Many different theories have been expounded to identify the origins of Freemasonry. It has been suggested that ancient Egypt and its geometry was the cradle of masonry; others suggested the Phoenicians in their building of King Solomon's Temple, or from the Essene community that produced the Dead Sea Scrolls in the monastery of Qumran on the shores of the Dead Sea. Still another theory concerns the Comachines, or Roman college of architects near Milan,Italy. A well based assumption is that the learned, scientific societies of England took over the ideas of the medieval Cathedral masons, and established speculative masonry. But the theory that we want to expound tonight was first introduced by the Frenchman, Chevalier Ramsey, Grand Orator, when he lectured the Grand Lodge of France in 1737, when he argued that modern Freemasonry came " not from a confraternity founded on a system of architecture, but solely from the military prowess and religious of knighthood." What he was referring to was the Crusader order of the Knights Templar.
When Jerusalem was captured in the First Crusade, nine knights fought together under the leadership of Hugh de Payens. They formed a brotherhood or arms, and made a compact to clear the highways and protect the pilgrims in the mountain passes. They called themselves the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Jesus Christ. Their patron was Mary, the Mother of God.
They renounced worldly pleasures, and in the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, they took vows of chastity,obedience,and poverty. In 1113, they elected Hugh de Payens as their Grand Master.
In 1118, as a reward for their services, King Baldwin of Jerusalem gave them possession of the enclosure of the temple on Mount Moriah, on the ruins of Solomon's Temple, and they then became known as the Knighthood of the Temple of Solomon. The Mosque on Mount Moriah, built by the Caliph of Omar, was also given to them, as they had no church of their own. Nearby was the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Jesus' tomb was reputed to be situated. Because of this association with theTemple, they were then known as the Knights Templar.
For the first nine years of their existence, they appear to have achieved little. They did not recruit any new members. They lived in poverty. But it was during this period that they excavated under the foundations of the Temple. In 1894, a team of British Army engineers mapped the vaults under the temple ruins, and discovered pointed arches with a keystone after the Gothic style, along with certain Knight Temple artifacts, such as the part of a sword, a spur, a lance and a small Knight Temple cross.
A year or two ago, that excavation tunnel was re-opened, causing an outburst of violence between the Muslims and the Jews. Today, visitors can examine that tunnel, and it has proved so popular that when I was there last year, wanting to walk along the tunnel, I was informed that there was a three month waiting list to book your tour.
At the end of nine years, Hugh de Payens went to Rome to have his order established and recognised, and from that time on, the Knights Templar became very rich, very suddenly. They established castles and temples all over Europe and Great Britain. They deposited their wealth in various centres, so that they became the bankers of Europe, establishing a system of promissory notes which predates the modern system of bank cheques. They financed kingdoms. They also did business with the Moslems, and became proficient in Arabic language and customs.
Bernard, the Abbot of Clairvaux, and a Cistercian monk who wrote many beautiful hymns that we still use today, was engaged to draw up the constitution of the order. The Council of Troyes in 1128 approved the 72 chapters of the Code prepared by Bernard. The knights were to wear white, and their servants black. They were not to wear any jewellery. They were not to write or receive any letters. Any gift was to be handed over to the Master. Hawking was prohibited, but lion hunting was permitted. No brother was to kiss a female, even a mother or a sister.
In 1952, among the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the caves near Qumran, there was discovered a copper scroll, made up from sheets of thin copper riveted together, and with Hebrew writing pressed into the copper with a stylus. There was great difficulty in unrolling the copper sheets without destroying them, but eventually, Manchester University devised a method of cutting them into strips so that they could be read.
The scrolls referred to another leather scroll deposited under the ruins of the Temple, that carried the same information. Reference was made to a pit beneath the altar of the Temple, which was capped with a marble block with a metal ring. The scroll lists gold, silver, and precious objects along with 24 scrolls hidden within the Temple, along with directions for finding 61 different hiding places. Apparently these objects were hidden when the Roman general Titus invaded and destroyed Jerusalem in 73 AD.
In the copper scroll, there are listed 65 tons of silver and 26 tons of gold. It could be that the Knights Templar found these treasures, and that they were the source of their great riches.
