The seventh-century BC capital of the Celtic tribe Glanici is located in the vicinity of St. Remy de Provence, in southern France. Glanum grew around the spring that was renowned for its healing properties. Many shrines were dedicated to the Mothers of Glanum, ancient Earth and healing goddesses. In Celtic beliefs, springs had a major role, and all the shrines were built next to springs.
The natural setting of the ancient Glanum is … how shall I put it … disturbingly beautiful. I feel a mixture of awe before the majesty of the Alpilles Mountains that tower over the ancient ruins, and a strange feeling of well-being. The scattered columns rise like a fragment of Greece under the skies of Provence, confusing my brain. It’s as if many different feelings are stirred up in my body, clashing like ocean waves moved by different currents. In less poetic terms, I feel as if I’m in the middle of a strong magnetic field, and both poles are exerting a pull on my senses, which makes me feel disoriented.
Glanum was positioned at the foot of a natural pass through the mountain range that stretches in an east-west direction for about fifteen miles. The buildings and temples were built along a north-south orientation, roughly the direction of the line that cuts through the jagged peaks. If the range were a dam for a lake, and this pass a sluice that was suddenly opened, imagine the power of the water that would gush through it. There is something of that feeling in Glanum—a feeling of an energy thoroughfare.
One thing is certain: this was, and still is, a sacred site. It doesn’t matter that the original Celtic settlement was destroyed and built over by the Romans (as this juggernaut empire did everywhere else in the ancient world). The feeling of sacredness still permeates the air.