pillared-arch-120Hello… And welcome to Ancient Quest News…an update on the writing, research, travel, media and other activities of Dr. Karen Ralls and associates of Ancient Quest. It will be updated periodically.

Latest! [ 2015 – 16]new_yell

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Karen Ralls has presented a variety of talks and participated at events, conferences, workshops, and tours, both internationally and in the UK, and is open to sharing mutual ideas with your group or organization; to contact us to talk about re: a possible future event, conference, tour, or talk with your group, please get in touch, see below.

Details of additional confirmed future events, talks, etc, will then be posted on the ‘Karen Ralls Author‘ Facebook Page (Notes section). For Admin., please contact: enquiries (at) ancientquest com



new_yell New book alert!


Gothic Cathedrals:  History, Art, Places and Symbolism, by Karen Ralls, PhD – History, symbolism, and ancient and historic places continue to fascinate all over the world today.  Anyone  –  spiritually inclined or not –  can appreciate the art, beauty, and craftsmanship of ancient, historical, or sacred sites and their surrounding landscapes and gardens, those of an era gone by.

Enter the world of the High Middle Ages and explore the beauty, art, and intricate carvings of the Gothic cathedrals, stunning artistic achievements from medieval times for all to still see today. From bejewelled stained glass windows, stone and wood carvings, labyrinths and gardens, to journeys “on the road” to Compostela, the aesthetic wonders of Gothic architecture continue to inspire many worldwide.

From the 12th century, the dramatic new, cutting edge Gothic architectural style –  originally, often strongly disparaged by critics –  emphasized  incoming light and continued to spread like wildfire throughout Europe, so great were its effects.  Noted medievalist Dr. Karen Ralls explores the legacy of this exquisite architectural period, whose artistic beauty and expert craftsmanship have served for centuries to inspire feelings of joy and/or aesthetic wonder for many today from all walks of life, whether spiritually inclined or not.

Chapters address topics relating to Gothic architecture, geometry, and music;  the Feast of Fools and other festivals; music;  the daily uses, both secular and religious, of a medieval cathedral by all in the community;  the importance of craft guilds and those who built the cathedrals; gardens, labyrinths and mazes;  pilgrimages – secular and sacred;  Black Madonnas; astronomical calculations; East-West travels;  stone and wood carvings, gargoyles and grotesques;  the Green Man;  the seven Liberal Arts and sciences, debates about the philosophies of Pythagoras, Aristotle, the later Neo-Platonists, Heraclitus, and others;  the decline of the era of pilgrimage, and visiting Gothic sites today.

For the general reader and specialist alike, the author guides the reader through the history, places, art, and symbolism of these unique ‘stories in stone’, providing a lively portal and essential resource for all readers. Lavishly illustrated with color photographs throughout, Gothic Cathedrals includes appendices of the major European cathedral building dates and sites,  major Black Madonna shrines and pilgrimage sites, and an extensive Bibliography. It showcases the art, beauty, and symbolism found in Gothic cathedrals and Gothic secular buildings, many of which were often built upon earlier, sacred sites, and with a wealth of information about all of these related topics that will help readers today better understand, visit, and explore the history, art and symbolism of these Gothic-related sites and gardens, reconnect with the ancient past, and help foster more Interfaith and greater cross-cultural and multifaith understanding.

Anyone – spiritually inclined or not – can go ‘on the road’ and visit and appreciate the art, architecture, beauty, and cultural significance of these places in their time, and their related topics, further enhancing their own Quest in some way.   But most of all – enjoy the Journey!

Publisher:   Ibis Press /RedWheelWeiser Books, USA

Release date:  spring 2015,  in both print and e-book formats

373 pages,  lavishly illustrated w/colour photos throughout

Order from amazon now

USA amazon link here: (discounts apply, avail in print and e-book formats)

UK amazon link here:  (avail. in both print and e-book formats)


MedievalMysteriesMedieval Mysteries:  A Guide to History, Places and Symbolism, by noted author Karen Ralls – a fully illustrated book examining the history, places, lore and symbolism of twelve of the most-asked-about, favorite medieval topics requested by the public about the High Middle Ages  (Ibis Press/distr RedWheelWeiser books USA, 2014)

Journey into twelve of the world’s favourite medieval mysteries and cross the threshold into the world of the High Middle Ages. From Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose, the medieval period continues to intrigue, inspire, entertain and fascinate many today.

