Sufi-Cathar synthesis in medieval Arthuriana?

Discussion in 'Anthropology' started by Celtic Skogsra, 24 August 2014.

  1. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    Has anyone any thoughts on this Twitter thread about the Grail cycle? Though the first post references the Yezidis as a source, the source is more precisely Sufi, the Yezidi being themselves al-Adawiya Sufis. The argument made is that Sufi (or Yezidi) and Cathar ideas somehow became syncretised in the south of France and northern Spain, before further elaboration from Wolfram.

    Need to understand better transmission of ideas from Kurdistan into Aquitane. (Yezidi origins of Grail themes.)​

    Taken as a whole the 'Fisher King' cycle is about the redemption of Satan - a Sufi theme, not unique to Yezidis.​

    In medieval French 'Roi des Pecheurs' can be interpreted to mean both king of fishers and of sinners.​

    Because of Sufi influence, not all Iranian content of the Arthurian legends can be explained by Aquitanian elites as Alans.​

    The Holy Grail is itself not only the Cup of Isa but also the Ossetic Nartamongae. Also the cup of Jamshid.​

    "Anfortas sins by loving himself more than God." Familiar concept to Kurds and their neighbours - allowed back to serve God.​

    As king of fishers, a connection exists to Satan in Catharism where a bee eater (ie. kingfisher) is a substitute for peacock.​

    (Maybe I'm wrong on this last bit, but kingfishers and bee eaters, because they dive, had significance to Languedoc Cathars.)​

    (Fishing in Catharism is a reference to the earth diver fishing up the earth, hence fusion of Catharism and Sufism.)​
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  2. Pangloss

    Pangloss Senior Member

    I'd be careful of reading too much Yezidi faith into Catharism, the origins and ideas of Catharism seem to come directly from Jesuanist eastern Christians, as opposed to a continuum of Iranic Gnosticism, and Yezidi theology and ritual seem very distinct from that which we know about the Cathars (even more so since they have always been an extremely secretive group, not interested in gaining converts or giving away their secrets to those outside their blood). From what I've read the Grail itself had it's own interpretation and significance amongst Catholic thinkers of the time, one very much removed from esotericism and Gnosticism.
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  3. Pangloss

    Pangloss Senior Member

    Also, some anthropologists and religious scholars have argued that the Yezidi faith we see now was more influenced by Christian Gnosticism, than influential upon Christian Gnosticism.
  4. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    Yezidism is 12thC but syncretic religions were already present. Gnosticism itself emerged through Hellenistic syncretism in Late Antiquity.

    It isn't that Yezidism (or Sufism) influenced Cqtharism directly but that cultural contacts across the Pyrenees and through the crusades, as well as domestic tensions between the Church and temporal rulers, enabled and promoted syncretism from sources in the creation of the later addition to Arthurian tradition.
    Last edited: 24 August 2014
  5. Pangloss

    Pangloss Senior Member

    I just can't see how, the Yezidis have always stuck to themselves and been very tribalist (to the extent that they are about as inbred as Parsis, and in some cases have killed members who have told outsiders a bit too much about their faith), and the influences upon Catharism came from the other direction (and directly from the NT, rather than Iranic texts).

    As for the Arthurian legends, I guess you could have a gnostic interpretation of them, but the authors themselves seem to have drawn from a variety of different sources (especially the Illiad and Anead), and seem to have intended a different reading e.g. the legitimacy of the Continentals over the Saxons/separation of Englishness from the Anglo Saxons, courtly love, the virtues of hierarchy et cetera.
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  6. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    Yezidi are endogamous, but not especially guarded to outsiders. In any case the redemption of the fallen Peacock Angel is a wider Sufi theme.

    Catharism is simply a western migration of Bogomilism, and its dualism a syncretism with dualistic Tengrism.
  7. Pangloss

    Pangloss Senior Member

    Well, some Orthodox theologians believe that everyone will eventually find redemption, even Judas and Satan.
  8. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    A Sufi influence itself?
  9. Pangloss

    Pangloss Senior Member

    They trace it back to Origen's apocatastasis and Ireneaus' universalism (something that was roundly condemned by Western Christianity - Catholic theologians arguing that the idea of universal salvation violated the free will of the person).
  10. Celtic Skogsra

    Celtic Skogsra Heroic Member

    It is likely from the Buddhists present in the Roman Empire then.
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