Catharism : is Cathar Christianity a religion for today?

Immortality through martyrdom.

On March 16th 1244 nearly all of the last of the Cathars, over 200 people, clergy, laity and even some of the mercenaries paid to protect them who had converted to Catharism, voluntarily left their beseiged stronghold, the castle of Montsegur sitting high on its rocky outcrop in the south of France, and walked singing to the huge communal pyres that awaited them below. There they were burned to death and passed into the realms of myth and mystery.

It was the final outrage in the long history of persecution perpetrated on the Cathars by the Catholic Church of that time and, ironically and justly, it has ensured the immortality of the Cathars and their simple but profound beliefs.

The history of the Cathars, 766 years later, still fascinates and inspires what, to some people, could be a revival of an eminently practical and enlightened religion, a religion made for today.

The castle at Montsegur - the killing field below?
The castle at Montsegur - the killing field below? | Source
Escapees were lowered down to hide the Cathar's treasure ... thought to be coins and more importantly irreplaceable ancient texts.
Escapees were lowered down to hide the Cathar's treasure ... thought to be coins and more importantly irreplaceable ancient texts. | Source
Cathar gravestones with their distinctive cross heads.
Cathar gravestones with their distinctive cross heads. | Source
A Cathar memorial ..
A Cathar memorial .. | Source
Modern memorial to the Cathars ...
Modern memorial to the Cathars ... | Source

Catharism: simple Christianity.

Thanks to various written resources much of the Cathars practice and beliefs are still known, some of that thanks to the prurient zealotry of the Inquisition, the strong 'compliance' arm of the Roman Catholic Church.

Depositions taken down, usually after the application of torture, have shed a lot of light on the simple Christian practises that the Catholics found so inexplicably threatening. Sadly, much of this practice has also been seized upon and twisted for that most powerful of persecution tools ... historical propaganda.

Les Bonhommes

It is clear that the Cathars, or as they preferred to be known 'Les Bonhommes' (the good men), believed in a form of Dualism, the belief in the polar opposites of good and evil, much as many churches do today.

Where the Cathars diverted from the usual path was in the thought that their version of hell was here on earth. Heaven for them was the life 'in spirit' and the life on earth, in physical, bodily form, was the only hell there was. And it is here that the possible Eastern roots of their religion becomes apparent.

Their hell was not the everlasting pit of fire and brimstone with which the Catholics kept their masses subdued and controlled, but rather the everyday life of this world.

In this their religion had strong parallels with Buddhist beliefs with its basic tenet of reincarnation leading to a life incarnate, a life in which we are doomed to suffer unless we can transcend human desire. The core belief for both religions is that the eternal wheel of birth and rebirth goes on until one 'gets it right'.

To the Cathars, incarnate life was regarded as something to be got through by being as good as they could in the hope that not only could they return to a life in the lightness of spirit but that they could also remain in that state.

For them the earth had been created by Satan and spirit had been enslaved in flesh as a torment. It seems this was a very plausible attempt to explain why a good God would allow intense suffering into a world he had created.

As the rather intimidating and vengeful God of the Old Testament was well-known to be the Creator of the world it follows that Catharism thought of him as the Devil.

From this point it is easy to see how both this idea and the belief in reincarnation would put them on a collision course with the orthodox beliefs of the Catholic church which instigated, not just the everyday persecutions of torture and massacre, but also an all out Crusade against them.

The Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars ... ordered by a Pope.

In 1208 the inappropriately named Pope Innocent the Third, instigated the only Crusade that pitted one branch of Christianity against another. It is important that history records him as a zealous and warlike man who denounced, excommunicated, and sent armies and torturers after anyone who dared to disagree with the authority of the Mother Church and its interpretation of Christian dogma.

Deplorable as this may seem to us today it was simply the mores of a more brutal age and little seems to have been thought about God's representative on earth having every intention of wiping others human beings off the face of the earth.

The Albigensian Crusade, Albigensian being another, somewhat inaccurate, name for the Cathars, killed many thousands of men, women and children. One particularly shocking episode was at the siege of Beziers where many Catholics chose to side with the Cathars and they too were dragged from the church there.

