Centuries after the brutal slaughter of the Cathars by papally endorsed Northern French forces, the medieval Cathars continue to exert a powerful influence on both popular culture and spiritual seekers. Yet few people know anything of the beliefs of the Cathars beyond vague notions that they believed in reincarnation, were vegetarians, were somehow Gnostic, and had some relation to Mary Magdalene. The Lost Teachings of the Cathars explores the history of this Christian dualist movement between the 12th and 14th centuries, offering a sympathetic yet critical examination of its beliefs and practices. The Cathars present a curiously self-contradictory way of thinking: on the one hand, they were inherently non-authoritarian and reliant on personal responsibility; on the other hand, they clearly felt that the collective Cathar way of life was so valuable that they would rather embrace the fires of the Inquisition or endure a fast unto death than turn Catholic. As well as investigating the Cathars' relationship to the ancient Gnostics of the early centuries AD and the Templars, the author also addresses recent renewed interest in Catharism. Many maintain that they are reincarnated Cathars - Arthur Guirdham, a doctor and psychiatrist from the West Country, believed that he and a circle of patients had all been Cathars in previous lives. The increasing number of neo-Catharist churches and secret societies that are being set up suggests that there are profound and illuminating lessons to be learned today from this ancient Catharist faith.
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About the Author
Andrew Phillip Smith is editor of The Gnostic and the author of several books on Gnosticism, esotericism and early Christianity, including the first ever dictionary of Gnosticism. He has also written for New Dawn, Fortean Times and the Guardian.