The Masonic/Templar Connection
Sub-Figura vel Liber Caeruleus

.:. Baphomet .:.
The Goat of Mendes
The practice of magic -- either white or
black -- depends upon the ability of the
adept to control the universal life force
-- that which Eliphas Levi calls the great
magical agent or the astral light [A:.A:.
/ "orgone" / whatever -B:.B:.]. By the
manipulation of this fluidic essence the
phenomena of transcendentalism are
produced. The famous Hermaphroditic
Goat of Mendes was a composite
creature formulated to symbolize
this astral light. It is identical with
Baphomet, the mystic pantheos of
those disciples of ceremonial magic,
the Templars, who probably obtained
it from the Arabians.

Medieval Bricklayers and the Amerikan Magickal Mystery Tour

Following are some observations -- both pro and con -- regarding the highly secretive and oft misunderstood fraternity known as the Knights Templars.

The first batch of quotes comes from Manley P. Hall’s 1988 master- piece, "The Secret Teachings of All Ages: An Encyclopaedic Outline of Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy" and the remainder reflect the painstaking research of one William Bramley in his epic Paradigm-Buster "The Gods of Eden" (Avon Books, ISBN 0-380-71807-3).

"The true story of the life of Jesus of Nazareth has been unfolded to the world, either in the accepted Gospels or in the Apocrypha, although a few stray hints may be found in some of the commentaries written by the ante-Nicene Fathers. [it was the Nicene council BTW which also yanked the Book of Enoch from the "cannonized" texts so searching ante-Nicene sources for clues becomes essential in our Quest for the "Holy Grail." -B:.B:.]

"The facts concerning His identity and mission are among the price- less mysteries preserved to this day in the secret vaults beneath the "Houses of the Brethren." To a few of the Knights Templars, who were initiated into the arcana of the Druses, Nazarenes, Essenes, Johannites, and other sects still inhabiting the remote and inaccessible fastness of the Holy Land, part of the strange story was told. The knowledge of the Templars concerning the early history of Christianity was undoubtedly one of the main reasons for their persecution and final annihilation.

"The discrepancies in the writings of the early church fathers not only are irreconcilable, but demonstrate beyond question that even during the first five centuries after Christ these learned men had for the basis of their writings little more than folklore and hear- say."
-CLXXVII: Mystic Christianity, Hall’s "Secret Teachings"

"The Roman Collegia of skilled architects were apparently a subdivision of the greater Ionian body, their principles and organization being practically identical with the older Ionian institution. It has been suspected that the Dionysians also profoundly influenced Islamic culture, for part of their symbolism found it’s way into the Mysteries of the dervishes. At one time the dervishes referred to themselves as Sons of Solomon, and one of the most important of their symbols was the Seal of Solomon -- two interlaced triangles [the "Star of David" -B:.B:.].

"This motif is frequently seen in conspicuous parts of Mohammedan mosques. The Knights Templars -- who were suspected of anything and everything -- are believed to have contacted these Dionysiac architects and to have introduced many of their symbols and doc- trines into medieval Europe."
-CLXXV: Freemasonic Symbolism, Hall’s "Secret Teachings"


Origins of the Knights Templar

Behind the Crusades lay the Brotherhood. The Christian Crusaders were led primarily by two powerful knight organizations with intimate Brotherhood ties: the Knights Hospitaler and the Knights of the Temple ("Knights Templar").

The "Knights Hospitaler" were so named because they operated a hospital in Jerusalem to help pilgrims in distress. The Hospitalers began operations in the year 1048 as a charitable order. Their purpose was aid and comfort. When the first Crusaders successfully captured the Holy City, the Hospitalers began to receive generous financial support from the wealthier Crusaders. In the year 1118, seventy years after their founding, the Knights Hospitaler underwent a change of leadership and purpose.


They were made into a military order dedicated to fighting the Moslems who were continually trying to recapture Jerusalem. With this change of purpose came a change in name; the Hospitalers were variously called the "Order of Knights Hospitaler of St. John...Knights of St. John of Jerusalem," or simply, "Knights of St. John." The Hospitalers had named themselves after John, son of the King of Cyprus. John had gone to Jerusalem to aid Christian pilgrims and knights.

There is some doubt as to whether the Hospitalers were founded as a Brotherhood organization. They reportedly did not function as one at the outset. However, they soon became affiliated with the Brotherhood network by adopting Brotherhood traditions and titles. They became ruled by a Grand Master and developed secret rites and rituals.

By 1119, one year after the Hospitalers had become a fighting order, the Templar Knights were in existence. The Templars originally called themselves the "Order of the Poor Knights of Christ" because they took solemn vows of poverty. Their name was later changed to "Knights of the Temple" after they were housed near the site where Solomon’s temple had once stood. Although the Templars and Hospitalers had a common enemy in the Moslems, the two Christian organizations became bitter rivals.

