30. Classifying ancient and sacred places according to properties of latitude

Updated: Sep 16

I've noticed on a few occasions that many important places from the ancient world, or in the religious world, seem to be on very similar latitudes. For example this happened when I looked at Le Puy-en-Velay in the south of France, home to formidable structures dedicated to the Archangel Michael and the Virgin Mary, on a very similar latitude to the Sacra di San Michele and the sanctuary of Crea, dedicated to Mary. The link between them is both the latitude, the connection to rocky places, and the dedication to the Archangel Michael and / or the Virgin Mary. Specifically, at this latitude, on the the 14th May, the Phi point between the 17th March (day of equal day and night) and the summer solstice, daylight and night-time are in Phi ratio, with 14:49:58 hours of daylight.

I was taken aback then to find that the Basilica in Bordeaux, though not in a rocky place, dedicated to Michael, and the Pic Saint Michel in the Alps, a simple mountain peak named after the Archangel, were also on a similar latitude. What was more the Pic was at the same distance from Le Puy as it was from the Sacra. Then I found that Rocamadour and Notre-Dame-de-la-Roque Gageac also fitted in with all this, being on similar latitudes and build in rocky places, and all were dedicated either to the Virgin Mary or to Michael, and all but the basilica in Bordeaux are rocky or hilly spots. Then I realised Lascaux caves were on this line, and when I checked the daylight hours for the 14th May, I was pretty astounded to find it was a perfect fit, with 14 hours, 49 minutes and 44 seconds. The wonderful art in these caves doesn't of course feature the Archangel Michael, but it does contain many bulls. Bulls are a feature of Michael places, and are part of the histories of the Mont Saint-Michel and Monte Gargano, there being a story abut a bull marking out the rocky place or cave there. Bulls are also central to the imagery in mithraeums, which themselves are often found in proximity to a Michael shrine or church.

Basilique Saint-Michel, Bordeaux, Wikimedia Commons

14 h 48 mins 28 secs (2021 value)

An ideal Phi day would have 14 hours 49 mins 58.27 secs

Eglise Notre-Dame-de-la-Roque-Gageac, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 48 mins 22 secs (2021)

Lascaux Caves, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours, 49 mins 44 secs (2021 value)

Chapelle Saint-Michel, Rocamadour, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 48 mins 12 secs (2021 value)

Le Puy-en-Velay, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 49 mins 40 secs (2021 value)

Pic Saint-Michel (Vercors) Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 50 mins 9 secs

Sacra di San Michele, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 49 mins 58 secs

Sacro Monte di Crea, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 49 mins 56 secs

And then going further to the east, I discovered that this line could be extended at least all the way to the Adriatic, taking in Pavia, Ferrara, Mantua, Cremona, the Isola San Michele in Venezia, and Sant'Angelo di Piovo di Saco, all with Michael and / or Mary connections (Mantua has a cathedral dedicated to Saint Peter, who can definitely be considered associated with rocks).

Basilica di San Michele, Pavia, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 50 mins 29 secs

Castillo Estense or Castillo San Michele, Ferrara, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 48 mins 22 secs

Chiesa di San Michele Vetere a Cremona, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 50 mins 9 secs

San Michele in Isola, Venice, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 51 mins 59 secs

Sant'Angelo di Piove di Sacco, Wikimedia Commons

14 hours 51 mins 56 secs

In fact, there were important places of worship, though not as close together, but often with a connection to a hill or rock, all the way to Japan, on roughly this latitude, and within two and a half minutes of a Phi ratio of daylight to night at the Phi point between the 17th March (day of equal day and night) and the summer solstice.

The first stop beyond the Adriatic is Velebit Mountain, where there are many very old chapels. I looked for a long time for a Michael chapel in this area, as I had read that there was on near Vratnik mountain pass, but couldn't find any trace of it online. I found a great blog post on these chapels here, called Old European Culture, with an emphasis on the "replacement of the Mother Goddess, Mother Earth, Baba with Mary, the Holy Mother."

The stone walls, which were built using dry wall building technique, were 1.3 meters thick. The most unusual thing about this chapel is the altar stone. The altar is actually bedrock, which existed there before the church was built. Bedrock is in the Balkans known as "kamen živac, živi kamen, živa stena" (living stone, living rock) and is venerated as sacred. They are called so, because they are believed to be still part of the living body of the Mother Earth. These types of stones are also known as "baba" stones. The fact that the altar stone was carved out of bedrock shows that this was an ancient pre Christian altar stone which was later encased inside of the Christian church, surrounded by the thick church walls in order to have it's "evil" power contained.

This fit in so well with the many sites dedicated to Mary and Michael in rocky places. Yet not all hills and mountains are considered scared. Is their latitude the key? The author of this blog informs us that Sveto Brdo, also near the Croation coast, is a holy mountain. I placed it Google Earth, curious to see if it would be on a similar latitude to all the places so far, from Bordeaux to Venice, but it was much too far south. But then I looked again and it was in fact on a similar latitude as the majestic rocky coastal church in Porto Venere, which is on the Michael line from Skellig, via Saint Michael's Mount and the Mont Saint-Michel ( a winter Phi day line).

