During the crusading era, various knightly orders were created. Among them we find the Prieuré de Sion, the Knights Templars and the Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem. The Order of the Knights Templars was officially founded in 1118 although this organisation existed already before that time; its members were known as the “Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon”. We are told that the Templars Order was created by nine French Knights to protect the pilgrims on their travel in the Holy Land. It is however difficult to believe that those nine Knights could offer much of a protection even if their number increased a lot with time. It is known that they fought with the crusaders and acted as diplomats representing the King of Jerusalem in the Muslim countries. They wore white mantles with a red cross on it. They had their quarters in Baldwin’s Palace, which was located near the former Al-Aqsa mosque, and stood on the site of Solomon’s Temple on which later on King Herod built his own Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Deep below the ruins of these Temples were the great stables of Solomon, which had been hidden since the first century AD. According to some witnesses two thousand horses could find room in it. The original mission of the Templars was to find and explore this big room in which the Ark of the Covenant (pictured above) had been hidden with the Tables of Testimony. On these Tables of stone God engraved the Cosmic Equation, the Divine Law of Number, Measure and Weight. One can say that these tables are more important that the Ten Commandments dictated by God to Moses. For unknown reasons the Catholic Church has always played down the importance of these two tables, keeping them secret, although God had written them himself. These tables were kept in the Ark of the Covenant, itself put inside the Tabernacle. God imposed the design and construction of both the Ark and the Tabernacle; they were guarded by the Levites and taken by David to Sion in Jerusalem. His son, Solomon had the Jerusalem Temple built by the Master-Mason Hiram Abif, and the Ark was installed in the Holy of Holies whose access was forbidden, except for a yearly ritual inspection by the High Priest. This was the most precious possession of the Temple. When it was destroyed in 586 BC the Ark was not found. The Temple was rebuilt and the Ark was moved again in the Holy of Holies. The Romans destroyed it again in 70 AD but did not find the Ark either.
There is no evidence that the Templars gave any kind of protection to the numerous pilgrims coming to visit the Holy Land. On the other hand there are some evidences that they made important excavation under the ruins of Herod’s Temple. By 1127 the Templars had found the Ark and its content, an important quantity of gold, as well as other treasures all of them hidden below the remains of the old temple and accurately described in the Copper Scroll discovered at Qumran. French scholars of Cabbalistic and esoteric studies translated the Tables.
The Templars always kept a Christian affiliation, however they were known for their religious tolerance, which made them influential diplomats with the Jews and the Moslems. This liberal association was denounced later on as heresy by the Catholic Church and led to their excommunication.
St Bernard, a Cistercian monk of that time and the patron of the Templars, was delighted by their discoveries and suggested to the Pope Honarius II to give them international status as a Sovereign Order. In 1128 the Church established the Knights as a religious Order whose members were known as Warrior-Monks; their first Grand Master was Hughes de Payens, their founder. They were independent of the kings, cardinals and government, and they only answered to the Pope. The Templars soon became engaged in high-level politics and diplomacy through the western world, and were advisors to kings and parliaments. They owned large pieces of land in many countries of Western Europe and in Palestine.
They applied their knowledge of the Cosmic Equation, and its sacred geometry, in the construction in many French cities of beautiful holy monuments and Gothic cathedrals glorifying “Notre Dame”. In accordance with the Hermetic principle “as above, so below”, the ground plan of the “Notre Dame” cathedrals replicates the Virgo constellation. “Notre Dame Cathedral” of Chartres, in addition, was built on a ground sacred to the druids. It was a Pagan site dedicated to the traditional Mother Goddess. The altar was built above the “Grotte des Druides” with its sacred dolmen identified as the “Womb of the Earth”. The Gothic stained glassed used in these cathedrals had very special qualities. The secret of their manufacture has never been revealed, or reproduced since. They were a product of hermetic alchemy invented by Persian philosophical mathematicians. During the true Gothic era there was no portrayal of the Crucifixion. This has been explained by the fact that, on the base of some pre-Gospel documents found in Jerusalem, the Templars did not believe in the Crucifixion sequence as found in the New Testament.
In addition to the Ark and the treasures, the Templars also found ancient manuscripts in Hebrew and Syriac under the Temple in Jerusalem. Many of them were pre-Gospels and they gave the Templars first-hand accounts not known elsewhere. Probably they had a knowledge of the early Christian times that was far more complete than what was available to the Christian Church. On that base they knew that the Church had wrongly interpreted the Virgin Birth and the Crucifixion. This knowledge caused, in part, their persecution by the Dominican Inquisition in the 14th century. The Inquisition is responsible for the disappearance of freethinking for many centuries, as well as for the disappearance of any female aspect in the Catholic religion. Only the Virgin Mary was left to represent all womankind. Even the cult of Mary Magdalene had to go underground to persist.
The “Notre Dame” cathedrals as well as the other major Gothic constructions, were mainly the works of the children of Solomon, a guild of masons instructed by the Cistercian Order of St Bernard. St Bernard is said to have translated the secret geometry of King Solomon’s masons who, under their master Hiram Abif, were graded by degrees of knowledge and proficiency. Solomon had asked King Hiram of Tyre for the assistance of Hiram Abif, an architect and metal worker skilled in sacred geometry. Although Tyre was a centre of Goddess worship, Hiram Abif became the chief designer and Master Mason for the Jewish Temple of King Solomon. As a result he became a major symbolic figure in later FreeMasonry.
Other Masonic brotherhood existed at that time. For instance, in medieval France, there were the “Children of Father Soubise” and the “Children of Master Jacques”. During the Inquisition these guilds were in danger. As practitioners of the Masonic Craft, they had privileged information concerning the workings of sacred Geometry and the Universal Law. Apprentice Companion, Attained Companion and Master Companion all knew some secrets, the amount of which depended of their degree. The same three degrees still exist in the modern main stream Speculative FreeMasonry.
Modern FreeMasonry is said to derive from the medieval guilds of Europe. However the Craft has more distant origins. It has been proved that the carvings on the Egyptian obelisk of New York City and London are Masonic symbols. The New York City obelisk dates from the time of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III (c.1468-1436 BC), an ancestor of Moses and founder of an important secret society of scholars and philosophers who aimed to preserve the sacred mysteries. Later on, the Samaritan Magi were members of the Order, being attached to the Egyptian Therapeutate, an ascetic community at Qumran. Moses introduced the concept of temple worship from his Egyptian experience. Before the Tabernacle of Moses at Mount Sinai, the Jews had used outside stone altars for worshipping and for sacrifices. The notion of priesthood is also Egyptian.
