By accidend i met two Sufis in BCN
“There have been Sufis at
all periods of human history.
Though they have lived in
different parts of the world,
speaking different languages
and born in different faiths
and beliefs, they have
recognized and sympathized
with each other, through
the oneness of their
— Sufi Inayat Khan
My frequency is raising because of the black ring I carry around my neck. I had a dream of all the old stuff burning, even a cat was in the fire, without running away. It´s amazing what this stuff can do for you.
Being aired on Syfy is the breathless series Legend Quest where ‘archaeological explorer’ Ashley Cowiecharges round discovering mysteries. In the episode I’ve just watched, he fixed his gaze on the Holy Grail and the Knights Templar.
OK – let’s take his thesis from the top. The Holy Grail, he says, is the cup Jesus drank from at the Last Supper and then his blood was caught in it during the crucifixion and taken to England by Joseph of Arimathea. It’s not, as Dan Brown, said the bloodline of Jesus – no, it’s a real cup. The descendants of Joseph were the Knights Templar who were then suppressed by the Pope because they became too powerful. They fled to places ‘outside papal control’ including Switzerland and Scotland.
The Holy Grail, Cowie says, was taken to Scotland – Rosslyn chapel to be precise and it was looked after by the Sinclair family. Unfortunately when Cowie shows up, Rosslyn is having repairs done and he can’t get in. So he chats to a latter day Scottish Templar, an amiable old chap, who rather amusingly is subtitled! I’m assuming the view was that Americans would find Scots impossible to understand.
In 1446, Sinclair built Rosslyn and the Grail was definitely there says Cowie who has done ‘fifteen years of research’ there. Hidden in a painting of a rather dandified Templar he’s spotted a staircase that gives a clue as to where the Grail was held in the church. He leads the programme producer to the oldest part of the chapel – an eleventh century window. And Cowie has noted a carving there.
The carving, he says, is a section of a medieval map. He sees a cup sitting on top of a tower with a line representing the meridien – the Rose line – and he makes out a short horizontal line that is obviously the equator. Diamond shapes are lozenges representing the Sinclair family. And then Cowie imposes this scribble onto a map of the world and a star shape sits over north east America.
The star is known as La Merica – which was a star to lead Templars to peace and away from their enemies. The star sits over America. It’s called La Merica. And so…guess where the Grail went. Yep – the New World. The United States.
William Brewster, a Pilgrim elder, went to Rosslyn three weeks before the Mayflower set sail in the seventeenth century. A descendant of the original Sinclair gives Brewster the Grail to take to America.
So Cowie flies off to Provincetown. He goes to investigate the Pilgrim Monument which – Cowie finds – bears a close resemblance to the carving on the eleventh century window at Rosslyn. Though the Pilgrim Monument was built in 1910 – centuries later – by Theodore Roosevelt. Aaaah – but Roosevelt was…..a Freemason!!
The Sinclairs of Rosslyn, Cowie points out, founded the Freemasons. So – Cowie believes he must investigate other Freemason structures built in the US . And he’ll get clues to the Grail. Off to Bunker Hill then to look at a big obelisk. Needless to say – it also resembles the Rosslyn carving. But stranger follows – because this obelisk is the second monument built on the site. The first monument built in 1794 – a model of which is located inside the obelisk is…a pillar with a cup on top – that looks even more like the Rosslyn carving. Cowie is aghast.
And he’s convinced that the original monument at Bunker Hill contained the Holy Grail. The more recent monument, completed in the mid-19th century doesn’t house the Holy Grail but – it’s a clue! Why isn’t it at Bunker Hill – because power shifted in the new United States. And so we leave Boston for Washington DC to gawp at the Washington Monument.
Freemason clues are all over Washington DC including the White House. But it’s the obelisk that enthralls Cowie who ‘must get inside’. He can’t get a permit to film but ‘that won’t stop him searching inside’. And he bravely enters. Without the crew. He returns and looks at ‘every stone’ and finds nothing – not a single clue. The Grail isn’t there.
But then Cowie notes something – the coloring of the stone changes half way up. The official reason that construction of the Washington Monument stopped during the American Civil War and then resumed doesn’t convince Cowie. He thinks this points to the possibility that the Grail was there. A local expert agrees. The Grail was whisked away from the capital during the war for its safety.
Clues needed. Map of Washington DC shows a direct line from the Scottish Rite Temple to the monument. Take the Freemason symbol and rotate it a bit and you hit the Capitol building. Cowie stares at the dome and hey presto – there a clue on top. A statue! A female statue! Representing freedom. Built by a freemason, Thomas Crawford. Is she pointing to the Grail?
Now – given that the obelisks in Boston and Washington are actually representations of the pillars that flanked the doors of the temple of Solomon – Cowie says we need to find the mid-point, what lurks in the doorway as it were, which turns out to be New York. And the female statue is actually pointing us at the Statue of Liberty off Manhatten. Freedom – liberty – it makes sense!
