THE TEMPLAR ORDERS IN FREEMASONRY
THE TEMPLAR ORDERS IN FREEMASONRY
An Historical Consideration of their Origin and Development
By ARTHUR EDWARD WAITE
HAVING regard to the fact that Emblematic Freemasonry, as it is known and practised at this day, arose from an Operative Guild and within the bosom of a development from certain London Lodges which prior to the year 1717 had their titles in the past of the Guild and recognised its Old Charges, it would seem outside the reasonable likelihood of things that less than forty years after the foundation of Grand Lodge Knightly Orders should begin to be heard of developing under the aegis of the Craft, their titles in some cases being borrowed from the old institutions of Christian Chivalry. It is this, however, which occurred, and the inventions were so successful that they multiplied on every side, from 1754 to the threshold of the French Revolution, new denominations being devised when the old titles were exhausted. There arose in this manner a great tree of Ritual, and it happens, moreover, that we are in a position to affirm the kind of root from which it sprang. Twenty years after the date of the London Grand Lodge, and when that of Scotland may not have been twelve months old, the memorable Scottish Freemason, Andrew Michael Ramsay, delivered an historical address in a French Lodge, in the course of which he explained that the Masonic Brotherhood arose in Palestine during the period of the Crusades, under the protection of Christian Knights, with the object of restoring Christian Churches which had been destroyed by Saracens in the Holy Land. For some reason which does not emerge, the foster-mother of Masonry, according to the mind of the hypothesis, was the Chivalry of St. John. Ramsay appears to have left the Masonic arena, and he died in the early part of 1743, but his discourse produced a profound impression on French Freemasonry. He offered no evidence, but France undertook to produce it after its own manner and conformably to the spirit of the time by the creation of Rites and Degrees of Masonic Knighthood, no trace of which is to be found prior of Ramsay. Their prototypes of course were extant, the Knights of Malta, Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, Knights of St. Lazarus, in the gift of the Papal See, and the Order of Christ in Portugal, in the gift of the Portuguese Crown. There is no need to say that these Religious and Military Orders have nothing in common with the Operative Masonry of the past, and when their titles were borrowed for the institution of Masonic Chivalries, it is curious how little the latter owed to the ceremonial of their precursors, in their manners of making and installing Knights, except in so far as the general prototype of all is found in the Roman Pontifical. There are, of course, reflections and analogies: (I) in the old
knightly corporations the candidate was required to produce proofs of noble birth, and the Strict Observance demanded these at the beginning, but owing to obvious difficulties is said to have ended by furnishing patents at need; (2) in the Military Order of Hospitallers of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalern, he undertook, as in others, to protect the Church of God, with which may be compared modern Masonic injunctions in the Temple and Holy Sepulchre to maintain and defend the Holy Christian Faith; (3) again at his Knighting he was "made, created and constituted now and for ever," which is identical, word for word, with the formula of another Masonic Chivalry, and will not be unknown to many.
But the appeal of the new foundations was set in an6ther direction, and was either to show that they derived from Masonry or were Masonry itself at the highest, in the proper understanding thereof. When the story of a secret perpetuation of the old Knights Templar- outside the Order of Christ- arose in France or Germany, but as I tend to conclude in France, it was and remains the most notable case in point of this appeal and claim. It rose up within Masonry, and it came about that the Templar element overshadowed the dreams and pretensions of other Masonic Chivalries, or, more correctly, outshone them all. I am dealing here with matters of fact and not proposing to account for the facts themselves within the limits of a single study. The Chevalier Ramsay never spoke of the Templars: his affirmation was that the hypothetical building confraternity of Palestine united ultimately with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem; that it became established in various countries of Europe as the Crusaders drifted back; and that its chief centre in the thirteenth century was Kilwinning in Scotland. But the French or otherwise German Masonic mind went to work upon this thesis, and in presenting the Craft with the credentials of Knightly connections it substituted the Order of the Temple for the chivalry chosen by Ramsay. The Battle of Lepanto and the Siege of Vienna had invested the annals of the St. John Knighthood with a great light of valour; but this was as little and next to nothing in comparison with the talismanic attraction which for some reason attached to the Templar name and was obviously thrice magnified when the proposition arose that the great chivalry had continued to exist in secret from the days of Philippe le Bel even to the second half of the eighteenth century. There were other considerations, however, which loomed largely, and especially in regard to the sudden proscription which befell the Order in 1307. Of the trial which followed there were records available to all, in successive editions of the French work of Dupuy, first published in 1685; in the German Historical Tractatus of Petrus Puteamus published at Frankfort in 1665; in Gurther's Latin Historia Tempiarsorum of 1691; and in yet other publications prior to 1750. There is not a
