700 years ago, an esoteric order of warrior monks, originally created to protect pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land were brutally wiped out by the French king, Philippe the Fair. In a bloody coup, most of the order including its grand master James of Morlay, were arrested.
Over the next seven years, the Templars were tortured by the inquisition into making false confessions of heresy, blasphemy and idolatry. This allowed the monarchy and papacy to unite in denouncing the order as devil-worshiping Satanists. One claim that seems to have been made repeatedly about the Templars is that they venerated a mysterious idol named Baphomet, but who, or what was Baphomet?
For two hundred years this highly secretive military group had operated from an extensive network of castles throughout Europe and the Middle East. They had both supported and been supported by a succession of Popes and monarchs, and held a unique position in medieval Europe, having been declared exempt from paying taxes and seemingly operating above the law.
During their relatively short existence, the Templars were said to have amassed immense wealth, possessing considerable assets in gold, land and property, which made them a popular source of financing amongst European nobility. Quite by accident they had become the worlds first international bankers; until that is, their organisation was destroyed by a greedy French king who thought that by destroying the Templars as an organisation, he would take possession of their wealth and the mysterious secret they were known to guard so closely.
As it was, at least some of the Templars were tipped off of the impending coup, one, Gerard de Villiers arranged for several galleons to be loaded with the Templars assets. Days before the fateful raid on Friday the thirteenth, 1307, the Templar fleet sailed from La Rochelle in Western France, half the ships allegedly heading for Scotland and the other for Portugal. Phillip was left empty handed and de Villiers, the highest ranking Templar to escape the witch hunt, simply vanished, as did the treasure, leaving Philippe nothing to seize but a handful of Knights in the Paris headquarters who had seemingly sacrificed themselves for what they must have considered to be the greater good.
By a strange twist of fate, nearly five hundred years later the French monarchy would meet its own end in that same Templar building, as the Paris Temple was where Louis XVI and his family were held prior to their execution.
A secret that has never been broken
In addition to their wealth, the Templars were also said to possess hidden knowledge; a powerful secret that had been discovered during the nine years the founding members spent excavating Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
There has been much speculation since their demise as to whether the mysterious secret that the Templars were said to possess was the source of their riches or something completely unrelated to their wealth. It is quite possible that the reason the Templar fleet sailed in two directions was a strategic one, separating the Templar wealth from the Templars mysterious secret.
Many commentators have pointed out that the Templars wealth came from donations, tax exemptions, spoils of war and money lending enterprises. Popular legends lean towards more exotic explanations as to what they had found, such as their having discovered the Holy Grail, Solomons treasure or the Ark of the Covenant, however there is little evidence to support those claims.
The Head of God
Author Keith Laidler suggests in his book The Head of God that the Templars actually found the embalmed head of Christ. It was this head that according to Laidler, the Templars supposedly worshipped as Baphomet. Indeed one of the admissions extracted under torture was that they did indeed worship a head that they considered sacred. Considered in isolation that claim has little merit, however at Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, the location many believe houses the Templars treasure, an inscription on the so-called apprentice pillar reads, Here beneath this pillar lies the head of God. What exactly is this head of God? The public location of the inscription suggests that it is not physical wealth that is buried beneath Rossyln, but something with no tangible monetary value possibly a unique artefact of some description, something very special that had to be preserved.
There are two theories as to what exactly Baphomet was; the first is that Baphomet was the mysterious head that the Templars were said to worship, and the second is that Baphomet was a horned creature, loosely described as part man part goat, evidence of this creature can be found on several Templar buildings.
Carvings found on several medieval churches clearly show a horned creature with wings and a beard, which is a strange form of decoration for the self-proclaimed protectors of Christianity to use. Some researchers have suggested that rather than representing a demon the creature appears to be part man, part angel and that the horns may be symbolic of divinity and of a connection to God.
Furthermore, the carving suggest that the two theories, first that the Templars worshiped a head named Baphomet, and second that Baphomet was the horned creature depicted on so many of their churches, are two parts of the same truth. The Knights Templar worshipped a horned skull and that skull was Baphomet.
Is it possible that the founding Templars venerated a horned skull that they had discovered beneath Temple Mount? This horned skull was to all intents and purposes the head of God.
