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RELIGION: The Cathars and Otto Rahn

Otto Rahn

Ed Jajko says:_I would be most interested if Christopher Jones could cite his authorities for the Cathar Christology he presents us. What little I have read suggests that the Cathars had different, not entirely coherent views on Jesus Christ, but that they were not quite in consonance with what Mr. Jones has stated. Reference to a couple of scholarly sources would be much appreciated.

RH: Yes, a few precise sources.

Ed Jajko asked Christopher Jones to give sources for his statements about the Cathars. Christopher replies:
The sources for my comments on the Cathari are all from Cruzada contra el Grial [original German, Kreuzzug gegen dem Gral] by Otto Rahn. This particular translation was done by Fernando Acha and published by Hiperión in Madrid. To the best of my knowledge and a fact that was reconfirmed to me by the current copyright holder in Germany, Rahn's book was never translated into English although Spanish, French and Italian versions exist. The book was first published in 1933.

Rahn conducted on the spot research into the Cathar tragedy and, as an accomplished speleologist, said that the caves in and around Mont Ségur were his greatest sources. However, he relied on all written scholarly documentation available in the late twenties. Regarding the source for my few WAIS notes about the Cathari and their doctrine, his chapter "Los puros y su doctrina", which begins on page 91, describes their ideas about the physical and metaphysical, the spirit and the flesh. It is well worth reading because he weaves into the text the trovador [the Minnesaenger] canti as well as scholarly sources. The somewhat contradictory views of Jesus of Nazareth are found on page 92. His bibliography is enormous and runs from page 225 until 235. Alone for the chapter on the Cathar doctrine, he cites 23 different works. Reading the book, I easily understood how Rahn became disappointed with the Ahnenerbe and how Himmler must have seized upon the Cathari doctrine to justify his own terrible agenda. In fact, although the Cathari had some quite piquant ideas about Christians and Jews, they were very tolerant, almost comparable as Rahn says to the movement of the Mahatma Gandhi -- and opinion which led to his own tragedy.

I think his two books should appear in English. To this end, I have contacted the copyright holder in Germany who has promised me the rights, but unfortunately, in the days of "Who wants to be a millionaire", I have not been able to interest a publisher yet in these fascinating yet tragic works. Perhaps some WAISers have some ideas.

RH: This takes us into the misty, murky world of "The Cathar Myth: 'Church of the H. Grail'" from which here is an extract: The first to create the Cathar myth referred to in the Da Vinci Code was Napoléon Peyrat, a bourgeois and talented fabulist, concocted in the 1870s an account of the Cathars, which, though largely made up, still passes as truth in esoteric circles today (2004). Another equally influential is Jules Doinel (Jules-Benoît Stanislas Doinel, a Freemason and Spiritist (See "The Making of Spiritism" in the first part of Da Vinci Code Matrix). He claimed that Gnosticism was the true religion behind Freemasonry. Thus it is in the second half of 19th century France that the Cathar-myth was born, to which as already pointed out Joseph Péladan next was the first to ad to this a mention of the Holy Grail in his short treatise From Parsifal to Don Quixote, the secret of the Troubadours. (The Cathar-hype conquered all of France and was of special interest for the Parisian occultists at the end of the 19th century. Doinel's contribution to the Cathar-hype at that time was the "legend of the first Gnostic Mass which was held at the parade-ground of the castle of Montsegur", thus Doinel one night in 1888 had a vision in which the "Aeon Jesus" appeared. Doinel alleged that in this ‘vision’ he was consecrated as a Patriarch by Jesus Christ himself, who was assisted by "two Bogomil Bischops”. Earlier already Napoleon Peyrat had freely admitted that when he wrote about the four Cathar perfecti excaping Montsegur with a treasure, none of this was based on historical facts, but that what he wrote had appeared to him in dreams.

Peyrat's treasure of Montségur became a cache of ancient knowledge in a theory advanced by an influential occultist, Joséphin Péladan. His friends - Charles Baudelaire, Joris-Karl Huysmans and others - called him Sr, as befitted his self-proclaimed status as descendant of the monarchs of ancient Assyria. Péladan-Sr pointed out that Montsalvat, the holy mountain of Wagner's Parsifal and Lohengrin, had to be Montségur. This led to the myth of the Pyrenean Holy Grail, the elusive secret behind western civilisation hidden in the mountains between France and Spain. However it is thus also with Peyrat's heretics hoarding an immense treasure that we have thr origin of the treasure legend of Da Vinci Code's Abbe Sauniere, plus Saunier's Priory de Sion.

