1.- The Doctrine of the "Good Christians"

"Manichaeans appeared in Aquitaine, leading the people astray. They denied baptism, the cross, and all sound doctrine. They did not eat meat, as though they were monks, and pretended to be celibate, but among themselves they enjoyed every indulgence.


They were messengers of Antichrist, and caused many to wander from the faith."


Adhémar of Chabannes

(c. 1018)




In "Catholics, Heretics and Heresy, by Gilles C. H. Nullens...section 1.2, 'Introduction to the Cathar Religion', he mentions four surviving Cathar documents:

1. A Latin manuscript "The Book of the Two principles" kept in Florence is a translation made in 1260 from a work by the Cathar Jean de Lugio from Bergamo and written in 1230.
2. The Latin translation found in Prague in 1939 from an anonymous treaty written in Languedoc at the beginning of the 13th century. The author could be the Parfait Barthelemy of Carcassonne.
3. Latin Ritual of Florence
4. Occitan Ritual of Lyon"

Dennis Stallings





The Cathars "never refer to Mani, the prophet of the Manichees and although they shared certain characteristics of Manichaeism, the heretics themselves thought of themselves not as representatives of a new revelation, as the Manichees did, but as true or good Christians.


Their chief source of doctrine was the New Testament, holding particular attention to The Gospel of John and the other three gospels. The word 'Cathar' comes the Greek word katharos meaning 'unpolluted'..."


Tobias Churton,

The Gnostics





"It seems almost certain today that 'Cathars' is more comparable to an insult and would mean 'cat worshippers' or 'catists' which is supported by the use of the adjective 'catier' by a Flemish chronicler whose name escapes me at the moment and would derive from the Low German ketter (cat); also the German translation of the word 'heresy' is die Ketzerel, same root.


The heretics are, in the iconography of the moralized Bibles of the XIth century, almost always accompanied by cats, symbol of evil for all of medieval Christendom."


Nicolas Gouzy of the Centre d'tudes Cathares

(Center of Cathar Studies)
(private E-mail communication to Dennis Stallings,

May 22, 1997

Catharism, Levitov, and the Voynich Manuscript





The Cathars "called themselves Christians, based their teaching on the parts of the Bible that they recognized, notably the Gospels and the Acts, clothed much of their doctrine in Christian garb, and increasingly as time went on, some historians now argue, drew closer to Christianity in their attitudes and assumptions.


But they differed from Christians at a fundamental point: they believed not in one God but in two... All their life and teaching was derived from one premise of overwhelming importance, that creation was a dual process: there was a kingdom of good which was immaterial, and a kingdom of evil - the material world - into which their souls had fallen or been led captive, and to which belonged their bodies, the prisons of the evil god. In every material body a soul was immured, and salvation consisted of escape from the flesh.


The procreation of the flesh, therefore, and the consumption of its products, meat, milk, eggs, were the perpetuation of the kingdom of evil, to be avoided by those who aspired to good."


R. I. Moore

The Birth of Popular Heresy





"They think that the devil went to heaven with his angels, fought a battle against the Archangel Michael and the angels of the good god, and carried off a third of his subjects.


Then he imprisoned them in human bodies and in animals, changing them from one body to another until they should all be led back to heaven. Hence they call all these subjects of God as they see them, 'the People of God', 'Souls', 'Sheep of Israel', and many other such names."


"They claim that the Son of God did not really assume human nature from the Blessed Virgin, who was an angel, but only the appearance of it. They say that he did not truly eat or drink, suffer or die, and was not buried or resurrected: all of this was only in appearance, for we read in Luke, 'being [as it was supposed] the son of Joseph'. They interpret all Christ's miracles in the same way.

They say that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and all the ancient fathers and also John the Baptist were enemies of God and servants of the devil. The devil is the author of the whole of the Old Testament, except for the books of Job, the Psalms, Solomon, Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and twelve of the prophets, some of which they way were written in Heaven - that is, before the fall of Jerusalem, which they think was Heaven.

