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The Albigenses: Bearers of a Bygone Wisdom-Tradition

By Arne Wettermark

Part One In the early part of the 13th century, the sunny south of France was beginning to slip out of the embrace of the church. The latter's power was seriously threatened. From Bordeaux to arseilles, from the !yrenees to "u#ergne, heretics were acti#e in different sects and beliefs $$ %false prophets,% described by their antagonists as follows& They claim to lead apostolic li#es ... They preach without ceasing, go barefoot . . . They will not accept money, eat no meat and drin' no wine, content with the simplest food. They consider alms of no #alue, since no one should possess anything. They refuse the holy sacraments, consider di#ine ser#ices unnecessary, and declare themsel#es ready to suffer and die for their beliefs. They pretend to do miracles . . . $$ Histoire de l'Inquisition au moyen age, ( #ols., )ean *uiraud "lready in the middle of the 1(th century the holy Bernard of +lair#aux had deplored the progress of the heretics, and somewhat later ,aymond -, +ount of Toulouse, had complained& %.eresy has penetrated e#erywhere. It has sown discord in the homes, di#iding man and wife, father and son, mother$in$law and daughter$in$law. /#en the priests ha#e been infected. The churches stand idle and fall into ruins. The foremost men of the country ha#e been dragged in. The masses ha#e followed their example0 I neither dare nor can halt the e#il.% The reason that the church had lost its grip on the souls was bound in with the deplorable moral condition of the priests0 and that all of this should ta'e place in the south of France was hardly surprising. This area had long been the fertile soil of many cultures& 1ruid, ,oman, "rabian, )ewish, +hristian, each of which had set its seal on the land and brought about an extraordinary recepti#ity to spiritual impulses. It is no coincidence that the swasti'a, a symbol rich in occult meaning, may be found here in many places car#ed on road mar'ers and roc's. In Toulouse there was still to be seen at the end of the 12th century 3and may perhaps still be seen today4 the remains of a 1ruidic temple. .. !. Bla#ats'y writes that the 1ruids %were connected, in their esoteric teachings, with the uni#ersal 5isdom ,eligion% 3The Secret Doctrine, II, 6784 and that their priests were %initiated masons.% 9ntil the year 7:6, the 5estern *oths had their capital in Toulouse after the fall in ;12 of the ,oman /mpire. They held an "rianism steeped in anichaeism, i.e. they denied the *odhood of +hrist and re<ected the dogma of the Trinity. .ence they were heretics on an important point, according to +atholic terminology. " few centuries later the =aracen in#aders had spread "rabic culture in these parts. >wing to the subse?uent crusades, the numerous pilgrimages to the .oly =epulcher and the Fran'ish 'ingdom founded 1:22 in )erusalem, the editerranean countries were in constant contact with the >rient. These factors, as well as the 5est$*oths' "rianism and also the spiritual influences stemming from the =aracen period, should be ta'en into account when we trace the roots of the heresy in the south of France at the beginning of the 13th century. 1uring succeeding centuries, the political, economic and social conditions in southern France, its geographic position, the crusades and the acti#e trade relations with foreign lands, all this had broadened the perspecti#e and created a fa#orable atmosphere for the exchange of both thought and goods. .ighways built by the ,omans lin'ed the cities, and along these roads contact was made with anti$+atholic northern Italy and also rich oslem =pain. " mystical brotherhood, the so$called Bridge$builders, was acti#e in impro#ing the communications system. The editerranean coast cities @arbonne, ontpellier, arseilles, and their branches in widely separate parts of the world, carried on a farflung commerce. The )ews especially distinguished themsel#es in this field, for they

constituted a lin' between the "rabs and the +hristians. From the >rient came costly goods, spices, precious stones, perfumes, rugs, musical instruments. 5ithin the country were produced soaps, cloth and perfumes. Trade and industry created a high degree of prosperity. The guilds were powerful and the burghers in the cities en<oyed communal rights, un'nown in other parts of France. Feudalism was far from mar'ed, and serfdom as 'nown in the northern parts did not exist. " large part of the aristocracy had embraced the heretical teachings $$ whether from con#iction, or in the hope of being able to ta'e o#er the riches of the church. @ot only the material but li'ewise the spiritual culture was high. The nobility fa#ored art and science and the !ro#encal literature had attained a fine flowering by the middle of the 1(th century, which notably coincides with the li#eliest period of heresy. From castle to castle the troubadours <ourneyed, honoring in symbolic song a singularly