The Great Heresy: The History and Beliefs of the Cathars

Arthur Guirdham

Enter into the strange world of the Inquisition, when wife-swapping groups became known as religious movements; indeed, when everything seemed to center around religion. The Great Heresy focuses upon the Cathars, a Gnostic revival sect centered in France. In point of fact, it is difficult today to imagine a sect like the Cathars being singled out for extermination. Many of their beliefs resemble those of the Jehovah’s Witnesses of today mixed with a primitive Hinduism: denial of the Eucharist; vegetarianism; and the rejection of Hell as an abode of eternal punishment and damnation. It is the Cathars’ sex practices which have aroused, so to speak, the interests of inquisitive men and women. The author devotes the first 14 chapters of his book to the history and beliefs of the Cathars, while the remaining chapters follow the authors’ philosophical bent. In this reviewer’s opinion, the subject matter is rather dry and unexciting… not at all what one would expect from a sect alleged to have indulged in so many sexual perversions. Indeed, the author, far from repeating these salubrious tales, understates them, and subjects the reader to a big letdown. JB

Publisher: C.W. Daniel
Paperback: 186 pages

Potter’s New Cyclopedia of Botanical Drugs and Preparations

R. C. Wren

Who would have guessed that the passion flower is a sedative, with hypotensive (lowers blood pressure), anodyne (relieves mental distress) and antispasmodic properties. We should be grateful that Angostura bitters are no longer made from Angostura, as in large enough doses it’s known to cause vomiting and the evacuation of the bowels. Little wonder that horses are perky after eating their oats, since it is an antidepressant, also good for alleviating the symptoms of menopause. Pilewort leaves it to the imagination—it’s enough to say that this herb could lead to an improvement in a very uncomfortable condition. Find a wild lettuce and it could relieve bronchitis and help sleep. A fascinating reference book with descriptions of what to look for, where to find it, and which bits to use. Over 500 plants are listed with their many uses. Despite the fact that the new edition, updated from the original 1907 version, no longer has illustrations—they were of too poor a quality to reproduce—this is an essential source of information for anyone seriously interested in herbal drugs. TR

Publisher: C.W. Daniel
Paperback: 362 pages