This talk by Ted Nottingham is one of the best I've seen or heard on the Essenes. It's worth watching to get a sense of the real wisdom lineages, and where they may have originated. As Jesus also was an Essene, to know more about the very spiritual and far thinking group he emerged from gives a great perspective on what he was really all about.
What a different world we might be living in now had the Essene way been able to thrive and go forward as the "mainstream" christian church. Unfortunately the Roman way could not tolerate such a peaceful system, which emphasised direct experience of God within, a strict vegetarian diet, healing and meditative practice, and a complete disregard for power and position. So it was with the Essenes and so it was with the Cathars. Both groups were rounded up and murdered and all but eliminated but not quite.
The origins of the Essenses goes very far back in time and spread in many directions. Egypt and India for one became home to what we could probably more aptly call mystery school teachings long before they had even spread to Qumran. The Cathars living in Southern France were not all killed during the Inquisition and we have to believe or at least hope that some managed to flee and take their knowledge and wisdom with them.
Much of the Cathar information is lost or distorted by the fact that some of it was recorded by members of the Inquisition who were hardly unbiased. However with the finding of the copper scrolls at Qumran, the Essene way is opened to us again and, as ultimately the Essenses and the Cathars were of the same line, we can get a great insight on how the Cathars lived by knowing a little more about the Essene way.
To summarise the core principles of the Essenes (and this really is a summary!) it would be: living a loving and peaceful life, respecting the earth as a living being and recognising the Divine by meditative practice that leads to an inner connection and teaching. Living and sharing truth, doing work and worshiping or staying in disciplined practice through acts of work, not harming any living thing, vegetarian diet and no consumption of fermented drinks!
Does any of that sound familiar today? It sure does... Much of what we now see as the New Age movement is actually very old age and just a revival of a way of peace and healing and life of balance on the planet that is actually many thousands of years old.
When the Cathars were being hunted down and massacred in the thirteenth century they prophesied that in 700 years they would begin to incarnate again as that was when the planet would need a revival of their ways. Interestingly, that timeline fits exactly with when our current 'New Age" really took off.
As a child, I was always drawn to Cathar stories but know little about the Cathars themselves. My own journey in healing and meditation followed a very synchronous path - very much one of when the student is ready the master appears. To date every time I need, or am ready, for new learning the right person (or sometimes guide or angel) just pops in.
The work I do with tone and sound came through a guided instruction and I am only now beginning to write about it so that I can pass it on. In yet another synchronicity, while doing a healing for someone very knowledgeable about what little is known of Cathar healing traditions, he commented at the end: "You do know that what you are doing is a very old and powerful form of Cathar healing don't you?" I didn't!! But what he said felt true and led me to study more about the Cathars, their origins and what other teachings they may have had that they are trying to reignite in us today.
And so that leads back to where I began this post - to the Essenes.
Bear in mind also as you listen to this talk, that as this was very much a path of inner connection with the divine, not a fixed 'religion'. It is a living way and different groups can have different rules. The Qumran group were a stricter group than those at Mount Carmel (where Jesus came from) hence even in Jesus' teachings you'll hear a slightly more fluid take on living than you might from a Qumran resident. And a Cathar might have a different view again, but all will have the same core principle of love, peace, healing, meditation, service and truth.