>Montségur, the last bastion of the Cathar “heresy”
Mônica and I reached the foot of the Montségur Mountain one August evening. We stood in the place where 220 Cathars were buried alive in 1224.
We had planned to climb it the following day.
The weather was overcast, with clouds so low that we could not even see the ruins at the top of the gigantic rock. Just to provoke Mônica, I said that it might be interesting to make the climb that very night.
She said no, and I was relieved, imagine if she had said yes!
At that moment a car drove up, the same make and color as mine.
An Irishman stepped out and asked us as if we were from the region, from what point the rock could be climbed. I suggested that he make the climb the next morning with us, but he was determined to go up that very night.
He wanted to see the sunrise from up there, claiming that perhaps he had been a Cathar in a past life.
“I wonder if you could lend me a lamp?” he asked.
I went to the hotel in the village where we were staying and borrowed a lamp, the only one they had.
It is a sign – we need to climb this rock now.
Mônica seemed scared, but I said that we have to go ahead. ‘Signs are signs’, I said.
The newcomer asked where the path was. I told him it did not matter and to just start going up.
And for some time, (I cannot remember how long) the three of us climbed a mountain that we did not know, at night, and with the fog that only allowed us to see a few yards ahead of us.
Finally, we were above the clouds; the sky filled with stars, the moon was full, and standing before us was the gate of the fortress of Montségur.
We entered and contemplated the ruins. I looked at the beauty of the firmament, wondering how we got there without any accident, but then I thought that it’s better not to ask any questions and just admire the miracle.
For the next few years, I sent several letters to the mysterious Irishman, but he never replied back.
I have returned to Montségur and climbed the mountain several other times, but have never again managed to find the path that we used that August night in 1989.
(one week after this experience, I met Brida O’Fern in the Pyrenees Mountains, and it happens that she was a Cathar in her previous life. Her story is in my book BRIDA )