Freemasonry & the Knights Templar The Separate Fraternity Inspired by Founding Support from Templar Chivalry

A (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.org

'Entered Apprentice' Tracing Board of Freemasonry with Solomonic pillars & Angels

‘Entered Apprentice’ Tracing Board of Freemasonry with Solomonic pillars & Angels

As a historical institution, the Order of the Temple of Solomon is distinctly “Non-Masonic”.  This neutral description objectively reflects the following facts:  (1) The chivalric Order of the Temple of Solomon of the Middle Ages never merged into the later fraternity of Freemasonry of the Renaissance; (2) Freemasonry does not claim to be a chivalric Order, as it does not possess the Fons Honourum to grant official Knighthood in nobility; (3) Freemasons do not receive Knighthood from the chivalric Order by achieving the Masonic “Templar” degree; and (4) Knights and Dames of the Templar Order do not become members of any Masonic fraternity by receiving chivalric nobility.

Notwithstanding this clear separation of two distinct traditions, with different practices, Freemasonry and the Templar Order do share one significant “moment” of an intersecting point on the timeline of history, which created some shared affinities for ancient knowledge:  In the 15th century, surviving Templars taught stonemasons some Gothic building techniques and sacred geometry, which inspired the esoteric foundations of Freemasonry.

For this reason, the Masonic fraternity uses the honourary title of “Knights Templar” for its highest 33rd degree of initiation, in tribute to the earlier Templars.  Freemasonry was thus established approximately 330 years after the chivalric Knights Templar, making them separate organizations, each with their own unique heritage in its own right.

In the modern era, there has been increasing public exposure of an infamous secret society called the “Bavarian Illuminati”, which has sometimes infiltrated and misused the fraternity of Freemasonry, as well as some other groups.  The 18th century “Illuminati” was created another full 330 years after the Masonic fraternity, such that authentic Freemasonry itself does not espouse nor embody any principles of that later secret society.  As a result, the Order of the Temple of Solomon is a formidable 660 years older than the “Illuminati”, with no connection whatsoever to that suppressed counter-culture, not even indirectly.

The Sovereign Magistral Order of the Temple of Solomon offers its support to Freemasons and their Lodges, in friendship, to help restore and preserve authentic and uncorrupted Freemasonry, by replenishing it with the full depth of the most ancient knowledge of the Temple of Solomon which originally inspired the Masonic tradition.

The Order recognizes authentic Freemasons as kindred spirits, who share an inspiration and passion for ancient esoteric knowledge of the divine mechanics of consciousness of the universe. That common characteristic of both Masons and Templars should be honoured, and is sufficient and compelling reason to ensure friendly and mutually supportive relations between them.

Therefore, with the modern restoration and public re-emergence of the Templar Order, Freemasons now have the historic opportunity to personally experience precisely the same interaction and mentorship from the direct continuation of the original Knights Templar of the 12th century, as the very first Freemasons enjoyed in the 15th century.

 

An Objective Context of Authentic Freemasonry

 

T (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.org

Esoteric Temple of Solomon with Celestial Pillars in Freemasonry

Esoteric Temple of Solomon with Celestial Pillars in Freemasonry

The teachings and traditions of Freemasonry are essentially comprised of symbolism, allegory and metaphor inspired by the ancient construction of the Temple of Solomon, which is applied as an esoteric representation for principles of personal transformation. Additionally, the concept of stonemasonry itself is considered symbolic of an intended stewardship role as “architects of society”. This is related to the predominant Masonic requirement of belief in the Supreme Being (i.e. God), referred to by the symbolic title “Great Architect of the Universe”.

The use of ceremonial regalia in Freemasonry began as a new practice contemporary with its creation in the 15th century [1], with regalia serving as an additional dimension of symbolism supporting the esoteric teachings.

The famous system of “degrees” of Freemasonry originated from the secular tradition of medieval craft Guilds, since the Guilds regulated the qualifications of all stone masons. Due to this professional regulatory context, Masonry developed independently as a network of Lodges. Each national or regional Grand Lodge is autonomous from those of other countries, Lodges of different jurisdictions do not necessarily recognize each other [2], and there is no single international governing body [3].