beautiful woman, =ophia, the goddess of wisdom, later called Beatrice by 1ante $$ the troubadours, whose connection with the "rab ideal of 'nighthood must not be forgotten. From #arious sources the ancient wisdom streamed into the consciousness of a recepti#e populace. These eternal truths were spread by men, who in =pain had dwelt in Toledo, the city of occult science abo#e all others, or who had tra#eled in the >rient on sundry business $$ crusaders, pilgrims, merchants $$ and who now returned home either o#er the Bal'ans or northern Italy, or by sea #ia the ports of the editerranean. !eople were used to thin'ing freely. /ach one might practice his religion without interference from the authorities. The synagogue stood peaceably beside the +hristian church and in some areas, if we may belie#e *uiraud 3op. cit., p. ;14, heretics and +atholics used the same building for their meetings. There were great possibilities for those who wanted to ac?uire inner 'nowledge. In the larger cities there was access to the wor's of "ristotle and !lato, translated from the "rabic. They could read the @ew Testament in their own language, and it contained non$+atholic commentaries, or buy little pamphlets called schedulae, containing extracts from .oly 5rit. In Toulouse they could study medicine from )ews and philosophy from "rabs or attend public meetings where +atholic and heretical teachings confronted each other. "mong the heretics who were at this time scattered o#er the south of France, the +athars, %the pure% 3the word no doubt adapted from the *ree' catharsis4, 'nown to the common people as %bougres% 3Bulgars4 were by far the most influential. The appellations anichaeans, !aulines, !ublicans, !atarenes, Texerantes 3wea#ers4 and later "lbigenses are also found in the records. 9nder these names, especially the last named, were also comprised other sects incompatible with the papal church, among them the 5aldenses, whose beliefs rested on the original +hristian fundamentals. 5hen referring to the "lbigenses, howe#er, we ha#e in mind only the so$called +athars specifically. The +athars' /astern teachings appear to ha#e come mainly from the Bulgarian Bogomils, although some of their ideas also reached southern France from =pain, where anichaeism had penetrated #ia @orth "frica and found a recepti#e soil under the tolerant <urisdiction of the "rabs. The Bogomils seem to ha#e been the spiritual heirs of the *nostic !aulines, who claimed to follow +hrist and the apostle !aul as opposed to the followers of the +atholic pope who sat in the chair of !eter. .ere may be traced the antagonism between !eter and !aul. The !aulines are 'in to the anichaeans combated by "ugustine. In this connection it would be well to mention that the +athars are sometimes called anichaeans in the contemporary records. +atharism had come to France already at the beginning of the 11th century through students and merchants. ". Auchaire, in his boo' Innocent III 3!aris, 12:74 tells how the first preacher$groups were formed in ontpellier, @arbonne and arseilles. %Thence they wandered from fair to fair, castle to castle, extending their <ourneyings to the !yrenees, Toulouse and "gen. Finding ta'ers for their beliefs as well as their wares, they con#erted nobles, burghers, and farmers . . . % The infiltration of the +athars is an interesting chapter in the history of southern France. 1ressed in

long blac' robes and with the @ew Testament tuc'ed into a leather pouch, they wandered about with the sole purpose of awa'ening the Inner *od in those they met and easing the pain of both soul and body among highborn and lowly ali'e. They were recei#ed e#erywhere, had access to all strata of society. Ai'ewise esteemed as healers and spiritual guides, they were often called to deathbeds and, by #irtue of the spiritual force they radiated, they helped many in their last moments. .erein lay one of the causes of their influence not least among the poor. "nother was their pure life, admitted e#en by their opponents. They were loo'ed up to and people were drawn to them, 'nowing well that they embodied an ideal that to most people was unattainable. " third cause was undoubtedly their teachings. For example, they declared& %There is no hell, no other purgatory but on earth, no e#erlasting damnation.% =uch words must, indeed, ha#e been sweet music to the ears of those who had li#ed in terror of the doomsday preachments of the papal church. The +athars combined an inner religiosity with a sense of the demands of practical life. The realistic burghers were their allies0 not only did they win admission to the guilds, which in all ages were channels for theosophic thought, but they also opened numerous wor'shops where they taught the youth the teachings of +atharism, along with the secrets of the trade. *uiraud says 3p. ;B4 that most of the guilds gradually attached to themsel#es these teachings and points out that in the Aanguedoc dialects of that area at the beginning of the 13th century the terms %tisserand% 3wea#er4 and +ather were interchangeable, %for so great was the number of masters and apprentices under the leadership of the +athars.