Unknown Superiors: Templarism, The Rose Croix, And Freemasonry

When we look at the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau we see a recurring theme of initiates within the rites of Freemasonry, Martinism, Rose Croix, and Templarism. The highest grade is said to have only admitted Priests, and another is said to come from the East as far as India. What are these ultimate connections with the realm of Rennes-le-Chateau, and ultimately to the heart of the mystery?

Johann August Starck was initiated into the craft in a French Military Lodge in 1761 in Gottingen, Germany. By 1767 Starck was in Wismar with Baron von Vegesack whom founded the zu den drei Lowen or The Three Lions. The lodge was warranted under the Strict Observance as a sister lodge to zu den drei Sternen or The Three Stars. On July 2, 1767 the lodge of Three Lions would sign an Actus Agnitionis. This agreement allowed The Three Lions to be an independent lodge under the aegis the Strict Observance under specific conditions. The agreement acknowledged Baron Von Hund as the Provincial Master ad Albim et Oderam in secular administration while the Jula Stolae (spiritual rights) were administered by the Clerics. On this agreement Baron Von Hund gave administration to the Clerici.

Unknown Superiors: Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, and the Knights Templar.

Baron von Vegesack was initiated in 1749 in France under the Templar order. He was was brought into the order by Count de la Tour du Pin. In a letter written by von Vegesack dated August 5, 1767 he states he is also familiar with its inner order of initiation in the Order of the Temple. This letter seems a rather interesting response to a letter penned by a Brother Von Sehrohr who had questions about Vegesack since the the order had initiated him into the 4th degree inclusively. While Von Vegesack’s claims had been initially dismissed by modern scholars documents have surfaced showing both Baron Von Vegesack and the Count de la Tour du Pin were Illustrious Grand Masters in a French Masonic body from Brittany, France known as the Sublime Order of Elected Knights which administered a degree of Templarism. Starck during this time made several trips to Saint Petersburg where he also worked as personal secretary, and preceptor to Prince Waisemskoi. He would forward documents obtained in Saint Petersburg to Baron Von Hund. It was through connections in Saint Petersburg that he also claimed Templar transmission from Unknown Superiors initiated through the Priests of the Templar order rather than the Knights themselves.

Early Rites

Several other agreements and concordats would be signed between the Clerics, and the Rite of Strict Observance, such as the Pactum Fundamentale, signed in the days preceding the Convent of Kohlo. The Convent of Kohlo led to a reorganization of the Rite of Strict Observance in which the Clerici participated. The reorganization of rituals would be a consequence of the influence of Starck. It would be these revised rituals that would be brought to France when the Templar Province of Burgundy was reconstituted after the the acceptance of the Convent of Dresden. The Clerics and Strict Observance would remain in agreement until My 10, 1772 prior to the Convent of Wolfenbuttel. By this juncture the Clerics were very Occultic and Gnostic in practice, and during the Convent of Wilhelmsbad it was this ritual created by Starck during the Convent of Kohlo which would be restructured by Willermoz.

What is of most interest of this concordat between the Strict Observance and the Clerics is the highest grade was reserved specifically for priests. However, what is striking about this is it prohibited the initiating of Roman Catholics, and specifically bars members of the Jesuit Order. The rituals possessed by Starck were written in Latin, and he stated they originated in Auvergne Province in France, and they were descendants of the Essenes. The Clerics wore white robes with Red crosses embroidered, and wore a purple cap in the manner of Catholic Cardinals. Seven candles would be burned with cup with oil, water, and salt in which Stark gave a benediction. The forehead, and the breast would be consecrated with the oil.

In Robert Ambelain’s Templars and the Rose Croix he specifically mentions this curious rite of Freemasonry and he also states that its highest grade only initiated Priests. He states the Clericat of the Templars was founded in 1767 four years after the Convent at Altenberg by Starck. What is should also be of interest is Starck was one of the signers of the Constitutions of 1786 which forms a basis for the governance of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Supreme Councils around the world having emanated from Charleston, South Carolina after the arrival of the degrees from Kingston, Jamaica.