The London obelisk from the Temple of the Sun is known as Cleopatra’s Needle (Cleopatra VII), although it was built more than 1000 years before her time. The two granite obelisks were first erected as entrance pillars to the Sun Temple at Heliopolis before being moved to Alexandria in 12 BC. Hiram Abif, following the Egyptian custom, put also two pillars at the entrance of the King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. They were similar in design to Tyre goddess worship and to the fertility symbols dedicated to Astarte in Canaan. The Jerusalem pillars were called Jachin and Boaz. They were hollow to accommodate the archives and constitutional rolls of Masonry. The Temple was dedicated to Jehovah and designed to house the Ark of the Covenant, but its construction was not limited to the Hebrew’s masculine principle of God; on the opposite it was a traditional building that incorporated both the male and female geometric energy. After it was built Hiram was murdered and his body was placed in a shallow grave. His murder followed his refusal to reveal the Master Mason’s secrets to uninitiated workers. The symbolic murder of Hiram is part of the Third Degree ceremony of Masonry where the candidate is struck down and raised again from the darkness of his grave by use of the Master Mason’s secret grip.
Modern FreeMasonry is speculative rather than operative, but even in Hiram’s day the society of artificer, of which he was a member, had their Lodges, symbols, and passwords. One of the symbols was the “ascia” or the mason’s trowel, an emblem used by the Pythagoreans and the Essenes. It is also found in the Roman catacombs where designs of Masonic initiations were painted on the tombs.
The Cathars, whose religion was Gnostic, were destroyed by a crusade ordered by Pope Innocent III in 1209, as well as by the Inquisition. By the end of the century most of them had been killed together with many non-Cathars. There claimed to be the guardians of a great and sacred treasure, associated with fantastic and ancient knowledge, which could prove that the orthodox Roman Catholic doctrine was incorrect. Like the Templars, the Cathars were tolerant of the Jewish and Moslem cultures. The Cathars were not so much heretics that non-conformists in relation to the Catholic doctrine. They were said to be adept of the occult symbolism of the Cabbala. This knowledge would have been very useful to the Templars who are believed to have brought the Ark, the old manuscripts, and their other treasures from Jerusalem in the Languedoc, the country of the Cathars.
Pope Clement V and King Philip IV destroyed the Templars at the beginning of the 14th century because they feared their power, their knowledge, and also because they wanted their wealth and properties. They were accused of heresy, homosexuality, necromancy, abortion, blasphemy and the black arts. They were arrested in all the European countries with the exception of Scotland. Finally their wealth was given to the Hospitallers of St John. The Order has been declared extinct in 1314 but this was not quite true. The Chivalric Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem is still well alive in Europe. Moreover we have the Masonic Templars but they have very little or no relation with the Order. (4)
Following the capture of Jerusalem, the Holy City, by the Crusading knights of the West in1099, Hugues de Payen and Geoffrey de Saint Omer established the headquarters of their new Order in the Palace on Temple Mount. The Order was officially inaugurated during the reign of Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, and became a centre of power. The exact date of the foundation of the Templar Order is not known with absolute certainty. A “milice of Christ” existed already in Jerusalem in 1114 and could be their precursors. For about nine years the orders had only nine knights who had sworn obedience to their Master and to the Pope. Hugues de Payen came back to France in 1127 and the Order soon became a very effective military force. The Order was recognised by the Church at the Council of Troy in 1129. They did not limit themselves to war with the Saracens and the protection of the visiting pilgrims, but they also started to excavate the ground where King Solomon’s Temple once stood. Traces of their work can still be seen today. They were not the “Poor Knights” anymore and they started to enlarge their domain of activity to France and most of Western Europe.
Hughes de Payen was married to Catherine de St Clair (a Scottish woman of Norman descend) and he set up the first Templar preceptory, outside the Holy Land, on her family’s land in Scotland. The new knights, on the opposite, had to be celibate, they were obliged to cut their hair but keep their beard. The rule controlled also their diet, dress, and all the practical aspects of their daily life. On the battlefield they could not ask for mercy, or to ransom themselves, and they had to fight to the death without even being allowed to retreat, except under very special conditions. They replaced the “Latin rule” received from the Pope by their own, the “French rule” that was different in many aspects but it did not mention the protection of the pilgrims no more than the first one. The first seal of the Templars showed two knights on a single horse, and this was supposed to represent their poverty. In reality they could afford all the horses they needed. The knights were recruited among the nobility. Their sergeants came from the working class and worked as grooms, stewards, sentry, and general support troops. The sergeants wore a red cross on a dark brown mantle. A last group comprised the clerics who were taking care of the spiritual needs of the knights. They were the only literate members of the Order. They were generally priests who, in addition to their religious duty, took care of record keeping and communications, sometimes in coded form. French was the spoken and administrative language of the Templars but the priests, at least, knew Latin, some Hebrew, some Greek, and could made themselves understood by the Arabs. They wore a red cross on a green mantle. They wore white gloves even during their religious duties, just like the Freemasons to day. The only decoration that the knights could wear was a sheepskin (to compare with the lambskin aprons of the Masons). In both cases it is a sign of innocence, and the emblem of friendship. The battle flag of the Templars displayed two blocks, one black symbolising the world of sin they came from, and one white showing the move from darkness to light. To day Masonic lodges display in their centre a pattern of black and white squares and at their meetings the members wear a white shirt and a black tie and suit. The only explanation given for this compulsory way of dressing is that “our ancient brethren always dressed this way”. (8)
From the moment of its foundation the Order received some very special privileges. Their charter spoke of them as the defenders of the pilgrims going to Jerusalem and obliged them to make vows of chastity, poverty and obedience to their Grand Master and to the Pope. From the various kings of Europe they received dispensations from taxes and duties allowing them to collect great financial profits from their commanderies. Outgrowing rapidly their modest beginning, they soon became engaged in diplomatic tasks that put them in contact with the educated people from the Arab Empire, from whom they learned the sciences of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds, knowledge that had been forgotten or destroyed in the West.
It is not very clear what the Templars found as a result of their excavations. It is probable that they found gold coins and other treasures that, added to the properties and money they also received from rich patrons, made their order a very wealthy one. It is thought that they also discovered Jesus Christ’s tomb and that they were able to identify it with certainty. Moreover they also found some manuscripts that told a different, and very embarrassing, story of the beginning of Christianity. For some time they were able to live with their secrets but, soon enough, the Catholic Church became afraid and looked for a way to silence them forever. This led the way to religious intolerance. The Albigensian Crusade against the Cathars in the twelfth century was the first religious war between Christians. The Church requested this crusade and the King of France was happy to oblige, as he knew that this would bring him some wealth in addition to increase the size of his kingdom. The crusade succeeded above all expectations and the Cathar heresy disappeared.