% They were also called !atarenes, mainly in northern Italy. It has been supposed that this word stems from the 1elphic %pates,% rags, one of their items of merchandise. From rags paper is made, as is well 'nown. There are grounds here for tracing a connection between these !atarenes and the flourishing paper industry in the south of France, which according to .. Bayley 3A New Light on the Renaissance, Aondon, 12::4 was in the hands of the +athars. Bayley also shows how the symbols of +atharism were spread after the days of the persecution by means of watermar's impressed in different types of paper. The +athar teachings were disseminated in other ways as well. In the cities they operated so$called heretic$houses, a sort of combination school and hostel, where meetings were held and where #isitors to the city might put up. They founded numerous con#ents for both men and women, actually seminaries where children and adults were recei#ed and prepared for consolamentum, the +athar initiation. They were on good terms with the Benedictine con#ent at =oreCe, which should be noted inasmuch as certain +atholic con#ents ser#ed during the iddle "ges as culture centers where the ancient wisdom bloomed in secret. The connection between the +athars and the troubadours is a ?uestion which we can only surmise. 5e do 'now that among the troubadours there was an inner circle which possessed profound 'nowledge. The +athars seem to ha#e belonged to this circle. The influence of the +athars grew with time and they could by degrees organiCe their own churches in different towns such as Toulouse, +arcasonne and "lbi, probably according to the patterns of the Bogomil mother church in the @ear /ast, thereby creating a firm organiCation which naturally simplified their further progress. In 1186 they called a church meeting at =. Felix de +araman, a suburb of Toulouse, the home of hereticism. It was held under the leadership of a Bulgar named @icetas, bishop of the church in +onstantinople. "ccording to aurice agre ( agiciens et Illumines, p. 7(4, @icetas left for =icily in connection with his stay in Toulouse. agre mentions that after his #isit to the island a group was formed there whose members were called !ides d'amour and whose teachings were strongly reminiscent of +atharism, and he adds that one of the masters of this group was *uido +a#alcanti, 1ante's friend and teacher. 9nfortunately the source of this information is not gi#en, but if it is correct, it may be ta'en to confirm the connection between troubadours and +athars. "t the head of the different +athar churches stood a bishop assisted by two men, the so$called filius

ma<or and filius minor, who succeeded to the bishop's position in the order named. 3It may be noted that the troubadours in their tra#els were accompanied by two men.4 embership in the church was gi#en only to the true +athars, also named "er!ecti, 'perfect,' or #oni homines, 'good men.' These constituted the priesthood itself. >ther associates of +atharism were named credentes and auditores, 'belie#ers' and 'listeners.' By the term credentes was understood those who were con#inced of the truth of the teachings, but who did not yet consider themsel#es ripe for the ascetic life of the 'perfect.' "ccording to their means and ability they supported the church in its wor'. The so$called auditores were characteriCed by a bene#olent disposition toward its teachings. " corresponding gradation is present in the /leusinian ysteries and among the !ythagoreans and /ssenes. The expression 'perfect' is found in se#eral passages of the @ew Testament. In !aul's /pistle to the !hilippians 33&1(,174 the word is used in two senses. In the one case 'perfect' denotes a man irradiated by the Inner *od, in the other, a man who has achie#ed mastery of his lower nature to become accepted in the higher mysteries. 3+f. %The 1octrine of the ,esurrection,% by ". . *lass, Theoso"hical Si!tings, -ol. -II, 1B2;$7.4 The name "er!ectus was accorded to initiates of different orders0 those who spo'e the bidden wisdom belonging to one and the same uni#ersal school of the ancient wisdom. 