But there is another, and I think more interesting, suggestion. In excavating under the Temple ruins, the Templars were able to discover the secret geometry of the Gothic Arch. Prior to that discovery, large churches and cathedrals were built in the Romantic style, which required the use of very thick pillars supporting rounded arches, following on the design of the Roman bridges. The pressure of the roof structure was forced downwards, requiring the use of the thick broad pillars that looked so ugly.
The Gothic design spread the load in a different way by alleviating the weight of the walls and requiring only very slender pillars to support the arch, sending the weight outwards rather than downwards, and thus producing a much more pleasing structure.
The timetable of cathedral building supports this view. Hugh de Payens went back to Rome in 1127. The first Gothic church was the Abbey of St Denis consecrated in 1140. The great cathedrals of Europe followed quickly - Notre Dame with its flying buttresses in 1163. Bourges Cathedral was begun in 1190. Chartres was commenced in 1170, Rheims in 1212, and Amiens in 1220. It was this Gothic style of architecture that so interested Christopher Wren and the members of the Royal Society that formed the first Grand Lodge of London in1720, and devoted itself to the study of the new Gothic style of building. Perhaps it was this Gothic design that brought such great wealth to the Knights Templar.
In the years that followed, the Templars became a significant fighting force in the Crusades, with a reputation for fierceness. They fought under their black and white banner called by them Beausant. They had tremendous battles against Saladin and his Saracen forces. Finally, the Templars were besieged at Acre in the year 1291. During the siege, the Templar fleet fled to Cyprus, apparently taking their great treasures with them. There they set up their headquarters, with Jacques de Molay as their Grand Master. In that same year, Philip IV came to the throne of France. He had an argument with the Pope, Boniface, who was supported by the Templars. The King was in financial trouble, and he had his eye on Templar wealth.
Boniface was poisoned, probably with the connivance of Philip, so Philip appointed a French Pope who centered himself at Lyons and became Clement V. Clement invited de Molay to bring the Templars to France for consultation. The Templars brought their treasures with them.
The King prepared secret letters to all bailiffs in France, with instructions that on a given day, all Knights Templar in their districts were to be arrested and interrogated.
Someone must have given a warning, because many of the Knights escaped out of the country. One account says that 18 galleys of the Templar fleet sailed from La Rochelle, and were never discovered again.
On the designated day, Friday, 13th October, 1307, surprise arrests were made all over France, and all Templar property was seized.
The Knights were examined by the Inquisition, and torture was freely used. They were offered pardon if they confessed to the crimes, and death if they refused to admit their practices. Most of the Templars denied their accusations, and died under torture. Some, under the pain of torture, confessed. At one stage, some 900 knights were in the Paris prisons. De Molay was kept in prison for the next five years and then executed.
The Pope disbanded the order, their wealth and possessions were seized. The inquisition then was organised by the Dominicans, while the Templars came from amongst the Cistercians. Revenge was a bit bizarre. The Order was not destroyed. It survived in European countries, and also in Britain. Soon, the Pope was to die from eating too many figs. The King died a few months later, paralytic after falling from a horse. Many of those who took part in the tortures died from hanging or stabbing.
One of the charges laid against the Templars was that they worshipped some sort of bearded head, that was called Baphomet. It was suggested that it was the decapitated head of John the Baptist, or an image of Mohammed, the founder of Islam.
About 500 years later, a failed Roman Catholic priest, writing under the pseudonym of Eliphas Levi, wrote a lot about Baphomet, supposedly worshipped by the Templars. He claimed that if you reversed the letters of the word, you produced "Tem Oph Ab", which was thought by him to be a reference to King Solomon's Temple.
The idea was later taken up by the American Leo Taxil, when he perpetrated a hoax on the Masonic writer, Albert Pike. He depicted Baphomet as a man's demonic body with the head of a goat, and this hoax probably introduced the idea of the goat into Freemasonry.
It was only with the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls that we re-discovered the ancient Jewish code called the Atbash cipher. This involved taking the first letter of the alphabet, and substituting for it the last letter - taking the second letter, and using the second last, and so on.
