By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould February 18, 2023
On Friday October 13, 1307 the French King Philip IV, ordered the powerful Catholic military order known as the Knights Templar arrested and charged with heretical practices and a month later, on November 22, under pressure from Philip, Pope Clement V issued the papal bull Pastoralis Praeeminentiae instructing all the monarchs of Europe to seize the Templar’s extensive assets. Deeply in debt to the Templars for their military service in his war against England it has long been suspected that the charges against them derived more from the king’s depleted treasury than actual acts of heresy. But following an extensive inquisition and trial including torture, the Templars and their Grand Master Jacques De Molay were found guilty and on March 18, 1314 were burned at the stake outside the Cathedral at Notre Dame de Paris.
Whether or not the Knights Templar maintained heretical beliefs, the immolation of Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay at the hands of the Pope’s Inquisitors would serve as an inspiration for generations to seek revenge on the Roman Church. And so begins the legend that winds its way from Jerusalem to Paris to the Holy Grail, to Rosslyn Chapel and Scottish Rite Freemasonry and from there to the death of JFK.
Pope Innocent III’s brutal Albigensian Crusade of 1209-29 against the powerful dualist Cathar movement pitted Northern France’s Catholic nobility against the lesser nobility of the south who were tolerant and supportive of it.
As a pre-Christian faith deeply rooted in the pagan world and spread by Rome’s legions through Mithraism to the four corners of the Roman Empire, Catharism represented an old and powerful expression of Gnostic belief which refused to be suppressed by the sterile and often contradictory doctrines of Rome’s Christianized Empire.
As described by Reverend V.A. Demant, Canon of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral in a preface to a 1947 book on the subject titled The Arrow and the Sword:
“To mention only its roots in Mithraism, its links with the Gnostics, its theological dualism, its asceticism, the ritual of life and death as cosmic mysteries, the appeal of the troubadours, Arthurian legends and the cult of the Holy Grail, the passions aroused for and against witchcraft, the intimate connection between sex and religion — all these things are sufficient testimony to the deep rooted vitality of a stream of religious consciousness which cannot be superciliously dismissed by rationalists and moralists.”
Writing on the heels of World War II, and with Europe still in ruins from the rise of an irrational and immoral pagan faith called Nazism, Demant feared that such a vital apocalyptic belief system with its “robust religiousness” and commitment to a struggle against an evil material world was bound to rise again, as it had so many times in the past.
Yet, he might not have been surprised to know that his own “Protestant” faith, of which he was a senior officer as the Canon of St. Paul’s, had its own roots in the same heresy.
Much has been speculated about the revival of Catharism and the survival of the Templars following their dissolution in 1312. Today’s popular fiction about their role as guardians of the Holy Grail rests not on any particular historical accounting but mainly on 18th century Masonic myth-making and Sir Walter Scott’s early 19th century stories that romanticized the Templar Knighthood. A deeply researched 2017 book by British Ambassador Craig Murray about the first Anglo/Afghan war (Sikunder Burnes: Master of the Great Game) not only connects Afghanistan to the Grail legend but maintains that the legendary Alexander Burnes and his brother James are the source of the Templar connection to Scottish Freemasonry and that – not surprisingly – they invented it.
The men of the Enlightenment found great interest in mystical illumination through Masonic rituals. To these men, the newly industrializing West needed a new prophetic tradition to anchor it in history. Rediscovery of the ancient world, as a result of imperial interventions into Asia and Egypt, spawned a renewed interest in Renaissance Neo-Platonism and Hermetic Cabbalism and their roots in a life-denying Gnostic creed. In fact, the very act of returning in victory to the origin of these Gnostic beliefs was in itself proof that they had been chosen to fulfill a cosmic cycle, as prophesied by the ancients.
Bestowing the Templars with occult mystical powers fit neatly into the early Romantic Movement and helped to promote Enlightenment thinking as part of God’s plan for mankind.
As a military order of religious warriors responsible only to the Pope, the Templars and their Cathar backers in France and England represented a powerful autonomous deep-state within medieval society. In many ways orthodox Christianity was no match for the life-denying, dualist doctrine of the Cathars. Catharism’s simple focus on the cosmic battle between a spiritual good and a material evil, and its promise of a time-ending apocalypse in which the material world would be consumed in fire, was an extreme seduction.
Driven to ground by a corrupted Roman Catholic Church and greedy French King, “the heresy” appeared to have been trampled out by the middle of the 14th century. But with the onset of the Reformation two centuries later, Rome’s authority faced a new challenge. And as it spread to Ireland, the old Catholic Anglo/Norman warlords like the Fitzgeralds, would be drawn into a struggle for their existence.
To Rome, the Protestant Reformation represented a heresy that was at once secular and religious. Martin Luther and John Calvin confronted a Papacy that claimed an earthly kingdom, as well as a spiritual one. In 1534, the English Parliament’s Act of Supremacy answered that claim by declaring Henry VIII “Supreme Head on earth of the Church of England”, and in 1559, his daughter Queen Elizabeth I became the Church’s “Supreme Governor.”
Cathar territory remained fertile ground for insurrection against the church. The French Calvinist Huguenot movement of the late 16th century grew from exactly the same ground in France, where 300 years earlier, the Cathars had been brutally suppressed by the Papal Crusade.
