The Mystery of the Alumbrados
Once again the word 'chew' has been substituted to circumvent Google censorship and shadow banning of this wesbite.
An interesting historical character to emerge from the gloom of the Jesuits is Miguel de Molinos. As a youth he was educated by the Jesuits and ordained as a Jesuit priest in 1652, joined the brotherhood of the School of Christ. He was sent to Rome where he became very influential and soon developed a powerful network of patrons including the exiled Queen of Sweden.
While in Rome he developed the ‘philosophy’ or perhaps more accurately, the heresy for which he has become recorded in history: ‘Quietism’, the details of which he thoroughly outlined in his book ‘The Spiritual Guide which Disentangles the Soul’.
The key point of the book is Miguel’s advocacy for what he terms ‘contemplation’ over the ‘meditation’ of the Jesuits. Meditation in his terms refers to the Jesuit techniques of visualising key scenes from the Bible, specifically the Passion of Christ and also visualising hell itself as we have just read in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignacio Loyola. The ostensible purpose of Molino’s Spiritual Guide was to teach man a method of drawing closer and knowing God by curtailing the activity of the mind and the personal will.
After a hitherto successful career in the church and Molinos’ doctrine of Quietism having become broadly accepted and not then considered heretical, something changed. Jesuits felt they needed to rebut the specific attacks made in the book about their methods of ‘meditation’ and there was a lively back and forth between Quietists and Jesuits as to which method was the best, whether the ‘meditation’ (which is more like a form of contemplation) of the Jesuits or ‘contemplation’ (which is really a form of meditation) of the Quietists. The Inquisition took an interest and investigating in 1681 declared the Spiritual Guide of Miguel de Molinos orthodox and compatible with the teachings of the Church. However, in 1685 the tide turned against him and he was arrested under instruction from French authorities and while many in Rome were sympathetic to Molinos in 1687 he confessed his errors to the Inquisition and died after spending nine years in prison. At his trial according to Britannica.com:
“Molinos defended sexual aberrations committed by himself and his followers as sinless, purifying acts caused by the Devil. He claimed they were passively allowed in order to deepen a quiet repose in God.”
Pope Innocent XI wrote of Molinos:
“….these doctrines were leading the faithful from true religion and from the purity of Christian piety into terrible errors and every indecency.”
The Catholic Herald online summarises thus:
“In that same year, however, he published his Spiritual Guide, which purported to lead the reader through the various stages of the spiritual life to perfection in this world, whereby one would remain perfectly passive before God as the highest state. Once there, a person need not fear sins committed under the temptations of the Devil, but should remain at peace, even after committing the vilest acts.”
This ‘doctrine’ if we can call it that, ought to recall what we have seen of the Kabbalah and the idea of ‘holy sin’ or sin even serving a useful purpose in making a person more righteous before God.
We even find this very dangerous idea had crept into the theology of Pope Gregory I to whom Molinos refers:
“That we may not make Poison of Physick, and Vices of Vertues, by becoming vain by ‘em; God would have us make Vertues of Vices, healing us by that very thing which would hurt us: So says St. Gregory.”
And Pope Gregory reaches this conclusion by some highly Kabbalistic logic worthy of Simon Magus himself:
“I'd like to look inside the fortified bosom of grace with how much God keeps us by the favor of mercy. Behold, he who exalts himself about virtue returns through vice to humility. But he who is extolled for his virtues, is wounded, not by the sword, but, so to speak, by medicine. For what is virtue but medicine? and what is vice but wound? Because, therefore, we treat the wound as a medicine, he makes the medicine of the wound, so that we who are smitten by virtue may be cured by vice.”
It is all rather unfortunate because most of the early elements of the Spiritual Guide and the core of Quietism is basically a form of Zen meditation which is an extremely useful spiritual and psychological tool which can be used to experience other states of being once the mental chatter of the brain has been quietened, however this is not an idea original to Molinos and it is likely he learned about it in his studies and decided to adopt it as a plausible cover for his true aims which may have been deliberate subversion or at least, an excessive enjoyment of physical pleasures. The Catholic Herald reports how:
“Cardinal Benedetto Odescalchi and the exiled Queen Christina of Sweden became admirers (although the Queen regarded Fr de Molinos’s huge appetite for food with sceptical amusement).”