Most of the Templars wealth came from inheritance of land and properties donated by initiates, or by those who wished to support their influential and potent force in the affairs of the French kingdom. The Templars have been present in the Region of Rennes-le-Chateau since 1127.
At the beginning of the fourteenth century, less than two hundred years after their humble beginning, the Templars were very powerful and had a strong influence on an international level. This made many envious, especially the reigning King of France, Philip-le-Bel, who was in deep financial difficulty. He thought to resolve the problem by eliminating the Templars and taking over their wealth. On his own initiative he had all the Templars in France arrested on Friday 13 October 1307. At the beginning the Pope opposed this action, but he soon saw that their disappearance was also in his interest, and he joined force with the King. To force the Templars to admit their heresy the Pope created the Inquisition that had the power to interrogate the monks without any restriction in the force used. Most of the Templars admitted their heresy under torture and the Order was banned in 1314. The Templars “admitted” under torture that during their initiation ceremonies they were spitting on the Holy Cross, and that they adored a statue named “Baphonet. The Inquisition thought that this word was a deformation of the name of Muhammad (Mahomet in French). The Inquisition was wrong but the Templars had something to hide; using their Atbash translation method, “Baphonet” meant “Sophia”, the symbolic female figure used by the Gnostics. In Greek Sophia means “Wisdom”, and is a communicator between light and dark; she is part of the development of those people who wish to experience the resurrection of the soul during their lifetime. In the Nag Hammadi Library there is a Gospel of Sophia of Jesus Christ. (2)
There are two ways to look at the Templars and their fate. From a political point of view, the Templars were eliminated as a result of a political conspiracy and persecution, with the Papacy playing an important role. Some people, like Voltaire, chose to blame the Church, rather than the King of France, as the main responsible. According to him the Templars belong to a long list of persecuted organisations that includes the bacchanals of ancient Rome, the early Christians, the witches, the Jews, … Later on however, from the sixteenth century, historians have taken a more balanced view. They still believe that all the Templars were not heretics, but some of them hold real and important magical power that could go beyond what they have been accused of, and from which derive their wealth and power. In this view the elects among the Templars had hidden and occult power at their disposal, and they used them. Accordingly the Templars were a secret society opposed to the Medieval Church, but hidden within it. In appearance they were a religious military Order at the Pope’s service, but in fact they opposed him and what he represented. They learned their esoteric mysterious knowledge in the East where they had many contacts and, secretly, they treated the Catholic religion, and the Church, with contempt. This was not due to low or vulgar magical power, as their judges tried to prove at the trial, but on a complete esoteric knowledge, a Temple of Wisdom as their name symbolises. They changed with time from a group of unlearned and fanatical soldier-monks to an learned and enlightened elite knights who mastered the profound secrets of the East, more precisely from the Ismaili sect of the Assassins, and who emancipated themselves from the medieval Catholic credulity.
Magical practice implies concealment, plotting, secrecy, and conspiracy. The conspiracy can be directed against society as a whole, or against some well-defined persons. The later type can be thought of as minor criminal offences, and few people are generally involved. The former is a more serious crime since it implies hidden knowledge, exclusiveness of admission, and suspicion of monstrous practices. However when the fear of witchcraft occurs during a time of political and social instability, then conspiracy against private persons merges into the idea of a conspiracy against the State, and more and more people are accused of wrong-doing with, or without, reason. Some persons can plan this for their own political ends or it can occur by itself, especially in period of social tension. This fear of mass conspiracy happens very often when society associates an internal with an external enemy.
In Western society, magic has generally been the action of individuals and not of groups: it is often a protection against personal misfortune, but it can also be used as a mean of aggression and attack. Magicians are generally considered as vulgar and low class persons, but not their clients, as magic has never been confined to the ignorant. Leaders of our societies have often consulted magicians before taking important decisions. It must be noted that Christianity is not immune from it, as its members are obliged to believe in demons.
Magical powers are also used to gain some practical and personal ends. Societies have treated magicians in different ways. Often they have been tolerated, if it is believed that counter-measures to their witchcraft exist, or if it is believed to be dangerous to prosecute them. In other circumstances they have been proscribed as being too dangerous. They are often at risk if it is thought that their power is linked to their person. One must also distinguish between the sorcerer who studies the use of occult power, from the magician, who possesses them as a personal attribute. Sorcerers are not very dangerous, they are in fact a kind of primitive scientists, whereas the magicians, the true witches, are generally ill-wishers and ill-doers. The sorcerer is powerless without his tools and experience and he can always stop. The magician has no control over his Craft, and remains such for all his life. Magical practices are varied but magical attack generally takes the form of an evil act against one or more persons. Magic is rarely seen as a social danger that threatens the whole community.
In medieval Europe the main fear of attack against the Catholic Church was from heresy, not magic. Heretics were seen as externally faithful persons who interpreted wrongly the words of God, in other words, a wolf under a sheepskin. They were thought to deceive other people, and attract them to their wrong beliefs, through their acute intelligence and double-talk, revealing only the lies of their doctrine to the initiates. Usually they taught their doctrine secretly, in hidden places. Heresy differs from magic in the sense that the former is a deformation of belief whereas the latter is the degradation of moral practice. Witchcraft in the Middle Ages never amounted to a set of religious beliefs, remaining only a body of pseudo-scientific practices used for motive of personal interest.
Folk magic and primitive religions are two different things and Christianity, at least until the mid-thirteenth century, never linked magic with heresy. Magic was considered as a crime or, at worst, as communication with the demons, but never was it thought of as attacks on Christianity as a whole, whereas heresy was. Magicians were considered as negligible and ignorant, dealing mainly with people of low social level, or with nobles of limited education. witchcraft, in other words, was of little interest to important people until the end of the Middle Ages and the bishops treated it as a normal moral illness of their believers.
“Ceremonial magic” was widely used in the houses of the important people from the end of the thirteenth century to well into the Renaissance, but it was mainly astrological and divinatory and not linked to alchemy. It could lead to serious criminal charges in case of idol worshipping that was considered heresy; this was the base of the case against the Templars. Pope Boniface VIII (1294-1303) was accused of being a heretic, an unbeliever, a simoniac, a magician, and the patron of sorcerers. It was solved when the King of France, Philip the Fair, sent an emissary (Guillaume de Nogaret) on a secret mission in Italy. On 7 September 1303 Nogaret took over the town of Anagni and arrested the Pope. His followers liberated him before he could be taken to France, but he died a few days later (12 October 1303) of shock, a defeated and disgraced man. Guillaume de Nogaret was the prosecutor against Pope Boniface VIII, and later again the Templars although he was excommunicated by Boniface’s successor, Benedict XI (1303-1304), and Pope Clement V (1305-1314) did not clear him. Accusation of witchcraft, sorcery, and magic activity became current against the French and English Courts after 1307 and until the seventeenth century. Pope John XXII (1316-1334) initiated also many trials, political and not, based on accusation of heresy, witchcraft, conspiracy, and sorcery.