For the general reader and specialist alike, medieval expert, former Rosslyn Chapel museum art exhibition curator and bestselling author Dr. Karen Ralls guides the reader through the major historical facts,  legends and lore, affiliated places, and key symbolism of each of these 12 popular medieval enigmas, providing a lively introductory portal which includes some of the lesser-known, sidelined or unacknowledged aspects of each of these enduring topics. The story of each subject comes alive, providing a solid introduction for all readers as well as resources for  teachers, researchers, workshop presenters and medieval history and travel buffs.  Also included are photographs, a recommended reading section,  a list of the key major sites associated with each topic, and a full Bibliography.

  • Topics covered include:
  • The Knights Templar
  • Rosslyn Chapel
  • The Grail Quest
  • The Cathars
  • Heresy and Heretics
  • Mary Magdalene
  • The Black Madonnas
  • Troubadours
  • King Arthur
  • Merlin
  • Glastonbury
  • Medieval Guilds

Let this book serve as your personal pilgrimage back to the High Middle Ages – a time of potent symbolism, and spiritual questing.

Publisher: Ibis Press / distributed by RedWheelWeiser Books, USA

Released: 2014

Order from amazon com now!

Further details about future related launch talks, tours, or music events, etc., will be posted on the ‘News‘ page and on the ‘Karen Ralls Author’ Facebook page (Events).



25 November  2012‘Music and the Otherworld’ –  A Sunday afternoon illustrated talk  for the Leeds Theosophical Society, 12 Queens Square, Leeds, UK.  2:30 pm. on the universal theme of the spiritual dimension of music; with some imagery of Rosslyn Chapel nr Edinburgh and other sacred sites.  For admin/info.,  please contact  Leeds TS  Admin:

15  November 2012‘Rosslyn Chapel: Legacy in Stone’ –  Thurs. evening Illustrated lecture at Rudolph Steiner House, 35 Park Road, London NW16XT, nr Regent’s Park.  How is memory encoded? What is symbolism?  And what can it teach us today? Short flute meditation after this illustrated talk. For booking information, please contact rsh-office (at)
Mid-August 2012 – Edinburgh Festival,  the UK’s largest international arts festival, held along with Edinburgh’s other major August festivals –  i.e., the Book Festival, Fringe Festival,  Jazz Festival, etc.  Karen will be doing music (flute(s) performances at two venues for the Fringe Festival and a talk about her books; details closer to the time;

28 July 2012Illustrated talk about ‘Rosslyn Chapel and the Green Man’ —  Glastonbury Town Hall,  Symposium conference,      on Saturday, 28th July at 12 noon.

Sat.  14th April 2012 – Karen will give a talk on “Music and the Otherworld”, including illustrations and information about the spiritual dimension of music,  faery music, paintings, artefacts, Rosslyn Chapel, etc) and will be one of a number of speakers at this key annual UK pagan community event,  the Wessex Pagan Federation Conference, held in Glastonbury each year… Many interesting speakers, stalls, musicians, etc. are often present, so it may also be an opportunity to spend several days in Glastonbury and/or to combine with a journey to the West country, to see more sites (Avebury, Stonehenge, etc).

