A homicide scene with the words “Helter Skelter” written on the refrigerator: That’s a summary of the horrific aftermath of the crime for which Charles Manson and the group called The Family were arrested and tried in 1969. The young people who blindly followed this man believed they were doing the work of the Devil himself, and so they would bring about a revolution in the world order.
Under the guise of just another hippie commune, nobody suspected the group’s dark intentions. After all, at the time there were plenty of youths who escaped society and sought refuge in these groups. The Manson Family was safely hidden amidst the fever of the sixties, where young women would see these communities as a haven of drugs and sex, running around naked to the pleasure of their leader.
Society sees The Manson Family as a clear example of how communes are recipes for disaster and chaos. It wasn’t just Charles Manson who helmed these kinds of groups of excess and decadence. In the Middle Ages, around 1420, several cults and sects began to splinter from Christianity, denouncing the worship of saints and communion. Some of these also wanted to create a society with no class system and overall equality.
These groups presented a threat to the Church, which led to a series of crusades to end the Taborites, Hussites, and Adamites. This last cult caused a particular wrath among religious leaders due to certain customs and traditions its members adopted. Followers would roam naked to most places, since they believed clothes were a punishment imposed on Adam and Eve when they were banished from Paradise. Since they felt they were free from their ancestors' sins, they believed they were exempt from this imposition.
Their sexual practices also shocked their contemporaries, for they were not only full of debauchery, but also incestuous. However, none of these acts were allowed without the consent of Adam, an elder who was both their leader and guide. If someone burned with lust for their sister, they’d ask the old man for his permission, who could agree or disagree with those desires.
There are rumors about Hieronymus Bosch being a member of this cult due to his famous triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. This work features several naked bodies, which are thought to symbolize mankind’s process of renewal before entering paradise.
The wild tendencies of the Adamites tired the patience of several people, including that of Taborite commander Jan Žižka, who, in 1421, gave an order to persecute and exterminate all followers of this cult. They were accused of heresy and burned alive. Though it was assumed that all of the followers were extinct, there have been legends about how some continue to roam the deep forests of what is now the Czech Republic.
There are plenty of myths regarding the Middle Ages and the people who lived then. Here are a few stories that are roaming about them and what actually happened, as well as a list of demons of the era that can haunt you now.
Translated by María Suárez Ruiz