Whilst the idea of a horned skull might sound far-fetched, at least one such skull is known to exist in France, the home of the Templars. The precise origins of the skull are unknown, however those who have had the opportunity to examine it, state that it is authentic. There are also written accounts of other horned skulls, some allegedly belonging to a tall race of people that we would class as giants, being discovered in the US. This evidence from the US goes some way to validating the existence of the French skull. (See the resources list for more details) A similar horned figure, thought to be Asmodeus the demon of lust who helped Solomon build his temple, can be found in the church at Rennes le Chateau, in France. Rennes le Chateau is itself a location steeped in traditions of secret societies, occult symbolism, unexplained wealth and pentagonal geometry.
Clues in the Old Testament
Historians know that when the nine founding members undertook their excavation of Temple Mount they sought the assistance of Jewish Rabbis to translate Hebrew versions of the Old Testament rather than relying on their own Latin translations. In addition, the Templars were said to have studied many other ancient Hebrew texts. The popular explanation for this is that the Templars believed that the Hebrew texts contained hidden clues as to the whereabouts of the treasure concealed below Temple Mount; they obviously wanted to ensure that no fine details had been lost in the translation to Latin.
The Old Testament and texts such as the Book of Enoch do of course make several references to creatures such as the Nephilim, fallen angels and even horned men. According to some biblical legends, God marked his chosen followers with horns. Lamech for example realised he had killed his ancestor Cain, when his son told him his victim was a horned man. The horn or horns were said to be the mark of God. If the Templars did indeed find a horned skull buried beneath Temple Mount it is easy to see how they would reach the conclusion that they had discovered the remains of one of Gods original chosen men, one that predated Christ himself. Clearly this is something that the all powerful Catholic church would have been very unhappy with to say the least; it was a find that was too precious to ignore, but one that would put them at odds with the Catholic church itself and endanger their very existence.
Another symbol that features prominently in the Templar architecture and acts as a core symbol for the order is the pentagram; the symbol used as the seal of Jerusalem. The pentagram is often found on Templar gravestones like the one on the left. The facade of the Church of Santa Maria do Olival which houses the famous pantheon where 22 Master Templars were buried is marked by a pentagram balanced with an enormous rosette. In a guidebook, this symbol is referred to as the "Signum Salmonis, the true mark of the Knights Templars". Whether the fact that there are 22 Templar masters buried in Portugal is simply coincidence or whether there is an esoteric correlation between that and the 22 letters of the Hebrew letters, which according to the Kabbalistic text, the Sepher Yetzirah, were the origins of creation, and the 22 Master Templars is unknown; but might hint at the importance of the site and explain why when one fleet sailed to Scotland, the other was said to have headed for Portugal.
The connections between the Templars and the number 22 also reveal themselves in the Atbrash Cipher. This is a common cabbalistic substitution cipher, where the 22 letters of Hebrew alphabet are laid out twice in opposite directions, each letter from the top row substituting for one on the lower. According to Dr. Hugh Schonfield, a respected Dead Sea Scrolls scholar, using this system the name Baphomet when written in Hebrew yields the name Sophia, the Gnostic goddess of wisdom.
The etymology Baphomet is uncertain; some sources suggest that in Arabic, Aramaic and Hebrew it translates as bet' amet, or place of truth. The root ba or bet is also very interesting as it is the same as the ba in Baal, meaning Lord. It is also likely to be linked to the meaning of Baal Shem the Masters of the Divine name. Additionally, according to legend, Bat Khol was the daughter of the Divine voice essentially the oracle of the Divine.
It seems possible that the Templars may have chosen the name Baphomet for the mysterious head that they worshipped because it represented a hidden and ancient source of divine knowledge. It was this knowledge that the Catholic Church may have struggled to integrate into their worldview and quite likely it would have been information that would have been suppressed by the church. In many ways Baphomet was a bitter sweet knowledge, one that promised the Templars a unique connection with God, a potential understanding of the truth but which would have placed them on a direct collision course with the Vatican, because no organisation could be closer to God than the Vatican and in particular, the pope.
Did the Templars really find a horned skull beneath Temple Mount? If they did it would certainly explain the horned symbolism of Baphomet that was incorporated into so many of their religious or semi-religious buildings. Baphomet may have represented physical proof of the legitimacy of the Old Testament and of Divine intervention in the affairs of man. A horned skull, something concealed within ancient biblical texts would represent the ultimate prize for an order such as the Templars, it would unite their dual quests for spiritual enlightenment and their duty as defenders of Christianity, but it is unlikely to have been accepted by the church; perhaps that explains why Baphomet is shrouded in such secrecy. - source