"They teach that this world will never come to an end, that the Last Judgment has already been made, and will not be made again, and that hell, eternal fire and eternal punishment are in this world and nowhere else."


Raineir Sacchoni




"The Cathars believed in reincarnation and repudiated the tenet of eternal damnation for sinners.


A soul was obliged to live many lifetimes in a human body until it achieved salvation. If earthly bodies were evil, as the Cathars taught, then God could not become incarnate in a man. Therefore, according to the Cathars, the Christian Christ was not God, only an emissary of God; he became a man in appearance only.


To the Cathars, the sacraments that the Catholic church claimed to confer divine grace through material elements such as water, bread and wine were inherently blasphemous. Marriage was also condemned, as it led to the production of children and so entrapped more spiritual souls in evil, material bodies."


"Searching For A Cathar Feminism,




"The first heresy: marriage. There are indeed some among them to whom these words refer, who denounce and condemn marriage, and promise eternal damnation to those who remain in the married life until death."

"The second heresy: avoiding meat."

"The third heresy: the creation of flesh...that all flesh is made by the devil..."

"The fourth heresy: the baptism of children...They maintain that baptism can be of no value to the children who are baptized, because they cannot seek baptism of their own volition, and cannot make any profession of faith."

"The fifth heresy: baptism of water....Those who join their sect are rebaptized in a secret way, which they call baptism by fire and the Holy Spirit."

"The sixth heresy: the souls of the dead. They believe that at the hour of death the souls of the dead pass either to eternal happiness or to eternal damnation. They reject the view of the Church Universal that there are punishments in purgatory, in which the souls of certain of the elect are searched for the sins of which they were not fully cleansed by adequate penance in this life."

"The seventh heresy: contempt for the mass. They scorn and hold pointless masses celebrated in churches."

"The eighth heresy: the body and blood of the Lord. They believe that the body and blood of Christ cannot be made by our consecration, or received by us through communion."

"The ninth heresy: the humanity of the Savior. He [a former member] tells me that they are also in error about our Savior, believing that he was not truly born of the Virgin, and did not truly have human flesh, but a kind of simulated flesh; that he did not rise from the dead, but simulated death and resurrection."

"The tenth heresy: human souls. They say that human souls are apostate spirits which were expelled from heaven at the creation of the world; in human bodies they can come to deserve salvation through good works, but only if they belong to this sect."


Eckbert of Schönau




The Cathars "rejected baptism, the cross as a symbol, individual confession, and all religious ornamentation.


Church services were simple and could be held anywhere. They consisted of a gospel reading, a brief sermon, a benediction, and the Lord's Prayer. The Cathars' back-to-basics approach to the liturgy anticipated the simplicity of some of the later Protestant sects."


Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects



"...One important Cathar symbol was the dove. It represented for them then, as it does for us today, the idea of 'peace' or, more accurately the more subtle concept of 'grace', that state of being in God's love.


After the first crusades, when the European Cathars in the entourage of Godfroi de Bouillon established some contact with the Sufi mystics of Islam, the symbolism of the dove sometimes became linked inconographically with the Islamic mystical idea of baraka, with also means ' grace' and with the idea that a person can be a 'vessel of grace'....


In some instance, the Cathar dove flying with its wing outstretched was rendered in an artistic motif very similar to the stylized ship meaning baraka [bark] in Sufi calligraphy, with the feathers of the dove and the oars of the vessel alike representing the flight and freedom of the soul."


Michael Bradley,

Holy Grail Across the Atlantic



"In the Old Testament account of the Creation, the spirit of God hovers like a bird above the primeval sea, wafting with its wing-beat the breath of God into the slime from which the world was made (Genesis 1:2).


So Pliny speaks of 'that famous breath (spiritus) that generates the universe by fluctuating to and fro as in a kind of womb.' It is much the same imagery that portrays the Holy Spirit fluttering down on the head of Jesus at his baptism (Matthew 3:16), making him, too, a 'Bar-jona', 'Son of a Dove'."