The dissolution of the Templar Order was well accepted at the time, as they were not popular, being thought of as hypocrite, avaricious and distant. However very few people believed that they were guilty of witchcraft and heresy, and would rather believe that Philip the Fair destroyed them in order to steal their possessions.
In a Renaissance handbook of magical theory, “De Occulta Philosophia”, Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim, better known as Agrippa, said that the Templars, the Gnostic magicians, the heretic Bogomiles, and the witches were no different. At that time witches had been hunted and condemned for their witchcraft for more than two centuries. Putting the Templars on the same level as the witches, the pagans, and the heretics was to accept their culpability as black magicians. The already bad fame of the Templars worsened as the accusation of being perverted Christian black magicians was very serious, and destroyed their already shaky reputation in the eyes of many people. A Renaissance French writer, Paradin, also linked the Templars to witchcraft and magical activities. Only Jean Bodin took their defence stating that they had been unjustly condemned and killed on the base of fabricated charges, as early Christians and Gnostics had been before them.
Voltaire, in the eighteenth century, took the same position as new ideas began to surface, dispelling a millennium of credulity and false belief in favour of a critical renewal of knowledge that had been filtered by the Church. Even the history of the Templars went through this process of revision. In fact, in this century there was a new interest for the Orders of Chivalry, and the governments soon started to sell this new knightly ranks and to absorb these new rich people (lawyers, merchants, civil servants, …) in castes that support the established authorities.
In the middle class, FreeMasonry appeared and grew instantly. The Craft of FreeMasonry was one of the more visible manifestations of the age of Reason. This was typical of the time because it stood for rationalism, deism, and benevolence but also because of its ambiguity and mystery. It was, in some way, an emanation of the British clubs. It became important during the first three decades of the eighteenth century and its members were obliged to submit themselves to the civil power in charge. Its ideology, deist but non-confessional, was founded on the metaphors of the architecture of the universe, and the building of the Temple. Masons were assumed to be instructed and enlightened, but non-necessarily learned, and this distinguished them from the various “academies” of the time. Freemasons were obliged to show some degree of social awareness but it was also a “mystery”, that is a Craft of life that claimed the same protection of professional secrecy that the artisan-Craftsmen had received. Inside the Masonic lodge all brothers were said to be equal, but there was some ranks within the organisation to distinguish them, and the language of social status was used in the lodge. They called each other “gentleman” (gentilhomme in France) when this word was incompatible, for instance, with that of “merchant”. The qualification of Masonic Knight was therefore naturally seen as a sign of social distinction. Masons used historical fancy in the service of a new idealistic symbolism in which the historical symbolism of chivalry was an obvious system of metaphors on which to draw as many people. Masons or not, viewed participation in FreeMasonry as a sign of social prestige. There was however no reference to the Knightly Orders in early English Masonic constitutions. The Chevalier Ramsey, a Scotsman of humble origin and a Catholic Jacobite resident in France, became the secretary and literary executor of the French writer and churchman Fénélon. He was knighted in an Order with historical connections with he Crusades, the Order of St Lazare. In 1736 he spoke to the French Masons, analysing the aims and principles of the young organisation which he greatly influenced in continental Europe.
From its beginning a few years before 1734, French Masonry attracted the highest French aristocracy. This was perhaps due to the fact that the French lodges, in their early life, had had Scottish peers as Grand Masters. The Craft was supposed to have grown from “operative masons”. As this was not acceptable to the French aristocrats, Ramsey gave FreeMasonry a fictitious crusading origin, saying in fact, that some medieval crusaders had been stoneworkers and knights at the same time. He also linked the internationalism of FreeMasonry to the crusaders of various origins (“our ancestors, the Crusaders, who had come from all parts of Christendom to the Holy Land, wanted to group persons from every nation in a single spiritual confraternity, …”) as well as to their secret symbolism and code of recognition. In clear Ramsey was saying that the Masons had access to ancient wisdom that was, in part, of biblical origin and linked to the Old Testament patriarchs and the builders of the Temple. He also included Egyptian and Greek mysteries and other secrets of the pagans, all of which had been purified and legitimised by their transmission through the Christian crusaders. Masonic meetings belonged to a moral Order of high antiquity that recalls sublime truths in an atmosphere of pleasant social pleasure. The masons of the crusades were not mere artisans, but “religious and warlike princes who wished to enlighten, edify, and build up the living Temples of the Most High”.
Ramsay also traces a supposed history of the Lodges during the Middle Ages. Kings and Princes founded lodges on their return from the crusades but all fell in disuse with the exception of those in England and Scotland that had enjoyed royal protection. To explain the British Masonic credentials to the French he said: “since then Great Britain has been the seat of our Order, the guardian of our laws, and the repository of our secrets”. As the crusades originated in France, FreeMasonry was, in a certain way, coming home in its right place in a Catholic country. In this way Ramsay succeeded to introduce FreeMasonry in France and to the ruling French nobles.
Ramsay did not mention the Templars at all. On the contrary he spoke of a close relation between the Crusader Masons and the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, who were said to have given the Masonic lodges the title of “Lodges of St. John”. This fitted well with the assumed noble origin of the Masonic movement, but the link with the Knights of St John is difficult to believe, if only because they still exist as “Knights of Malta” who deny that such a connection ever existed. On the other hand, the Templars were not in a position to deny any type of relation with the Crusader Masons, but Ramsay could not mention a Templar connection to the French who were responsible for their elimination.
Once the myth-making process had begun, and after that the crusaders has been said to be at the origin of the Masonic movement, it was only natural for the “speculative” Masons to draw the Templars in their assumed history and symbolic system. The Temple is at the centre of the Masonic architectural metaphor, and it is also a part of a chain of traditions between an earlier secret wisdom and a later one. This concept of a continuous tradition of spiritual knowledge and revealed truths is as vital to Christianity that it is to Masonry, and both of them base their doctrine on it. However, it is more important perhaps to the Catholics than to the Protestants who accept the idea of a break, to be repaired by a return to the original source of knowledge. Nevertheless it was easy to make the Templars play a part in this tradition.