In the Hebrew alphabet, the second letter Beth equates in the Atbash cipher with the second last letter - Shin, or S. Ph equates with the same letter, and the M equates with I, and the T , or Tau, the last letter, with the first letter A. Thus by using this cipher, Baphomet becomes the Greek word Sophia, which means Wisdom. What the Templars were worshipping was the search for Wisdom, or Truth, and not some goat headed monster.
But what happened to the Templar fleet, and where did their treasures end up ? Where did they go after leaving La Rochelle ? One theory suggests that they traveled to Scotland, where a little over 7 miles from Edinburgh, stands the chapel of Rosslyn, the traditional home of the Sinclairs. This chapel has long been associated with the Knights Templar, and it is thought that from Rosslyn Chapel came the Scottish Order of Freemasonry, which is older than the Grand Lodge of England.
But let's go back a bit for a while to pick up another thread of history. The Phoenician race originated in Asia Minor, and produced the Dionysian mystery, in which a widow's son was murdered, and has certain similarities to the Hiram Abiff legend. This race came to settle in Tyre on the coast of Palestine, which became a great trade city, because the Phoenicians were a sea-faring race. They were also great builders,and it is for this reason that when Solomon wanted to built his Temple, he engaged Hiram, King of Tyre, to provide the workmen. In the gulf of Aquaba, there is today a city called Eilat, which is famous for its production of Malachite stone, which is an ore of copper. It was there that Solomon had his mines, that produced the metal for making the brass furniture for the Temple, and for the two pillars, which were cast in a blast furnace not far from Eilat.
Eilat was also a sea port, and the Phoenicians used the Cedars from Lebanon to build boats there, that explored the African continent. In fact, the Greek historian Herodotus suggests that the Phoenicians circumnavigated the African continent, because he records that they sailed around Africa with the North Star always on the starboard side - so they went from Eilat down past the country of the Queen of Sheba, around the Cape of Good Hope, and back up to the straits of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean.
In fact, there were many more sea explorations taking place than we have ever been taught in school. We have heard about Columbus sailing out into the unknown in 1492, and landing eventually on the islands of the West Indies, and this enabled the Church of Rome to extend its tentacles into the New World. We have also heard about Giovanni Caboto, the Italian, sailing from Bristol in 1497 and claiming the New World for the Hanovarians.
But we have never heard of the voyages of Henry Sinclair, from Rosslyn Chapel, because Sinclair was a Knight Templar, and his story has been suppressed because the Templars were anathema to Rome. But to understand Sinclair, we have to go back to the Zeno brothers from Venice.
Venice had long been a significant maritime power in the Mediterranean, controlled by the Doge and the Council of Ten. They withstood the power of Rome, the threat of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the ambitions of Napoleon. Now the Venetian coat of arms bears the Cross-Pattee of the Knights Templar, and the connection would appear to be with the two navigator brothers, Nicolo and Antonio Zeno. They logged their travels with Henry Sinclair, and they were only discovered recently among the family archives. They traveled with Sinclair between the years of 1390 to 1404. Their map was most accurate, identifying two cities in Nova Scotia. This map appears to have been based on a much older chart drawn by the Knights Templar in the Middle East, and secretly carried by them for safekeeping in Rosslyn Castle.
Sinclair was born in 1345 and raised at Rosslyn Castle. He carried many titles, including Prince of Orkney, Lord Admiral of Scotland and Premier Earl of Norway. At the age of 35, he built a fleet larger than Norway's navy, and hired the navigators, Nicolo and Antonio Zeno. In 1398, after many delays, he departed for the New World with 12 ships, up to 600 men,Knights Templar and Cistercian and farming monks. He sailed across the Atlantic to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to claim the territory for Queen Margaret of Norway. Five ships were lost in the crossing, and the local Indians, the Micmacs, were anxious to defend their fishing rights. Sinclair wintered there, and explored Massachusetts. The Zeno's and some of the fleet were sent back to the Orkneys, while the shore party began to colonize the new land. They included knights, soldiers, carpenters, armorers, shipwrights, along with Cistercian monks with farming skills.