The Templar Knights began their existence as a branch of the Brotherhood. They practiced a deep mystical tradition and used many Brotherhood titles, notably "Grand Master." Like the Hospitaler Knights, the Templars received large sums of money from well-to-do Christian crusaders. The Templars thereby became enormously wealthy and were able to transform themselves into an international banking house during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The Templars loaned large sums of money to European kings, princes, merchants, and to at least one Moslem ruler. Most of the Templars’ riches were stored in strongrooms in their Paris and London temples, causing those cities to become leading financial centers.

After the fall of Jerusalem and the final victory of the Moslems in 1291, the fortunes of both knightly orders changed. The Knights of St. John (Hospitalers) were forced to flee the Holy Land. They took up residence on a succession of islands during the ensuing centuries. With the changes of location came changes in name. They became the "Knights of Rhodes" after moving to the island of Rhodes. They were the "Knights of Malta" when they moved to that island and ruled it. While on Malta, the Knights became a major military and naval power in the Mediterranean until their defeat in 1789 by Napoleon.


After enjoying temporary protection under Russian Emperor Paul 1, the Knights of Malta had their headquarters moved to Rome in 1834 by Pope Leo XIII. Today they are known as the "Sovereign and Military Order of Malta" (SMOM) and have the unusual distinction of being the world’s smallest nation. Located in a walled enclave in central Rome, SMOM still retains its status as a sovereign state, although new Grand Masters of the Order must be approved by the Pope. SMOM runs hospitals, clinics, and leper colonies throughout the world. It also gives active assistance to anti-Communist causes and is surprisingly influential in political, business, and intelligence circles today despite its small size.

[Recent American members of SMOM have included the late William Casey (American CIA director), Lee Iacocca (chairman of the Chrysler Corporation), Alexander Haig (former U.S. Secretary of State), and William A. Schreyer (president of Merrill Lynch).]

The Templar Knights did not fare as well as the Hospitalers after the Crusades. They were forced to flee with the Hospitalers to the island of Cyprus, whereupon the Templars split up and returned to their many Templar houses ("preceptories") in Europe. The Templars came under heavy criticism for their failure to save the Holy Land and rumors circulated that they engaged in heresy and immorality. Accusations were made that the Templars spat on the cross during their initiations and forced members to engage in homosexual acts. By 1307, the Templar controversy had become so strong that Philip IV the Fair of France ordered the arrest of all Templars within his dominion and used torture to extract confessions. Five years later, the Pope dissolved the Templar Order by Papal decree.


Many Templars were executed, including Grand Master Jacques de Molay, who was publicly burned at the stake on March 11, 1314 in front of the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Nearly all Templar properties were confiscated and turned over to the Hospitaler Knights. The long and intense rivalry between the Hospitalers and Templars had finally come to an end. The Hospitalers emerged as the victors. The Hospitalers’ victory could not have occurred at a more fortuitous time for there had been serious discussion within Papal circles about merging the two orders -- a plan which would have been completely unacceptable to both.

Despite the downfall of the Templar Knights, the organization managed to survive. According to Freemasonic historian, Albert MacKey, the Knights Templar were given a home in Portugal by King Denis after their banishment from the rest of Catholic Europe. In Portugal, the Templars were granted their usual rights and privileges, they wore the same costumes, and they were governed by the same rules they had before. The decree which re-established the Templars in Portugal stated that they were in that country to be rehabilitated. Pope Clement V approved the rehabilitation plan and issued a bull (official proclamation) commanding that the Templars change their name to " Knights of Christ." The Templars, or "Knights of Christ," also changed the cross on their uniform from the eight-pointed Maltese cross to the official Latin cross.

The Templars became quite powerful in their new home. In 1420, King John I gave the Knights of Christ control of Portugese possessions in the Indies. Subsequent Portuguese monarchs expanded the Knights’ proprietorship to any new countries which the Knights might discover. The Knights of Christ became so powerful, reports Albert MacKey, that several Portugese kings felt compelled to curtail the Knights’ influence by taking over the Grand Master position. The Knights of Christ survived under Portugese sponsorship until well into the eighteenth century, at which time the Templar name re-emerged and took on renewed importance in the stormy political affairs of Europe, as we shall see later.

There was a third Christian knight organization during the Crusades worth mentioning: the Teutonic Knights. The Teutonic Knights were originally called the "Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary of the Teutons in Jerusalem." Like the Hospitalers, the Teutonic Knights started as a charitable order. They operated a hospital in Jerusalem to aid Christians making pilgrimages to the Holy Land. In March 1198, the Teutonic Knights were given the rank of an order of knights, which made them into a fighting order. Like the Templars, the Teutonic Knights lived a semimonastic lifestyle, practiced initiation rites, and were ruled by a Grand Master. The Teutonic Knights permitted only Teutons [Germans] to become members. They also feuded a great deal with the Hospitalers and Templars.

