumble’ on many statues of the Virgin Mary and little chapels, at or near roadsides, which were positioned in some very unusual places. As far as we could tell, they were directly placed on energy lines, but a lot of time and in situ dowsing would be needed to check this out. Looking at it from a different perspective, these were probably places where pilgrims had rested on their travels.
A small sign inside the porch said the old bell tower had been built in 1085, with the permission of a Papal edict from Rome. This suggested the church and village had been an important site at one time. On this occasion the main church door was locked, so we walked around the outside and found a second energy line intersecting the first, in the corner of the bell tower and out the other side. On a second visit in June 2013, the church was open and welcoming. It had a newly tiled roof and shining, metal chimney for the large, cast iron, wood burning stove inside. Time and water damage had taken its toll on the plaster ceilings and inner walls; but given the new roof, hopefully these repairs will be undertaken soon. The altar area was brightly lit by a highly colourful, stained glass window depicting St. John the Baptist, the original patron saint of the church.
As far as Alaise was concerned, we immediately realized that whilst this was an interesting location and there were energies around, it wasn’t the special energy place we were looking for. As we drove south, out of the village, up the hillside and round a sharp right-hand bend, a surge of energy went through us. We immediately stopped and got out of the car. Our former lunch spot was clearly visible in the distance, but the focal point which took our attention, was a large, distinctive bluff of rock slightly to the right and set further back. The powerful line we had just crossed headed straight for this point. As we drove on, we found ourselves crossing over many energy lines, until we came to a small bridge across a river. We knew from the map we had been following this river for some time, although it had been hidden from view by trees, cliffs and a gorge. The water was clear and cool and the energy here felt very strong.
As we exited the bridge a small, wooden signpost caught our eye. It pointed to ‘Source du Lison’ and we decided to follow it. A few kilometres further on, we entered a small village, nestled in a quiet valley. The village was Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne. We sensed immediately we were very close to the ‘energy pumping station’ we were searching for, although we weren’t quite yet at the epicenter. The valley was surrounded by high limestone cliffs, visible amongst verdant, green trees. The feel and energy of the place was magnificent, strong and soothing all at the same time. A more detailed map from the village shop, showed three rivers had their source within a 2-mile radius, but we were drawn to one river in particular, ‘Le Lison’.
‘Energy Pumping Station’ location and description:
We followed the signs to the river source, out of the village towards Crouzet Migette. After parking the car, a winding footpath took us to another board with a map that showed all the key locations at the site. We were immediately attracted to three of them. The source of the river Lison itself, a large cave called ‘Le Grotte Sarazine’ and an old oak tree called ‘Gros Chêne’. We decided to visit all three, if that was possible. Continuing along the winding footpath towards the source, we moved ever closer to the thundering sound that intensified with every step. The energy was increasingly palpable and we could feel it pulsating around us. Finally, we turned a bend and came face to face with the spectacular sight of a river over 20 meters wide, coming straight out of a cave in the limestone cliffs; whilst a blast of energy almost lifted me off my feet it was so strong. The water gurgled and bubbled as it surged out in a tremendous vortex of green-opalescent colour, spinning in an anti-clockwise direction. Our initial impressions were very clear. The sound was almost deafening and the energy generated by the fuming water was very powerful. Much more so than anything we had experienced so far. To the left of the falls, up a narrow, slippery, muddy route was a side entrance into the cave itself. Here there was an unexpected, but welcome atmosphere of calm as the sound of thundering water shrunk to a background hum.
From additional information found at the site, it seems there are catacombs of water-filled, underground tunnels beneath these limestone cliffs. Three key sites, including the ‘Source du Lison’ itself, ‘Creux Billard’ and ‘Grotte Sarazine’, are known to be linked by these subterranean water systems; and divers and speleologists continue to explore the complex maze of underground tunnels. The presence of an underground tunnel system was another sign this was a major energy site.
