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...

Gnostic Tradition in Australia

By TAU MIKHAEL A Gnostic study circle was established in Australia in 1886. Known as ‘The Melbourne Gnostic Society’, the group’s purpose was the study of “Theosophy and kindred matters.” Later becoming ‘The Gnostic Theosophical Society’, it was central to the foundation of the Theosophical Society in Australia. Madame H.P. Blavatsky, the co-founder of the worldwide Theosophical Society and author of the society’s primary texts, had a profound interest in Gnosticism. Gnostic Bishop Stephan A. Hoeller says Madame Blavatsky “commented on the tradition voluminously (a compilation of her writing concerning runs to more than 270 pages). The contemporary student of Gnosticism, who has access to the Nag Hammadi Gnostic scriptures, would be greatly impressed if not outright awestruck by Blavatsky’s uncanny insight into Gnosticism.”1 Running through all Blavatsky’s writings is the idea there is an ‘ancient wisdom’ that has never ceased to exist: “The Gnosis lingers still on earth, and its votaries are many, albeit unknown.” While Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society was not concerned with resurrecting ancient Gnosticism, it did contribute immensely to the general awareness of the Gnostic Tradition. Through articles, books and public lectures, a positive interest in Gnosticism was encouraged. This was aided by the arrival in Australia in 1914 of the Theosophical Society leader, the Reverend Charles Webster Leadbeater. A prolific writer on esotericism, Leadbeater has been described as “a remarkable character, hailed as the world’s greatest clairvoyant and occultist by his disciples, and denounced as a charlatan and an immoral corruptor of youth by his enemies.”2 Rev. Leadbeater established his home in Sydney where with James I. Wedgwood he helped found the Liberal Catholic Church. Soon churches were established in Australia’s major cities and Bishop Leadbeater presided over elaborate services at St Alban’s Cathedral, the Church’s impressive Sydney centre. As co-founder...

Pre-Nicene Christianity

Dr. Stephan A. Hoeller reminds us that “having known him [Richard, Duc de Palatine] for more than twenty years the present writer can attest that this modern Gnostic leader was also profoundly learned in Gnostic scriptures and wished his church to be truly a Gnostic one.” We are making Bishop Richard, Duc de Palatine’s essay available because it reveals both his firm commitment to ancient Gnosticism and his deep spiritual insights. First published in The Lucis Magazine, Volume 1 No.3, in 1959, we trust you will find this document an important part of the history of the modern Gnostic revival.  – Gnostic.info The Pre-Nicene Gnosto-Catholic Church was established on the 25th October, 1953 in London, England with the object of restoring the GNOSIS – DIVINE WISDOM to the Christian Church, and to teach the PATH OF HOLINESS which leads to God and the Inner Illumination and Interior Communion with the Soul through the mortal body of man. The title of this old but new Church was decided on because by being PRE-NICENE we hold to the Wisdom Religion as taught by the Gnostic Doctors Valentinius, Basilides, Marcion, Cerentius and Paul; being GNOSTO-CATHOLIC we hold to the doctrine of a Universal Creed that all religions are but expressions of the ONE RELIGION and that no religion has the monopoly on this Universal Truth. We claim that RELIGION manifests as many religions, and UNIVERSAL because we welcome to our Fellowship ALL men and women, irrespective of race, colour or creed. We place no barriers between the Sons of God and our Altars and Church because we believe that a Church should be the Temple of God, an earthly mirror of the Spiritual Church of Divine Souls. The Church should be a magnetic centre for the free passage...

Mary Magdalene: Apostle of the Apostles...