Masonry is based on the assumption that the stonemasons of the Gothic period, or Middle Ages, prepared the way for the “speculative” Masons of the eighteenth century. In that century, Gothic and Chivalry were in favour, both as visual-arts and as literature, even if the approach was sometimes ambiguous. The Freemasons had some difficulties to follow the intellectuals of that period, and their doctrine was only in part influenced by the fashion of the day. Its approach to psychology was primitive and rather similar to an outdated view of chivalry from the sixteenth century. The Freemasons accepted the metaphorical interpretation of the Gothic tales. On the other hand, FreeMasonry was typical of its time in its attitude to the dramatic and the playful. The strange language of some Masonic rituals, the blindfolding and the dramatic closing of the entrances, the blood curdling oath of secrecy were not strange to people who enjoyed the theatre. The sceptical ritualism, the sociability, the music, and the symbolism of the lodges were not in contradiction with the real life of the middle class people of the eighteenth century. In the lodges, grownup men played out their boyish fantasies, miming dreams of nobility and rites of power. They were temples where men could take their first steps in a new religious attitude to life.
The connection between knighthood and Masonry led to a change in the Masonic “degrees”. The original three degrees of Masonic initiatory ceremonies – Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason- were taken from the practices, assumed or real, of the “operative” stonemasons. Ramsay’s idea to link the Masons with the Crusading Knights of the past led to the introduction of “higher” degrees (haut grades) of Masonry based on the concept of Mason-Knights who had advanced in esoteric knowledge. These advanced degrees were “certified” by the lodge, and each of them was assigned a knightly title. Ramsay’s suggestion, that Masonic secrets had been preserved in Scotland during the Gothic period, explains why these higher degrees are called “Scottish” at the suggestion of the French Masons. The lodges that awarded higher degrees were known as “Red lodges”, whereas those that only gave the three original degrees were known as “Blue lodges”. The Red lodges were more esoteric than the Blue ones and the Red Masonry can also be seen as a return to more traditional ideas of hierarchy and social order. FreeMasonry -and more so the blue one- was a kind of qualified equalitarianism in the stratified eighteenth century, in the sense that all members noble or poor- had to go through all the grades starting at the bottom. In the Red, or Scottish FreeMasonry, this concept of equality was disappearing as the lower grades were subordinated to the higher, who had access to wisdom and secrets denied to the lower grades. It allowed the nobles to retain their knightly status, although the commoners could join them usually by paying for the privilege. This was a kind of transfer to the Masonic lodges of the outside social situation.
The higher degrees were so esoteric that spiritual leaders of all sorts, true ones as well as magicians and charlatans joined Masonry for their own interest. Those unscrupulous leaders who controlled a Red Lodge could make money out of it by selling the grades, and quite a few did. The eighteenth century, the Age of Reason, was also a period of superstition, especially in Germany where the Alchemists were numerous. The dishonest ones took the opportunity to make money out of their esoteric knowledge, trying to dominate the rich and powerful. The higher grades allowed the imaginative charlatans to devise ways to defraud their Masonic Brethren.
The birthplace of Templarism was Germany where the equalitarian and rationalist doctrine of FreeMasonry was not well accepted by the old fashioned, and rank-dominated, society. There was a need there for a more conservative doctrine. During the Seven Years War, a French prisoner in Germany and a German pastor, Samuel Rosa, proposed a Templar myth to serve the ritual needs of the Masonic lodges. A so-called Scottish nobleman, George Frederick Johnson, with access to the Templar secrets, created another myth around 1760. Another such myth, whose authors are unknown, is described in a German manuscript written in French, “De la maçonnerie parmi les Chrètiens”.
A Calabrese Abbot, Joachim of Flora, presented the oldest Templar myth during the twelfth century. According to him the history of the world is divided into a number of epoch, each with its own spiritual characteristics. The concept was adopted by the Templar myth makers who claimed that the operational epoch of the Templars in the east was the fifth in world history, and that the sixth started with the execution of the Templar Grand Master in 1314. The same myth claimed that the Templar Grand Masters had special wisdom and knowledge coming from the Jewish sect of the Essenes. Jacques de Molay, the last Templar Grand Master, was given the Masonic name of Hiram, the name of the murdered builder of the Temple of Solomon. In this way this ancient knowledge and wisdom was transferred to Scotland and to the New Templarist Masons. George Frederick Johnston claimed that he had possession of this knowledge and wisdom.
These Templar myths were used to create new noble titles of various levels on a huge scale. This concept of subordination and obedience in a secret knightly society fascinated many men all over the world and led them to accept the most foolish and absurd titles and duties. It also made George Frederick Johnston very rich. It is not clear if the New Templars were a good or a bad thing for FreeMasonry. The creation of the “grades of Vengeance” was certainly a negative aspect. These grades were created to assemble an “army” that would seek vengeance for the murder of Hiram as Solomon had chosen some masters to do the same thing before. The real problem comes to light when one remembers that the last Templar Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, had been identified as Hiram. By killing Hiram the King of France made the monarchy of the eighteenth century the enemy of FreeMasonry, and the members of the “grades of vengeance” were still committed to avenge the murder of the Temple-builder, Hiram.
Hermeticism, in the sense of an interpretation of the universe based on occult premises, had been a widely accepted part of Renaissance intellectual life. The Newtonian mechanistic view of natural philosophy drove the old “sciences”, such as alchemy, into disrepute, even if Newton practised it. Newton’s philosophy appeared to split the universe into discrete units casually connected, so that it became like a machine and this was distasteful to many eighteenth century men. They still liked the idea of the “soul of the world” in which nature was a vital, organic whole. It is therefore not surprising that Templarism was so successful in an environment in which such ideas were powerful. The Templar movement, like the rest of the Scottish Masonry, was more extravagant in spirit that the original sober British Blue Masonry, even if Templarism was also exported to the Anglo-Saxon world. There were Templar lodges in the USA in 1769 and in England by 1778. In Germany, aristocratic and fanatical mystery men, deeply affected by alchemy and occult practices, led the new Templars. The hope of acquiring material gain from transmutation of metals was a big factor in the recruitment of their adepts. The main organiser of German Templarism, who came close to control the whole German FreeMasonry, was Karl Gotthelf von Hund. He was not a charlatan like Johnson or Rosa but more of a self-deluded fanatic. He studied Masonry in France and he produced his own Templar myth at the same time as the others. As a youngster he was converted to Catholicism, but this was only a phase of his life before being involved full time in Templarism, and spending most of his fortune on it. He was especially good in organising the movement and in imposing his own discipline on the lodges. He thought of nine Templar provinces, two of them in Germany. Each had a Master and a Supreme Moderator and, among the brothers, there were six and then seven grades. Membership of the lodges was restricted to nobles and “suitable” commoners. At the top of his organisation was the unidentified “Unknown Superiors” who had to obey Hund’s orders without discussion, especially with regard to the delivery of scientific information about alchemy. The attraction of Hund’s Templarism was not limited to research for divine knowledge, but it also acted as a clearinghouse about alchemy that deal with elixirs of life as well as transmutation of metals. The hope to find the lost treasure of the Templars was also mentioned. Another aim was the recovery the ownership of the Templar properties given to the Order of St John of Jerusalem, now known as the Knights of Malta. The new members were also charged admission fees to all grades; this went, in part, to the organisation but, also, to the Masters of the lodges. Hund’s Order was called the “strict observance”, and it did not fear the competition of the other Templar orders of Johnson and Rosa that soon disappeared of the scene, and Hund’s “Strict Templar Observance” dominated German Masonry. The German princes who courted him were hoping to obtain transmuted gold and political influence in return.