The Masonic tradition of sworn secrecy came from the legitimate quasi-legal “trade secret” needs of the professional craft Guilds of stone masons in the 15th century. Although modern Freemasonry no longer involves any trade craft requiring such protection, that practice is still valid for the sake of tradition. Indeed, that early legal doctrine of protecting “trade secrets” remains an important part of international intellectual property law to this day.

Painting re-creating the historical Temple of Solomon excavated by the Knights Templar

Painting re-creating the historical Temple of Solomon excavated by the Knights Templar

These points of historical background explain why the Masonic hierarchic degree system and Lodge structure diverges from the monastic Knights Templar governance, which was based upon a centralized but egalitarian “round table” principle of a Grand Mastery. This context also explains why Freemasonry is characterized by secrecy, in contrast with the Knights Templar principles of exercising public official authority for visible preservation and open popularization of esoteric knowledge as the collective heritage of humanity.

The fraternity of Freemasonry emphasizes the metaphorical Temple of Solomon conceptually, and concentrates on the symbolic aspects of its physical construction by highly advanced stone work in ancient times, based upon teachings from surviving Templars from ca. 1446 AD.

In contrast, the chivalric Templar Order focuses on the total body of knowledge gained from its nine years of deep underground archaeological excavation of the actual Temple of Solomon from 1118 AD, including an accumulated library of the Essenes discovered within that Temple. The 12th century Templars attributed their famous stone work and building skills to their reverse engineering from that ancient site, supported by mentoring from Egyptian chivalric and priestly Orders.

 

Rosslyn Chapel – Templar Commandery which Created Freemasonry

 

Rosslyn Chapel: 'Lady Chapel' (15th century): Knights Templar Solomonic architecture

Rosslyn Chapel: ‘Lady Chapel’ (15th century): Knights Templar Solomonic architecture

R (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgRosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh, Scotland, is famous as a “Templar” structure, although there has been some confusion as to whether it was from hereditary Templars descendant from the original Order, or whether it was solely “Masonic”. That issue is resolved by a factual balance, that its design and construction by the surviving Knights Templar was precisely the historical event that served to create the newly formed fraternity of Freemasonry.

Rosslyn Chapel was built under William Sinclair, a hereditary descendant from the first Grand Master of the Order, Hughes de Payens, who was married to Catherine Saint Clair, the niece of Baron Henri Saint Clair of Roslin. This genealogy provides a direct connection between the founder of Rosslyn Chapel and the original Order of the Temple of Solomon. [4]

Since Freemasonry highly values its historical connection to the Knights Templar which first established the fraternity, Masonic Lodges traditionally give special status to hereditary descendants of William Sinclair, who by that ancestry can be reasonably described as a “descendant of Hughes de Payens”, even if indirectly.

Notwithstanding genealogical connections to 15th century hereditary Templars from nobility families who were prominent in the original Order, it is important to delineate the difference between this cultural connection and any claim to succession of the 12th century chivalric Order of the Temple of Solomon:

By the rules and protocols of royalty and chivalry under customary international law, the juridical succession of the Knights Templar as a chivalric Order was vested exclusively in its Grand Mastery, as established by the Fons Honourum royal authority of the Kings of Jerusalem. By definition, the Grand Mastery of the Templar Order only followed succession through other Grand Masters. During the 700 year period of abeyance of the Grand Mastery, legitimacy of succession necessarily reverted back to the royal patronage of the Order’s sovereignty, and thus could only lawfully follow the dynastic line of King Fulk of Jerusalem. It was precisely that royal line which legally re-established the Grand Mastery of the present Order of the Temple of Solomon in 2013.

Accordingly, as a matter of historical and legal fact, succession of the original Knights Templar was never vested in the Sinclair family, which was only a sponsor of the Templars, was never part of the Grand Mastery itself, and never received royal patronage from the dynastic King Fulk line. Therefore, no aspect of legitimate “Sovereign Magistral” succession of the Templar Order was ever conveyed to the Sinclair nobility family, nor to any other leaders or members of Freemasonry.

Fortunately, the original Order has been fully reestablished in the modern era, and is accessible to all Freemasons who desire a living connection to their authentic conceptual roots.

