The Knights Templar and the Holy Grail

The legendary Order of the Knights Templar was active during the crusades in the 12th and 13th centuries. Legend has it that the Christian knight-monks in the Holy Land obtained all kinds of mythical objects, including the Holy Grail, the cup in which the blood of Jesus was collected during the crucifixion. They were also suspected of Gnostic sympathies. This has never been proven. Nevertheless, many Templars were burned at the stake for “heresy.” During their imprisonment, the Knights Templar scratched religious images on the walls of their dungeons. Historians don’t think they mean anything special. They cannot be further from the truth: the seven centuries old relief drawings lead us to the secret of the Holy Grail!

Rise and fall

The Order of the Knights Templar was founded in 1118 by the French nobleman Hugh of Payns and initially consisted of nine men. The purpose of the order was to protect pilgrims from raiders on their journey to Jerusalem. The knights also wanted to live in imitation of Christ and took monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The for that time completely new combination of soldier and monk appealed to the imagination of the French. The order soon grew in number, wealth and power. They received money, goods and land from citizens and rulers. Their courage was legendary. The well-trained knight monks fought on to the death. They only surrendered if their commander decided to do so, and this seldom happened. In addition to protecting pilgrims, they also took part in crusades against the Muslims to keep Jeruzalem under Christian rule.

When Jerusalem was conquered by the Muslims around 1300, the Knights Templar withdrew from the Holy Land. The French King Philip IV was in need of money and devised a plot to amass the riches of the Knights Templar. On October 13, 1307, Templars were arrested across the country on charges of heresy, homosexuality and corruption. Filip had no evidence for these allegations, but the Inquisition’s torture methods provided him with the “confessions” he needed to confiscate the order’s assets. Many Knights Templar ended up burned at the stake. In 1312 the order was officially dissolved by the Pope.

In 2007 the Templars were cleared and restored by Pope Benedict. This as a result of the discovery of documents showing, among other things, how the confessions were obtained.

Gnostic views

Many of the accusations against the Knights Templar were fabricated by King Philip, but rumors of Gnostic beliefs have never dissipated, fueled in part by the secrecy surrounding the order’s initiations and rituals. Was some of this true after all?

If we study the scarce material that has been preserved from the Knights Templar, there appears to be a theme of (divine) oneness against (earthly) duality: a mystical concept that we also find in Gnosticism. An example is the famous Templar Seal with two riders on one horse (illustration 1). The meaning of this is unknown. Is it an expression of solidarity and brotherhood, or a sign of poverty? Didn’t every knight have his own horse? There are several arguments that make both answers unlikely.

1. Seal of the Knights Templar

2. Coat of arms of the Knights Templar

3. Flag of the Knights Templar

4. Tomb of a Templar (Temple Church, Londen)

It seems more likely that the two riders on one horse are a metaphor for the inner fusion of the polarities, as the way to an experience (the oneness) of God. Especially when we place other objects next to this seal. The Knights Templar’s coat of arms, for example, is a red cross on a black and white background (illustration 2). The equal-armed cross, or Greek cross, is a classic symbol of the fusion of the opposites. The esoteric meaning of the cross is confirmed and reinforced by its strategic position in the center of the black and white (yin and yang) background. The black and white flag of the Templars, called the Beauceant, fits seamlessly with the seal and coat of arms in terms of symbolism (illustration 3).

And then there are the tombs of the Templars. Some of these show the deceased with their legs crossed (illustration 4), a curious detail for which historians have no explanation. One of the theories is that the crossed legs refer to participation in a crusade, but this explanation is not conclusive for all cases where a knight is depicted in such a way. In esoteric traditions crossed legs symbolize the fusion of opposites into a divine oneness.

On the seal with the two riders on one horse (illustration 1) we find two more references to the fusion of the opposites: the two spears next to each other and the double cross on the coats of arms of the riders. The two crosses on top of each other form an eight-pointed star, the so-called Morning Star, an ancient symbol for the divine.

