Cathars and the Consolamentum

The sacred caves of Sabarthez are located around the small town of Ussat-Les-Bains and are known as the 'doors to Catharism.' The most important of the Cave Churches of Omolac is known as the Cave of Bethlehem, believed to be the spiritual center of the Cathar world and refuge for the sacred treasure of the Grail. Here the 'Pure' candidate underwent the Consolamentum initiation.

Four aspects of the Cave were utilized in the ceremony:
- A square niche in the wall in which stood the veiled Holy Grail,
- A granite altar upon which the Gospel of John lay,
- A pentagram hewn into the wall,
- Telluric currents emanating from the rock walls and floor.

Given that the Cathars believed Jesus Christ was an angel and not an historical person, some suggest that the Holy Grail and Consolamentum represented an entheogenic potion that induced visions and what some call 'Christ Consciousness.' The Telluric currents on the walls were then patterns revealed by the entheogenic communion, a common psychedelic effect possibly associated with the resonating sound of chant.

Representing the Mother Goddess, who the Cathars saw as Mary Magdalene (Stoyanov), was the pentagram. This symbol would have been considered the 'Star of Bethlehem' as descended from the ancient veneration of the orbital rose pattern of Venus (the celestial womb of Vena).

The Cathars believed that the Consolamentum gave its recipients an unequaled courage to face death. It was said that a transmission of immense vivifying energy took place after drinking, inspiring to those who witnessed it. This energy transmission allowed the spirit to continue its ascent towards the Light in safety, to evolve, or if the recipient was on the threshold of death, to make the leap into the cosmos. Cathars believed that once someone had been consoled, they were saved from rebirth and remained in the heavenly realm.

In 1209, Pope Innocent III initiated the first Crusade, known as the Albigensian Crusade, to exterminate the practicing Cathars. Soon thereafter in 1215, the Council of Lateran established the Inquisition to root out the remaining Cathars. The inquisitor Bernard Gui instructed that no one should argue with the unbeliever, but 'thrust his sword into the man's belly as far as it will go.' At Beziers, when asked how to tell who was a Cathar and who was not, the commanding legate, Arnaud, replied, 'Kill them all, for God will know his own.' Not a child was spared.

For instance, the Cavern of Lombrives, known as the Cathar's Cathedral, was the dwelling place of a Cathar bishop named Amiel Aicard. This Perfect One had received an order to leave the besieged fortress during the night of its surrender in 1244, bringing to Lombrives the 'sacred treasure of the Cathars.' What this treasure was remains unknown, though it could well have been the secret ingredients of the Consolamentum.

Later in 1328 the Catholic inquisitor Jacques Fournier ordered the upper part of this cave sealed, killing 510 Cathars who were worshipping inside.