GRAYBEARDS WERE THIN ON THE ground in the 13th century. For even wealthy landholding males, average life expectancy was about 31 years, rising to 48 years for those who made it to their twenties. The Knights Templar, then, must have seemed to have some magical potion: Many members of this Catholic military order lived long past 60. And even then, they often died at the hands of their enemies, rather than from illness.
In 1314, Jacques de Molay, the order’s final Grand Master, was burned alive at the age of 70. Geoffrei de Charney, who was executed in the same year, is usually said to have been around 63. This longevity seems to have been almost commonplace. Fellow Grand Masters Thibaud Gaudin, Hugues de Payens, and Armand de Périgord, to name just a few, all lived into their sixties. For the times, this would have been positively geriatric.
“The exceptional longevity of Templar Knights was generally attributed to a special divine gift,” writes the Catholic scholar Francesco Franceschi in a journal articleabout their salubrious practices. But modern research suggests an alternative: The order’s compulsory dietary rules may have contributed to their long lives and good health.
Contrary to many modern portrayals, the Knights seem to have lived genuinely humble lives, in service to God. Their dietary choices and obligations reflect this. Though the order grew rich from carefully handled donations and by safeguarding traveling pilgrims’ money, the men themselves took formal vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. They were not permitted even to speak to women. For nearly 200 years, the order thrived across Europe, peaking at around 15,000 members by the end of the 13th century. Most of all, they were expert warriors, and their ranks comprised some of the best fighters, warriors, and jousters in the world.
Early in the 12th century, the French abbot Bérnard de Clairvaux helped assemble a long and complex list of rules, which structured the knights’ lives. This rulebook became known as the Primitive Rule of the Templars, and drew from the teachings of the saints Augustine and Benedict. But many of the rules originated in the order. Though the document was completed in 1129, writes Judith Upton-Ward, the Templar Knights had already been in existence for several years, “and had built up its own traditions and customs … To a considerable extent, then, the Primitive Rule is based upon existing practices.”
The rules were many, and various. The knights were to protect orphans, widows, and churches; eschew the company of “obviously excommunicated” men; and not stand up in church when praying or singing. Even sumptuary laws prioritized humbleness: Their monk’s habits were one color alone, though on warm days between Easter and Halloween, the rules decreed, they were allowed to wear a linen shirt. (Pointed shoes were always forbidden.) But the rules also extended into their dietary practices: How they ate, what they ate, and who they ate with.
Their meals do not seem to have been raucous affairs. Knights were obliged to eat together, but to do so silently. If they needed the salt, they had to ask for it to be passed “quietly and privately … with all humility and submission.” A sort of buddy system existed, partly due to a mystifying “shortage of bowls.” This may have been more a show of abstinence than anything else, like the knights’ emblem, which was of two men sharing a horse.
Knights ate in pairs, and were told to “study the other more closely,” to make sure that neither was scarfing more than his share or entertaining any kind of “secret abstinence.” (It’s not clear what knights were supposed to do if their partner wasn’t eating as he should—though shouting at the table seems to have been especially forbidden.) After eating, everyone sat in silence and gave thanks. Scraps of bread were collected and given to the poor, and whole loaves set aside for future meals.
The knights’ diets seem to have been a balancing act between the ordinary fasting demands on monks, and the fact that these knights lived active, military lives. You couldn’t crusade, or joust, on an empty stomach. (Although the Knights Templar only jousted in combat or training—not for sport.) So three times a week, the knights were permitted to eat meat—even though it was “understood that the custom of eating flesh corrupts the body.” On Sundays, everyone ate meat, with higher-up members permitted both lunch and dinner with some kind of roast animal. Accounts from the time show that this was often beef, ham, or bacon, with salt for seasoning or to cure the meat.
It’s likely that these portions were considerable: If the knights weren’t allowed meat due to a Tuesday fast, the next day it would be available “in plenty.” One source suggests that cooks loaded enough meat onto their plates “to feed two poor men with the leftovers.”