The true origins of Molino’s ‘Quietism’, or at least those to emerge in the West, are to be found in the works of a late 5th Century Greek philosopher using the pseudonym of a 1st Century Greek convert to Christianity by Saint Paul known as ‘Dionysius the Areopagite’. Pseudo-Dionysus the Areopagite as he is known was a philosopher who apparently was both a Christian and conversely, a Neo-Platonist. He expounded proto-Kabbalistic ideas which we can derive from the following from Corrigan & Harrington (2014):
“According to pseudo-Dionysius, God is better characterized and approached by negations than by affirmations. All names and theological representations must be negated. According to pseudo-Dionysius, when all names are negated, ‘divine silence, darkness, and unknowing’ will follow.”
A PHD thesis by R. A. Agnew for the University of Edinburgh comments on Pseudo-Dionysus linking his philosophy to the ‘Illuminati’:
“He, further, explains that Quietude and Silence are necessary, since ‘only like can know like’; and ‘God is peace’ and ‘Repose’, ‘the One all perfect source ... of the Peace of all’; and He is Silence ‘the angels are, as it were, the heralds of the Divine Silence’.
In silence then ‘let the intelligent soul transcend intelligence and it forgets itself ... Closed, ... mute and silent ... and sheltered, not only from exterior but also from interior impulses; he is made God.’ This is deification, the principle of Eckhart, the doctrine of the Brethren of the Free Spirit, and the teaching of the Illuminati.”
Agnew in his PHD paper writes, citing Pseudo-Dionysius:
“We find in Dionysius the doctrine of the three ways: the Purgative; the Illuminative; and the Unitive. Through him this division has become the standard for all later exponents of mysticism. To explain it, he writes Moses was enjoined first to purify himself, then he saw the light from the smoking mountain, and then the face of God. It is after the soul has been freed from the world of sense that it enters the mysterious obscurity of holy ignorance ... to be lost in Him, who can neither be seen nor felt."
Molinos writes, showing the debt he owes as does the mediaeval hermetic tradition which had infiltrated the church, to the mysterious Greek philosopher in his quasi-alchemistic references to a three-step path (one might say degrees) of ‘cleansing’ or ‘purgation’, ‘Illumination’ and finally ‘unity’.
“Because if thou wilt serve God, and arrive at the sublime Region of Internal Peace; thou must pass through that rugged Path of Temptation; put on that heavy Armor; fight in that fierce and cruel War, and in that burning Furnace, polish, purge, renew, and purifie thy self.
For which reason St. Ignatius Loyola said very well in his Exercises, that in the cleansing way, Corporal Penances were necessary, which in the illuminating way ought to be moderated, and much more in the unitive.”
All of this was of course probably very novel for the church of 17th Century Europe: the introduction of what we might consider techniques of transcendental meditation, and it is a pity that Molinos tarnished these valuable techniques (as indeed to this day many Christians consider meditation of this kind to be dangerous and a way for permitting ‘demonic’ influences). It could be that Molinos having found the genuine peace of meditation, misinterpreted the reward of having a still mind and extrapolated that it is necessary to surrender the will as well, that is to abandon any objective frame of morality or reference and surrender the mind. Either that or like so many people who achieve notoriety, success and a throng of admirers, he wasn’t devoted enough to resist the Earthy temptations such a position can present:
“You must know, that this Annihilation to make it perfect in the Soul, must be in a man’s own Judgment, in his Will, in his Works, Inclinations, Desires, Thoughts, and in it Self: so that the Soul must find it self dead to its Will, Desire, Endeavour, Understanding and Thought; willing, as if it did not will; desiring, as if it did not desire; understanding, as if it did not understand; thinking, as if it did not think, without inclining to any thing, embracing equally Contempts and Honours, Benefits and Corrections. O what a happy Soul is that which is thus dead and annihilated! It lives no longer in it self, because God lives in it: And now it may most truly be said of it, that it is a renewed Phenix; because ‘tis changed, spiritualized, transformed and deified.”