Leaving the source of the Lison behind us, we headed off in the direction of the old oak tree ‘Gros Chêne’. In many locations around the world, we have found old trees often appear to act as ‘guardians’ for major energy sites. From Beewah in the Glasshouse Mountains near Brisbane; the sacred site of Egyptian carvings at Woy Woy north of Sydney with its magnificent red gum; the gnarled old oak at Glastonbury Abbey; the copper beech at Bury St. Edmunds; the strange seat-shaped tree on Black Butte near Mount Shasta in California; and, of course, the magnificent ancient tree of life at El Tule in Mexico, to name but a few. So, it was no surprise to find that this site had a famous ancient tree too. This ancient oak was thought to be about 280 years old, but it was very clear, from the gnarled ring of roots visible in the earth, that this was the latest in a long line of old trees, which had grown on this spot. The pathway to the tree was lined on both sides by swathes of small, multi-coloured wild flowers and, as we walked along, the leaves of nettles, bushes and small trees, fluttered wildly, even though there was no apparent wind or breeze to move them. From the vantage point of ‘Le Gros Chêne’, we could sense that the river source, ‘Grotte Sarazine’ and possibly ‘Creux Billard’ formed three points of an energy triangle. We had originally planned to visit ‘Grotte Sarazine’ later in the day, but changed our minds. The timing wasn’t appropriate for us to connect with any of the other prominent landscape features at this site.
That night, as we looked out of our bedroom window in the old Hotel de la Poste, we could feel a spiral of energy, spinning anti-clockwise around us. It was so palpable; we could almost reach out and touch it. Needless to say, we didn’t sleep much, instead we just lay there, enjoying the feeling of the vibrations flowing around and through us.
Before we left the small, quiet valley of Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne, we drove up towards the river source once more and sat and meditated as the rain came down. I’ve noticed that falling rain seems to have the effect of grounding energy and often happens after energetic activities have occurred. Now it was time for us to leave this stunning area; but it was also clear we would be welcomed back to explore more and gain a better understanding of the energy flows here. I have no doubt in my mind that there are significant energy patterns in this landscape. Whether they will turn out to be the geometric ‘Earthstar’ patterns, like those found in London by Chris Street (Street, 1990); or Ireland by Michael Poynder (Poynder, 1992, 1997); or another Templar zodiac similar to those at Glastonbury (Caine, 1978) and in Spain; or the geodetic double compass rose pictured by Xavier Guichard; only time will tell.
Our return route took us north along the eastern side of the gorge we had followed the previous day. As we looked towards the west, we were astounded by the number of spinning vortices, which could be seen in the mist above the river. Then finally, as we came out from behind the craggy bluff, we had seen in the distance from Alaise, an eagle took off just a few feet away from us, in a field to our right. It was as if it had come to say a final goodbye and send us on our way.
I returned to Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne in June 2013, following the same route south through the villages of Myon, Alaise and Saraz. The energy lines we’d crisscrossed and experienced during our first visit were still there, but more muted. The Hotel de la Poste was closed, with a weather-beaten ‘For Sale’ sign outside. The road through the village was in the process of being dug up, to install new sewerage and drainage pipes, as mandated by the EU. The peaceful village of 1995 was punctuated with the crashing noise of heavy diggers, the crunching of metal rollers on uneven surfaces and hanging clouds of dust, which clung to everything. But even these disturbances quickly faded as all works ground to a halt for a long French weekend. This time I spent five peaceful nights in the wonderful Residence de Vaux, which I would recommend to any visitor to the area; and five long, pleasurable days revisiting places from our previous visit and exploring several new sites we’d not had the time to connect with earlier.
As I arrived in the village, my first view of the limestone cliffs around ‘La Source du Lison’ was enhanced by the presence of a stunning rainbow. From a distance it seemed to flow directly into the sheltered valley where the river exited from its underground hiding place. I was informed by several people that I had brought the sun with me – the weather during previous weeks having been cold and very wet. That first afternoon there was no rush or need to urgently visit either the river source, or other sites nearby. I could take my time and enjoy. A relaxing meal and glass of wine at the local village restaurant was exactly what was needed.