When asked by his men how they could differentiate Catholics from Cathars, Arnaud, the Cistercian abbott/commander of the besieging forces is reported as saying ‘Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own’. It is estimated that 7000 people were murdered under those orders in that incident alone with many other atrocities occurring elsewhere in the town.

Cathar beliefs.

Having already outlined the main contentions: Dualism and a belief in reincarnation, it seems important to expand on the other enlightened aspects of this gentle religion. The Cathars:

  • were non-violent and promoted pacifism; another parallel with Buddhism as well as a particular teaching of Jesus Christ.
  • were vegetarians, except for fish. One presumes the thinking here is that if it was good enough for Jesus it was good enough for them, though their clergy was totally vegetarian.
  • had only one sacrament, the Consolamentum, which symbolised a letting go of worldly things. This was administered by the laying on of hands before death for the laity, or earlier if one decided to become a Parfait, their version of a preacher and teacher.
  • had women as well as men as priests, (Parfaite being the female appellation). They held to the sensible idea that Parfaits should usually come from people in their middle-age, after they had been wives and husbands and had children. This made the rule of celibacy imposed on the Parfaits easier to keep and thus a much more realistic concept.
  • deplored the corruption and pomp of the Roman Church, preferring to preach and teach at meetings held in fields and woods or simple rooms with no unnecessary and showy valuables. They believed this purity of concept made them the True Christian church working within the original intentions of the Christ. To them the Catholic Church had moved well away from the basic principles of original Christianity.
  • believed they were meant to heal people as instructed by Jesus, who was believed either to be either the 'True God' or his messenger.
  • saw Jesus's resurrection as proof of reincarnation
  • did not believe in oaths as this was seen as tying oneself to the material world. It is said that because of this the Cathars did not believe in marriage, preferring open relationships instead. As this was a particular anathema to the Roman Catholic church it is hard to say how much of this may be propaganda aimed at discrediting the Cathars in the eyes of the orthodoxy.
  • believed very much in the life of the spirit and wished to return to it. This could be why, when they were close to death, they were thought to practice what was termed 'endura', which was the refusal of all food and drink after administration of the Consolamentum. This starvation hastened their death and was seen as the crime of suicide by the Catholic Church. That this was suicide may be hard to prove as many people 'in extremis' are actually incapable of eating or drinking.
  • they preached, taught and wrote about their beliefs in the language of the region, the Languedoc, also known as Occitan, rather than Latin. This enlightened stance was so that the laity understood exactly what they were being told and could learn. Predictably, this was also deplored by the Catholic church, who used only Latin, presumably to impress and awe their naïve congregations.

Should Catharism be revived?

Of course, I have been unable to give more than a flavour here of this religion and its dead adherents. It is a vast subject and much has been written about it. There is also a lot of dissent about many of its aspects but certain things seem to me to be indisputable.

It was a pure, simple, practical religion that tried to closely follow the original instructions of Jesus Christ. And whoever you believe him to be, whether it is purely as a teacher and healer or as the son of God, is immaterial, as there is no doubt that he did leave us the perfect blueprint for a peaceful, tolerant and loving society.

It is only us who have stood on the plans and muddied them. It may perhaps not be possible, or even desirable, to revive such a long-lost religion but I cannot see why we should not at least try to follow in their path now that it no longer leads to the stake.

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Comments 47 comments

Brenda Durham 5 years ago

Interesting subject.

But I'm sorry to have to say this, but....it's not basic Christianity. Jesus never taught (nor does the Bible teach) many of those basic things you've listed there....

Apparently "Catharism" has more in common with Catholicism than not. Both are in huge error on some basic points!


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thanks for correcting me, Brenda. Do I understand you are saying that as Catharism has more in common than not with Catholicism that Catholicism too is not basic Christianity? Sorry, not quite sure here ...