little evidence of one impression which was produced by these memorials, the notion, namely, of an unexplored realm of mystery extending behind the charges. It was the day of Voltaire, and it happened that a shallow infidelity was characterised by the kind of licence which fosters intellectual extravagance, by a leaning in directions which are generally termed superstitious- though superstition itself was pilloried- and in particular by attraction towards occult arts and supposed hidden knowledge. Advanced persons were ceasing to believe in the priest but were disposed to believe in the sorcerer, and the Templars had been accused of magic, of worshipping a strange idol, the last suggestion- for some obscure reason- being not altogether indifferent to many who had slipped the anchor of their faith in God. Beyond these frivolities and the foolish minds that cherished them, there were other persons who were neither in the school of a rather cheap infidelity nor in that of common superstition, but who looked seriously for light to the East and for its imagined traditional wisdom handed down from past ages. They may have been dreamers also, but they were less or more zealous students after their own manner; within their proper measures, and the Templar Chivalry drew them because they deemed it not unlikely that its condemnation by the paramount orthodoxy connoted a suspicion that the old Knighthood had learned in Palestine more than the West could teach. Out of such elements were begotten some at least of the Templar Rites and they grew from more to more, till this particular aspect culminated in the Templar dramas of Werner, in which an Order concealed through the ages and perpetuated through saintly custodians reveals to a chosen few among Knights Templar some part of its secret doctrine-the identity of Christ and Horus, of Mary the Mother of God, and Isis the Queen of Heaven. The root of these dreams on doctrine and myth transfigured through the ages- with a heart of reality behind it- will be found, as it seems to me, in occult derivations from Templar Ritual which belong to circa 1782 and are still in vigilant custody on the continent of Europe. I mention this lest it should be thought that the intimations of a German poet, though he was an active member of the Strict Observance, were mere inventions of an imaginative mind.
There is no historical evidence for the existence of any Templar perpetuation story prior to the Oration of Ramsay, just as there is no question that all documents produced by the French non-Masonic Order of the Temple, founded in the early years of the nineteenth century, are inventions of that period and are fraudulent like the rest of its claim, its list of Grand Masters included. There is further- as we have observed- no evidence of any Rite or Degree of Masonic Chivalry prior to 1737, to which date is referred the discourse of Ramsay. That this was the
original impetus which led to their production may be regarded as beyond dispute, and it was the case especially with Masonic Templar revivals. Their thesis was his thesis varied. For example, according to the Rite of the Strict Observance the proscribed Order was carried by its Marshal, Pierre d'Aumont, who escaped with a few other Knights to the Isles of Scotland, disguised as Operative Masons. They remained there and under the same veil the Templars continued to exist in secret from generation to generation under the shadow of the mythical Mount Heredom of Kilwinning. To whatever date the old dreams ascribe it, when Emblematic Freemasonry emerged it was- ex hypothesi-a product of the union between Knights Templar and ancient Scottish Masonry. Such is the story told.
The Strict Observance was founded by Baron von Hund in Germany between about 1751 and 1754 or 1755, and is usually regarded as the first Masonic Chivalry which put forward the story of Templar perpetuation. I have accepted this view on my own part, but subject to his claim at its value- if any- that he had been made a Knight of the Temple in France, some twelve years previously. The question arises, therefore, as to the fact or possibility of antecedent Degrees of the kind in that country, and we are confronted at once by many stories afloat concerning the Chapter of Clermont, the foundation of which at Paris is referred to several dates. It was in existence, according to Yarker, at some undetermined period before 1742, for at that date its Masonic Rite, consisting of three Degrees superposed on those of the Craft, was taken to Hamburg. A certain Von Marshall, whose name belongs to the history of the Strict Observance, had been admitted in the previous year, Von Hund himself following in 1743- not at Hamburg, but at Paris- for all of which no authority is cited and imagination may seem to have been at work. But some of the statements, including those of other English writers, are referable to a source in Thory's Acta Latamorum. When Woodford speaks of Von Hund's admission into Templar Masonry at Clermont as not a matter of hypothesis, but of certain knowledge, he is dependent on the French historian, according to whom the German Baron was made a Mason at Paris in 1742. The Chapter of Clermont was founded in that city so late as 1754, and some time subsequently Von Hund retunied thither, with the result that he derived Templar teaching from Clermont, on which he built up the Observance system. But, whatever the point is worth, this story is not only at issue with that of Von Hund himself, but with the current chronology of the Observance. To involve matters further, the Chapter is reported otherwise to have derived its Templar element from something unspecified at Lyons which is referred to 1738. The utmost variety of statement will be found, moreover, as to the content of the Clermont Rite, the Templar character of
which has been also challenged. It is proposed otherwise that the Chapter was founded on a scale of considerable magnitude, that it was installed in a vast building, and that it attracted the higher classes of French Freemasons, which notwithstanding it ceased to exist in 1758, being absorbed by the Council of Emperors established in that year for the promulgation of a different Grade system.