Now what does this all mean for the world of Rennes-le-Chateau? To elucidate further on the preceding paragraph it was Robert Ambelain in his book Jesus or the Mortal Secret of the Knights Templar in which he claims Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene. Ambelain was founder of the Eglise Gnostique Apostolique, and was Grand Master of the Rite of Memphis Misraim ad Vitam. He also set about the reconstitution of the Primitive Scottish Rite of the Irish Jacobite lodge founded in France in 1688 alongside the Order of
Saint Andrew of Chardon.

When we further connect the dots of the Masonic milieu within the Rennes-Le-Chateau realm we harken upon Francois Marquis de Chefdebien. De Chefdebien was a member of the Rite of Strict Observance, and can be seen as engaging in subversive Masonic espionage exploits. He was also a member of the Philalethes which also had close ties to the Rite of Memphis. He was a known participant of the Convent of Wilhelmsbad during the separation of the Strict Observance, and the Scottish Rectified Rite. He was also present at the Convent of Gaules representing the Knights Templar Chapter of Montpellier. After his joining of the Philalethes he set about the creation of a new Masonic rite known as the Free and Accepted Masons of the Original Rite of France. It would be created along a similar line of the Philalethes with 12 classes with its upper class revolving around the Rose Croix known as the Rose-Croix Fathers of the Grand Rosary.

When the Convent of Wilhelmsbad ended, the Strict Observance and Scottish Rectified Rite split ways, due to a disagreement about the Templar origins of the craft and the existence of the Unknown Superiors. In the instruction of the degrees of the Original Rite one is taught about the Unknown Superiors, specifically one named the Knight Pen. The Knight Pen is none other than the Marquis de Chefdebien. He stated his rite lineage was brought to Europe from India, and Syria, and had been safeguarded by secret orders in Holland, Sweden, and Cyprus. He further elaborated that the line was secretly transmitted at the base of the blue mountains. What is interesting about this is during his time at the Convent of Wilhelmsbad De Chefdebien spoke of Superior Unknown Templars.

We must also remember that the Marquis de Chefdebien was a member of the Knights of Malta, and it was his family members who were also Knights of Malta who created Primitive Rite introducing it to France after the War of Austrian Succession. The Primitive Rite of Narbonne would include members of nobility of the Languedoc. While a member of the Philalethes the lodge in Narbonne would be called Philadelphians which means the one who marries his sister. We also have the evidence of the Marquis being initiated a member of the Bavarian Illuminati in Paris. The journal of Johann Joachim Christoph Bode was published by Hermann Schutler in 1994 and shows the brethren whom were initiated, and the order instructions by Bode. Now this is where we shall take a turn.

Children of Sion

While we all are intimately familiar with the background of Berenger, and the Jesuit Alfred what is striking is this collaboration, and ultimate fallout stemming from it. This most specifically is the collaboration of the Alfred with the Marquis de Chefdebien. It is common knowledge that Alfred was named preceptor to the Marquis de Chefdebien. Upon his appointment he would commence the tutoring of the children of the de Chefdebien. What begs our attention is the theft of paperwork belonging to the Marquis by Alfred, and his subsequent dismissal from his post, and of the Jesuit order. What would be in those records that even the Jesuits would break away from a member?

We know that the Chefdebien family was descended from Hugh Capet King of the Franks becoming the progenitor of the Capetian dynasty. He ascended the throne after Louis V the last of the Carolingian rulers. We know that the family were historical members of the Knights of Malta, and created a Masonic lodge on the island of Malta. We are aware of the creation of other Masonic rites, and ties to other orders such as the Children of Sion.

Given Alfred’s esoteric proclivity its would not be a stretch that he would have been aware of much of the Marquis’s esoteric activities particularly due to his ties in Narbonne with Henri of Artois, Duke of Chambord who had a legitimate claim to the throne of France. It is this author’s opininon that the papers taken by Alfred would deal with all acts from his Masonic patent which he introduced to Narbonne as the Knight Pen, his creation of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Original Rite of France as an Unknown Superior, his participation with the Illuminati of Bavaria having stemmed from his participation in the Convent of Wilhemsbad in which he led the French speaking delegation, and lastly the Children of Sion.

