What Was The Role Of The Freemasons?

It seems probable that leading members of the old masonic guilds had connections with the Knights Templar. What is not known is whether the Freemasons of today are in any real sense connected to the old guild of stone masons of the Middle Ages.

 

The Cathedral of Notre Dame was the work of a guild of masons under the leadership of the Cistercian Order. St Bernard of that order was said to have knowledge of the secret geometry of King Solomon’s masons. The master mason of this guild, and skilled in sacred geometry, was Hiram Abiff, who was to become a central symbolic figure in the Freemasonry movement of the early 18th century.

 

There were various masonic guilds or brotherhoods during the Middle Ages, and when King Philip IV of France began to persecute the Knights Templar in the early 14th century, the masonic guilds in France were also placed in danger. Like the Knights Templar, they were secretive and therefore suspect.

 

It was believed that the masons had knowledge of the sacred geometry of the ancients, and it was only one step from this to see them as possibly having maps that indicated the sites of ancient documents and treasures.

 

They had three degrees of membership, the highest being that of Master mason. The Master masons were the ones most likely to be privy to any secrets. It was those of the ‘third degree’ among the secret societies who were subjected to interrogation. This is the derivation of our modern term, subjecting someone to ‘the third degree’, meaning a ruthless interrogation to force the person to divulge information.

 

When an apprentice joined one of the old guilds, he had to swear not to reveal the secrets of the craft, and the masons might at that stage have introduced some form of secret communication by which they could recognise one another.

 

 

During the Middle Ages, masons worked on the building sites of the great cathedrals and other Gothic structures. The work required a high degree of skill, and a secret code, recognisable only to other masons, would have ensured that no one who was not properly qualified would be employed on such projects.

 

Masonic groups formed groups in towns, but lodges also provided meeting-places for masons who were working away from home. These lodges kept masons in constant touch with one another and with the society.

 

It was quite usual for noble European families of the day to invent mythical genealogical records for themselves so that they could claim bloodlines going back to some illustrious figure of the distant past. Some of the guilds did the same and claimed fascinating but highly unlikely origins for themselves.

 

The first English Freemason lodges were formed around the beginning of the 18th century. Although they adopted many of the rituals and symbols of the old masonic guilds of the Middle Ages and added more of their own devising, they were quite different organisations.

 

Within a decade or so, Freemasonry had spread to France and then to Germany and elsewhere in Europe. Freemasons were not required to have practised the trade of masonry, but tended to be drawn from a wide range of occupations and included many of illustrious reputation.

 

From what has been written in the last decades about Freemasonry today, it seems that modern Freemasons know little or nothing about the need to protect ancient great secrets, although this might well be part of the ritualistic role of the higher echelons. Even then, however, sacerdotalism is no longer claimed.

 

Decisions about the advancement of ordinary members are taken by this rather shadowy higher echelon, and one assumes therefore, that some kind of ‘enlightenment’ takes place, but the role of Freemasonry today is largely one of service and mutual support. It seems, however, that rituals and symbols remain very much part of their ceremonies.

 

Freemasonry accepts members of all religion, or no religion at all. Some lodges now include women.

 

When a society operates in terms of secrecy and has initiation rites and esoteric levels of membership, it is inevitable that conspiracy theories will arise regarding its activities, including accusations of subversive finagling. There is little doubt that Freemasons do indeed look after one another’s interests where possible, but the impressive number of famous and justifiably renowned Freemasons over the past couple of centuries suggests that most of the accusations are somewhat flimsy.

 

 

The very fact that the society has endured through the centuries and has counted some of history’s most illustrious figures among its members suggests that it has a powerful pull on the imagination of those who belong to it and that they find their connection with it fulfilling. There are thousands of Freemason lodges throughout the world.

 

 

Does The Gospel Of Mary Magdalene Really Exist?

The Nag Hammadi reference for the Gospel of Mary is Codex II, 2. It was originally written in Greek, probably in the early part of the second century.   

Karen King and other commentators report that the Gospel of Mary falls naturally into two sections: the account of the exchange between Jesus and the disciples after the Crucifixion, and a description of Mary’s passing on to the disciples the special revelations entrusted to her by Jesus. Only the beginning and end of this important document survives. Four pages are missing between beginning and end. 

