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Whether stars of the Disney film National Treasure or pawns of modern day political and commercial propaganda, the Knights Templar have taken root as one of the world’s leading mystery groups. But what is the truth? Did they really have a great secret? Did they really hide treasure? Were they really guardians of the Holy Bloodline? Let's take a look.
Originally supposedly a group of nine knights (debatable), taken from the ruling nobility in the region of France known as Champagne who collected themselves together in Jerusalem around 1118 AD and formed the now infamous Knights Templar. All of this cannot be totally proven from the texts – however it is repeated so often that it becomes true. In all likelihood they had been formed in France years before.
They were pledged, it is said, to commit their lives and work to a strict code of rules and on the face of it were simply ordained to ensure the safe passage of pilgrims to the Holy Land. The knights request this task of the first King Baldwin of Jerusalem, who refuses. He then dies supposedly under mysterious circumstances only to be replaced by Baldwin II who then almost immediately grants them this privilege. For the next nine (there’s that number again) years the knights excavate beneath the Temple of Solomon (which didn’t ever exist) in complete secrecy and the Grand Master returns to Europe, supposedly with secrets that have been hidden for hundreds of years. Very quickly the knights achieve a special dispensation from the Pope to allow them to charge interest on loans - indicating their swift path to wealth. Soon the great Cathedral building period arrives across Europe with the new found architectural “secrets” discovered by the crusaders. This new found knowledge may very well have come from some of the discoveries made by the Templars, especially when we consider that the man responsible for energizing the building program was none other than St. Bernard - the same Bernard who gave the Order of the Knights Templar their rules and who was related by blood to various members. The same St. Bernard indicated in the propaganda of the Arthurian and Grail literature.
The Templars grew in wealth and power. Their land holding and banking system made them one of the most powerful and feared groups in Europe. Virtually nobody could match their international strength. According to George F. Tull in Traces of the Templars they were also “well placed to obtain relics” as they held the respect of nobility and had many strategically placed premises across the Holy Land.
Near Loughton-on-Sea in England there are several Templar connected sites. The Temple here was “well provided with liturgical books, plate and vessels of silver, silver gilt, ivory and crystal, vestments, frontals and altar cloths. Among the relics kept there were two crosses containing fragments of the True Cross and a relic of the Holy Blood” whatever that might have been – it was not a bloodline. Tull also tells us of how some of these relics entered Britain, “Sometimes the ships returned with more specialized cargo, as when in 1247 Br. William de Sonnac, Master of the Temple in Jerusalem, sent a distinguished Knight Templar to bring to England and present to King Henry III ‘a portion of the Blood of our Lord, which He shed on the Cross for the salvation of the world, enclosed in a handsome crystalline vessel.’ The relic was authenticated under seal by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, the bishops, abbots and nobles of the Holy Land.” In Surrey the Templars held land known then as Temple Elfold with 192 acres of arable land. Here again in 1308 there was mention of a grail and a chalice. It is therefore obvious that part of the wealth of the Templars came from the propaganda tools of the medieval reliquary business, proving their astute business acumen and their ability to root out those tools. They were also incidental in spreading the cult of St. George, especially when we consider that they knew of his shrine in Lydda.
But in the early fourteenth century King Philip of France organized their downfall and the supposed secrets and wealth of the Templars disappears.
At their trials the Templars were not only accused of worshipping the sacred head, but also the veneration of the serpent. As Andrew Sinclair points out in The Secret Scroll, another Templar emblem was the foliated staff of Moses, the very same staff, which turned into a serpent and was itself emblematic of the serpent religious cult and healing.
The Rosslyn Missal, written by Irish monks in the twelfth century shows in itself Templar crosses with great dragons and sun discs. Upon the Secret Scroll itself is the symbol of the twelve tribes of Israel, the breastplate of Aaron (who’s serpent staff is said to be in the Ark) with twelve squares signifying the twelve tribes surmounted by a serpent. The serpent, ruling the tribes, “. . . the Serpent as a symbol obtained a prominent place in all the ancient initiations and religions. Among the Egyptians, it was s symbol of Divine Wisdom.” (The Secret Scroll, Andrew Sinclair, which of course has been dated by scholars to the 16th or even 18th century.) Many people believe that quite a few of the Templars and their secrets escaped to Scotland and the dawning of a new age of Freemasonry emerged in later years - thought to be directly from the Templars.
