The Mayor That Was Me

The Mayor That Was Me

REINCARNATION and the Cathars

The Cathars believed in Reincarnation, yes, but exactly how is difficult to determine.


Painting by Languedocian artist
  Certainly they had the concept that the soul was a person's true existence, and that life on earth was merely something to be endured until you could return to the heaven you had lived in before.  There are even stories of the Parfaits punishing people by forcing them to return back to Earth again.

  Others say that Cathar people could choose whether they wanted to return or not, and other accounts say that the Cathars believed one reincarnated nine times, and that one was a man or a woman alternately.  If so, the Cathars were quite sophisticated, for I still meet people today who think one remains the same gender.  One man, who thought reincarnation was a heresy, could understand the concept, but when I said I was apparently reincarnated from a man he was quite shocked and said that was impossible!

  Most of what we know about the Cathars today, historically speaking, comes from the meticulous records kept by the Inquisition, many of which still exist.  Inquisition means simply "inquiry" and this branch of the Catholic Church was instigated by the Dominican monk, Dominic Guzman.  Because the Inquisition was looking for evidence in one person's testimony to lead them to somebody else, they often asked a lot of questions, and wrote down the answers, about everyday life and the small happenings within it; this has given historians much valuable information about how ordinary people lived in medieval times.

 The Inquisition was interested in weeding out "heretics", who were considered criminals worthy of the standard death penalty of being burnt alive at the stake.  Eventually, all the Parfaits or priests were tracked down and executed, and the Cathar religion seemed to be forgotten.  For many years, interest in the Cathars was completely dormant.  People only knew they were a heretic sect that had, justifiably, been wiped out. 

  Then came the Revolution in France, fomented by "The Age of Reason" and conventional religion was not exactly dead, one had freedom of conscience, but Republicanism was the ruling politics.  By 1850 people were exploring many alternative options, seances were held in Paris and an interest in Catharism was revived.

  This was called neo-Catharism and was quite strong in the Languedoc.  The Cathar castles, now belonging to the State, were visited and archeologists started excavations.  The intellectual élite, such as Déodat Roché, started talking about Gnostism, or claiming they were reincarnated from leading Cathars.  The lady Esclarmonde, who died at Montségur, started appearing to people at the table-tapping events in Paris, and many people found out, or had mystic memories, or simply decided, that they were Cathars, in lives past and current.

 RocheFriend.jpg  The spirit of 1930's research
This peaked in the nineteen thirties, especially as the Germans had decided that Montségur was the Grail castle described in the Wagner operas.  Everybody who was anybody came to Languedoc to research, investigate and sometimes, claim Cathar artefacts as their own.  This continued during the second world war, when the German troops here claimed various things belong rightly to them and, legend says, on the anniversary of the death of the Cathars, on 16th March 1944 they flew in convoy over Montségur.

  Interest in Catharism among English people grew when something happened in the 1960's in Bath, England, that had never happened before.  A group of people discovered that they had all known each other in a previous life and that previous life was a Cathar one in the Languedoc, especially around Montségur where many of them died.  This was all discovered by a psychiatrist called Arthur Guirdham.  The group traced their past lives, sometimes under hypnosis, and even named the people they were reincarnated from and so worked out who knew who.  And Arthur Guirdham - who was also a reincarnated Cathar - wrote it all down in a book.

  This became very popular and so he wrote others, and Guirdham became a leading light in spiritual circles.  He said he gave people false names because after all, they had come to him as patients and he had to protect patient confidentiality.  Thus, my only criticism of his reincarnating group is this; did all these patients go to him because they were mentally ill?

  This group-reincarnation phenomenon has recently been investigated by the television star Tony Robinson and a wonderful film produced.  Tony usually plays the role of "de-bunker" but this time he had interesting experiences of his own, and by the end of the film the question remained open.  In it there were two errors by the way;  Guirdham was described as a psychologist, not a psychiatrist, and it was said that the Cathars were "massacred" in the castle of Montségur.   In reality there was no fighting; the Cathars surrendered and were burnt alive on a huge pyre near the bottom of the hill marked by a stele that the film-makers obviously didn't know about.


  It is incredibly moving to see it and cry for those who died so needlessly.

  You can see the film by clicking here.

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