≡ Menu

Templar legends

The Priory of Marcevol and C. G. Jung’s golden scarab



The priory of Marcevol  in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France dates back to the 12th century. It is generally assumed that the bishop of Elne donated a church known as St Mary of Marcevol to the Canons of the Holy Sepulcher. order of the holy sepulcherThis order came into existence in the wake of the First Crusade. The early years of the Knights Templar were also linked to the same ancient church in Jerusalem which is believed to have been build directly above the tomb of Christ. Although the Canons of the Holy Sepulcher eventually also became militarized, similarly to the Knights Templar and the Knights Hospitaller, their role during the era of the Crusades was not as prominent. Perhaps as a result of this relative obscurity, the priory of Marcevol is believed by many locals to have been a Knights Templar property (the Knights were indeed prominent in this area). As such, it is featured in a legend which is quite simple on the surface, but contains a powerful and enduring message.

When the Knights Templar fell out of grace in the early 14th century, it was the Papal Bull called Vox in Excelso (published in 1312 at the Council of Vienne) which officially suppressed and disbanded the Order. According to local folklore, at the very moment when Clement V signed the document, a load-bearing lintel above the main door of the Priory of Marcevol cracked. Pierre Vidal who reports this local belief in his “Guide historique & pittoresque dans le Département des Pyrénées-Orientales” (1899) concedes that many churches have cracked lintels. But there may be a special reason why the Priory of Marcevol has this particular legend associated with it. The exact year when the bishop of Elne gave this property to the Canons of the Holy Sepulcher was 1129. It was also the same exact year when of the Order of Knights Templar received its official recognition from the Catholic Church at the Council of Troyes. An interesting coincidence! Whether or not the date when the lintel was broken is correct, this legend is onto something.lintelcrack

Myths and legends do not merely express the collective imagination of people who live in a certain area. These stories tend to pick up the most important themes that pertain to life and being. They pack universal truths into accessible symbols. Let’s look into the deeper meaning of the broken lintel at Marcevol.

There are definite Biblical references in this story. In Matthew 27 (NIV)  we read:

50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and[e] went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

The cracked lintel in Marcevol is a sign of the Templars’ importance. Their Order was named after the Temple of Jerusalem in which Jesus had preached and in which the curtain ripped at the moment of His death, symbolically asserting that the Holy of Holies became accessible to all of mankind. The split rocks and tombs breaking open, described by the Gospel writer, highlight the connection between the church in Marcevol and the Holy Sepulcher, the site of Christ’s resurrection. The crack in the lintel of this New Covenant Temple represents a break in the Church’s commitment to Christ, manifested in the destruction of the Order whose main purpose was to provide access to the Holy Land for all Christians.

What especially affects us in stories such as these is the acausal parallelism of events. The physical (and spiritual) event of promulgating a papal bull should not cause instant damage to a faraway building. An earthquake should not raise dead saints to life with any degree of necessity. It also should not tear curtains down the middle without causing any noticeable damage to the building itself. Carl Gustav Jung, perhaps the greatest psychologist of the 20th century, used the term “synchronicity” to describe such statistically improbable parallel events. To illustrate this phenomenon, Jung used the now famous case from his own life. He was treating a patient who was “steeped in Carthesian philosophy” and there was a need to break her out of this overly rationalistic set of mind. During one of their sessions, she was telling Jung about her dream in which someone gave her a golden scarab. This dream probably could have been of some help in the framework of Jung’s standard methods of therapy relying on archetypes and symbols. Unfortunately, the patient’s disposition could render such interpretations almost fruitless. At this exact moment, Jung heard gentle tapping behind his back. He turned around and saw that an insect was knocking against the window-pane. Jung opened the window and caught the creature, as it flew in. cetonia_aurataThe insect in his hand was a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose chafer. Its Latin name Cetonia aurata refers to the beetle’s golden color. (As a matter of fact, when Carl Linnaeus first described this insect in the 10th edition of Systema Naturae, he called it Scarabaeus auratus – Golden scarab. Jung was probably unaware of this fact, since the nomenclature has changed since.) Jung handed the beetle to the patient with the words, “Here is your scarab.” This experience was crucial for the patient’s progress, as well as for C. G. Jung’s own work. According to the great psychologist, significant acausal parallelisms could be explained in the framework of Unus Mundus (One World), the ancient concept of fundamental oneness of all spiritual and material phenomena. In Unus Mundus, occurrences such as the ones discussed above are perfectly logical. If one’s presuppositions about the world are entirely materialistic or entirely spiritualistic such events appear strange and coincidental. Instead, they should be seen as evidence for the fact that “the Matrix is not perfect.”

Unus Mundus is by no means homogeneous. Some events and places take precedents over other events and places. Unus Mundus has an order, a hierarchy. Few modern thinkers understood this better than René Guénon. After discussing the importance of the Knights Templar for Western Christendom, he once noted:

“These considerations make it clear on the other hand why the destruction of the Order of the Temple should have brought in its wake the rupture of regular relations between the West and the “Center of the World”; and the deviation that inevitably followed this rupture and that has become gradually more marked since then up to our own time must indeed be traced back to the fourteenth century” (Guardians of the Holy Land).

The legend about the cracked lintel at the priory of Marcevol can be very easily dismissed. We don’t have any eyewitness accounts that could be synchronized in time with the events that went on in 1312. However, the people who first resorted to the Knights Templar connection while explaining the broken lintel demonstrated impeccable intuition. The dissolution of the Order was one of the most important events in European history. As such, it deserved to have been accompanied by signs and portents.