We have a further ‘alchemistic’ reference, this time to the ‘Phenix’ which informs me, as well as references to a spiritual guide, that Molinos was actually a disciple or novice of some mentor figure who was guiding him through some ongoing transformative, alchemical process. A process which has existed since the earliest records of history and shrouded in mystery even until the present day where this process has now taken on almost industrial proportions in terms of its influence on many members of the public institutions, media and political realm, but is still a complete mystery to the vast majority.
Unfortunately, there is perhaps something in the character of Miguel de Molinos which allowed itself to justify his ceding repeatedly to temptation by blaming the devil and refusing to take personal responsibility. But there is much in his ‘Guide’ which suggests a background in Kabbalah as there are too many obvious Kabbalistic elements which show themselves partially submerged in his doctrine. We can also see how in recent times Molinos has been upheld as some kind of prophet by certain hermetic movements and Aleister Crowley wrote extensively in praise of him:
“In more remote times, the constituent originating assemblies of the O.T.O. included such men as … Molinos” Liber LII Manifesto of the O.T.O.
Crowley considered Miguel de Molinos to be one of his ‘Gnostic Saints’ as detailed in Liber XV and refers to the Spiritual Guide in the following terms:
“That you may gain some insight into the nature of the Great Work which lies beyond these elementary trifles, however, we should mention that an intelligent person may gather more than a hint of its nature from the following books, which are to be taken as serious and learned contributions to the study of Nature, though not necessarily to be implicitly relied upon.”
Indeed, Crowley’s reference to ‘crossing the abyss’ which was a personal spiritual boast for him may have been inspired by the writing of Molinos in his reference to mediation:
“By not speaking, not desiring, and not thinking, one arrives at the true and perfect Mystical Silence, wherein God speaks with the Soul, communicates himself to it, and in the Abyss of its own Depth, teaches it the most perfect and exalted Wisdom.”
Molinos refers to the ability to better deal with anxiety and worry, which might be termed ‘invisible enemies’:
“The strong Castle, that will make thee triumph over all thine enemies, visible and invisible, and over all their snares and tribulations, is within thine own Soul, because in it resides the Divine Aid and Sovereign Succour. Retreat within it and all will be quiet, secure, peaceable and calm. When thou seest thy self more sharply assaulted, retreat into that region of Peace, where thou’lt find the Fortress. When thou are more faint-hearted, betake thy self to this refuge of Prayer, the only Armor for overcoming the enemy, and mitigating tribulation: thou ought not to be at a distance from it in a Storm, to the end thou mayest, as another Noah, experience tranquillity, security.”
It would seem to me that Molinos despite apparently fully engaging in a kind of pure Zen meditation and breaking through the threshold of darkness to the realm of mental bliss beyond, something seemed to have gone wrong and at a certain point reading through the Spiritual Guide we find a very different tone emerge, one which I myself cannot reconcile with my experience of such meditation and can only assume that something went wrong somewhere with Molinos, that either he was not able to master his will and became a prey to some negative force which was able to take control of his mind. We notice a corner being turned and suddenly, something appears to have gone wrong somewhere with Molinos’ meditation because he starts to speak of pain and adverse physiological effects.
“With new efforts thoul’t exercise thy self, but in another manner than hitherto, giving thy consent to receive the secret and divine operations, and to be polished, and purified by this Lord, which is the only means whereby thou will become clean and purged from thine ignorance and dissolutions. Know, however, that thou art to be plunged in a bitter sea of sorrows, and of internal and external pains, which torment will pierce into the most inward part of thy Soul and Body.”
It is possible that Molinos was unduly influenced by the Alumbrado tradition of ‘ecstatic’ rites and believed that this was the way to experience the divine and he refers in his book to a certain “Illuminated Mother of Cantal” which is not traditional clerical terminology but more of the mystical and occult. Perhaps he was part of this tradition or at least sought out this experience, much to his cost I would say since whatever it was which possessed him and gave him ‘pains’ and ‘torment’ also seemed to influence his life and lead him to moral dissolution which was ultimately his undoing:
“Thou wilt think verily, that thou art possessed by an evil Spirit; because the signs of this interior exercise, and horrible tribulation, seem as bad as the invasions of infernal Furies and Devils. Then take care to believe thy Guide firmly, for thy true Happiness consists in thy obedience.”