But on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, the knights ate more spartan, vegetable-filled meals. Although the rules describe these meals as “two or three meals of vegetables or other dishes eaten with bread,” they also often included milk, eggs, and cheese. Otherwise, they might eat potage, made with oats or pulses, gruels, or fiber-rich vegetable stews. (The wealthier brothers might mix in expensive spices, such as cumin.) In their gardens, they grew fruits and vegetables, especially Mediterranean produce such as figs, almonds, pomegranates, olives, and corn (grain).* These healthy foodstuffs likely also made their way into their meals.
Once a week, on Fridays, they observed a Lenten fast—no eggs, milk, or other animal products. For hearty fare, they relied on dried or salted fish, and dairy or egg substitutes made from almond milk. Even here, however, there are pragmatic concessions. The weak and sick abstained from these fasts and received “meat, flesh, birds, and all other foods which bring good health,” to return them to fighting shape as quickly as possible.
All the while, brothers drank wine—but this too was restricted. Everyone had an identical ration, which was diluted, and they were advised that alcohol should “not be taken to excess, but in moderation. For Solomon said … wine corrupts the wise.” In the Holy Lands, they allegedly mixed a potent cocktail of antiseptic aloe vera, hemp, and palm wine, known as the Elixir of Jerusalem, which may have helped accelerate healing from injuries.
Franceschi describes other regulations beyond the Primitive Rules that were “specifically designed to avoid the spreading of infections.” These included mandatory handwashing before eating or praying, and exempting brothers in charge of manual tasks outdoors from food preparation or serving. Some of these innovations, picked up without any awareness of germs, may have resulted from interactions with Arab doctors, renowned during the period for their superior medical knowledge. By medieval medical standards, Templar Knights were at its apex, able to treat many illnesses and to take care of their weak.
The order was one of the richest in the world—yet these rules prevented the knights from sitting on their laurels or gorging themselves on fatty, cured meat. In fact, many of these rules resemble modern dietary advice: Lots of vegetables, meat on occasion, and wine in moderation. A meal fit not for a king on a throne, but a knight with some serious crusading to do.
There are many places where the Knights Templar could have been, from Ethiopia to the Americas. In Roslyn Chapel close to Edinburgh/Scotland, for example, we see features of corn and other American plants. The Westford Knight stone may be an indication of a journey overseas. A friend told me about the Tehuelche people of Patagonia/Argentina, who are reappearing back into history. They recover their lost spiritual wisdom via dreams and visions, as it has been prophesied earlier. They told the people of the zoo of Buenas Aires, who work on a successful project of reintroducing condors to the Atlantic side of Patagonia, that they have a thread of oral traditions, leading centuries back, which states memories of good relationships with the Knights Templars in the thirteen century and even later. The Knights must, therefore, have sailed the whole eastern coast of the Americas up and down. Maybe that is why the ships of Colombo who had a similar cross on their sails thanks to the Portuguese Knights of Christ, where received first with trust, which he misused with cruelty.
In the late twenties and early thirties, I was obsessed with the Templars and the Grail. We traveled to Scotland with my friends, following the outlined stories and places of the book of Henry Lincoln “Holy Blood, Holy Grail” and “The Temple and the Lodge”. On old cemeteries, I scraped grass from old tombstones and found Skull and bones and freemason gravings for sure. We visited the castle of the Campbells of who Henry Lincoln and his co-author thought they may have sheltered some fleeing Knights Templar of France in 1307. Indeed there are some signs of that within the castle. Later when I was introduced into a family of descendants of the Campbells who traveled over five hundred years during their history first to Sicilia and later to Brazil I discovered the Cross of the Campbell on their blankets again. The elderly women made these blankets until the 1980´s without knowing the meaning of the crosses.
We live here close to the Languedoc, a region rich of legends, ruins, and myths of the Knights Templar, the Cathars, and Mary Magdalene.
