Sunday, September 24, 2006

Why Not, The Knights Templar?

Since no living person, really knows the true beginnings of Freemasonry, it's hard to understand why so many Masonic historians can not see the evidence pointing toward Freemasonry being a direct descendant of the Knights Templar? Of course, Masonry teaches every Brother to think for himself. After all, a historian is only one man with an opinion just like the rest of us. Maybe more educated, but then Education is only a tool. Owning a saw does not make a man a cabinet maker, nor does having an extensive education make a man's opinion infallible.

The following are some of the pieces of evidence that all Masons should consider when thinking about Masonry's beginnings.

On Friday the thirteenth of October 1307, Jaques de Molay Grand Master of the Templars, and sixty of his senior knights were arrested in Paris. At the same time many thousands of other Templars were arrested all over France. A few escaped arrest and simply fled the country.

Immediately after the first arrests the King sent agents to take possession of the Templar treasury. The great treasure (which was the objective of outlawing and arresting the Templars) had vanished without trace, as had almost the entire Templar fleet. French Masonic ritual indicates that Scotland was designated as the place of refuge or safe keeping for the Templar treasures.

In 1312, after the Council of Vienne, and under extreme pressure from King Philip IV, Pope Clement V issued an edict officially dissolving and outlawing the Knights Templar Order. Under threat of excommunication, the edict ordered every country's ruler to seize all Templar property for the Catholic Church and execute the Templars.

Most of the kings and nobles who had supported the Knights up until that time, finally gave in to the Pope’s orders and dissolved the order. However, most of them were not as brutal as the French. In England many Knights were arrested and tried, but not found guilty. The Templars found a relative safe haven in Scotland, since Robert the Bruce, the King of Scots, had already been excommunicated for other reasons, and couldn’t care less about the Papal commands.

Fast forward a hundred years to the Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland. Rosslyn Chapel was built by Sir William St Clair Last St Clair Earl of Orkney to house artifacts brought by the Knights Templar to Scotland in 1126. He was a direct descent of William de St Clair, the Last Templar Grand Master of Scotland Between 1118 and 1128. The Templars had excavated the ruins of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem and brought back artifacts.

This was proven in 1860 when the British Army Engineers mounted an expedition to Jerusalem. They excavated beneath Temple Mount and found many deep tunnels in which they also found and recorded Templar artifacts.

The layout of Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh Scotland, which was started in 1440, is an exact replica of the ground plan of the Third Temple, built in Jerusalem by Herod and destroyed in the First Century by the Romans. A statue in the Rosslyn Chapel that was carved at the time the Chapel was being built shows a man kneeling between two pillars. He is blindfolded and has a running noose about his neck. His feet are in a strange and unnatural posture and in his left hand he holds a bible. The end of the rope about his neck is held by another man who is wearing the mantle of a Knight Templar. This was two hundred and seventy years before the claimed founding of the Craft in England.

Degrees in the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite such as the Knight of Saint Andrew, the Knight of Rose-Croix, and the 32nd Degree in Consistory make reference to a "Masonic Knights Templar" connection.

A few more thoughts;

Why did the Templars completely disappear during the 1100's when they were in no danger in Scotland?

Why did Masonic Lodges develop in Scotland and England and spread to the aristocracy in Europe instead of working up from the stonemasons? There were many times more Cathedrals being built in France, Spain, Portugal, and Germany and many times more stone masons in Europe.

You can understand how the Knights Templar may have required blood oaths from it’s members, after 1307, to prevent revealing any information about the order, because they had been outlawed, on the pain of death throughout the Christian world by the Catholic Church, except in Scotland. But, why would stone masons require blood oaths from workmen to protect the secrets of building a church?

Why is the Masonic youth organization for young men, the Order of DeMolay, named after the last Grand Master of the Templar order, Templar Jacques de Molay who was executed?

Why is the Masonic Knights Templar, one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the United States, and the largest Templar order in the world? The Order's efforts include the "Knights Templar Eye Foundation", and the "Knights Templar Holy Land Pilgrimage".

Why is the Knights Templar the final order joined in the York Rite Masons. (Unlike other Masonic bodies which only require a belief in a Supreme Being regardless of religion, membership in Knights Templar is open only to Master Masons who promise to defend the Christian faith, as did the original Knights Templar founded in the 12th Century.)

Actually, some historians have make the connection between the Knights Templar and Masonry, such as John Robinson in Born in Blood and Dr. Robert Lomas in The Origins of Freemasonry.


Anonymous Laurence said...

I think you are exactly correct. Now I was raised at home #100, many years ago but have not been back. Still, it has been my sense that the rituals were much more then we were told. No dark secret there, just that the knowledge of what we were doing is lost.

It's good to see an interest and publication of those parts of Masonic ritual and history that we are free to share outside the lodge without breaking the commitments we made in the lodge.

7:57 AM  
Blogger John Sawyer said...

I've done some research, and have found this (I'm not a Freemason, so since you are, does any of this make sense to you? I'm sure I've probably got some of the details somewhat wrong):

Freemasonry, according to Thomas Paine (yes, that one), had its origins with the Egyptian religions and their builders, and incorporated Egyptian sun worship, astrology, etc. (hence the presence of these symbols, and references to them, in Masonic lodges and rituals); it later was involved in the construction of Solomon's Temple, where it picked up some more symbolism and ideas, and was later the origin of the Druidic religion, whose rituals are similar to some of those practiced in Freemasonry. Paine's treatise implies that this Druid manifestation of Freemasonry became the dominant one, but it had to go underground and pretend to be simply a builder's guild with a strong moral code after Christianity got big enough to persecute it for being a nature religion (or simply non-Christian). He also concludes that much of the secrecy still practiced by Freemasonry, has to do with its old need to hide its origins, out of fear of persecution. That may be true, but I think another reason for the continued secrecy is custom, and its use as a way of testing the allegiance of its members.

Check this web page for Paine's article:

When the Templars were persecuted out of business, they may have passed on some of their chosen tasks to the Freemasons (mainly to keep hidden some of the items the Templars brought back during their Crusades to the Holy Land). This is when (around 1390, or up to about 20 years later) the first known written documentation of Freemasonry's rules of conduct were set down (the Regius Poem, or Halliwell Manuscript). By this time, the Freemasons apparently were being less-persecuted by the Christian and Catholic churches, or so I assume, since they seem to have been more publicly practicing their craft by this time.

One of the next visible manifestations of Freemasonry, was in many of the plays by Shakespeare, in which there are many references to Masonic symbols, phrases, and rituals, which shows that Freemasonry was progressing further to shedding its fear of persecution, but still retained many secret ways of observing their old religion.

As you know, the modern structure of the Freemasons we see today, was established after this, in the early 1700s.

Today, Freemasonry code allows its members to worship god as they choose, which seems to be some accomodation for members who may not wish to be latter-day Druids, leaving the old rituals as moral learning exercises to edify members, rather than being a religion itself.

10:36 AM  

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