“The invisible enemies will pursue thee with scruples, lascivious suggestions, and unclean thoughts, with incentives to impatience, pride, rage, cursing and blaspheming the Name of God, his Sacraments, and holy Mysteries. Thou’lt find a great lukewarmness, loathing, and wearisomness for the things of God; and obscurity and darkness in thy understanding; a faintness, Confusion and narrowness of heart; such a coldness and feebleness of the will to resist, that a straw will appear to thee a beam. Thy desertion will be so great, that thou’lt think there is no more a God for thee, and that thou are rendered incapable of entertaining a good desire: so that thou’lt continue shut up betwixt two walls, in constant streights and anguish, without any hopes of ever getting out of so dreadful an oppression.”
And the tenor of the book changes and now Molinos speaks of acquiring a spiritual guide, one who will apparently think on your behalf and in whose judgment, one should trust even above one’s own:
“Thou shalt find thy self encompassed with troublesome scruples, griefs, anguish, distress, martyrdoms, distrusts, forsakings of the Creatures, and troubles so bitter, that thy afflictions shall seem past comfort, and thy torments unconquerable. O blessed Soul! how happy wilt thou be, if thou dost but believe thy Guide, and subject thy self to to him and obey him? Then wilt thou walk safe by the secret and interiour way of the dark night, altho thou may’st seem to thy self to live in Errour, and that thou art worse then ever; that thou seest nothing in thy Soul, but abomination and signs of condemnation.”
And Molinos now, with a dim awareness of his true condition, namely that of being in the thrall of some kind of demonic control, yet this is still within his ‘system’ of Quietism and is a necessary part of some mystical process. I suspect something in his earlier Jesuit training and the endless contemplation of hell and his sins had evoked some spirit of the mind or of some other realm which perhaps has been fully loosened with the quietening of the controlling faculty of the mind and the will:
“Here thou wilt see thy self forlorn and subject to Passions of impatience, anger, rage, swearing, and disordered appetites, seeming to thy self the most miserable Creature, the greatest Sinner in the World, the most abhorred of God, deprived and stript of all Vertue, with a pain like that of Hell, seeing thy self afflicted and desolate, to think that thou hast altogether lost God; this will be thy cruel cutting and most bitter torment.”
We also find a comment which may recall to experiences of Swedenborg and his being assaulted by the voices of demonic spirits:
“…because it would naturally be impossible, considering the force and violence wherewith sometimes they attack, to resist one quarter of an hour.”
We find a similar account in the story of the Catholic Saint Teressa whom Molinos references and praises and calls ‘the great Doctoress, and Mystical Mistress.’ It also seems that she like Molinos was continually affected by ‘troublesome thoughts’:
“There is a necessity of suffering the trouble of a Troop of Thoughts, importune Imaginations, and the impetuosities of natural Notions, not only, of the Soul through the dryness and disunion it hath, but of the Body also, occasioned by the want of submission to the Spirit, which it ought to have.”
She also wrote, or rather her confessor who recorded her words wrote:
“Devotion of Ecstasy, is where the consciousness of being in the body disappears. Sensory faculties cease to operate. Memory and imagination also become absorbed in God, as though intoxicated. Body and spirit dwell in the throes of exquisite pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, in complete unconscious helplessness, and periods of apparent strangulation.”
It would be a good idea at this point to examine this Catholic saint, one of the few women to have been sanctified and furthermore declared a ‘Doctor of the faith’ by the Catholic church. Teresa Sanchez de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in Avila Spain in 1515. Her paternal grandfather was a Marrano, a Chew forced to convert to Christianity under pain of expulsion. In a fine example of the illusory nature of many of the Chews’ conversions to Christianity, her grandfather apparently returned to the Chewish faith after ‘conversion’ and was investigated by the Inquisition but later managed to reintegrate himself into Christian life. Teresa’s father was a wool merchant and one of the richest men in Avila and was knighted.
At 20 she entered the Carmelite Convent of the Incarnation which had been built on top of land which had been used as a Chewish burial ground. It was here that she started to experience ‘spiritual ecstasy’ combined with debilitating physical illness brought on by self-imposed physical mortification including excessive fasting which was to lead to continual ill-health throughout her life. Her fondness for self-flagellation was such that when she received Papal sanction for her principles; she created a new constitution for her convent which involved stricter rules and three lots of ceremonial flagellation every week.
