To be or not to be superstitious. Tis Friday the thirteenth!!! And so it is. Some of the best things which have taken place in my life fell on Friday the Thirteenth.
How did the number thirteen come to have such a sinister meaning for those of us who live in the so called ''West?''. It happened thusly.
On a bleak October, Friday the thirteenth, in the year of Our Lord, 1314 the powerful King of France, Philip the Fourth, also known as Philip The Fair, ordered the arrest, torture, and execution of all the Knights Templars in France. This was done with the Blessings of the Pope. The charge – heresy (later recanted by the Vatican by the way).
The Templar's Grand Master, Jacques de Molay, was immolated, (pun intended) at the stake. Inevitably all leaders of rich and potent organizaions who run afoul of even more powerful and wealthy groups are done in and disposed of. It has ever been thus.
A spate of motion pictures and books discuss the Templars. Some, like Dan Brown, chitter - chatter about it in ''The Da Vinci Code''. Others are far more serious and take the time to research their subjects.
Its all great fun, if you have nothing better to do, go and see the ''Kingdom of Heaven'' for more insight.
The Templars - The Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, were a trans-national, religious-military order, whose members were subject to monastic vows. The order was founded in 1150, supposedly to protect pilgrims going to The Holy Land: its name derives from the location of its headquarters - near or on the site of the Temple of Solomon.
Like Lucifer, they began with the Light, filled with the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity. Their intentions were noble and pure. However, the easy pickings of unarmed and prosperous Jews, Arabs, and Christians, who happened to live on the routes to Jerusalem, during the Crusades, were too strong to resist.
Rumors abound even today about the Templars discovery of certain secrets whilst digging in the ruins of the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem. Solomon is a poor example of a Jewish leader, if indeed he was even Jewish. His mother, Bas Shiva was not. He was lustful, so much so that he had a harem (an abomination to the True Jews of the Torah). He was ruthless, greedy,and warlike. Solomon was supposed to be wise. Give me a break! He spent his people's money with no thought for their well being. Extravagant is a mild word to use on King Solomon. He would feel comfortably at home in our time.
The sublime Song of Songs attributed to him in the Old Testament, is just that... an attribution and a supposition.
Back to the Templars. What did the Templars find, digging underneath one of the areas of the Temple? I doubt they found anything of great value. The Romans under the Emperor Titus had destroyed the Temple, so that ''not one stone stood upon another stone".' Thus the prophecy of Jesus was fulfilled. Before him, the Prophet Isaiah had predicted much the same thing. If there was any gold or other treasures, the Pharisees, who were smart men, would not have buried it in the Temple. Consider that the Roman Armies were thorough. Just remember what was done to Carthage almost three hundred years before. It died and it never rose again.
War always brings out the worst in men. Rarely does the best side of Humanity triumph. There would have been Jewish spies and informers. Keep in mind, the Emperor Titus, forced all the Jews to leave Palestine. They had no choice. It was the Diaspora or Death.
This is not to say that the Knights Templar didn't accumulate wealth. They did. A great deal of it. Without the limitless wealth of the Templars, to say nothing of their engineering and architectural expertise, which they learnt from the Arabs - the most stunning Gothic Cathedrals - Chartres, Notre Dame de Paris, Cologne, Santiago de Compostela, Burgos and Avignon to name a few would not be standing today, with their spires soaring towards the heavens.
What about the rumors that they found esoteric knowledge in Jerusalem? I believe it is more likely that the Templars stumbled onto whatever arcane knowledge they learned in Alexandria, Egypt. Since its founding by Alexander the Great, it had been a repository of Arcane and Gnostic Knowledge, as well as a center for the early Christians of the Catholic Church.
Two hundred years is a long time to amass great liquidity, hundreds of castles, estates, industries,and thousands upon thousands of indentured slaves.
The Templars became the biggest usurers/loan sharks in Europe. Kings, Rulers and Popes owed their souls and entrails to them. They were helpless if not prostrate before the Monk/Warriors.
The War machine of the Templars dwarfed the armies of Kings. They had the logistics, technology, and money to crush them without mercy. The Templars had strayed far from the teachings of Jesus.
''If you owe the bank ten thousand Euros, it's your problem. If you owe the bank one hundred million Euros, it's the bank's problem''.
That is flippant and superficial. First of all, those who are so foolhardy as to owe any bank such a vast sum of money, may find themselves drowned, disappeared or suicided. Banks have no hearts and souls. They can, and do, live with all sorts of suspicions. Retribution in this world hardly ever rains down upon any bank.
Over the centuries, the Knights Templar, who had taken vows of Celibacy and Poverty, degenerated into Assassins, Reprobates and Usurers. Their gods became War, Death, Sex (Including pedophilia) and Money.
Unbridled power corrupts absolutely. Unnacountability creates an illusion of invulnerability.
In stepped Pope Clement V. He found the moral strengh and grace to suppress the Order of the Knights Templars in 1312. They were excommunicated and ordered to disband immediately. The order was ignored.
Philip the Fair, King of France, owed so much money to the Templars, his interest payments alone were bankrupting his nation, and de-pauperizing his subjects. Desperate situations call for desperate measures.
The Arabs have an aphorism. ''Never push your enemy so far against the wall, he has no way out except to fight back'' (actually a lot of our "western wisdom" came from the Arabs – for more details read my book on Suleyman the Magnificent)
Philip reasoned, ''What can I and my people lose by implementing the Pope's order? I am the Defender of the Faith''. And the fact that he could wipe away his massive debts and sieze all their land and assets was a compelling incentive.
So, in October,while an early winter storm raged, on a Friday the 13th, in the year 1314, in great stealth, Philip sent his soldiers to arrest the most important Knights Templar. They were imprisoned in various dungeons through out France. The poor, and the feudal aristocracy alike, hated them so, they could not count on their support.
They had no time to gather their far-flung armies. The element of surprise had struck at their arrogance. Many were burnt at the stake. There is nothing left of the Templars today except Rumor, ''they say that'' and legends, which, being legends, never die. Several groups call themselves the Knights Templar and claim fidelity to their vows. I am not passing judgement for or against. Time will prove to be their greatest challenge.
We have writers of fiction who are fascinated with them. Evil exerts these attractions. Like Lucifer, they had everything initially. Like him, they chose
the Negative Way.
The Templars became a barbarous lot, who lived in barbarous times, acted barbarously and met their end barbarously.
So, enjoy Friday the 13th. It is a day of Rejoicing especially if you owe money to somebody. Not a day to fear – unless of course you are some wicked and debauched money lender – then I say watch out.