The order of the Knights Templar would survive for less than two centuries. In the period between 1108 and 1307 it would have a spectacular rise and a devastating fall. The order’s history is based equally on legend and fact, in part because the order wanted it that way. Many of the order’s secrets remain as secrets even today. Written records remain concealed; others have been destroyed; but still others remain in plain sight for those who understand enough to recognize what they actually mean.
One of these secrets left in plain sight is the depiction of maize and aloe carved in stone in Rosslyn Chapel. The journey of Sir Henry Sinclair to the New World in 1398 can account for the depiction of maize, a corn variety known to Native American peoples in New England [See “Return to Oak Island,” A.R. #76]. Aloe, however, is a product grown much further south. While aloe itself could come from Africa’s tropics, the aloe cactus is distinctly American and originates far south of New England where Sir Henry left his mark.
Could the Templars have reached Mexico? There is much evidence from the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes that the Aztecs and the Templars had some common history. The Aztec civilization, like that of the Templars, also had only a brief history. Compared to the other ancient peoples of Mexico and Peru, the Aztecs were modern. Despite the historical portrayal that compares them to the Mayans and Incas, like the Templars, their power lasted for only for two centuries. The Aztecs then encountered the Spanish who ended their control. Aztec power lasted for a much shorter period than that of either the Incas or the Mayans. Coincidentally, the rise of the Aztecs occurred at the same time as the demise of the Templar order in Europe. Or was it mere coincidence?
Our knowledge of the Aztecs was substantially reduced by the Spanish Catholic bishops who destroyed as much of the Aztec literature as could be found. Bishop Diego de Landa would record that the Spanish found a large number of books. Since the bishops could not read them they decided it was all superstition—the work of the devil—and burned them.
All of Mexico shared bound books of bark and skins, and possibly three or four survived. The so-called Madrid codex is decorated and inscribed on both sides of all 56 pages which gave instructions for raising crops, rainmaking, beekeeping, weaving, and hunting.
All of Mexico shared a calendar as well. That calendar was much more accurate than Europe’s Gregorian. The natives were adept at mathematics and possessed the use of the zero that Europeans had somehow missed. They were watchers of the sky and revered Venus as much as the Egyptians had. The Templar Knights, also had kept their secrets hidden, not from the illiterate populace, but from the Church.
Mexico had first been populated mostly by Mayans who peaceably farmed the southern regions of that country and other areas in Central America. Around 1200 BC they met up with the culture historians label “Olmec,” whose origin has never been explained. The Olmec may have been the first civilizing force to elevate an agriculturally based culture to that of a highly skilled urban civilization. The visible evidence is in their immense wave of pyramid and temple building as well as in their advanced urban layout.
Further west were other Mexican peoples, including the Otami who ruled over a large region. The head of this people, Tlahtoani Tezozomoc, employed Mexica mercenaries who would later become the Aztecs.
The Aztecs, like many cultures including the Greeks and the Romans, adopted their gods from those of older populations. For the Aztecs it was the Mexica gods, and they seemed to place importance on a multitude of deities, often warlike or destructive in nature. Oddly enough, Mexican religion depicted the cross, had a flood story, and remarkably the Aztecs even had the sacrament of confession. It was less like the Catholic confession and more like the Cathar confession, usually performed at one’s deathbed.
Similarly, the Aztecs placed a great emphasis on martial arts. At some point in their history two elite orders emerged from the basic military, the Knights of the Jaguar and the Eagle Knights. The most illustrious were admitted to these orders. They fought for the sake of glory, for their own wealth, and were regularly singled out for special honors. The Jaguar Warriors, like the Knights Templar, were a part military and part religious organization. The Jaguar Knights had their own symbol in an animal that embodied courage and power. They were devoted to the god Tezcatlipoca, whose name translates to “Smoking Mirror” the term given to obsidian used in shamanic practice. He was the great sorcerer, the god of the night sky, associated with enmity, discord, strife, and war. Tezcatlipoca, like a Christian saint, was patron to calendar days and his was any day with Acatl (meaning reed).
The other pivotal order was that of the Eagle Knights. Like the Jaguar Knights, they were mostly made of men of noble birth; although others were allowed in for bravery, and success in capturing the enemies needed for their devotion to human sacrifice. The eagle was fearless. An Eagle Knight had the duty to fight to the death even if his fellow soldiers were all being killed—there was no retreat, no surrender. A depiction of one Eagle knight shows him to be helmeted. The Eagle Warrior survives on AeroMexico’s logo.
The helmet of the Eagle Knight was not unlike a medieval knight’s helmet except it protruded further over and under the face of the warrior. It offered both protection and the ability to induce fear.
Both orders had their own temples. They also held privileges granted only to the elite including that of being allowed to keep concubines and of being welcome to dine in the Royal Palace, when they were not at their own temples. At the Eagle Knight temple a large carved basalt eagle served as both a totem and a religious representation of the Sun.
The temple included an entrance hall connected to a courtyard by a long corridor. Inner chambers featured carved reliefs of serpents and warriors and two mysterious skeletons whose meaning today is lost. This motif is used today in some Masonic temples in America. The Eagle Temple also holds life size images of the Eagle Knights decked out in their beak-like helmets and feathered dress. Remarkably, when they weren’t in battle, they wore cloaks of red or white with a red fringe. Did this Templar-like imagery have any roots in encounters with that European order? The timing is certainly interesting with the Aztec orders gaining in power and ability just as the Templar order was leaving Europe to flee the French king, but there is more to the story.