Images by Nicosan66, Carlos Pino Andújar.

Satan’s Claw mark
More Templar legends

Knights Templar treasure: a primary source



Are you reasonably well read in modern Templar research? Then you probably have heard about 18 ships leaving the port of La Rochelle on the eve of the arrests in France. This story is supposed to be almost the only piece of evidence regarding the fate of the Order’s treasures and it comes from the records of the trials. Numerous books repeat this account as their authors struggle with the question of where the Templar fleet went from La Rochelle. I will give you examples from very different writers.

The most commonly touted escape route of the Knights has long been claimed to be the port city of La Rochelle, about 300 miles from Paris. During the trials, Jean de Chalon testified that Gerard de Villiers, Preceptor of the Paris temple, had fled the country with 50 horses and 18 ships. The Templars did indeed have ships, but again, surely someone on the king’s side, privy to the arrest order, would have noticed streams of Templars making their way to La Rochelle, as well as unusual activity on the docks around the Templar
ships. There is no record of such a mass exodus.

Christopher Hodapp, ‎Alice Von Kannon. The Templar Code For Dummies.

Although all this frustrated Philip, his greatest frustration was the disappearance of the treasure from the Paris Temple Bank. It had reportedly been loaded on a wagon train that raced for the port of La Rochelle. There the treasure was placed aboard the Templar fleet, again flying the skull and crossbones, from which it disappeared once more.

Steven Sora. Secret Societies of America’s Elite. From the Knights Templar to Skull and Bones.

If the Order knew what Philip’s plans were in advance, that might explain why the French king was unable to find the Order’s treasure (assuming it to have been actual, rather than metaphorical), which was said to have been smuggled out of the Paris Temple shortly before the arrests and taken by river to the Templars’ main naval base at La Rochelle. How many Templar ships sailed from La Rochelle in the autumn of 1307 is unknown – what they were carrying likewise – but one thing is known: the Templar fleet vanished utterly.

Sean Martin, The Knights Templar.

Somehow, however, the actual original account (which exists and is available in Latin) where this story comes from is never quoted. So, here is your chance to find out how second hand history happens. [click to continue…]

A troubadour legend in Old Occitan


troubadourThis medieval story comes from a collection of Old Occitan Vida — “Lives” of famous and not so famous troubadour poets. It represents a particular genre popular in the very first well established secular literary culture since the fall of Rome. For the most part, troubadour poets were dedicated to ideals of courtly love, but their works also reflected events of the time, including the crusades. Although it is highly unlikely that this biography of Jaufres Rudels is rooted in reality, one can get (very incidently) a good idea of how respected the Knights Templar were during the 13th century, when this text was written. I am including a version in the original Old Occitan (taken from Revue historique, Volume 53, 1893). If you have any background in Romance languages you may be able to read a great deal of this text. It is actually used by William D. Paden in his “Introduction to Old Occitan.” This language survives today as Modern Occitan, a regional language in Southern France.

Jaufres Rudels de Blaia si fo mout gentils hom, princes de Blaia, et enamoret se de la comtessa de Tripol ses vezer, per lo gran bon qu’el n’auzi dir als pelegrins que vengron d’Antiochia, e fetz de lieis mains vers, ab bons sons, ab paubres motz. E per voluntat de lieis vezer el se crozet, e mes se en mar; e pres lo malautia en la nau, e fo condutz a Tripol en un alberc per mort. E fo fait a saber a la comtessa, et ella venc ad el al sien lieit, e pres lo entre sos braz. Et el saup qu’ella era la comtessa, si recobret lo vezer e l’auzir el flairar; e lauzet Dieu que l’avia la vida sostenguda tro qu’el l’agues vista. Et enaissi el mori entre sos braz; et ella lo fetz a gran honor sepellir en la maison del Temple. E pois en aquel dia ella si rendet monga per la dolor que ella ac de la mort de lui. [click to continue…]

The Strasbourg Manuscript and the Swedish Rite’s legend about the Templars’ treasures

1 comment

deMolayThis Masonic legend, mostly told in the Swedish Rite lodges, is a curious variation of stories surrounding the final days of Jacques de Molay. The core of the legend is found in the so-called Strasbourg Manuscript, dating around 1760. The document is in French, although there are some indications that this was not the author’s native tongue. Carl Friedrich Eckleff (1723-1786), the originator of the Swedish Rite, is most likely connected to this document in some way. The manuscript is somewhat oddly entitled Deuxième Section, de la Maçonnerie parmi les Chrétiens (“Section 2, Masonry among the Christians”) and I will probably publish it as a curiosity at a later point. There are some additional later details for which I am mostly following Allgemeines Handbuch der Freimaurerei, by C. Lenning.

When Jacques de Molay became certain that his days were numbered, he arranged for his nephew, one count de Beaujeu, to visit him in prison. The Grandmaster had previously noted this young man as someone who could be trusted with the task of keeping the Order of the Knights Templar alive. De Molay instructed his nephew to go down to the crypt in which prior grandmasters of the Order were buried. There, underneath one of the coffins, de Beaujeu was to find a crystal box encased in silver and bring it back to the Grandmaster. The young man followed these directions and returned with the crystal box. De Molay was well pleased with his nephew’s loyalty and made him swear an oath, promising to do whatever it takes to preserve the Order until the day of the Last Judgement. It also turned out that the crystal box that had been retrieved from the crypt contained a precious relic, once given to the Knights Templar by King Baldwin of Jerusalem — the right index finger of John the Baptist. [click to continue…]