“To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your own path, and don't worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest”
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Freemasonry or Templar - You Choose
Ever since I became a Freemason I have always wondered how the Masonic fraternity became associated with the Templar’s. Of course my research hit upon many mythical and embellished stories, often with no basis in reality.
Not long ago I read a posting by another Brother; he was having a hard time deciding if the Templar path would conflict with his beliefs and that of the Templar’s. He is a Freemason, but does not follow a Christian path.
I, myself, found his predicament interesting.
I must admit I truly love Google Books, it was there I found this wonderful article written by a Brother in 1904, and I thought I would share it with you, and hopefully the Brother who was looking for a little Light on the subject.
"IN HOC SIGNO VINCES"
BY A KNIGHT TEMPLAR (1904)
ALTHOUGH the confraternity of Knights Templar is intimately identified with Freemasonry, no philosophical or metaphysical relation exists between them. Masonry is the most ancient of all religio-philosophical systems, but its real teachings are veiled in allegory and illustrated by symbols, while Templarism is primarily a Christian military order of comparatively modern origin.
According to the philosophy and science of masonry, man's whence and whither is a mystery whose solution is to be found only in the realm of the occult through the esoteric meaning of Masonic symbols and rites of initiation. That is the only key that will unlock the door that opens into the Divine Temple of Wisdom, wherein is found the purpose of individualized life.
On the other hand, Templarism teaches that the solution of the problem of life must be sought in the New Testament, and as interpreted by the Roman Catholic Church.
Masonry is a mystical religion-philosophy based on the law of evolution of the soul from the mind of Causation, God-like effects and attributes, which is symbolized in its beginnings by a "rough Ashlar," a shapeless stone, and in its finishings by a perfect Ashlar or cube, whose perfection is attested by the plumb, the level, the square and the compass.
Templarism rejects the doctrine of evolution and also the doctrine of an overruling Providence that directs the concerns of the universe and of humanity according to natural law, and holds that God's will and pleasure are manifested in His revealed word and expressed in miracles, which in turn are the basis of faith in the truth of God's doctrine of salvation through the atonement of Jesus the Christ, hence the vessels of the church and the means employed by the Lord Christ through his vicars and ministers are altogether sacred.
All this masonry rejects, and attaches sacredness to the esoteric or occult meaning of the numbers Three, Five, Seven and Nine, with Ten representing the Perfect Number, or the mystery of Causation or God to manifestation in individualized life. The initiate in esoteric masonry turns to philosophy, history, physical science, classical literature, ethics, art, architecture, esotericism and occultism for Light and Wisdom, and he should conform his conduct of life to the doctrine of the universal brotherhood of man and the interdependence of all that lives.
Templarism includes none of these declarations and obligations. It stands for war, religious conquest, the support of such Christian dogmas as are adopted and proclaimed by the Vatican, and the brotherhood of "those of the faith."
The symbolism of masonry, with its allegorical veiling, is co-existent with the beginnings of the Aryans, who were the first fruits of evolution's civilizing processes. Templarism was born of hatred of Islam, and was reared on efforts to recover the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem from the defilement of Mohammedan possession. There is, therefore, nothing in common between the origin and purpose of masonry and templarism, yet there is a bond of fraternal consanguinity, albeit it was originally the product of the need of mutual advantage and protection.
Nevertheless, esoteric masonry "has stood, stands and will stand,'' as Simon Magus puts it, for universal brotherhood and for still better conditions of existence for humanity, while templarism has stood, and in theory at least stands, and must stand for a brotherhood restricted to such Christians as proclaim allegiance to the authority of the Catholic Church. This every Knights Templar knows, for does he not know that he is in honor bound to "draw his sword in defense of the Christian religion," but for no other? And was not templarism born and christened in the Catholic Church? And does not "defense" mean full and unqualified acceptance of the miraculous birth, Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus? He is not a well-informed Mason, though, who does not recognize in the Magi who assembled about that manger in Bethlehem, Brothers of the White Lodge of Esoteric masonry giving loyal allegiance to the new "Worshipful Master."