The following morning dawned clear, with bright sunshine and a slight breeze. As I headed towards ‘La Source du Lison’ I noticed a number of things had changed. The car park was much bigger than I remembered and now there was a permanent building by the start of the footpath, selling the kind of inevitable tourist memorabilia, you can find almost anywhere in the world. The pictures on the postcards were of course local to the Doubs area, as were those featured on the plastic placemats; but the key rings, pencils, pens, cheap jewelry and stuffed animals could have been bought anywhere. The shop owner smiled as I said ‘bonjour’ and paid my respects to the dog that had come to check me out. Clearly, I passed whatever test had been set, because he was friendly and allowed me to carry on. I could hear the water cascading over the rocks at the river source on my right; and see it through the newly greened trees. But I ignored it for now and headed off towards ‘Gros Chêne.’ The old oak tree did not dominate the skyline as it had done previously. Many of the surrounding trees had grown considerably in height and it was no longer a vantage point to view the relative positioning of the river source, ‘Grotte Sarazine’ and ‘Creux Billard’. Rather, it was more apparent the old oak stood at a crossing of ancient pathways, with several mountain ash, or rowan trees standing guard. In ancient times the rowan tree was connected with witchcraft and the name is believed to be derived from the Norse word runa, meaning a charm. In Europe the rowan was often planted outside houses and in churchyards to ward off witches. In this instance the rowan trees were positioned as if to protect the crossroads itself.
After leaving the old oak, I made my way back down the footpath and headed towards ‘Creux Billard’; one of the places we hadn’t had time to visit in 1995. On this occasion it was really calling to me. Up a zigzag, man-made path between two limestone bluffs, over a small ridge and down to a viewing platform. I knew the moment I’d crested the small ridge, that this place was special. As soon as I saw it, I understood why we hadn’t visited ‘Creux Billard’ on our previous trip. The instantaneous surge of energy through my body confirmed this was the ‘energy pumping station’ I was searching for.
The name ‘Creux Billard’ literally means billiard pocket in French and it is just that. A circle of towering limestone cliffs, with a slightly lower ridge in the rocks forming the entrance way. In the middle of the cliff face to the right was a large cave. From the remains found inside, archaeologists believe Neolithic man lived in the caves more than 6,000 years ago; using rope and wooden ladders to climb up and down from the cave entrance, which could easily be protected. To the left was a giant crack running from the tree covered surface at the top, down to the water filled pool at the bottom. Both the cliffs beneath the cave and the giant crack showed signs of water flows, although on this day they were dry; and all around a myriad of rock beings and guardians looked on. For example, towards the top of the giant crack there were two ‘serpent heads’ in the rock, worn down to these shapes by millennia of water flowing over them. To the right of the cave was another rock being that immediately caught my eye. It seemed to be guarding the cave entrance. Even the cave entrance itself, looked like an open mouth, with a large rock nose above it.
As I have already mentioned, on this first day there was no water running down the rock faces. However, right at the last moment, on the morning I was due to leave for home, I was prompted to return to ‘Creux Billard’ one more time. It had been raining heavily for 48 hours and the whole area had been transformed. The water thundered out of ‘La Source du Lison’ creating a heavy, spiraling mist, which enveloped the head of the river. At ‘Creux Billard’, water cascaded down through the giant crack in the cliffs to the left and out of the cave mouth to the right, turning the previously clear green pool below into a muddy, froth that rose quickly up the sides of the cliffs.
The limestone cliffs around Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne are part of a larger limestone karst system that covers much of south-east France. A limestone karst landscape has distinctive landforms and the water that surges from the cave mouth, at the ‘Source du Lison’ is an underground river fed by a huge network of sink holes, submerged chambers and galleries that collect surface water seeping down through fissures from the plateau above.
During periods of normal flow, the main water route is through levels of galleries and chambers leading directly out to the ‘Source du Lison’ itself. After periods of heavy rain, which can occur many kilometers away, water levels rise rapidly within the underground labyrinth system. Pressure builds and higher levels of galleries and chambers become filled with fast flowing water. These higher-level galleries redirect the overflow into tunnels leading to ‘Grotte Sarazine’ and ‘Creux Billard’. During one episode of torrential downpour in February 1978, water was thundering out of Grotte Sarazine at the rate of 16m³/second and from Source du Lison at 30m³/second.