During her illnesses she believed she had reached a ‘perfect union with God’ although many at the time suggested these experiences could be the result of diabolical rather than divine influence. She became convinced that Jesus Christ himself had physically presented himself to her although he was invisible to others and one vision in particular caused her further pain when an invisible seraph or angel repeatedly stabbed her in the heart with a golden lance:
“I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it …”
Naturally this has nothing to do with God or anything divine and quite rightly the suspicions of some of her friends at the time seem well founded that there was a diabolical origin to these visions and torments. It was even reported that she experienced levitation and sometimes the other sisters at the convent had to physically hold her down.
Another female mystic later made ‘Doctor of the Catholic church’ was Saint Catherine of Siena. She was an early Christian mystic who emerged long before the Alumbrados and died a 100 years before the birth of proto-Alumbrado Maria de Santo Domingo. From her we can also find a development of the work of Pseudo-Dionysius and she may also have influenced the work of Molinos; in a letter to leader of the Dominican order, Raymond de Capua, who acted as her mentor and confessor, she wrote:
"Build a cell inside your mind, from which you can never flee."
However, this ‘cell’ that Catherine created was a theatre of nonsense and delusions where her mother was turned into the Virgin Mary, her father was Christ and her brothers became the apostles.
Like Saint Teresa she practised self-mortification and fasted to an extreme degree. Her confessor ordered her to eat properly but in the final year of her life she could no longer even eat or swallow water; whether this was psychosomatic and a kind of self-induced mania is unknown but is probably likely. Shortly before her death she suffered a stroke which paralysed her from the waist down and she died at the pitiably young age of 33 years old. Here we have to wonder why a woman could consider it useful to fast and abstain from food and even water to the point at which she eventually becomes crippled and incapable of even walking, then dies. There can be nothing inspired from God in any of this and I find the cases of these women, (some of whom have been canonised and are recognised as saints of the Catholic church) and those women who were persecuted and imprisoned as Alumbrados to be one and the same and to be inspired by a diabolical doctrine which is antagonistic to humanity and the message and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Catherine of Sienna was said to give away the clothing and food from her family without asking their permission and she pointedly refused to eat with her family claiming she preferred to eat in heaven with her ‘real family’. In her own writings she also claimed that she was married to Jesus Christ as her mystic husband and that she had received a ring made of the 8 day old boy Christ’s foreskin, which of course, was invisible to other people, like Saint Teresa whose physical Christ companion was also invisible to other people.
What we are dealing with here are, at best, psychotic delusions or at worst some kind of genuine contact between a human who has chosen to deprive himself of psychic protection in order to make contact with what he or she thinks is God, but something which perhaps does not have their best wishes at heart. Like those first seen at the beginning of this book with Barbara O’Brien but here we can trace them to a specific Alumbrado root which in turn has its root in the Chewish community and is likely an externalisation of the community practising the doctrines of the Kabbalah. It can be no coincidence that the Kabbalah in its final form also emerged from mediaeval Spain.
The result of this pathway seems to hint at a loss of personal volition but more pertinently, as Molinos records in a letter from “an illuminated Mother of Cantal wrote to a Sister, and great Servant of God” who is following some kind of Illuminati doctrine, provides some kind of demonic bridgehead which I would claim is the purpose of the Jesuit movement and these mystical movements arising from mediaeval Spain:
“To this purpose I remember, that a few days since, God communicated to me an Illumination, which made such an impression upon me, as if I had clearly seen him; and this it is, That I should never look upon my self, but walk with eyes shut, leaning on my Beloved, without striving to see nor know the way, by which he guides me, neither fix my thoughts on any thing, nor yet beg Favours of him, but as undone in my self, rest wholly and sincerely on him. Hitherto that Illuminated and Mystical Mistress, whose Words do Credit Authorize our Doctrine.”
