Mysteries of the Knights Templar
Rumors and Charges
"Public indignation was aroused by...charges of ...worshipping the devil in the form of an idol called Baphomet." Baphomet was "the Templar symbol of Gnostic rites based on phallic worship and the power of directed will. The androgynous figure with a goat's beard and cloven hooves is linked to the horned god of antiquity, the goat of Mendes." - Peter Tompkins, The Magic of Obelisks
"Some confessed that they had also worshipped an idol in the form of a cat, witch was red, or gray, or black, or mottled. Sometimes the idol worship required kissing the cat below the tail. Sometimes the cat was greased with the fat from roasted babies. The Templars were forced to eat food that contained the ashes of dead Templars, a form of witchcraft that passed on the courage of the fallen knights." - John J. Robinson, Dungeon, Fire and Sword (1991)
In the list of charges drawn up by the Inquisition against the Templars on 12 August 1308, there appears the following:
"Item, that in each province the order had idols, namely heads, of which some had three races and some one, and others had a human skull. Item, that they adored these idols or that idol, and especially in their great chapters and assemblies. Item, that they venerated (them). Item, that (they venerated them) as God. Item, that (they venerated them) as their Savior.... Item, that they said that the head could save them. Item, that [it could] make riches. Item, that it made the trees flower. Item, that [it made] the land germinate." Item, that they surrounded or touched each head of the aforesaid idols with small cords, which they wore around themselves next to the shirt or the flesh. Item, that in his reception, the aforesaid small cords or some lengths of them were given to each of the brethren. Item, that they did this in veneration of an idol. Item, that they (the receptors) enjoined them (the postulants) on oath not to reveal the aforesaid to anyone."
The Articles of the Accusations
"...They bestowed worship in their chapter on a heathen idol, variously described as to its physical characteristics, but known as a 'Baphomet[, which etymologically was the same word [in Old French] as 'Mohammed'. [Once or twice the form Mahomet is actually used by witnesses in the trial.] Like so many persecuted heretical groups of the past, they were said to hold their chapters only secretly and at night." "It was impossible for the Templars to have 'picked up in the East' the practice of worshipping an idol bearing the name of the Prophet Mohammed, since no such idol existed anywhere in the Levant, even among breakaway sects such as the Ismailis or the Druse. The idea that Muslims were idolaters was itself a part of another system of 'smears', the pejorative representation of the oriental world by western Christians." - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians
"In the Inquisition evidence there are several references to members of the order receiving on initiation a little cord that had been in contact with the 'head'." - Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin - The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?
Upon being initiated into the Order of the Peacock Angel (Yezidis),"a holy thread, of intertwined black and red wool, is put around the neck. Like the sacred thread of the Parsis and other ancient Middle Eastern cults, this must never be removed; and it sounds like the cord that the Templars were accused of wearing when the Order was suppressed as heretic." - Arkon Daraul, Secret Societies
Descriptions of the Idol
The idol was described by Philip the Fair as: "...a man's head with a large beard, which head they kiss and worship at all their provincial chapters, but this not all the brothers know, save only the Grand Master and the old ones." - Philip's instructions to his seneschals
During The Trial of the Templars in 1307 Brother Jean Taillefer of Genay gave evidence. He "was received into the order at Mormant, one of the three perceptories under the jurisdiction of the Grand Priory of Champagne at Voulaine. He said at his initiation 'an idol representing a human face' was placed on the altar before him. Hughes de Bure, another Burgundian from a daughter house of Voulaine, described how the 'head' was taken out of a cupboard, or aumbry, in the chapel, and that it seemed to him to be of gold or silver, and to represent the head of a man with a long beard. Brother Pierre d'Arbley suspected that the 'idol' had two faces, and his kinsman Guillaume d'Arbley made the point that the 'idol' itself, as distinct from copies, was exhibited at general chapters, implying that it was only shown to senior members of the order on special occasions." "The treasurer of the Paris temple, Jean de Turn, spoke of a painted head in the form of a picture, which he had adored at one of these chapters."
"Nearly all the brethren agreed that the head was bearded and had long hair, and the Templars, like the majority of their contemporaries, regarded long hair as effeminate, so the length of the 'idol's hair was remarkable for this, if for no other reason." - Noel Currer-Briggs, The Shroud and the Grail - A Modern Quest for the True Grail
According to the most consistent accounts, the idol was: "...about the natural size of a man's head, with a very fierce-looking face and beard." - Deposition of Jean Tallefer
"He went on to say that he could not describe it more particularly, except that he thought it was of a reddish color." - Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin - The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?
The mysterious object at one of the Templars' Paris ceremonies was "brought in by the priest in a procession of the brethren with lights; it was laid on the altar; it was a human head without any silver or gold, very pale and discolored, with a grizzled beard like a Templars." - Stephen of Troyes
"Other descriptions, clearly referring to copies, included mention of gold and silver cases, wooden panels, and the like. But the Paris head is different. One gets the distinct impression that this was the holy of holies, accorded ceremonial strikingly reminiscent of that used by the Byzantines." - Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin - The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?