It is in the Gospel of Mary that Peter is described as challenging the relationship of Jesus and Mary Magdalene by demanding to know why Jesus would choose to speak privately to her rather than freely to them. Peter complains about Mary’s preaching and asks Jesus to stop her as she is undermining his leadership. Jesus’s response is to rebuke Peter. Mary later says that she is wary of Peter and feels that he hates women. Jesus tells her that anyone, whether man or woman, is divinely entitled to speak if inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Also in the Gospel of Mary, Levi is recorded as pointing out to Peter that if Jesus found Mary Magdalene worthy to be the recipient of his revelations, then he, Peter, had no right to criticise and reject her: “The Saviour surely knows her well enough. That is why he loves her more than us.”  He tells the disciples to go forth and preach as Jesus had asked of them.

They immediately respond, and with this the text ends.

From then on, it seems that the disciples accepted Mary’s position of privilege and that she comforted and encouraged them when they feared that they, too, would meet death at the hands of the authorities. 

The story of Peter’s confrontation with Mary Magdalene is also recorded in the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of the Egyptians and the Pistis Sophia.

The Nag Hammadi Codices appear to be largely Gnostic in tone. Not all Gnostics were Christians. In fact, there had been Gnostic thinkers before the time of Christ. Gnostic Christians were those who preferred personal revelation and individual understanding rather than conversion by apostles or evangelists.

Because Gnostic Christians were condemned by the orthodox Church , they have always received what we would call ‘a bad press’, but the largely Gnostic writings of the Nag Hammadi codices have brought new understanding of the Gnostics and much sympathy and support for their perspectives of Jesus and his mission. They did not, for instance, believe that Jesus was divine, but saw him as a divinely inspired teacher whose mission was to reveal to ordinary human beings that they could have direct communication with God. Since the Gnostics were largely freethinkers, it goes without saying that there was much variety in their interpretations.

Richard Andres and Paul Schellenberger point out in The Tomb of God: the Body of Jesus and the Solution to a 2000-year-old Mystery that the silence of the Church regarding Christian Gnosticism has left most Christians unaware of the important Gnostic aspects in the origins of their own religion. The orthodox Church fought fiercely to eradicate the Christian Gnostics and other so-called ‘heretics’ prior to the Council at Nicaea in 325 AD and established a pattern of prejudice that has plagued the Church ever since.

The main bone of contention between Gnostic and orthodox Christians seems to have been the issue of whether Christ was divine and the actual Son of God and whether he had been physically resurrected and then taken up into heaven. Although he might not have been the originator, Paul propagated and disseminated the view of Jesus as the Son of God resurrected to life after death on the cross after death. One cannot help but suspect that the disappearance of Jesus from the tomb played into the hands of the later orthodox Church, since his reappearance, either living or dead, would have been difficult to account for in terms of the Resurrection which is fundamental to Christian Church dogma.    

It is not difficult to see why orthodox believers wanted Gnostic interpretations suppressed even before the end of the first century AD, and why people like the inhabitants of the Jewish Qumran community found it necessary to hide their documents in urns secreted in caves before they fled at the time of the Jewish uprising of 70 AD and during later persecutions.

In 325 AD Emperor Constantine, concerned about myriad dissensions in the failing Empire, set up the Council at Nicaea and demanded that Christians cease their quarrelling and make up their minds about their beliefs. His reasons were, of course, personal and political, and had nothing to do with any concern for religion. It was rather that he saw that Christianity was spreading fast and that a unified Christianity would be useful to him.

If Mary did indeed leave the Holy Land after the Crucifixion and finally make her home in France, this would support the view of her implicit in those of the Nag Hammadi Codices that mention her mission. She was the apostle closest to Jesus and it was to her that he made his revelations after his body had disappeared from the cave and he met and spoke with her in the garden.

And if she were indeed the mother of his child – or children – it would have been imperative for her to escape from the Holy Land.

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What Is The Role Of The Rosslyn Chapel In The Grail Story?

Alex has done extensive research on the Rosslyn Chapel. Here is a summary of her findings.

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Rosslyn Chapel is the final part of Sophie Neveu and Robert Langdon’s journey and the place where Sophie will learn the truth about her family… although not the truth about the Holy Grail.

 

Although often connected in popular legend to the Knights Templar, Rosslyn Chapel was actually founded by Sir William St Clair, Earl of Rosslyn, in the 15th century at a time when the Templar Order had not existed for over a hundred years, although there were still small groups who saw themselves as inheritors of Templar wisdom and rituals.

