Friday, January 30, 2015

The Knights Templar still exist in Côte d’Or Region, NE France

This blog is a translation from a publication in French published in www.gazetteinfo.fr (link lost) on December 24, 2014.

More than eight hundred years after the execution of Jacques de Molay (Last Master of the Knights Templar), the Templars leave the shadows.

A report on this discreet society between Burgundy and Franche-Comté (North-Eastern France).

The affiliation between the Templars and the Crusades today remains very difficult to define. Yet in 2014, they take up again the symbols and much of the code of chivalry to try to bring a contemporary application thereof. All over the globe, they meet to find ways to raise their consciousness. In practice, their rituals often intersect those of Freemasons. The crucible seems similar, yet both entities want to mark their difference. The costumes, vocabulary, symbols and even the organization of the rites are not alike.

In contrast to the discretion and the path to initiation, the two secret societies are on the same wavelength. The Templars of the  twenty-first century apply the same medieval organization: mainly bailiffs and commanderies. But today, the mesh spans the planet.

Chapter Day

Sunday, December 14, 2014 it was Chapter Day, the meeting of the Commandery André de Montbard. For the occasion, the Templars came from the Vosges, Alsace, and also the Paris region. The locals come from Burgundy or Franche-Comté.

The meeting place takes place in a big ancient building, garded by two very nice doggs, one a young Leonberger, the other an Austrian Shepard. They support their big heads on the thick grid. They seem harmless and wag their tails when they see someone looking at them. 

Regrettably, the entrance to the hall where the cermony will take place is just in front of the grid. A gentle slope leads to a double wooden door. The meeting is held in what was to be a sort of old above-ground cellar. In any case, the arched and narrow look of the room quickly cuts the feeling of time. The meeting itself will strengthen that feeling.

Sounds of swords ...

Just behind the entrance, the room opens. Much longer than wide, everything is in barren stone. Some lights illuminate the room with a diffuse yellowish light. On the left, the white coats of arms are hanging on the wall; right they are black. A stone platform is surmounted by an altar with a dagger, a Bible, and several leaves are arranged. At the foot of the altar, two stones. One bearing chisel marks, the other smooth. Masonic symbols? "We are not at home ..." apologizes a Templar. "We rent the site which is usually a temple for the Freemasons. "Behind the altar, a curtain protects the entrance to another room from which the sounds of swords sliding back in their sheaths are heard.

Folklore

The first knights appear. They wear the long white cloak of the Knights Templar, with on their sleeves a large Lorraine cross. Some wear this cape with a small chain ending with two clips representing the shells of pilgrims of Saint Jacques de Compostela. Under this cape, a tunic, also white, also wearing an eight-pointed Lorraine cross. A leather belt completes the costume. Neither helmet nor chain mail, and of course, no horse either. The purpose of the Templars today is not to go to war against a people or another religion.

Besides, the wearing of the sword is also folklore because they are neither sharp nor strong enough to take the shock in a real fight. One member even said that a market highly specialized, develops around the Templars accessories. "The swords can be bought between 250 and 300 euros. Mine, I found it on the internet for 90 euros!" Although the weapons are different, the knowledge of good financial management comes with the Templars all through the ages. During the Middle Ages this order of soldier monks developed a real banking network which had significantly increased their power, but also envy. It is this tremendous success that feeds even today the legend of the Templar treasure. Enough with the warlike tendencies, time for reflection.

Symbolic and dissertations

The chapter can be divided into two distinct parts: a symbolic side with all the rituals, the other part with essays with the presentations of the research expressed in the "parchments" (name given to the exercise). These cover topics that may appear abstruse like "candle", or "the standard". Just as important as the work of mixing philosophy and esotericism: respect for rituals. Everything is standardized. The place of the participants, for example, is governed according to their rank. Thus, the novices, wearing a black dawn, sit down. They do not participate in the exchange following the presentation of a "parchment". They keep quiet and listen. "It's quite a holy lsson in humility" says one of them.

Another important symbol: the nine candles. They represent the nine founding knights of the order. Before lighting each candle, the name and a brief biography of the knight are read by participants. Similarly, before the opening of the chapter, the Templars formulate an oath touching the handle of a sword presented to them: "Silence, obedience, and loyalty." Other symbols are borrowed from Catholicism to mark the origins of their history. Thus, before the opening of the session, incense is burned. Similarly, a sort of communion is practiced with the sharing of bread and wine. Other religious reference: the Bible, which is set before the altar.

Chain of Love

The chapter ends with a round where participants hold hands. The Templars call it a love chain. Before, they crossed their swords, always standing in a circle. Once these rituals have been performed, the chapter ends. The members take off their mantles and put away their swords. Another tradition awaits: lunch after chapter.

Leaving their temple, the real motivations that inspire people to participate in this kind of event remain mysterious. The pleasure of wearing a period costume? Satisfy the desire to belong to a discrete society? Find a path for personal development? Or simply the taste of living history? In any case, once outside, the two dogs did not move from their observation post and remain close to the gate to beg a caress. Whatever the time, some situations do not change.

Source of text and illustration: www.gazetteinfo.fr (link lost, paper discontinued)

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