Knights’ New [Golden] Dawn

As human history entered the eighteenth century, changes were occurring. The Inquisition was almost dead and the Bubonic Plague was dying with it.

Students of Masonic history know that the early 1700’s were an important period for Freemasonry. Masonic lodges in England had attracted many members who were not masons or builders by trade. This happened because Freemasonry was evolving into something other than a trade guild. It was becoming a fraternal society with a secret mystical tradition. Many lodges were quietly opening their doors to non-masons, especially to local aristocrats and men of influence. By the year 1700, an estimated 70% of all Freemasons were people from other occupations. They were called "Accepted Masons" because they were accepted into the lodges even though they were not masons by trade.

On June 24, 1717, representatives from four British lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron Alehouse in London and created a new Grand Lodge. The new Grand Lodge, which was called by some "The Mother Grand Lodge of the World," officially dropped the guild aspect of Freemasonry ("operative Freemasonry") and replaced it with a type of Freemasonry that was strictly mystical and fraternal ("speculative Freemasonry"). The titles, tools and products of the mason’s trade were no longer addressed as objects that members would use in their livelihoods. Instead, the items were transformed entirely into mystical and fraternal symbols. These changes were not made suddenly, but were the result of a trend which had already begun well before 1717.

A number of histories incorrectly state that the Mother Grand Lodge of 1717 was the beginning of Freemasonry itself. As we have seen, Freemasonry’s roots were firmly established long before then, even in England. For example, one Masonic legend relates that Prince Edwin of England had invited guilds of Freemasons into his country as early as 926 A.D. to assist the construction of several cathedrals and stone buildings. Masonic manuscripts dating from 1390 and 1410 have been reported. Handwritten minutes from a Masonic meeting from the year 1599 are reproduced in Albert Mackey’s History of Freemasonry. Freemasonry was so well-established in England by the 16th century that a well-documented schism in 1567 is on record. The schism divided English Freemasons into two major factions: the " York" and "London" Masons.

The new Grand Lodge system established at the Goose and Gridiron Alehouse in 1717 consisted at first of only one level (degree) of initiation. Within five years of the Lodge’s founding, two additional degrees were added so that the system consisted of three steps: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason. These steps are commonly called the "Blue Degrees" because the color blue is symbolically important in them. The three Blue Degrees have remained the first three steps of nearly all Masonic systems ever since.

The Mother Grand Lodge issued charters to men in England, Europe and the British Empire authorizing them to establish lodges practicing the Blue Degrees. The colorful fraternal activities of the lodges provided a popular way for men to spend their time and Freemasonry soon became quite the rage. Many lodge meetings were held in taverns where robust drinking was a featured attraction. Of course, many members were also drawn into the lodges by promises of fraternity and spiritual enlightenment.

The new Mother Grand Lodge was reportedly very strict in its rule forbidding political controversy within the lodges. Ideally, Freemasonry was to be independent of political issues and problems. In practice, however, the Mother Grand Lodge, which was established only three years after the coronation of the first Hanoverian king, supported the new German monarchy at a time when many Englishmen were strongly opposed to it. One of the earliest and most influential Grand Masters of the Mother Lodge system was the Rev. John T. Desaguliers, who was elected Grand Master in 1719. Desaguliers had earlier written a tract stating that the Hanoverians were the only legitimate sovereigns of England under the "laws of nature." On November 5, 1737, he conferred the first two Masonic degrees on Frederick, Prince of Wales -- a Hanoverian. During the ensuing generations, members of the Hanoverian royal family even became Grand Masters.

[Augustus Frederick (1773-1843), the ninth son of George III, was Grand Master for the thirty years before his death. Prior to that, his older brother, who became King George IV, had held the Grand Master position. A later royal Grand Master was King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria; Edward served as Grand Master for 27 years while he was the Prince of Wales. The most recent royal Grand Master to become a king was the Duke of York, who afterwards became King George VI (r. 1936-1952).]

The English Grand Lodge was decidedly pro-Hanoverian and its proscription against political controversy really amounted to a support of the Hanoverian status quo.

In light of the Machiavellian nature of Brotherhood activity, if we were to view the Mother Grand Lodge as a Brotherhood faction designed to keep alive a controversial political cause (i.e., Hanoverian rule in Britain), we would expect the Brotherhood network to be the source of a faction supporting the opposition. That is precisely what happened. Shortly after the founding of the Mother Grand Lodge, another system of Freemasonry was launched that directly opposed the Hanoverians!