In the year 1314 King Edward of England invades Scotland, hoping to bring an end to the border battles. Meeting the Scottish army at Bannock Burn he is surprised by a force of well-trained men fighting for the Scots. The tide is turned and Scotland achieves independence, even if only for three years. The standard history has it that these well-trained men that turned the tide against the well-trained English army were nothing more than camp followers and servants. Many though, now believe that these were the famous knights Templar, who had taken root in Scotland and hidden away from Catholic tyranny. Strangely immediately after the battle Robert the Bruce, the new Scottish King, rewards the Sinclair family with lands near Edinburgh and Pentland. The very same lands associated with hundreds of Templar graves, sites, symbols and much more, such as Balantrodoch (Temple.)
An indication of the popular liking for the Templars is shown in the Peasant’s Revolt of Wylam Tyler in 1381 AD when a mob marched in protest of the oppressive taxes placed upon them. Strangely they did not harm the old Templar buildings, but instead turned their attentions on those of the Catholic Church. In one instance they actually carried things out of a Templar church in London to burn the items in the street, rather than damage the building. It may be that this uprising was a natural incident, or it may be that it was inspired by the actions of a hidden and now secret society of the Templars - hidden because of the new Catholic hatred towards them. If it is the case that the Templars did indeed inspire this revolt then, even though they were not successful, they tried again a hundred years later and forced the Reformation. It was around this period (15th Century) that the first records of Scottish and York Masonic meetings appear.
However lets take a rather sideways look at the history and symbolism of the Templars.
There are some strange links between Sumerian iconography and Templar symbolism, which need to be voiced. The most obvious Templar image is that if the two poor knights seated upon a horse, which is very similar to the idea and concept of two riders seen in ancient Sumeria. This was purely a tactical device in warfare – although there may be some truth in believing that it has origin in the “balance” hypothesis of the “twins.” The Templar cross is equally seen in many Sumerian images normally associated with an upturned crescent moon. The Fleur de Lys is also a common image as well as bees, which were common also to the Merovingians. The pentagram is also seen in the images of both and symbolized the essence of the Merovingians as the ‘Shining Ones.’
Another symbol seen in various forms from Sumeria to France is the Abraxus – a figure with snakes for legs – a symbol used for gods such as Oannes and not surprisingly this later became the symbol of the Grand Master of the Templar Order. What could this mean? That the head of the Order of the Templars saw himself as the chief of the serpents? In conjunction with the fact that the Templars also used the serpent symbol of eternity and immortality – the snake eating its own tail – then we have a serpent secret being held by the very highest of Christian guardians.
The Cross of Lorraine, a symbol used by the Templars before their usual “Maltese” style cross is seen in Sumeria as a symbol for kingship. These influences must have been picked up whilst the Templars were in the Middle East and then utilized later on. We know that they used the sign, as in the trials in the early 1300’s had the prisoners etching the symbol into the cell walls. What other ancient secrets did they collect?
The Cross of Lorraine was the emblem of heraldry for Rene D’Anjou, said by Charles Peguy to represent the arms of both Christ and Satan and the blood of both (from an article by Boyd Rice entitled The Cross of Lorraine: Emblem of the Royal Secret). It is also said to incorporate the symbol phi or the Golden Ration of Sacred Geometry – so very important to the Masons. Rene d’Anjou was keenly aware and interested in many things occult. He led a search for new (old) hermetic texts. The Cross of Lorraine was therefore taken on by Rene, and subsequently by Marie de Guise the wife of James Stuart V (parents of Mary Queen of Scots) for of its occult symbolism. This occult symbolism showed the cross to be representative of poison. Proof of this meaning comes also from the fact that it became an icon used by chemists (originally alchemists) on the bottles of poisonous substances. The idea of course is hidden in the duality. Why would monarchs and Templars use a sign for poison, if that poison did not have an opposite side? That of cure! Later on in the early twentieth century Aleister Crowley, the arch Magus and self proclaimed Alchemist would assign this very same symbol as the Sigil of Baphomet. The Cross of Lorraine is thought to be a sign of secrets; a sign of the Angelic Race, which came down and posited wisdom and the secrets of immortality upon the Royal Bloodline. According to Boyd Rice it is “a sigil of that Royal Secret, the doctrine of the Forgotten Ones.” And for this reason it seems peculiar that in the 1940’s Charles de Gaulle should make it the official symbol of the French Resistance.