The confraternity of Knights Templar of to-day includes three orders of knighthood, viz., Knights Templar, or Knights of the Temple; Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem and Knights of Malta. One of the orders is often called "Knights of the Red Cross," and it got that sobriquet from a fiery speech addressed to its members by the Pope on their departure for the seat of war, in which he said: "God wills it." "Let this word (of God) be adopted as your battle cry to animate the devotion and courage of the champions of Christ. His cross, as a symbol of salvation ; wear it, a red, bloody cross, as an external mark, on your breast and shoulders, a pledge of your sacred and irrevocable engagement."
The beginning of these Templar orders of knighthood dates from soon after the return of Peter the Hermit from a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulchre, which was about twenty years after the conquest of Jerusalem by the Turks—about 1095. Peter saw how the Turks were defiling the holy place and brutally treating Christian pilgrims, and in his wrath he cried : "I will rouse the martial nations in your cause," which he did, and for more than two centuries thereafter war raged most ferociously. Seven separate crusades were undertaken under the leadership of these three orders of Knighthood. How many men, women and children perished during those stormy times historians give no very clear estimate, but it is known that over 300,000 lives were sacrificed before the first crusade was fairly under way.
But the Templars grew so rich and so arrogant—exacting $5,000,000 annually from England alone— that the Vatican was obliged on many occasions to practically interdict the order. The order assumed the right to divide Europe into provinces and demand allegiance from kings and princes, and presumed to question the authority of the Vatican itself. This would indicate that the order grew to enormous numerical proportions, which it did. Its organization in the latter part of the Twelfth Century, when it was in its greatest power, was divided into commanders, knighted priests and serving brethren.
The latter were strong in numbers and when not serving in the ranks, they employed themselves at mechanical and common labor. As handicrafters they were very much like the building trades of to-day, with quite as much arrogance and contempt for the rights of property owners. And as to-day, they became, a terror wherever they were strong enough to override opposition.
The fraternity of operative Masons and they got along very nicely together, and a few centuries later practically amalgamated. In those days, operative masonry was a mechanical art and exoteric, but speculative masonry was esoteric and occult, and was patronized by many mystics, philosophers, scientists and scholars generally. All met together upon a common level when called from "refreshment”to “labor,’ but nowhere else was there a "common level," nor were the symbols ever given their esoteric meaning to professional craftsmen. The educated Templars naturally turned to the symbols in their deeper and occult meaning. It was in this way that masonry and Templarism became identified the one with the other.
But several centuries before these happenings, the Church anathematized the Templars, not, however, until Clement V had confiscated the order's vast possessions. Subsequently, John XXI agreed to the reintegration of the order and the restitution of its property if it would abandon its old name, pledge allegiance to Church authority in any event, and adopt the name of "Knights of Christ." Only a comparatively few Templars accepted the Pope's proposition. Those who refused banded together rather closer than ever, and defied the Church. This was in 1317, and from that time to the present day, Tempilarism as an order has been under the ban of the Vatican, although thousands of the-order adhered then, as they have since, to the Catholic faith, but for several centuries the Church has regarded the order as a harmless association of mostly non-Catholics, bent on social pleasures and spectacular display, with high-sounding official titles and splendid physical manhood that very much prefers the banquet hall to the field of carnage.
Nevertheless, in its transformation from what the "red, bloody cross" stood for to the fields of industry, commerce and social life, the order has become an association of gentlemen whose battle- cry is the cry of love, peace and good will to all men, which is, in fact, but the echo of the gentle voice of the mighty Nazarene.
To that, and for which Templarism was born of the vengeance of Peter the Hermit, has passed away, and like Peter himself, when he was a professional soldier, long since turned the sword of conquest and blood and death into ways and means to lighten the burdens of sorrow and distress in humanity's channels of going and coining. And now instead of oaths of vengeance, there comes from the triangular table of love and unity, libations of the wine of brotherly kindness, served in cups wrought from the heart's noblest attributes to heal, to cheer and to comfort. When the monk Peter of Amiens called for Knights Templar to rescue the Holy Sepulchre, religious fanaticism and fiery zeal for the Church were the requisite qualifications for knighthood.