I am in a position to reflect some light for the relief of these complications by reference to Dutch archives which have come to my knowledge. The date of the Chapter's foundation remains uncertain, but it was in activity between 1756 and 1763, so that it was not taken over- as Gould suggests- by those Masonic Emperors to whom we are indebted for the first form of the Scottish Rite, Ancient and Accepted. It is not impossible that its foundation is referable to the first of these dates, when it superposed on the three Craft Grades as follows: (I) Grade of Scottish Master of St. Andrew of the Thistle, being the Fourth Grade of Masonry, "in which allegory dissolves"; (2) Grade of Sublime Knight of God and of his Temple, being the Fifth and Last Grade of Free Masonry. At a later period, however, it became the Seventh Grade of the Rite, owing to the introduction of an Elect Degree which took the number 5 under the title of Knight of the Eagle, followed by an Illustrious Degree, occupying the sixth place and denominated Knight of the Holy Sepulchre. The Grade final in both enumerations- otherwise Knight of God- presented a peculiar, as it was also an early version of the perpetuation story, from which it follows that the Clermont Rite was Templar.
I have so far failed to trace any copy of the Ritual in this country with the exception of that which has been placed recently in my hands, an example of the discoveries that await research in continental archives. The Templar element- which may be called the historical part- is combined with a part of symbolism, for though allegory is said to be abandoned in the Fourth Degree, its spiritual sister is always present in Ritual. The aspect which it assumes in the present case is otherwise known in Masonry, the Chapter representing the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, with its twelve gates, as a tabernacle of God with men. The Candidate is represented therefore as seeking the light of glory and a perfect recompense, while that which he is promised is an end of toils and trials. He is obligated as at the gates of the City and is promised the Grand Secret of those who abide therein. The City is- spiritually speaking- in the world to come, and the reward of chivalry is there; but there is a reward also on earth within the bonds of the Order, because this is said to be divine and possessed of the treasures of wisdom. The kind of wisdom and the nature of the Great Secret is revealed in the Perpetuation Story, and so far as I am aware offers the only instance of such a claim
being made on behalf of the Templars, in or out of Masonry. It belongs to a subject which engrossed the zeal of thousands throughout the seventeenth century and had many disciples- indeed, they were thousands also- during the Masonic Age which followed. The story is that the Templars began in poverty, but Baldwin II, King of Jerusalem, gave them a house in the vicinity of the site where Solomon's Temple was built of old. When it was put in repair by Hugh de Payens and the rest of the first Brethren, their digging operations unearthed an iron casket which contained priceless treasures, and chief among all the true process of the Great Work in Alchemy, the secret of transmuting metals, as communicated to Solomon by the Master Hiram Abiff. So and so only was it possible to account for the wealth of adornment which characterised the First Temple. The discovery explains also the wealth acquired by the Templars, but it led in the end to their destruction. Traitors who knew of the secret, though they had not themselves attained it, revealed the fact to Clement V and Philip the Fair of France, and the real purpose of the persecution which followed was to wrest the transmuting process from the hands of its custodians. Jacques de Molay and his co-heirs died to preserve it, but three of the initiated Knights made their escape and after long wandering from country to country they found refuge in the caves of Mount Heredom. They were succoured by Knights of St. Andrew of the Thistle, with whom they made an alliance and on whom they conferred their knowledge. To conceal it from others and yet transmit it through the ages they created the Masonic Order in I340; but the alchemical secret, which is the physical term of the Mystery, has been ever reserved to those who can emerge from the veils of allegory- that is to say, for the chiefs of St. Andrew of the Thistle, who are Princes of the Rosy Cross, and the Grand Council of the Chapter.