John M. Allegro

The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross




2.- The Two Degrees and Sexual Morality

"Catharism had two classes, or degrees. Laity were known as credentes, or believers. They were not required to follow the rigid rules of abstinence reserved for the elect perfecti or bonhommes (good men), who formed the hierarchy of the Cathar church."


Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects



The "much larger group, the credentes or the true believers, were subjected to no restrictions of their lifestyle. Any vocation could be followed. Unlike orthodox Christianity, Catharism imposed no restrictions on eating or drinking.


Most significantly, the codes of sexual morality were lax. The only crucial obligations for a Cathar were to renounce all allegiance to the orthodox church, and to undergo the consolamentum before death."


"Searching For A Cathar Feminism,




"The Bogomils and the Cathars appear to differ from the earlier Marcionite and Manichaean dualists in their teachings on sexuality, at least for ordinary believers. Most of the older dualists called for the strictest asceticism - no meat or other animal foods, no wine, and no sexual activity. Marriage was opposed for several reasons. It is an attachment based on the body and its sexual appetites...


In addition, marriage clearly promotes the bearing of children, which implies bringing new spiritual beings under the domination of fleshly bodies and so helping the cause of Evil....Because normal heterosexual intercourse is conducive to reproduction, it was discouraged, and various alternative forms of sexual activity encouraged in its place; the vulgar expression 'bugger' is a corruption of 'Bulgar', the name often given the Bogomils in the West because of their Balkan origin.


Although these medieval Manichaeans did permit ordinary believers to live self-indulgent, licentious lives, it was expected that all Cathars would receive the ceremony of the consolamentum before death and thus die pure."


Harold O.J. Brown,




"While the Cathars thought childbearing a great sin, they did not object to sexual motivations other than reproduction.


Coupling the indifference placed on performance in the material world with the belief that all bodily sins would be erased by the consolamentum before death, Cathar society virtually destroyed any orthodox restrictions on sexual conduct. It is interesting to note that the population of Occitania grew rapidly during the years of the Cathar expansion."


"Searching For A Cathar Feminism,




"Whether Cathar or Catholic, every married woman could expect a fair amount of beating. As the man possessed the initiative in the courtship, he later on claimed the right to violence. The reaction to Guillemette Clergue's black eye is indicative of the sort of behavior expected from husbands. Through some accident or infection, Guillemette had a bad eye, and was traveling to find a cure.


On the way, she encountered the perfectus Prades Tavernier, who assumed she had been beaten. Later, in her testimony to Jacques Fournier, Guillemette admitted to keeping her rapport with Tavernier a secret from her husband for fear of abuse, perhaps even death."

"Women could, however, be accepted among the perfecti; it is widely speculated that this was the main appeal of Catharism for women. The perfecti were the ministers of the Cathar faith, wandering in pairs through the countryside to be with the credentes. Women and men worked together to gain converts to the faith and maintaining devotion. To be a perfecta gave a woman a higher status than she could ever attain in the Catholic church."


"Searching For A Cathar Feminism,




"Anyone, man or woman, aspiring to join the perfecti faced a probationary period lasting at least two years. During that time, he or she gave up all worldly goods, lived communally with other perfecti, and abstained from partaking of meat and wine. To avoid temptations of the flesh, an initiate was denied all contact with the opposite sex and vowed never to sleep naked."


Ancient Wisdom and Secret Sects




3.- The Consolamentum

"And he [Satan] imagined in order to make man for his service, and took the lime of the earth and made man in his resemblance.


And he ordered the angel of the second heaven to enter in the body of lime; and he took another part and made another body in the form of woman, and he ordered the angel of the first heaven to enter therein.


The angels cried exceedingly on seeing themselves covered in distinct forms by this mortal envelopment."


The Cathar Les Questions de Jean



"The author of the work goes on to recount how Sathanas made Paradise for the purpose of making the 'man' and 'woman' sin. He accomplished his malicious purpose and so further held the angelic souls in bondage.


