The Primer

The majority of esoteric societies practice peaceful methods of enlightenment. But just like in religions, extremes do exist and they account for maybe 5 percent of the population. Secret societies are not only esoteric, but can also be religious. The religious ones exist as guardians of orthodox doctrine for their particular religions, and unlike in Eastern religions, the Abrahamic ones are very oppressive and sometimes violent. On the other hand, secret societies of the esoteric kind reveal a fusion of various spiritual beliefs, which to the established religions is a very dangerous idea. What's so dangerous when combining Christian beliefs with Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Native American or Toltec spirituality? Is it mind expansion?

Mind expansion is the realization that the world is not flat and we don't live in a geocentric world. The philosophies of monotheistic religions strangely enough represent an unbalanced natural selection through their anti-woman conclusions. The symbol of womanhood is only used for procreation, and women are considered second-class citizens, or even the property of first fathers and then husbands. The "weaker" sex has been exploited and abused in many parts of the globe, as the male-dominated societies continue living in denial of personal responsibilities.

Secret esoteric societies from the Abrahamic religions have been spotlighted by conspiracy theorists in recent years because the current global economy and international politics is heavily controlled by members of those religions. Currently, most Christian and Jewish sects offer a buffer zone for alternative thinkers. Islam doesn't.

Since the Christian and Muslim conquests of new territories were through the power of the sword, underground esoteric sects had to devise a code of secrecy between members. Symbolism, handshakes, gestures, and worn objects were all created as a language among the members. The dark ages of religious oppression made it common in those days for secret societies to change names frequently.

At the moment with Islam nobody knows for sure if there are any pacifist underground esoteric sects. So far as we can tell, militant sects such as the Hashshashins are very active in our present time. It is said that the Hashshashin Order (also called Hashishin, Hashashiyyin or Assassins) was founded in Persia and Syria in the year 1090 by Hassan ben Sabbah, leader of a militant group of the Nizari branch of Ismaeli Muslims. The group received this name from their use of hashish to experience warrior visions, and then go on murderous missions. They later became associated with the assassinations of political and religious leaders, particularly those of the invading Christian crusaders. In military terms the Hashshashin are referred as contract killers. Who they really represent is a question subject to debate. Also, could it be that the Hashshashins are an offshoot of other underground esoteric sects?

Tracking down secret societies, requires a passion for languages (ancient and modern), mythology, geography, geology, chemistry, history and astronomy. Things are about to get interesting as we now venture into the Judeo-Christian world. Jewish mysticism represents the Kabbalah philosophy that seeks union with God while maintaining a full social, family, and community life within the framework of traditional Judaism. Kabbalah (also known as Qabbala, Qabbālāh) is Hebrew for "that which is received," and is an interpretation key for the Torah (Hebrew Bible). Apart from the Kabbalists, other secret societies represent the orthodox viewpoints of Judaism.

Christianity on the other hand struggled with mysticism because alternative thinkers were not allowed to question the critical interpretation of the Bible. Fusion of several spiritual beliefs brought a very different viewpoint of the world, which contradicted what the Catholic Church envisioned. Among the many orthodox Christian sects that are sometimes affiliated with the Vatican or Eastern Orthodox, one of them in particular stands out as the most revolutionary – the Freemasons. Before we create any conclusions, let's take a brief journey into the history of Freemasonry.

According to traditional history, the Christian-oriented secret societies originated as stone cutters/masons and they were so skillful that they were the preferred choice in all large building projects. The only legitimate known record related to the emergence of the group that became known as the Freemasons is in reference to the building of King Solomon's Temple, which dates to 965 BCE (Before Common Era). The record describes Master Hiram Abif, who designed and oversaw construction of the temple. Unfortunately, Hiram Abif's vision tragically ended during the construction when he was murdered by three of his apprentices. The importance of King Solomon's Temple is that it represents the first structure erected to the monotheistic god of the Abrahamic religions.

As time went by the secret knowledge of construction of this guild was mixed with religious beliefs, and the doctrine was kept between the members. Eventually, the stone masons branched out, and financed their activities by becoming great merchants between Europe, the Middle East and beyond. An order rose, called the Cistercians, which were a Catholic Monastic Order (called the White Monks) that favored the Virgin Mary (though later, they were persecuted by the church). The Cistercians created a military branch of the masons called the Poor Knights of Christ.

In 1095, at the Council of Claremont (France), Pope Urban II claimed that that the Holy Land needed to be reclaimed from invading Muslims, and the Poor Knights of Christ were appointed by the Vatican as the defenders of Christianity and sent to protect the route that Christian pilgrims took to Jerusalem. What followed was a religious war that lasted from 1096 to 1099. Upon hearing the Pope's declaration - which was the beginning of the First Crusade - the Poor Knights of Christ immediately departed for the Holy Land. The Vatican also used the Hashshashin Order to further their agenda by assassinating a number of Muslim leaders. How did the Vatican have these connections? Maybe we should ask the Knights themselves?

