Brethren of the Free Spirit

Highly influential pantheistic Christian hippies who rejected all forms of work and believed that every sexual taboo was holy

13th - 15th centuries

Painting depicting the Brethren of the Free Spirit

The Brethren of the Free Spirit were a thirteenth-century religious group that challenged the Christian church. Unlike most Christians, they were pantheistic, believing everything was God, concluding that everything was therefore holy and sin was just an illusion. From this belief, they reasoned that once a person realizes everything is holy, they cannot do anything unholy. Therefore, every action is permitted, no matter how immoral it appears.

The Free Spirits didn't believe in Heaven or Hell and rejected all work, thinking it existed as the punishment for original sin and sin was just an illusion. They were perhaps most well known for their sexual promiscuity, praising incest, preaching in the nude, and claiming to restore a woman's virginity by having sex with her.

Although the Brethren of the Free Spirit largely died out in the 15th century, they were influential for many later Christian movements.

Religion: Christianity

Denomination: Other

Founded: 13th century

Ended: 14th century

Location: Europe (Low Countries, Germany, France, Bohemia, northern Italy)

Also called: Free Spirits

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