In a feedback letter to the photo you wrote to me:
>>The picture turns out in pink and golden light, very beautiful and peaceful. Is this house not part of a larger building, because there seems to be a wall behind it?<<
Precisely: I have found on the Net Sujata's (= Satprem's compagn) book "Mirra the Occultist", third volume of her "Mother's chronicles". In this book there is a passage on the house on Rue du Val de Grâce which explains exactly the situation of the house as it was and as it is now. Only the situation of the monastery and the quarter of Val de Grâce in Paris at Mother's time is not explained: it was still a part of Paris which was on the countryside and where new buildings had been built along that new street between the Garden of Luxembourg and the reknown monastery of Val de Grâce, in the South-West of the Paris of that time (Now it is in the midst of an ocean of buildings in concrete...). From the street you can only look through high iron bars into the big garden with many trees, at the end of which the house is to be seen, exactly like on the photo. It is situated about 50 meters from the main entrance of the monastery/church of the Val de Grace.
As for the monastery/church I have an anecdote: normally the church is totally closed to any visit (the monastery is anyway forbidden). But when I was there the last time in January 1999, for the second time, I went and wanted to see the church again from outside. And lo! it was exceptionnaly open on that day. I arrived 15 minutes before the official time of the closure and I was able, with my wife V., to visit the inner of the Church with the remarkable pictures of Philippe de Champaigne and the rests of the hearts of the kings and queens of France.You will find that passage below.
I have always thought that it had been a little sign of Mother....
I hope you'll enjoy the info
Marseilles - France - March 11, 2000
From Sujata Nahar's "Mirra the Occultist"
Institut de Recherches Évolutives - Paris
27 Val de Grace
Mirra and Paul Richard were married on 5 May 1911.
They lived on Rue du Val de Grace, in a small house at the far end of a garden with two entrances from the street, numbered 9 and 11.
"Well-well! The house on Val de Grace!" Mother exclaimed seeing the picture Pavitra was holding out to her. In those days Mother gave interviews to Satprem in the privacy of Pavitra's office. As a rule, Pavitra did not remain there during the interviews, except when he had something specific to talk over with her. That day, as soon as Mother was settled in her chair and all ready for Satprem's questions, Pavitra - as the Ashram's General Secretary, he dealt with all foreign correspondence - showed her the photo he had received in the morning's mail.
" Well-well ! The house on Val de Grace !" Mother exclaimed, taking the picture in her hand. "It looks inhabited, there are curtains on the windows. I lived there - a small house, very small, with a room on top."
She began to explain what was what to the two men. "Here, it's the drawing-room, this is the studio," she jabbed her fingers on the spots to suit her words. "Then, behind the kitchen, there was a small room that served me as dining room and it opened onto a courtyard. Between this dining room and the kitchen there was a bathroom and a tiny antechamber. Here is the kitchen; you went up three steps, there was a tiny antechamber with stairs that led to the room. Next to the room, there was a toilet about as big as a thimble.
"It's part of a big house. There's a seven-storey apartment building on each side, and the street is here.
"It wasn't very big. But the studio was fairly large - a beautiful room.... That's where I used to receive Madame David-Neel - we saw each other almost every evening.
"There was a large library in the studio - the library took up the whole far end of the room - more than two thousand books belonging to my brother. There were some complete sets of classics. And I had my entire collection of the Cosmic Review, as well as my postcard collection - it was down below. The postcards were mostly from Algeria, Tlemcen - about two hundred. But there were five years of the Cosmic Review. And written in such a French! It was most funny." There was also her stamp collection.
With what care Mirra arranged the rooms. That there should be harmony among things came naturally to her artistic temperament. But what's more, things were never inanimate objects to her - so each object found its rightful place in her house.
André was a regular visitor to Val de Grace. "After my father and mother divorced. Mother married Paul Richard, and they came to live on Rue du Val de Grace." Andre was around twelve. "I used to go and have lunch with them every Sunday. After lunch, specially when the weather was bad, we would go to the studio. Paul Richard stretched out on a couch, lit his pipe, and they started working. That is, my mother wrote in her own handwriting what he dictated. I could not help but notice that Mother was rectifying most of Paul's dictation."
André added, "This small house, at the back of a garden, or more precisely of a fairly large courtyard with a few trees, stretching in front of a big apartment house, was strikingly cosy and very comfortable."
Yes, it was that kind of house, with an air of comfortable simplicity, where you felt welcome and at your ease. Knowing Mother, knowing Mirra, it does not surprise us, really.
* * *
I believe that Mirra's first group 'Idea' was scrapped when she moved to Val de Grace. But in those three years, from 1911 to 1913, she was an active member of another group, 'L'Union des Pensées Féminines' (the Union of Women's Thoughts). The talks she gave to this group were first published in 1946 - thanks to me! For it was at my request, as an apprentice in the new printing press, that Mother gave the manuscript for printing - under the general title, Reunions, in the book Paroles d'Autrefois [Words of Long Ago], which also contained other early writings by Mother.