There’s a flame of enlightenment on the model of the top of the model of the original monument in Boston and this is mimicked by the torch carried by the Statue of Liberty. Trouble is – this lady was built by the French. Not a problem it turns out when you consider ‘liberte’ is freedom in French!
The original torch apparently came years before the rest of the statue was assembled – giving Freemasons time to instal the Grail within. It’s been replaced but the original is on display in the entrance lobby. Cowie has to get close. He does. Maybe they melted it down into the tip of the flame.
The ‘Grail Trail’ therefore leads us here to this new land of America. From the Templars through the Sinclairs and Brewster and into the torch of the Statue of Liberty. It’s the ‘perfect destination’ Cowie says. Melted down and now in the original torch in the lobby.
As my partner said – hard to believe the masons would have destroyed the cup held by Jesus – but if Cowie is to be believed…that’s exactly what they did.
The Heart Centering Path brings us back to our selves. Usually, our minds are scattered. But we will lead you the way into your two hearts. Your heart chakra and your physical heart both contain immeasurable treasures. We will show you, how to unlock them and make them available to you. You will be able to could turn your inner energies around in order to transform our lives. You will no longer be the slave of outside events, but the center of the creative flow. You can create a happier and more fulfilling life. You may gain a sense of reconnection and of coming home. Love will caress you like a warm summer breeze. You will know what to do and what to give because you have found something real inside. This path opens the door to God and to your song, which is your part of the universal symphony.
When we want to lead a life under the guidance of the heart, this path may be the answer to you. It will be written in ten letters of initiation, which can be pursued over this webpage. You will dive into the song of the energy of your inner flame and you will flow through your unfolding life. And you will extend what you want to see in the world. Things you need will have come easily to you because you will be in the flow. This is the work of the holy spirit. This is the practice of this Commandery.
Write me to start a coaching process! firstname.lastname@example.org
– Revelation 19:12-16
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung has been touted by many as a pioneer into the “uncharted” realms of human consciousness. One of the great “discoveries” (I use quotes for uncharted and discoveries because this was in fact a rediscovery of ancient knowledge and understanding) was that of what Jung referred to as “archetypes”. In the book, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetype of the Mature Masculine”, authors Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette describe the findings of Jung and those who followed in his footsteps:
“Jung and his successors have found that on the level of the deep unconscious the psyche of every person is grounded in what Jung called the ‘collective unconscious’, made up of instinctual patterns and energy configurations probably inherited genetically throughout the generations… These archetypes provide the very foundations of our behaviors- our thinking, our feeling, and our characteristic human reactions. They are the image makers that artists and poets and religious prophets are so close to.”
Jung understood archetypes to be the inhabitants of the mythic landscape of human consciousness- the wellspring from which the great myths and legends of all cultures arise. Archetypes simultaneously shape human consciousness while being shaped by it. While there are subcategories of archetypes and certain elements that are distinct to different races, ethnicities and cultures, there are certain archetypes that are universal to all humans. The most important of these is the archetype of the King.
In times of old, human tribes and civilizations from China to Babylon, from Egypt to Britain, from the Congo to Mesoamerica, all had versions of what we would call “kings”- rulers who claimed a sort of “divine right” of rule. Nowadays the notion of an individual human claiming divine right of rule is abhorrent to the modern mind accustomed to representative democracy and the like. We tend to conjure up images of obese tyrants living in luxury while their subjects starve to death. We see this tyrant justifying his cruelty and neglect toward the people by saying he had “divine right” to behave the way he did. However, this is in fact the opposite of what the ancient understanding of what the embodiment of the King archetype was.
One of the basic functions of the king could be understood of that of a protector and a guardian of the land. Typically trained as a warrior, the king would be chosen for his leadership capabilities and his skill in battle. The king would be charged with leading the warriors into battle, defending the people and the land from marauding invaders and rivaling tribes. Warriors would not go to battle if the king was not fighting alongside them. The king was a man of honor and virtue. However, the king was understood to be something even more than these things.
The true legitimate king of antiquity was akin to Socrates’ vision of the “philosopher-king”- a spiritually attuned human being, initiated into the Divine mysteries whose role it was to bring the divine principles into Earthly form through the construction of society and the rules that held it together as well as giving/bringing blessing to the people and the land. One may imagine the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt who were priest-kings of a supposedly semi-divine nature. These would have been individuals who studied in the great mystery schools and underwent the great initiations into understanding the Divine Laws of Nature and Creation and had achieved a state of Self-Mastery. These priest-kings would have been mediators standing in between the divine and earthly realms as a conduit.