After the calamity of the First World War, which led to a continent-wide interest in the paranormal, the call of the Cathars was heard beyond France. British spiritualists descended on Montségur, where occultists were busily embroidering Peyrat's narrative, among them Déodat Roché, a notary from a town near Carcassonne. Roché was a disciple of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, which promised its followers direct immediate contact with the spirit world. Roché's Cathar-tainted anthroposophy was open to all influences - Hinduism, druidism, gnosis. He made much of cave scratchings near Montségur, claiming they were pentagrams traced by Cathar fugitives to transmit a message to posterity. Any cave graffito not obviously modern was immediately Catharized by Roché (who died in 1978, at the age of 101).

Around him was a group of young spiritual seekers, including, for a time, the philosopher Simone Weil. She used an anagramatic pen-name, Emile Novis, for her articles about medieval Languedoc as a moral utopia. But one of the best distorters and exporters of the legacy of Peyrat was Maurice Magre, a writer of considerable talent now almost forgotten. In the 20s and 30s, this prolific novelist and essayist (and prodigious consumer of opium) brought the energy of Montparnasse to Catharism. He wrote two Cathar novels, The Blood Of Toulouse and The Treasure Of The Albigensians. In the first he recast the fabulations of Peyrat and caricatured the enemies of the Cathars: the wife of the crusade leader, Simon de Montfort, is described as having rotting teeth, skin the colour of Sicilian lemons, and a big nose. His second, less successful novel presented the Perfect as Buddhists. In 1930 Magre a member of the Pollaires, met Otto Rahn in Paris.

Who were the Cathars, in Rahn's view? "We do not need the god of Rome, we have our own. We do not need the commandments of Moses, we carry in our hearts the legacy of our ancestors. It is Moses who is imperfect and impure... We, Westerners of nordic blood, we call ourselves Cathars just as Easterners of nordic blood are called Parsees, the Pure. Our heaven is open only to those who are not creatures of an inferior race, or bastards, or slaves. It is open to Aryans. Their name means that they are nobles and lords." Otto Rahn became a legend by itself ; having joined the SS, he had to resign following various wild stories about his death in the Pyrenees, none of which has been proven. Christian Bernadac in Le Mystere Otto Rahn(1994) even claims that Otto Rahn simply changed his name and became "Rudolf Rahn" the last Nazi ambassador in Rome. One issue Christian Bernadac's book has in common however with the more reliable article by Joseph Mandement in La Depeche: both agree Otto Rahn was part of a propaganda fraud (he was seen planting German rune-graffitti on the walls of some of the mountain hideouts he visited), in preparation of the invasion of France by the Nazis.

The legacy of Peyrat did not degenerate wholly into nostalgia for the Third Reich. In fact, Rahn's competition overwhelmed him. There was an obvious comparison to be made between Cathars and members of the French Resistance, fighting an invading force. This came up again and again in works published in the 50s. The Cathars - bourgeois liberals, Buddhists, gnostics, Nazis etc - had now joined the maquis. The 60s updated the lore surrounding the Cathars to suit the counter-culture. The babas-cool , French back-to-the-land hippies, made the Pyrenees a prime target for returning to nature and making goat's cheese. When they began arriving in the late 60s, they were met by Dutch Rosicrucians, neo-gnostics from Belgium and other groups who had already moved to Cathar country summer camps. The babas-cool found the idea of the Cathars appealing: they were vegetarians; they were said to disapprove of marriage - therefore they were pro-free love; women could be Perfect - therefore the Cathars were feminists; and they partook of the troubadour love culture of Occitania. Rock groups serenaded crowds at the foot of Montségur, where the billows of smoke came now only from reefers.

RH; It seems clear that Otto Rahn was not an ordinary historian and that he moved in the world of the occult. The success of Yhe Da Vinci Code shows that there is still a market for this stuff.

Christopher Jones adds this footnote to the posting on Otto Rahn and the Cathars: Don't forget that Rudolf Steiner was the chief archivist of the Nietzsche archive in Weimar, engaged by none other than Elisabeth Nietzsche herself. Everybody has their own axe to grind in the story: I visited the online Catholic encyclopedia and was stunned that the church still thinks it was [in other words] a "jolly good thing" to have exterminated the Cathars by burning them at the stake. They argue that Christianity in the hands of the Cathars would have died out because of the Cathar rejection of sex (which flies in the face of those free loving hippies) At any rate, the bibliography Rahn uses for his chapter los puros y su doctrina is mostly XIXth century and some XVIIth century references, in particular Benoist: Histoire des Albigeois, 1691. No hoaxers as far as I can see. RH: The last statement would be questioned. The fact remains that Rahn was a member of the SS and may have been Nazi Ambassador to Rome under an assumed name.