The alchemical side of this story is in a similar position to that of the perpetuation myth, of which it is an early version. There is nothing that can be taken seriously. But this is not to say that in either case there is no vestige of possibilities behind. Modern science tends more and more to show us that the transmutation of metals is not an idle dream and- speaking on my own part- there are well-known testimonies in the past on the literal point of fact which I and others have found it difficult to set utterly aside. So also there are few things more certain in history than is the survival of Knights Templar after their proscription and suspension as an Order. With this fact in front of us it is not as a hypothesis improbable that there or here the chivalry may have been continued in secret by the making of new Knights. It is purely a question of evidence, and this is unhappily wanting. The traditional histories of Knightly Masonic Degrees- like those of the Chapter of Clermont, the Strict
Observance and the Swedish Rite- bear all the marks of manufacture; the most that can be said concerning them- and then in the most tentative manner- is that by bare possibility there may have been somewhere in the world a rumour of secret survival, in which case the root matter of their stories would not have been pure invention. The antecedent material would then have been worked over and adapted to Masonic purposes, inspired by the Oration of Ramsay.
It is to be presumed that when this speculation is left to stand at its value, there is no critical mind which will dream of an authentic element in Hugh de Payen's supposed discovery of the Powder of Projection at or about the site of the Jewish Temple. This romantic episode stands last in a series of similar fictions which are to be found in the history of Alchemy. When we are led to infer therefore by the records before me that the Chapter of Clermont reached its end circa 1763, we shall infer that it was in a position no longer to carry on the pretence of possessing and being able to communicate at will the Great Secret of Alchemy. It is evident from the Ritual that this was not disclosed to those who, being called in their turn, were admitted to the highest rank and became Knights of God. It was certainly promised, however, at a due season as a reward of merit. From a false pretence of this kind the only way of escape would be found by falling back upon renounced and abjured allegory. Now, we have seen that the Chapter in its last Degree represented the New Jerusalem, and therefore its alchemy might well be transferred from a common work in metals to the spiritual side of Hermeticism. Those who have read Robert Fludd and Jacob Bohme will be acquainted with this aspect; but it may not have satisfied the figurative Knights of God, who had come so far in their journey from the Lodge of Entered Apprentice to a Temple of supposed adeptship. The Chapter therefore died.
I HAVE met with another French Ritual in a great manuscript collection and again- so far as ascertained- it seems to be the sole copy in England, though it is not unknown by name, in view of the bibliographies of Kloss and Wolfsteig. It is called Le Chevalier du Temple, and is of high importance to our subject. The collection to which I refer is in twelve volumes, written on old rag paper, the watermark of which shows royal arms and the lilies of France: it is pre-French Revolution and post 1768- say, on a venture, about 1772. The Ritual to which I refer extends from p. 73 to 202 of the fifth volume, in a size corresponding to what is termed crown octavo among us. The hand is clear and educated. The particular Templar Chivalry is represented as an Order connected with and acknowledging nothing else in Freemasonry except the
Craft Degrees. In respect of antiquity it claims descent by succession from certain Canons or Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, who first bore the Red Cross on their hearts, and were founded by James the First, brother of the first Bishop of Jerusalem. These Canons became the Knights Hospitallers of a much later date. On these followed the Templars, from whom the Masonic Knights of the Temple more especially claimed derivation, though in some obscure manner they held descent from all, possibly in virtue of spiritual consanguinity postulated between the various Christian chivalries of Palestine. The traditional history of the Grade is given at unusual length and is firstly that of the Templars, from their foundation to their sudden fail, the accusations against them included; it is a moderately accurate summary, all things considered. There is presented in the second place a peculiar version of the perpetuation story which is designed on the one hand to indicate the fact of survival in several directions, and on the other to make it clear that Templar Masonry had in view no scheme of vengeance against Popes and Kings. After the proscription of the chivalry it is affirmed that those who remained over were scattered through various countries, desolate and rejected everywhere. A few in their desperation joined together for reprisals, but their conspiracy is characterised as detestable and its memory is held in horror. It fell to pieces speedily for want of recruits. Among the other unfortunate Knights who had escaped destruction, a certain number entered also into a secret alliance and chose as time went on their suitable successors among persons of noble and genfle birth, with a view to perpetuate the Order and in the hope at some favourable epoch that they would be restored to their former glory and reenter into their possessions. We hear nothing of Kilwinning or Heredom, and indeed no one country is designated as a place of asylum; but it is affirmed that this group of survivors created Freemasonry and its three Craft Degrees to conceal from their enemies the fact that the Chivalry was still in being and to test aspirants who entered the ranks, so that none but those who were found to be of true worth and fidelity should be advanced from the Third Degree into that which lay beyond. To such as were successful the existence of the secret chivalry became known only at the end of seven years, three of which were passed as Apprentice, two as Companion or Fellow Craft, and two as Master Mason. It was on the same conditions and with the same objects that the Order in the eighteenth century was prepared to receive Masons who had been proved into that which was denominated the Illustrious Grade and Order of Knights of the Temple of Jerusalem.