However, in these ancient times, the kingship was a tentative position, and once the king was no longer able to embody these Divine Laws and Principles, he was removed from the throne, and in some cases, sacrificed. The story of the sacrifice of the king is a part of ancient myth and lore as well. In the archetypal sense (and at times the historical as well), the king is willfully sacrificed or even sacrifices himself, accepting his role as a channel for the divine forces of creation. This can be seen in the ancient myth of “The Sacred King”. The true king is wise and selfless, and understands that he is a conduit for something that is beyond himself as an individual of flesh and blood. The true king sees his role in the seemingly endless cycle, hence the phrase that is chanted upon the coronation of a new king- “The king is dead. Long live the king”.
The true king of ancient times was the embodiment of the great ordering principle of the universe- the creative force that molds the raw material from which all things are made in a right and orderly way. This is the Divine Masculine Principle that creates the world from the stuff of the Great Cosmic Abyss, which is the Great Mother. When Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me”, he was embodying this ordering principle as well as stating that he himself was a medium for a power that was greater than he was. Moore and Gillette explain this:
“[T]he king was the earthly conduit from the Divine World- the world of the King energy- to this world. He was the mediator between the mortal and the divine… He was the central artery… that allowed the blood of the life-force to flow into the human world.”
We may recall the scene from the Last Supper where Jesus has the Apostles partake of the cup of “His blood”. It was this rite that the Apostles brought into the world as the sacrament of Communion, in which all who wished could partake in the blood of the divine life-force and take it into their Being, becoming one with it.
It is also understood in the Christian mysteries that the greater power that anointed and embodied itself in the figure of Jesus was the Sun. The Sun was understood to be the physical body of an invisible God- the Christos. The masculine creative ordering principle has been associated with the Sun since great antiquity, with human kings from Pharaoh Akhenaten of Egypt to King Louis XIV of France associating it (right or wrong) as the source of their power and right of “divine rule”.
The true king as understood in antiquity was a steward and protector to the people- a kind of “all father”. This concept would often be literal as well, as the lineage of the true king was seen as something that should be passed on to strengthen the people and the land. It was understood at that time there was a spiritual component to genetic lineage and true nobility. Like the immortal gods who were his ancestors, the king took on the role as the literal and figurative patriarch of the people.
The king was seen as being in a sacred matrimony with the land, which was understood to be the Goddess Herself. It was to Her and Her children (the people, as well as wild game and livestock) that the king was sworn to protect and serve until he was no longer capable. The king’s true queen was understood to be the Goddess of the Land; the Goddess of the Earth. It was she who had the ultimate say as to whether or not the king was fit to rule and be in union with her. Gnostics understood this Goddess as the “Fallen Goddess” Sophia, who “fell” into Earth. Many Gnostics and practitioners of the Mysteries understood both Mary the mother of Jesus, and Mary Magdalene to be aspects or incarnations of this Goddess.
In “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover”, Moore and Gillette paint a very clear picture of what the role of the “Earthly” King was understood to be in these ancient times:
“It is the mortal king’s duty not only to receive and take to his people the right social order of the universe and cast it in a societal form but, even more fundamentally, to embody it in his own person, to live it in his own life. The mortal king’s first responsibility is to live according to Ma’at, or Dharma, or the Tao . If he does, the mythology goes, everything in the kingdom- that is, the creation, the world- will also go according to the Right Order. The kingdom will flourish. If the king does not live ‘in the Tao’ then nothing will go right for his people, or for the kingdom as a whole. The realm will languish, the Center, which the king represents, will not hold, and the kingdom will be ripe for rebellion.”
It is following this Right Order; following “The Way”, that legitimizes the King. Again, we recall Christ Jesus referring to himself as “the Way”- he was speaking as the living embodiment of this principle. To this day, many followers of the teachings of Christ refer to themselves as “Servants of the Way“.
During the Middle Kingdom period of ancient Egypt, the prophet Nefer-rohu wrote of the disastrous consequences of what occurred when corrupt and illegitimate rulers who did not follow and embody the principles of Ma’at– interpreted as “Right Order”; sat on the throne of Egypt:
“The land is completely perished… The sun-disc is covered over…. The rivers of Egypt are empty…. Damaged indeed are those good things, those fish ponds…. Everything good is disappeared… Foes have arisen in the east, and Asiatics have come down into Egypt….This land is helter-skelter…. men will take up weapons of warfare, [so that] the land lives in confusion. Men will make arrows of metal, beg for the bread of blood, and laugh with the laughter of sickness…. [A] man’s heart pursues himself [alone]…. A man sits in his corner [turning] his back while one kills another. I show thee a son as a foe, the brother as an enemy, and a man killing his [own] father.”
Nefer-rohu then prophesized of a new king that would arise who would embody the principles of Right Order, restoring Egypt, driving out the invaders and setting things right with the Kosmos.