Almost midway up the eastern side of Lundy there is a rock formation called Knight Templar Rock.
Theories About the Head
It is very possible that the head idol was intended to represent the severed head of John the Baptist, based on allegations that he was revered by the Order. The Templars took part in the sack of Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in 1203-4. Robert de Clari described the opulence and numerous relics at the sacred chapel of the Boucoleon Palace, amongst them supposedly the head of John the Baptist. Another clue to the identity of the Baphomet may lie with Nicodemus, who in St. John's gospel who brought spices for Christ's burial. He is also mentioned in the apocryphal Evangelium Nicodemi (4th C.) as a ruler of the Jews who testified in Christ's favor. The Interpolation in the First Continuation of Chr┌tien's Perceval (12??) tells of the flight of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea to England and includes the following intriguing passage:
"Nicodemus had carved and fashioned a head in the likeness of the Lord on the day that he had seen Him on the cross. But of this I am sure, that the Lord God set His hand to the shaping of it, as they say; for no man ever saw one like it nor could it be made by human hands. Most of you who have been at Lucca know it and have seen it." - Interpolation in the First Continuation of Chr┌tien's Perceval
"Surely this evidence [given by Templars at their trial] suggests that copies of the head, perhaps some of them not unlike the Sainte Face de Laon, others of carved stone or alabaster, such as those of the Nottingham School of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, were widely distributed throughout the order's houses. This would at least explain why nothing resembling a pagan idol was found after the brethren had been arrested, and why none of the pictures found in their chapels raised so much as an eyebrow." - Noel Currer-Briggs, The Shroud and the Grail - A Modern Quest for the True Grail
The idol was also described as: "...An old piece of skin, as though all embalmed and like polished cloth." - Chronicles of St. Denis
Ian Wilson also hypothesizes that the Templar idols were representations of Christ's face copied from the Mandylion/Shroud. A possible surviving example, on a painted panel found at Templecombe, England, shows "a bearded male head, with a reddish beard, lifesize, disembodied, and, above all, lacking in any identification mark....It conforms too, to some of the most rational Templar descriptions: 'a painting on a plaque', 'a bearded male head', 'lifesize', 'with a grizzled beard like a Templars'. (The Templars cultivated their beards in the style of Christ)." - Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin - The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?
"...The descriptions given of it [the Baphomet] varied wildly. The physical characteristics assigned to the 'Baphomet' seemed to come either from the mauf─ or demon of northern folklore, or from church reliquaries. It was often said to represent a cat, a beast traditionally associated with witchcraft and heresy." - Peter Partner, The Murdered Magicians
"INQUISITOR: Now tell us about the head. BROTHER RAOUL: Well, the head. I've seen it at seven chapters held by Brother Hugh de Peraud and others. INQUISITOR: What did one do to worship it? BROTHER RAOUL: Well, it was like this. It was presented, and everyone threw himself on the ground, pushed back his cowl, and worshipped it. INQUISITOR: What was its face like? BROTHER RAOUL: Terrible. It seemed to me that it was the face of a demon, of a mauf─ [/evil spirit]. every time I saw it I was filled with such terror I could scarcely look at it, trembling in all my members." - from M. Michelet, Proc┌s des Templiers
Based upon the idol's description as a "demon" having "very fierce-looking face and beard", the idol very likely could have been Asmodeus, the "daemon guardian" who helped Solomon build his Temple. A statue of the demon guards the door of the parish church at Rennes-le-Chateau.
"The Templars' stronghold in Jerusalem, the site of their foundation, was finally overrun by the Moslems in 1244. Thirty-three years later the victorious sultan, baibars, inspected their castle and is recorded to have discovered inside the tower 'a great idol, in whose protetion the castle had been placed: according to the Frank who had given it its name [this is an unreadable word, made in diacritic letters]. He ordered this to be destroyed and a mihrab [Moslem prayer niche] constructed in its place." - Ian Wilson, The Shroud of Turin - The Burial Cloth of Jesus Christ?
A Feminine Origin?
"...We found indisputable evidence for the charge of secret ceremonies involving a head of some kind. Indeed the existence of such a head proved to be one of the dominant themes running through the Inquisition records....Among the confiscated goods of the Paris preceptory a reliquary in the shape of a woman's head was found. It was hinged on top, and contained what appeared to have been relics of a peculiar kind." - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
The reliquary was: "A great head of gilded silver, most beautiful, and constituting the image of a woman. Inside were two head bones, wrapped in a cloth of white linen, with another red cloth around it. A label was attached, on which was written the legend CAPUT LVIIIm. The bones inside were those of a rather small woman." - Oursel, Le Proces des Templiers
"Caput LVIIIm - 'Head 58m' - remains a baffling enigma. But it is worth noting that the 'm' may not be an 'm' at all, but the astrological symbol for Virgo." - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
"That it had a feminine origin is shown by Gerald Massey who writes 'METE was the BAPHOMET or mother of breath'. According to Von Hammer, the formula of faith inscribed on a chalice belonging to the Templars is as follows: Let METE be exalted who causes all things to bud and blossom, it is our root; it is one and seven; it is octinimous, the eight-fold name." - Kenneth Grant, Nightside of Eden
"Herodotus (4:26) speaks of the practice in the obscure Issedones of gilding a head and sacrificing to it. Cleomenes of Sparta is said to have preserved the head of Archonides in honey and consulted it before undertaking an important task. Several vases of the fourth century BC in Etruria depict scenes of persons interrogating oracular heads. And the severed head of the rustic Carians which continues to 'speak' is mentioned derisively by Aristotle." - Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
A similar tradition could be found in the Celtic cult of the severed head which figured predominently in Peredur, a Welsh romance about the Holy Grail.
