Archive for November, 2010

Great is the secret yet easy to master,
giving to thee the mastery of time.
When upon thee death fast approaches,
fear not but know ye are master of Death.”

The Emerald Tablets of Thoth, the Atlantean

 

The debate about the Knights Templar holding the secrets of the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, the Philosopher’s Stone and other mystical treasures of antiquity rage on today just as they have continued to catch the imagination of writers, poets and researchers for the past 603 years since the Templars were rounded up on Friday, the 13th of October, 1307 and imprisoned for heresy. 

The history of the Templars as recorded does not account for the thousands of Templars who escaped the purge in 1307.  They went somewhere and that is where the controversy, speculation and wild imagination came into play.  Some said that they quietly disbanded and joined with the remaining chivalric orders of the day such as the Knights of Jerusalem and the Teutonic Knights. Others believe that they took their ships and went to Scotland where they joined up with Robert the Bruce to fight the King of England for Scottish Freedom.  Still others believe that they made voyages to the Americas where they buried the Templar treasures at Oak Island in a booby-trapped pit.  None or all of these could be true.  Certainly there were enough ‘leftover’ members of the Order to undertake a number of enterprises and the records show that they also had the financial means to do whatever they pleased.

I am not a researcher, nor have I ever written a non-fiction work.  I am but a poor writer of fiction for the Knights of the Temple.  On the other hand, my extensive research into the Knights Templar has taken me to the far reaches of obscurity over the years. I have delved into the history of the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Sumerians and the Mormons; the Romans, the Greeks and the Celts.  I have studied the crusades and the history of Scotland, looked into the mysteries of the Freemasons and plowed through prehistory and speculation regarding Stonehenge, Maes Howe, Ley Lines, the Great Pyramid and the Tomb of the First Emperor of China.  My research has crossed the globe from the cliffs overlooking the Aegean Sea to the plains of Nazca overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  In my mind, I have traveled the world in search of answers and I believe that I may have found some.

What, you may ask, is the significance of the bit of poetry at the top of the page?  That short refrain is but a part of a mysterious book called the Emerald Tablets of Thoth, the Atlantean.  The thirteenth chapter is called: the Keys of Life and Death.  In this chapter, the author tells of a way of bringing on death whenever the soul is ready for a new body and describes a method for transferring the memories of the current life into the brain of the next physical incarnation, explaining that this is the way of the Great Souls of Old and the Avatars.  Many people think this is a book of nonsense.  Perhaps it is.

During my studies of the Templars, I learned that they were connected heavily with France and that the first Templars or founding fathers were all French.  In France, the Templars made connections with the Cathars, a religious sect in which the leaders were called the Parfaits or the Perfects.  These Cathars were seen as a threat to the Catholic Church because it was rumored that they knew something that could potentially damage the Church or that they had great treasures needing to be pillaged for the benefit of the Church.  And so, the Pope declared them heretics and set out to rid the world of the Cathars in a crusade known as the Albigensian Crusades that started in 1207, one hundred years before the Templar atrocity and continued on until 1255 when military operations against them ceased.  The last burning of a Cathar took place in 1321, seven years after the Templar Grandmaster was roasted in Paris.  Strangely enough, the Cathars inhabited the southern part of France known as the Languedoc, the same region of France where the Templars allegedly planned to build their own country.

When the army besieged the Cathar stronghold of Montsegur in 1243, the Cathars there held out for nine months before falling.  Just before the castle fell, two or three people allegedly escaped from the castle by scaling a rope down the cliff face and taking with them the Cathar’s greatest secret.  Some sources said that these escapees were Templar sympathizers and that the Cathar secret was the Holy Grail or possibly the Ark of the Covenant.  Scaling a cliff with the Ark of the Covenant seems unlikely.  The Holy Grail?  Maybe, if it was indeed a chalice and that is an entirely different can of worms.  But more likely, it is possible that it was a precious book or scroll and possibly even something that the Templars had entrusted to the Cathars to keep for them.  Possibly something that the original Templar founding fathers had found buried under the ruins of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. 