We were playing with the standard Templar cross (Croix Patte) one day in our minds, wondering why and how it had evolved. We knew that it had eight points and all that this entailed but we wondered about what Fulcanelli had believed – that Gothic architecture was a three dimensional esoteric message. Due to the fact that the Templar mysteries emerged from many places including Arabic or Muslim influences, Judaic kabalistic beliefs and even Egyptian sacred rites, we were sure that there had to be another message enclosed within this simple shape. Basing the assumption upon the three dimensional aspect and wondering if there were any links to probably one of the greatest mysteries in the world we suddenly thought; if you cut out the cross from a piece of paper and lay it flat you have the two dimensional image. If you then take hold of the cross in the very center and lift it, you end up with a perfect pyramid – a symbol of Egyptian and Masonic wisdom and central to immortality. But, on some Templar crosses the edges are angled inwards to give the eight points. We thought that the pyramid of Giza had straight walls, until we looked deeper. The Great Pyramid at Giza holds a secret architecture – its walls bow inwards! Could it be, we wondered, that the Templar cross also had this hidden symbolism of the Great Pyramid? That it was fashioned to incorporate the three-dimensional geometry spoken of by the likes of Fulcanelli and said to have been spawned into Europe by the Templars and their brothers in the Cistercians? That these mysterious brothers in Gnosticism actually understood the meaning behind the symbolism of the pyramids – that it was symbolic in all aspects of the immortality of the serpent.
A mysterious object said to have been venerated by the Templars and to have been written about extensively over the past 30 years. Thought to be a skull by some.
One possible explanation for the origin of the word could strangely be found in the deserts of Yemen. The people who live here are called the Al-Mahara and they have developed many ways of combating snake poison. The special snake priests are called Raaboot men and they are said to have learned the secret by transition from father to son. Their legends state that they have immunity from snakebites.
If somebody is bitten, then a Raaboot man is called upon, who then sits by the patient along with several others who then chant in a monotone voice “Bahamoot, Bahamoot.” The poison is then vomited up or passed out of the body in the other direction. The Raaboot man then leaves. Again, here as we have pointed out before, the snake is said to have a jewel in its head, indicative of the enlightenment aspect.
Is it not possible that Bahamoot, as a chant for the curing of snakebites, could have made its way through the various cultures and found itself as a word for the ‘head serpent?’ – The same ‘head serpent’ that the Templars worshipped?
If nothing else, then the etymology of these two related items is so similar that it again shows in the language of the serpent cult, a worldwide spread.
Friday the 13th, October 1307, was a terrible day for the Knights Templars as King Philip IV’s men descended upon all of the order’s French holdings: seizing property, and arresting each of its members. Why? Simply because Philip owed them huge amounts of money and had no way of paying them back, and to add to this he had hoped that the infamous Templar treasure would be his.
With the help of his puppet, Pope Clement V, the French king tortured the knights to discover their secrets. Finally to justify his action, the knights were accused of heresy, homosexual practices, necromancy and conducting bizarre rituals such as desecrating the cross – as if to show their lack of faith in this Christian icon. This was, however a method of initiation and not a heretical act.
The most unusual and perplexing evidence they came across however, was the worship of this idol called Baphomet. This strange “thing” – although sometimes referred to as a “cat” or “goat” – was generally seen as a ‘severed head.’ Peter Tompkins in The Magic of Obelisks says: “Public indignation was aroused . . . the Templar symbol of Gnostic rites based on phallic worship and the power of directed will. The androgynous figure with a goat’s beard and cloven hooves is linked to the horned god of antiquity, the goat of Mendes.”
The list of charges used by the Inquisition in 1308 reads:
“Item, that in each province they had idols, namely heads.
Item, that they adored these idols or that idol, and especially in their great chapters and assemblies.
Item, that they venerated (them)
Item, that they venerated them as God.
Item, that they venerated them as their Savior.
Item, that they said that the head could save them.