 

The St Clair family did, however, have connections with the guild of masons – prior to the founding of the Order of Freemasons – and for a time during the early 17th century the current William St Clair (it seems that all the St Clair heirs were named William) was a kind of ‘protector’ of the local masonic branch. Extant documents show that his son, who was a rather more respectable character than his father, was formally designated an official patron of the masons. When the Order of Freemasons was founded, the St Clairs of Rosslyn were among the earlier members.

 

Simon Cox points out in Cracking the Da Vinci Code that members of the St Clair family had actually testified against the Knights Templar when some of its members were tried at Holyrood in Edinburgh in 1309. (One notes that this piece of information contradicts the claim that no Knights Templar were persecuted in Britain.)

 

Rosslyn Chapel is only about eight miles from Edinburgh in the village of Roslin in Lothian, where most of the inhabitants are so used to its just ‘being there’ that they have little curiosity about it, despite the fact that a reward has long been available to anyone able to decipher the large number of its symbols that remain shrouded in mystery. Weekly services continue to be held in the church, which is actually named Rosslyn Collegiate Church.

 

For those who enjoy collecting extraneous pieces of information, Dolly the sheep was cloned at the Roslin Institute.

 

Cox and Newman, among others, point out that the name ‘Rosslyn’ does not come from ‘Rose Line’ as reported in The Da Vinci Code, but from the Scottish words ‘ross’, meaning a hill or rocky excrescence, and ‘lynn’ meaning water or waterfall, both of which aptly describe Rosslyn’s situation.

 

There is indeed an underground chamber, a crypt, under Roslynn Chapel, where members of the St Claire family were buried over the centuries. The entrance to the crypt is well-known. It is beneath the flagstones of the north aisle of the chapel, but to this point excavations have not been allowed. There is no real evidence that the crypt contains documentary or any other kind of treasure, and the owners fear that the church – which has been neglected over many centuries – would suffer irreversible damage were it to be undermined.

 

The entire church is covered in carvings, and people sometimes express surprise that so little work has been done on deciphering the huge number of signs, symbols and carvings at Rosslyn Chapel, but this kind of work usually takes years, especially since many cryptographers work at unravelling such esoteric mysteries only in their spare time. Cox points out that cryptographers have been studying the Rosslyn symbols for a relatively short time.

 

People who have visited Rosslyn to make their own explorations have reported that they have been unable to find the pentacle on the floor of the chapel described by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code. Once again, one is reminded that The Da Vinci Code is a novel, not a work of non-fiction, and a novelist may embroider where he chooses.

 

In January 2003, the district branch of the Scottish Knights Templar announced that they would be using new scanning technology at Rosslyn Chapel that was capable of taking readings to a deep underground level. These readings would presumably indicate whether there were any crypts or vaults in addition to the burial crypt of the St Clair family which is already known, although not accessible today. There does not appear to have been any further news on this matter.

 

The Scottish Knights Templar are not an actual continuation of the Order of the Knights Templar which was destroyed in the early 14th century as a result of the persecutions of Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V, but see themselves as philosophically linked to the original Knights Templar and dedicated to perpetuating their ethic.

More answers here! 

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Breaking the Da Vinci Code

After over 12 months of working passionately on the Da Vinci Code its amazing when instead of researching the turf exposed by “The Da Vinci Code” others seek to BAN, STARVE, SUE, RIDICULE, PREACH and COUNTERPROGAM.

Jeremy Caplan of Time Magazine does a good job of summarising the Da Vinci Code opponents.

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What is the Opus Dei?

The Opus Dei (the Work of God) was founded in Spain in1928 by Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer. It had both lay members and priests, and its mission was to make people aware of the need to make holiness part of their everyday lives and to demonstrate this by personal example. Lay members remained under strict religious supervision and followed a daily programme of readings, spiritual exercises and prayers.

There were numerous Opus Dei rituals, and some members (belonging to the Numerary group, the strictest level of membership) continued to engage in “corporal mortification” at a time when this was generally frowned on in other religious communities.

With headquarters in Rome, the organisation works in some countries and has about 80,000 members. Its founder, Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, was canonised by Pope John Paul II in October 2002, an honour that continues to raise much controversy.

As with all religious organisations about which little is generally known, the Opus Dei has often been the focus of criticism and unfavourable speculation, but it has nonetheless endured and has also retained Papal support.

Its founder, Escriva de Balaguer, was the author of a book entitled The Way in which he glorified pain: “Blessed be pain. Loved be pain. Sanctified be pain… Glorified be pain.” In The Da Vinci Code, Silas has taken this as his mantra.