Image courtesy of http://www.gks.uk.com/Horus-Behdety-Winged-Disk/
Something happened as the Ages progressed and humanity came into the “Dark Time”, i.e. the Kali Yuga. The kingly lineages became increasingly prone to corruption and tyranny. They began to no longer serve the people, but rather their own self-interest and lust for power. At the same time, members of the merchant class began to rise to prominence, corrupting the machinations of government. Again, it is at this time the story of Christ Jesus takes place. Born into obscurity, but having blood of the old kingly lineage, he had the task of raising the archetype of the king out of corruption- in essence bringing it back from the dead. The rulers on the throne were illegitimate, and now the true king- the true embodiment of the king archetype had returned. However, the way the throne would be reclaimed would be done in a way that was unheard of and is still at this point just beginning to become realized.
When Jesus bled into the Earth, the seeds were planted for something monumental. However, it would be some time before the seeds began to sprout and grow. As the gestation process was occurring, the illegitimate rulers maintained and continued their power. But they were secretly aware of what was occurring and sought to corrupt, poison or crush any “seedlings” of the Christ event that they saw.
These illegitimate rulers are still firmly in control of the machinations of Earthly government to this day, and are attempting to tighten their grasp out of fear of the inevitable. They believe that if they can manipulate, poison and destroy the soil of humanity and the Earth that they can hold onto their illegitimate power and keep the King from returning. However, true power rests only to those who can embody the King archetype, which these men (and women) do not. Anything else is illegitimate and will inevitably fall to its own internal corruption.
Jesus stated, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do;”
It has been understood by students and practitioners of the Mysteries that the long-awaited “Second Coming” will not be the return of an individual, but rather the birth of a “Christened Humanity”- that is a humanity that acts and lives in “Christ Consciousness”. The King archetype is returning to manifest not as one great individual who will lead humanity and the Earth to the promised land, but rather it is returning to each individual soul that is incarnated on Earth who has done the work to prepare themselves as a vessel appropriate for such an anointing. To quote Hopi prophecy, “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
Christ Jesus sacrificed himself so that the Solar Initiations that were once relegated to a select few would be available to all of humanity. It is understood by many in the esoteric traditions, that the work of Christ Jesus enabled a sort of “inner life” in every human being that had not been available before. Christ made it possible for the sort of Self-Mastery that had only been possible for the most elite of incarnated beings to be available to everyone. Christ Jesus made it possible for anyone to embody the archetype of the King if they were willing to do what was needed for the transformation to take place. This is the true legacy of the man who was the incarnation of the Sun/Son of God and his lineage are all who are able to go through the initiation process of psycho-spiritual death and resurrection, and become an anointed being.
In order for this to take place, we have to allow the immature, selfish and fearful lower ego to die in order to claim our right to the “Throne”. This “death” was the pivotal component of the ancient initiation process, which has seemingly been lost in modern culture (although is still present in some of the indigenous cultures that are also being wiped out). The illegitimate rulers seek to keep us in a state of perpetual childhood so we cannot fully come into being as Sovereign Anointed Kings (and Queens). This is why governments and societies are set up in the manner that they currently are and by and large have been for millennia. Likewise, the initiations we are “allowed” to have in modern society are by and large things that either serve or don’t threaten the illegitimate system like graduations, job promotions, military service, sports, fraternities, etc. Otherwise, they are things that only serve to degrade and corrupt the individual like gang initiations. Even things like Freemasonic initiation rites are not what they once were.
During the periods known as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, the ideas of Sovereignty; i.e. “Self-Rule” as well as Self Determination for not only nations, but individuals, began to resurface in European consciousness. Many of these ideas stemmed from the ancient Celtic, Germanic and Nordic cultures, but were eventually either suppressed or wiped out by the illegitimate rulers. These reborn ideals then began to spread throughout Europe and into the New World, culminating in the ideals expressed and carried out in the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation and the idea of rule “for the people, by the people”.
However, the illegitimate rulers sought to twist and corrupt these “seedlings” and did so pretty successfully. The problem was that while the people may have been ready for the external freedom that results from self-rule, most were still not mature enough and lacked the true personal responsibility and understanding required for internal mastery. This made the people susceptible to moral corruption and cultural decadence, which eventually led to them losing sight of the little bit of self-mastery that had been achieved which had allowed for their external freedoms. Each generation slipped into increasing decadence and childishness. This is what has led to the predicament we find ourselves in today.
Image copyright Kalen Ockerman
We cannot have true freedom until we each learn to master our internal domain. We master our internal domain by learning to control and harmonize our thoughts, feelings, emotions and actions; as well as understanding and working in conjunction with the Laws of Nature and Creation. Now this may sound simple, but for most people (myself included) actually having the discipline and willingness to sacrifice and surrender the childish and selfish ways of the lower ego can be extremely difficult. Nevertheless this is exactly the process Christ Jesus said was necessary in the Gospel of Thomas when he said:
“When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner as the outer, and the upper as the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one. . . then you will enter [the kingdom].”