3+f. Isis $n%eiled, II, 336.4 @ote that !aul in his first /pistle to the +orinthians 3(&84 writes& %5e spea' wisdom among them that are perfect . . . % To this school the ma<ority of "lbigensic perfecti belonged0 on the basis of the records it seems not too bold to call them %initiates% or wise men. .. !. Bla#ats'y counts the "lbigenses, whereby she presumably means their perfecti, among the successors of the *nostics, and abundant e#idence shows that they possessed the true gnosis or wisdom$'nowledge. They had ta'en #ows of chastity and po#erty0 were strict #egetarians and refrained from strong drin'. The belie#ers 3credentes4, who wished to enter the circle of the perfect had to undergo a lengthy period of spiritual training. If they succeeded in passing the difficult tests imposed on them, they recei#ed consolamentum, upon #owing to lead unselfish li#es and abstaining from wine, meat and women. +onsolamentum was the outward sign of an initiation, a transference of spiritual power, which ga#e entrance into 'nowledge of in#isible worlds. &er!ecti were extremely unwilling to gi#e consolamentum to other than dying persons, for woe to him who prematurely recei#es secret 'nowledge. .e may suffer the fate of +larence *lyndon in Bulwer Aytton's no#el Danoni. +onsolamentum was to play a decisi#e role during the persecution. To the fact that those who had recei#ed this sacrament no longer seem to ha#e feared death may be ascribed the "lbigenses' incredible opposition in this war, which was started for the purpose of completely annihilating them and their wisdom. Part Two It is apparent that the +athars possessed a #ery comprehensi#e religious literature, but this has with some few exceptions been destroyed, partly through the +atholic church, and partly by the +athars themsel#es during the persecution. This is the more deplorable as there is reason to belie#e that certain of their writings contained elements of an inner 'nowledge. The ?uestion then arises& Is it possible to trace any of their teachings with the aid of preser#ed +atholic recordsE Fes, if they are studied with discrimination0 it must be remembered that the +athars expressed themsel#es in symbolic and allegorical form and that the ris' of distortion is considerable when ideas of this nature are interpreted by those who ha#e not grasped their true content. The teachings of the +athars and especially the meaning of their moral rules ha#e been highly misunderstood. !eople ha#e been shoc'ed by their so$called fanaticism and pessimism, their opposition to marriage, which to the modern man is an unnatural attitude to life, and so forth. It is forgotten that the moral regulations differed in accordance with the degree of de#elopment. They did not force growth $$ this is one of their characteristics. The +athars were also dualists. They proclaimed the existence of a good and an e#il principle, each of which struggled for mastery in the manifested world. " handboo' of the In?uisition clarifies their

#iew& These heretics recogniCe two gods . . . the one good, the creator of the in#isible spiritual world, the other e#il, the creator of the #isible world of the senses. They state that the material world did not arise through *od, the hea#enly Father, or the Aord )esus, but through the e#il *od whom they call de#il, =atan, the *od of cycle, the ,uler of this world. $$ )ean +uiraud, Histoire de l'Inquisition au moyen age 1&;3 In other records ?uoted by *uiraud there is no direct mention of an e#il principle creating an e#il matter, but rather of a being, a 1emiurge, which gi#es shape to chaotic prime#al matter. To the +athars, )eho#ah, =atan and the 1emiurge were identical, the synthesis of a number of creators which brought 'osmos out of chaos. In The Secret Doctrine, .. !. Bla#ats'y postulates a %Aogos or a collecti#e '+reator' of the 9ni#erse0 a Demi'urgos '' in the sense implied when one spea's of an '"rchitect' as the '+reator' of an edifice . . .% 31&(624. It is against the bac'ground of such a 1emiurge that we must regard the dualism of the +athars. "ll dualism is exoteric, and all so$called dualistic religion$philosophies are based on an esoteric teaching of the unity of the fundamental 'osmic being. In the cosmogony of the +athars we find the well$'nown myths of =atan's in#asion of hea#en, of the angels' rebellion and 'fall,' and of the part played by the sense$desires. The world created by the 1emiurge was to them an illusion, an appearance, but still a world wherein the %fallen angels,% %the di#ine monads...... the human egos% were destined to be born and reborn according to the laws of in#olution and e#olution, until matter will ha#e become permeated with spirit. The teaching of reincarnation was thus a reality to them. an's tas' during his earth life, while the monad is imprisoned in the body, is to light and inflame the di#ine spar' within himself and in others, by clean thoughts, a noble life, self$sacrifice and altruism, and thus to speed the cyclic chain of e#ents and attain godhood more swiftly. There is no e#erlasting damnation0 nor any purgatory. .ell is the earth, wherein we atone for our misdeeds, now or in a future life. There is no #icarious atonement. +hrist, the son of man, came as a teacher, whose tas' was to impart to us the 'nowledge of our di#ine origin so that we might self$consciously achie#e the liberation of spirit from matter. +hrist, as such, must not be confused with each one's inner *od, i.e. the +hristos, as !aul used the word in his /pistles to the *alatians 3;&124 and to the /phesians 33&164. To the +athars +hrist, the son of man, did indeed sacrifice himself and was 'crucified,' but not in the sense of physically ha#ing died on the cross. This interpretation of +hrist's suffering was li'ewise held by certain sects among the early +hristians, who considered that it was not the real )esus who died on the cross but an illusory body. There is a certain danger in directing the attention to the outer, the #isible, that which belongs to the form and sense. .ereby we easily lose sight of the spiritual. The +athars understood this and hence fought the tendency to anthropomorphiCe. They re<ected and opposed the worship of saints and idols, and saw in the cross the sign of the de#il, a symbol for the material. They also re<ected the sacraments of the church, as they found it impossible to see in the host the body of +hrist and his blood in the wine. If this were the case, he who had parta'en of these would no more sin. >n the contrary, they maintained that %a priest ordained by a bishop of the .oly +hurch, possesses no more #irtue than any layman, since #irtue grows out of the goodness of the soul% 3*uiraud, 1&17B4. .ence their contention that a sacrament dispensed by an unworthy priest is without #alue. =uch a #iew was e#idently calculated to undermine confidence in the papacy. The attitude of the +athars toward certain rules of moral discipline should be seen in proper perspecti#e, particularly as these were not the same for all. Their prohibition as regards marriage, for example, applied only to the "er!ecti, the 'perfect,' and all who aspired toward consolamentum, their initiatory rite. The special rules regarding food and drin' 3refraining from animal food, etc.4 applied li'ewise only to the so$called 'perfect.' It is worth noting also that the +athars were Cealous

in their opposition to capital punishment. They held that to ta'e the life of a human being who had not purified himself was wrong, because he would only be confronted with further trials in the after$ life state. It was important for each one to prepare himself for death0 in fact, all life should be <ust this& a preparation for death. 1r. *eorge =arton 3Introduction to the History o! Science, II, 17B4 mentions that the +atholic church reaped a strong, though indirect influence from the +athars, and considers it probable that the +atholic %last sacrament% is in some way connected with the consolamentum of the +athars. 5hen !ope Innocent III too' office in 112B he already had his attention directed to the hereticism in southern France, and as time passed he tried in #arious ways to arrest it. .e sent legates pro#ided with extensi#e powers0 he supported the later canoniCed 1ominicus de *uCman, the =paniard, when the latter, poor and barefoot, wearing hairshirt and homespun, undertoo' his ministry through the countryside0 he exhorted the French 'ing !hilippe "uguste to go to the county of Toulouse and fight the heretics %because of the necessity to bring them bac' to the truth.% But Innocent had little success. The legates, who irritated the people with their arrogant ways and their pomp, failed. The good 1ominicus, who became the founder of the 1ominican order and one of the foremost figures in the imminent "lbigensian war, seems to ha#e lac'ed psychological insight, for his biographer )ordan =axo, later the second general of the 1ominican order, relates that %the opponents of truth% laughed at 1ominicus and threw dirt and other nasty things at him. "nd as far as !hilippe "uguste is concerned, he had other things to do. Then it came about that at dawn of )anuary 17, 1(:B, the legate !ierre de +astelnau, on his way to ,ome to report to Innocent, was attac'ed by an un'nown assailant and transfixed by a spear. This murder resulted in a deliberate campaign against them, which in the records became 'nown as %the crusade against the "lbigenses.% "ll o#er France the churchmen began, by order of !ope Innocent, to promise 'remission of sins' to all who partoo' in it. "dherents were many, for e#en the temporal benefits were alluring, such as papal protection of all pri#ate property and cancellation of debts. "nd the beautiful cities of southern France were renowned for their riches and well worth plundering in the church's holy cause. From e#erywhere, from "u#ergne, !ro#ence and Aimousin, "?uitaine, *aronne and !oitou, people streamed& du'es, counts, barons, 'nights, burghers and farmers, priests of different degrees, Flemish and @ormans, Burgundians and *ermans. " tremendous force gathered. "t the head stood the whiteclad "rnaud, abbot of +iteaux. In the summer of 1(:2 the horde of thousands wound down the ri#er ,hohe and camped on )uly ((, 1(:2, the day of holy agdalen, before BeCiers, on the west ban' of the ri#er >rb. The city was plundered and burned while the bells tolled. " blood$bath without parallel too' place. The cathedral fell prey to the flames, its walls split and buried all who had sought its protection& the elderly, women and children, as well as priests in full regalia. It is told that "rnaud, the legate, was as'ed before the assault how the faithful might be distinguished from the heretics, whereupon he is said to ha#e replied& 'Gill them all. *od will 'now his own.