Rosslyn Chapel: 'Apprentice Pillar' (15th century): Knights Templar Solomonic architecture

Rosslyn Chapel: ‘Apprentice Pillar’ (15th century): Knights Templar Solomonic architecture

Modern Templar historians have found evidence that “Henry Sinclair… wished to construct an edifice that would somehow ‘reflect’ the earliest achievement of the Templars; namely, their excavation of Solomon’s Temple on the sacred mound in Jerusalem.” Thus, Rosslyn Chapel was “a medieval representation of what the part of Solomon’s Temple excavated by the Templars… probably looked like”, and “is said to be a copy of Solomon’s Temple which was in Jerusalem.” [5]

The active use of Rosslyn Chapel by hereditary Templar descendants of the Order spanned the period of approximately 259 years from ca.1466-1725 AD. This supports the conclusion of many historians, that the original Order had in fact survived the French persecution of 1307 AD, and continued to thrive as an underground network, serving as a hidden force of great positive influence, development and prosperity throughout Europe.

The surviving Templars, preserving and continuing the original Order of the Temple of Solomon, needed to integrate all of their most important secrets, and most advanced building technologies, sacred geometry and symbolism into the design of Rosslyn Chapel. Having it constructed, which required contracting builders, thus presented a serious problem, in particular how to keep key elements of their sacred knowledge secret, despite having to disclose and even teach many such secrets to the uninitiated builders.

For these reasons, as Masonic historians admit and explain, those real Templars were “forced to invent some way of securing the secrecy of those taking part in the building of [Rosslyn] Chapel. Using aspects of Templar belief and worship, William Sinclair created a ‘secret society’ to which his stonemasons were introduced.” This “started out as a form of ‘charter’ assuring the masons of continued patronage and exclusive privileges regarding their trade”. As a result, “the precepts of Freemasonry owe much to the survival of Templar and post-Templar thinking in Scotland.”

The original Templars “understood very well that at least a proportion of the masons constructing the edifice would find themselves party to mathematical and geometric secrets that [they] would not have wished to pass into the public domain. As a result, [they] tied these masons together into the tightest of guilds, replete with horrible oaths of retribution handed out to anyone who betrayed the trust of the new fraternity. … But these men were bound together by solemn oaths that endured for generations, since there had undoubtedly been advantages of preference, welfare and mutual aid written into the original concept of the pledge made” to the Templars.

This “proto-Masonic guild” was styled based upon “the workers who had once created Solomon’s Temple, of which Rosslyn was a partial copy. These matters conferred a ‘special status’ on the workers involved, and one that their sons and grandsons did not wish to relinquish.” [6]

It was in 1446 AD that Henry Sinclair received the founding charter from the Vatican of the Roman Catholic Church for the construction of Rosslyn Chapel. Modern Templars therefore consider this to be the year when the fraternal society of Freemasonry was first established.

This same strategy of creating an isolated “secret society” to build a sacred Templar cathedral was also used for Chartres Cathedral in France. Chartres was designed by the Knights of the Temple of Solomon, and was constructed starting in 1194 AD by a Guild of stone masons which was created and named by the Templars, called the “Children of Solomon”. [7]

 

Kirkwall Scroll – Evidence of Masonic Independence & Protection of Templars

 

O (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.org

'Kirkwall Scroll' at Kilwinning Masonic Lodge in Orkney, England (15th century)

‘Kirkwall Scroll’ at Kilwinning Masonic Lodge in Orkney, England (15th century)

One important artifact in the historical record, called the “Kirkwall Scroll”, highlights that Freemasonry was a new and unique offshoot based upon the knowledge and mentorship of the Knights Templar, yet entirely separate and developing in its own independent direction.

The Kirkwall Scroll is a historical document, hanging on display in the Masonic “Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning No. 38”, in Orkney, England, which was carbon dated to the 15th century. It consists of 3 sheets of paintings on linen canvas, sewn together, that spans 5.5 meters tall and 1.6 meters wide. Its text is written in the Enochian alphabet from the Book of Enoch, called the “language of angels”. The scroll prominently features extensive original Masonic symbolism, which was never used by any Knights Templar, as its core content.

The Lords Saint Clair of Orkney founded Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was built by the Earl of Orkney William Sinclair in the 15th century, in memory of his grandfather, Count William of Saint Clair. According to legend, Count William in the 14th century formed a secret order to protect the Templars, who had become a secret society only for survival, since they were persecuted by France in 1307 AD and released from the Vatican in 1312 AD.