Having just read something about how the shephards in these Croatian hills celebrate the 15th August, the Assumption, I looked up the daylight hours for that date and found that there were 14 hours, 1 minute and 43 seconds for 2021. That's within two minutes of being 14 hours, or 840 minutes exactly. Not the most impressive number on the face of it, but in seconds that's 100,800 / 2 = 50,400. It's also exactly 1440 minutes (of the full 24 hour period of a day) x 7 / 12. So this line goes through the Santuario della Madonna Bianca and the Church now dedicated to St Peter, on a site that was once a temple to Venus, in Porto Venere, then San Michele di Garfagnana in Lucca, the Santuario Maddonna dell'Acero, and the Abbey of San Mercuriale in Forlí. A combination of the Virgin Mary, Peter, Venus, Mercury and Michael, all of which seem to have rocky connections. In fact this 15th August 7/12 daylight / day ratio line goes through many interesting places. This line also goes west - though that side of the line is not as close a match to the 14 hours of daylight period.

San Miguel de Breamo

Monastery of Santa Maria La Real de Obona, Wikimedia Commons

Ermita de San Miguel, Olea

Starting with San Miguel de Breamo, a templar church in Galicia, Spain, though here the daylight hours are 13 hours 57 minutes and 43 seconds (according to www.sunearthtools.com), so just under 14 hours but within two and a half minutes. and all along the north coast of Spain, there are sanctuaries and churches, many dedicated to the Archangel Michael and Mary, such as: Ermita de San Miguel de Buscalte, Capela de San Miguel, Lugo, San Miguel de Reinante, Monastery of Santa Maria La Real de Obona, Plaza San Miguel, Gijon, San Miguel Asturias, Ermita de San Miguel d'Eros, in fact there are too many to mention, there are so many ermitas de San miguel around the Cantabrian coast - see image below.

Perhaps the most important site in this region is Altamira cave.

Bison, Altamira Cave, Wikimedia Commons

13 hours 57 mins 39 secs on 15th August (just within a 2.5 minute margin of 14 hours)

The earliest paintings date from around 36,000 years ago.

Moving up the Basque coast we come to the cathedral at Bayonne, dedicated to Mary, and at the end of a Michael line itself, heading north to the Mont Saint-Michel and Stonehenge. Heading towards Porto Venere, Moissac Abbey and Bruniquel come next. Here we come back to an exact 14 hours of daylight (to within 40 seconds).

Bruniquel Cave, earliest human-made structures known, Wikimedia Commons

Bruniquel Castle

The abbey of Moissac

Next are Alès, Nîmes, and the Palais des Papes at Avignon, where the popes once resided, also exactly 14 hours daylight. Then a whole load of Michael churches and chapels scattered around, including Saint-Michel-l'Observatoire, Saint-Michel-de-Cousson, le Col Saint-Michel, Chapelle Saint-Michel de Clans, Eglise Saint-Michel-de-Gast, then further south to include Vence, and on the Cote d'Azur, Cannes, Villefrance-sur-Mer, Beaulieu-sur-Mer, Eglise Saint-Michel-de-la-Turbie, and the basilica at Menton, all dedicated to the Archangel. A little north of that is Sospel Cathedral, on a Place Saint-Michel, and Olietta San Michele. Then a Michael chapel in La Brigue and a Michael church in Alto. Albenga Cathedral is on a Pizza San Michele. This brings us back to Porto Venere.

To go back to the shepards' chapels on Mount Velebit in Croatia, though I could not find one specifically dedicated to the Virgin Mary to to the Archangel Michael, there may well be a connection all the same. The author of the blog "Old European Culture" adds a couple of very interesting things, both in relation to the orientation of the one of the chapels towards the winter solstice sunrise, and about the importance of stone traditionally:

She quotes an article by Andrej Pleterski, "Nekateri topografski vidiki obrednih mest [Some Topographic Aspects of Ritual Places ]":

"One of the diagonals of the church is aligned exactly to the east west line. The longitudinal axis of the church has azimuth of 123,5° (angle from geographic north). This means that the church is oriented towards the local point of the Christmas sunrise. Therefore, it is very likely that the original orientation of the pagan temple which was replaced with the church, was towards the winter solstice sunrise."