The Candidate undertakes in his Obligation to do all in his power for the glorious restoration of the Order; to succour his Brethren in their need; to visit the poor, the sick and the
imprisoned; to love his King and his religion; to maintain the State; to be ever ready in his heart for all sacrifice in the cause of the faith of Christ, for the good of His Church and its faithful. The Pledge is taken on the knees, facing a tomb of black marble which represents that of Molay, the last Grand Master and martyr-in-chief of the Order. Thereafter the inward meaning of the three Craft Degrees is explained to the Candidate. That of Apprentice recalls the earliest of Christian chivalries, being the Canons or Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, who for long had no distinctive clothing and hence the divested state of the Masonic Postulant. But this state signified also that his arm is ever ready to do battle with the enemies of the Holy Christian Religion and his heart for the sacrifice of his entire being to Jesus Christ. The alleged correspondences and meanings are developed at some length, but it will be sufficient to mention that the Masonic Candidate enters the Lodge poor and penniless, because that was the condition at their beginning of the Templars and the other Orders of Christian Knighthood.
The Candidate is prepared for the Second Craft Degree in a somewhat different manner from that of the First, and this has reference to certain distinctions between the clothing of a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre and that of a Knight of St. John. The seven steps are emblematic of the seven sacraments of the Holy Church, by the help of which the Christian Chivalries maintained their faith against the infidel, and also of the seven deadly sins which they trampled under their feet. The Blazing Star inscribed with the letter Yod, being the initial letter of the Name of God in Hebrew, signified the Divine Light which enlightened the Chivairies and was ever before their eyes, as it must be also present for ever before the mind's eye of the Masonic Templars, a sacred symbol placed in the centre of the building. In French Freemasonry the Pillar B belonged to the Second Degree and was marked with this letter, which had reference to Baldwin, King of Jerusalem, who provided a House for the Templars in the Holy City.
The Traditional History of the Master Grade is that of the martyrdom of Jacques de Molay, the last Grand Master of the Temple. The three assassins answered to Philip the Fair, Pope Clement V and the Prior of Montfaucon, a Templar of Toulouse, who is represented as undergoing a sentence of imprisonment for life at Paris on account of his crimes, by the authority of the Grand Master. He is said to have betrayed the Order by making false accusations and thus secured his release. The initials of certain Master Words are J.B.M., and they are those also of Jacobus Burgundus Molay.
The Chevalier du Temple has unfortunately no history, so far as I have been able to trace. I have met with it as a bare title in one other early collection, which has become known to me by
means of a Dutch list of MSS., and there is no need to say that it occurs in the nomenclature of Ragon. It is numbered 69 in the archives of the Metropolitan Chapter of France, and 8 in the Rite of the Philalethes: they may or may not refer to the same Ritual as that which I have summarised here. There is no means of knowing. In any case the 36th Grade of Mizraim and the 34th of Memphis, which became No. 13 in the Ancient and Primitive Rite, is to be distinguished utterly: it is called Knight of the Temple, but has no concern with the Templars and is quite worthless. It should be added that in one of the discourses belonging to Le Chevalier du Temple there is a hostile allusion to the existing multiplicity of Masonic and pseudo-Masonic Grades, and this may suggest that it is late in the order of time. A great many were, however, in evidence by and before the year 1759. We should remember Gould's opinion that there was an early and extensive propagation of Ecossais Grades, and the source of these was obviously in the Ramsay hypothesis. It is certain also that Elu Grades were not far in the rear. The date of the particular Collection Maconnique on which I depend is, of course, not that of its contents. On the whole there seems nothing to militate against a tentative or provisional hypothesis that Chevalier de Temple was no later and may have been a little earlier than the Clermont Knight of God, thus giving further colour to the idea that Templar Masonry and its perpetuation story arose where it might have been expected that they would arise, in France and not in Germany. I have said that the Grade under notice has no reference to Scotland or to any specific place of Templar refuge after the proscription. But the chivalrous origin of Masonry is not less a Ramsay myth, and it characterises almost every variant of Templar perpetuation which has arisen under a Masonic aegis, from that of the Knights of God and the Chevalier du Temple to that of Werner and his Sons of the Valley, belonging to the year 1803. There stand apart only the English Religious and Military Order and the late French Order of the Temple which depends from the Charter of Larmenius, but this was not Masonic, though its pretence of Templar perpetuation and succession is most obviously borrowed from Masonry. In conclusion, I shall think always that Baron von Hund drew from France, whether directly at Paris or via Hamburg in his own country.