Also I am not quite sure as to the Bible as it has been filtered somewhat through many processes since it was assembled - I'm thinking here of the Emporer Constantine and the Council of Nicea in 325 when there is thought to have been some tinkering with allusions to some aspects such as Arianism though the Cathars seem to have mainly followed the Gospel according to St John ...

Maybe Christianity is open to interpretation? Would be pleased to read your comments on this ...


Stan Fletcher profile image

Stan Fletcher 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

This was very interesting and educational. I had heard of this sect, but never read much about it...I'm not particularly dogmatic anymore and love to hear about other views on belief. I don't believe in reincarnation, but I have been troubled in recent years by what some (Catholics, etc.) might have done to the Bible to advance their purposes. It gets cloudier instead of clearer the older I get. Hence, the lack of dogmatism. I wish Jesus would send an email or something that would clear some things up. In the meantime, we are left to seek. He did say that if we would seek, we would find, so we do have that....


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Mornin' dear boy! I need to explore this theme further, I think - I'm not sure now that I do believe in reincarnation totally but I certainly believe that the soul/spirit/energy force thingy lives on after death - I have had far too much proof not to believe. I don't believe Jesus was the son of big G ... I just think he was a teacher/healer who was aware that energy can never be destroyed ... which I think is basic quantum physics, I think or am I talking out of my supermoon?


CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

Great hub. Can a lost religion ever be truly revived? I have problems with the dualist aspects of Catharism, as I think that the world is a wonderful place and not at all evil, but the simple ascetic lives of the Cathar Perfect were in sharp contrast with the venality of the Catholic clergy at the time, and they get full marks for their tolerance and the equal status of women in their beliefs


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

I totally agree, they were ahead of their time with female equality and like you I doubt it could be revived but it's a shame as such a simple religion does seem closer to what Jesus preached. I am not a Dualist as I believe the only evil in the world comes from man's darker side.

Many thanks for taking the time to comment.


michal1138 5 years ago

I unfortunately was raised catholic, in my adult years I wished to be a minister, in deep studies and research I found myself floundering in the "ugly"truth behind all organized religions and Ideologies. I went on a path of meditation and soul searching which I am still on, it never ends. All "christion" faiths today have their base in the catholic bible, and it is true about your comments on Constantine and the bishops. You were however more kind of your mention of him as he was quite brutal, and what became our "bible" is a horribly translated version of truer visions, meant to subjegate and abuse and gain wealth by those in power.

Yes, I believe in dualism, I belive that there is another place of true untarnished Love and beauty that words can never ascribe meaning to. We want "God in a box" but isn't even the simple act of looking at a beautiful sunset in awe, more of an honest prayer then all the words and kneeling of our lives?

Physisists, quantum mechanics and on believe that possibly there is a central power or brain if you choose to call it that all the universe is connected thru.

Some believe in multiple universes occupying the same space... absurd? there are hundreds of radio, television, and microwaves that occupy the exact same space, yet we only hear the wavelength we happen to tune in to. What if we vibrate at a slightly different wavelength on a subatomic level? is it still absurd?

I have thrown my earthly "God" in the trash and have taken a lonely rough road, and I can never turn back! The Visions I have seen are truth at the end of this road. and maybe the Cathar, the templars and others saw that and had proof and that is why they were slaughtered to the last child. Maybe someday the truth will be found in a safe container in an obscure cave, and all we believe will come crashing down. would explain the total brutality of the church.

Michal


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

My dear Michal ... many, many thanks for your honest and in-depth comment to this piece. I do agree that the Bible has been terribly mangled by man through the ages and may well bear little resemblance to the original teachings of Jesus. It has been filtered through so many people's agendas. I'm afraid the old testament with its wrathful, vengeful God makes even less sense to mankind ....