When James II was unseated by the Glorious Revolution of 1688, he fled England. His followers promptly formed organizations to help him recover the British throne. The most effective and militant group was the Jacobite organization. Headquartered in Scotland and Catholic Ireland, the Jacobites were able to rally widespread support for the Stuarts. They staged many uprisings and military campaigns against the Hanoverians, although they were ultimately unsuccessful in recrowning the Stuarts. When the unsuccessful James II died in 1701, his son, the self- proclaimed James III, continued the family struggle to regain the British throne. A new branch of Freemasonry was created to assist him. That branch was patterned after the old Knights Templar.

The man who reportedly founded Knights Templar Freemasonry was one of James III’s loyal supporters, Michael Ramsey. Ramsey was a Scottish mystic who had been hired by James III to tutor James’ two sons in France.

Ramsey’s goal was to re-establish the disgraced Templar Knights in Europe. To accomplish this, Ramsey adopted the same approach used by the Mother Grand Lodge system of London: the resurrected Knights Templar were to be a secret mystical/fraternal society open to men of varied occupations. The old knightly titles, uniforms, and "tools of the trade" were to be used for symbolic, fraternal and ritual purposes within a Masonic context. In keeping with these aims, Ramsey dubbed himself the Chevalier [Knight] Ramsey.

Ramsey did not work alone. He was assisted by other Stuart supporters. Among them was the English aristocrat, Charles Radcliffe. Radcliffe was a zealous Jacobite who had been arrested with his brother, the Earl of Derwentwater, for their actions in connection with the failed rebellion of 1715 to place James III on the British throne. Both brothers were sentenced to death. The Earl was beheaded, but Radcliffe escaped to France.

In France, Radcliffe assumed the title of Earl of Derwentwater. He presided over a meeting in 1725 to organize a new Masonic lodge based on the Templar format being revealed by Ramsey. The Derwentwater lodge was instrumental in getting the new Templar system of Freemasonry going in Europe. Derwentwater claimed that the authority to establish his Lodge came from the Kilwinning Lodge of Scotland -- Scotland’s oldest and most famous lodge. Templar Freemasonry is therefore often called Scottish Freemasonry because of its reputed Scottish origin.

[There is some debate as to whether Lord Derwentwater had also received a charter from the Mother Grand Lodge of England to start his new French lodge. Many histories state that he did, but some Masonic scholars aver that no record of such a charter exists and that Lord Derwentwater’s lodge was an unofficial ("clandestine") lodge. It has been argued that the Mother Grand Lodge of England would not have granted Derwentwater a charter because his pro-Stuart political leanings were well known. As a footnote, Lord Derwentwater continued to remain politically active and he tried to join Charles Edward during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. The ship on which Derwentwater sailed was captured by an English cruiser. The Earl was taken to London where he was beheaded in December 1746.]

Ramsey’s Scottish Masonry attracted many members by claiming that the Templar Knights had actually secretly created the Mother Grand Lodge system. According to Ramsey, the Knights Templar had rediscovered the "lost" teachings of Freemasonry centuries earlier in the Holy Land during the Crusades. They brought the teachings back to Europe and, after their disgrace and banishment, secretly kept the teachings alive for hundreds of years in France, England, and Scotland. After centuries of living in the shadows, the Templars cautiously re-emerged by releasing only the Blue Degrees through the vehicle of the Mother Grand Lodge.


Ramsey claimed that the three Blue Degrees were issued only to test the loyalty of Freemasons. Once a Freemason proved his loyalty by reaching the third degree, he was entitled to advance to the "true" degrees: the fourth, fifth, and higher degrees released by Ramsey. Ramsey stated that he was authorized to release the higher degrees by a secret Templar headquarters in Scotland. According to his story, the Scottish Templars were secretly working through the lodge at Kilwinning.

To effect their pro-Stuart political aims, the Scottish lodges changed the Biblical symbolism of the third Blue Degree into political symbolism to represent the House of Stuart. Ramsey’s "higher" degrees contained additional symbolism "revealing" why Freemasons had a duty to help the Stuarts regain the throne of England. Because of this, many people viewed Scottish Freemasonry as a clever attempt to lure Freemasons away from the Mother Grand Lodge system which supported the Hanoverian monarchy and turn the new converts into pro-Stuart Masons.

The Stuarts themselves joined Ramsey’s organization. James III adopted the Templar title "Chevalier St. George." His son, Charles Edward, was initiated into the Order of Knights Templar on September 24, 1745, the same year in which he led a major Jacobite invasion of Scotland. Two years later, on April 15, 1747, Charles Edward established a Masonic "Scottish Jacobite Chapter" in the French city of Arras. Charles Edward later denied ever having been a Freemason in order to squelch damaging rumors that Scottish Masonry was nothing more than a front for the Stuart cause (which it largely was), even though he had been a Grand Master in the Scottish system. Proof of his Grand Mastership was discovered in 1853 when someone found the charter issued by Charles Edward to establish the above-mentioned lodge at Arras. The charter states in part:

We, Charles Edward, King of England, France, Scotland, and Ireland, and as such Substitute Grand Master of the Chapter of H., known by the title of Knight of the Eagle and Pelican...