Soon afterwards Hund’s authority was challenged by Johann August Stark, the son of a Protestant pastor, who created a new Templar rite, not of Templar Knights but of Templar “clerks”. They had, of course, a pseudo-historical tradition based on an organisation of canons, or Clerks, of the Temple inspired by the Rosicrucians, and in possession of secret knowledge originating within the Essenes. Starck said that during the Middle Ages, the Templar clerks had a corporate existence separate from that of the Templar order, although this was wrong. This created a split between the nobles and the commoners in eighteenth century Masonry that found its origin within the social context of the time. Like the Renaissance Occultists, Starck believed that the source of occult knowledge was to be found in the East, and more precisely in Persia, Assyria and Egypt. In the same line, Cagliostro founded the “Egyptian Masonry”, and even Henry Cornelius Agrippa of Nettesheim was said to have been a “clerk of the Temple”. In his Templar ritual Starck emphasised the magical elements which he thought could be found in the Templars. For instance he stated that the Templars had worshipped the magical image called “Baphonet”, and he used it in his initiation ceremonies. Starck asserted that he had found the secret information for his order in the “Province of Auvergne” in France and in a Templar chapter in Russia, and this was enough to attract the pompous German nobles. Starck order was very successful but he was not a charlatan always trying to steal money from his adepts. On the opposite, Starck was a serious and learned man who was using Masonry to further his own academic and religious career.
The German Templarism had however reached its maximum level and soon was loosing members in favour of the “Swedish System”. A conference in 1772 confirmed the existing arrangements between Hund’s “Strict Observance” and Starck’s “Templar Cannons”. Hund was obliged to leave and the Duke of Brunswick became the “Great Superior” of the order that he dissolved four years later. In 1780 Starck left also the direct control of his order to become a Court Preacher and the “Strict Observance” order started to fade away.
Templarism and the rest of Masonic chivalry were always a little at odd. Starck himself asked “What is the use of Masonry if it is nothing but a continuation of medieval chivalry? If that is so, it is a purposeless, laughable institution”. A knight in full armour was understandable in medieval times, but now it was an object of derision. To link FreeMasonry with medieval chivalry is to think in a way that has no relation with our time. Starck’s creation of the Templar Clerks shows how difficult it is to place the theosophical parables in proper perspective. He did not invent them only for his own profit and advancement. He belonged to a generation that wished to understand reality through esoteric poetic metaphor.
The Strict Templar Observance was not dead when the Duke of Brunswick became its “Superior”. It was still popular in Italy and Switzerland, and in France its doctrines were taken over by the “Elus Coëns” at Lyons. He sent a mission to Italy to identify the “Unknown Superiors” but nothing came out of it, and the Templar Masonic groups continued to split. Brunswick organised a last conference of the “Strict Observance” in 1782. The rituals of the Order were boring, the alchemists had not made any discovery, the Templar treasure would never be returned to them, and the “Unknown Superiors” remained unknown. The meeting decided that it was not proved that the Strict Observance was the legitimate successor of the medieval Templar Order, that the memory of the Templars should be preserved in a simpler way, and the main thesis of occult continuity was abandoned.
Various Masonic groups tried to attract the “Templars” among them the mystical lodges of Lyons led by Willermoz and the “Bavarian Illuminati” of Adam Weishaupt. Weishaupt wanted to modernise the German society by using the secrecy and social discipline of the Masonic lodges. He liked the Masonic organisation and, especially, the well-defined grades of illumination as well as the doctrine of obedience to unknown superiors. He created an organisation on these bases but it never had any practical influence, and it soon disappeared in 1785. The “Bavarian Illuminati” were not the continuation of the “Strict Observance”; their spirit and purpose were completely different. The Illuminati are now considered as the first exponents of the modern conspiracy theory.
Voltaire too contributed to the modern conspiracy theory, but for him the “conspiracy” lay in the unreasonable cruelty of a government, which try to eliminate supposed political enemies. To him, the Templars had been the object of such a “conspiracy” between the King of France and the Pope to destroy them, although they were innocent. Conspiracy theory became a propagandist weapon of the post-Revolution conservatives, and the Templars played a big role in it. In reaction to Voltaire’s theory that the Templars were the victims of the King and Pope’s conspiracy, the conservatives claimed that the Masonic-Templars were conspiring against the government. At their big and important Wilhelmsbad Convent, the New Templars realised that their asserted continuity, even if it was a myth, with the medieval Templars could bring them under political suspicion. This was confirmed two years later when the scandal of the Bavarian Illuminati broke out, as some of their members had been former Strict Observance Templars. This proved to be fatal to Templarist reputation as, among the Bavarian Illuminati papers, the authorities found enough information to accuse the Templars of almost everything. Among other things, the Templars were accused to have been a cover for the real political agitators among the Illuminati. The Templar Masons were thought to be the heirs of the early Gnostics through the medieval Templars. The Italian impostor, “Count Cagliostro” (in fact Giuseppe Balsamo of humble origin) was brought before the Roman Inquisition in 1789. To defend himself, he accused the New Templars of any guilt that he could think of. According to him, the Templars and the Illuminati were subject to a “High Observance”, an organisation that wanted to avenge the execution of the last Templar Grand Master in 1314, by destroying the catholic religion and all the monarchical institutions.