This fits with many of the lines

The author goes on to say:

Next to old bedrock altar lies a large stone slab. The locals say that this slab marks "the grave of an innocent child". Every year on the 15th of August, on the day of the Assumption of Mary the shepherd's used to drive their flocks over this slab in order to cleanse them from decease and evil.
On it there is a similar stone block which local shepherd's called "Baba". On the arrival, shepherd women used to bring food offerings and leave them on the stone. They also used to lite candles on the stone on various holy days. The stone was also known as "the altar".
According to the local informer Dara Babac :) , who was 80 years old when she was interviewed, Baba stone on Malo Rujno was blessed by a priest from Lika region, and this is why this stone is also called Babin kuk (Baba's stone, kuk being another word for rock, boulder) or Popov kuk (Priest's stone). Women who couldn't have children were praying to the Baba stone to help them to stay pregnant and give birth to a healthy child. During this prayer they were kissing the stone. After the second world war, the stone lost it's cultic importance, but the act of kissing the Baba stone was transferred to kissing any old woman. Young girls which were earlier urged to kiss the Baba stone "for their own good" were urged to kiss any old woman that they see, also "for their own good". The kissing ritual was also transferred from the Baba stone to its Christian replacement, the statue of the Holy Mary. During the prayer in the chapel on Veliko Rujno, women circled the altar on their knees. At the end of the prayer they would kiss the feet and the dress of the statue. They were also kissing the picture of the Holy Mary during the procession which circled the church.
I actually believe that both of these last two chapels, the one dedicated to St Jacob and the other one dedicated to St Antun, were originally dedicated to Holy Mary and were only later "rechristened". The same was done with the chapel on Jezera, which is today called the chapel of St Antun, even though it is known from interviews with the locals, that the church was originally dedicated to the Holy Mary...Is this being done to remove the link between the original Baba worship and its Christian replacement, the worship of the Holy Mary? I believe so.
It seems that the shepherd's from south Velebit, both Orthodox and Catholic, preserved many pre-Christian traditions, customs and ceremonies until the mid 20th century. The most important set of these pagan rituals is linked to the veneration of the Mother Goddess, the female symbol of fertility and wealth - Baba, Mother Earth. These rituals were performed on and around protruding amorphous lumps of bedrock which are in this region, as well as in many other parts of the Balkans, known as Baba stones, like this one.


The fact that Baba (stone, mountain, earth) was specially venerated on Velebit can be seen from a large number of toponyms with the root Baba which are found in immediate vicinity (20 km radius)
Babin kuk (Baba's hip or baba's rock), Bobički kuk (Baba's hip or baba's rock), Babin kamen (žrtvenik), Babino jezero (Baba's lake), 3 mountain tops called Babin vrh (Baba's peak), Babino brdo (Baba's hill), Babin dolac (Baba's valley), Babino vrelo (Baba's well), Babac, Babica,
So what happened after the local population was Christianized? The same area became the most important center of the Marian cult. Coincidence?
It seems that the shepherd's from south Velebit, both Orthodox and Catholic, preserved many pre-Christian traditions, customs and ceremonies until the mid 20th century. The most important set of these pagan rituals is linked to the veneration of the Mother Goddess, the female symbol of fertility and wealth - Baba, Mother Earth. These rituals were performed on and around protruding amorphous lumps of bedrock which are in this region, as well as in many other parts of the Balkans, known as Baba stones, like this one.

It' so good to read about ancient rituals based around Mother Earth, Baba, which went on until around eighty years ago, in tandem with Christianity, because this resonates perfectly with many things connected to the worship of Mary, of Michael, of Mithras, and of course, many other divine figures such as the Buddha. The belief that bedrock or any kind of rock was sacred must account for many of the megalithic constructions, and go some way towards explaining why the stones used had to be so big, despite the great impracticality of moving and raising them.

Beyond Croatia, the town of Băile Herculane may be of interest, on the grounds that it's a mountanous spa town, there are caves, and there have been many pre-historical finds there. Oh, and Hercules was there. But no Michael church.

Then moving a little further east, to Romania, there are several Michael churches in and around Pitesti.

Then in Crimea, the city of Kerch is of interest, as it was once a Greek colony and has a hill in the centre called Mount Mithridat - though it appears not have been named after Mithras, but after a local ruler. There are two archaeological sites of interest nearby, also within the same daylight time, called Pantikapaeum, once the capital of the Kingdom of Pontus, and Nymphaion.

Ancient Pantikapaeum

Then, there's really just a ruined monastery in the Gobi desert.

The ruins of Ongiin Khiid monastery in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia.

14 hours 50 mins 47 secs

Finally, Rishiri Island, in Japan, which has several shrines on it.

Rishiri Island, Japan

14 hours 49 mins 31 secs

Going further west from France, however, the line goes through Monteral, a ancient underwater stone circle near Traverse City, and some Indian Mounds: Chambers Island mounds, and Rattlesnake and Indian mounds, Minnesota.

Church of St Michael, Montreal

Did this mean that the latitude was the reason why these hills and rocks were sacred in the first place? What links all these places is that the days of the year when daylight and nighttime are in Phi ratio also falls at exactly the point in the year which is at a Phi point between the spring day of equal day and night (17th March) and the summer solstice, i.e. the 14h May.

Is the latitude of a place significant as to the reason for it's location?