I have Buddhist tendencies so I believe in knowing oneself first ... but I try to follow the teachings of Christ too. As for God, I prefer to think of him as 'the Universe' and as a somehow more quantum physics sort of thing. As you can see my beliefs are very mixed and muddled but they work as a framework of goodness to aspire to. Not that I always succeed. :-)


michal1138 5 years ago

My Dear Angie

Thank You for your reply. I grew up believing I was on my way to "hell" But I could never except the hateful God I was taught to believe in. I believe that is the God of mankind on this planet. I have seen places of such beauty and Love beyond imagining. In one I entered I begged to stay, and with great Love and sadness, I was told it wasn't my time yet, and I had to return here. it was terrible to awaken in this dark world, I have never been the same since. I wander, lost and searching every day. But, as an emt now I have found I can care and protect, my patients regardless of race,gender,social status. and I have learned to protect any man or woman who can not protect themselves, and I do so fiercly. I fear no man. it is the only true release for the Love I have seen.

Yes, my thoughts are with You and any other who seeks the true path. In the noise and madness of this world that assaults us every day, our thoughts and direction can get muddled or confused, the Holy Mother, creator of all things, is the very power that holds each atom of ourselves and all we see and feel in it's special place, and the Lord of the universe, our Savior, bleeds and looks for our return home. and the "Angels" weep tears of blood for the crimes of man against man.

So many days, I feel lost, but when the tone goes, and I touch my patients, I am calm and know my place, many have called me an Angel, but when I walk out of the emergency room doors, I am a just a damaged middle aged man looking for that Place of Love.

Angie, never stop seeking, the more You do, it seems at times, the more you feel lost. But it is a path few ever tread. There is a world of indescribable beauty and Love waiting for those that travel the path of loneliness. I think Maybe this world is meant to burn away the things that could prevent us from entering there. But, who am I to say? I would be arrogant to think I would know the intentions of the Mother Creator, I am not worthy to know her name.

MY Love and Blessings to You

Michal


michal1138 5 years ago

Dearest Angie

I apologize for going off track, I Love the Cathar cross and have attemted to find all I could about them as well as the other Gnostic and mystic societie's that were destroyed. The vatican has many of those teachings that will never be allowed to see the light of day.

Can Cathar beliefs be revived? I wish. However, maybe only by a small handfull. The True God of this world is Money, Power and Fear and any movement that would go against that would end as abruptly as the Cathar and others like them.

There is a chunk of rock hurtling end over end towards this earth, and the day will come, when all will be tested to the extreme. Maybe then, a new belief will arise.

Michal


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

No need to apologise, Michal ... it is always good to hear another point of view, maybe some new idea, a new way of looking at things.

Perhaps it doesn't matter that some religions have had their day ... I think the time may be right for everyone to be spiritually independent ... holding only onto the theme 'do unto others ...'


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 4 years ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

The cat plays with the mouse and then, most often, kills it. It seems that most other meat eaters kill quickly, but often lack the intelligence of the domestic cats. The clever mouse often "plays dead," and survives to run away from a bored cat easily distracted when bored. I mention this as an unanswered query on how man's intelligence may be at the root of his cruelty. The Nag Hamadi documents give an earlier understanding of many "lost" Christian beliefs found only with difficulty in today's religions. For other lost tenets I would refer you to my own researched Hub. It may take faith to forgo intelligence and choose love, forgiveness, and non-judgement, in an effort to show gratitude to a Heavenly Father (and Mother?) whose very essence may be those same qualities. I once put forward my belief that the difference between the God of the Old Testament and the God Father Jesus declared was simply the clarification of the true nature of God when we could hear it directly from His Son instead of from those who were understandably led to fear His indescribable powers. Or could it be that God himself mellowed when he saw what His Son saw as forgivable in God's created spirit children? As a young priest in Hitler's Germany told the older priest just prior to the young priest's execution by the Nazis, "Father, in a moment I will know more than you do." That day and hour will come for each of us. Oh, happy day that.


LOUIS 4 years ago

Catharism, The Church of Love is alive and well. x


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Perspycacious - many thanks for your in-depth comment which I have only just come across thanks to HP omitting to inform me about it.

It was kind of you to give us your thoughts on the nature of God. My apologies for the delay in replying.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi LOUIS - thank you for that!


Uuganbayar Batkhuyag 4 years ago

Hello,

This was a such a great piece and I would jump right into the opportunity to revive this religon.

