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in which the East, in invasions, armed and unarmed, with the science of the Arabs, with poetry and heresies, had turned upon the West.
200. Initiation.-Much has been said about the mode of initiation-that it took place at night in the chapel, in the presence of the chapter, all strangers being strictly excluded; that licentious rites attended it, and that the candidate was compelled to deny, curse, and spit upon the cross—that cross for which they had shed so much of their own blood, sacrificed so many
of their own lives. We have seen that this was one of the chief accusations brought against the Order.
there any truth in it? It seems most probable there was; but the practice may be explained as in the following paragraph.
201. Cursing and Spitting on the Cross Explained.- Such a practice need not surprise us in an age in which churches were turned into theatres, in which sacred things were profaned by grotesque representations, in which the ancient mysteries were reproduced to do honour, in their way, to Christ and the saints. The reader may also bear in mind the extraordinary scenes afterwards represented in the Miracle Plays. Now the aspirant to the Templar degree was at first introduced as a sinner, a bad Christian, a renegade.
He denied, in fact, after the manner of St. Peter, and the renunciation was frequently expressed by the odious act of spitting on the cross. The fraternity undertook to restore this renegade, to raise him all the higher the greater his fall had been. Thus at the Festival of the Idiots, the candidate presented himself, as it were, in a state of imbecility and of degradation, to be regenerated by the Church. These comedies, rightly understood at first, were in course of time falsely interpreted, scandalising the faithful, who had lost the key of the enigma. The Templars had adopted similar ceremonies. They were scions of the Cathari (175) and Manichæans. Now the Cathari despised the cross (176), and considered it meritorious to tread it under foot. But with the Templars this ceremony was symbolical, as was abundantly proved during their trial, and had indeed reference to Peter's thrice-repeated denial of Christ.
202. Charge of Licentious Practices.-As to licentious rites, if any such ever were practised, they were confined to certain localities and certain degrees of initiation; for it appeared at the trials that many knights had never even heard of the practices they were charged with ; that they had never seen the bust of the Baphomet; that they had never been invited
or asked to take part in licentious or blasphemous rites. If certain members of the Order were cognisant of, and participated in such, their offences were individual offences, and not crimes which the Order and its teaching could be reproached with. Unnatural crimes, however, were so common in the days of the Templars that they might safely be charged with them, without at once raising a cry of indignation, and a sense of incredulity at the mere accusation itself; for in the age of the Templars it was customary on the election of a bishop to insist on the candidate swearing that he was not guilty of sodomy, seducing nuns, or bestiality! Had these vices not been very common, every honest man would at once have exclaimed, Nolo episcopari ! All the charges brought against the Templars had been previously made against the Cathari, the Albigenses, and against the Hospitallers; and Clement, in a bull dated but four days after that of the suppression, acknowledged that the whole of the evidence against the Order amounted only to suspicion.
203. The Templars the Opponents of the Pope.—But there may have been another and special reason for introducing this ceremony, and ever keeping the treachery of Peter before the minds of the members of the Order. We have seen that the Templars, during and in consequence of their sojourn in the East, attached themselves to the doctrines of the Gnostics and Manichæans—as is sufficiently attested, were other proofs wanting, by the Gnostic and Cabalistic symbols discovered in and on the tombs of Knights Templars, which appeared to them less perverted than those of the priest of Rome. They also knew the bad success the proclamation of Christ's death on the cross had had at Athens, in consequence of Æschylus' tragedy, “Prometheus Vinctus, wherein Oceanus denied his friend, when God made him the sacrifice for the sins of mankind, just as Peter, who lived by the ocean, did with regard to Christ. The Templars, therefore, came to the conclusion that all these gods, descended from the same origin, were only religious and poetic figures of the sun; and seeing the bad use made of the doctrines connected therewith by the clergy, they renounced St. Peter, and became Johannites, or followers of St. John. There was thus a secret schism, and according to some writers, it was this, together with the opposition to Roman Catholicism which it implied, as well as their great wealth, which was among the causes of their condemnation by the court of Rome.
204. Baphomet.—The above explanation may also afford
a clue to the meaning and name of the idol the Templars were accused of worshipping. This idol represented a man with a long white beard, and the name given to it was Baphomet, a name which has exercised the ingenuity of many critics, but the only conclusions arrived at by any of them as to the meaning of the name, and deserving consideration, is that of Nicolai, who assumed that it is composed of the words Bag untis, the “ baptism of wisdom," and that the image represented God, the universal Father. As to the meaning of the head itself, we have already referred to the Gnostic and Cabalistic doctrines and symbols adopted by the Templars (198), and the head worshipped by them certainly was one of these symbols. We know that the Cabalists represented God in abstracto by a head without a beard, whilst the creative God was represented by a bearded head. The former symbolised unchangeableness, the latter the constant growth seen in the world. To the Templars the bust was the One God; when it was shown to the initiated, the hierophant pronounced the Arabic word yalla (corrupted from yh alla), the Light of God,” and the new member was addressed
friend of God.” But a denial of the Trinity in those days involved racks and faggots; hence it became sufficiently plain why the secret was looked upon as inviolable, and was so well kept by the Templars that we can only conjecture its import.
205. Disposal of the Possessions of the Templars.—The Order having been suppressed by a Papal bull, dated 6th May 1312, the king and the Pope converted to their own use the movable property of the Order under their respective jurisdictions, the king keeping, as we have seen, the lion's share. Its other possessions in France and Italy were, sorely against the will of the king, assigned to the Order of the Hospitallers, who were, however, obliged to pay such large fines to the king and Pope as completely impoverished them for the time. A portion of their German estates was assigned to the Teutonic Knights; the Spanish possessions of the Templars, consisting of seventeen towns and castles, were secured by the king for the foundation of the Order of Our Lady of Montesa, whose object was as barbarous as any Christian Pope or king could devise, namely, to combat the Moors; and the king of Portugal, who did not violently suppress the Order, made it change its name to that of the Order of Christ, which exists to this day, and, since 1789, consists of three classes : Grand-Cross, Commander, and Knight.
“All through the Middle Ages justice was no such secret to the people as it is at the present time, when it is buried under piles of law papers.”WIGAND.