We have seen that the Strict Observance appeared in Germany between 1751 and 1755, a development according to its founder of something which he had received in France so far back as 1743. No reliance can be placed on this statement, nor is the year 1751 in a much better position. Hund is supposed to have founded a Chapter of his Templar Rite about that time on his own estate at Unwurdi, where the scheme of the Order was worked out. We hear also of a later scheme, belonging to 1755 and dealing with financial
matters. But the first evidential document is a Plan of the Strict Observance, laying claim on January 13, 1766, as its date of formulation, and there is a record of the Observance Master Grade, with a Catechism attached thereto, belonging to the same year. But as 1751 seems too early for anything in the definite sense so 1766 is much too late. A memoir of Herr von Kleefeld by J. C. Schubert bears witness to the former's activities on behalf of the Strict Observance between 1763 and 1768. The Rite, moreover, was sufficiently important in 1763 for an impostor named Johnson to advance his claims upon it and to summon a Congress at Altenberg in May, 1764, as an authorised ambassador of the Secret Headship or Sovereign Chapter in Scotland. His mission was to organise the Order in Germany, and for a time Von Hund accepted and submitted, from which it follows that his own Rite was still in very early stages. I make no doubt that it made a beginning privately circa 1755, and that a few persons were knighted, but Von Hund had enough on his hands owing to the seven years' war, so that from 1756 to 1763 there could have been little opportunity for Templar Grades under his custody, either on his own estates or elsewhere. Meanwhile the Clermont Rite was spreading in Germany and in 1763 there were fifteen Chapters in all. There is hence an element which seems nearer certitude rather than mere speculation in proposing that the Templar claim on Masonry was imported from France into Germany, that Von Hund's business was to derive and vary, not to create the thesis. Of the great success which awaited the Strict Observance, once it was fairly launched, of its bid for supremacy over all continental Masonry and of the doom which befell it because no investigation could substantiate any of its claims, there is no opportunity to speak here. It may be said that a final judgment was pronounced against it in 1782 when the Congress of Wilhelmsbad set aside the Templar claim and approved the Rectified Rite, otherwise a transformed Strict Observance, created within the bosom of the Loge de Bienfaisance at Lyons and ratified at a Congress held in that city prior to the assembly at Wilhelmsbad. The Grades of the Strict Observance superposed on the Craft were those of Scottish Master, Novice and Knight Templar; those of the revision comprised a Regime Ecossais, described as Ancient and Rectified, and an Ordre Interieur, being Novice and Knight Beneficent of the Holy City. It laid claim on a spiritual consanguinity only in respect of the Templar Chivalry, apart from succession and historical connection, but it retained a certain root, the poetic development of which is in Werner's Sons of the Valley already mentioned, being the existence from time immemorial of a Secret Order of Wise Masters in Palestine devoted to the work of initiation for the building of a spiritual city and as such the power behind the Temple, as it was also behind Masonry.