Please contact me on ubatkhuyag(at)gmail.com if there's anything i can do to help.

I also agree that Jesus DID teach reincarnation. The bible has only 4 gospels out of 30 that were circulation after Jesus's death. The only gospels that were included were the ones that you could control people and have people believe in dogmas.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thank you so much, Uuganbayar, for your support and for this erudite comment.

Sadly the Bible has been much messed about by men with agendas over the two millennia ... but many God-fearing folk really don’t want to believe it.

The Cathars seemed, to me at least, to be trying to keep to Jesus’s principles more than any other religion and that made them and their supporters dangerous to the Roman Catholic church of the time, which as we know was very much into power and the trappings of wealth; hardly the creed that Jesus taught.


trevor moffatt 4 years ago

The Cathars believed Rex Mundi created this universe - i.e. the devil. This was their greatest schism with the Catholic church. The Vatican believed in the devil - but not as a creator god but rather as a fallen angel. The Catholic concept of creation was seen as divinely ordained by a just but stern deity akin to the god of the Old Testament.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thank you for this clarification, Trevor. It is useful to have more flesh put on the bare bones of this hub.

It does seem strange to us now though that the Catholic church of old was so extremely military and that it could actually mobilise forces to enforce its point of view about God. Strange and ineffably sad.


Jennifer 4 years ago

Imagine what a beautiful world we would live in if the Catholic church didn't try to annihalite the various spiritual belief systems? The indiginous people for example lived in a truly harmonous and peaceful world before the Spaniards came to their lands and took it all away? What give the church the right to dominate the world and be superior to everyone else? Why doesn't the church recognize how evil they have been over the last thousand years? Do they have blinders in front of their eyes? Why do people still worship the Pope? What has he done? If someone could explain his (as well as the church's) philosophy, I would be more than happy to listen.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Many thanks for point of view, Jennifer. As with most religions I think it is a case of the hierarchy of the church always believing that know what is best for people.

That is why I am a Buddhist … that does not happen in Buddhism. But then Buddhism is not really a religion … it is really only a system to make living more peaceful by avoiding suffering.


taisha 3 years ago

thankyou for your article and thoughts on Cartharism! I have recently watched The Labarinth movie, and found the religion one that seems to follow most of my beliefs! I believe in reincarnation and dualism.

thanks again

ps I agree it would be nice to see a revival


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thank you for your comment, taisha … I am not familiar with the movie 'The Labyrinth’ so I must go and look it up.

I very much appreciate you taking the time to stop and share your views.


Dominique 3 years ago

I too have just watched "The Labyrinth".. Everything that I feel.. that I believe in was portrayed in this program..This has led me to your page.. I feel like I should be doing something.. something more than I am..sorry.. just looking for answers.. somewhere to go.. I would appreciate your help? Thankyou


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Catharism no longer exists, Dominique.

As always the search for who we are and what we should be doing with our lives starts within ourselves.

For me, personal spirituality has never actually included a ‘God’ figure. I believe that if there had been a God he would not have allowed people to exist for millennia before he decided to make contact through the medium of Christ.

But I do believe it is possible to get in touch with your true self by meditation. It has the effect of calming and stilling the mind so that you can access much more of it. I have found it helps you make more of what you are and I believe most people have an inner core of goodness.

This does not mean you will become a world leader or be famous etc. it simply means that you will be fulfilled by your life, whatever you choose to be.

There is a saying, ‘If I do not go within, I go without’.

And one more point, although I have not seen The Labyrinth and so cannot comment on it, I think it is important not to read too much into films as they are usually made for shallow reasons, such as to entertain, to make a lot of money for their backers etc.

Only you can find you … all you need are the correct tools. Meditation is one of them and you can find that through a Buddhist practice or simply by sitting quietly yourself, clearing your mind and seeing what enters it when you are at your most peaceful. This will be the communication of your subconscious mind … and what it shows you is always of value.

I am sorry if my answer does not help you … I am getting old now and have no time for man’s religious constructs.