The rite of consolamentum, the 'enspiriting' of the Cathar effectively released the soul from the grip of the devil's material bondage and united it with the spirit of God, the Holy spirit, which until the rite exists, as it were, in a dormant state attending the delivery made possible by the love of Christ.


The perfectus could now, in all truth call God 'Father'."


Gerard Zucherro,




"Souls could only find release from this wandering transmigration if they came to dwell in the body of a Catharically 'perfect one' or 'good Christian'."


Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince,

Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled (1994)



"Through a ceremony called the consolamentum, the laying on of hands, a Cathar was inducted into the perfectus class. The ceremony not only eradicated any previous sins, but swore the Cathar to commit no more for the duration of their lives."


"Searching For A Cathar Feminism,




"They call the laying-on of hands the consolamentum, spiritual baptism, or baptisms of the Holy Spirit. Without it according to them, mortal sin cannot be forgiven, and the Holy Spirit cannot be conferred on anyone: it is given only by them, through the consolamentum. On this the Albaneses differ somewhat from the others.


They way that the hand contributes nothing (since according to them it was created by the devil, as we shall see), and it is only the Lord's Prayer said by whoever performs the ceremony that is effective."


Ranier Sacchoni




"Ordinary believers did not receive the consolamentum until just before death, when it was plain that the end was near. This arrangement allowed ordinary believers to lead a fairly agreeable life, not too strict from the moral point of view, until the end approached. But once they were hereticated [the ordinary people's term for receiving the sacrament of the consolamentum], all was changed.


Then they had to embark (at least in the late Catharism of the 1300s) on a state of endura or total and suicidal fasting. From that moment on there was no escape, physically, though they were sure to save their souls. They could touch neither women nor meat in the period until death intervened, either through natural causes or as a result of the endura."


Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie, Montaillou,

The Promised Land of Error



"Fifteen or seventeen years ago, said Brune Pourcel, one dusk, at Easter, Guillaume Belot, Raymond Benet (the son of Guillaume Benet) and Rixende Julia, of Montaillou, brought Na Roqua to my house in a bourras [a rough piece of canvas]; she was gravely ill and had just been hereticated. And they said to me: 'Do not give her anything to eat or drink. You mustn't!'"

"That night, together with Rixende Julia and Alazai"s Pellissier, I sat up with Na Roqua. We kept on saying to her, 'Speak to us! Say something!' "

"But she would not open her lips. I wanted to give her some broth made of salt pork, but we could not get her to open her mouth. When we tried to do so in order to give her something to drink, she clenched her lips. She remained like this for two days and two nights. The third night, at dawn, she died. While she was dying, two night birds commonly called gavecas [owls] came on to the roof of my house.


They hooted and when I heard them I said: 'The devils have come to carry off the late Na Roqua's soul!'"


Brune Pourcel of Montaillou

as recorded in the Inquisition Register of Jacques Fournier
(Bishop of Pamiers in Ariège in the Comte' de Foix from 1318 to 1325)



"There is no trace of ritual suicide or ritual murder in the Catholic authors of violently anti-heretical notices or treatises, like those of Vaux de Cernay, Alain de Lille, Moneta de Cremone... They would not have missed using this argument if it had been true. Neither is ritual suicide attested by the Southern [French] inquisition.

"One must await the first decade of the XIV century to see the endura appear, very precisely defined as a ritual fast associated with a consolamentum in extremis or given in precarious situations, around twenty cases for the period 1300-1320. It was only...the last Cathar perfecti, the most poorly initiated, who actually tried to propose an expiatory fast to someone newly consoled."

"In summation: it is not known with certainty whether the endura was an ordinary religious practice or not, but it is known that it was not an institution, and that never, emphatically never, did the Good Christians advise a ritual suicide!"


by M. Nicolas Gouzy

Le Centre d'Études Cathares
Jan 6, 1997

Catharism, Levitov, and the Voynich Manuscript