According to the Director of Rosslyn Chapel Hall, Bob Brydon, “The operational part of the brotherhood, related to the trade guilds and masons, was also strongly associated with Saint Clair, so there is no doubt that the Kirkwall Scroll has important implications.”

The Kirkwall Scroll is significant as perhaps the most tangible evidence proving that Masonry was independent as a unique offshoot since its earliest inception, and was mostly created for the Order of the Temple of Solomon to protect themselves as a formerly persecuted Order surviving in secrecy.

The 15th century Kirkwall Scroll contains a depiction of a Christian cross labeled with the inscription “ISH”, a version of the classic “IHS” in a different order, indicating that they are acronyms. Masonic tradition holds “IHS” to mean “Isis Horus Seb” from the Egyptian tradition which was highly valued by the Templars. The “IHS” inscription is used primarily by the original Knights Templar, and by the Jesuits. This substantiates a historical connection of some surviving Templars continuing through the later 16th century Jesuit Order.

The scroll’s newly invented inscriptions, by a newly created Masonic offshoot, express the knowledge and beliefs of the first Freemasons about the higher-level Templars who inspired them, evidencing that the original Templars were believed to be those same Knights who later were protected by, and thus continued to operate through, the Vatican Jesuits. The Jesuit Order was officially established on August 15, 1534 AD.

 

 

 

Freemasonic Perception of the Order of the Temple of Solomon

 

A (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.orgA classic painting, which is famous in Masonic fraternity circles, was published in Life Magazine on 08 October 1956, illustrating an article called “The Structure of Freemasonry”.  This modern artistic work best expressed – in the simplest form of visual reference – the full complexity of the organizational structure of Freemasonry.

Perhaps most significantly, or at least most relevant to the present topic, this painting explains the relationship of Masonry relative to external and independent chivalric Orders.

 

'The Structure of Freemasonry' in Life Magazine (08 October 1956) in The Masonic Library & Museum of Pennsylvania, featuring Knights Templar at 33rd Degree

‘The Structure of Freemasonry’ in Life Magazine (08 October 1956) in The Masonic Library & Museum of Pennsylvania, featuring Knights Templar at 33rd Degree

Underneath the arch, in the center, several outside Orders are presented, labeled as “Allied Organizations”. Among them is a Shriner wearing a 20th century Egyptian Fez cap, Order of the Eastern Star, and Daughters of the Nile, showing that the Masons had learned the central importance of ancient Egyptian mysticism from the medieval Templars. On the bottom right of the Arch is a robed man, labeled as “Order of De Molay”, named after the famous “last” Grand Master of the Order of the Temple of Solomon before the 700 year abeyance of its Grand Mastery (until it was restored during 2007-2013 AD).

This indicates Masonic acknowledgement of the Knights Templar tradition as a separate and external Order, although it is a reference to another offshoot group that is allied with Freemasonry, while the chivalric Order of the Temple of Solomon is not affiliated.

'The Structure of Freemasonry' (Detail): Masonic view of Knights Templar as highest 33rd Degree

‘The Structure of Freemasonry’ (Detail): Masonic view of Knights Templar as highest 33rd Degree

The steps on the left side present the 33 degrees of initiation for the Scottish Rite, with their “Grand” level on the top step of the 33rd degree. The steps on the right side present the levels of the York Rite, the top 3 levels of which are Masonic sub-orders named after earlier Orders which are independent in their own right, including the “Order of the Red Cross” (version of Rosicrucians), and the “Order of Knights of Malta” (version of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta).

At the top of the steps on the right side is the “Order of Knights Templar” (version of the 12th century Order of the Temple of Solomon of the original Knights Templar). The Templar figure uniquely occupies the highest level of the 33rd degree of Masonic initiation.

This evidences that Freemasonry recognizes the Knights Templar as inherently being the highest possible level of sacred knowledge available to all Freemasons. It also confirms that the Order of the Temple of Solomon does not need any “degrees”, because all Templars are already at the highest level of initiation, equally all 33rd degree masters, by virtue of being members of the original medieval chivalric Order which embodies the most ancient sacred knowledge aspired to by all Freemasons.

