The inscription on William Sinclair’s grave in Rosslyn Chapel reads: William de St. Clair, Knight Templar. On his gravestone a mysterious key with an eight-pointed cross is depicted. The official coat of arms of the Sinclair’s is a four-pointed cross in a stitch pattern, and it’s well known that the Knights Templar used both four- and eight-pointed crosses in their coat of arms. So the question is: what does this key on William Sinclairs grave represent? Could this key possibly unlock some of the mysteries surrounding the chapel?
In this article I will argue that these four- and eight-pointed crosses have a deep esoteric and astronomical significance that must have been well known to the Scottish freemasons.
On the gravestone besides the eight-pointed cross a four-pointed cross is also depicted. The name of the founder of Rosslyn Chapel is spelled in Lombardic letters ‘Willhm de Sinncler’. It’s remarkable that the last two letters ER are set apart and are reversed in spelling. It reads RE. RE most likely is a reference to Amen-Re or Amen-Ra, the Egyptian solar deity. This makes sense since Rosslyn Chapel is in fact a solar temple. Inaugurated on the fall equinox in 1450 as the Collegiate Church of St. Matthew, the chapel is perfectly aligned to the cardinal points of the compass in a manner similar to many ancient solar temples.
In fact, according to Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight, Rosslyn is actually a copy of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. They argue that the Master and Apprentice Pillar correspond with the two pillars, Boaz and Jachin, that stood in front of Solomon’s Temple.
In The Stone Puzzle of Rosslyn Chapel Philip Coppens describes the initiation rituals of the freemasons and claims that the famous pillars in Rosslyn, in fact, correspond with the three degrees in freemasonry. In Masonic initiation rituals the pillars mark the solstices and equinoxes, the four quadrants of the year. The novice initiated into the “Entered Apprentice” degree is placed in the Lodge near the pillar in the northeast corner (Jachin). This pillar corresponds to the summer solstice. A freemason initiated into the “Fellow craft Mason” degree is placed in the southeast corner (Boaz) corresponding to the winter solstice. A freemason who is finally initiated into the Master Mason degree is placed in front of the central pillar corresponding to the equinox. During the latter ritual the candidate dies, symbolically, but is eventually resurrected. At the moment of his resurrection, a light with a five-pointed star is lit. According to Coppens, this five-pointed star is the morning star, Venus.
These Masonic rituals clearly refer to the annual death and ‘rebirth’ of the sun. The sun dies each year on the cross of the zodiac on the winter solstice, only to be fully reborn on the following vernal equinox, the beginning of spring, in the annual cycle. At this point the sun is fully raised from death and, as it revives, nature starts to blossom again.
With its many sculptures of leaves, flowers and plants Rosslyn chapel provides the atmosphere of a virtual garden or forest. A striking presence in the chapel is the so-called “Green Man.” From his mouth branches and leaves are growing. There are over 100 Green Man sculptures in the chapel. Symbolizing regeneration in nature and the blossoming of life during spring, the Green Man also represents resurrection and rebirth and, as such, can be associated with the rebirth of the sun. Remarkably, the Green Man in Rosslyn Chapel marks another eight-pointed cross. The Green Man was also found in 11th century Templar churches in Jerusalem.
Not only does the sun die to be reborn annually as the earth travels around the sun, it also dies and is reborn within the so-called “great year,” the 26,000-year astronomical cycle known as precession. In our present time the sun, after 6480 years (one quarter of the cycle), will be reborn according to the precession cycle around the year 2012. In between the years 1975-2019 the sun at the winter and summer solstices will reside on the equator of our galaxy, the Milky Way. This event coincides with the ending of the Maya calendar on December 21, 2012. Could the Green Man in Rosslyn Chapel symbolically represent the rebirth of the sun at the end of the precession cycle? Might, indeed, the eight-pointed cross actually be a symbol of the great precession cycle?
