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Magick Competes with Orthodox Religions

Manichaeism was an ascetic religion, based essentially on the ancient Persian belief in two supreme principles, one of light and goodness, the other of darkness and evil. Manichaeism was crushed by the aid of the imperial troops but Manichaean ideas were destined still to play a great part in Europe. Christians vilified the Manichees. St. Jerome candidly stated they were men and women of far stricter virtue than the Christians themselves. Augustine, however, was chiefly instrumental in defaming them.

Manichaean Magick

Manichaean ideas like its adherents, were imprisoned, but broke out from time to time. One of the most famous heretics of the Greek Church, Paul of Samosata, was the son of a Manichaean mother. His heresy combined the Manichaean principle of two supreme powers with an early form of Protestantism or evangelical Christianity. The Greek Church and Empire-which, let us remember, had never been tainted by barbarian invasions-were now, in the eighth century, appallingly corrupt, and this purer religion, as it was, spread widely, especially among the Armenians. Emperor after emperor tried to suppress it. The Empress Theodora put to death no less than one hundred thousand members of the sect; or, in a few years, made fifty times as many martyrs as the pagans had in three centuries. Finally, in the tenth century, no less than two hundred thousand members of the sect were transplanted from Armenia to Thrace, to form a living bulwark against the encroachments of the Bulgars.

Church Corruption Makes Magick Appealing

Rapidly, the Paulicians spread their gospel peacefully among the Bulgars and Europe was confronted with a new heresy, the Bogomiles. While the Bogomiles are not widely known, a group of heretics from the south of France, the Albigensians, who were drowned by the greatest of the Popes, Innocent III, in their own blood will never be forgotten. They (and the Waldensians, the Cathari, the Patarenes, and other obscure bodies of the time) were inspired by the Bogomiles and had the same tincture of Manichaean ideas. The orthodox Catholics of France called them bougres (Bulgars) and it was thus that the innocent name of a people became the worst swearword of French and English tongues. They were reproached with having a pope in Bulgaria. In short, from the tenth century onward this revolt against orthodox Christianity and its corrupt priests and monks spread over Europe like a prairie fire.

Christians Attack

The Paulicians, Bogomiles, Albigensians, and others of their ilk suffered slander and misrepresentation. Psellus, one of the leading Greek orthodox writers of the tenth century, wrote a book titled, "On the Operations of the Devils," in which he included almost as many fables as he had in his telling of the lives of the martyrs. According to Psellus, the heretics would meet at night by candlelight and invoke devils. When these devils or demons appeared in the shape of animals, the lights would then be extinguished and the heretics would then indulge in an orgy of sexuality with the devils and each other. This tale spread through Europe and was eventually applied to heretics everywhere.

An Introduction to Magick