A little town called “Les Saint Maries de la Mer” (Southern France) is the place where according to legend the women Maria Salmone, Santa Sara (the patron of the Gypsies) Mary Magdalene, Lazurus, and others landed after fleeing from Palästina. Here hold the Gypsies still their yearly meetings and celebration on May 24 each year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Sarah
There are also places of the Cathars to visit in the Pyrenes. these are the only “real” remains of the Cathar culture, their houses and castle are ruin right now, but the caves prevailed.
The highest energy I ever have felt was in tree place, all related with Christ: First in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, second in Santiago de Compostella/North/West-Spain at the end of the St.James way and third in Caravaca de la Cruz in Southern Spain.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem
Even though the story of the apostle’s James dead body washed onto the beach of Galicia within a boat made of stone, does not sound very likely to be true, but whatever the true story behind it is, “Energy does not lie”. To pray on the apostle’s tomb was the most intense experience I had.
A friend of mine was invited into the octagon of Eunate by a France man, who claimed to be a Knight Templar. His said about St. James “We put him there”. Whatever, he is there and that is a miracle by itself including the experience of taken care of and universal alignment during the pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.
At Caravaca de la Cruz they expose a piece of the Holy Cross, allegedly discovered by Saint Helena, the mother of Constantin the Great who converted Christianity into the cult of the Roman Empire in the fourth century. Even though this discovery is also very unlike to be true, (the tools for crucifixion where the property of the Roman administration and probably used and used again) this energy is profoundly high and deep at the same time. And I don´t say that it´s fun to stay in this intensity for to long, but an encounter with the holy is always nurturing our soul.
These are only examples of possibilities of past and future adventures and discoveries, we may assist you with. But most of all share your own experiences with traveling into nature or history, because the most interesting thing is not the past, because its over, but how we sense our own soul, the smells, the colors, the tastes, the feelings and encounters with strangers on our own ( daily) journeys. To remember that we are beings of Spirit and Light is important and can be intensified by pilgrimage and traveling to the right places.
This is one of the most important lessons of the Course. This is real gnosis. You only have to learn this one.
“Perhaps you think that different kinds of love are possible. Perhaps you think there is a kind of love for this, a kind for that; a way of loving one, another way of loving still another. Love is one. It has no separate parts and no degrees; no kinds nor levels, no divergencies and no distinctions. It is like itself, unchanged throughout. It never alters with a person or a circumstance. It is the Heart of God, and also of His Son.
Love’s meaning is obscure to anyone who thinks that love can change. He does not see that changing love must be impossible. And thus he thinks that he can love at times, and hate at other times. He also thinks that love can be bestowed on one, and yet remain itself although it is withheld from others. To believe these things of love is not to understand it. If it could make such distinctions, it would have to judge between the righteous and the sinner, and perceive the Son of God in separate parts.
Love cannot judge. As it is one itself, it looks on all as one. Its meaning lies in oneness. And it must elude the mind that thinks of it as partial or in part. There is no love but God’s, and all of love is His. There is no other principle that rules where love is not. Love is a law without an opposite. Its wholeness is the power holding everything as one, the link between the Father and the Son which holds Them both forever as the same.
No course whose purpose is to teach you to remember what you really are could fail to emphasize that there can never be a difference in what you really are and what love is. Love’s meaning is your own, and shared by God Himself. For what you are is what He is. There is no love but His, and what He is, is everything there is. There is no limit placed upon Himself, and so are you unlimited as well.
No law the world obeys can help you grasp love’s meaning. What the world believes was made to hide love’s meaning, and to keep it dark and secret. There is not one principle the world upholds but violates the truth of what love is, and what you are as well.
Seek not within the world to find your Self. Love is not found in darkness and in death. Yet it is perfectly apparent to the eyes that see and ears that hear love’s Voice. Today we practice making free your mind of all the laws you think you must obey; of all the limits under which you live, and all the changes that you think are part of human destiny. Today we take the largest single step this course requests in your advance towards its established goal.
