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[Arthur Edward Waite] the Templar Orders in Freemasonry

[Arthur Edward Waite] the Templar Orders in Freemasonry

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Published by Phillip Stilley

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Published by: Phillip Stilley on Oct 01, 2010
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THE TEMPLAR ORDERS IN FREEMASONRYAn Historical Consideration of their Origin and DevelopmentBy ARTHUR EDWARD WAITEHAVING regard to the fact that Emblematic Freemasonry, as it isknown and practised at this day, arose from an Operative Guild andwithin the bosom of a development from certain London Lodges whichprior to the year 1717 had their titles in the past of the Guildand recognised its Old Charges, it would seem outside thereasonable likelihood of things that less than forty years afterthe foundation of Grand Lodge Knightly Orders should begin to beheard of developing under the aegis of the Craft, their titles insome cases being borrowed from the old institutions of ChristianChivalry. It is this, however, which occurred, and the inventionswere so successful that they multiplied on every side, from 1754to the threshold of the French Revolution, new denominations beingdevised when the old titles were exhausted. There arose in thismanner a great tree of Ritual, and it happens, moreover, that weare in a position to affirm the kind of root from which it sprang.Twenty years after the date of the London Grand Lodge, and whenthat of Scotland may not have been twelve months old, thememorable Scottish Freemason, Andrew Michael Ramsay, delivered anhistorical address in a French Lodge, in the course of which heexplained that the Masonic Brotherhood arose in Palestine duringthe period of the Crusades, under the protection of ChristianKnights, with the object of restoring Christian Churches which hadbeen destroyed by Saracens in the Holy Land. For some reason whichdoes not emerge, the foster-mother of Masonry, according to themind of the hypothesis, was the Chivalry of St. John. Ramsayappears to have left the Masonic arena, and he died in the earlypart of 1743, but his discourse produced a profound impression onFrench Freemasonry. He offered no evidence, but France undertookto produce it after its own manner and conformably to the spiritof the time by the creation of Rites and Degrees of MasonicKnighthood, 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 giftof the Papal See, and the Order of Christ in Portugal, in the giftof the Portuguese Crown. There is no need to say that theseReligious and Military Orders have nothing in common with theOperative Masonry of the past, and when their titles were borrowedfor the institution of Masonic Chivalries, it is curious howlittle the latter owed to the ceremonial of their precursors, intheir manners of making and installing Knights, except in so faras 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 proofsof noble birth, and the Strict Observance demanded these at thebeginning, but owing to obvious difficulties is said to have endedby furnishing patents at need; (2) in the Military Order ofHospitallers of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalern, he undertook, asin others, to protect the Church of God, with which may becompared modern Masonic injunctions in the Temple and HolySepulchre to maintain and defend the Holy Christian Faith; (3)again at his Knighting he was "made, created and constituted nowand for ever," which is identical, word for word, with the formulaof another Masonic Chivalry, and will not be unknown to many.But the appeal of the new foundations was set in an6therdirection, and was either to show that they derived from Masonryor were Masonry itself at the highest, in the proper understandingthereof. When the story of a secret perpetuation of the oldKnights Templar- outside the Order of Christ- arose in France orGermany, but as I tend to conclude in France, it was and remainsthe most notable case in point of this appeal and claim. It roseup within Masonry, and it came about that the Templar elementovershadowed the dreams and pretensions of other MasonicChivalries, or, more correctly, outshone them all. I am dealinghere with matters of fact and not proposing to account for thefacts themselves within the limits of a single study. TheChevalier Ramsay never spoke of the Templars: his affirmation wasthat the hypothetical building confraternity of Palestine unitedultimately with the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem; that itbecame established in various countries of Europe as the Crusadersdrifted back; and that its chief centre in the thirteenth centurywas Kilwinning in Scotland. But the French or otherwise GermanMasonic mind went to work upon this thesis, and in presenting theCraft with the credentials of Knightly connections it substitutedthe Order of the Temple for the chivalry chosen by Ramsay. TheBattle of Lepanto and the Siege of Vienna had invested the annalsof the St. John Knighthood with a great light of valour; but thiswas as little and next to nothing in comparison with thetalismanic attraction which for some reason attached to theTemplar name and was obviously thrice magnified when theproposition arose that the great chivalry had continued to existin secret from the days of Philippe le Bel even to the second halfof the eighteenth century. There were other considerations,however, which loomed largely, and especially in regard to thesudden proscription which befell the Order in 1307. Of the trialwhich followed there were records available to all, in successiveeditions of the French work of Dupuy, first published in 1685; inthe German
Historical Tractatus
of Petrus Puteamus published atFrankfort in 1665; in Gurther's Latin
Historia Tempiarsorum
of1691; and in yet other publications prior to 1750. There is not a
 
little evidence of one impression which was produced by thesememorials, the notion, namely, of an unexplored realm of mysteryextending behind the charges. It was the day of Voltaire, and ithappened that a shallow infidelity was characterised by the kindof licence which fosters intellectual extravagance, by a leaningin directions which are generally termed superstitious- thoughsuperstition itself was pilloried- and in particular by attractiontowards occult arts and supposed hidden knowledge. Advancedpersons were ceasing to believe in the priest but were disposed tobelieve in the sorcerer, and the Templars had been accused ofmagic, of worshipping a strange idol, the last suggestion- forsome obscure reason- being not altogether indifferent to many whohad slipped the anchor of their faith in God. Beyond thesefrivolities and the foolish minds that cherished them, there wereother persons who were neither in the school of a rather cheapinfidelity nor in that of common superstition, but who lookedseriously for light to the East and for its imagined traditionalwisdom handed down from past ages. They may have been dreamersalso, but they were less or more zealous students after their ownmanner; within their proper measures, and the Templar Chivalrydrew them because they deemed it not unlikely that itscondemnation by the paramount orthodoxy connoted a suspicion thatthe old Knighthood had learned in Palestine more than the Westcould teach. Out of such elements were begotten some at least ofthe Templar Rites and they grew from more to more, till thisparticular aspect culminated in the Templar dramas of Werner, inwhich an Order concealed through the ages and perpetuated throughsaintly custodians reveals to a chosen few among Knights Templarsome part of its secret doctrine-the identity of Christ and Horus,of Mary the Mother of God, and Isis the Queen of Heaven. The rootof these dreams on doctrine and myth transfigured through theages- with a heart of reality behind it- will be found, as itseems to me, in occult derivations from Templar Ritual whichbelong to
circa
1782 and are still in vigilant custody on thecontinent of Europe. I mention this lest it should be thought thatthe intimations of a German poet, though he was an active memberof the Strict Observance, were mere inventions of an imaginativemind.There is no historical evidence for the existence of anyTemplar perpetuation story prior to the Oration of Ramsay, just asthere is no question that all documents produced by the Frenchnon-Masonic Order of the Temple, founded in the early years of thenineteenth century, are inventions of that period and arefraudulent like the rest of its claim, its list of Grand Mastersincluded. There is further- as we have observed- no evidence ofany Rite or Degree of Masonic Chivalry prior to 1737, to whichdate is referred the discourse of Ramsay. That this was the

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