The Morning Star

The eight-pointed star is a symbol of the Sumerian goddess Inanna and her Akkadian counterpart Ishtar. These goddesses were also associated with the planet Venus, which is called the Morning Star because Venus, after the sun and moon, is the brightest of all celestial bodies and is visible in the east shortly before sunrise. Venus, as it were, heralds the sun and was therefore associated with the divine since ancient times. In line with this, the eight-pointed star represents in esoteric traditions the dormant divine energy in the pelvis of man; called the kundalini-shakti by the yogi (illustration 5). See also my article on tarot card The Star.

5. (right) All symbols in this alchemical illustration refer to the kundalini energy: the serpent, the woman on the moon (Sophia) and the eight-pointed star. From: Clavis Artis, late 17th / early 18th century.

The Templars placed the eight-pointed Morning Star on coins, on seals and on walls in churches and cathedrals built by them. An intriguing example can be found among the various frescoes in the Templar chapel of Cressac-Saint-Genis, in France (illustration 6). My interpretation is that all symbols in the circle refer to the divine in man, or the kundalini energy. The small circle with a dot in the middle is the symbol for the sun and for gold. The A(lpha) is the first letter of the alphabet and refers to the divine principle of our creation. The mysterious serpentine line on the top of the A is the (serpent) movement of the kundalini energy ascending through the spine.

A second esoteric symbol, also frequently used by the Knights Templar, is the Rose of Venus. During an eight-year cycle, the planet Venus orbits the Earth in the pattern of a five-petaled flower (illustration 7). This Rose of Venus has traditionally been a symbol of the feminine aspect of God. The pattern can also be seen as a pentagram. We find both the Rose of Venus and the pentagram on artefacts of the Knights Templar. Examples are illustrations 8 and 9.

7. The orbit that the planet Venus makes around the earth in 8 years.

8. The ornament above the entrance of the Templar church of Santa Maria dos Olivais in Tomar, Portugal.

9. A coin issued by the Knights Templar.

The Tower of Coudray in Chinon

One of the places where the Knights Templar have been imprisoned prior to their sentencing and execution is the Tower of Coudray in Chinon, France. The men left religious drawings on the walls of the tower (illustration 10). These provide us with much clarity about the Gnostic knowledge they possessed. The monks entrusted to the limestone walls of their prison what they kept silent about during the torture of the Inquisition. The rough drawings contain symbolism of which only “initiates” understand the meaning.

Illustration 11 shows Saint Catherine on the left, recognizable by her attribute: the wheel on which she was tortured. The wheel on this prison wall has eight spokes, that are more clearly worked out than the saint herself. That we may see this as a reference to the eight-pointed Morning Star, and thus to the kundalini energy, can be deduced from the planet Venus (circle with cross underneath), to the left of Catherine.

10. Graffiti left by the Knights Templar in the Tower of Coudray in Chinon.

Pineal gland

Fleur-de-lys

11. (Part) drawing of 10.

12. (Part) drawing of 10.

Illustration 12 fits in beautifully with the symbolism of 11. On the right we see the head of a monk with a halo. This halo results from the activation of the pineal gland, which is depicted to the left of the man as a large cavity with rays around it. The fleur-de-lys beneath the cavity confirms our interpretation. The fleur-de-lys is an ancient symbol of the pineal gland. A staircase with six steps is carved between the fleur-de-lys and the monk: these are the six chakras that the kundalini traverses to reach the pineal gland.

Inner crucifixion

From the graffiti left behind in towers of the French Bastide city of Domme, where Templars were also imprisoned awaiting trial, we can infer that they knew that many stories in the Bible have a symbolic layer. For example, the crucifixion of Jesus on the symbolic level represents the death of the ego during the process of spiritual awakening. Illustration 13 (below) shows a crucifixion scene left in Domme prison. A house has been carved around the cross and the two bystanders. The meaning of this is that the crucifixion, on a deeper level, takes place in man.

13. Crucifixion scene, Domme.

A small cross has been placed on the head of the crucified Jesus. This is a second clue, left for us, that the death of Jesus can be interpreted as an inner process. The ego dies when the kundalini energy has ascended into the head, and the masculine and feminine energies (the inner duality) merge. This so-called sacred marriage is depicted in illustration 13 by the man and the woman (the apostle John and Mary) next to the cross.

