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Knights Templar

Category: Mystic groups and systems

The flag of the Knights Templar

One of the things that may puzzle you on looking through this section on mystic movements, is how many apparently secret groups there were during the Middle Ages and even up to our day, all using similar techniques to obtain a spiritual experience and all with similar, if not the same beliefs.  Why weren't they united under one banner?  And the reason is because of politics, persecution and roles.  This quote is about the eighteenth century mystics, but exactly the same was true of the Knights Templar, who were at their height in the Middle Ages:

The Comte de St. Germain - by Isabel Cooper-Oakley - [1912]
On the surface it would appear that better results might have been attained had all these small bodies been welded into one large Society. But in studying the history of the eighteenth century, the reason is evident. In Austria, Italy and France, the Jesuits were all-powerful and crushed out any body of people who showed signs of occult knowledge. Germany was at war, England also at war; any large masses of students would certainly have been suspected of political designs. The various small organizations were safer.

 

The  Knights Templar, or the Order of the Temple  were among the most famous of the western Christian 'military' orders.   Set up in the 1100s, the organization existed for nearly two centuries during the Middle ages.  Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to the order. 

They were not affiliated to any political group.  In theory, their only role was to fight against 'evil' and corruption, although the definition of evil appears to have been something of a source of debate at the time, as it is now.

Their principal and most obvious role was to protect the pilgrims who started to travel to the Holy Land from Europe during the Crusades, in order to visit the various sites of Jesus's activities. Officially endorsed by the Catholic church,  the Order became a favored charity throughout Christendom, and grew rapidly in membership and power. But behind the scenes, they played many other roles. 

Based on a mix of donations and business dealing, the Templars established financial networks across the whole of Christendom. They acquired large tracts of land, both in Europe and the Middle East; they bought and managed farms and vineyards; they built churches and castles; they were involved in manufacturing, import and export; they had their own fleet of ships; and at one point they even owned the entire island of  Cyprus.

 

The Order also introduced a number of quite innovative financial methods, one of which was the use of 'cheques'.  Money could be safely deposited in one place, and a cheque or financial order used to obtain money at the other end of the journey.  In this way, people could travel safely without having to carry large sums of money and avoid being robbed.

They were thus largely a Christian based organisation, but having said this, although recognising the need to stay on good terms with the Catholic Church for political and survival reasons, they were not part of the Church, but Christian mystics.  The distinction is very important.

The Templars and the Tarot

 

Now glance at the section on the Tarot.  The Major Arcana – covers what are called the greater secrets, or trump cards and consist of 22 cards without suits.  All these cards relate to the spiritual path.  There is a link here with the Sephirot and the letters of the Hebrew alphabet which only has 22 letters.

The Minor Arcana – or the lesser secrets) consists of 56 cards, divided into four suits of 14 cards each; ten numbered cards and four court cards. The court cards are the King and Queen, Knight and  Prince or Princess, in each of the four tarot suits. All these relate to roles.  In effect within the Great Work, each of us has a role and the cards of the Tarot are there to help us establish where we are on the spiritual path as well as what we should be doing to fulfill our destiny.

There are other roles.  But these roles are 'stand-alone'.  The person with that role is not part of any group or hierarchy, whereas the court cards depict a hierarchy.  The game of chess is  based on exactly the same roles.  The stand-alone roles are the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress and Emperor,  the Hierophant,  the Hermit,  the Hanged Man [mystic or saint], and the Fool.

Within the hierarchy, the knight has a very important role.  It is intended to be a defending role - not an attacking role.  As all mystic movements are based on the principle of 'don't hurt' the role is extremely tricky, as to defend, occasionally one must fight, which of necessity involves hurt.  But the Knight must never be the aggressor - the one who starts the hurt.  The Jedi Knights in Star Wars are - though fiction - very well thought out inventions depicting the true role and actions of a knight.  