****************************     2011  ********************************

As Karen is very busy throughout all of 2011 and part of 2012 with finishing material for  several deadlines, what is scheduled is listed here for 2011:

Sunday,  27th November 2011 —     Karen will give an illustrated talk on The Spiritual Dimension of Music, about music and consciousness – from the temples of the ancient world through to the classical era and into our own time;   illustrations of temples, stone circles, Rosslyn Chapel, paintings, etc.)  Venue:  the London Theosophical Society headquarters,  50 Gloucester Pl., 6 pm. (£7 admission, £5 concessions).  Refreshments afterwards.  For further information or directions,  please email: info  (at)

Fri-Sun.,  14th -16th October 2011 — an Interdisciplinary academic conference, 

Heavenly Discourses:  Myth, Astronomy, and Culture

Wills Memorial Building, University of Bristol

On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth. 2011 sees the fiftieth anniversary of that event. In almost every human culture the sky functions as a backdrop for mythical encounters, employing the celestial environment as a stage set for narratives of human and divine experience. That moment when human beings first left the planet gave us a different perspective on the sky. This conference will bring together scholars to examine the relationship between the heavens and culture through the arts, literature, religion and philosophy, both in history and the present.

(Co-Chairs:   Nicholas Campion (Univ of Wales, Trinity St David and Derrelyn Gunzberg (Bristol);   Keynotes:  Prof Ronald Hutton (Univ of Bristol);   Prof Elliot Wolfson (NewYork Univ);  Prof. Roger Beck (Univ of Toronto);  Prof Gerry Gilmore (Cambridge Univ.); Prof. David Malin (RMIT, Melbourne, Australia);   Prof. Michael Rowan-Robinson (Imperial College, London)

For more information and to register,  pls contact
Mid-August 2011 —     Edinburgh Festival;   Karen will be doing 2 music performances this year, flute and Celtic harp –  further details later.


Mid-August 2010 — Edinburgh Festival talks/events; details here closer to the time.

21 – 31 July 2010 — Karen will be a guest lecturer and presenter for the Glastonbury section of the tour….on the ‘Mystical England, a Journey to Avalon’ — tour by a leading British druid, author, and spiritual counsellor Mara Freeman… To hear Karen speak and to join this groundbreaking tour, please contact Mara on, mentioning Karen’s name and Glastonbury, etc….and also, see Mara’s site and itinerary for this journey on her Celtic Spirit Journeys website, with its link at or call her from UK or worldwide on +44 (01239)-858-830 or from the USA, toll-free, on 1-800-657-1520. Join us and register your interest today!

16-21 July 2010 — Major art exhibition on “Harmony, Ratio, and the Cosmos” in Northamptonshire area, UK…. With Dr Karen Ralls to give an evening keynote address and flute meditation entitled “The Golden Section” for this event (19, 20, or 21st July, tbc) For more details, contact Anita via

26 February 2010 (Fri.) – Illustrated talk on “Temples of Wisdom: Music, Trance States, Colour and Form: from Megaliths through Egypt to Rosslyn Chapel Today“, by Dr Karen Ralls, for the Research Into Lost Knowledge Organisation (Rilko) in London. Venue: 50 Gloucester Place (nr Baker Street), doors open at 6:45 pm for 7:15 pm lecture; £7.

What has long been the connection between music and sound and the ancient belief that it often serves as a powerful catalyst for alternation of consciouness and mind expansion? Why do certain temple rituals nearly always feature sound or music? Why did many civilizations highly value certain musical intervals, specific rhythms, and acoustic properties? And what are the recent discoveries by modern scientists and medical experts? Join historian Dr Karen Ralls, musicologist, and noted author of ‘Music and the Celtic Otherworld’ (Edinburgh Univ Press), Indigenous Religious Music (SOAS, London), etc. to learn more about certain megalithic sites, Pythagorean theory, early mystery schools and sound, Egyptian temples, and Rosslyn Chapel today, exploring their relationships to sound, geometric proportion and other key correspondences which have, for centuries, been known to enhance human consciousness. While ancient shamanic or priesthood’s concept of an ‘Otherworld(s)’ dimension and its vibrational/sound aspects as used in many mystery schools is well-known to us today from anthropology, what is now emerging is growing confirmation from scientific and medical studies in our own time about the effects of sound / music, rhythms, and mantic incantation(s) on the human mind and consciousness. From Plato’s quote that ‘Music gives…wings to the mind’ to ’60s Grateful Dead drummer Micky Hart’s comment that music takes ‘the mind and spirit to places unknown…and nothing is too weird for the muse’. Possible short flute meditation following talk.

