Mysteries of Southern France

Why Were the Teachings of the Original Christians Brutally Suppressed by the Roman Church?

Catharism was for many years the prevalent form of Christianity in large areas of France, Spain and Italy. The Cathars called themselves the friends of God and condemned the literalist Church as the Church of the Anti-Christ. They claimed to be the living inheritors of the true Christian heritage that had persisted in secret and which still had large numbers of adherents throughout the world.

Like the original Christians, the Cathars were vegetarians, believed in reincarnation and considered the Old Testament god Jehovah to be a tyrant...

The Cathars were respected for their goodness, even by their opponents. The Catholic Bernard of Clairveaux writes:

"If you interrogate them, no one could be more Christian. As to their conversation, nothing can be less reprehensible, and what they speak they prove by deeds. As for the morals of the heretics, they cheat no one, they oppress no one, they strike no one."

Despite this, the infamous Inquisition was set up by the Literalist Church specifically to eradicate the cathars, which it did with ferocious enthusiasm, burning alive men, women and children. From 1139 onwards the Roman Church began calling councils to condemn the heretics. Pope Innocent III declared that 'anyone who attempted to construe a personal view of God which conflicted with Church dogma must be burned without pity'. In 1208 he offered indulgences and eternal salvation, as well as the lands and property taken from the heretics, to anyone who would take up the crusade against the Cathars. This launched a brutal 30-year pogrom which decimated southern France. Twelve thousand people were killed at St Nazaire and ten thousand at Toulouse, to give just two examples.

Béziers sacked and burnt 22nd July 1209

The inquisitor Bernard Gui instructed that no one should argue with the unbeliever, but 'thrust his sword into the man's belly as far as it will go.' At Beziers, when asked how to tell who was a Cathar and who was not, the commanding legate, Arnaud, replied, 'Kill them all, for God will know his own.' Not a child was spared.

Carcassonne taken by Crusaders 15th August 1209

Montségur - last stronghold of the Cathars

The Inquisition

By 1215, the Council of Lateran established the dread Inquisition. During the next 50 years the toll of those killed by this infamous arm of the Church climbed to one million, more than in all of the other crusades against heresies combined.

Cathars and supporters burnt at Montségur 16th March, 1244

Throughout these trials, Montségur quietly defied the Church, standing as a bastion of faith. The brave Cathari and their supporters resisted for six months. but, through an act of treachery, the difficult mountain was scaled, and in march of 1244, Montségur surrendered. Singing, 205 Cathars marched down the mountain and into the large bonfires awaiting them.

At Montségur, at Minerve, in the dungeons of Carcasonne, it is told that the Parfaits went willingly to their fate, helping others at the same time achieve release without fear or pain.

Yet despite the persecutions, the Gnostic free spirit could not be extinguished. Christian Gnosticism was reinterpreted for the twentieth century by Cark Jung, who along with Sigmund Freud founded psychoanalysis. Jung wrote to Freud that the Gnostics' Sophia was a 're-embodiment of an ancient wisdom that might appear once again in modern psycho-analysis.' He asserted, 'It is clear beyond doubt that many of the Gnostics were nothing other than psychologists', and began to view mental illness as a failed initiation.

from Jesus and the Lost Goddess by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

Cathar worship

The outer appearance and practices of the Parfaits were simple. They worshipped in forests and on mountain tops, utilizing the strong tellurgic currents of the region. Their initiations were held in a series of limestone caves, chiefly near the Pic de St. Barthalemy.

What set the Cathari apart from other gnostic sects was the ritual of the The Consolamentum. This ceremony consisted of the Parfait laying his hands upon the head of the literally dying or upon the head of the believer who aspired to enter the community of the Parfaits. A transmission of immense vivifying energy was said to take place, inspiring to those who witnessed it.

The ritual of the The Consolamentum may have strongly contributed to the rapid spread of Catharism. This energy transmission allowed the spirit to continue its ascent towards the Light in safety, to evolve, or if the recipient was on the threshold of death, to make the leap into the cosmos. To not fear death was a crowning achievement. This courage served the adepts well when they were ruthlessly hunted down.

The sacred caves of the Sabarthez cluster around the small resort town of Ussat-Les-Bains are known as 'doors to Catharism'. To reach Bethlehem, the most important of the Cave Churches of Ornolac, one must climb the steep Path of Initiation. The Cave of Bethlehem may well have been the spiritual center of the Cathar world. For it was here that the 'Pure' candidate underwent an initiation ceremony that culminated in The Consolamentum.

Four aspects of the Cave were utilized in the ceremony:

  • A square niche in the wall in which stood the veiled Holy Grail
  • A granite altar upon which the Gospel of John lay.
  • A pentagram hewn into the wall.
  • Telluric currents emanating from the rock walls and floor.

from The Trail of Gnosis by Judith Mann

Return of the Cathars

"At the end of seven hundred years, the laurel will be green once more."
- Anonymous Troubadour, 13th Century

Cathars and Reincarnation

"Rudolf Steiner, speaking of the way in which souls embodied in the different streams of evolving Christianity would reincarnate in our time, drew attention to the fact that many souls connecting themselves with the movement for Spiritual Science associated with his own teachings, were in fact former Cathari. The beacon which drew us was the single word Montségur, which for me had only the magic of the name itself, and the knowledge that it had been the scene of the most famous of the massacres of the Albigeois in 1244."

The Cathar Connection by Stanley Messenger