All I can do is offer you genuine love and best wishes for your journey of self-discovery.


John J 3 years ago

this is a very interesting religion. Watch Labyrinth. It just recently aired in UK. Good story


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi John … I have just watched Labyrinth and it was a good romp. Easy to watch but with very little about the true Cathar religion in it. Still, as a study in the mindless persecution of the time I’m pretty sure it could have been fairly accurate.

But … it was still a story, it was still to entertain, it had the usual components of pretty girls and unfeasibly high heels and short skirts. The scenery was wonderful, what’s not to like about Carcassonne, Montségur and apparently, South Africa!

That said … I believe the fate of the Cathars should still be remembered. Despite the Dan Brownisation of their story it is still both a memorable history and a testament to to truly amazing religion. Let’s face it they were martyrs on a grand scale and the Catholic Church and its paid henchmen made them that.


Windhover 3 years ago

Hi,I've been interested in Catharism for the past 30 years ,and have spent a lot of time in the beautiful Languedoc area of the Pyrenees .It was there that I shed all my romantic illusions about the faith, and became liberated.

My life has slowed down,and I try to keep things simple,ie grow my own veg ,started to paint again, the odd amble down to the pub,I now know there is more to me than this body ,and my philosophy can be summed up in an old epitaph.

I strove with none,for none was worth my strife,

Nature I loved, and next to nature art,

I warmed both hands before the fire of life,

It sinks and I am ready to depart.


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thank you, Windhover, for your words of wisdom and balance.

The epitaph is particularly beautiful and I think it a fitting philosophy for life.

Again, many thanks for your contribution.


The onewho lights the sacred fires 3 years ago

Dear Angie,

I've looked into the history of Cathars myself since on my mystical journey I wrote the book, "I love, therefor I am."

The Cathars were too influencend by the Church beliefs of their time and rebelling but not out of their own insights.

The truth comes through our spirit and the truth is what sets us free.

Who Jesus was and who I am is irrelevant on a physical level. The Christ consciousness is what is being taught but focused was and is placed on the person and not the spirit.

I wish you to get your own experience via mysticism which is the only way to KNOW.

With Love,

The one who lights the sacred fires


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thank you, m’dear for you kind comment.

I have had many strange insightful and spiritual experiences and have now come to an age whereby I have become a complete atheist.

I admire greatly the man, Jesus Christ, as rebel and pacifist leader in an age of great cruelty and inequity. However I do not believe in a Divine Being, it simply does not coincide with science.

I do not believe that the God most people worship now would allow people to exist for millions of years without sending them some sort of sign. How would hunter-gatherers get to this alleged Heaven if they did not know this God? It simply does not make sense.


The one who lights the sacred fires 3 years ago

Dear Angie,

I am certain that you are a woman of knowledge and,

therefor you know that our true knowledge has nothing to

do with science nor can it be explained or understood by

science.

The Divine we will never be able to fathom unless we

get to know ourselves and learn that this is a life long

process with many battles to win and loose.

I am sending you a poem as a present for you. Maybe it

will make you smile :)

I AM

I AM THE FIRE,

RAGING IN YOUR VEINS,

RELEASING ALL OF

YOUR LONGING

FOR LIBERATION

I AM THE CALM WATER,

RUNNING TENDERLY

THROUGH YOUR BODY,

REFLECTING

ALL YOUR KNOWING

I AM THE WIND,

UNVEILING

YOUR INNER SKIES,

BRINGING CLARITY

TO YOUR VOICE

I AM THE SOIL,

ROOTING ALL

TO THE WOMB OF

MOTHER EARTH,

CONNECTING YOU

TO ALL EXISTENCE.

I AM!

The one who lights the sacred fires

From the book "I love, therefor I am"


Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 3 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Thank you so much for the lovely poem … it was a lovely gift and I will treasure it.

Namaste


The one who lights the sacred fires 3 years ago

The world is a sacred and mysterious place which the humandkind has never seized to try to understand and explore. The same is true for the seeking to comprehend the Divine mind, essence and logic. Can we really ever completely understand or explain?