Item, that it could make riches.
Item, that it could make the trees flower.
Item, that it made the land germinate.
Item, that they surrounded or touched each head of the aforesaid idol with small cords, which they wore around themselves next to the shirt or the flesh.”
(Could this cord be like the Hindu cord, symbolic of the serpent?)
Some said it was a man’s head but others a woman’s head. Some said that it was bearded, others non-bearded. Some presumed that it was made from glass and that it had two faces. This general mixing of ideas shows where the idea of the head could have come from. That it was a man’s head or a woman’s, indicates its ‘dual nature’ – and much like the ancient Celtic heads would incline us to the opinion, that it emerged from part of the supposed ancient head cult.
The Celts, it is said, believed that the soul resided in the head. They would decapitate their enemies and keep them as talismans. Probably the best-known head in Celtic lore is that of Bran the Blessed, which was buried outside London – some say Tower Hill – facing towards France. It was put there to see off the plague and disease and to ensure that the land was fertile – the same powers that were attributed to the ‘Green Man.’ ‘Bearded’ and ‘non-bearded’ simply indicates again the dual nature, as does the idea that it was “two-faced,” like the god Janus. It was apparently called Caput 58, (Caput meaning ‘Head’) indicating that there may have been possibly hundreds of them. There are also strong links with Islam at this time; links that the Templars should probably not have made in their supposedly Christian world.
It is also said that the name Baphomet was derived from Mahomet – an Old French corruption of the name of the prophet Muhammad. Others claim that it comes from the Arabic word abufihamet, which means ‘Father of Understanding.’
In all likelihood though Baphomet comes from baphe meaning to submerge and mete meaning wisdom, the baphoment therefore being a device for the Gnostic tradition or belief of being submerged in wisdom, itself associated with the concept of the Sophia or wisdom goddess.
These are said by Masonic historians to be the prime originators of their guilds. A secretive group or secret society with doctrines said by Manly P. Hall (in Masonic, Hermetic, Quabbalistic & Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy) to be similar to the Freemasons. They are thought to have been great builders, reminiscent of the idea of the great builders who escaped India.
It was this secret society, under Hiram Abiff, that supposedly built the Temple of Solomon and erected the great brass pillars now seen as Boaz and Joachim in Masonry. They were also known as the Roman Collegia and were said to have wandered around like the Medieval Masons, building such fantastic places as the Temple of Diana at Ephesus (John Weisse, The Obelisk and Freemasonry.)
Weisse also points out that the Collegia influenced the Islamic building efforts, which were later to become a turning point in Western European architecture after the crusades and possibly via the Collegia’s influence over the Templars amongst others.
These Collegia were also thought to have been known before the Romans in Greece and were said to have worshipped Bacchus. Some even believe that Jesus, when he mentions that he will rebuild the Temple, is pointing out that he too is of the Collegia. Also, considering the Masonic fascination with the Druids, there is little wonder that William Stukely believed them to have been the builders of Stonehenge and other ancient monuments. Many Masonic writers love to associate themselves with the Druids and that they “had a high veneration for the Serpent. Their great god Hu, was typified by that reptile.” George Oliver, Signs and Symbols (Macoy Publishing New York.)
If it is true that the Dionysiac Architects and the Bacchus/Dionysius-worshipping Greek and Roman Collegia – not to mention the later Templar-Freemasonic link - were among the originators of the Freemasons, then it is highly likely that they were linked also with the serpent-worshipping Druids. They were all in fact a later showing of the worldwide serpent cult – the same as those in India, Egypt and elsewhere who all had fantastic building skills and held secrets of the true Elixir. Today we can still see a remnant of this great architectural, serpent-worshipping and secretive cult in the Masons. As George Oliver points out “The Serpent is universally esteemed a legitimate symbol of Freemasonry.”
About the Author
Philip Gardiner is the author of the best selling The Serpent Grail, The Shining Ones, and Gnosis: The Secret of Solomon’s Temple Revealed. He does talks, lectures, has his own radio show and does tours across the world via www.powerplaces.com
Philip has a degree in marketing and 9 diplomas ranging from etymology to holistic medicine. He is hosting the Philip Gardiner’s Forbidden Knowledge Conference UK (FKCUK) in July 2006.
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