6 January 2010 –   Radio interview  “Music and the Otherworld: New Dimensions”, by Dr Karen Ralls;  explores subjects ranging from music and consciousness, early Celtic folklore,  the healing and spiritual powers of music, history and beliefs about the effects of music, from ancient tunes to classical to ‘fairy music’…and much more!   Otherworld Radio link:–music-and-the-otherworld-new-dimen

re: TOURS and having Dr Ralls as your guide: as Karen works with a variety of tour companies to see various areas of the world,  she can assist you in arranging for a specific itinerary for you/your group, as possible; i.e., email us below. For ex., re: groups – if you have or can get ten people or more interested in a particular location, please email your interest. Examples of previous countries Karen has guided/visited through the years include topics and places mentioned in her work, such as the British Isles, Ireland, France, Italy/Malta, Spain, Egypt, Scotland, etc. We’re all on a Quest….so let’s Explore!

13 December 2009 (Sun.) – Illustrated talk and short flute meditation on ‘Symbols of Transformation: a Medieval Odyssey”, for the Leeds Theosophical Society, 12 Queens Square, Leeds, UK. 2:30 pm. For more information and to book, please contact Mr. Paul Barker

13 October 2009 (Tues) — Opening Night for a wonderful and highly-recommended event by Karen — the world’s first museum exhibition on Steampunk Art (13 Oct 2009-21 Feb 2010) at the renowned Oxford Museum of the History of Science, with leading steampunk artist, Curator and friend of Karen’s – the New York steampunk artist, Art Donovan….whose show will include exhibitions by other leading international steampunk artists, such as Herr Doktor (UK), James Richardson-Brown (UK), and more….ranging from Switzerland, Australia, the USA, Belgium, etc. Not to be missed for anyone who appreciates neo-Victorian, Gothic, or modern art in general! Karen will of course be present at this momentous event…which happens to coincide w/one of the most important dates in medieval Templar history as well, as the infamous ‘Friday the 13th’ arrests occurred back in 1307.See blog link for more info about the steampunk exhibition – www.— as well as the website for the Oxford Museum of the History of Science.

11 October 2009 — Air date for US radio interview with Dr Karen Ralls on “Symbols and Medieval Places of Wisdom”, including various information about Templar sites and their history, the Black Madonnas, Rosslyn Chapel symbolism, the Green Man, even the Washington National Cathedral….for the “Earth’s Sacred Places’ program, an internet radio show airing of CBS-affiliate Psychic Radio, with leading USA Goddess author and researcher Karen Tate as host. Sunday programme. Listen on archives, or live at 8-9 am Eastern Standard Time, 5-6 am Pacific Time, and 1-2 pm UK time.

19-20 September 2009 – annual Wrekin Trust Round Table conference, in honour of Sir George Trevelyan – a talk and illustrated presentation by Dr Karen Ralls on “Pilgrimage and Place on the Transformative Journey”, Hawkwood College, Stroud, England. For more information about the Wrekin Trust, see


Previous USA 2006 book tour

For the latter part of 2006,Dr Ralls will be very busy with writing another book,lecturing and travel for research purposes, and as academic external examiner and media consultant. So, her public speaking schedule is somewhat curtailed at this time, but nonetheless, she will be appearing at a very broad variety of conferences and events for 2006, both academic and popular,including:

6 July 2006 Talk and signing on The Templars and the Grail,8:30 pm – 9:45 pm., followed by book signing; Wells Town Hall,Market Sq,Wells, Somerset.
4-6 Aug 2006 Talk on The Templars and the Grail at the Cambridge History Festival,Cambridge, England, For more information, please contact: www.histfest.Com
mid-Aug. 06 Talk and booksignings, Edinburgh Festival Fringe; the world’s largest arts festival; Edinburgh, Scotland; The Templars and the Grail, etc.;further details to be posted here as they become available;
9-10 Sept 06 Talk on The Grail Quest – for a conference on the theme of Awakening at Reading University,Reading, England; there will be 2 two-day events with talks and booksignings for all speakers present, one in Dublin(2-3 Sept) and this one inReading (9-10 Sept). Please contact:Roma Harding 01305-816644
2-9 Nov. 06 Tour to Malta–Talks, seminars, about ancient and medieval Malta;and then, extension to:
9-16 Nov. 06 Tour to the Languedoc – historical, archaeological sites; explore and discover your quest, too; For more informationplease click here