In England, Queen Elizabeth I’s deep-state, comprised of the Earl of Leicester, Sir Francis Walsingham and Sir Philip Sydney, found common cause with the Huguenots and supported them with soldiers, guns and money. Their armies waged holy war against the Papacy across Europe and in Catholic Ireland where they targeted the last visible threats to Elizabeth’s authority, with the Fitzgeralds a prime target.
The Irish Fitzgeralds had drawn their original power from France and Italy in the 11th century as Castellans and enforcers for the Cathar-friendly French royals under William the Conqueror and Henry II. They had performed their duties well enough to be rewarded with lands and titles, but when they came to Ireland in 1169, their paths diverged. Gerald of Wales, a prelate and member of the Fitzgerald clan makes clear in his 12th century account of the Irish invasion, the Expugnatio Hibernica that by 1170, his family was fed up with royal excess and willing to strike out under their own banner.
And after three centuries of immersion in Irish culture they had become transformed. Forsaking the English language, English customs and English law, the Catholic Anglo/Normans had become Irish, but the coming of the Protestant Reformation put them indirect opposition to the British crown. Known as the “Old English” and more recently as “The Twilight Lords” their ongoing intermarriage with Irish clans placed them between two worlds.
Known for their willingness to renounce their loyalty to England, the Fitzgeralds were feared and hated by London as representatives of a Roman Catholic deep-state bent on reversing the Reformation. On the other hand, the Sidney Circle represented a very old deep-state of its own; that “stream of Gnostic religious consciousness,” that had been suppressed for centuries, had risen in rebellion and was committed to ridding the world of evil.
The Sidney Circle and its primary operatives, Francis Walsingham, Edmund Spencer, Sir Walter Raleigh and John Dee, represented the militarized edge of Renaissance Neoplatonism, bent on establishing England not just as a global empire to rival Catholic Spain, but as a spiritual empire headed by Queen Elizabeth I that would cleanse the material world and restore a lost spiritual destiny.
Inspired by the Hermetic-Cabbalist Neoplatonism of John Dee, the Sydney Circle would take on the Fitzgerald Earl of Desmond in a genocidal war of extermination. Unknown to most people today, the feud between the European deep-state factions of the Counter-Reformation was a life and death struggle that embodied no less than the core principles of a cosmic war between light and dark.
In 1580, the prospect of this apocalypse coming to Ireland was so serious it prompted the Holy See in Rome to send an army of Italians and Spaniards to help the Fitzgeralds under the authority drafted by the “Just War Doctrine.”
As described by Richard Berleth, author of The Twilight Lords: Elizabeth I and the First Irish Holocaust the Fitzgeralds’ struggle against Renaissance Neoplatonism offers a window into a thousand year old factional struggle of a European “deep-state” rooted in a Gnostic belief system with the Fitzgerald family providing the required Manichean evil of the day and Elizabeth I and her Red Cross Templar knights the Christian purity in the tradition of King Arthur and the Round Table.
It is of no small importance that the assassination of Gerald Fitzgerald, the last Earl of Desmond in 1583, marked the beginning of the British Empire. The eternal struggle of good against evil, the ancient Iranian war of light against dark by design required a victory over the darkness, and the Earl of Desmond filled that sacred role. As was the custom at the time, his decapitated head was sent to London where legend has it Queen Elizabeth sat with it for the morning before having it impaled on London Bridge.
With the incorporation of the Public/Private partnership known as the British East India Company in 1600, Elizabeth’s victory would be spread around the world. Elizabeth’s favorite courtier Walter Raleigh would sail to America and establish the colony that came to be named Virginia for the “Virgin Queen.”
The East India Company would establish trading posts from India to America and create such economic oppression it would trigger the American Revolution. Despite its loss of American colonies, the company would make its founding families rich beyond dreams of avarice and make the English language universal and English culture the standard by which all other cultures would be judged. But the competition with Rome and the suspicion over its motives would never stop.
In the 400 plus years since Elizabeth I’s time, much of what was once deemed heretical by Church authorities has become commonplace. The feudal society that the Irish Twilight Lords died to preserve was already obsolete by Elizabethan times and would have vanished with or without them. The empire created by Elizabeth’s courtiers ruled much of the earth for four centuries and was passed on to the United States for a brief reprise before losing its purpose. But the eternal struggle of good against evil, the war of light against dark continues and whether real or imagined, the revenge for the Templars sacrifice lingers on, periodically revealing itself through correspondences and coincidences that can’t be denied.
On November 22, 1963, Americans were shocked by the public execution of their President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. In the years since every manner of conspiracy theory has been advanced to explain what happened. But killing the first Roman Catholic President of the United States on the site of the first Masonic Temple in Dallas on the anniversary of the Papal destruction of the Knights Templar on November 22, 1307, bespeaks a ritual of revenge and retribution fulfilled. And if it was a ritual of revenge and retribution based on a story fabricated by Alexander Burnes and his brother James seeking fame and fortune, then what it means to us today poses a deeply philosophical question that must be answered.
The legacy of fighting a Manichean enemy is writ large across history. If we dare to read the signs, the ancient cycle of revenge and retribution has brought us to the end of the line. For, when you’ve defined everyone as an enemy and there’s no one left to blame, when you look into the mirror there will only be one choice. And that is self-annihilation.
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