Medieval Catharism was widespread throughout Occitania (currently the South of France) and the kingdoms of Aragon, Navarre, Italy, Germany and Flanders, from the 11th till the beginning of the 14th century. Catharism succeeded the spiritual tradition of Slavic and Balkan Bogomilism, and went even further back in history.
Cathars lived a simple life. They shared what they had, fed the needy, provided employment in their artisan workshops, and consoled and cared for the sick...
They lived according to the virtues of good: unlimited kindness, perfect purity, sacred love, peace, divine wisdom and divine justice. They did not reject anyone. Cathars were a peaceful people who found millions of followers throughout the world. In Europe alone, more than 50 million people followed Catharism. In all places where Cathar values were accepted, people lived in societies ahead of their time, with a material and spiritual prosperity that was unknown in neighbouring feudal societies.
Official history does not usually value the strength and development of Catharism in Spain (mostly in Catalonia). It was the homeland of the last Cathar Perfect, Guillaume Bélibaste, who was burned at the stake in the castle of Villerouge-Termenes in 1321. Just before his death, Bélibaste proclaimed his famous prophecy:
‘In seven hundred years the laurel will become green again, good people will return’. Today is the time of the fulfilment of this prophecy.
Cathars considered the laurel to be the sacred symbol of pure love. When inquisitors executed Cathars, the martyrs said: ‘The laurel wilts. Pure love fades’. But they possessed holy faith and knew that one day the laurel would become green again.
In fact, almost nothing remained of the Cathars. Most traces of their memory were erased. Those who sympathized with them perished in the bonfires of the Inquisition. They suffered an external defeat, but spiritually, they overcame the Inquisition who could neither break their will, nor their spirit of love.
Prominent contemporary philosopher and humanist John Bogomil accepted the sacred task of rehabilitating Catharism. ‘Cathars have great love’ − he writes in one of his many books −, ‘they perceive man as a divinity who has descended from heaven.’
John Bogomil conceptualizes the phenomenon of Catharism in a new way. He has penetrated Cathar metaphysics, and considers the majority of memories and historical chronicles about Cathars to be terribly distorted. People called them simply ‘good men’ (bonshomes)* and ‘good women’ (bonas donas).
The Cathar influence
Cathars made a very big contribution to European culture, and laid the foundations for its most eminent achievements. Ramon Llull, Leonardo da Vinci, Miguel de Cervantes, Shakespeare and Beethoven are some of the most brilliant representatives of Catharism in its widest sense.
Catharism greatly influenced democratic processes, both in Europe and in the rest of the world. It was the Cathars who created the motto of ‘freedom, equality and brotherhood’ as the basis of a prosperous civilization.
Freedom is perceived as a creative discovery of the personal spiritual potential of each and every inhabitant of the Earth. Equality is an important benefaction, because every person should be considered equally. Brotherhood is a wonderful dialogue of love, where each individual is regarded as a brother or sister in a big universal family. Modern day Catharism is a fresh source for the restoration of a healthy, peaceful and prosperous society, based on archetypal spiritual values.