An old Micmac legend records that Sinclair built himself an island, and planted trees on it - which is a reference to the boat that Sinclair constructed in 1399. In this, he traveled further down the East Coast. In 1400, Sinclair returned to the Orkneys, and was murdered by an English raiding party commanded by Sir Robert Logan. Sinclair's body was returned to Rosslyn, and buried in the family church of St Matthew, and later when that church was demolished, his body may have been re-interred under the new Rosslyn Chapel.
Sinclair was known as Glooscap by the Micmac Indians, and while there is no written record, their legend talked about Sinclair arriving and wintering in Nova Scotia, and then travelling south to Massachusetts. He taught them the art of net fishing. Glooscap is still celebrated by the natives each year, and their ballads sing about " the first and greatest to come into our land, into Nova Scotia." And there are several relics, claimed to be proof of Sinclair's visit, which is probably dated around 1398.
On a hillside in Westford, Massachusetts, there is a ledge carrying the carved outline of a medieval Knight. The Knight holds a broken sword, and his shield bears the arms of the Gunn family from Caithness , who were related to the Sinclairs, along with the picture of a ship, a comet, a star and the sun. The carving is claimed to represent the cousin of Sinclair, Sir James Gunn, who died climbing nearby Prospect Hill with a party to investigate rising smoke seen in the distance. A punched-hole effigy outline shows Gunn's cloak of the Knights Templar, and his sword is dated around 1360.
NEWPORT TOWER, RHODE ISLAND:
This is an octagon tower, similar to churches built in the Orkneys, with eight arches within a round tower.
CASTLE AT THE CROSS:
This is now in ruins, on the top of a hill, 17 miles from Chester, Nova Scotia.It is believed to have been built by 14th century Norsemen and Scots, based on designs in the rubble masonry. Items discovered there include a pin, part of a sword blade, wooden cones, and bits of iron tools. The castle is thought to have been a guard tower, a main gate with pillars, and a dome. It may have been a settlement for Sinclair.
Cannons were first used at the Battle of Crecy in 1346. The Zeno's used cannons in 1381 to win the battle of Chioggia. The Zeno brothers knew how to make these early types of cannons, and in 1849, one of these cannons was found on the coast of Cape Breton island, with eight rings around the barrel and a detachable breech with a handle. It would appear to have been part of Sinclair's fleet. Similar cannons are found in the Venice Naval Museum, and they were obsolete by the end of the 14th century. Later cannons were made as a single piece with no barrel rings.
This is one of two islands in a group of 350 where oak trees grow, and it is believed to have been a navigational aid to find the Castle at the Cross.
MYSTERIOUS MONEY PIT:
There is a deep hole at the centre of Oak Island. It was discovered by two boys in 1795. Two feet down is a layer of stones. At 10 feet, the first of many oak platforms was found at 10 foot intervals. In 1802, more log feet were discovered. In 1849, a company drilled augur holes. At 154 feet, the drill went through a 5 inch oak platform, then 22 inches of metal scrap, including an ancient watch chain. Further down were other metal fragments. At 171 feet, an iron plate appeared. Since then, many treasure hunters have investigated this hole. Did Sinclair hide Templar treasures in this pit? Was the Holy Grail deposited in it ?
Sinclair's mission was to explore and establish settlements. There were some rubblework ruins along the Charles River in Newton, Massachusetts, from which the Norumbega Tower was reconstructed. While local tradition dates this structure to the Viking Age, it may be Sinclair's. BOAT STONE - in Westford Massachusetts's library: This is an oval stone, about 2 feet in diameter, on which is carved a 14th century ship.
To summarise all this then - the theory is that because of the persecution of theTemplars in France, a large fleet left La Rochelle and found refuge in Scotland among the Sinclairs at Rosslyn Castle. From there, they traveled across the Atlantic to Nova Scotia and Massachusetts and left their marks there. And all this long before Columbus discovered the West Indies.
But there is even more. In recent years, there have been some expeditions in Argentina to try to follow through the theory that the Holy Grail, and the Knights Templar, may have traveled as far south as Patagonia, and settled there in the Gulf of San Matias, which is on the latitude of 41 degrees south - or about as far south as we are here.