 

Knights Templar and the Crusades

There is a widely held belief that the Knights Templar fought in the Crusades.  But this is not strictly speaking true.

The only time of outright war during the Crusades was in the time of Saladdin (1174-1193) the Sultan of Syria, when Sufis suffered and were persecuted and the Crusaders were fought. But at other times a form of ‘truce’ reigned. 

The Knights Templar set up many links with the Arabs and many Templars of higher rank were even initiated as Sufis.  It is through these links that mysticism was given a new boost and reintroduced secretly and in coded form back in the west.  There was thus recognition by one mystic group of the existence of another mystic group, the Sufis tending to be predominantly an Islamic group, although not exclusively so, there are Hindu sufis, for example.

Some Knights supposedly practising chastity, married whilst they were in the Middle east.  The 'chastity' is thus also an illusion, because what they tended to practise is sexual stimulation and peaking, both of which give the illusion of chastity, because the practitioners may not marry and no children result from these forms of spiritual practise.

 

those who stayed in the Middle east escaped to produce a
generation of new potential 'knights'

The downfall

But the Templar movement became just a bit too rich and powerful, and in 1307 Philippe the Bel, the financially insolvent king of France, in an act of vicious jealousy and spite,  ordered  scores of  French Templars to be simultaneously arrested.  The Templars were charged with apostasy, idolatry, heresy, obscene rituals and homosexuality, financial corruption and fraud, and secrecy.  Many of the accused confessed to these charges under torture, and these confessions, even though obtained under duress caused a scandal in Paris.  Here is a quote that explains a little more:

 

The elderly Grand Master Jacques de Molay, who had confessed under torture, later retracted his statement. His associate Geffroi de Charnay, Preceptor of  Normandy, followed de Molay's example and insisted on his innocence. Both men were declared guilty of being relapsed heretics, and they were sentenced to burn alive at the stake in Paris on March 18, 1314. De Molay  said as he died:

Dieu sait qui a tort et a pëché. Il va bientot arriver malheur à ceux qui nous ont condamnés à mort.
(translation : "God knows who is wrong and has sinned. Soon a calamity will occur to those who have condemned us to death").

Pope Clement died only a month later, and King Philip died in a hunting accident before the end of the year. 

Alfred Watson

The continuing role of the Templars

At the time of this dreadful persecution, most of the remaining Templars fled from France and some ended up in Scotland others in Switzerland.  Some Templars in other countries remained, but went underground.  It is from these roots that many Masonic Lodges were formed and a number of so called 'esoteric' or 'occult' groups. 

It was because of this desperate need for secrecy, that many of the most famous knights later obtained a reputation as magicians - they had to disappear and appear as if by magic and frequently changed their name to avoid being persecuted.

The Comte de St. Germain - by Isabel Cooper-Oakley - [1912]
In modern Freemason literature the effort is made to eliminate the name of the Comte de St Germain, and even, in some instances, to assert that he had no real part in the Masonic movement of the last century, and was regarded only as a charlatan by leading Masons.
Careful research, however, into the Masonic archives proves this to be untrue; indeed, the exact contrary can be shown, for M. de St. Germain was one of the selected representatives of the French Masons at their great convention at Paris in 1785. As one account says:
"The Germans who distinguished themselves on this occasion were Bade, von Dalberg, Forster, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick, Baron de Gleichen, Russworm, von Wöllner, Lavater, Ludwig Prince of Hesse, Ross-Kampf, Stork, Thaden von Wächter. . . . The French were honourably represented by St. Germain, St. Martin, Touzet-Duchanteau, Etteila, Mesmer, Dutrousset, d’Hérecourt, and Cagliostro." 

 The same category of names, but with more detail, is given by N. Deschamps.  We find Deschamps speaking of M. de St. Germain as one of the Templars. An account is also given of the initiation of Cagliostro by the Comte de St. Germain, and the ritual used on this occasion is said to have been that of the Knights Templar.