That this rare astrological event—the approach to the galactic center—could be the subject of astrological initiation rituals in freemasonry becomes clear when one realizes that the Masonic pillar is actually a symbol of the Milky Way. The Pillar of the Apprentice with its eight snakes at the base has been associated with the World Tree which in the Nordic mythology is called Yggdrassil, with eight snakes curling around its roots. In ancient times, the World Tree or Axis Mundi represented the cosmological center; it connected the earth with the four cardinal directions as well as the heavens (zenith) and with the underworld (nadir). According to Mayanist Linda Schele, in the Maya culture the World Tree represented the Milky Way or Wakah Chan. To be more precise, the Wakah Chan represented the crossing of the Milky Way and the ecliptic. This cross point is exactly the place where on the winter solstice of 2012 the sun resides on the Milky Way. The modern-day Maya preserve the secrets of their ancient fore-fathers; in San Juan Chamula in Chiapas we find a cross representing the World Tree with a ceiba tree and eight-pointed crosses depicted on them.
The initiation rituals of freemasonry, whereby the candidates are placed near the pillars of the lodge, can be seen as symbolizing the astronomical alignment of the sun (candidate freemason) with the Milky Way (pillar) on solstices.
The initiation ritual of the Master Mason, where the candidate is placed near the equinox (Journeyman Pillar) with the five-pointed star corresponding to the morning star, is presumed to be an astronomical reference to Rosslyn Chapel’s construction date. The building of the chapel started at ‘St. Matthew’s Day’ on the fall equinox of 1446. The ‘brightest five-pointed star’ is doubtless a reference to Venus, which actually traces a pentagram (a five-pointed star) along the zodiac in her conjunctions with the earth and at sunrise is the brightest star in the sky. At dawn on the first day of the construction of Rosslyn Chapel, Venus rose as the morning star. Moreover, there was a conjunction of Venus and Regulus, the brightest star of Leo. The construction date of Rosslyn Chapel is therefore astrologically symbolic and is by no means a coincidence!
Regulus is one of what are known as the four royal stars—Aldebaran, Regulus, Antares and Formalhaut. These four stars belong to the constellations Taurus (Aldebaran), Leo (Regulus), Scorpio (Antares) and Southern Fishes (Formalhaut). Southern Fishes is the equivalent of Aquarius since it opposes Aquarius on the ecliptic. It is these four signs—Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius—that formed the ‘Galactic Cross’ in ancient times. This ‘Galactic Cross’ is very important to our story.
The highest degree in Scottish freemasonry is called the Royal Arch. Freemasons of the Royal Arch are initiated into the deepest mysteries of freemasonry. These secrets are conveyed by a ‘Tracing Board.’ The Tracing Board of the Royal Arch shows the two pillars of Solomon’s Temple with the Royal Arch on top. Notice that in the Tracing Board underneath the Royal Arch there’s not only an eight-pointed cross depicted, but a four-pointed cross as well.
What can be so important about an arch and two pillars that it is associated with the highest degree in freemasonry? Let’s have a look at the pillars and their arches of Rosslyn Chapel, the pillars of the Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason.
What is prominent is that on the east side of the pillars the arches form eight-pointed crosses, while on the west side the arches form a four-pointed cross-stitch pattern resembling the coat of arms of the Sinclair’s!
What can be the meaning of all of these four- and eight-pointed crosses (Green Man, gravestone of William Sinclair) that can be found in abundance in Rosslyn Chapel and why were they also used by the Knights Templar? Why do the Scottish freemasons attach so much importance to these arches and why is their highest degree in freemasonry called the Royal Arch? Why are the four- and eight-pointed crosses present in the arches of the three most important pillars at Rosslyn Chapel?