In conclusion as to this part of my subject, the combined influence of the Templar element in the Chapter of Clermont and that of the Strict Observance which superseded it had an influence on all Continental Masonry which was not only wide and general, but lasting in the sense that some part of it has persisted there and here to the present day. The eighth Degree of the Swedish Rite, being that of Master of the Temple, communicated its particular version of the perpetuation myth, being (I) that Molay revealed to his nephew Beaujeu, shortly before his death, the Rituals and Treasures of the Order; (2) that the latter escaped, apparently, with these and with the disinterred ashes of the master, and was accompanied by nine other Knights, all disguised as Masons; (3) that they found refuge among the stonemasons. It is said that in Denmark the history of Masonry, owing to the activity of a Mason named Schubert, became practically that of the Observance, until 1785, when the Rectified Rite was introduced as an outcome of the Congress of Wilhelmsbad. It was not until 1853 that the Swedish Rite replaced all others, by reason of a royal decree. So late as 1817 the Rectified Rite erected a central body in Brussels. In 1765 the Observance entered Russia and was followed by the Swedish Rite on an authorised basis in 1775. Poland and Lithuania became a diocese of the Observance Order in 1770, and it took over the Warsaw Lodges in 1773. The story of its influence in Germany itself is beyond my scope. It is written at large everywhere: at Hamburg from 1765, when Schubert founded an independent Prefectory, to 1781 (when the Rectified Rite was established for a brief period by Prince Karl von Hesse); at Nuremberg in 1765, under the same auspices; in the Grand Lodge of Saxony from circa 1762 to 1782; at Berlin, in the Mother Lodge of the Three Globes, from 1766 to 1779, when the Rosicrucians intervened; at Konigsberg from 1769 to 1799 in the Provincial Grand Lodge; in the Kingdom of Hanover, at the English Provincial Grand Lodge, from 1766 to 1778; and even now the list is not exhausted. The explanation of this influence through all its period and everywhere is (I) that which lay behind the romantic thesis of Ramsay, as shown by his work on the <I>Philosophical Principles of Natural and Revealed Religion</I>, published in 1748- I refer to the notion that there was a Mystery of Hidden Knowledge perpetuated in the East from the days of Noah and the Flood; (2) that which lay behind, as already mentioned, the talismanic attraction exercised on Masonic minds in the eighteenth century by the name of Knights Templar, because the Church had accused them. They had learned strange things in the East: for some it corresponded to the view of Ramsay, for others to occult knowledge on the side of Magic, and for the Chapter of Clermont to Alchemy. The collapse of the Strict Observance was not so much because it could not produce its hypothetical unknown superiors,
but because it could not exhibit one shred or vestige of the desired secret knowledge.
I have now accounted at length for that which antecedes the present English Military and Religious Order of the Temple and Holy Sepulchre, so far as possible within the limits at my disposal. The Clerical Knights Templar, which originated at Weimar with the Lutheran theologian, J. A. von Starck, and presented its claims on superior and exclusive knowledge to the consideration of the Strict Observance about 1770, represent an intervention of that period which has been judged- justly or not- without any knowledge of the vast mass of material which belongs thereto and of which I in particular had not even dreamed. The fact at least of its existence is now before me, and I await an opportunity to examine it. I can say only at the moment that it was devised, as my reference shows, to create an impression that an alleged Spiritual Branch of the old Knights Templar possessed their real secrets and had been perpetuated to modern times. It was, therefore, in a position to supply what the Strict Observance itself wanted; but the alleged Mysteries of the Order appear to be those of Paracelsus and of Kabalism on the magical side. I have left over also: (1) Les Chevaliers de la Palestine, otherwise Knights of Jerusalem, because although it is a Templar Grade, it is concerned with the old chivalry at an early period of its history, and not with its transmission to modern times; (2) the Grade of Grand Inspector, otherwise Kadosh, though I am acquainted with a very early and unknown Ritual, because it does not add to our knowledge in respect of the Templar claim on Masonry. In the earliest form it shows that the judgment incurred by those who betrayed, spoliated and destroyed the Order had been imposed Divinely; that the hour of vengeance was therefore fulfilled, and that the call of Kadosh Knights was to extirpate within them those evil tendencies which would betray, spoliate and destroy the soul. (3) Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret, because in the sources with which I am acquainted it recites the migrations of Templars and only concerns us in so far as it reproduces and varies the Ramsay thesis in respect of Masonic connections. It is important from this point of view. (4) Sovereign Grand Inspector General, because I have failed so far to meet with any early codex, and that of Ragon is a Templar Grade indeed but concerned more especially with wreaking a ridiculous vengeance on the Knights of Malta, to whom some of the Templar possessions were assigned. (5) Knight Commander of the Templar, because, according to the plenary Ritual in manuscript of Albert Pike, it is exceedingly late and is concerned in his version with the foundation and history of the Teutonic Chivalry, which is beside our purpose.
