The following is a short talk I have prepared concerning the tragic massacre at Béziers in the South West of France, which took place on Mary Magdalene’s Day on July 22, 1209. This was the first tragic event of the long conflict known as the Cathar War, which took place from 1209 to 1244, when the Castle of Montsegur finally surrendered. Countless Cathars were massacred, their spiritual elders were burned alive and thousands of innocent victims, who happened to follow a different version of Christianity than that officially taught by the Papacy in Rome, paid with their lives for retaining a more primitive and original form of Gnostic Christianity, probably closer to that actually taught by Jesus Christ and his innermost disciples and coworkers such as Mary Magdalene, Thomas and John. in this talk I discuss the significance of the massacre at Beziers for today’s global politics, and make the links to the events following 9/11 and the tragic destruction of the World Trade centre. Yet without having any real judicial or forensic inquiry, the USA used this event, which all rational inquiry reveals as partly down to an “inside job” as an excuse to launch an illegal war against Iraq, which in turn has led to the destabilization of the entire Middle East, as the local citizens understandably have turned to acts of terrorism in revenge, being the only way they can think of to cause trouble to a super-power.
So it was during the Cathar War, which was also about competing theological attempts to understanding ultimate reality, different explanations for why there is evil and suffering in the world, and different interpretations of who Christ was and why he had come. Then as now, the war lords and the people in political and military power, refused to listen to mediation, or the rational discourse of holistic thinkers who could have replaced the violence of the battlefield with he dialectic of the seminar room. Then as now, Sophiaphobia continues to haunt mankind, as we turn our backs on rationality and the love of wisdom, and pursue instead rhetoric, sophistry and violence, aimed at silencing those who would speak the truth, rather than listening to them. As Giles Quispel said, however, Gnosticism is the third vital current in European intellectual history, and has a way of popping up when all else seems lost. is there an authentic Gnosticism that we can marry up with exoteric religion ? Can the esoteric and exoteric dimensions of our being make peace, finally, or must we continue to live through life after life of Gnostic wars, as the ghosts of the past continue to battle the spirits of the future ? This short talk addresses these points from a holistic philosophical perspective, and acts as a rallying call for all who are tired of the endless “Cathar Wars” of mankind, now fought in darkness beneath covert “terrorist and counter terrorist operations”, and who instead would rather see a genuine deep peace emerge in our times.
Here at the European Peace Museum we held a special study day on July 22 in honour of St Mary Magdalene and will continue with an annual confernece to debate her real meaning on that day from now on, which also happens to be the anniversary of this tragic massacre at Beziers in 1209.