The answer, I believe, is that these crosses represent the rebirth of the sun in the precession cycle around 2012! The zodiac has two different crosses that when superimposed form an eight-pointed cross. Around 2012 these crosses merge into a single four-pointed cross again after 6480 years due to precession. This event is called a Great Celestial Conjunction (Prof. Dr. Sergey Smelyakov / Jan Wicherink 2006). The first zodiac cross is the cross formed by the equinox and solstice axis. The four signs of the zodiac that belong to the equinoxes and solstices are Aries (March 21, spring), Cancer (June 21, summer), Libra (September 21, fall) and Capricorn (December 21, winter) in the tropical zodiac. In the Tracing Board of the Royal Arch, three of these zodiac signs are depicted on the arch. On the left pillar Aries is depicted, in the center at the keystone Cancer is depicted, and finally on the right pillar Libra is depicted. This explains why the pillars in freemasonry correspond with the equinoxes and solstices.
Under the Royal Arch of the Tracing Board, we notice a shield with a four-pointed cross. In the four quadrants of this shield, the zodiac signs Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius are displayed. These four signs form the ancient ‘Galactic Cross’ of the zodiac. The importance of these signs is that they can be associated with the crossing of the ecliptic and the Milky Way. The axis connecting five degrees Gemini with five degrees Sagittarius corresponds with the galactic equator and forms the axis of the ‘Galactic Cross’. Five degrees Gemini and five degrees Sagittarius are the places where the ecliptic and the Milky Way intersect in the sidereal zodiac.
In ancient times the Galactic Cross was denoted by the zodiac signs Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius instead of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius and Pisces, which would have been more logical, since the latter signs are the signs of the Galactic Cross. The reason is that only the former are visible since they rise heliacal during a Great Celestial Conjunction.
The importance for our present time is that the two crosses of the zodiac (Galactic Cross and equinox-solstice cross) that formed an eight-pointed cross in the last 6480 years, now in the time frame around 2012 merge to form a single four-pointed cross. This happens in between the years 1978-2017. After 2017 the two crosses separate again for the next 6480 years to form an eight-pointed cross again.
The merger of the two crosses in the zodiac corresponds with the alignment of the sun with the galactic equator of the Milky Way at the solstices, also called a Galactic Alignment (John Major Jenkins). It is this astrological event that is expressed in the freemasonry initiation rituals when the candidate freemason (Sun) is placed in front of the pillar (Milky Way).
This knowledge about the merger of the two crosses could be the deepest secret of both the Knights Templar and Scottish freemasons. Jeff Nisbet in Forbidden Religion explains that one of the Templars who was arrested on October 13, 1307 explained during his interrogation that in the initiation rituals of the Order the candidate was shown the Christian Cross and was told ‘Put not thy faith in this, for it is not old enough.’
It seems that the knowledge of this cross predates Christianity and can be traced back at least to Solomon’s Temple. In the holy of holies—the inner sanctuary of the temple—the Ark of the Covenant is guarded by two Cherubim.
A hybrid of a human and animal forms, the Cherubim represents the four zodiac signs that can be associated with the Galactic Cross—the head of a human (Aquarius), the body of a bull (Taurus), the back and tail of a lion (Leo) and the wings of an eagle (Scorpio or Aquilla). The zodiac sign of Scorpio is often replaced by the sign of the eagle (Aquilla).
In ancient Assyria the Cherubim was called a Karibu and it guarded the Tree of Life or the World Tree. Here we find a direct link with the Milky Way, or better, the crossing of the ecliptic and the Milky Way again, the Galactic Cross. In ancient Egypt the Cherubim were represented by the Sphinxes which guarded the temples.
Finally, the writers Tim Wallace Murphy and Marilyn Hopkins argue in their book Rosslyn that the Chapel was the final point of a pilgrimage route which ran from Santiago de Compostella following a line of French gothic cathedrals. Compostella means campus stellea (field of stars) and, as such, can be associated with the Milky Way. The pilgrimage thus most likely served as a symbolic journey along the Milky Way with the solar temple Rosslyn Chapel as its destination.
Could the Knights Templar have discovered this extraordinary event in the precession cycle—one which had been considered of great importance to the ancients? Do these four- and eight-pointed Templar crosses represent the true ‘Da Vinci Code’ of Rosslyn Chapel? Certainly, at the least, it indicates that secret knowledge concerning the coming Great Celestial Conjunction was known to the Knights Templar and to the Scottish freemasons who descended from them.