To-day the requisite qualifications for Templar knighthood are sterling manhood, nobility of character and moral worth. The cross is still "red," but it is not "bloody," and still worn on breast and shoulders, but as "an external sign" of an inward pledge to be a manly man in every walk of life.
In time masonry, like Templarism, fell under the ban of the Vatican, and as "birds of a feather flock together," their amalgamation in one confraternity was natural. There was needed, however, some sort of a tangible connecting link between Masonry and Templarism to give them hereditary ties of relationship This difficulty was amicably adjusted by changing the history and traditions of one of the orders of the Templar fraternity, which was accomplished by injecting into the "initiation" the story of the Hebrew Prince Zerubbabel who, while in Persian captivity, persuaded King Cyrus to restore the Jews to liberty and permit them, with Prince Zerubbabel at their head, to return to Jerusalem and rebuild Solomon's Temple.
This, of course, connected and identified Templarism with "ancient temple masonry," which was founded by Solomon, Hiram and Abiff. Amalgamation was then made easy, but the precaution was taken that no one could be dubbed and created- a Knight Templar until he had journeyed to the East by the way of the South and West as Entered Apprentice, fellow craft and Esoterically this exotic initiation means, Initiate., Chela and Adept in the mysteries of life and death, or the progress of the soul up the mystic steps of Three, Five, Seven, Nine, to the Perfect Number, Ten. All these "secrets" were communicated exoterically to the Templars in exchange for the right of knighthood, but esoteric Masonry and its Path to occult wisdom were not revealed as "stock in trade," nor could they have been, for they lie in the realm of the soul, which, like death, must be entered alone, and few there be that enter there at all.
The Templars enriched the literature of masonry by the story of their daring exploits on a thousand battlefields, and of Peter the Hermit, of Godefroi de Bouillon, of Hugo de Fayence, of Godefroi de Amour, who united monkhood and knighthood ; or De Molay, of De Villiers, of Henry le Brun, of "Walter the Penniless," of "Dames Chevaliers," and of scores of other mighty men and noble women who have held the Red Cross aloft and inspired the faithful to do and dare in heroic effort to rescue the "Sepulchre of our Blessed Lord from the foul and brutal touch of accursed Mohammedans."
But the templars found a vast deal more in the history and traditions and mysteries of masonry. They found masonry so ancient that it was reflected in the laws of Moses and Menés and Manu, in the Vedas, in the Zend Avesta, in the Sutras, in the religio-philosophies of ancient Greeks, Persians, Romans, Egyptians, Hindoos, in the ceremonies of Osiris and Isis, the Druids, Brahmin high class, Essenes, Stoics and Prophets of Israel. They found, too, that esoteric masonry was well understood by Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Homer, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Saints John the Evangelist, John the Baptist, Paul and Luke, by the earlier dignitaries of the Catholic Church, by the Hermetic philosophers, by the Rosicrucian’s, by, indeed, the philosophers, astronomers, mystics and religionists of all ages.
The amalgamation of operative masonry and craft templarism gave the confraternity control of the building industry of Europe, and also encouraged the revival of the best and most imposing of the architecture of the ages. And although the union of craft masons and craft templars gave to Europe the best mechanical art and building skill that the world has seen, the confraternity often used its power tyrannically. It was, in short, a building trades trust, beside which the one in America seems as a mole hill to a mountain; but, then, there were few tradesmen other than those engaged in erecting buildings in those days. And it may be said that all the palaces, churches, cathedrals, towers and walls of Europe that were erected before the eighteenth century, were the products of the architectural genius, decorative art, mechanical skill and painstaking labor of the Masonic-templar confraternity of building tradesmen. Painting, sculpture, pottery, frescoing, music, drawing, and the other fine arts, were included in the handiwork of the craft, with classic literature as a stimulant to the revival of esoteric masonry and occultism. but within the ranks of the fraternity. This led to application for membership and the initiation of royalty, the nobility, the gentry and the foremost scholars and thinkers of Europe. But then, as now, only the delver into the deeper meaning of life knows where exotic masonry leaves off and esoteric masonry begins—where the veil of allegory is rent, revealing the occult meaning of the symbols.
And modern templarism has rather led in the noble work of restoring esoteric masonry to its original eminence as "Keeper of the Key of Divine Wisdom."