"A great lady of Maraclea was loved by a Templar, a Lord of Sidon; but she died in her youth, and on the night of her burial, this wicked lover crept to the grave, dug up her body and violated it. Then a voice from the void bade him return in nine months time for he would find a son. He obeyed the injunction and at the appointed time he opened the grave again and found a head on the leg bones of the skeleton (skull and crossbones). The same voice bade him 'guard it well, for it would be the giver of all good things', and so he carried it away with him." - Ward, Freemasonry and the Ancient Gods
"One chronicler cites the name of the woman in the story - Yse, which would seem quite clearly to derive from Isis." - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
"At one time there was only God. He was all omnipotent and existed alone. This caused him to become discontented, thus he split himself in two in order to create a mate. He kept the elements of Order and Logic for his own being and gave his mate the elements of Chaos and Emotion for her being. Her name is Yse (pron. Issa). She became so overwhelmed with love at her creation that when he kissed her, she gave him a reaction which was to become known as the 'Chosen Response'. The Chosen Response was the first acknowledgement and reaction of love between a male and female in the universe, and this became the greatest secret of and mystery of mankind, being 'The Holy Grail'." - Synopsis from the Merovingian Bible, "Angels Among Us! The Gnostic (Johannine) Christian Path"
Dr. Hugh Schonfield in The Essene Odyssey "had discovered a system of cryptography - he called it the 'Atbash Cipher' - which had been used to conceal certain names in Essene/Zadokite/Nazarene texts. This system of coding figured, for example, in a number of the scrolls found at Qumran." - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy
Schonfield "showed that by applying the Hebrew Atbash code to the name Baphomet, the name Sophia, female wisdom, is revealed. Sophia is equated with Isis by Plutarch." - David Wood, Genisis
Isis's magic was allied to the wisdom of the Egyptian god Thoth. His wife or consort, Nehemaut, was known to the Gnostics as Sophia.
"By this analysis, therefore, when the Templars worshipped Baphomet what they were really doing was worshipping the principle of Wisdom." - Graham Hancock, The Sign and the Seal
"From the Templars' use of the Atbash Cipher, it is probable that some form of Nazarean or neo-Nazarean sect had continued to survive in the Middle East as late as the twelfth century, and had made its teachings available to the West." - Baigent, Leigh & Lincoln, The Messianic Legacy
The Black Virgin
"Plutarch compares Isis to knowledge, and Typhon to ignorance, obscuring the light of the sacred doctrine whose blaze lights the soul of the Initiate. No gift of the gods, he holds, is so precious as the knowledge of the Truth, and that of the Nature of the gods, so far as our limited capacities allow us to rise toward them." - General Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma
"The great Egyptian goddess Isis, often depicted as a black woman, is inextricably linked with alchemy and is closely associated with the Black Madonnas of Europe." - Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, Turin Shroud - In Whose Image? The Shocking Truth Unveiled
"The ankh [the looped cross of Egypt] which Isis carries as supreme initiatrix may account for some of the oddly-shaped scepters carried by the Black Virgins who, like Isis, often favor the color green. Their greeness and blackness points to the beginning of the opus whose secret, according to alchemists, is to be found in 'the sex of Isis'." Ean Begg, The Cult of the Black Virgin
"The Black Virgin..is Isis and her name is Notre Dame de Lumi┌re." - Pierre Plantard de St Clair (former Grand Master of the Priory of Sion)
"The Templars, imprisoned and awaiting death in the Castle of Chinon...composed a prayer to Our Lady acknowledging Bernard to be the founder of her religion. In addition to the numerous hymns and sermons he addressed to her, he wrote about 280 sermons on the theme of the Song of Songs, the epithalamion of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, whose versicle 'I am black, but I am beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem' is the recurring refrain of the Black Virgin cult." Ean Begg, The Cult of the Black Virgin
Churches of the Black Virgin often bore the name of Mary Magdalene. In 1247, Emperor Baldwin II (who helped establish the Templars in Jerusalem) exchanged pieces of the Shroud of Turin with the Abbey of V┌zelay for the purported body of Mary Magdalene. A secret tradition states that the Magdalene was Jesus' wife and bore Jesus' offspring to Southern France. There she was revered as a medium of occult revelation.
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