This work begins when one answers “The Call” of Life to begin the path of CONSCIOUS spiritual initiation (this in and of itself can take lifetimes). It is at this point we begin “The Hero’s Journey” that mythologist and author Joseph Campbell pointed out was the central theme of the major myths and legends of humanity- including the story of Christ Jesus. In this archetypal story, the hero is called (often reluctantly) to embark on a quest or adventure. The hero then passes through a series of increasingly harrowing ordeals and initiations, climaxing in his/her confronting death itself in some form or fashion. This culminates in the triumphant ascension or “resurrection” of the hero who is now changed from what he once was into something far greater. It is a change as stark as the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. In truth, the Hero is the young, immature version of the King, who goes through the ordeal in order to be able to legitimately claim the Throne. It was only after the death and resurrection that Jesus was truly KING OF KINGS.
Looking at the world through this understanding of the King archetype, we can see that all the suffering, chaos, and environmental erosion currently taking place in the world is a direct impetus of illegitimate rulers who do not properly align with the King energy being allowed to hold power; combined with our own refusal to align with the King energy ourselves. If we look back to the writings of the ancient Egyptian prophet, Nefer-rohu, we will see a startling amount of similarities between what his people were experiencing then under illegitimate rulership, and what we are experiencing now. However unlike those ancient times, we now each have not only the potential but the responsibility to bring that King energy back into the world through ourselves and bring new life to a dying humanity and a dying planet.
We need to understand that this will not be achieved through electing politicians and giving more power to technocrats and oligarchs. These are the illegitimate rulers who operate the illegitimate governing system, and any attempt to legitimize the illegitimate is an exercise in futility. I believe human destiny begins with the move towards true Sovereignty; true Self-Rule; which leads to true freedom both internally and externally. The idea of human self-governance should be the end goal here, but it is something that must be initiated from within ourselves, rather than something to impose externally through creating more laws and bureaucracies.
Of course I realize that individual humans are far from equal, most of all in their progress moving up the ladder towards this ultimate goal of becoming Anointed Sovereign Beings. This process can take lifetimes. I realize that most humans alive on this planet are not ready or even capable of Self-Rule at this time, and that a great deal of suffering will still need to occur before this reality will be manifested on a collective level. But suffering, although unpleasant, is a crucial component in the process of Self-Mastery. Suffering is the elixir of the strong. Christ Jesus needed to suffer immensely before he could before his destiny of becoming KING OF KINGS could be fully realized. But it is in the midst of our suffering where we have the opportunity to face and overcome the things that keep us from Self-Mastery, including the greatest fear known to mankind- death.
We are seeking to do nothing less than align our Being with the Divine Ordering Principle of the Universe. I will again reference the wonderfully insightful work of Moore and Gillette to explain how this Principle can work in each one of us:
“The King archetype in its fullness possesses the quality of order, of reasonable and rational patterning, of integration and integrity… in the psyche. It stabilizes chaotic emotion and out of control behaviors. It brings calm. And in its ‘fertilizing’ and centeredness, it mediates vitality, life-force and joy. It brings maintenance and balance. It defends our own sense of inner order, our own integrity of being and of purpose, our own central calmness about who we are, and our essential unassailability and certainty in our… identity. It looks upon the world with a firm but kindly eye. It sees others in all their weakness and in all their talent and self-worth. It honors them and promotes them. It guides them and nurtures them toward their own fullness of being. It is not envious, because it is secure, as the King, in its own worth. It rewards and encourages creativity in us and in others.
In its central incorporation and expression of the Warrior, it represents an aggressive might when that is what is needed when order is threatened. It also has the power of inner authority. It knows and discerns (its Magician aspect) and acts out of this deep knowingness. It delights in us and others (its Lover aspect) and shows this delight through words of authentic praise and concrete actions that enhance our lives.”
Austrian mystic, Rudolf Steiner understood the Christ Impulse to be the one that brought balance and harmony to the opposing forces of the manifest world. This impulse brings order and blessing into the world and into our lives. It is the realization and actualization of the Christ Impulse, which is one and the same as the King archetype, that will move us towards our destiny, which was alluded to when Jesus said in John 10:34, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?”
I do not believe the destiny of man is to simply return to our Source in order to be re-absorbed, becoming the same formless collective we emerged as in the beginning. Nor do I feel we are simply to become child-like spirit beings frolicking in a heavenly paradise, living in a state of divine subjugation, and existing in a sort of angelic hive-mind: we aren’t going back to Eden. Rather I feel our destiny is to continue the individuation process of the ONE that divided ITSELF into many, until each individual soul is the fully realized god-being that it is meant to be. There is a difference between individuation and separation- one is reality while the other is illusion. The full realization of the Solar Christ Impulse and the King energy is man’s path to godhood. I see us each as individual souls destined to become divine immortal beings in a way that is different than what we were before. We are evolving and are to become the new pantheon of immortal gods and goddesses- sacred kings and queens- ushering in the New Kingdom of the New Heaven and the New Earth.
