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Tag: The Weavers

Metaphysical Anti-Semitism

“The coupling of masculine and feminine potencies in the upper world, which subsequently came to play such a significant role in the doctrines of the Spanish kabbalists, seems also to have been known in Cathar circles. Here too we should assume a common source in the ancient gnosis rather than immediate influences. However, it is plausible that some details were taken over by the Cathars from Jewish mystics as, for example, the idea, well known to us from the Hekhaloth texts, that Israel was the name of a celestial angel.

Such ideas may also have been introduced into the movement by Jews who attached themselves to the Cathars. Thus, we learn for example that at the end of the twelfth century, a weaver named Johannes Judaeus stood at the head of the Italian Cathars as their bishop. The name would suggest, though it by no means proves, Jewish origin. The surname Judaeus does not always signify Jewish lineage in the Middle Ages.

Another angelological doctrine to be found only among the Cathars and in the kabbalistic traditions of Moses de Leon and the Zohar asserts that the prophet Elijah was an angel descended from heaven. The ideas of the two groups resembled one another, here and there, on the subject of the soul’s fate in the terrestrial paradise and its entry into the celestial paradise after the last judgment, and regarding the garments worn by the souls before their birth that are then preserved in heaven during their earthly existence. But all of these are disparate, and unconnected details, and they concern points of secondary interest only.

As regards the fundamental conceptions, there could of course be no real agreement between the two movements, since in their rejection of the world as the creation of Satan and of the Torah as the law of Satan, the Cathars go much further in their metaphysical anti-Semitism than does the Catholic Church. Besides, the Jewish scholars of Provence were thoroughly conscious of the gulf separating the Jewish conception of the world from that of the Cathars.”

Gershom Scholem, Origins of the Kabbalah, pp. 236-7.

Heresies

“Walter Map, a cleric in the court of England’s Henry II and perhaps the author of the Grand Saint Graal (written circa 1189), relates that while there were no “heretics” in Brittany, by contrast there were many in Anjou, and that they were numerous in Burgundy and Aquitania (and consequently in Provence and Languedoc).

Caesarius von Heisterbach explains that the “Albigensian heresy” spread with such intensity that it had converts in almost a thousand towns, and if it had not been obliterated with blood and fire, it would have taken over all of Europe.

A historian belonging to the order of the Minorites cites it, together with Jews, pagans, Muslims, and German emperors, as the five great enemies of Rome. 

Regarding their doctrine, the “Albigenses” (who shared only their name with Albi, a town in southern France) belonged to two different heretical sects. The best known were the Waldenses (founded by a merchant from Lyon named Peter Waldo), who spread throughout Western Europe in an incredibly short period of time. The second were the Cathars (from the Greek katharos = pure, and the origin of the German word ketzer or heretic). They could easily be called the Mahatma Gandhis of the West in the Middle Ages. Bent over their looms, they pondered whether “the spirit of the world weaves the living suit of divinity in the creaking loom of time.” This explains why they were also called the “weavers.” 

Considering that this book does not pretend to describe the histories of all these sects, I will only refer to the Waldenses when they appear within the framework of my investigations. My work is centered on the study of the Cathars and their mysteries.”

From: Otto Rahn, The Crusade Against the Grail, pp. 16. 

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