It’s not every day that you get to have Sunday lunch with a Knight Templar.
Alan Jones is a great enthusiast for a whole range of subjects, many of which delve deep in the dowser’s domain. In this particular case, he is not only passionate about a 12th Century sect – he has, by invitation, joined it.
As Alan is quick to point out, the history and the mythology of the Knights Templar have become deeply entwined in the minds of most of us. Both are well documented, and each has its merits – but where one shades into the other is less well defined. Indeed, the ‘myth-story’ of the Templars has become something of a recurring literary theme in its own right.
The presentation opened at the formation of the Order, back in the 1100s, in the wake of the disastrous Crusades (from which the descendants of neither the victims nor the perpetrators have ever really recovered). Only the first Crusade ever achieved its aim of liberating/occupying Jerusalem, and even then only for a relatively short period. Numerous abortive attempts over the next couple of centuries left a huge standing military presence of former and serving military personnel committed to the cause, but with little obvious raison d’être. Eventually, some of these battle-hardened soldiers, drawn from across Europe, together with their support staff and camp followers, found other ways of continuing the ‘good fight’. The Teutonic Knights, The Knights Hospitallers and the Knights Templar were three of these groupings.
The latter established their goal to be the protection of the pilgrim routes from their western and central European homelands through to the Holy Land. Hapless, unsupervised and often comparatively wealthy religious travellers would have been sitting ducks for bandits and pirates all along the way – not to mention attracting attention from the less-than-friendly resident populations that the Crusaders had tried so unsuccessfully to evict or convert.
This grand aim of the Templars was as expensive as it was noble – and while many of the Royal Houses in the west supported the virtuous intent (as, initially, did the Vatican) it was apparent that the Knights would need regular, sustainable sources of funding. Over time, tracts of land were ceded to the Templars in many countries, to enable the group to derive an ongoing source of revenue for their ventures. Much of this was farmland, from which the administrative arm of the Order made healthy profit – with or without the assistance of the divine.
However, as with so many well-intentioned organisations across the centuries, the Templars became too successful for their own continued existence. Their business acumen, together with the ethos of virtue, truth, valour, chivalry and righteousness brought them great wealth – and considerable envy. Local warlords felt threatened by the new knights in the neighbourhood, who claimed to report directly and only to the Pope – and in due course even the papacy itself became uncomfortable with its own erstwhile vanguard.
On Friday 13th March 1307, Pope Clement V ordered the arrest of the leaders of the sect on grounds of heresy – and King Philip IV of France (heavily in debt and no doubt attracted by the Templar coffers) duly obliged. It was game over.
Well, not quite. The wealth of the Templars was not just in their temporal fortunes, but also in their apparent enlightenment and, potentially, in their esoteric knowledge. The body of the Order may have succumbed to persecution and torture, but the spirit of the Order lives on – albeit adjusted for the times.
The Knights Templar seemed to arise from tough evangelical military origins, rose to fame, fortune and favour almost overnight (at least in the terms of the pre-mediaeval period) and then disappeared as quickly and as completely as a wave in the ocean. They certainly were on to something from somewhere, but it is a story that sits awkwardly in rational history – and, as with all such phenomena, perhaps it’s more about how we look at the wider landscape in which they featured than simply deciphering the known facts on the page.
From a dowser’s perspective, the Templars are one of those groups that keep on popping up at religious sites all across the country. From Temple village on Bodmin Moor, to The Temple of metropolitan London, to the magnificent confusion of Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh, Knights Templar or their descendants passed through, took refuge or established an enduring presence.
Alan is refreshingly candid about the credibility gap between the historical record of the Order up to the 14th century, and its speculative continuation thereafter. Sure, many of the concepts and much of the philosophy attributed to the Templars resurfaces later on in groups such as the Masons – but whether there is an unbroken handing down of that insight, through bloodlines and secret sects, from the builders of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem to modern-day practitioners, researchers and authors is less certain.
Of course, a dowser might argue that all of the undisclosed wisdom attributed to the Templars is indeed out there to be found by anyone with a sufficiently open mind, and a genuinely sound desire to do something positive with it. A Knight, or more probably his mentor, might have found that wisdom by prayer or contemplation, just as we might find a 21st Century understanding of it with our low-tech tools and relaxed attention – in the ‘information field’.
Today’s Templars carry forward the embedded ethos of the organisation, which is a laudable litany of positive human thought and action. However, there have been a few internal changes to the Order along the way; around half of today’s Templars are women; many are from non-Christian communities and some – remarkable considering the Crusader roots – are Muslims.
Many thanks to Alan Jones for an excellent exposé of an often-misunderstood organisation – and also to everyone who worked so hard to put on this event.
Nigel Twinn, Tamar Dowsers,