The Cathar’s, it seemed, practiced an odd ceremony or sacrament called the Consolamentum wherein the acolyte apparently gave up everything that might corrupt the body and lived entirely on water and air.  Unfortunately, not many of the Cathar Parfaits or Perfect Ones lived very long after partaking of this sacramental ceremony.  However! And this is where the above reference to the Emerald Tablets of Thoth, the Atlantean comes into to play, in reading the records of how the crusaders found the Parfaits after the fall of Montsegur and comparing their condition with the writings in chapter 13 of the Emerald Tablets, it seems that the Cathars were practicing Thoth’s Keys of Life and Death.  The Parfaits were found lying on their backs in a circle with their heads pointed toward the center, peacefully smiling and utterly dead without the slightest evidence of what might have killed them.  The rest of the Cathars were marched out of the castle down the hill to a place where the soldiers had built a roaring bonfire.  The Cathars are said to have walked calmly into the fire while singing and died without giving out the least sign of pain or suffering. 

Chapter 13 of the Emerald Tablets also refers to passing from this world into death without pain and suffering much as the Cathars did at Montsegur:

“Hear ye, O man, and list to my voice.
List to the wisdom that gives thee of Death.
When at the end of thy work appointed,
thou may desire to pass from this life,
pass to the plane where the Suns of the Morning
live and have being as Children of Light.
Pass without pain and pass without sorrow
into the plane where is eternal Light.”

With these connections in mind, I wrote into my Assassin Chronicles, book number twenty-three (as yet unpublished), the idea that Thoth, the Atlantean was indeed a real entity, an Atlantean Priest King who founded Egyptian civilization after the sinking of Atlantis .  And that, even though he lived over 36,000 years ago, he is still alive and waiting for the time when he will be needed again.  All we have to do is study his tablets and learn how to call upon him to return from the Halls of Amenti.  Yet another mysterious legend tied to the Knights Templar.  Obscure, maybe, but great fodder for faith or fiction, your choice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~
Brendan Carroll is the author of over thirty books, including the Assassin Chronicles, Red Cross of Gold series and Tempo Rubato, a story of Mozart, mystery, and time travel. 
Brendan Carroll was born and raised in Southeast Texas, finally ending up in the beautiful Texas Lake Country. Throughout his scholastic career, he wanted nothing more than to tell a good story, get a few laughs or give a few frights. After high school, he joined the US Navy and spent the next four years serving the country in the fighter training squadron VT-86 out of Pensacola, Florida. In college, he majored in Environmental Science and Geography with a minor in Geology and ended up with a teaching certificate for Secondary Earth Sciences. After one year of teaching fourteen and fifteen-year-olds, his desire to inspire young minds was laid to rest and he took up a position serving the State of Texas in the Correctional Field. In his spare time, he has produced over thirty novels which are currently being published in Kindle format as well as paperback at a much slower pace. His one aim is to entertain the reader with a good tale and hope that they may get something more from his work than just a laugh, a fright or a sigh.
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Brendan will be back Friday with an interview, and on Monday, I will be posting a review of his book Tempo Rubato, the mystery and adventure story of Mozart rescued moments before his inevitable death to be brought to the 1990′s.

The legendary Knights Templar and the dainty bluebell: an unlikely pair.  However, the Knights Templar are among the research topics of which I have skimmed the surface, in writing the Blue Bells Trilogy. 

Of course, the trilogy is not directly about the flower.  In fact, not at all, really.  The title comes from a piece of standard trombone repertoire, which in turn comes from an old folk song, and while the main characters of the trilogy are musicians, including a trombonist, the story’s medieval half focuses heavily on Scotland’s Wars of Independence, and Robert the Bruce. 

To give a brief overview of the connection between Bruce and the Knights Templar, one must understand the Wars of Independence.  In the late 1200′s, Edward I, ‘Longshanks,’ claimed himself overlord of Scotland, and backed that claim with the force of his much larger and better equipped army.  In 1306, on being crowned King of Scots (which is a story in and of itself), Bruce was, in the words of his queen, King of the May.  In other words, he was king in name only.  She was correct.  In truth, he was a homeless fugitive in his own realm, relying on his own people at times for food and a roof over his head; at other times, living in caves with his few men around him.  The first year or so of his kingship saw his disastrous defeat in battle and the deaths of three of his four brothers, along with the deaths of many of his good friends and supporters.  His wife, daughter, sister, and close friend and supporter, Isabel MacDuff, the Countess of Buchan, were taken prisoner, not to be seen again by him for eight years. 

Yet Bruce continued to defy the might of England, the powerful and well-equipped Edward I, and later, his son, Edward II.  With what resources did Bruce make his stand?