["Chapter of H" is believed to have been the Scottish lodge at Heredon. Charles Edward is denoted as the "Substitute" Grand Master because his father, as King of Scotland, was considered the "hereditary" Grand Master.]

We have just discussed the founding of two systems of Freemasonry. Each one supported the opposite side of an important political conflict going on in England-a conflict which affected other European nations, as well. Both systems of Freemasonry were launched within less than five years of one another. Ramsey’s story of how the two systems came into existence therefore contains some rather stunning implications. His story implies that a small hidden group of people belonging to the Brotherhood network in Scotland deliberately created two opposing types of Freemasonry to encourage and support both sides of a violent political controversy. This would be a startlingly clear example of Machiavellianism.

How true is Ramsey’s story?

To answer this question, we must first take a brief look at the history of Freemasonry in Scotland.

Scotland has long been an important center of Masonic activity. The earliest of the old Masonic guilds in Scotland had been founded at Kilwinning in 1120 A.D. By 1670, the Kilwinning Lodge was already practicing speculative Freemasonry (although, in name, it was still an operative lodge).

The Scottish lodges were unique in that they were independent of, and were never chartered by, the English Grand Lodge even after they began to practice the Blue Degrees of the English Grand Lodge system. The Kilwinning Lodge itself had been granting charters since the early 15th century. It ceased doing so only in 1736 when it joined other Scottish lodges in elevating the Edinburgh Lodge to the position of Grand Lodge of Scotland. The new Grand Lodge of Scotland at Edinburgh adopted the speculative system of the English Grand Lodge, yet it still remained independent of the English Grand Lodge and issued its own charters. About seven years later, in 1743, the Kilwinning Lodge broke away from the Grand Lodge of Scotland over a seemingly trivial dispute.


Kilwinning set itself up as an independent Masonic body ("Mother Lodge of Kilwinning") and once again issued its own charters. In 1807, the Kilwinning Lodge renounced all fight of granting charters and rejoined the Grand Lodge of Scotland. We therefore see substantial periods of time in which the Kilwinning Lodge was independent of all other Lodges and when it could very well have granted charters to Templar Freemasons. It was independent at the time Ramsey and Derwentwater claimed to have received authorization from Kilwinning to establish Templar degrees in Europe.

Some Masonic historians argue that the Kilwinning Lodge and other Scottish lodges still had nothing to do with creating the so-called "Scottish" degrees. They state that the Scottish degrees were all created in France by Ramsey and his Jacobite cohorts. Some Masonic writers contend that Templarism did not even reach Scotland until the year 1798 -- decades after it had already caught on in Europe. Those writers further claim that the Kilwinning Lodge had never practiced anything but the Blue Degrees of the English system. Others believe that Ramsey, who was born in the vicinity of Kilwinning, claimed a Scottish origin to his degrees out of nationalistic pride and to help build a base of political support for the Stuarts in Scotland. These arguments sound persuasive, but historical documentation proves that they are all false.

First of all, we have already seen that Scotland was providing this era with important historical figures contributing to some of the changes being wrought by Brotherhood revolutionaries. Michael Ramsey is the third mysterious Scotsman of obscure origin we have seen help bring important changes to Europe. The other two were discussed earlier: William Paterson, who helped German rulers set up a central bank in England, and John Law, who was the architect of the central bank of France.

Secondly, the Scottish Masonic lodges were a natural place for pro-Stuart Templar degrees to arise. Scotland was strongly pro- Stuart and the Jacobites were headquartered there. Decades before the English Grand Lodge was created, many Masons in Scotland were already known to be helping the Stuarts. These Scottish loyalists used their lodges as secret meeting places in which to hatch political intrigues. Pro-Stuart Masonic activity may go as far back as 1660 -- the year of the Stuart Restoration (when the Stuarts took the throne back from the Puritans). According to some early Masons, the Restoration was largely a Masonic feat. General Monk, who played such a pivotal role in the Restoration, was reported to be a Freemason.

Finally, there is incontroverted evidence that the Scottish lodges, including the one at Kilwinning, were involved with Templarism decades before 1798. Masonic historian Albert Mackey reports in his History of Freemasonry that in 1779, the Kilwinning Lodge had issued a charter to some Irish Masons who called themselves the "Lodge of High Knights Templars." More than a decade earlier, in 1762, St. Andrew’s Lodge of Boston had applied to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a warrant (which it later received) by which the Boston lodge could confer the " Royal Arch" and Knight Templar degrees at its August 28, 1769 meeting. It is significant that St. Andrew’s Lodge had applied to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for the right to confer the Templar degree, not to any French lodge.