Manuel Aringarosa and Silas in The Da Vinci Code are both members of the Opus Dei. As a Numerary of the Order, Silas continues to mortify his flesh via the lash and the cilice. He is obsessed with the notion that self-inflicted bodily pain, using these two particular instruments of torture, is spiritually cleansing. Hence his constant reiteration that “Pain is good.”

He goes about his deadly work secure in the belief that he is operating as a sevant of God. He acknowledges the savagery of his behaviour, but believes that he redeems himself in God’s eyes through inflicting physical torment on himself. He is actually at the mercy of forces beyond his understanding, but his devotion to his “Teacher” blinds him to this reality.

Before the Prologue in The Da Vinci Code, author Dan Brown describes the “Vaticn prelature known as Opus Dei” as a “deeply devout Catholic sect that has been the topic of recent controversy due to reports of brain-washing, coercion and a dangerous practice known as ‘corporal mortification’”.

The seventeen-storey new headquarters of the Opus Dei at 243 Lexington Avenue in New Yrk has no outward sign to indicate to whom it belongs. The Vatican Yearbook, reports author Simon Cox, reveals that there are some 3,000 Opus Dei members in the United States with about 60 Opus Dei residences scattered about the country. Many wealthy people are “Cooperators”, which means that they are not actual members of the Opus Dei, but lend support to the cause and make generous donations. Of the six membership classes, this is the only one where being Catholic is not a prerequisite.  

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Da Vinci Code Fiction?

After months of research we completed our book "Da Vinci Code – Fact or Fiction" with a CONCLUSION. We believe we looked at the whole fiction / non-fiction discussion fairly.

 

The extent to which a novel attains (and sometimes maintains) cult status is a reflection of the extent to which it resonates in the minds of readers. This remains true whether we are talking about The Da Vinci Code, Miguel Cervantes’ ageless Don Quixote, or A Milne’s delightful tales of Christopher Robin and his animal friends.

 

It is interesting that many people – some devout Christians among them – seem to fear that the Christian Church will fragment if Jesus is finally proved to have been not of entirely divine nature but a great religious teacher who was fully human. But in fact many Christians, including dedicated priests and high officers of the church, question much established Church dogma, and many prominent religious thinkers have done so over the centuries.

 

Far from questioning or reducing the value of the teachings of Jesus, honest enquiry is more likely to strengthen rather than weaken the Church. Jesus wanted to free the Jewish people from both their own sectional dissensions and from unwelcome Roman influences. The Romans were far from displeased at Jewish lack of unity as it was the best possible assurance that no uprising against an occupying force would be successful. The failure of Jewish uprisings simply confirm this.

 

Fighting broke out between bands of Zealots and Romans in Caesarea in 66 AD before spreading to Jerusalem which the Zealots held for four years before the city fell to Flavius Titus, commander of an army sent from Rome. The abortive uprising culminated in the mass suicide in 74 AD of several hundred Jews who held out in the mountain fortress of Masada until they were entirely without the necessities of life.

 

At the end of the hostilities, Jews fled the Holy Land in their thousands to re-establish themselves mainly among their eastern neighbours. It was at this stage that most of the Dead Sea Scrolls appear to have been hidden, never to be retrieved by those who stored them in urns for protection and deposited them in caves in the cliffs of their arid environment.

 

Even stronger dissensions have grown over the centuries into major rifts within Christianity where Christians have persecuted Christians on no stronger grounds than differences in religious dogma. These illogical prejudices have persisted over two millennia and remain violently active in some parts of the world today.

 

Author Dan Brown uses fiction in order to explore ancient religio-historical mysteries that fascinate not only him but most of the Western world. Part of his intention as a writer is to encourage people to think for themselves and to question beliefs that have perhaps gone unquestioned for too long. Plato records that Socrates said that the unexamined life was not worth living. It remains one of the wisest comments ever made.

 

Setting a work of fiction against an historical background, more particularly a powerfully controversial one, enhances the novel and gives tremendous back-up to the story. Many readers are intrigued to the extent where they finish reading the book with so many questions tumbling through their minds that they set off on their own search for further information – for new ideas and tantalising possibilities that lurk behind the telling of the story.

 

In the case of The Da Vinci Code, this can be a thorny path because some readers whose belief systems are different feel a sense of outrage at a novel that they see as undermining the very substance of their most dearly held religious beliefs.

 

Inevitably, some commentaries reflect such views and focus on debunking The Da Vinci Code. But if it were Brown’s intention to proselytise, The Da Vinci Code would not be the international bestseller it is, because most of us have a built-in resistance to a novel that preaches. The prime intention of a novelist is to interest readers into continuing to turn the pages.