If you achieve the faintest glimmering of what love means today, you have advanced in distance without measure and in time beyond the count of years to your release. Let us together, then, be glad to give some time to God today, and understand there is no better use for time than this.
For fifteen minutes twice today escape from every law in which you now believe. Open your mind and rest. The world that seems to hold you prisoner can be escaped by anyone who does not hold it dear. Withdraw all value you have placed upon its meager offerings and senseless gifts, and let the gift of God replace them all.
Call to your Father, certain that His Voice will answer. He Himself has promised this. And He Himself will place a spark of truth within your mind wherever you give up a false belief, a dark illusion of your own reality and what love means. He will shine through your idle thoughts today, and help you understand the truth of love. In loving gentleness He will abide with you, as you allow His Voice to teach love’s meaning to your clean and open mind. And He will bless the lesson with His Love.
Today the legion of the future years of waiting for salvation disappears before the timelessness of what you learn. Let us give thanks today that we are spared a future like the past. Today we leave the past behind us, nevermore to be remembered. And we raise our eyes upon a different present, where a future dawns unlike the past in every attribute.
The world in infancy is newly born. And we will watch it grow in health and strength, to shed its blessing upon all who come to learn to cast aside the world they thought was made in hate to be love’s enemy. Now are they all made free, along with us. Now are they all our brothers in God’s Love.
We will remember them throughout the day, because we cannot leave a part of us outside our love if we would know our Self. At least three times an hour think of one who makes the journey with you, and who came to learn what you must learn. And as he comes to mind, give him this message from your Self:”
I bless you, brother, with the Love of God, which I would
share with you. For I would learn the joyous lesson that
there is no love but God’s and yours and mine and everyone’s.
Two Templar knights were arrested in Scotland and put on trial in 1309 at Edinburgh. During the course of their testimony, which was written down and preserved by the clerics of the court, one of the knights testified about the escape of the other Templars. The Preceptor was the highest ranking Templar in Scotland.
“Being asked concerning the other brothers in Scotland, he stated that John de Hueflete was Preceptor of Blancradok, the chief house of the order in that country, and that he and the other brethren, having heard of the arrest of the Templars, threw off their habits and fled, and that he had not since heard aught concerning them.”
When the trial of the two Templars was completed, no guilt had been found against them, so no sentence was passed and they were free to go. There is no record of any other Scottish Templar being arrested. In other words, 100 percent of the Templars in Scotland survived.
Older Knights Templar
In about 1340 Ludolph of Sudheim, a German priest on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, came upon two elderly men on the shores of the Dead Sea. He entered into conversation with them and discovered that they were former Templars, captured when the city of Acre had fallen to the Mamluks in May 1291, who had since then been living in the mountains, cut off from all communication with Latin Christendom. They had wives and children and had survived by working in the sultan’s service. They had no idea that the Order of the Temple had been suppressed in 1312 and that the Grand Master had been burnt to death as a relapsed heretic two years later. The men were from Burgundy and Toulouse and, within a year, were repatriated, together with their families. Despite the scandal of the suppression, they were honourably received at the papal court, and were allowed to live out the remainder of their existence in peace.
These two Templars were the almost forgotten remnants of what, barely a generation before, had appeared to be one of the most powerful monastic orders in Christendom. During the thirteenth century the Order may have had as many as 7,000 knights, sergeants and serving brothers, and priests, while its associate members, pensioners, officials, and subjects numbered many times that figure. By about 1300 it had built a network of at least 870 castles, preceptories, and subsidiary houses, examples of which could be found in almost every country in western Christendom.
The extent of the Templar empire can be gauged from the fact that in 1318 pensions were being paid to former Templars in twenty-four French dioceses, as well as in York, London, Canterbury, Dublin, Tournai, Liège, Camin, Cologne, Magdeburg, Mainz, Castello, Asti, Milan, Bologna, Perugia, Naples, and Trani, in Nicosia in Cyprus, and in the kingdoms of Aragon and Mallorca. Quoted here.