The Vatican's reasons were intellectually vague and confusing because at that time there were very strong anti-Jewish sentiments across Europe. Why would the Vatican bother fighting for or with Israel? Did the Pope have a connection with the Knights? The Knights used the occasion to go to the ruins of King Solomon's Temple in search of an unknown artifact. How did they know what to look for? The commonly given reason for the Knights' search was the Holy Grail.

If a relic of this kind ever existed, it would be extremely valuable to the Vatican and the church would do anything to acquire it. When the Poor Knights of Christ returned with their find from the Crusade, the Vatican gave them absolute power, exceeded only by that of the Pope. Was a wooden or clay cup worth giving that much power to such a group? What was so valuable that the Vatican couldn't dispute?

With their new power, the Poor Knights of Christ eventually became known as the Knights of Templar (Teutonic Knights), which was officially founded in 1118 by French Knight Hughes de Payens, a veteran of the First Crusade. The diplomatic reason for this Order was the protection of pilgrims to the Holy Land. How could nine Knights protect such a vast area? With the immunity given by the Vatican, the Knights of Templar grew steadily wealthier and stronger. Their stone mason brothers started building cathedrals for the Vatican, and monuments and palaces for the monarchs. At the same time they created the largest private banking system, and eventually many European monarchs were in debt to them. Money was made by controlling the exotic trade of goods such as spices, jewelry stones, and clothing materials. The Templars were great merchants, and at the same time the engagement of their defense services such as private armies (mercenaries) drastically increased the debts of almost every monarch.

The immunity of the Templars made many esoteric Orders very wealthy. Jealousy and greed foreshadowed events to come. After 189 years of prosperity, in the year 1307, the King of France (Phillip IV - also known as "Philip the Fair") confided to Pope Clement V that the Templar-oriented Orders were not the Holy defenders of faith. In the same year on Friday the 13th of October, hundreds of the Knights of Templar in France were simultaneously arrested by agents of King Philip, later to be tortured into admitting heresy by the Order. Templars throughout Europe were hunted down as devil worshipers and Satanists. Thousands died and some managed to escape to England, Scotland, Portugal (Order of Christ), Spain (Order of Montesa) and Malta.

It's interesting to note that the Knights of Templar were founded in France, and a French King overthrew them. Was the King of France part of another Order? Was this a dispute among the Houses? Much of the Templar property outside of France was transferred by the Pope to the Knights Hospitaller (also known as The Order of St John of Jerusalem, and as The Order of Malta), and many surviving Templars were also accepted into other Orders. The dismantling of the Templars also forced some of the survivors to open their own version of the Order, and you could say that splinter Templar groups were formed.

In 1312, after the Council of Vienna, and under extreme pressure from King Philip IV, Pope Clement V issued an edict officially dissolving the Order. Many Kings and nobles, who had been supporting the Knights up until that time, gave up in accordance with the Papal command. In March 1314, the Grand Master of the Knights of Templar (Jacques de Molay) was executed by the Inquisition.

The dark ages everyone feared just got darker. Was this the end of esoteric societies? Even if societies were no longer visible, they were already embedded throughout many monarchies. Leadership always attracts attention. Being a Pope in that era was the worst job you could have, because it almost certainly guaranteed your assassination. Therefore, lower key jobs such as personal assistants were highly valued by the new underground societies.

In time, dynasties were created within the noble hierarchy and the Vatican itself. Stone masonry flourished even more than before, and for many centuries esoteric philosophy was kept private or secret. Revolutionary thoughts such as freedom of the individual, power of reason and the right to self-government were heresy to absolute monarchies and religious states. Scotland became a safe heaven for alternative thinkers and a new esoteric movement was born - Freemasonry. On July 24, 1717 the first official Grand Lodge of Freemasonry opened in London, and by 1730 they were in the American colonies.

Freemasonry now became a legitimate social group and many artists, philosophers and scientists wanted to be part of the new wave. Not only that, but many wealthy people supported this new vision. America was founded on Freemason principles, and nobody can dispute this fact. But, was this new movement safe from orthodox religious thinking? No. The Vatican and many fundamentalist Protestant sects were trying to find a "popular" reason to close down these heretic organizations.

In 1826, William Morgan disappeared from Batavia, New York, after threatening to expose Freemasonry's secrets, causing some to claim that he had been murdered by Masons. What exactly occurred has never been conclusively proven. However, Morgan's disappearance - and the minimal punishment received by his kidnappers - sparked a series of protests against Freemasons throughout the United States, especially in New York and neighboring states. What followed was yet another attempt to bring an end to the Masons. From that moment onwards the downfall of the Masons made many Orders go back to their secret ways, and not much has changed ever since.

Since 1826 interesting political maneuvers have occurred throughout the world and many speculate the involvement of secret societies. It is said that every time there is global turmoil, the Houses are having an argument. In some cases, extreme sects such as the SS and KKK emerged as subversive esoteric thoughts that deeply scarred local societies. So how many of the conspiracy theories are true? Why are the Vatican and Protestant sects so critical of esoteric thoughts? What do Christian-oriented esoteric sects have to say that make them an imminent threat to Christianity? How much of what we've been told is true?

To continue please go to page 4.

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