The explanations given by science and any modern day religion don't even come close to what is revealed to us on other levels of perception once we open up to the possibility of other realities. Life, as well as the earth we live on, become then mysterious places that we can never stop to wonder in awe. The beauty and miracles of life are revealed to those who stop trying to explain by ways of human logic and reasoning but start accepting the Great Spirit running through all of its creatures.

Peace and Love be within and without!

Namaste


zekez 2 years ago

Hello! Good Hubpage. The Cathar period was very interesting. I wanted to add a little detail. The Cathar religion was a repeat of the very old heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. They believed Jesus was created, not born. And not only was he created, he was actually created by Satan, as were the rest of us, and even the entire universe. Satan created the universe, and everything in it, including our bodies, the bodies of Jesus and Mary, everything. God is sort of a co-ruler with Satan. They also believed in reincarnation. They believed our bodies were evil, marriage, sex and having children were evil. So Cathar beliefs were completely, totally incompatible with Christian beliefs and were considered an extremely vile heresy.

In the middle ages, there wasn't any separation between church and state. The kings were Catholic. They were put in office by the Pope, and in turn, the kings defended Christendom for the Church. None of the Catholic kings wanted these Cathars in their territories. They considered them subversive and unwanted elements in their kingdom, with the potential to overthrow them. Eventually the Cathars became numerous enough to convert some counts and kings. Now you have Catholic kings pitted against Cathar kings and all hell breaks loose! The Catholic kings eventually won, although it took 200 years.

When people say "the Pope" launched a crusade, what they really should say is "one or more Catholic kings" sent their armies to defend Christendom. That would be far more accurate. The Pope didn't have an army and never did. It was always kings and their armies that did the fighting. I'm sure many kings viewed crusades as a chance to expand their territory. The Pope could ask a king for an army, but if no king would cooperate, tough titties.

Even though the story of the Cathars ended in annihilation, in the beginning the Church tried every possible peaceful means to persuade the Cathars to give up their heresy and come back to the fold. The Church sent emissaries over and over. They sent (St.) Dominic and the Dominican order to preach to them. Nothing worked. They sent Papal legates, and the Cathars killed them. That was the last straw. Finally a crusade was launched, but that didn't happen until all peaceful means had been exhausted, which took about 100+ years.

When the crusade was finished, the Papal emissaries tried to stop the death sentences the king of France had given the Cathars. They wanted them to repent, but the vast majority of Cathars chose death over repentance. Remember, this is the middle ages. People were really fanatics then. And it was a violent era for sure. Thanks to you and Peace!


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Angie Jardine 2 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Many thanks, zekez, for this lucid expansion on the subject of the Cathars. It has added greatly to my knowledge of this sect and their beliefs and I am grateful for this.


angiehaldenby@gmail.com 2 years ago

The Cathars have long been in the Languedoc area but many originally came from Bulgaria. They didn't believe that Christ was the son of God or in the Crucifixion, merely he was a prophet among many of his day. Therefore, their tenet differed from the Catholic Church. Christ's crucifixion was supposed to be the saving of Man, but if it didn't happen, then the whole basis of Catholicism was null and void, hence why the Catholic Church wanted to suppress Cathar beliefs. Personally speaking, I'm happier believing in Cathar ideals - it appeals to my views on the mysteries of the meaning of life and why we are all here. I'm sure Catharism still exists today, but low key. It's a way of thinking which does no harm to anyone and long may it continue.


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Angie Jardine 2 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Hi Angie ... thanks for the comment, and I’m sure you are right. So many of us are disillusioned by the great religions of the world becoming divisive and usually violent. What I can never understand is why Christians are incapable of sticking to a religion started by a man of peace and humility. Why do they not live by those guidelines?