The outcome of the French Revolution led also to new accusations against the Templars. Nicholas de Bonneville, a revolutionary and a Mason, attacked the Scottish and Templar Masonry, the legend of the Unknown Superiors, and the Templar treasure. He also claimed that the Jesuits were the inspirers and organisers of the templarist Masonry. In fact, at that time, any theory of Templar vengeance against the French monarchy was bound to be popular. According to Abbé Augustin de Barruel, a Jesuit, it did not matter if the medieval Templars were guilty or not, or whether they were, or were not, the fathers of Masonic doctrine; it was enough, to establish the guilt of the masons, that they claimed the Templars as ancestors! However he thought that the medieval Templars were guilty as charged, and that the evil doctrine of the early Gnostics passed through the Cathars and the Templars to the Masons.
In the nineteenth century, the Masonic Templars have been accused of having bad dreams about the Middle Ages and the Templar myth was still well alive. It was, in fact, one of the few occasions when a branch of FreeMasonry seemed to renounce its ambiguous status to become a religion, but neo-Templarism failed to make the transition, and remained a short-lived sect. Templarism started in Germany and it died there at the end of the eighteenth century to come back to life in France at the time of Napoleon. Chivalrous Masonry was encouraged by the French government as a way to attract the nobles and to control them. Nodier, the writer, said that the Freemasons of this period were politically harmless, despite their number, because the movement was negative, powerless, and frivolous. The Utopian revolutionary Masonry of de Bonneville and the Illuminati was dead.
The new French Temple depended on a mixture of fantasy and forgery, as its German predecessor. Ledru and Bernard Raymond Fabré-Palaprat took care of this. Ledru, probably, made the forgery while Palaprat wanted to found a heterodox religious as a mean to reconcile mystical illuminism with “science”. He swallowed the obvious forgeries and fabrications with avid credulity and pursued the Templarist dream with passion. In addition, he was a good organiser. In 1804 Ledru “found” a “new medieval charter” dated 1324 and written by the then Templar Grand Master, John-Mark Larmenius, that linked the old Templars to their Masonic successors. There was also a list of the successive Grand Masters that is, of course, different from the list of “Scottish” Grand Masters fabricated by the German Strict Observance Templars. The forgery was obvious but it persuaded the French nobles to join the new Templar organisation in large number. The charter imposed a secret writing to be used by the Knights to communicate between them.
The New Templarism was associated with a Masonic lodge, the Chevaliers de la Croix, that was affiliated to the Grand Orient de France, and whose members were mainly from the highest French nobility. On the contrary to most Masons, the New Templars had a taste for public display. For instance, in March 1808 they celebrated a public requiem in the church St Paul in Paris for the Old Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, on the anniversary of his execution. Dressed in full uniform, they were led by the Grand Master Fabré-Palaprat and, in the presence of a detachment of French troops, the ceremony was made more or less official.
Fabré-Palaprat’s Templars were not really Masons. They even said so to the Grand-Orient Lodge in 1811, although their connection with the Chevalier de la Croix remained, and the nature of their break with Masonic organisation is not clear. Fabré-Palaprat tried to dominate his order as Hund had done before, but this was not so easy with the French aristocrats. He quarrelled with the Duke of Choiseul on the organisation and sent bulls of interdiction and excommunication to many members. His adversaries within the Order elected a rival Grand Master, Count Lepeletier d’Aunay, and for more than ten years the Order was divided. The French New Templars were very few compared with the German Strict Observance organisation. Their influence was limited to their lodge in Paris and to some contacts with one or two English lodges. After the war, Admiral Sir William Sidney Smith, who fought against Napoleon, tried to organise a new international Christian Chivalrous order, which would have replaced the then-moribund Order of St John of Jerusalem. He asked the British Government to give Malta to his organisation. He aimed to create a fleet to fight the pirate and the slave trade in the Mediterranean Sea with the help of the New French Templars and the Chevaliers de la Croix. He would then have the requisites to ask the restitution of the Templar treasures given to the Hospitallers in 1312. Useless to say that the government did not listen to his suggestion and kept Malta under the British flag.
Fabré-Palaprat was more realistic and took the neo-Templars in another direction. He got hold of a seemingly old manuscript (but of recent and unknown origin) written in Greek, the Levitikon, that was a heavily modified version of St John’s Gospel. In it the miracles and the Resurrection had been eliminated and Christ was presented as an initiate of the higher mysteries trained in Egypt. God is seen as existence, action and mind, and morality as rational and benevolent conduct while cosmos is a hierarchy of intelligence as the ancient Gnostics. Initiation is central in the transmission of divine knowledge, and Christ transmitted to John, the best-loved Apostle, the knowledge revealed in this Gospel. From there it went to the Patriarchs of Jerusalem and to their descendants until 1118 when the Templars took it over, and kept it alive through their Grand Masters until 1312. It was then given to their successors, the New Templars that still have it to day.
Fabré-Palaprat reorganised the Levitikon’s doctrine in 1828 under the name of the “High Initiation”, or the “Holy Church of Christ”, or still the “Church of the Primitive Christians”, a secular religion of that time that still exists somehow in France now. It was an academic, didactic faith that became even more bookish after it tried to free itself from Masonry and created its own church. This was difficult under the Bourbon monarchy but it became easier after the 1830 July revolution at which Fabré-Palaprat played an active part. Ferdinand Chatel created his own “French Catholic Church” independent of Rome and, when it became associated with the Neo-Templar Johanite Church, Chatel became its first “Primate” in 1831. However the alliance between Chatel and Fabré-Palaprat did not last long and Chatel was expelled an “tried” for heresy! The nobles who preferred the old tradition of Masonic chivalry left the new church led by the Duc de Choiseul again. The British retired admiral, Sir William Sidney Smith, joined the Johanite church of which he became Regent when Fabré-Palaprat died in 1838. In the early 1840’s the Johanite religion faded away as well as the Neo-Templar Order. Nevertheless it was the first time that Masonry emerged of its lodges to become a religion. But it did not last because the new church was still faithful to the Masonic idea of “high initiation”.
In the mid-nineteenth century, Masonic chivalry revived in the USA through the ideas of an eccentric Civil War General, Albert Pike but, as in Europe at that time, it was confined to the secretive Masonic lodges. Its influence on the cultural life of that time was negligible. The Masonic Templar tradition, however, flourished, especially when it went out of the hands of professed Masons, but it lost quite a lot of its respectability. (1)
The Templars had an early ally in Saint Bernard who won them the favour of the Pope. The rules of the Order were based on those of the Cistercian monks. The knights had to take a vow of celibacy and to renounce all material possessions whereas the Templar Order was allowed to accumulate properties, money, and power. This was an independent monastic order accountable only to the Pope. Their Grand Master had complete authority over all the knights. Their symbol was a galloping horse ridden by two men. They received many gifts as well as tax exemptions.