Final itinerary for USA bookstore talks for The Templars and the Grail
by Dr Karen Ralls — April 2004

For further information about this book, please see

WASH DC area bookstore talks

Wed., April 7 at 730 pm
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
Clarendon Market Commons
2800 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201

Thurs., April 8 at 7 pm
Borders Books and Music
11301 Rockville Pike
Kensington, MD 20853

CHICAGO area bookstore talks

Thurs., April 15 at 730 pm
Theosophical Society in America
1926 N. Main Street
Wheaton, IL 60187

Friday, April 16 at 7 pm
Borders Books and Music
1700 Maple Avenue
Evanston, IL 60201

Sat., April 17, 930 a.m. to 330 pm
Workshop; music included
Theosophical Society Headquarters
1926 N. Main Street
Wheaton, IL 60187

Sat., April 17 at 730 pm
Transitions Bookplace
1000 West North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622

‘Investigating History–The Holy Grail’,
History Channel documentary
Monday, April 26, 2004
9 pm central/10 pm Eastern

NEW YORK city bookstore talks

Sun., April 25 at 3 pm
NY Theosophical Society
240 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022

Tues., April 27 at 730 pm
Barnes & Noble Greenwich Village
396 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10011


templgrailThe Templars and the Grail:
Knights of the Quest

Publisher: Quest Books, Chicago, USA
Author: Dr. Karen Ralls
Published: May2003 (USA)
June 2003 (UK)
  • Who were the medieval Knights Templar?
  • Are there genuine connections between the Templars and the Holy Grail?
  • Did the Templars really excavate under the Temple of Solomon and find the lost treasures of Jerusalem or, is this yet another myth?
  • Did the Templars find the Ark of the Covenant as some allege?
  • Why were they arrested and tortured in 1307?
  • Where did the surviving Templars flee after their arrests in 1307?
  • Was Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland the final resting place of the Templars’ treasure?
  • What is Chivalry? What were the Grail Romances really all about? Why were most written during the era of the Templars?
  • Why did imprisoned Templars create unusual carvings on the walls of the Chinon Castle tower in 1308……images which are still undeciphered today?
  • How do the memories of the Templars and the Grail live on today?

The powerful Knights Templar, the famed monastic warriors of the Crusades, still intrigue many today. An organization long shrouded in mystery, the Templars have been thought by many to conduct mystical rites and rituals, to guard the Holy Grail, and to possess the priceless treasures of the Temple of Jerusalem. But what is fact and what is fiction?

The Templars were also bankers to kings, trusted diplomats, farmers, business managers and navigators. They used codes and ciphers, interacted with Muslims in the Holy Land, established an early form of traveller’s cheque and may have influenced the building of the Gothic cathedrals. From Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival to Hollywood films like Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, interest in the Templars continues unabated today.

In The Templars and the Grail, medieval historian Dr. Karen Ralls presents the history of the Knights Templar, examining the many beliefs and theories about the knights and their presumed powers, knowledge, and treasure. Drawing on both academic (Part One) and popular (Part Two) sources, this book provides a fresh, well-researched, up-to-date perspective on the facts and evolving “mythos” of the history of the Templars.

Appendices include a Chronology of Events during the Templars’ era, a list of Grand Masters, maps, information on Templar sites, and photos of the exquisite carvings of Rosslyn Chapel, by kind permission of Rosslyn Chapel Trust. There are also exclusive photos of certain rare artifacts and regalia from Rosslyn Chapel Museum exhibition, drawn from the private Brydon Collection — some of which have never been seen in public before.

The result is a solidly-researched, riveting read of the unfolding drama and history of the Knights Templar. It separates fact from fiction, and is a vital addition to our understanding of the Templars, the Grail, and their enduring spiritual legacy today.

click to order now from:|