Just who were the Children of Sion? We must look again to Robert Ambelain in the dissection of the Children of Sion. In his Martinism History and Doctrine which shows us that the Children of Sion were also called the Multipliants, and held their meetings in the house of a woman called Verchand. The members were mainly poor artisans. They would come together, and partake in communion. It was Marquis de Chefdebien who stated about them “It will not be surprising that in this sect we can recognize the source and model of many of the usages, decorations, expressions, and principles found in some grades of certain Masonic systems”, and “Each of us can recognize, in the story of these unfortunates, the origin of certain colors, certain expressions and allegorical instructions that some Freemasons appear to have inherited”. It also of note again to the reader that this area of Montpellier is the area in which de Chefdebien brought his patent, and left as a representative of the Strict Observance to the Convent of Wilhelmsbad.

Detail of a portrait of Josephin Peladan (left), and Poster for the fifth Salon de la Rose + Croix, 1896 (right).

Detail of a portrait of Josephin Peladan (left), and Poster for the fifth Salon de la Rose + Croix, 1896 (right).

When looking at this Children of Sion in this manner we can place them within the realm of the Compagnons de la tour. There were other such fraternities such as Children of the Maitre Jacques, and Children of the Piere Soubise who were at odds with one another. The Children of Maitre Jacques, and of Pierre Soubise were said to be descendants of craftsman who worked at the building of King Solomon’s Temple who then came back to Gaul. Maitre Jacques was said to be the son of Jacquain who was a chief master, and collegue of Hiram Abiff. Maitre Jacques was said to have been born in the Pyrennes in the town of Carte. He was instructed by Hiram King of Tyre to oversee the construction of the building of King Solomon’s Temple. There was also the Children of Solomon who were a brotherhood created by King Solomon himself. It is the author’s opinion that the Children of Sion emanate and are ostensibly another name for the Compagnons de la Tour just spoken of.

To tie this in further let us look at the fact of the the building of the Church of Rennes Le Chateau dedicated to the Saints Mary Magdalene Saint Anthony the Hermit. It was Bernard Giscard, a Freemason, from Toulouse who would be contracted for the rebuilding of the church. The Masonic connection in the mystery is further solidified here through the Masonic Lodge La Sagesse. La Sagesse was a lodge in Toulouse which included members of the Hautpoul and de Negre family who were supporters of Henri of Artois, the Duke of Chambord to the throne. It was from this lodge that in a similar manner of La Rose du Parfait Silence in Paris that a Rose Croix order emanated from the lodge. The lineage of that lodge would make its way to the United States in New Orleans, Louisiana.

This lodge would be the fundamental basis from which Stanislaus de Guaita was to form the Kabbalistic Order of the Rose Cross. It would also form the basis of Josephin Peladan would form the Catholic Rose Croix Order after the split from de Guaita. It is also of note to mention that Peladan was from Toulouse. The Kabbalistic Order of the Rose Cross still exists today in different branches of both Masonic and Non Masonic origin. The lineage of Peladan’s order currently resides in a Templar Order which (not) coincidentally has a commandery based in Rennes Le Chateau. The Catholic Rose Croix amalgamated with a Belgian lodge of what appears to be Martinist origin, and the Templar lineage of Bernard Raymond Fabre-Palaprat stemming from the Larmenius Charter. This Templar lineage was also a revival of the the Statutes of 1705 which were written by Phillip, Duke of Orleans. The outgrowth of this Templar lineage would come from a Parisian Masonic lodge the Knights of the Cross.

Josephin Peladan

Peladan would also claim connections of the order to the Bavarian Illuminati and the Holy Vehm. Interstingly enough it was the Holy Vehm symbol a red cross on a white background still exists as the symbol of the International Red Cross. It is also of note that they had three degrees, and termed themselves illumines. Their disappearance from history coincides with the rise of the Rose Croix in Germany. We should also note that Papus claimed Peladan was under the influence the Counts of Chambord. This is of interest due to the claim to the throne, and as well as was previously noted with the history of the family of the Marquis de Chefdebien to the crown, and his link to the Bavarian Illuminati.