The Templars were active warriors; they not only protected the pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land but they also fought against the Moslems, and they were very good at it. They built many fortresses and became the main bankers of Europe. They were so rich that they were able to lend money, and charge interest, to the kings as well as to many states. This accumulation of wealth led to corruption. The aristocracy soon started to hate them for their arrogance and independence of common law while the working people hated them for the unfair advantages they had in business, allowing them to undercut others’ prices due to their tax exemption.
The Holy Land was lost to Christianity at the end of the thirteenth century and the Templars were the last to leave. Their reason for existence was lost, but they continued their financial activity in Western Europe. King Philip IV of France borrowed money from them to finance his wars and, instead of repaying them, he destroyed the Order and confiscated as much of the Templars’ wealth as he could. To destroy them outside France he needed the collaboration of Pope Clement V, his protégé. To please the French King, the Pope accused the Templars of heresy. The French Templars and their Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, were arrested on 13 October 1307 and their properties were confiscated.
As the Templars had kept their initiation ceremonies secret it was easy to accuse them of heresy and unmoral practices such as worshipping of a object called Baphonet, homosexuality, spitting or urinating on the cross, and to renounce Christ. Their trial by the Inquisition lasted seven years. They were submitted to cruel torture and many were burned at the stake like their Grand Master in 1314. Pope Clement V dissolved the Order but, as they were in good terms with the Spanish and Portuguese governments they were able to transfer to new orders created for them in these two countries. These were the Order of Montesa in Spain and the Order of Christ in Portugal that still exist today but only as titles of honour for deserving people.
Officially the Templar Order was abolished but many people believe that the Knights continued to exist in secret and that they played an important part in the development of the esoteric traditions. Among others the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons are said to be Templar’s creations. To day many occult organisations claim that they inherited their secret teachings from the Knight Templars. (7)
Jacques de Molay was born in 1244 in a family of minor nobles in Eastern France. He joined the Templars when he was 21 years old and became their Grand Master in 1292. The Holy Land was again under Moslem rule by that time but the Templars were still a very powerful and rich Order with a good army, a substantial navy, a good international trading organisation, and a banking system. In fact the Order was one of the most powerful organisation in the Christian world, equal or perhaps bigger than the Vatican. Their initial treasures came from Herod’s Temple but they added much to it later on. The Templar Order reported to the Pope but it was a French organisation. The French king was then Philip IV, better known as “Philip the Fair”, who wanted to use the Pope for his own advantage, but Boniface VIII was not easily manipulated. They fell out and Philip was excommunicated. The Pope threatened to put the country in a state of “interdiction” that would prevent most religious activities in France such as baptism, communion, absolution, and Christian burial. If the Pope had done this, Philip knew that he would have been replaced. He sent some soldiers to Italy in September 1303 and they captured Boniface in Anagni; but they were unable to bring him to France. They mistreated him in such a way that he died soon afterwards. The new Pope, Benedict XI, was close to France at first but grew apart as the King’s requests increased. Philip the Fair had him murdered. His successor, Clement V, was chosen in 1305 by Philip who controlled him, and through him, Western Christendom. Philip was now able to tax the French clergy and to reduce his debts. Four years later Clement V moved his seat to Avignon where the popes lived for about 75 years.
On 22 July 1306 all the Jews in France were arrested and sent to exile, leaving their wealth behind that were soon transferred to the crown. This was not enough to please the King and he turned his attention to the fifteen thousand Templars who were by then much richer than the Jews. Philip ordered their arrest on Friday 13 October 1307. Many reasons were given to justify this action. Their leaders were accused of many sins: to be in secret alliance with the Moslems whose faith they would have adopted; to be heretical, cruel and sacrilegious men who killed or imprisoned the novices who tried to leave the Order; to teach the women they made pregnant how to procure an abortion and secretly murder their new-born children. It was also said that the novices were obliged to spit and trample upon the cross, to deny God, Christ and the Virgin Mary, to believe that Jesus was a man and not a god, to kiss their initiator on the mouth, navel, penis and buttocks, and to adore a statue named Baphonet. The Inquisition was given orders to extract confessions using any torture required, but they were not very successful. The Pope ordered all the countries to arrest and question their Templars but most were very reluctant to do it.
Jacques de Molay was personally accused to say that “Jesus was but a man”, that the Templars should “believe in the great omnipotent God who was the architect of heaven and earth, and not in the resurrection”. This statement does not fit with any theological belief of the time, but is typical of somebody initiated into a latter-day Order of Nasoreans as described in James’s messages found in the Temple Scrolls. This view comes from the true teaching of Jesus and predates the “crucifixion” cult of Paul adopted later on by the Roman Church. Jacques de Molay does not reject Jesus but he states clearly that there is only one God, one Supreme Being. The crucifixion is seen as Jesus’ martyrdom, a symbol of “faithfulness unto death” in the line of James’s Church, and similar to that of Hiram Abif. In summary, it can be said that, with the exception of the top leaders, most Knights Templar were faithful Catholics Order who considered their secret ceremonies to be complementary to their Christian faith as the Freemasons do. They were betrayed by a Church and a Pope that they had served well, and by a king who wanted their wealth.
To confess crimes that he did not commit, and deny them later on, Jacques de Molay must have been tortured. He was scourged with a horsewhip, a crowd of thorns was pushed on his head, he was nailed on a cross and a knife was thrust into his side like Jesus Christ before. In these conditions Jacques de Molay confessed what the Grand Inquisitor of France, Guillaume Imbert, wanted to hear and he was taken off the cross to be placed on the burial shroud used in the initiations to perform the symbolic “resurrection” from the dead. Given the tortures that he went through his body left the traces that are still to be seen now on the “Turin Shroud”. The Inquisition was under strict order not to kill the Grand Master and the family of Geoffrey de Charney, the preceptor of Normandy, who was also tortured at the same time, took care of both of them.
The Qumranian/Masonic style shroud went with him to the family of Geoffrey de Charney where it was kept for fifty years after being washed. In 1357 the shroud was put on display at Livey and the image of de Molay’s body was very clear. However the first visitors already believed that they saw the picture of Christ after he was taken of the cross, as it is still the case for many people to day. However the Turin Shroud does not show the picture of Jesus Christ, but the shape of the tortured body of the Grand Master of the Templars, Jacques de Molay.
Many Templars escaped the destiny of Jacques de Molay and fled by boat from La Rochelle to Scotland and Portugal, and from there, according to some people, to America but there no real proof for this assumption. (8)