The history of Freemasonry and the Knights Templar has long been the subject of fascination and speculation. These two groups share a rich and complex history, with their connections being both direct and indirect.
This article will delve into the relationship between the Freemasons and the Knights Templar, examining the origins of Freemasonry, the influence of the Knights Templar on its development, and the significance of artifacts like the Kirkwall Scroll.
Origins of Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that traces its origins back to the medieval stonemasons’ guilds. These guilds, which were responsible for constructing many of Europe’s most significant cathedrals and churches, were made up of highly skilled craftsmen who possessed a deep understanding of geometry, architecture, and engineering. They also had access to sacred knowledge passed down through the generations, which they incorporated into their work, imbuing it with spiritual significance.
In the 18th century, these guilds evolved into modern Freemasonry, as they began to accept non-stonemasons into their ranks. These new members, known as “speculative” Masons, were attracted to the organization by its secretive nature and its teachings on morality, spirituality, and brotherhood. As a result, Freemasonry became a powerful and influential organization, with members drawn from all walks of life, including many of society’s most prominent figures.
Influence of the Knights Templar on Freemasonry
The Knights Templar was a medieval Christian military order founded in 1119 to protect pilgrims traveling to the Holy Land. The Templars were also skilled warriors, and they played a crucial role in many significant battles during the Crusades. However, their rapid rise to prominence and their immense wealth made them a target for envy and suspicion.
In 1307, King Philip IV of France accused the Templars of heresy, leading to their arrest and the eventual dissolution of the order by Pope Clement V in 1312. Many of the surviving Templars went into hiding, and it is believed that some found refuge within the stonemasons’ guilds that would later give rise to Freemasonry.
The Freemasons, impressed by the Templars’ wealth of knowledge and their dedication to spiritual principles, incorporated many of their teachings into their own organization. These teachings included the veneration of the sacred feminine, the quest for the Holy Grail, and the search for lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Some Masonic scholars argue that the Knights Templar played a significant role in shaping Freemasonry, both directly through their teachings and indirectly through their influence on the Stonemasons’ guilds.
The Kirkwall Scroll
One of the most compelling pieces of evidence supporting the link between Freemasonry and the Knights Templar is the Kirkwall Scroll. This 15th-century artifact, housed in the Masonic Lodge Kirkwall Kilwinning No. 38 in Orkney, England, is a 5.5-meter-tall, 1.6-meter-wide linen canvas featuring paintings and text in the Enochian alphabet, also known as the “language of angels.”
The scroll prominently features original Masonic symbolism, which was never used by the Knights Templar, indicating that Freemasonry was a distinct offshoot that developed independently but was influenced by the Templars’ knowledge and mentorship. The scroll’s significance lies in its tangible evidence of Masonry’s early beginnings as a unique offshoot, created primarily to offer protection and a means of survival for the persecuted Order of the Temple of Solomon, which had been forced into secrecy.
The Lords Saint Clair of Orkney, who founded Rosslyn Chapel in Edinburgh, Scotland, are believed to have formed a secret order in the 14th century to protect the surviving Templars. The connection between the Saint Clairs, the Kirkwall Scroll, and the Templars lends further support to the idea that Freemasonry was established, at least in part, to safeguard the Templars and their sacred knowledge.
The Kirkwall Scroll and the Jesuit Order
The Kirkwall Scroll contains an inscription of a Christian cross labeled “ISH,” a variation of the classic “IHS” acronym. In Masonic tradition, “IHS” stands for “Isis Horus Seb,” drawing from the Egyptian tradition highly valued by the Templars. The “IHS” inscription is primarily used by the original Knights Templar and the Jesuits, suggesting a historical connection between the surviving Templars and the later 16th-century Jesuit Order.
This connection indicates that the original Templars were believed to be the same Knights who continued to operate through and were protected by, the Vatican Jesuits. The Jesuit Order was officially established in 1534, providing another link between the Freemasons, the Knights Templar, and the Jesuits.
Freemasonic Perception of the Order of the Temple of Solomon
A painting published in Life Magazine in 1956, titled “The Structure of Freemasonry,” provides a visual representation of the organizational structure of Freemasonry and its relationship to external and independent chivalric Orders, including the Knights Templar.
The painting shows several outside Orders labeled as “Allied Organizations,” such as the Order of the Eastern Star, Daughters of the Nile, and a robed man labeled as “Order of De Molay.” These references acknowledge the Knights Templar tradition as a separate and external Order. However, it is important to note that the chivalric Order of the Temple of Solomon is not affiliated with Freemasonry.
In the painting, the Templar figure occupies the highest level of the 33rd degree of Masonic initiation, indicating that Freemasonry recognizes the Knights Templar as the highest possible level of sacred knowledge available to all Freemasons. This also suggests that the Order of the Temple of Solomon does not require any degrees, as all Templars are considered to be at the highest level of initiation, equivalent to the 33rd degree, by virtue of their membership in the original medieval chivalric Order.
Freemasons and the Templar Order Today
Many modern Freemasons choose to pursue knighthood in the Templar Order, as it offers access to the 33rd degree knowledge and beyond. Women, who are often excluded from participation in Masonic Lodges, are fully and equally accepted as members in the Templar Order, allowing for couples to share in chivalric missions and foster a stronger bond in their relationships.
The Templar Order today calls upon Freemasons and followers of all genuine spiritual religions to join forces in unity, respecting and preserving their different traditions, to defend the principle of religion itself and promote religious freedoms under the Rule of Law. By answering this call to action, spiritual seekers can join the Knights Templar in their mission to create the “New Renaissance” of the modern era, embracing goodness, tolerance, spiritual connection, and humanity.
The relationship between Freemasonry and the Knights Templar is an intricate web of historical connections, shared knowledge, and mutual influence. From the origins of Freemasonry in the medieval stonemasons’ guilds to the Templars’ impact on the development of the organization, the two groups have been intertwined throughout history. Artifacts like the Kirkwall Scroll serve as tangible evidence of these connections, further highlighting the importance of the Templars in the formation of Freemasonry. The ongoing involvement of Freemasons in the Templar Order today speaks to the enduring bond between these two organizations and their shared pursuit of spiritual wisdom, personal development, and the betterment of humanity.
As we delve deeper into the history of these two storied organizations, we continue to uncover new insights into their rich past, their shared values, and their impact on the world. By understanding the origins and evolution of both the Freemasons and the Knights Templar, we can appreciate the significance of their intertwined relationship and the powerful influence they have had on the course of human history.
In the modern era, the alliance between Freemasonry and the Knights Templar serves as a beacon of hope for those seeking to promote unity, tolerance, and spiritual growth. By drawing upon the lessons of the past, these organizations can continue to inspire positive change and help shape a brighter future for all.