The beautiful Cathars of Languedoc
The ideas of the beautiful Cathars of Languedoc spread across western Europe 700 years ago
Cathar comes from the Greek: καθαροί, katharoi, "the pure [ones]"
They built on the dualistic theology of Manichaeism
Which they blended with the eastern Christianity of Byzantium
They were ascetic: believing the material world was the evil realm of Satan
Whilst the world of the spirit was the beautiful realm of good God(s).
Within each individual this battle between Good and Evil was constantly mirrored.
This syncretic blend of religions denied the vengeful Jehovah of the Old Testament
And was anathema to the powerful in Rome who launched an Inquisition, the Albigensian Crusade
This attempt at the genocide of an idea led to tens of thousands being massacred
For instance, Simon de Montefort decreed than a hundred Cathars should have their eyes, lips and noses removed
A Cathar with one eye led them back to their village as a warning.
Cathars were strictly non-violent and this left them vulnerable to the hyper-violence of their age
From 1200 AD until 1250 AD thousands were burnt alive for refusing to recant or to take communion
It took hundreds of years to wipe out the human traces of this beautiful religion.
Now a few of their castles remain in the mountains of Languedoc
But their ideas have never died, they've come alive again in a new age:
veganism, vegetarianism, mysticism, free love, mindfulness, equality of the sexes, living in the moment, holistic medicine, friendship, generosity, open-mindedness, hope....
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose
For the beautiful Cathars of Languedoc.