We have thus confirmed two elements of Ramsey’s story:

1) that Scottish lodges practiced Templar Freemasonry
2) that a Scottish Grand Lodge was granting Templar charters at least as early as 1762

We can safely assume that the Scottish Grand Lodge was involved with Templarism before that year because the Lodge would have had to establish the Templar degree before another lodge could apply for it. Unfortunately, there are no apparent records surviving to indicate just when Templarism began in the Scottish lodges. Ramsey and Derwentwater, of course, claim that the Templar degrees already existed in the early 1720’s. The Scottish lodges may well have been involved with some form of Templarism at that time.

Understandably, the Scottish lodges were highly secretive about their Templar activities. We only know about the 1762 Templar charter to St. Andrew’s Lodge from records found in Boston. One need only consider the fates of the two Earls of Derwentwater to appreciate the dangers awaiting those people, including Free- masons, who engaged in pro-Stuart political activity.

Not every element of Ramsey’s Templar story was backed by evidence. For example, Freemasonry itself was not started by the Templar Knights as Ramsey implied. The Masonic guilds which gave birth to Freemasonry existed long before the Templar Knights were founded. On the other hand, there is circumstantial evidence that Templar Knights may indeed have been the ones who brought the Blue Degrees to England.

As mentioned in Chapter 15, it is thought that the three Blue Degrees were already being practiced centuries earlier by the Assassin sect of Persia. The Templar Knights had frequent contact with the Assassins during the Crusades. During those periods when they were not fighting against one another, the Assassins and Templars established treaties and engaged in other amicable relations. One treaty even allowed the Templars to build several fortresses on Assassin territory. It is believed by some historians that during those peaceful interludes, the Templars learned about the Assassins’ extensive mystical teachings and incorporated some of those teachings into the Templar system. It is therefore quite possible that the Templars did indeed have the Blue Degrees long before they were established by the English Mother Grand Lodge.

Further circumstantial evidence is that during the Crusade era, the Templars were at the height of their power in Europe. They owned properties throughout the Continent. Their holdings and preceptories in Scotland were especially numerous. When the Templars abandoned the Holy Land after the Crusades, they eventually returned to their preceptories around the world, including Scotland. After the Templar Order was suppressed throughout Europe, many Templars refused to abandon their Templar traditions and so they conducted their activities in secrecy. Some secretly-active Templars joined Masonic lodges, including lodges in Scotland and England. It is therefore conceivable that Templars were the conduit through which the three Blue Degrees traveled from the Assassin sect, through Scotland, to the Mother Grand Lodge of 1717.

Some Freemasons may view any attempt to connect the Blue Degrees with the Assassin sect as an effort to discredit Freemasonry, even though the connection was suggested by one of Masonry’s most esteemed historians. In discussing such a link, it is important to keep in mind that the assassination techniques employed by the Assassins were never taught in the Blue Degrees. The Assassins possessed an extensive mystical tradition that extended well beyond their controversial political methods. Furthermore, the Assassins had borrowed many of their mystical teachings from earlier Brotherhood systems. The Blue Degrees may have therefore begun even earlier than the founding of the Assassin organization.

Whatever the ultimate truth of the origins of the Blue Degrees and Scottish Degrees may have been, both systems gained great popularity. The Scottish Degrees eventually came to dominate nearly all of Freemasonry. On continental Europe, the center of Scottish Freemasonry proved to be Germany, where the same small clique of German petty princes we have been observing soon emerged as leaders in the new Templar Freemasonry.

Here a Knight, There a Knight

Even after the collapse of the Stuart cause, the Knight degrees remained popular and spread rapidly. The pro-Stuart slant vanished in favor of an antimonarchial philosophy in some Templar organizations, and a pro-monarchial sentiment in others. Freemasons practicing the Templar degrees played important political roles on both sides of the monarchy vs. antimonarchy battles going on in the 18th century, thereby helping to keep that issue alive in such a way that people would find it something to continuously fight over.


For example, King Gustavus III of Sweden and his brother, Karl, the Duke of Sodermanland, had been initiated into the Strict Observance in 1770. In the following year, one of Gustavus’s first acts upon assuming the Swedish throne was to mount a coup d’etat against the Swedish Riksdag [parliament] and reestablish greater powers in the Crown. According to Samuel Harrison Baynard, writing in his book, History of the Supreme Council, Gustavus was assisted largely by fellow Freemasons.