It has long been whispered that the legendary Knights Templar financed his war against England.  Others have objected that this is unlikely, as Bruce himself outlawed the Templars in Scotland in 1309, at the Vatican’s demand.  Given the frequent forcing of obedience and oaths of loyalty at the time, this does not seem, to me, to be any real conflict.  Even priests and bishops were known to swear loyalty to England, under threat, and turn around and do exactly as they saw fit in working for Scotland against England.  With my admittedly limited research into this area, it doesn’t seem a stretch for Bruce to make a show of doing as the Vatican requested, while continuing to work with the Templars in secret, and it would certainly be one explanation for Bruce’s rise from nothing to re-conquering his country.

Skip forward a few years to 1314, and we find ourselves at the Battle of Bannockburn, another episode in the ongoing David and Goliath story of Scotland and England.  The powerful Longshanks was long since dead, and England ruled by his militarily inept son, Edward II.  Despite his ineptness, Edward II still commanded an army at least three times the size of Bruce’s own.  Some estimates say it was up to five times larger.  There is no doubt it was better equipped.  Its cavalry consisted of some 2,000 large and armored warhorses, compared to Bruce’s approximately 500 light cavalry, by which we mean unarmored horses about the size of large ponies.  (Of course, Bruce used this situation to his advantage, but once again, that’s a different story.  Dare we say a horse of a different color?)  Stories paint a picture of Edward’s army–warhorses, foot soldiers, a huge contingent of the dreaded Welsh archers, and supply wagons–stretching some twenty miles, and shaking the earth as it passed.  I think it’s a safe bet none of us in modern America have ever experienced such a force coming against us, intent on wiping us off the face of the planet.

This, however, is what Bruce and his Scots faced at Bannockburn.  Edward II had been shamed and directly challenged, and he determined to defeat the Scots once and for all.

There is little controversy over how Bruce managed to face such an army, and not only survive, but completely rout such a large and powerful enemy, with relatively few losses on his own side.  He arrived early.  He chose his ground well, forcing England to fight in a bog, and laying that bog with murder pits and caltrops, all of which slowed and stopped much of England’s cavalry.  He prepared his ground well.  He thought outside the box and trained his men to take on charging cavalry in moving units of spears called schiltrons.  And there is no controversy that a charge from Coxet Hill toward the end of the battle was a strong factor in Bruce’s victory.

Without going into more details as to why the battle was already going poorly for England, many experts agree that toward the end, when England was already in poor morale and disarray, somebody charged from Coxet Hill.  What is argued is who.  I have read three explanations.  One is that it was the Islemen of the great Lord of the Isles, Angus Og, held in reserve by Bruce until they could most effectively be used.  A second is that it was the townfolk, or ‘wee folk,’ as they were called, charging with makeshift banners waving on scythes, hoes, and pitchforks, determined to fight for their king–and whom England’s soldiers mistook for another, actual army.  There are those who argue (and it’s a valid point) that large armies did not make a habit of running from camp followers, and camp followers did not make a habit of waving flags announcing their presence to those who could easily kill them.  The third explanation is that it was the Knights Templar charging in at the critical moment, who sent Edward II fleeing the field. 

In Blue Bells of Scotland, I opted for Door #2: the townfolk, the army of farmers and blacksmiths.  Of course, being time travel, I added a bit to that to explain England’s terror at the charge.  But I opted for this explanation as I wanted to keep the story as uncontroversially factual (yes, yes, I know it’s time travel!  Apart from that!) as possible: Because the Templars, in general, and at Bannockburn in particular, are the source of much controversy. 

Legends arose in Victorian times that the Templars appeared at the last minute to sway the fight in Bruce’s favor, but their presence at the battle has long been dismissed by scholars.  In an article that came out after the publication of the novel, A.J. Morton, though dismissing the Victorian versions of the story, argues there is evidence they did indeed fight for Bruce.  He points to 200 Templar properties in 14th Century Scotland, including 30 in Cunningham, around Ayrshire, of which Bruce himself was feudal overlord.  Therefore, he says, they would have been obligated to serve Bruce, and it is ‘almost impossible’ to believe they didn’t.  Michael Penman, another Bruce expert, remains skeptical, on the grounds that Templars (make that ex-Templars, as they’d been disbanded) would not fight for someone who persecuted their order.

Others, too, make strong arguments as to why the Templars didn’t, and couldn’t have, fought at Bannockburn, among them, the fact that the Templars had been disbanded long before, were being persecuted and burned throughout Europe, and any surviving Templar Knights would have been too elderly to fight by the time of Bannockburn.  One interesting post taking this view can be found here.

The Templars have long been a source of fascination, and tomorrow, my guest blogger, Brendan Carroll, author of over thirty novels, who has researched them much more thoroughly than I, will be talking about them.