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Re: [Gnosticism2] Re: Cathars & Basque

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  • Paul Kieniewicz
    I m interested in this issue of the role of ritual in gnosticism. Some of you expressed the view that Cathars are less gnostic because they rely on the ritual
    Message 1 of 69 , Oct 1, 2003
      I'm interested in this issue of the role of ritual in gnosticism. Some of you expressed the view that Cathars are less gnostic because they rely on the ritual of the consolamentum.
       
      Reading the Nag Hammadi texts, I've seen nothing there against the use of ritual to help awaken gnosis. The Gospel of Philip lists several sacraments, including the mysterious "bridal chamber" as the supreme sacrament. My sense is that how gnosis awakens in a particular person is a matter of temperament. For some people, the approach through ritual may be highly valuable. For others, anything but ritual is the best approach. Unfortunately, the gnostic rituals are by and large lost. We know some of the "mantras" but not enough to reconstruct what was there.
       
      I realize that Elaine Pagels, and other modern writers, identify self-discovery and introspection as the way of gnosis. But perhaps it also happens as a bolt out of the blue.Or in a ritual.
       
      The consolamentum, by all accounts is very much a bare bones ritual that doesn't have a lot to it, the primary action being the laying on of hands. Yes, Cathars were probably pretty dogmatic about the requirement of that ritual. But consider the times in which they lived, and the corrupt church they had to stand against. Their rules and order probably was what worked for them in those harsh times.
       
      Paul K.
       

      lady_caritas <no_reply@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
      --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, Mangum Murdock
      <mangummurdock@y...> wrote:
      > Cari,
      > you say..
      > >Well, maybe I'm missing your point here, but I don't see how >the
      Cathars would be connected to the Gnostics based on this >reference
      to John the Baptist.
      >
      > It was the Basques not the Cathars that I referenced to John the
      Baptist. But the Cathars appear to place a lot of importance on old
      John actually describing him as a 'demon'. The Cathars appear to be
      both Dualists and Gnostics with the world as evil, the spirit being
      trapped in a body of filth with freedom acheved through gnosis or
      knowledge of God.

      > Mangum


      Achieved through gnosis?  My understanding was that the trapped
      spirit achieved freedom through an extremely ascetic life of the
      believer devoted to purity, plus the unique Cathar rite of
      Consolamentum.  The laying of hands on a believer's head was supposed
      to transmit energy, enabling the spirit to continue ascending safely
      to the Light.  This certainly seems to emphasize ritual as important
      in their soteriology and differs from Gnostic sects that emphasized
      gnosis through self-acquaintance as liberating and salvific.

      Cari




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    • Gerry
      ... The Romantic side of me might be inclined to hold out that we are simply not privy to the actual perspective of the Cathar Parfaits, but without anything
      Message 69 of 69 , Jul 4, 2005
        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "George Harvey"
        <georgeatnsn@y...> wrote:
        >
        > Thank you. Very well put. Maybe some classify them as Gnostic
        > because the Church called them heretics. It seems some people
        > confuse the two terms.
        >
        > Everybody,
        > Does anybody here think that they were Gnostic?
        >
        > George



        The Romantic side of me might be inclined to hold out that we are
        simply not privy to the actual perspective of the Cathar Parfaits,
        but without anything to substantiate it, this would simply be
        speculation (or wishful thinking).

        Even looking at the historical process as analogous with Gnostic
        myth, consider how those concepts might have degraded as they
        filtered through the Manichaeans, and the Bogomils, to the Cathars.
        This far from the source, they might have been little left but a
        shell of esoteric understanding, which by then, could have even been
        regarded through a more exoteric perspective . . . emanating from the
        Source to the point of no longer recognizing it.

        Indeed, George, that confusion you mentioned of equating "heretics"
        with "Gnostics" is something that I still observe. This is becoming
        quite the popular phenomenon of late. I've been waiting since
        February to see the release of Prada's new fragrance, inspired
        by "Thunder Perfect Mind" (have I missed it?). Well, inspiration may
        be one thing, but the fact that director Jordan Scott views the
        campaign as "a testament to women in all forms" does little to
        indicate that she appreciates the Gnostic value of the paradoxical
        text used in the project. Basically, it has become a marketing
        gimmick, and nothing more.

        You can also look to the lyrics of Tori Amos:

        There was a garden
        In the beginning
        Before the fall
        Before Genesis

        There was a tree there
        A tree of knowledge
        Sophia would insist
        You must eat of this

        Original sin?
        No, I don't think so
        Original sinsuality
        Original sin?
        No, it should be
        Original sinsuality
        Original sin?
        No, I don't think so
        Original sinsuality

        Yaldaboath
        Saklas
        I'm calling you
        Samael
        You are not alone
        I say
        You are not alone
        In your darkness
        You are not alone
        Baby
        You are not alone
        ——http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/toriamos/originalsinsuality.html

        In "Original Sinsuality," she succinctly lays out the bare bones of a
        Gnostic creation story, but her own interviews on the subject reveal
        that she was inspired by references in the works of Elaine Pagels,
        and that she basically liked the shock value of such texts. Well,
        there's shock value for the sake of bringing a person to a pneumatic
        awareness, and there's shock value for the sake of appealing to one's
        audience and selling more music.

        I suppose I'm cynical enough at this point to think that not only are
        people confusing "heresy" with "Gnosticism," but that many are also
        confusing "heresy" with "anti-church" and "anti-establishment"
        resentment. Maybe it's just me, but is seems like all
        these "freethinkers" are missing the boat rather than rocking it
        whenever they jump on the nearest bandwagon to point out what it is
        that they're AGAINST. Perhaps it takes too much effort to actually
        articulate what it is that they stand FOR.

        Gerry
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