The Knight degrees also found a home in Ireland when they attached themselves to the Order of Orange. As we recall, the Orange Order was a militant organization patterned after Freemasonry. It was founded to ensure that Protestantism remained England’s dominant religion. Members of the Orange Order vowed to support the Hanoverians as long as the Hanoverians continued their support of Protestantism. The Knight degrees were grafted onto the Order of Orange in the early 1790’s, by which time the Stuart cause was nearly dead. The Orange Order’s Templar degrees were, and still are today, called the "Black Preceptory."


Although the Orange Order and the Black Preceptory are supposed to be equal in status and link, entry into the Black Preceptory is accomplished only after a person has first passed through the degrees of the Order. According to Tony Gray, writing in his fascinating book, The Orange Order, the Black Preceptory today has eleven degrees and "a great deal of secrecy still shrouding the inner workings of this curious institution." Approximately 50% to 60% of all Orange members become members of the Preceptory. The Orange Order itself continues to be strongly Protestant and anti- Catholic, and in this way it contributes to some of the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland today.

Another interesting chapter in the history of the Templar Degrees concerns the creation of a bogus "Illuminati." "Illuminati," as we recall, was the Latin name given to the Brotherhood. In 1779, a second "Illuminati" was started in the Strict Observance Lodge of Munich. This second bogus "Illuminati" was led by an ex-Jesuit priest named Weishaupt and was structured as a semiautonomous organization.


Openly political and anti-monarchial, Weishaupt’s "Illuminati" formed another channel of "higher degrees" for Freemasons to graduate into after completing the Blue Degrees. Weishaupt’s "Illuminati" had its own "hidden master" known as the "Ancient Scot Superior." The Strict Observance members who were initiated into this "Illuminati" apparently believed that they were being initiated into the highest echelons of the real Illuminati, or Brotherhood. Once initiated under strict vows of secrecy, members were "revealed" a great deal of political and antimonarchial philosophy.

Weishaupt’s "Illuminati" was soon attacked, however. Its headquarters in German Bavaria were raided by the Elector of Bavaria in 1786. Many radical political aims of the Illuminati were discovered in documents seized during the raid. The Duke of Brunswick, acting as Grand Master of German Freemasonry, finally issued a manifesto eight years later, in 1794, to counteract Weishaupt’s bogus "Illuminati" after the public scandal could no longer be contained. Joining in the suppression of Weishaupt’s Bavarian "Illuminati" were many Rosicrucians. Despite the repression, this "Illuminati" survived and still exists today.

Many people have mistakenly believed that Weishaupt’s "Illuminati" was the true Illuminati and that it took over all of Freemasonry. This error is caused by Weishaupt’s express desire to have his degrees become the only "higher degrees" of Freemasonry. One can still find books today which theorize that Weishaupt’s "Illuminati" was, and still is, the source of nearly all of mankind’s social ills. A careful study of the evidence indicates that Weishaupt’s "Illuminati" is actually a red herring in this respect. Although Weishaupt’s "Illuminati" did contribute to some of the revolutionary agitation going on in Europe, its impact on history does not appear to have been as great as some people believe, despite the enormous publicity it received.


The social ills which have sometimes been blamed on Weishaupt’s "Illuminati" existed long before the birth of Adam Weishaupt. What did take over nearly all of Freemasonry in the eighteenth century were the Templar degrees, which were not the same thing as Weishaupt’s "Illuminati." The true significance of the Bavarian Illuminati is that is was an antimonarchy faction allowed to operate out of Strict Observance lodges; meanwhile, the Strict Observance was generally considered pro-monarchy and it supported pro-monarchy causes, as in the Swedish Ricksdag overthrow mentioned earlier. This made the Strict Observance a source of secret agitation on both sides of the monarchy-versus-antimonarchy conflicts for a number of years -- another example of Brotherhood Machiavellianism.

The worldwide transformation of human society announced in the Rosicrucian Fama Fraternitis gained momentum as Freemasons and other mystical network members led numerous revolutions around the world. The uprisings were not confined to Europe; they spilled across the Atlantic Ocean and took root in the European colonies in North America. There they gave birth to single most influential nation on Earth today: the United States of America.

American Phoenix

When European colonists sailed to North America, the Brotherhood organizations sailed with them. In 1694, a group of Rosicrucian leaders from Europe founded a colony in what is today the state of Pennsylvania. Some of their picturesque buildings in Ephrata still stand as a unique tourist attraction.

Freemasonry followed. On June 5, 1730, the Duke of Norfolk granted to Daniel Coxe of New Jersey one of the earliest known Masonic deputations to reach the American colonies. The deputation appointed Mr. Coxe provisional Grand Master of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. It also allowed him to establish lodges. One of the earliest official colonial lodges was founded by Henry Price in Boston on August 31, 1733 under a charter from the Mother Grand Lodge of England. Masonic historian Albert MacKey believes that lodges probably existed earlier, but that their records have been lost.

