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Demori

by / Sunday, 17 October 2010 / Published in Musings
Château de Montségur
Château de Montségur

Château de Montségur

Some years ago while in Cathar country, I encountered an astonishingly beautiful man in Montségur. It was summer, and so hot, and he was shirtless as he climbed. He had the letters D E M O R I tattooed across his back, from shoulder to shoulder, in letters about 5 inches high. At the summit, I encountered him again, and discovered he spoke very reasonable English – far better than my pigeon French – and I was able to ask him what the word meant.

That encounter translated into a scene from “The Book of Love”, which unfortunately ended up on the cutting room floor. But here is how Roland originally explained its meaning to Maureen:

Montsegur

Montsegur

“During the persecutions of the Cathars, Demori became the survival cry of our people. It means roughly, ‘I remain’ or some say ‘I remain over death’. It is based on the idea that as long as one of us is alive who can tell the truth, then the truth does not die. Following the massacres, the people used to carve it in the rocks and on the walls to let the oppressors know that they had not eliminated us completely. Over the centuries most of those monuments were destroyed by operatives working for the Church. So it became part of the coming of age ceremony of the survivors, to take the vows to continue the work while having Demori tattooed somewhere on the body as a permanent reminder, and the practice has endured for centuries. It was one thing we could control that the Church could not destroy – what was on our bodies. So we created our own monuments in the flesh. I did this with my father when I was eighteen. It used to be just the men, but a number of women are now taking up the tradition as well.”

The man challenged me to “take the Demori” – which means to take a particular pledge while having the word tattooed on your body. While I have yet to commit to the ink, I have certainly committed to the cause. But in the mood I’m in today with the energies of the Montségur anniversary pummeling me from all sides… you never know!

The Book of Love

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