The inner meaning of the crucifixion is portrayed in a different way on the prison wall of Chinon. In illustration 11, next to Saint Catherine, we see the mountain of Golgotha with a cross on it. The pile of stones that make up the mountain looks very similar to a brain. The cross is carved in a hollow, which we may see as a second indication that the crucifixion takes place in the head. This symbolism is entirely consistent with the Biblical text, which explicitly states that Golgotha means “Place of the Skull”: And they took Him to the place of Golgotha, which is translated: Place of the Skull. (Mark 15:22)

For a more in-depth analysis of the symbolism in the Bible, see my book John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ.

Holy Grail

On the walls in Domme is also illustration 14: an depiction of the Holy Grail. My interpretation is that this represents a cup with a tree of life, and that this is a metaphor for the human pelvis (the cup), with the awakened kundalini flowing up to the crown chakra (the tree of life).

The cup is octagonal, a reference to the Morning Star. The tree has seven branches: these are the seven chakras that are purified and activated by the kundalini. A confirmation of this interpretation can be found in the Templar Church of Montsaunès: the tree of life that is depicted on one of the walls is executed in exactly the same way (illustration 15)!

14. Graffiti in Domme prison.

15. Fresco of the tree of life in the Templar Church of Montsaunès.

So the Knights Templar knew that the mythical Holy Grail is not a physical object, but a metaphor for the divine energy in our pelvis. According to the legends, drinking from the Holy Grail would bring healing and eternal life. These are characteristics of the kundalini energy that, when it awakens, purifies, heals and reunites man with God.

Right: Jesus hanging from a (life) tree. The seven ‘branches’ refer to the seven chakras. Engraving from: Hermetic writings, Vincentius Koffsky, 1786.

Spiritual testament

The Knights Templar fascinate and appeal to our imagination. Best-selling books are still being published on a regular basis, with the most incredible and unfounded hypotheses and conspiracy theories. For all these centuries, the truth about Templar spirituality has been visible on French prison walls: unappreciated by historians and unknown to the general public. A moving spiritual testament, left for us by heroic men, who were tortured and killed by the same Pope and King they had served so faithfully and passionately.

This article was published in the Dutch magazine Spiegelbeeld (dec ’20).
Copyright Anne-Marie Wegh 2020

Anne-Marie Wegh is the author of the book
John the Baptist who became Jesus the Christ

The Knights Templar held great veneration for John the Baptist.

They knew that John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ were one and the same person. After going through a spiritual process of God-realization, John the Baptist became a powerful preacher, and captivated his audiences with his radically new teachings on the (inner) Kingdom of God.

After his crucifixion en resurrection, the Gospel writers gave him a new name and identity to make him more credible to the Jews as their long awaited Messiah: Jesus “the Nazarene.”

Additional illustrations

The esoteric meaning of the Holy Grail was not only known to the Knights Templar. In the Christian paintings below a connection is made between the Holy Grail and the process of kundalini awakening.

Below: in both paintings, Jesus makes with his right hand – from which his blood flows into a cup – the sign of the sacred marriage (2=1, the fusion of the polarities).

Right: this painting connects the dove of the Holy Spirit (the Christian name for the kundalini energy) to a rising (kundalini) serpent, the resurrection of Jesus, and the Holy Grail. The transparent scarf that – barely visible – is wrapped around the cross (from the pelvis tot the head of Jesus), also refers to the kundalini serpent. Bartolomeo Passarotti, 16th century.

With his left hand, Jesus points to his pelvis, the place in man where the Holy Grail, that is standing next to him, is located. A burning candle is placed in front of the cup. This candle refers to the divine fire (kundalini) running through the spine. Bernardino di Mariotto dello Stagno, circa 1520.

The apostle John holds a cup (the Holy Grail) next to the head of the baby Jesus: the place where the ascended kundalini energy connects man to God. With their hands John and Jesus make the sign of the sacred marriage (2=1). Boccaccio Boccaccino, circa 1507.

By |2021-02-07T08:17:47+00:00January 7th, 2021|Spiegelbeeld|Comments Off on The Knights Templar and the Holy Grail
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