 

Of great interest too is the extent of these interconnected underground groups, all desperate to keep the principles and methods going.  As we can see from the following quote, all the mystic movements that followed on from the demise of the Mysteries were actually one in aims and principles, but many in terms of names:

The Comte de St. Germain - by Isabel Cooper-Oakley - [1912]
Evidently a visit was expected which had to be disguised; this gives a clue to the reason why M. de St. Germain was travelling in Leipzig and Dresden under that name of Comte Weldon. According to Cadet de Gassicourt, he was travelling member for the "Templars," going from Lodge to Lodge to establish communication between them. M. de St. Germain is said to have done this work for the Paris Chapter of the "Knights Templar." Investigation proves him to have been connected with the "Asiatische Brüder," or the "Knights of St. John the Evangelist from the East in Europe," also with the  "Ritter des Lichts," or "Knights of Light," and with various other Rosicrucian bodies in Austria and Hungary; and also with the "Martinists" in Paris.
It was to save themselves from persecution that these members called themselves "Free and Adopted Masons," and adopted the signs and words of Masonry. Undoubtedly the "Strict Observance" sprang from the most secret "Order of the Temple," a truly occult organisation in the olden time.  At the suggestion of the Comte de St. Martin and M. Willermoz the name was changed because of the suspicions of the police; the new one chosen was "The Beneficent Knights of the Holy City."

Here are some more names, all of which were devised in order to protect the innocent.

The Comte de St. Germain - by Isabel Cooper-Oakley - [1912]
The Canons of the Holy Sepulchre.
The Canons of the Holy Temple of Jerusalem.
The Beneficent Knights of the Holy City.
The Clergy of Nicosia in the Island of Cyprus.
The Clergy of Auvergne.
The Knights of Providence.
The Asiatic Brothers; Knights of St. John the Evangelist.
The Knights of Light.
The African Brothers.
Then there are groups of various Rosicrucian bodies widely spread in Hungary and Bohemia.

 

The Persecution never ends

Those on the spiritual path, the knights and those who wish to do good have always been persecuted by the established Churches, by governments and by individuals who are jealous of their abilities.  Burnt at the stake, tortured, hung on the cross, the most prominent and effective mystics and the most effective at combatting evil, are often put to death in the most dreadful ways by the very evil they seek to combat.

I am not a Mason, nor a member of a mystic group, so I have no need to defend them and no alternative motive.  But it chills me to the bone when I read the vitriolic diatribes that are still to be found on the Internet.  Even today, persecution still dogs the Masons and groups like the Martinists and Rosicrucians.  The secrecy that has had to be employed as a survival mechanism is probably still needed in some countries - sadly one of them is the USA.

The Comte de St. Germain - by Isabel Cooper-Oakley - [1912]
 It was in this year also that a group of Jesuits brought the wildest and most disgraceful accusations against M. de St. Germain, M. de St. Martin and many others, accusations of immorality, infidelity, anarchy, etc.
The charges were levelled at the Philaletheans, or "Rite des Philalètes ou Chercheurs de la Vérité," founded 1773 in the Masonic Lodge of "Les Amis-Réunis." Prince Karl of Hesse, Savalette de Lange (the Royal Treasurer), the Vicomte de Tavanne, Count de Gebelin, and all the really mystic students of the time were in this Order.
The Abbé Barruel indicted the whole body, individually and collectively, in terms so violent and on charges so unfounded that even non-Masons and anti-Mystics protested.
He accused M. de St. Germain and his followers of being Jacobins, of fomenting and inciting the Revolution, of atheism and immorality.
These charges were carefully investigated and rejected as worthless by J. J. Mounier, a writer who was neither Mystic nor Mason, but only a lover of honest dealing.
Mounier says: "There are accusations so atrocious, that before adopting them a just man must seek the most authentic testimony; he who fears not to publish them, without being in the position to give decided proofs, should be severely punished by law and, where the law fails, by all right-minded people." 

 

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