The hand-drawn map above shows the relative locations of the ‘Source du Lison’, ‘Creux Billard’ and ‘Grotte Sarazine’ in the limestone karst landscape. After exiting from the cave at the river source, the water flows out north-west, along a widening valley, towards Nans-sous-Sainte-Anne.
The content of this section combines information from several sources, including: Information translated from a notice board at Mont Poupet, on 5th June 2013; Geology of France website: www.showcaves.com/english/fr/Geology.html accessed April 2013; Geology of Salins-les-Bains: http://sentier-des-gabelous.fr/en/salt/geology/formation-salt/ accessed June 2013.
215 Ma ago, during the geological period known as the Upper Triassic, most of Europe was covered in warm shallow seas on the northern edge of what scientists have named the Tethys Ocean. In the south eastern area of what is now France, processes in these shallow seas resulted in the deposition of almost four kilometres of sedimentary rocks; mostly limestone (calcium carbonate), sandstone (quartz) and marl (a mudstone that contains high levels of calcium carbonate and often occurs in areas of limestone deposition). The sandstone deposits were the result of major inputs of fragmental material eroded from newly worn-down mountain belts e.g. Massif Central. The limestones were the result of two processes. Firstly, the evaporation of waters rich in calcium carbonate deposited as marine limestones on the sea floor. Secondly, the secretion and burial of calcium carbonate shells and skeletons from a variety of fauna and flora living in the clear, warm, shallow seas. Both processes occurred over many millions of years.
During the same geological period, many underground deposits of ‘rock salt’, such as those found at Salins-les-Bains (an old spa town) and elsewhere in The Jura, were laid down. As water levels in the shallow seas fell, isolated, warm water lagoons formed. The actions of sun and wind caused the water to evaporate further and the lagoons to quickly become saturated in mineral salts, which precipitated and settled on the lagoon floor. Limestone was deposited first, followed by gypsum and finally, when 90-95% of the water had evaporated, salt.
140-195Ma ago, towards the end of the Triassic period, sea levels rose. The area was submerged once more and further marine limestones and marls were deposited on top of the evaporite layers. In Salins-les-Bains, strata of rock salt are found about 250 metres below the surface. When the layer of rock salt is not too deep, rain water can seep in and cause saltwater springs to appear on the surface. Several saltwater springs occur in the area, the most notable being the wells of Amont, Gré and Muire.
More than 60Ma ago, in the late Cretaceous and early Tertiary periods, the formation and uplift of the Alps occurred in the east; a direct result of continental collision as the Tethys Ocean closed (the Mediterranean Sea is a small remnant of this large ocean). The uplift of the Alps pushed up the limestone sediments and the area now known as ‘The Jura’ rose slowly from the sea.
10Ma ago, increasing pressure from the continued uplift of the Alps caused the limestone rocks of the Jura to fold, forming the area now known as Haut Jura. In the west, the limestones fractured and were deposited as plateaus of great steps descending towards a plain.
Subsequent weathering and erosion have led to the present landscape. Limestones are particularly prone to weathering from naturally acid rain and this has produced many features: ranging from limestone pavements, to karst pinnacles and large cave systems. The rivers of Franche Comté, which include the Lison, the Loue and the Doubs; all originate from underground rivers that have formed in limestone karst cave systems. Over millions of years these rivers have carved through the limestone plateau to give the many spectacular gorges and cliffs seen today.
Local legends: None found
Whilst the energies of the ‘Source du Lison’ and ‘Creux Billard’ felt different from that at Uluru and clearly manifested themselves in other ways, the two sites were inextricably linked and appeared to be part of an overall pattern that I was only just starting to understand. What was also very clear, was that this ‘energy pumping station’ or portal near Nans-sous-Ste-Anne did not need any help, neither was it dormant; rather it felt as if it was waiting for the right time to activate itself. It did not need any clearing, or the help of humans in any way, although it was happy to meet me. It was almost as if I was a signal that the time for activation would be some time soon.
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