Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

As we have seen in the previous chapter, the accusations brought against the witches were, in some important respects, identical with the accusations brought against the Cathars. They were accused of general immorality and especially of sodomy; and they were accused of worshipping the devil. These accusations were also brought against the Templars, when Philip le Bel found it politically desirable to exterminate them. They were accused of sodomy, immorality, renouncing Christ and specifically of the “obscene kiss” — which, as we have seen, was a characteristic feature of the worship of the Horned God. How palpably fictitious the charges brought against them were is shown by the fact that they were accused of having in every Preceptory an idol and a secret document yet, though Philip seized all their buildings from the start, no such documents or idols were ever found. (168) Those who confessed did so under torture or threat of torture, and many of them subsequently withdrew their confessions, saying that they had only given them to escape the rack. Furthermore, the Templars were accused of worshipping the Cat — and this was allegedly a common symbol for the Cathari. The Cathari, as we have seen, were also allegedly associated with the troubadours. It therefore comes as no surprise to discover that the Stedingers and the Waldenses were also accused of worshipping a cat, and — as if this were not sufficient — we find that they were alleged to kiss it sub cauda (under the tail). Incidentally, it is this famous cat which accounts for the fact that in children’s story books today the witch is traditionally depicted accompanied by a cat.

But while the Inquisition was extremely preoccupied with homosexuality, it did not refrain from making accusations of incest also. Michelet says:

“Selon ces auteurs (de Lancre, etc.) le but principal du sabbat, la lexicon, la doctrine expresse de Satan, c’est l’inceste.”

The Cathars were also accused of incest, and, as we have seen, the troubadours were preoccupied with incest also. A further curious link is provided by the fact that, according to Freimark, the heretic sects displayed the same anaesthetic marks as were supposed to be diagnostic of witches.