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Cathars

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 03 Nov 2002, and now archived in the Forum Library.



faunabay  03 Nov 2002 
Does anyone know anything about the Cathars? All I know is they were a religous sect somewhere around the 1200's that were hunted down and pretty much killed off by the Inquisition.

A friend and I, through a weird set of synchronistic events, have both become interested in them. We thought it was weird that both of us (in different parts of the US) have very recently heard about the Cathars and become curious.

I looked them up on the internet and found out a bit about them. They were vegetarians, believed in the separateness of the mind, body and soul, and allowed women (gasp) :D into their ranks!!!!

But can anyone pass on some other information???? 


jmd  03 Nov 2002 
There are many reasonable books which have come out 'recently' on the Cathars.

May I suggest you have a look at one of the absolute classics:
    Zoé Oldenbourg's Massacre at Montségur: a history of the albigensian crusade
It was originally published in French in 1959, and in English translation in 1961. The Phoenix Press publication was printed in 1998 (I don't have its isbn). 


faunabay  04 Nov 2002 
Thanks jmd :)
I'll check it out. 


Minderwiz  05 Nov 2002 
I did a post not so long ago on the Cathars. They were mainly based in the Languedoc area of France (The Mediterranean West coast) and across into what is now Spain.

There was indeed a Crusade against them in 1209 followed by systematic destruction of them and their churches. It's difficult to sum them up in a short post and still do them justice. However they tended towards dualism - the belief in the powers of Good and Evil and believed that 'Hell' was right here on Earth - they believed that the world was created by Satan. They believed in reincarnation, did not accept the doctrine of original sin, were largely vegitarian and seemed to adopt the old ways in the use of herbal and other remedies. They als had female priests as well as male priests.

Their main threat to the Catholic church lay in their influence with the local nobility and at that time this area was one of the richest in Europe. They also did much to expose the corruption in the Catholic Church.

A good book to read, if you can still find it, is 'The Great Heresy' by Arthur Guirdham.

Regards

Minderwiz 


midnightmerry  05 Nov 2002 
Hi. If you wish to read about the Cathars/Albigenes from the Catholic viewpoint, you can go here:

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01267e.htm


If I am remembering rightly, briefly, they were viewed as a threat not only by the Catholic Church, but by some in the local secular governments, too. Of course the Catholic Church & the local princes/duchies were closely knit in those days.

Distilled from all the wordy explanations, basically, the main problems arose from the Albigenes dualistic beliefs regarding the impurity of human body and from the attacks on traditional Church practices and teachings. Among other things & more to the point, the Albigenes embraced sexless marriages and taught that brother-sister style relationships were best. The soul's freedom from the impure body was the ultimate aim- hence suicide was practiced. If I am not mistaken, they also denied the Presence in the Eucharist which was tantamount to denying the actuality of Christ's continuing sacrifice. All of these things were seen by the Church as grave moral dangers to the formation & salvation of souls.

And, to put a very complex political sitation into the simplest of terms: their elimination was also backed by several princes/duchies. The movement was gaining popularity and any fool of a prince could see that if all his subjects adopted sexless marriages his province would be de-populated in no time. No subjects meant no labor and no money for royalty. Of couse, things probably would have never reached that level (I doubt any large group of people would permanently give up sex) but it provided a good excuse to get rid of what was seen as a troublesome problem by some in power at the time. The whole thing got swept up in Crusader-like zeal and the Cathars/Albigenes were eliminated. 


Minderwiz  05 Nov 2002 
Yes the Cathars argued that you could gain salvation by leading a truly good life - they therefore did not recognise the Eucharist arguing that it was at best irrelevant and at worst a sort of pseudo-magical pagan left over. Hardly likely to endear them to the Catholic Church.

The Cathars though were fully in favour of marriage, and indeed rejected the idea that sex was sinful. They just didn't believe in the sacrament side of marriage. They even had married priests.

About a third of their priests were drawn from the nobility and they had considerable backing from the local nobility. They crucially did not have the backing of the King of France, who had eyes on incorporating Languedoc into France and with the Pope and church alienated their situation in the long run was precarious.

Minderwiz 


midnightmerry  12 Nov 2002 
Quote:
Originally posted by Minderwiz
Yes the Cathars argued that you could gain salvation by leading a truly good life -

Hi All. Interesting discussion!

From what I understand about the Cathars, it was more complex an issue than just 'leading a truly good life' although it is true that the Cathars were pacifists. Or maybe, I should say it would depend on your definition of what is a 'good' life. The Cathars were the inheritors of Manichean dualism; they saw the physical world as evil and thought that humans were spiritual beings trapped in a physical world that was completely evil. (This of course, denied the goodness of God's created world). The whole aim of life was liberating the soul to return to heaven. Strict fasting, vegetarianism (based on the revulsion of eating animals that were the products of sexual union- fish was ok, based on the erroneous belief that fish reproduced asexually) and sometimes even suicide (by asphyxiation or starvation) was practiced in order to allow the soul to return to its natural home in heaven. I don't know how 'good' these things are; it depends on your religious views. I think the aims were noble, but the means? On the brighter side, they had an admirable pacifism and dedication to charity and poverty.

<<>>

I was intrigued by this statement & did some research on this. They may have had married priests but it is a well attested fact (at least according to the half-dozen sites I looked at) that the Cathars saw sex as tied to the sinful, physical existence of the body. They believed that a brother-sister relationship was ideal between husband & wife. I'm still looking for a site that will give scholarly support to the idea that their ideology embraced the goodness of sexual relations. Can you direct me to a site?

>>About a third of their priests were drawn from the nobility and they had considerable backing from the local nobility. They crucially did not have the backing of the King of France, who had eyes on incorporating Languedoc into France>>


Yes, and there were a group of French barons that also were against them. But still it is true that the Cathars were gaining a great deal of popular support and a following.

>>they therefore did not recognise the Eucharist arguing that it was at best irrelevant and at worst a sort of pseudo-magical pagan left over. Hardly likely to endear them to the Catholic Church.>>


They not only did not recognize the Eurcharist; they denied the Incarnation completely, believing that a completely Good God would not under any circumstances descend to this evil-saturated plane of existence- especially in a lowly human body. Since the Church was completely based on a belief in the Incarnation/Eucharist, the Cathars became Public Enemy #1 in no time in the Church's eyes, since they saw Cathar beliefs as morally/spiritually dangerous and an insult to the sacrifice of Christ- not to mention threatening to Church authority and power. I'll say it hardly endeared them!!
 


The Cathars thread was originally posted on 03 Nov 2002 in the Spirituality board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the active threads in Spirituality, or read more archived threads.

 


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