By SHARRON ROSE With the publication of Holy Blood, Holy Grail in the mid-nineties and the Gnostic Gospels found in Nag Hammadi, a new perspective on the role of Mary Magdalene in the revelation and dissemination of the esoteric teachings of Christ has emerged onto the public stage. With the release of The Da Vinci Code, she has been placed firmly in the public consciousness, her story awakening both excitement and controversy. It is my contention that Mary Magdalene was the carrier of a tradition of respect and reverence for the Divine Feminine, a secret initiatory tradition that leads back through Jesus, Gnosticism, the esoteric teachings of Judaism, and the Egyptian mysteries of Isis to the ultimate ground or source of all religions. By seeking out the alternative roads to understanding, by looking at the Gnostic texts, legends, symbols, and iconography, one discovers the distinct possibility Mary Magdalene was not only first witness to and herald of the Resurrection, but the chief disciple and recipient of Christ’s’ gnosis, as well as teacher and transmitter of these extraordinary Mysteries to the people of France. On the shores of the Mediterranean Sea outside Marseilles at Les Saintes Marie de la Mere there is a small chapel dedicated to Mary Magdalene and consecrated by Archbishop Roncalli (who later became Pope John XXIII). Given a place of prominence within this chapel are paintings of her arrival from Palestine in a small rudderless boat. According to legend, soon after the crucifixion and Resurrection, Mary Magdalene and her family were expelled from the Holy Land, set adrift on the Mediterranean Sea and made their way to this region, particularly the area around Southern France and Northern Spain. At this time in history, aside from the already established Celts, many Greeks, Arabs, Jews and others...

The Gospel of Mary Magdelene

By JASON JEFFREY Of all the earliest followers of Christ, none has sparked the level of interest generated by one particular woman – the biblical figure known as Mary Magdalene. Revered as a saint, maligned as a prostitute, imagined as the literal bride of Christ, Mary of Magdala stands apart as an enigmatic individual about whom little is actually known, despite centuries of scholarly scrutiny and wild conjecture. All that most Western Christians know about her is presented in the New Testament Gospels, and even that information is disputed. But there is some general agreement: She was a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ whom he had delivered from “evil spirits and infirmities.” Along with several other women, she ministered to Christ and witnessed his death on the Cross. She was there when his body was placed in the tomb, when the stone was rolled away to reveal an empty chamber, when an angel announced that Christ had risen from the dead – and when he made His first post-Resurrection appearance to the living. She brought the news of his Resurrection to the other disciples. For 1,500 years, Mary Magdalene was portrayed, in art and theology, as a prostitute whose life was transformed by Jesus’ forgiveness. This notion, based on Luke 7:38, was the result of an erroneous sermon preached in 591 by Pope Gregory the Great. Jean-Yves Leloup, in his commentary onThe Gospel of Mary, states: Mary’s identity as a prostitute stems from Homily 33 of Pope Gregory I, delivered in the year 591… Only in 1969 did the Catholic Church officially repeal Gregory’s labeling of Mary Magdalene as a whore, thereby admitting their error – though the image of Magdalene as the penitent whore has remained in the public teachings of all Christian...

The Gnostics: An Interview with Tobias Churton...

Tobias Churton is one of today’s most lively and spirited investigators of that underground stream of the Western tradition known as Gnosticism. He first became interested in the Gnostics while reading for a degree in theology at the University of Oxford in the 1970s. Soon after leaving, he became interested in exploring these ideas for television. “I’d got it into my head that there had never been any religious television – only programmes about religion,” he later recalled. “I had written a paper on the subject which recommended a new kind of television for this most neglected area, something on the lines of television, a kind of programme which would enter into the very nature of the religious experience and not simply observe it.” Churton got his opportunity in the mid-1980s, when he produced a series on the Gnostics for British television. To accompany his series, he wrote his first book, The Gnostics, a history of this elusive esoteric movement from early Christianity to modern manifestations in such figures as Giordano Bruno and William Blake, and even in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. In the years since then, Churton has pursued and deepened his appreciation for the Western esoteric traditions. He was the Founder Editor of Freemasonry Today magazine, and during the last year has published two new books. The Golden Builders: Alchemists, Rosicrucians, and the First Freemasons explores the background of Masonry from its antecedents in the alchemical and Hermetic traditions of antiquity through its modern manifestations. His book, Gnostic Philosophy: From Ancient Persia to Modern Times, casts an even wider net, tracing the Gnostic heritage from its roots in Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, and the Essenes to the 20th century magus Aleister Crowley and manifestations of gnosis in pop culture. Churton currently makes his home in...