Angie Haldenby 2 years ago

Hi Angie - I suppose the short answer to that is it's too hard to live one's life every day in the way Christ wanted for us. Human nature is 'dual' and often the we choose the wrong path not just for ourselves, but in our treatment of others. I think this is what the Cathars recognised in Man's spirit and their dualism philosophy is not only their belief in the material world created by Satan, but of Man himself - he also is a dual being. Perhaps it's a law of nature, who knows. I don't suppose we'll all ever be able to live entirely as Christ taught, or indeed Mohammed or the Buddha. It's not in our nature to do so. If there is such a state as reincarnation , then perhaps it's true that we do keep coming back to perfect ourselves. We'll keep coming back to this beautiful planet with all it's good and evil sides until we can become one instead of two.


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Angie Jardine 2 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

I think you may just have something there ... but it’s still a good job there are us old gals to pepper the planet with sensibleness, eh?


Angie Haldenby 2 years ago

I always was one for pondering - now where did I put my zimmer? :)


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Angie Jardine 2 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... Author

Don’t ... my house is infested with the blighters! And a pair of crutches ... x


Skyte 23 months ago

Interesting. And a pity.


Marie 17 months ago

A wonderful article!

In the Labyrinth book ( by Kate Mosse) on which the movie was based upon, there is actually more about the Cathar religion ( the movie was fine but too commercial). This is how I first learned about Cathars and I am still researching about this wonderful and gentle religion mainly because I share most of their beliefs.

Have a wonderful day!


Ezra 12 months ago

Greetings,

Trust, Truth, and Honesty, before 325 AD. After liars.

Shalom.


Brian 12 months ago

Reading maries post brought back memories of when I also started my research into the Cathar faith, 30 odd years ago.

It took me to the beautiful Languedoc area in Southern France , where Catharism flourished and was brutally repressed.

From the castle of Carcassonne , to the hilltop village of Rennes-le-chateau with its strange church and tower, La grasse abbey, and ultimately the hauntingly beautiful-yet tragic fortress of Montsegur , where after a prolonged siege , 120 Cathars were taken down the hill , and burnt at the stake, rather than recant their faith.

My journey brought me no mystical experiences or illumination, just a subtle awareness in recognising the Cathar principles in some of the people I meet in life. I have returned many times since , and the journey is well worth the taking.


Cicerone 6 months ago

I offer you this, my sister: Whatever you call a flower changes nothing, The flower remains beautiful, colourful, and has it's role in God's creation. My ancesters and I believed that Jesus was a prophet, a child of God, as are we. His message was powerfully simple: love. Recall at the time sacrifices and fear of God (or Gods) was common. But God is transcendent and is the Creator nothing more. All we know is that we came from creation and we return to creation and become something else; but still part of God's universe. Would one really want to worship a God (or gods) that had the same frailties as us? Through love we have our communion with our brothers and sisters. Our temple is in our heart, not bricks and mortar. Recall at the time of Jesus, religion was practiced in temples with alters for sacrifice, idols, and imagery of whatever was the object of worship, Jesus the prophet was revolutionary at the time as the concept of loving creation rather than fearing it. I could go on, but I would be challenging a psyche that has been influenced by two thousand years of misinformation. I will share this with you, the reason why it appears that we came from the east is simple: When the Roman empire existed, the followers of Christ the prophet were scattered everywhere. Christianity didn't come to Rome, Rome came to Christianity (became aware) and tried to "Romanise it" by the usual "traditional way" of temple building and ritualising. Those outside of this perversion of Christ the prophet's simple message of love developed in their own way. Even literature quoted regarding "Cathars" was written post hoc. recall that many early followers of Jesus could neither read or write two thousand years ago, hence the tradition of word of mouth, and it the simplicity of the message. I think many today would be disappointed in what Simple Christianity would have to offer: No churches, no hierarchy, no ritualism, just love of God's creation and appreciating our fellowship with our brothers and sisters. Many who I have talked to have wanted to "convert" initially, but when they discovered that we're not some secret society with capes and gowns, away they go. Fair enough. And, in a way that might help you understand our relationship with Jesus, he is a messenger. And it is the message (of love), not the messenger himself which guides us to this day. May love bring you peace my brothers and sisters.

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