But what is that ‘doctrine’? What has been specifically recorded about the Alumbrado’s by history? The inquisition found the Alumbrados had some strange ideas which might conflict with what we today might imagine as a group of free-thinkers and pleasure seekers, but there seems to be something stranger and more complex at work. A strange kind of psychological journey which I hope this volume has at least partially tried to illuminate. It seems, at least from reports, that the sexual excesses of the Alumbrados and people like Miguel Molinos and the Kabbalists in general, could be, if Miguel is to be believed, a result of being wholly under the control of demonic impulsions. Naturally it might seem like a bit of an easy cop-out to say ‘the devil told me to do it’ as a way to evade responsibility, but the fact that we see the same trends occur again and again: the lack of conscious physical control of the body resulting in various kinds of hysteria and even attempts at levitation indicate that there is something more than a person’s own will.
If one has a difficult time accepting the reality of discarnate spirits, one could say that subconscious psychological forces may have been unleashed as a result of the rigours of the various self-mortifications and repeated morbid Jesuit style visualisations of the horrors and terrors of hell, and that it is this which may lead to the wanton licentious excesses which the church authorities reported in connection with Alumbrado doctrines, doctrines which Molinos more or less explicitly alluded to being a follower of.
The book The Spanish Inquisition, 1478-1614: An Anthology of Sources, compiled and translated by Lu Ann Homza is an invaluable resource for first-hand recorded documentation about the Alumbrados. Naturally the information is that which was recorded by the church authorities and the Inquisition during the court processes against those Alumbrados suspected of heresy but there are many witness statements which are brought to bear and feature the words of the Alumbrados themselves.
All in all it paints a strange picture of those involved in the Alumbrados, with many apparent contradictions in the words of the defendants themselves and paints a tragic picture of people who, for whatever reason, whether an intention to subvert Spanish society and the church or from a genuine experiment in free-thinking, regardless the end result is the same: a picture of confused, disordered thinking, with some genuine wisdom which appears in sharp relief to the blurry mental background with a certain sense of emotional estrangement and likely mental impairment.
In 1525 the Inquisition published an edict on the numerated heresies of the Alumbrados which had been elicited from Alumbrado members themselves with the promise that “no punishment, public penance, or confiscation of goods would be imposed upon them”. The most common response from the church authorities to each proposition or heresy was a familiar refrain: “This proposition is erroneous, false, heretical ….” and sometimes with more apt descriptions, in the instance of proposition 46 “That the end of the world had to occur in twelve years.” The church authorities were succinct: “This proposition is crazy.”
And indeed, a lot of them are; it really is a poor reflection on your particular brand of mysticism if you manage to make the Catholic Church look sensible.
Some of the propositions are strange and hint at something almost anti-human; a list of directions one would follow in order not to take pleasure from life or possibly, propositions which had been arrived at as a result of a certain psychological transformation which may indicate some kind of schizoid illness. How else can one explain such items as proposition 31:
“That he held it as a mortal sin if he read some book to console his soul.”
Or proposition 36: “That a man sinned mortally every time he loved a son, daughter, or other person, and did not love that person through God.”
Or proposition 40: “Because a girl crossed the street, he said she had sinned, because in that action she had fulfilled her will.”
Proposition number 1 is fairly unambiguous and quite a statement of intent: “There is no Hell, and if they say there is, it is to frighten us, just as they tell children, “Watch out for the bogeyman.”
It is clear however that anyone believing such a thing in all its bald and unnuanced simplicity would feel no compulsion to moderate their behaviour and attempt to lead a good life nor any compunction about leading a bad one.
Such a statement really calls into question the whole of creation itself to some extent and that, if one is to believe there is a spiritual component to life and that another state of higher reality exists, then one is hardly likely to want to spend that in the company of the spirits of evil rogues looking to continue committing atrocities against their fellow spirits for all eternity. Clearly there must be some kind of spiritual filtering mechanism and a kind of like-with-like which is one of the most natural and readily comprehendible principles of reality, and such a mechanism would necessarily relegate those with irredeemably malicious or evil inclinations to be with their own kind where they can furnish and fashion their own mutually unpleasant spiritual reality.
Proposition 6 reported that one of the Alumbrados:
“…was sorry he had not sinned more; and knowing what God’s mercy was, he wished he had sinned more in order to enjoy that mercy more. Because the greater the sinner, the more God loves him.”
This Kabbalistic thinking should be very familiar to us by now after reading through this volume and indicated perhaps, the element of Kabbalistic Chewish ‘Oral Tradition’ working into Spanish society through the current of those who had only superficially converted to Christianity.