Read more of Rev. J. MacLugash here:
Knights Templar (or simply Templars), mysteries and warfare – these three avenues had an obscured connection when it came to the mercurial times of the medieval Crusades. In fact, their full name ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’ (or Pauperes commilitones Christi Templique Salomonici in Latin) directly pertains to the enigmatic Temple of Solomon. And while the Templars did exhibit their fanatical martial prowess on the battlefields (a ‘quality’ conducive to Crusades), the moniker of ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ’ didn’t really do the organization any justice. That is because, by 13th century AD, the Order administered an incredibly well-managed economic infrastructure throughout Christendom while also making innovations in early European banking systems. However, there was more to the Knights Templar than deep fortunes and fervent warfare tactics. So without further ado, let us take a gander at ten fascinating facts you should know about the Templars.
1) From praying to fighting –
It is quite a well-known fact that the Templars took a vow to defend their fellow Christians from ‘foreign’ intrusions, especially in the Outremer (the conglomeration of Crusader States in Levant). But interestingly enough, their proclivity towards martial pursuits was only developed as a reactionary measure, rather than a (starting) ideology that dictated religious warfare. To that end, historically, in the aftermath of the First Crusade, some of the Christians warriors actually decided to put away their swords in favor of a monastic lifestyle based around the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
But with the establishment of the Christian entities in the so-called Holy Land, the scenario became a logistical nightmare for the nascent Outremer kingdoms – because a great number of pilgrims flocked to these newly conquered lands. And as more visitors turned up around the confines of Jerusalem, local bandits (that also included Muslims who lost their lands) took advantage of the chaos and attacked these common pilgrims. Afflicted by such unconventional forays, the monastic warriors decided to once again take up their swords. As a result, pertinent military brotherhoods were formed, and they finally coalesced together to form the Templar Order, officially approved by the Church in 1120 AD.
2) Temple of Solomon?
As we mentioned before, the full name of the Knights Templar (‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon’) directly linked the order with the Temple of Solomon. Now from the historical perspective, the Temple of Solomon pertains to an enigmatic ancient structure whose existence is still debated among the historians (read this post for more details). But the ‘Temple of Solomon’ referred to in the case of the Templars might not be as sensational as one would be inclined to think. That is because after the Order was ratified by the Church (possibly at the Council of Nablus, circa 1120 AD), the king of Jerusalem, Balwin II, gifted the Templars a wing of his makeshift ‘palace’ inside the Al Aqsa mosque situated on Temple Mount.
3) Commercialism (and banking) beyond the Holy Land –
While the primary goal of the Templars was to defend the pilgrims against ‘foreign’ forays, it was not long before they were involved in political affairs in Outremer, sometimes at the beckoning of the newly established Christian kingdoms in the region. Such overtures translated to defending borders of these realms or mounting skirmishes against local enemy forces, thus allowing the Templars to flex their military muscle. In return, the Order was gifted lands, farms and even castles for management. Similar scenarios were also played out in the west in Iberia (Spain and Portugal), and Christian kingdoms based there valued the military prowess of the Templars – so much so that they were frequently furnished with swathes of lands on the frontiers that separated the Moors. This scope was further complemented by land and monetary endowments that were situated across Europe, far away from the conflict zones. Supported by such large tracts of real estate, the Templars not only managed farms and vineyards, but also engaged in manufacturing, imports, and even ship-building – thus creating a ‘multinational’ commercial empire of sorts that connected Christendom.
Interestingly, in spite of their mercantile acumen, the individual Knights Templar were sworn to poverty (at least in theory). This, in turn, led to the creation of a trustworthy ‘brand value’ that advertised Catholic Christian virtues with a military veneer. Inspired by these supportive measures, and also fearful of their own safety, European pilgrims (circa 1150 AD) frequently deposited their valuables with the local Templar preceptory before embarking on their overseas journey to the Holy Land. The Templars, in turn, prepared letters of credit that indicated the value of these deposits. So once the pilgrim reached the Holy Land, he/she was handed over an amount of treasure of equal value (as written in the document). Simply put, this system alluded to an early form of banking and quite a successful one at that.
4) Alternate feudalism –
With all the talk about lands, it is interesting to know that the Templars managed their assets in a feudalistic manner. In fact, like most kingdoms of the time, the lands of the Order were divided into autonomous provinces that were governed by the ‘provincial’ Grand Master – who usually came from an aristocratic background. The individual provinces were further divided into smaller commanderies (or preceptories in Latin), with each property being administered by a commander, who also hailed from the higher social strata. Now in practical terms, many of these rural commanderies consisted of farmlands that were controlled by a hold. This local stronghold housed the regional brothers, while also comprising a chapel and accommodation for travelers. And mirroring the secular feudal system of Europe, a portion of the annual revenues generated from the lands under the commander – known as responsion, was to be paid to the provincial Grand Master, who in turn transferred the income to the Knights Templar headquarters.
