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The Divine Feminine

Updated: Jan 27

The Knights Templar and the Cistercians had a very particular devotion to Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary, this reverence of the feminine face of God is of course a contemporary inspiration of Bernard de Clairvaux. The Knights Templar from their inception were dedicated to honouring the concept of the Divine Feminine, as a spiritual aspect of the Godhead. Templars daily prayer times are described as the “Hours of Our Lady Saint Mary (French ‘Nostre Dame’, Latin ‘Sancte Marie’)”. Templar Clergy are described as serving by “the authority of Our Lady of God (Damedieu)” For all of these reasons, the author of the Templar Latin rule; Bernard, in his speech In Praise of the New Knighthood (circa AD 1136), highlighted the prominent and central role of the divine feminine principle in Templar spirituality, and declared that the Templar Order is dedicated to serving as sovereign protectors and restorers of the feminine face of God.

The adventurous Young Hugues de Payens was a well-traveled individual and I would suggest that before he toured the Middle East he would probably have explored his home country. His travels perhaps would have led him, at some point, to the South of France. In and around Provence at this time the Cathars (Who placed great emphasis on the divine feminine and Mary) were active and although Hugues may or may not have fully engaged with their belief system at the time, I’m sure it would have interested him. The beliefs and ideas of the Cathars might possibly have found new meaning for Hugues after the possible discovery and translation of scrolls unearthed during the Templar excavations under the Temple Mount during his time in the Holy City.

Further insight into the mind of Hugues is demonstrated by his formative group of Templar Knights liaising with the Ismaili Assassins. They both shared a common enemy in the Turks and it has been suggested that the Ismailis granted library access to Hugues and his men to study their texts, even supplying them with study materials. The Assassins were so called because they had a fondness for smoking hashish and with the corruption of the word ‘hashashins’ they became ‘assassins’. I have a vivid mental picture of a very intellectually receptive Hugues smoking from a hubby bubbly pipe and discussing the Quran, Zoroastrianism, Hermeticism, and the place of the feminine deities with his newfound friends and warrior colleagues.

The Essenes, Cathars, and Templars considered Mary the primary disciple of Jesus, the apostle's apostle, so to speak. The New Testament cites that Jesus cast out seven devils from Mary Magdalene, this subsequently led to the misinterpretation, which was cemented at the council of Nicaea, that Mary was a sinner who needed to be saved. The ‘wisdom texts’ of the Essenes scrolls detail the search for wisdom as a female figure. In the Essene priesthood women were given formal initiation as priestesses. There is a significant weight of scholarly opinion that Jesus was not ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ but actually ‘the Nazarene’ revealing

he was a high priest of the Nazarene (Egyptian) Essenes. Incidentally, the name Nazareth did not exist during the life-time of Jesus, the location was named after him. In the spiritual tradition of the Essenes energy work to cleanse the chakras was routinely undertaken, this removal of negative energy was often referred to in early Christianity as the removal of ‘demons’ with the chakras free of such energies, the holy spirit would flow freely through the priest or priestess. The Gnostic teaching of the Essenes known and used by Jesus and the apostles is described in Proverbs 9.:1 -“Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars”.

The spirit of wisdom is referred to in the Old Testament as a female entity, the feminine face of God - the divine feminine. The Roman church has sought to define God as masculine acknowledging only a ‘particular veneration’ for the feminine, for Mary, but there are several biblical texts reflecting the divine feminine in ancient sacred wisdom such as the Magi of Melchizedek. Bernard of Clairvaux, Hugues and their associates embraced the Old Testament doctrine of the inherent duality of God, embodying both a masculine and feminine aspect in equal balance, as a dual polarity of spiritual energies -  “Let us make man in our image male and female” (Genesis 1:26-28). In the Scriptures written by King Solomon, “Wisdom” speaks as the divine feminine aspect of God, to “put forth her voice” (Proverbs 8:1) as “I Wisdom” (Proverbs 8:12), saying:  “I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning… When he prepared the heavens, I was there” (Proverbs 8:22-30).

The Solomonic scriptures (Proverbs 5:15-19) identify “water” as the symbol of the divine feminine principle (see also Sacred Spaces, telluric energy). The Old Testament explains that God could not create without “water” (Genesis 1:1-2, 1:20-21), which is identified as the universal ethereal essence of the cosmos, which God’s masculine aspect divided to form the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:6-10).  As “the Spirit of God moved” (Genesis 1:2), the divine feminine aspect “brought forth (all) life” from those masculine impulses (Genesis 1:20-21).

This ancient spiritual doctrine is reflected in the Catholic practice of Holy Water, wherein the masculine polarity of the Holy Spirit consecrates the feminine polarity of the water, such that the resulting Holy Water embodies both halves of the whole of the dual nature of God. This original divine spiritual alchemy is the very essence of the Templar concept of the Holy Grail, symbolically represented in the Egyptian Priesthood as the Ankh, and in the Celtic Priesthood as the sacred chalice and sword.

John the Baptist fully immersed those being baptised to symbolically drown them and bring them anew into their present life. This concept of rebirth and initiation applies upon entering a religious Order as well, when taking vows you are leaving behind one life and starting a journey of divinity in the service of God within a brotherhood or sisterhood thereafter. A variety of rituals accompany this act of rebirth in both the religious and secular spheres, the Freemasons using derivatives of the Templar ceremonies to this day.

Much has been made of the resurrection ritual by a variety of learned authors, I would contend however, that during this process the initiate wasn’t actually brought close to death and kept there for an extended period of time through the use of phytotherapy, but rather the re-birth was brought forth by fasting, meditation and introspection. Once again, it’s very much a matter of interpretation - metaphor versus literal. Even if a priest or priestess had studied for twenty years or more, the idea of medicating individuals with widely varying physiognomies into a near-death experience seems to me at least, a bit far-fetched; the slightest error could result in manslaughter (not good for the soul) or just a very bad trip.

Stella Maris

(She) is that splendid and wondrous star suspended as by necessity over the great wide sea, radiant with merit and brilliant in example. O you, whoever you are, who feel that in the tidal wave of this world you are nearer to being tossed about among the squalls and gales than treading on dry land, you do not want to founder in the tempest, do not avert your eyes from the brightness of this star. . . . In dangers, in hardships, in every doubt, think of Mary, call out to Mary. Keep her in your mouth, keep her in your heart. . . . With your hand in hers you will never stumble.

Bernard of Clairvaux -Homilies in Praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary

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