% The murder of the legate !ierre de +astenau had borne fruit. The crusades against the "lbigenses had begun $$ they continued for twenty long years. 5e shall not relate the shifting fortunes of war in detail. +ities were sac'ed, castles burned, women raped. Incredible cruelties were committed, the #ilest urges of human beings were let loose. The year 1(13 was critical for the "lbigenses. "t the battle of uret, their ally was 'illed, Ging !eter of "ragon, the protector and friend of the troubadours, whose young, warm$blooded sister /leonora had entered wedloc' with the =outh's foremost 'night, ,aymond -I, +ount of Toulouse. Fi#e years later the worst enemy of the "lbigenses, the fanatic, halfblind =imon de ontfort, the scourge of the land, a li#ing symbol of the destructi#e forces of war, was 'illed. The crusade seemed then to be imperiled for the papal power, but the #ictory was sa#ed by Ging !hilippe "uguste, who now entered the arena. "fter a few years the opposition of the south was bro'en. >n "pril 1(, 1((2, the Thursday before /aster, outside the portals of the church of @otre 1ame in

!aris, the peace was signed by Hueen Blanche of France and ,aymond -II, +ount of Toulouse, twenty years after the sac' of the city of BeCiers. This peace pa#ed the way for France's unification and the subse?uent effects on her political, cultural, linguistic and religious history. The southern barons lost their position of power and had to submit to the French 'ingship. The flowering of the !ro#encal literature was o#er, and the +atholic church triumphed. In the peace treaty ,aymond had to underta'e to continue to pursue heretics in a manner specified in the document. This laid the groundwor' for the In?uisition as an institution. The peace in !aris sees the end of the actual crusade against the "lbigenses. But e#en if the political opposition of the south is bro'en, hereticism is far from exterminated. There begins the underground opposition and the infernal wor' of the In?uisition. @ow the +athars face greater trials than e#er. The prisons of Toulouse are filled to o#erflowing. >n the gallows, corpses swing in the wind. @o one is safe. >ne after another disappears without trace, perhaps denounced by his best friend. Thousands are burnt at the sta'e or buried ali#e in underground ca#es. But the "lbigenses remain firm. " few lines of aurice agre may be ?uoted& It was then that *uilhabert de +astres, the holy man, translated himself with incredible speed to gi#e consolamentum, the last anointing of the +athar religion. . . . 1isguised as now a beggar, now a pilgrim, he stands at the entrance to the ca#es, he defies the guards of the In?uisition, . . . his steps sound in the cities' streets when the hour tolls for his comrades. 5hen the pyres burn, the dying need but to see a glimpse of a perfectus hidden among the onloo'ers, ma'ing the mystic sign of sal#ation, to die without pain and with consolation in his heart. . . . . . . These perfecti could through consolamentum gi#e the dying the in#isible aid, . . . that opened to them the spiritual world. +onsolamentum was only the outward symbol. The "lbigensian perfecti were heirs to a lost secret, a secret come from the >rient, 'nown to the *nostics and the early +hristians. $$ agiciens et Illumines, p. B2 The epilogue of the "lbigensian war too' place at ontsegur around the middle of the thirteenth century. .igh in the !yrenees at "riege, (::: meters abo#e sea le#el, surrounded by thic' pine forests, rushing torrents and #ertiginous cliffs, there stands the castle of ontsegur, whose ruins still today are silhouetted against the s'y. .ere had been brought the "lbigensian riches, their holy boo's, and, according to legend, the sacred cup or *rail. This castle became a last sanctuary from the In?uisition for the +athar men and women& feudal lords who had been hunted from their castles0 artisans and farmers, who preferred to lea#e hearth and home rather than deny their faith0 "er!ecti, who were not in the thic' of battle gi#ing consolamentum. ontsegur was armed, and there was food and grain for years to come in subterranean chambers. Two long years the siege lasted, and would ha#e lasted longer had not treachery entered the game. 9nder co#er of night, soldiers in#aded the fortress. agre has related the fall of ontsegur with epic breadth, how the two hundred "er!ecti of the fort were burned at the sta'e& =o red was the flame that rose toward the s'y, so high and pillarli'e the smo'e, that those Toulousains, Aauraguais and "lbigeois, who raised their eyes toward "riege, 'new by this sign that their heroic brethren had been annihilated and that the last hope of the south had died. It may be ?uestioned whether the wind of the spirit e#er before in the annals of France had blown so strongly as in Aanguedoc and !ro#ence during the half$century preceding this tragic war. 3From =unrise magaCine, >ctober, @o#ember 12630 copyright I 1263 Theosophical 9ni#ersity !r