The amounts and requirements of responsion were frequently discussed in the ‘chapter’ meetings that were organized intermittently at a gap of few years. These meetings also doubled as general assemblies that appointed officials and passed newer rules and amendments. Furthermore, the chapter conclaves practically maintained the (much needed) communications between the Templar brothers who were usually stationed in various parts of Europe and the Outremer.
5) Knights of the Templar Order –
Often times the Templars were considered synonymous with the Knights Templar; though in a practical scenario that was not the case. In fact, knights formed a small percentage in a chapter, and they usually headed the other warrior-brothers from the Order. Now it should be interesting to know that the statuses of these Knights Templar also mirrored the evolution of the knightly class as the political elite in the European societies. So as we discussed at length in one of our articles concerning the medieval knights – “the first medieval knight was not really the lord who dabbled in opulent affairs. On the contrary, he was of ‘relatively’ lower social status (though always a free man) who was brought forth to the political world because of his military prowess.” Similarly, in the case of the Templars, the knights who were inducted into the Order in 1120 AD were possibly of lower (or mixed) social status. However after a century later, most European knights acquired their higher social standing, and thus by late 13th century, a brother whose family belonged to the knightly class was only allowed to enter the Order as a knight (and thus was accorded the status of Knights Templar).
The other non-knightly warriors in the Templar Order mainly consisted of the so-called sergents (in French) or servientes in Latin, which can be either translated as ‘sergeants’ or ‘servants’. Most of these warriors played a supporting role in the battlefield, by forming solid infantry lines or at times doubling up as screening medium cavalry. However, there were also many sergents who played non-combative roles by taking up ‘commercial’ professions like builders and craftsmen.
6) Yes, there were female members of the Templar Order –
In the earlier entry, we talked about the knights and the sergeants. Other than those ‘fighting’ members, the Templars also inducted priest-brothers for spiritual support of their communities. These ‘chaplains’ performed the various religious functions within the order, including the conducting of prayers, the celebration of masses and even hearing confessions. And quite intriguingly, some Templar chapters present in Europe also included female members among the ranks. These ‘sisters’ were housed in facilities that were segregated from the main chapter house. And while they were obviously not expected to fight in battles, many of the nuns actively took part in the spiritual side of affairs – by helping the priest-brothers in their praying tasks and even offering psychological counseling to warriors. Furthermore, there were associate female members (along with males) who made donations and other contributions to the Order, in spite of not taking the full monastic vow required from regular members.
7) Varying motivations for joining the Templars –
It naturally begs the question – why did knights leave the apparent opulence of their ‘lordly’ lives to join an austere order that advocated simple living and sexual abstinence? Well, the reasons were many, with some joining the ranks of the Knights Templar to escape their personal tragedies over at home, like the death of their loved ones. Others joined the Order as penance for their presumed sins, while some of the knights also seriously believed in the ‘core’ cause of the Templars – to protect Christian pilgrims in the Holy Land from the ‘non-believers’. Relating to an odd parcel of Templar history, there were also instances when criminal (or excommunicated) knights were enlisted into the order as punishment for their deeds; though in a practical scenario this method also served as an effective conscription technique for bolstering the Templar ranks with experienced warriors. In that regard, we can comprehend the inspiration behind the Night’s Watch featured in The Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) novel series by G.R.R. Martin.
The non-knightly members of the Templar Order had more varying reasons to join the reclusive ranks. Usually hailing from poorer sections of the society, many joined to simply provide themselves with timely meals on a daily basis, while others desperate (and illiterate) folks took the gamble to be ‘martyrs’ – pertaining to a glorious death on the battlefield against the ‘infidels’. According to their beliefs, aided by propaganda, this would release them from their uncertain lives (that in middle ages were usually cut short by diseases or starvation), and gain them ‘direct access’ to heaven. Intriguingly enough, in spite of such fanatical belief systems, the Templars were renowned in contemporary times for their apparent long lives when compared to the average medieval life expectancy (25 – 40 years). A recent research into this seemingly paradoxical scope provided a hypothesis that the Templars on an average lived longer due to their controlled diets and better hygiene. In any case, reverting to the motivations, one shouldn’t also overlook the significant percentage of people who simply joined the Order to justify their belief in the core principle of the Templars – defending the pilgrims and other Christians in the Holy Land (unfortunately, such values later morphed into bloodthirsty punitive actions). Many of the brothers were probably pilgrims themselves and were later inspired by the fighting prowess (or at least the ‘advertised’ prowess) of the Templars in Outremer.