Freemasonry spread rapidly in the American colonies just as it had done in Europe.


The philosophical importance of Freemasonry to the American Revolutionaries can also be seen in the symbols which the revolutionary leaders chose to represent the new American nation. They were Brotherhood/Masonic symbols.

Among a nation’s most significant symbols is the national seal. An early proposal for the American national seal was submitted by William Barton in 1782. In the upper right hand corner of Barton’s drawing is a pyramid with the tip missing. In place of the tip is a triangular "All-Seeing Eye of God." The All-Seeing eye, as we recall, has long been one of Freemasonry’s most significant symbols. It was even sewn on the Masonic aprons of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and other Masonic revolutionaries.

  • Above the pyramid and eye on Barton’s proposal are the Latin words Annuit Coeptis, which means "He [God] hath prospered our beginning."

  • On the bottom is the inscription Novus ordo Seclorum: "The beginning of a new order of the ages."

  • This bottom inscription tells us that the leaders of the Revolution were pursuing a broad universal goal which encompassed much more than their immediate concerns as colonists.

  • They were envisioning a change in the entire world social order, which follows the goal announced in the [Rosicrucian] Fama Fraternitis.

Barton’s pyramid and accompanying Latin inscriptions were adopted in their entirety. The design is still a part of the American Great Seal which can be seen on the back of the U.S. $1.00 bill.

The main portion of Barton’s design was not adopted except for one small part. In the center of Barton’s proposal is a shield with two human figures standing on either side. Perched atop the shield is a phoenix with wings outstretched; in the middle is a small phoenix burning in its funeral pyre. As discussed earlier, the phoenix is a Brotherhood symbol used since the days of ancient Egypt. The phoenix was adopted by the Founding Fathers for use on the reverse of the first official seal of the United States after a design Proposed by Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress. The first die of the U.S. seal depicts a long-necked tufted bird: the phoenix.


The phoenix holds in its mouth a banner with the words E. Pluribus Unum ("Out of many, one"). Above the bird’s head are thirteen stars breaking through a cloud. In one talon the phoenix holds a cluster of arrows; in the other, an olive branch. Some people mistook the bird for a wild turkey because of the long neck; however, the phoenix is also long of neck and all other features of the bird clearly indicate that it is a phoenix. The die was retired in 1841 and the phoenix was replaced by the bald eagle -- America’s national bird. (image left)

Freemasons consider their fraternal ties to transcend their political and national divisions. When the War for American Independence was over, however, the American lodges split from the Mother Grand Lodge of London and created their own autonomous American Grand Lodge.


The Scottish degrees soon became dominant in American Freemasonry. The two major forms of Freemasonry practiced in the United States today are the York Rite (a version of the original English York Rite) and the Scottish Rite. The modern York Rite has a total of ten degrees: the topmost is "Knights Templar." The Scottish Rite has a total of thirty-three degrees, many of which are Knight degrees.

The influence of Freemasonry in American politics remained strong long after the Revolution was over. About one third of all U.S. Presidents have been Freemasons, most of them in the Scottish Rite.

[In addition to George Washington and James Madison, Freemasons in the Presidency have been: James Monroe (initiated November 9, 17751), Andrew Jackson (in. 1800), James Polk (in. June 5, 1820), James Buchanan (in. December 11, 1816), Andrew Johnson (in. 1851), James Garfield (in. November 22, 1861 or 1862), William McKinley (in. May 1, 1865), Theodore Roosevelt (in. January 2, 1901), William Howard Taft (in. February 18, 1908), Warren Harding (in. June 28, 1901), Franklin D. Roosevelt (in. October 10, 1911), Harry S. Truman (in. February 9, 1909), and Gerald Ford (in. 1949).


The list of prominent American Freemasons also includes such people as the late J. Edgar Hoover, founder of the F.B.I., who had attained the highest (33rd) degree of the Scottish Rite, and presidential candidate Jesse Jackson (in. 1988). Famous American artists have also been members, such as Mark Twain, Will Rogers and W.C. Fields.]

The influence of Freemasonry in American politics extended beyond the Presidency. The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have had a large Masonic membership for most of the nation’s history. In 1924, for example, a Masonic publication listed sixty Senators as Freemasons. They constituted over 60% of the Senate. More than 290 members of the House of Representatives were also named as lodge members.


This Masonic presence has waned somewhat in recent years. In an advertising supplement entitled, "Freemasonry, A Way of Life," the Grand Lodge of California revealed that in the 97th Congress (1981-1983), there were only 28 lodge members in the Senate and 78 in the House. While that represents a substantial drop from the 1920’s, Freemasonry still has a good-sized representation in the Senate with more than a quarter of that legislative body populated by members of the Craft.

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