Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Tree of the Knowledge of the Sight of Evil


This is a genuine picture of an Antoinist ceremony (that they used to call an Operation), found at my friend's Antoine Van Impe in Liège.
My grandmother was an adept of this micro sect founded in the 1910 in the environs of Liège by
the Father Antoine and his wife, the Mother Antoine.  The cult was a singular crossover of Christianism, Spiritism and theosophy. I personally think it has some aspects of Japanese Zen (absurd like, paradoxical, and often anti-dogmatic statements for instance). 

Father Antoine, who was a healer,  used to say that he didn't heal anybody, the suffering people came to him just to find the strength to heal themselves.

In his writings, such as The Revelation of the Ten Principles of God by the Father (see the French version here), Antoine is often highly simplistic and sometimes  quite awkward in his formulations, with a mystifying tone that doesn't seem to be very intentional.

On their official emblem you can read their motto: "The Tree of the Knowledge of the Sight of Evil", which  is weirdly formulated and sound quite mysterious even in french, though it's the language in which it was originally written by Louis Antoine.

 As a teenager, it has been fascinating to me when I found out that my grandmother had been an adept of the cult (she was above all a christian and she rarely mentioned this period of her life, but she didn't have any problems to talk about it when I used to ask).

It is a quite idiosyncratic spirituality, as far as I know the only one that was created in a Walloon working class context  (Antoine was formerly a miner, then a metal worker). I've even read on the internet that  Antoinism was the only belgian religion.

Till the 90's the sect increased in Northern France and in several countries such as Brazil. It isn't today very popular anymore and the cult decreased a lot in the latest years, although browsing on the internet I found a few books on the subject, several websites, and even a  few Facebook fan pages (some of them nevertheless seem to have been created rather for ironic, fun making purposes than for people who'd be sincerely devoted to the cult).

Here are a few quotations from Father Antoine:

 "The first thing and the hardest thing to accept is that the cause of our suffering is in ourselves."

"The disease is a human creation that will only be eradicated with the spiritual development of human consciousness."

"Science is the product of our beliefs."

Antoinism on Wikipedia:

An interesting and well documented article about Antoinism and Dorism (in French)