8) The tight-packed charge –
The ‘tour de force’ of the Templars arguably related to their capacity for fighting and organizational skills during the early medieval Crusades. But oddly enough, there were no specific instructions dedicated to martial training and pursuits in the Templars’ Rule (a codified statute approved by the Pope himself). This was probably because the warrior-brothers who joined the Knights Templar ranks were already expected to have some experience in fighting and tactics – be it in horse-riding or wielding swords, couched lances and spears from horseback (or dismounted positions). Interestingly, some regulations also allude to the use of rather ‘exotic’ non-knightly weapons such as crossbows – that were fired from both horseback and on foot. Furthermore, the Templars also employed mercenaries like the famed Turcopoles (derived from the Greek: τουρκόπουλοι, meaning ‘sons of Turks’), who were mainly lightly armed cavalry and horse-archers usually comprising the local forces of Levant, like the Christianized Seljuqs and the Syrian Eastern Orthodox Christians.
Now beyond training and mercenaries, it was the devastating charge of the Templars that brought them renown throughout the Holy Land. Many then-contemporary literary sources write about how the Knights Templar were masters of forming the tight-packed eschielle (squadron) and charging into their enemies in wedged formations. Now while this maneuver seems simple in theory, the scope must have required expert levels of discipline and organizational skill to actually make it work on a battlefield against a formidable foe. In fact, such degrees of discipline contrast with their secular Western European counterparts, who were more prone to individualistic glory on the battlefield as opposed to dedicated team-work. To that end, it can be hypothesized that the Templars were more organized simply because of their reactionary measure to counter the superior mobility (and tactics) of the Muslim armies. Moreover, it should also be noted that many of the knights who joined the Order were already experienced veterans when it came to military careers.
9) The ‘downside’ of fanaticism –
Unfortunately for the Templars, a ‘right’ charge was not always conducive to winning the battle, especially since this aggressive battle tactic required other Christian forces to exploit the gaps in the enemy ranks brought on by the heavy cavalry assault. So in many practical scenarios, these supporting forces (derived from the Frankish kingdoms of Outremer) were not sufficiently drilled to take the dynamic advantage in the battlefield, thus leaving the Templars stranded and surrounded by the agile Muslim foes. These baleful situations were even more exacerbated for the Templars in the earlier Crusades because most of them were executed on being captured without mercy – as was the bloody scenario after the Battle of Hattin. Such extreme actions on the part of the Muslims were probably instigated by bouts of savagery displayed by the Templar Order itself in various battles. Sometimes the Muslims were even portrayed as soldiers of Antichrist, and as such many (illiterate) brothers believed in the ethnic or religious cleansing of the adherents of Islamic faith – so as to prepare the Holy Land for the advent of Christ’s kingdom.
Beyond just delusions, their uncompromising principles, like not surrendering until the red cross of ‘martyrdom’ had fallen in battle, also added to unwarranted afflictions on the battlefield. In that regard, many contemporary works allude to the fanaticism displayed by the Templars, like in the case of a few knights who were imprisoned until their ransom demands were met. But instead of paying ransoms, the Order just sent knives and belts to the captors – thus symbolizing how fighting was their ransom, and on being captured the knights would rather die than be paid for. However as time went on, the practicality of military requirement triumphed over blind zealotry, and thus by late 13th century, some high-ranking Knights Templar were indeed ransomed successfully.
10) The enigmatic symbol –
The mystery had always played a part in the cryptic aura of the Templars, so much so that one of the charges made against them in 1307 AD entailed ‘secrecy’. Now a later analysis of the events have revealed that the Templars were probably innocent of most of the charges, and thus were just victims of monarchical politics in the early 14th century. But on the ‘puzzling’ side of affairs, there was (and still is) some degree of mystery pertaining to the third Templar seal, which depicted two knights sitting on a single horse. Now the most common (though possibly incorrect) explanation relates how two knights on a single horse symbolized the state of poverty advocated by individual Templars. Another explanation talks about the representation of ‘true’ brotherhood, wherein one knight rescues the other knight whose horse is probably injured. Intriguingly enough, there is a plausible commentary regarding two soldiers on a single horse, written by Saladin’s chronicler Bahaed-Din Ibn Shaddad –
On June 7, 1192, the Crusader army marched to attack the Holy City, (then occupied by Saladin). Richard’s spies reported a long-awaited supply train coming from Egypt to relieve Saladin’s army…when Richard received information that the caravan was close at hand…a thousand horseman set out, each of whom took a foot soldier (on his horse) in front of him…At daybreak, he took the caravan unawares. Islam had suffered a serious disaster…The spoils were three thousand camels, three thousand horses, five hundred prisoners and a mountain of military supplies. Never was Saladin more grieved, or more anxious.
Book References: Knight Templar 1120 – 1312 (By Helen Nicholson) / God’s Warriors: Crusaders, Saracens and the Battle for Jerusalem (By Helen Nicholson and David Nicolle) / Knights Templar Encyclopedia (By Karen Ralls)