What is further interesting with our Toulouse connection is Harvey Spencer Lewis of the Ancient Mystic Order Rosae Crucis. Dr. Lewis was said to have to have been in contact with the owner of an occult bookstore in Paris. He traveled to many cities and towns in France before being directed to Toulouse. It was there that he was directed to the Hall of the Illustrious and its painting “The Appearance of Clemence Isaure to the Troubadours” by by Henri Martin.

As Dr. Lewis stood silently contemplating the painting a man made a sign that he had seen at other points on his journey. He spoke to the figure about the painting, and, because of his responses to his conversation, the stranger gave him a note. This instructed to a particular chateau, where he was duly initiated. The figure, it turned out, was Clovis Lasalle, the Grand Master of the Rose Croix of Toulouse. The rest became history of the annals of AMORC.

Now, we must discuss Martin’s “Appearance of Clemence Isaure to the Troubadours,” and facts pertaining to it:

Firstly, we should note that Josephin Peladan — of the Catholic Rose Cross — wrote a book titled The Secrets of the Troubadours, Parcival, and Don Quixote. And he also commissioned Martin to create this painting.

Secondly, we must understand who Clemence Isaure is. Clemence means “clemency” or “mercy”, and Isaure means “Isis of Gold”. It is said she was a real person who existed in Occitania in the 1400s, and that she had had a troubadour lover who perished, and that Isaure established a poetry contest in his memory. The poetry contest was established through a new society called Gai Savoir or Happy Knowledge established in 1323 . It was a trabadour society of poets who awarded the poetry contestants with flowers based on their own degree structure. The winner was awarded a violet which symbolized the highest mystical degree. The marigold was also awarded which symbolized philosophical gold. The wild rose was also given for obvious reasons.

It was also during this period, starting in 1323, that persecutions occurred lasting until the 1500s. It was during that century that the Gai Savoir would seemingly reappear under the name of the Jeux Floreaux or the Floral Games which would hold the same poetry contests. (Victor Hugo alleged Priory Grand Masters would win a marigold at the age of 19 from the Floral Games.) The group in their origin pointed towards a tomb much in the manner of Christian Rosenkreutz.

The tomb was said to be at a Basilica we know to be Notre-Dame de la Daurade. Daurade came from the word Deaurata which in turn appears to have correlation to the latin aura meaning gold. The Basilica is the site of the first Visigothic temple in Gaul which was dedicated to Minerva. It is then of no consequence that we see it dedicated to the Black Madonna in current time.

Detail of "The Emergence of Clemence Isaure with Troubadours" by Henri Martin (left) and Harvey Spencer Lewis (right)

Detail of “The Emergence of Clemence Isaure with Troubadours” by Henri Martin (left) and Harvey Spencer Lewis (right)

To finally surmise Toulouse it is to mention Georges Monti who was the secretary of Josephin Peladan. Monti was born in Toulouse and was a Scottish Rite Mason, a Martinist, a Rose Croix, among other things such as being denounced as Jesuit by the French Grand Lodge. Monti moved to Munich and after WWI split his time between Berlin and Rome. Monti along with Frenchman Gaston de Mengel would form the Western Esoteric Studies group which sought world peace and reconcilation of esoteric orders with the Catholic Church.

It would be Gaston de Mengel who would come into contact with Otto Rahn, the man who would become aware of The Secrets of the Troubadors, Parcival, and Don Quixote by Peladan. Peladan’s statements concerning Montserrat would clue Rahn in on certain things and discoveries in the area of Rennes le Chateau. De Mengel would speak with Rahn about certain peculiar geographical coordinates and a place noted to be a big black center.

Out of the Western Esoteric Studies Group we see the formation of the Alpha Galates. It was the Alpha Galates that one Pierre Plantard becomes immeshed in within the modern realm of the Priory. It was Monti who personally initiated Pierre Plantard into the Alpha Galates. It should also be noted that the death of Monti was poison in which he developed black spots. This was the known method of death as executed by the Holy Vehm. We should be aware that both Peladan and his brother both died of poisoning and both were Rose Croix Grand Masters.

Masonic blogger portraitAiden Robert is a blogger and a historian of Freemasonry and the esoteric.