I am forever intrigued by Secret Societies. I think this started when I was a kid, and had the need to feel included. I mean, we all want to be wanted, by somebody, I think. We are young and unsure of the world. So we want a team on our side. Hence, the birth of clubs, societies, gangs, and the like.
When I was very young, a few of us started our own “Gang” as we labeled it. We were the widely respected “Pacers” as I recall. What the heck? I am not sure where we came up with this, as I didn’t watch basketball, and I don’t think the car had been marketed yet. Nonetheless, there we were. The fierce Pacers. We ran obstacle courses on a regular basis, we dumpster dived, we threw rocks at windows in an abandoned garage. Oh, the way of the Gang. The Club. The Secret Society.
All of this comes to mind, because on this day in 1128, Pope Honorius II granted a papal sanction to the military order known as the Knights Templar, declaring it to be an army of God.
Now THAT is one heck of a Gang, I’ll tell you. An Army of God. I won’t go into all of that Religion and War thing. We all know what we know on that subject.
But back to the Knights of the Templar. They were led by a French Dude. His name was Hughes de Payens. The Knights organized themselves in 1118, and they self-deemed themselves and their mission.
That mission was a big shoe to fill. They were to protect Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land during the Crusades. Now. What exactly were the Crusades?…. Basically….. it was a series of military expeditions aimed at defeating Muslims in Palestine. That cut runs deep, now doesn’t it?
Those Knights were slim at the get-go. For a while, the Templars had only nine members, mostly due to their rigid rules.
You see… this was their way: In addition to having noble birth, the knights were required to take strict vows of poverty, obedience and chastity. (There’s really not a lot of draw there, I don’t think.)
But everybody needs a bandwagon, I suppose. So…. in 1127 they went looking… and started a new promotional effort which convinced many more noblemen to join the order. After that… the numbers grew. I mean… it was going to take more than nine guys to protect all those pilgrims, don’t you think?
OK. Here is where it gets all Movie-Mayhem.
Those knights weren’t allowed to own property. BUT….there was no such restrictions on the organization as a whole. Sooooo…. over the years many rich Christians gave gifts of land and other valuables to support the Knights Templar.
And. They got stinking rich. This made the snobby-wobs all hot under the collar. Like …. King Philip IV of France and Pope Clement V…. around 1307. The Royals put their heads together and decided to take down the Knights Templar. They arrested the grand master, Jacques de Molay. They charged that fella’ with treason, sacrilege and Satanism.
Torture comes with charges in those day. So while having his nails pulled right out of his fingers… and such…. Molay and other leading Templars confessed. Dang it. This led to burning those guys at the stake. Templar Toast.
Down when the Templars. Clement, Philip, and King Edward II, claimed most of the wealth.
The Church now says the persecution of the Knights Templar was unjustified. A little late now… I might add. But. Over the centuries, myths and legends about the Templars have grown.
The biggest “unknown” is the belief that they may have discovered holy relics at Temple Mount, including the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant or parts of the cross from Christ’s crucifixion. The stuff of The Da Vinci Code.
These days….. I guess we need some groups, and societies and such. Like… there are types for really smart people, or… great athletes, or…. farmers… and knights. But they seem to keep people out sometimes too.
I suppose as long as these groups give everyone a chance to apply. To be a part. To play in those reindeer games.
But I will tell you this much. My days of the Secret Societies are over. Long gone. No more. For one… I can’t run those obstacle courses like I used to. And more importantly, I can never remember the secret handshake.
I guess… I have found… that…. Once A Knight’s Enough.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”
― Brené Brown
“Perhaps home is not a place but simply an irrevocable condition.”
― James Baldwin, Giovanni’s Room