At some point in Aztec history, a white-bearded, fair-skinned figure came among them. His name was Quetzalcoatl, and he brought culture and attempted to show the value of peace over constant warfare. It is hard to understand just how significant this figure was in a cultural sense. In one sense Quetzalcoatl was like the Micmac Glooscap who influenced the population of Nova Scotia. He arrived by boat, lived for a time in a tent called “winter,” traveled widely, and left promising to return again. Through the research of historian Frederick Pohl (and others), we believe that Henry Sinclair, of the Templar family that became the hereditary guardians of Freemasonry, was the basis for Glooscap’s legend.
The Glooscap hero is similar to the Norse Loki, a god and a trickster at the same time. It may be that Henry Sinclair became Glooscap through the eyes of the Micmac people. Quetzalcoatl, like Glooscap, was based on an individual with some divine proportions. Like Loki and Glooscap, he represented both dark and light, a dualistic concept shared by several religious groups including the Cathars.
Was Quetzalcoatl a Templar Knight?
Within both the Jaguar and Eagle orders were rankings that compare to the rankings within a Templar Lodge. The native Mexica peoples share the legends of Quetzalcoatl and of his arrival by ship with his white soldiers. According to the Vatican codex, one of the few documents preserved from the massive destruction of Mexican writings, the natives called the newcomers Tecpantlaques, which can be interpreted to mean, “Men of the Temple.” As the extent of the Aztec ruled area bordered on the realm of the Mayan people, it is no surprise to see that they also commemorated exposure to white, bearded and mustachioed men who came in ships. The Mayans left such depictions on the walls of Yucatan’s temples.
A Mayan ruler, long before contact with Europe, was Pacal Votan. One of his titles was “Navigator.” This same title was said to be a title of the grandmasters of the Priory of Sion. It also served as the title of the leader of that resurrected Templar order, the Knights of Christ. Specifically, Henry the Navigator of Portugal, not a sailor himself, sent his order’s brave ship captains west into the Atlantic.
Historian Jean de la Varende was a Norman royalist and an ardent Catholic who wrote on Europe’s aristocrats. In his book Les Gentilhommes, he stated that the Templars had sailed back and forth across the Atlantic to mine silver. At least three Spanish historians agree with each other that the white-bearded Quetzalcoatl and his men were none other than Templars fleeing the 1307 assault on their order. One is Juan de Torquemada who arrived in the New World as a child. He is not to be confused with the Dominican Inquisitioner of the same name. Instead he was the chronologist for the more peaceful Franciscan order and later the provincial superior for the order in Mexico until 1617. He wrote a lengthy text on the ritual books and the government of the native Mexican population. Francisco Lopez de Gomara and Toribio de Motolima also wrote on the appearance of white skinned foreigners in pre-colonial times. Modern writers, including Alejandre Vignati (in his 1975 book El Enigma de los Templarios published in Spain), agree with the story of pre-colonial Europeans.
Quetzalcoatl’s influence on the warlike Mexica unfortunately did not leave them with a more peaceful attitude. Instead he may have aided them in the art of war. It is possible the warlike Aztecs only understood the glory of battle and victory. If a Templar influence attempted to introduce a peaceful Son of God, the Aztecs did not listen. In fact, in a sad parody of Christianity, the Aztecs treated their captives well until they killed them. The brave captive would live in comfort until the day he would enter the arena with his captor. The capturing knight would address the captive as if he was his son. The “son” would address his captor as his father. The better armed “father” would then defeat the inadequately armed “son” in a battle that culminated in death.
Quetzalcoatl left Mexico in a ship from the island of Cozumel, promising to return on 1 Reed, the feast day of Tezcatlipoca. Years later, on 1 Reed 1519, actually April 22, Hernan Cortes showed up.
If we estimate that Templars had arrived shortly after the 1307 attack on their Paris headquarters and that the Quetzalcoatl-led group left Cozumel, as the legend states, in 1311, it was four Toltec, or Aztec, cycles, of time that the white men had been gone. On the date predicted, they returned, after stopping on the same island of Cozumel. Montezuma II can be forgiven for not believing in coincidence. Whether it was because of the legend, or simply because the Aztec leader was afraid, several hundred Spanish defeated a city of two hundred thousand. When the Spanish arrived at Tenochtitlan they were met with a city so astonishing that Bernal Diaz del Castillo recorded that many soldiers believed it had to be a dream. Twice the size of Rome or London, and three times the size of any city in Spain, Tenochtitlan was built on an island in a blue water lake, surrounded by a ring of mountains. To reach the island one would cross one of three causeways that were 25-feet wide. The city had avenues so wide that ten horses could ride abreast. It held palaces, forums, and large homes. It contained fifty pyramids, the largest taller than anything in Seville. It had an extensive canal system through which most of the commercial traffic moved. The Spanish arriving at the most important Mexican city were not Templars, but again there is irony in the date: it was St. John’s Day 1520, sacred, of course, to the Templars, but not to the armies of Inquisition Spain.
Cortes proved quickly not to be the peaceful Quetzalcoatl but more like the opposite. He was the dark side of the divine who came to destroy and slaughter. His tiny force was aided by the Totonacs, a client state living near Vera Cruz. He would soon topple Montezuma and wipe out the population. They had a handful of weapons and would hire the Totonac mercenaries to assist them, but that does not explain how hundreds defeated hundreds of thousands. The secret weapon was disease.
The victors then destroyed everything the culture possessed. Buildings were demolished; books were burned. Centuries later Mexico City would be built over the ruins. While such an immense city cannot be excavated, the Aztec are resurrected every time a subway is built or new electric cable is laid.
At this point the evidence is not conclusive, but in the last quarter century there has been a staggering increase in discoveries. Road building and tourism serve to uncover pyramids on a regular basis, and one historian commented that there could be as many as a hundred thousand pyramids within Mexico and Central America.
It would serve our modern civilization well to find a cache of texts that the Spanish missed.