The age of persecution – inquisition, witch hunts and crusades
The age of persecution – inquisition, witch hunts and crusades
It started in the 11th century when the Roman Catholic Church was losing more and more of its followers to other religious movements, as the growing distance between the people and the power and greed displayed by the church was turning people away once more.
And so Pope Innocent III started what would eventually unfold into a horrific genocide by ordering his bishops to persecute non-believers. What followed over the next 800 years was a systematic plan on the part of the church with the sole purpose of wiping out any religious movement other than the Catholic Christian faith, but was even more so very specifically directed against the lineage of the Ageless Wisdom and the people who lived an esoteric way of life.
This was not a new phenomenon, but with the fall of Alexandria – the rich intercultural city, where so many different religions and philosophies existed with each other – and the destruction of its library, Europe had been under a dark age. The hub of the Ageless Wisdom was moved to Persia, where it thrived, almost untouched by the brutal arm of the Catholic Church, until, through the crusades, the attempt was made to interfere with the flourishing Arabic world and its rich religious practices.
Bishops’ inquisitions had existed before but they had never quite been taken to the magnitude that happened with the medieval inquisition sanctioned by the Popes. The particular focus in this war against humanity were the Cathars, a strong religious movement that was formed by the direct descendants of Yeshua (Jesus) and had continued the lineage of the Ageless Wisdom for over 800 years, had now mainly settled in the South of France, but were also travelling throughout Europe.
The medieval Inquisition was set up and conducted by the Dominicans, a Catholic order that was founded in 1216 by the Catholic priest Dominic, solely to combat Catharism. It is still a highly revered order in the Catholic Church today; in fact Dominic was made a saint and is known as St. Dominic. This order attempted to copy the Cathars’ lifestyle and through this tried to convince people to come back to the Catholic faith. When their initial attempts of preaching and debating produced almost no converts, they swiftly turned to threats and brutality. The first phase of the Inquisition found its peak execution with Bernard Gui, a Dominican monk, who worked as an inquisitor in Toulouse from 1307-1323. He wrote down the Conduct of the Inquisition into Heretical Wickedness (Practica (officii) inquisitionis haereticae pravitatis), a manual for inquisitors who followed in his footsteps.
The conduct of an Inquisition
The torture and burning at the stake was but one part of the Inquisition, which was aimed to destroy the trust in community and brotherhood everywhere it went.
The inquisitor would show up in the village, well prepared. He had his spies that would investigate beforehand who people looked up to in the village, who they went to for counsel, and who was openly practising as a Cathar, etc. He then delivered a sermon to the entire village – his helpers had lists of the citizens that were ticked off to make sure everyone showed up. If you did not show up, you were already a suspect.
In his sermon he talked of the necessity to be faithful to the church and that believing, practising or even thinking of something else was already a sin. Even talking to an ‘unfaithful’ person was sin. At the end of his speech he gave you two weeks as a period of ‘grace’ where you could go to him and confess your sins – aka your thoughts or practices – that went against the Catholic faith. This included denouncing others.
Denunciation played a major role in the Inquisition and was encouraged in the interrogations that now followed. If you were willing to name others you could often save your own family, property and avoid torture and imprisonment. This of course left the community in deep mistrust and hurt with each other, ripe with feelings of resentment and revenge.
The punishment was sentenced by the Church and executed by the court of the ruler, as Christian law equalled worldly law. Sentences could be pilgrimage, prison, solitary confinement, dungeons, torture and death. In the wake of the Inquisition the community was left bereft of their leaders and in absolute devastation, as all the people with a strong livingness (the Cathar religion and way of life) were either sentenced to death, imprisoned or sent on a pilgrimage.
Even when the Cathars were more or less completely annihilated, in 1244 the Dominicans still did not rest.
In their study of the judged threat and enemy to the Church, they were well versed in knowing the teachings of re-incarnation that were part of the Cathar way of life, and that this was the strength of the Cathars – a knowing that true life did not end with physical death. Hence the Dominicans knew that genocide itself would not stop this movement and furthermore why so much emphasis was placed on the breaking down of trust in their communities and the brutality and torture to make it ‘too dangerous’ to be a Cathar. It seems the forces at play within the Catholic Church and the Dominicans continued persecuting people and in 1430 culminated in the witch-hunts, where in the end, anybody could be accused of witchcraft and had to suffer a horrendous death. The torment that was inflicted on those considered to have a pact with the devil, mostly women, was even more horrendous than the earlier torment of the Inquisition: there were no limits to the violence that could be executed at random… nobody was safe anymore.
The seeds that had been sown by the Inquisition of mistrust, comparison and the attitude of needing to save your own, had been festering within the communities.
It was an act of ultimate irresponsibility to dump everything that went wrong in one’s life on this ‘someone’ that could be blamed for all mishap. Whether that was the plague, miscarriages, death in childbed, crop failure, hunger, lust… you name it, someone could be made responsible for your woes, and it was usually women which (witch) were pointed at.
Finally around 1598 a Calvinist priest, Anton Praetorius, publicly criticised the witch-hunts and even though he lost his position and reputation in the process and ultimately risked his own life, he published a report stating that witch-hunts were against the Christian faith and spoke against torture. Even though there soon were many more supporters of his quest, it took another 200 years before the last supposed witch was executed in 1782.