The picture which emerges of the Alumbrados is that they believed themselves infallible, since according to them: “God could not make a person more perfect or more humble than he already was,” and also unrepentant of any wrong doings since “They call those people who lament their sins ‘penance-addicts,’ ‘proprietors of themselves,’ and ‘weepers.’
They also believed that sex was a kind of holy sacrament: “married people were more united to God while making love than if they had been praying.” And temptation should be welcomed:
“They did not have to renounce temptations and evil thoughts, but rather should embrace them and take them as a burden, and walk onward with this cross.”
This particular Alumbrado trap is the snare which caught Miguel Molinos and cemented his reputation as a heretic and caused him to be sentenced to prison where he died. It is likely that without the stain of personal immorality which cast the whole of his life’s work into disrepute, his Spiritual Exercises and the benefits of the kind of transcendental meditation could well have become part of the liturgy of the Catholic Church and have developed into a useful way to contact the divine principle for, in the words of Jesus: “…nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.”
But pure nonsense cannot survive without the oxygen of truth and like all attempts at subversion or deceptive stratagems, it is necessary to accompany the lies with a bodyguard of truth and so this is why within the doctrines of the Alumbrados we find some very reasonable and evident truths such as Maria de Cazalla saying of the Catholic Church:
“I believe that the Child Jesus is lost in the sophisms and arguments that you pronounce.”
Or of her “considering papal bulls, indulgences, and pardons to be a joke, and believing they benefited no one and achieved nothing, said, ‘Look, I’ve bought Christianity and am carrying it around, for one is not a Christian unless you have these bulls; I’d rather throw the money into something else.’”
She was quite right of course, but even now we as a modern reader with a delicate taste for nuance might detect that the mockery goes a little too far and we can perhaps detect a veiled disdain not only for the Church but for Christianity itself. But there is something more, some of Maria de Cazalla’s statements betray something more than scepticism or irreverence:
“María de Cazalla and others believed that there was no Mary Magdalene, nor a St. Anne who married three times, nor were there three Marys; they thought the whole thing was a joke. When she was told that the Church held such matters as true, she replied that it was a joke, and some stupid people had so ordered it….”
They seem to indicate a claim to some other information or knowledge since it is unlikely that most church goers of the time would question such things, but what if someone were part of a tradition which had its own information about such things, quite outside of the Catholic Church. Again, the connection to the Chewish community with its own extensive written historical records and oral traditions would fit this bill perfectly.
But if the accounts of Maria de Cazalla can’t help but reveal a parallel knowledge-stream they also show again a certain inhumanity, one would also say, sociopathic or even borderline psychotic aspect of the Alumbrado tradition. What are we to make of such statements, which even the dreaded Inquisition rightly described as ‘horrific’:
“She heard from Bishop Cazalla that María de Cazalla said she conceived her children without carnal pleasure and did not love them as if they were her own, but rather as if they were her neighbors’.
And another similar reported statement from Maria de Cazalla:
“She reprehended a certain lady who deeply loved her own children, calling that lady a butcher of the flesh who had a piece of her heart in each child.”
And after giving birth, instead of feelings of joy or such as might be normal this report similarly evokes a singular anti-human perspective:
“Likewise, when asked why people didn’t come to see her after she had given birth, María de Cazalla said, ‘May God remove that disgrace from me,’ as if she considered childbirth disgraceful.”
From this we can create a psychological profile strongly suggestive of Maria de Cazalla being in the population percentile suffering from a degree of psychopathy since an inability to feel emotions and even being repelled by them is a strong marker of such a disorder, also it was reported that “she felt no carnal pleasure in sex,” a dissociative condition known as sexual anhedonia and if we factor in this dissociative element we might not be far from the mark if we consider that Maria de Cazalla may have been a schizophrenic.
It is possible however that she was not always like this, reports indicate that Cazalla was somehow ‘changed’ by conversing with other Alumbrados:
“Asked how she knew that María de Cazalla held the opinions of the Alumbrados, she said she knew because she saw María de Cazalla converse in secret with Isabel de la Cruz and Pedro Ruiz de Alcaraz. She saw them confer night and day, and saw her altered in all her habits and spiritual exercises, so much so that the needleworkers of Orche said María de Cazalla was crazy.”