 

On the other hand, novels that make us think have a role beyond the telling of a story. If there is one thing that Dan Brown’s fascinating novel does, apart from entertain, it is to awaken a spirit of enquiry.

 

The author of a work of fiction is not presenting himself as the conveyor of ultimate truths. Dan Brown’s between-the-lines message is much closer to: ‘Do yourself a favour and at least think about these things. What is it that you are actually believing in? Could it be that many of us have lost sight of the real message and instead are slaves to the dogma?’

 

In the same vein, the varied ‘stories’ that make up the background of The Da Vinci Code demand enquiry. For readers interested in doing this, there is much enjoyment ahead.

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Where Is Mary Magdalene Buried?

The official Church version is that Mary Magdalene was buried in Ephesus and that in 899 the Emperor Leo VI had her relics transferred to a monastery in Constantinople.

 

This has the effect of keeping Mary Magdalene well away from Western Europe and any theories about the Sangreal, the bloodline of Jesus. But a strong contender in the burial probability stakes comes from Provence in France, where there is, as mentioned before, what amounts to a ‘Mary Magdalene industry’.

 

It was Gregory of Tours, chronicler of the Frankish kings in the late 6th century, who recorded the older tradition that Mary Magdalene died in Ephesus where she had lived for many years with Jesus’s mother, Mary, and John the Evangelist, thought to have been the author of the Fourth Gospel, the Gospel of John.

 

This account was, however, contradicted in a document in Latin (c. 5th to 6th century) which, referring to an earlier record, claimed that Mary Magdalene had travelled to Aix-le-Provence with Saint Maximin and had lived there for many years before she died in Aix at the age of 60.

 

In keeping with the mission of Jesus entrusted to Mary Magdalene and the apostles, she and Maximin had preached the gospel in Gaul, and Maximin had become the first Christian bishop in Gaul (usually referred to as Bishop Maximus). He placed her embalmed body in a crypt and had a Basilica built over it to honour and protect it.

 

The body was said to have been removed during the Saracen invasions as it was feared it would be discovered and destroyed. Rumour has it that part of the remains were taken to the French monastery of Vezelay in Burgundy, the church of which carried Mary Magdalene’s name.

 

Years later, a monk of the Vezelay monastery is reputed to have found a crypt at the Basilica of St Maximin’s in Provence. Reference to the Magdalene was chiselled into the stone.

 

 

Margaret Starbird draws attention to a published report that the Vatican sent an Apostolic Nuncio with six bishops and several priests to celebrate mass at the Basilica of Marie Madeleine in 1950 to honour the 700-year Jubilee of the discovery of her grave in Provence. She asks questions we would all like to have answered. What did the Catholic Church know about Mary Magdalene to induce them to participate in this event? How long had the Church Fathers known whatever it was that they seemed to know? And, since they were willing to lend support to the Jubilee, why were they at the same time continuing to discount the stories that placed Mary Magdalene in Provence both during her lifetime and after her death?

 

Certain documents favouring the Constantinople (Byzantium) account of Mary Magdalene’s burial place claim that part of her relics were transferred in the 9th century to the monastery Church of St Lazarus and that, some time after the final Crusade, were moved to Italy where they were buried beneath the altar of the Lateran Cathedral in Rome. Other documentation places part of her relics near Marseilles where, as mentioned, the splendid St Maximum’s Basilica was built over them.

Then there is the contention that Mary Magdalene’s remains were buried, along with secret documents, on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and were found when the city was conquered during the First Crusade.

 

Where, then, is Mary Magdalene buried? Legends, rumours and traditions – both oral and written – abound. Again, the only honest answer is: we don’t know.

 

– Is she buried in Ephesus in Turkey, as the Church believes… or does it?

 

– Was she buried on Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and were her remains moved to the West when the crusaders took Jerusalem?

 

– Is she buried under the Basilica of St Maximin?

 

– Are some of her bones hidden in a crypt at Vezelay?

 

– Or are her relics buried in more than one place?

 

Finally, could it really be that her bones are buried within the glass pyramid at the Louvre Museum? Of all possibilities, this is surely the most unlikely.

 

It would be understandable had some of her bones been placed in different burial places after her initial burial in order to ensure that at least some of them survived being discovered and removed and perhaps even destroyed.

 

Perhaps this mystery will also be solved in due course if contemporary documents are ever discovered.

 

 

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