In respect of the English Military and Religious Order I have met with nothing which gives the least colour to a supposition of
Gould that it arose in France: the Chevalier du Temple is its nearest analogy in that country, but the likeness resides in the fact that both Orders or Degrees have a certain memorial in the centre of the Chapter or Preceptory: we know that which it represents in at least one case and in the other, as we have seen, it is the tomb of the last Grand Master. But failing an origin in France it is still less likely that it originated elsewhere on the continent, as, for example, in Germany. I conclude, therefore, that it is of British birth and growth, though so far as records are concerned it is first mentioned in America, in the Minutes of a Royal Arch Chapter, dated August 28, 1769. I have sought to go further back and so far have failed. It was certainly working at Bristol in 1772, and two years later is heard of in Ireland. It is a matter of deep regret that I can contribute nothing to so interesting and vital a question, which appeals especially to myself on account of the beauty and spiritual significance of the Ritual in all its varied forms. The number of these may be a source of surprise to many, and I have pointed out elsewhere that however widely and strangely they differ from each other they have two points of agreement: there is no traditional history presenting a perpetuation myth or a claim on the past of chivalry, while except in one very late instance, there is no historical account whatever; and they are concerned with the one original Templar purpose, that of guarding the Holy Sepulchre and pilgrims to the Holy Places. They offer no version of Masonic origins, no explanation of Craft Symbolism, no suggestion of a secret science behind the Temple, no plan of restoring the Order to its former glory, and, above all, to its former possessions. The issue is direct and simple, much too simple and far too direct for a Continental source. Moreover, the kind of issue would have found no appeal in France; for example, or Germany, because there was no longer any need in fact to guard the tomb of Christ, and there were no pilrims in the sense of crusading times. Finally, they would not have allegorised on subjects of this kind.
I am acquainted personally with nine codices of the Ritual, outside those which belong to Irish workings, past and present, an opportunity to examine which I am hoping to find. The most important are briefly these: (1) That of the Baldwyn Encampment at Bristol, which is probably the oldest of all: the procedure takes place while a vast army of Saracens is massing outside the Encampment. (2) That of the Early Grand Rite of Scotland, subsequently merged in the Scottish Chapter General: the Pilgrim comes to lay the sins and follies of a life-time at the foot of the Cross, and he passes through various symbolical veils by which the encampment is guarded. (3) That connected with the name of Canongate Kilwinning under the title of Knight Templar Masonry, in which there is a pilgrimage to Jericho and the Jordan. (4) That of
St. George Aboyne Templar Encampment at Aberdeen, a strange elaborate pageant, in which the Candidate has a searching examination on matters of Christian doctrine. (5) That of the Royal, Exalted, Military and Holy Order of Knights of the Temple, in the library of Grand Lodge. It represents a revision of working and belongs to the year 1830. It is of importance as a stage in the development of the English Military Order. (6) That which Matthew Cooke presented to Albert Pike, by whom it was printed in the year 1851. It is practically the same as ours and was ratified at Grand Conclave on April 11 of that year. (7) That of the Religious and Military Order, of the grace and beauty of which I have no need to speak. The two that remain over are Dominion Rituals of the Order of the Temple, being that in use by the Sovereign Great Prior of Canada prior to 1876, and that which was adopted at this date under the auspices of the Grand Master, Wm. J. B. MacLeod Moore. They are of considerable interest as variants of the English original, but the second differs from all other codices by the introduction of three historical discourses, dealing with the origin of the Templar Chivalry, its destruction and its alleged Masonic connections, which are subject to critical examination, the conclusion reached being that the Templar system is Masonic only in the sense that none but Masons are admitted. The appeal of the entire sequence is one and the same throughout, an allegory of human life considered as pilgrimage and warfare, with a reward at the end in Christ for those who have walked after His commandments under the standard of Christian Chivalry.
We have very little need to make a choice between them, either on the score of antiquity or that of Ritual appeal. A descent from the Knights Templar is of course implied throughout, but it is possible to accept this, not indeed according to the literal and historical sense, but in that of the relation of symbols. The old Chivalry was founded and existed to defend the Church and its Hallows, and Masonic Knights Templar are dedicated to the same ends though official obediences alter and Hallows transform. The Holy Sepulchre for them is the Church of Christ, however understood, and if there is anything in the old notion that the Christian Chivalry in the past had sounded strange wells of doctrine, far in the holy East, there are such wells awaiting our own exploration, to the extent that we can enter into the life behind doctrine, and this is the life which is in Christ. Finally the modern chivalry is of Masons as well as Templars, because in both Orders there is a quest to follow and attain. But this Quest is one, a Quest for the Word, which is Christ, and a Quest for the Abodes of the Blessed, where the Word and the Soul are one.
Scanned from the periodical "The Occult Review", Volume XLV, nos. 1 and 4, January and April, 1927.
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