Some ancient maps, one dated 1846, and another one dated 1865, show the gulf of St Mathias, with a fort identified in the gulf - the later map indicated that the fort was in ruins and abandoned.
Here is an ancient document written by an anonymous author in antique French, titled the Books of the Grail, which tells the story of the voyage of one Perlesvaus - you might recall that one of the Grail legends is about the search of one Percival for the Grail. I want to quote some of the book, because it gives some clues about the Knights Templar:
Perlesvaus sails away so much from the land that he can only see the sea all around, and the ship sails at a great speed. The ship sailed adrift night and day as much as God wished it to go, until they arrived at a castle in a sea island. He asked his sailor what castle it was, and he replied: "I truly don't know, sir, for we have run so much that I don't recognize the sea or the stars" This would indicate that the ship had crossed the Equator going south, and they had lost sight of the North Star, and they only had the unfamiliar stars of the South Hemisphere to navigate by. It seems as if the castle mentioned was the fort in the Gulf of St Matthias.
The record goes on:
They approached the castle and heard the sweet sounds of four trumpets up on the great walls, and the players were all dressed in white. Which could indicate that the castle was occupied by the Knights Templar. As the ship anchored above the castle, and the sea went off so that the ship stayed on dry land -
In that gulf, there is a very large fall in the tide, so that ships are left stranded at low tide. Not being familiar with the tides, the ship was easily stranded. The difference between high and low tide in the Gulf measures about 30 feet, and was quite unknown in the Northern Hemisphere.
They stepped out of the ship and got in the castle through the side overlooking the sea and he sees the most beautiful or clear fountain that anybody can imagine.
There is a spring there even today with clear flowing water at all seasons. One of the masters rings a bell three times and the room was filled with thirty-three men forming a company. They were all wearing white gowns and a red cross amidst their chests.
This clearly reminds us of the dress of the Knights Templar, and the military formation and the total absence of women seems to carry the same clues. As they noticed the entrance to the ditch, the most horrifying and painful screams ever heard came out of it.
Today the locals there still complain about these strange sounds - they would appear to be caused by wind whistling along a crevice in the rocks. You will start your way back when you see the ship with the sail crossed by the red cross, and found the ship ready to depart and heard the trumpets playing upon departure as they had played upon arrival. Got aboard the ship and sails were hoisted. It started drawing away from the land."
Obviously by this, the tide had started to come in, so that the ship was able to float away on the rising tide. The reference to the ship with the red cross on its sail is an obvious reference to a Knight Templar vessel.
The other local Patagonian reference is to the Templar Stone discovered near the Gulf. About 60 miles away from the Fort, a block of dark granite or basalt was discovered with engravings on one of its faces, showing a bass-relief of a cross with equal arms. This is an accepted Templar sign, and there were other scratches on the stone that cannot be deciphered.
Expeditions over the last couple of years in Patagonia have been investigating these finds, and the hypothesis being formed is this:
In pre-Columbus times, there might have existed series of enclaves in Patagonia, inhabited by certain Templar or Proto-Templar orders, formed by white people of Indo-European ethnic origin. These fortified citadels might have been at least three in number - with one fort-harbour on the Pacific, and another on the Atlantic both located at the same latitude, approximately 41 south latitude, and a third in the Andes' foothills, in the central area of Argentine Patagonia and also located at the same latitude. There is an oral tradition among local natives that preserves this sort of tradition.
These settlements might have been a depository of the Holy Grail, brought to that land by an Order that was not in sympathy with the Roman Catholic church. These settlements seem to have been abandoned when the Spanish conquerors arrived, with their strong connection with the Catholic church.
Such then is a chronicle of the discoveries of the Knights Templar. There is much work yet to be done on these artifacts, and some of the conclusions are being disputed. But it would appear that the sort of history that we have been familiar with has been heavily censored by the Roman Catholic Church in its efforts to dominate the world. After all, history has always been used to justify the one who tells the story, and to silence his opposition. History is only as good as the ambitions of the one who is telling the story.