Thus, Templar Knights and Dames of the Order do not need to join Freemasonry, because they are already established at the equivalent of the 33rd degree level, firmly rooted in the original 12th century tradition. However, all Freemasons can enter and even surpass that level by receiving knighthood in the Templar Order. New members of the Order are rapidly trained in 33rd degree knowledge, from the beginning, such that all further experience in the Order takes them far above and beyond what is normally available to most Freemasons within their lifetimes.

Many Freemasons have expressed some discomfort that Masonic Lodges generally do not accept women, such that their wives cannot participate, causing some frustration or complications in their family life at home. As women are full and equal members in the Templar Order, sharing chivalric missions as a Knight and Dame couple would thus be a refreshing breakthrough, adding a new dimension of mutual interest and bonding in the family relationship.

 

Invitation to the New Renaissance of the Modern Era

 

N (100) Knights Templar Illuminated Letters www.knightstemplarorder.org

Authentic Freemasonry uses the Holy Bible and promotes spirituality

Authentic Freemasonry uses the Holy Bible and promotes spirituality

Numerous Freemasons around the world have mentioned, or at least heard rumours about, the existence of coveted, exclusive, secret “above 33rd degree” levels. However, authentic Freemasonry has only 33 degrees, and Masonry itself is not secret, as the complete libraries of its teachings are openly published in bookstores worldwide. Therefore, by definition, anything supposedly “above 33” is in fact not Freemasonry, but distinctly something else. That body of knowledge deals with the specifics of historical agendas against religion and against humanity itself, and the classical “battle between good and evil”.

Authentic Freemasonry officially uses and actively promotes spiritual use of the Holy Bible (traditionally the Authorized King James Version).  Contrary to that dedicated purpose, the negative agendas of certain secret societies have opposed all religion, seeking to undermine all real spirituality.

The Knights Templar, of the original 12th century Order of the Temple of Solomon, possess the full range of “above 33rd degree” knowledge, having full understanding of the historical record evidencing specific negative agendas. More importantly, the Order has detailed information on the means and methods to cause such agendas to fail, backfire and implode, for the effective defense of human rights and freedoms.

Therefore, for the first time in history, all Freemasons now have the opportunity to fully enjoy the coveted “above 33rd degree” knowledge, firmly on the side of the historically proven “good guys”, the original Knights Templar, unequivocally remaining on the path of God.

'Magnificat' by Sandro Botticelli (1480 AD) in Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy, capturing the spirit of the Renaissance

‘Magnificat’ by Sandro Botticelli (1480 AD) in Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy, capturing the spirit of the Renaissance

Any agendas to suppress traditional religion are inherently opposed to the teachings  and values of Freemasonry from the Renaissance, and fundamentally violate all of the ancient doctrines and principles of the Knights Templar from the Middle Ages. Indeed, they would violate everything that was ever sacred throughout all of human history.

Now in the modern era, the 12th century Knights Templar, of the Sovereign Magistral Order of the Temple of Solomon, call all Freemasons, Christians, Muslims, and all genuine spiritual religions, to join forces in unity – while preserving and respecting their different traditions – to defend the principle of religion itself, and promote religious freedoms under the Rule of Law.

By this call to action, all fraternities, priesthoods and spiritual seekers are invited to join the Knights Templar in our mission to create the “New Renaissance” of the modern era. All who believe in goodness, tolerance, spiritual connection to universal divine energies, and humanity, are encouraged to join us on this Holy Quest of historic global importance.

 

 

 

Academic Source References for this Topic

 

[1] John Yarker, The Arcane Schools, Manchester (1909), pp.341-342.

[2] Donald G. Campbell, Committee on Ritual, Handbook for Candidate’s Coaches, Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, California (2007), “The Master Mason: Irregular and Clandestine Lodges”.

[3] John Hamill & Robert Gilbert, Freemasonry, Angus (2004), Glossary, p.247.

[4] Alan Butler and Stephen Dafoe, The Warriors and Bankers, Lewis Masonic, Surrey England (2006), p.33.

[5] Ibid, p.36-37.

[6] Ibid, p.37, pp.78-79.

[7] Louis Charpentier, The Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral, Research Into Lost Knowledge Organization with Thorsons Press, Wellingborough (1972), Chapter 18.