Transfiguration

The following by Raymond Abellio was privately released in the 1954 publication Cahiers du Cercle d’Etudes Metaphysiques. It is reprinted here from The Morning of the Magicians: Secret Societies, Conspiracies, and Vanished Civilizations by Louis Pauwels & Jacques Bergier (Destiny Books, 2008) When, in the natural attitude which is that of all “normal” existing beings, I “see” a house, my perception is spontaneous, and it is that house that I see, and not my own perception of it. On the other hand, if my attitude is “transcendental”, then it is my perception itself which is perceived. But this perception of a perception radically changes my primitive approach. The state of actually experiencing something, uncomplicated to begin with, loses its spontaneity from the very fact that the new contemplation has for its object something that was originally a state, and not an object, and that the elements which make up my new perception include not only those pertaining to the house “as such”, but those pertaining to the perception itself, considered as an actually experienced flux. And an essentially important feature of this “alteration” is that the concomitant vision I had, in this bi-reflexive state of the house that was my original “motif”, so far from being lost, displaced or blurred by this interposition of “my” second perception in front of “its” original perception, is, paradoxically, intensified, becoming clearer, more “actual” and charged with more objective reality than before. We are here confronted with a fact that cannot be accounted for by pure speculative analysis: namely, the transfiguration of the thing as consciously experienced, its transformation into a “super-thing”, its passage from being something “known about” to something “known”. This fact is insufficiently appreciated, although it is the most remarkable in the whole field of phenomenological experimentation....

Raymond Abellio: A Modern Day Cathar?...

By PHILIP COPPENS Déodat Roche may not be the only modern Cathar. Another candidate put forward for such a distinction is ‘Raymond Abellio’. Raymond Abellio is the pseudonym of French writer and political activist Georges Soulès. Already, in his choice of nom de plume, there is a direct reference to the solar deity of the Pyrenees, often linked with Apollo – and Lucifer, the Light Bearer. It was, in fact, Otto Rahn himself who made the link between Lucifer and Abellio. Abellio was a deity of Soulès’ homeland, especially the Garonne Valley in Gallia Aquitania. His existence is known through a number of inscriptions that were discovered at Comminges. He may have been a god of apple trees. Equally, though Raymond is a name of Germanic origin, composed of the elements ragin (‘counsellor’) and mund (‘protector’), the name was, at the time of Catharism, specifically linked with the counts of Toulouse. The choice of protector and counsellor of the deity of light is apt to describe what Soulès envisioned to be his mission in life. Soulès was born November 11, 1907 in Toulouse, and died August 26, 1986 in Nice. His parents came from Ax-les-Thermes, in the Ariège valley, only 16 kilometres from the ancient Cathar castle at Montségur. Soulès was a brilliant student, and during his engineering studies discovered an interest in politics and became a staunch supporter of Marxism. He joined the Étudiants Socialist of the XIV arrondissement of Paris, affiliated to the French Socialist party (SFIO). Here he befriended the celebrated political philosopher Claude Lévi-Strausse. Amongst his tutors was Marcel Deat, the politician and philosopher who formed his own party, the Parti Socialiste de France, under the motto ‘Order, Authority and Nation’. In 1931, at the age of 24, he joined...

The War on the Cathars

By PHILIP COPPENS The “Cathar heresy” that struck Southern France in the 13th century, and was viciously persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church, remains a pool of interest and intrigue. What really happened, and what did the Cathars actually believe? Wars between nations or faiths are commonplace. Sometimes, the leaders of nations turn against a minority resident within their own borders. But the Albigensian Crusade is unique in history, as the Pope on March 10, 1208 proclaimed a crusade against a ‘heresy’ that was present inside Catholic Europe itself. “These heretics are worse than the Saracens!” he proclaimed. In retrospect, the crusade was one of the bloodiest episodes in European history. Indeed, the decades-long persecution of simple folk has often been seen as the event that prepared the way for the birth of Protestantism, as it awakened ordinary Europeans to the realisation that something was not ‘quite’ right within the papal corridors. Today, the ‘heretics’ are most commonly known as Cathars, but historically they went under a number of guises for, in fact, they were not a uniform organisation at all. The main focus, however, has always been on the Cathars (from the Greek word meaning ‘pure’), a name that is normally reserved for the dissident Christians who lived in Southern France and Northern Spain. Catharism arrived in southern France and northern Italy in the 11th century. It was present in Orléans as early as 1022, when thirteen Parfaits – the name for the ascetic Cathar elders – were condemned to the stake. At the time, the south of France (the Languedoc) was not yet under the political control of Northern France. In the Languedoc, Catharism, endorsed by the local nobility, became a popular alternative to the Catholic Church. The likes of the Count of Toulouse...

Rescuing the Bible from Literalism...

By RICHARD SMOLEY “The world,” wrote the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, “is the totality of facts, not of things.” So it is, but facts take many forms. The hard-edged events of ordinary reality are only one form, and not always the most important. This insight can be hard to accept in the positivist world of mainstream Western thought. In these terms, either an event took place or it did not. Truth and falsehood are judged by this criterion alone. And yet such a stance has only a limited value. It is indispensable in history and journalism and perhaps in science (although the anomalous discoveries of twentieth-century physics have blurred the picture somewhat). But in the spiritual dimension, even though there are facts here as well, they are not of this kind. To overlook this truth is to mistake one reality for another. Conventional Christianity has often made this mistake. Practically from the start, it has presented its case in literalistic terms: the Bible is true; moreover it is literally true. Its facts must be historical facts, and its record of the past must be a true one. At first these claims fostered Christianity’s rapid success in the ancient world. By the early centuries of the Common Era, Greco-Roman civilisation could no longer take its own myths seriously, so it was persuaded to adopt the Scriptures of the Jews and Christians on the grounds that these presented not only sacred truths but an accurate record of the past. Since the Enlightenment, such claims have been more of an embarrassment than an advertisement for the faith. Over the last 250 years, scholars in many fields have taken Christianity at its word and investigated in great depth just how much the Bible jibes with science and history. The...

What Do the Lost Gospels Have to Teach?...

By RICHARD SMOLEY Over the last century, a number of previously lost and unknown texts have come to light and illumined the origins of the main religions of the West. The most famous include the Nag Hammadi library, unearthed in Egypt in 1945, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in Israel in 1947. The Gospel of Judas is only the most recent example; in all probability it will not be the last. What have scholars learned from these often baffling and obscure documents? The issue is a complex one, but it’s possible to sketch out a few key points. • The historical Jesus remains a mystery. Here is a man who was revered as a divine or semidivine being very shortly after his death. And yet there is not one surviving eyewitness account of him. None of the authors of the New Testament Gospels says that he saw Jesus with his own eyes; the closest we have is Paul’s claim he saw the risen Jesus (1 Cor. 15:5–7). And with the possible exception of the Gospel of Thomas, most of the lost gospels (including the Gospel of Judas) are later than the canonical Gospels and probably do not include a great deal of true biographical details about Jesus’ life. Some scholars have taken this fact to mean there was no such personage as Jesus, that he was a mythic figure concocted to reflect certain sacred mysteries. While this is in all likelihood too extreme a conclusion to reach, it does show Jesus remains hidden behind a cloud of mystery. • There was not one original Christianity, but many. Some more or less resembled what would later become Catholic and Orthodox Christianity; some were Gnostics; some denied Jesus was anything more than a great teacher....