One of the labels that became like a stigma at the time is the word ‘heretic’. If you were labelled a heretic this meant torture, torment and death. Interestingly the word ‘heretic’ derives from the Greek word ‘haireisthai’, which means ‘to choose’, and ‘hairetikos’, ‘able to choose’, which is very revealing as one of the principle teachings and the very foundation of the esoteric way of life is the knowing that there is one primary choice, the choice of alignment between the two energies that are available on this plane of life – either prana or fire, spirit or Soul. So a person that was aware and therefore able to make that choice was considered a threat to the church and was persecuted.
Of course the threat for the Catholic Church was very real, as a Cathar could discern a lie from the truth and therefore they were able to expose the hypocrisy and falsity that was going on, and so many Catholic Church members in high positions felt ridiculed and humiliated in the ensuing debates and ignored with their preaching.
One such man was the Abbot of Cîteaux, Arnaud Amaury, who played a major role in the Cathar Crusades and was responsible for the massacre of 20,000 men, women and children who were killed under his orders. His wrath was such that he did not even differentiate between Catholic and Cathar anymore, but concluded: "Kill them all. God will know his own".
So the Cathar or Albigensian Crusades, between 1208 and 1244, were sanctioned by the Catholic Church and were directed at the Languedoc area, which was a rich, flourishing and independent part of Europe that invoked the jealousy and envy of the French kings, who wanted to get hold of the prospering lands and revenue.
And so they went to kill and destroy in an area where everyone was living in harmony, was culturally and economically advanced, and allowed people to live in great freedom – with men and women having equal rights, and whose creed was The Church of Love – a church of inner-love that lives within the heart of all men and women knowing that:
- It has no fabric, only understanding
- It has no membership save those who know they belong
- It has no rivals, because it is non-competitive
- It has no ambition, because it seeks only to serve
- It knows no boundaries, for nationalisms are un-loving
- It is not of itself, because it seeks to enrich all groups and religions
- It acknowledges all great teachers of all ages who have shown the truth of love
- Those who participate practise the truth of love in all their being
- There is no walk of life or nationality that is a barrier
- Those who are, know
- It seeks not to teach, but to be, and, by being, enrich
- It recognises that the way we are may be the way of those around us because we are that way
- It recognises the whole planet as a being of which we are a part
- It recognises that the time has come for the supreme transmutation, the ultimate alchemical act of conscious change of the spiritual-ego, into a voluntary return to the Whole – the Soulful way of being
- It does not proclaim itself with a loud voice, but in the subtle realms of loving
- It salutes all those in the past who have blazoned the path, but have paid the price
- It admits no rank or structure, for no one is greater than another
- Its members shall know each other by their deeds and being and by their eyes, and by no other outward sign save the fraternal embrace
- Each one will dedicate their life to the silent loving of their neighbour, the environment, and the planet, whilst carrying out their task, however exalted or humble
- It recognises the supremacy of the great idea, which may only be accomplished if the human race practises the supremacy of love
- It has no reward to offer either here or in the hereafter save that of ineffable joy of being and loving
- Each shall seek to advance the cause of understanding, doing good by stealth, and teaching by example
- They shall heal their neighbours, their community, and in doing so, our planet will also heal
- They shall know no fear and feel no shame, and their witness shall prevail over all odds
- It has no secret, or Arcanum, no initiation save that of true understanding of the power of love and that, if we want it to be so, the world will change, but only if we change ourselves first
- All those who belong, belong; they belong to the church of love.
Whilst the persecution of the Inquisition is one of the greatest crimes done to humanity, it is not a unique story in history as these attacks against the Ageless Wisdom in the form of genocide and violence have repeatedly taken place throughout history.
There was the murder of Hypatia and the burning down of the Alexandrian library by the Christians only a few hundred years after the crucifixion of Yeshua by the Pharisees. And much earlier, the pharaohs that invaded Egypt and destroyed the esoteric schools under the three great pyramids to claim these amazing monuments as their own, and later the destruction of the temple of Apollo and the Sacred Femaleness that was revered there, which is still partly remembered today as the Oracle of Delphi.
Today the attack and destruction in reaction to Truth takes place in different forms, through social media as well as the press, where people and businesses are destroyed by false accusations, defamation and abuse. This is a modern-day inquisition, where any non-mainstream religious movement can simply be labelled a cult and with that pushed into a certain corner that is looked at with suspicion and ridicule. And whilst this seems harmless in the light of genocide, every massacre has a foreplay that started exactly like that until it culminated into a horrific outplay that nobody ever truly wants to be part of. We do not need to look too far into history to recognize how the mechanism works, as we have the more recent history of the Third Reich and the genocide of people with different faiths and cultural traditions in Germany.
When do we begin to learn from these historic events and start to open our eyes to what is truly going on? With so much bloodshed in its wake, humanity needs to ask itself; why are we holding onto traditions and ways that obviously do not work and have only caused torture and death? We need to learn from the past and resurrect the Ageless Wisdom that has always worked for people, in any location, language and nation.
All that is needed is the willingness to go forward in a one-unified way and the land, we the people, and our connection to higher truth will thrive.