Alain de Benoist says: Otto Rahn was never Nazi Ambassador to Rome!! He committed suicide, probably on orders from the SS authorities (maybe because he was an homosexual). RH: I said "may have been", referring to one source which said he changed his name before taking the job.

The Cathars were regarded as a curious sideshow by historians until they became involved in the mythology of the Wagner to Hitler period, when Otto Rahn became involved.. Christopher Jones sats: I also have to point out that the note that was attached to my post that referred to the "Cathar myth," included a purported sentence by Rahn, whereby the Cathars proclaimed themselves Aryans. Now I have to turn the tables and ask for chapter and verse please: at least in the Spanish version and not having read the original 1933 German version, there is virtually no reference to "Aryans." (I admit that the term Indoeuropeans does exist in the text.) There is no reason to believe that Rudolf Rahn was Otto Rahn: the epilogue to the book is quite clear: Rahn was disovered frozen in the Alps; as Alain suggests, there were rumors of homosexuality and possible Jewish ancestry.

Randy Black says: Alain de Benoist makes the claim that Otto Rahn was never Nazi Ambassador to Rome!!
We seem to have a conflict as to Mr. Benoist‚s position and that of other WAISers. If Otto Rahn was not ambassador to Rome, then who was Rudolph Rahn and is there any connection? Christian Bernadac in Le Mystere Otto Rahn(1994) claims that Otto Rahn simple changed his name and became "Rudolf Rahn" the last Nazi ambassador in Rome.
On 18 December 1944, Mussolini had moved his office to Milan. German Ambassador Rahn, suggested he move to Merano or the Brenner Pass, but Mussolini chose Milan due in part to his wish to distance himself from German authority.

Hitler occupied Rome from September 1943 until June 1944, and he would have overrun the Vatican if the Pontiff had sufficiently provoked him. Written statements by the German ambassador to Italy, Rudolf Rahn, describe a plot to take over the Vatican, kidnap Pope Pius and his cardinals, and hold them hostage. 'The fact of [the plan's] existence and its target is solidly anchored in my memory.' reported Rahn. Albrecht von Kessel, an aide to the German ambassador to the Vatican, and Karl Otto Wolff, a German general who was the SS chief in Italy toward the end of the war, both confirmed that there was such a plan.
But then, there is this:
1939 March 13 Otto Rahn dies of overexposure while hiking in the mountains near Kufstein. (Berlin Document Center) Rumors persist that he was murdered by the SS.

Alain de Benoist dismisses the rumor that Otto Rahn was the same as Rudolph Rahn, Nazi ambassador to Rome: I do not make any " claim", I just stick to the facts. Christian Bernadac has never been considered as a serious writer by anybody. He writes novels, not history. Who can seriously imagine that the author of Kreuzzug gegen den Graal (1933) became an ambassador some years later? That the Nazi Regime choosesuch a lunatic as its official representative to a country which was at that time so important for Germany? That somebody could hide himself by changing... his Christian name? This is just a joke. When he was sent to Rome, Rudolph Rahn was in his forties or fifties. He had already behind him a diplomatic career which is perfectly documented. His photograph has been published in many books. He bears no resemblance at all with Otto Rahn!

Otto Rahn was born in Michelstadt (Odenwald) on 18 February 1904. He died on 13 March 1939, after committing suicide in the mountains of the Kaisergebirge (North Tyrol). He was quite probably obliged to kill himself by the SS hierarchy (he was himself an Obersturmführer SS), for being an homosexual (of partly Jewish descent). A short article on his death was published on 18 May 1939 in the daily paper of the Nazi Party, the Völkischer Beobachter. The article was written by the Gruppenführer SS Wolff. Rudolph Rhan survived the end of the war. He died in Germany in 1975.

Christopher Jones writes:I have heard that Otto Rahn was the chosen disciple of Karl Maria Wiligut, the chief of the Ahnenerbe's section dedicated to investigating aryanism and himself known as the "Lord" of the runes. Wiligut busted out of an insane asylum in the late twenties, where he had been committed by his own family -- When he found out, Reichsführer SS Himmler was not amused. He forced his "Rasputin" to resign. Wiligut died in 1946, by then, I believe he was completely crazy, which of course speaks for him. Only intelligent people go mad.

RH: Would Daryl DeBell please comment on the last statement?

Ronald Hilton 2004