The Jedi Knights of Star Wars were not simply the figment of George Lucas’s most fertile and provocative imagination. Those who have grown up coveting the powers of the Jedi will be pleased to learn that Masters of the Force did indeed once exist. Records of them survive in certain countries, such as Egypt and Persia, where they were magician priests and the guardians of powerful priest kings similar to the “Emperor” of Star Wars, albeit without his predilection for the “Dark Side.”
In ancient Egypt, the surviving histories reveal that the Jedi manifested as the Djedi (hence the name “Jedi”) which was a sect of the priesthood and Masters of the Force that protected the Pharaoh; and in Persia they were the Narts, guardians of a Holy Grail called the Nartmongue and the protectors of enlightened priest kings who lived at least one thousand years before King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.
The remarkable history and wisdom of these two early sects of “Jedi” Knights was first introduced to the West by the Knights Templar, who upon returning from the Middle East in the 13th and 14th centuries, distilled “Jedi” histories learned from the Sufis into a series of lengthy Holy Grail legends. Within these pithy legends the Templars synthesized the powerful emperors and priest kings of the past into the enigmatic figure of the Fisher King, the resident of a Grail Castle and the owner of various manifestations of the Holy Grail. His well-being and the safekeeping of his castle’s Holy Grail relics was given over to an order of Knights of the Grail, who were a distillation of the early “Jedi” Knights from Egypt and Persia. But the Knights Templar let it be known that they were not just historians of the ancient Masters of the Force; they were themselves a latter day version of “Jedi” Knights. This truth was boldly and authoritatively proclaimed in Parzival by Knight Wolfram von Eschenbach when he specifically referred to the Fisher King’s Holy Grail Knights as Templars. Parzival, as well as other historical references put forth in the Middle Ages regarding the Templars, implied that the Knights had inherited wisdom of the Force that had been passed down to them almost directly from their ancient, antecedent “Jedi” Knights. Thus, from at least one perspective, the formation of the Knights Templar in 1118 CE could be historically entitled the “Return of the Jedi”! But if this is true, what happened to the Templars’ “Jedi” wisdom? Does it still exist?
In recorded history, the Secrets of the Force of the “Jedi” Knights’ were first taught among the Egyptian “Jedi” or Djedi, who may have received them from a much earlier pre-historical “Jedi” Knight order, perhaps one from Atlantis. One Djedi priest mentioned in the Egyptian’s Westcar Papyrus is said to have possessed the key that opened the “secret chambers of the sanctuary of Thoth,” who many esoteric historians believe was a missionary and Master of the Force from Atlantis. Within his sanctuary were books authored by Thoth that covered in detail the physics behind activating and developing the Force through alchemy—the art that Thoth-Hermes would eventually become the recognized patron of throughout the world. Through Thoth’s alchemy, the esoteric symbol of which is the caduceus, a future Djedi could awaken the normally dormant “serpent” power, the fiery Force at the base of his spine, and then move it upwards to his head where it would culminate in supernatural powers and intuitive, gnostic wisdom. The proof that a Djedi had accomplished this alchemy is intrinsic to his name, which was, essentially, an honorific title. The Djed of Djedi denoted “column,” while the root word or sound Dj denoted “serpent.” Thus, a Djedi was one who had awakened the Dj or serpent at its seat and then raised it up his or her Djed “column” or spine to the head. Those Djedi that succeeded in this inner ascension could potentially become immortal, which is yet another meaning of Djedi. As the Serpent Force rises up the spine, its alchemical fire of transformation moves within every cell of the body and raises the frequency of human flesh to that of “immortal” pure energy. Because of the spine’s association with immortality, the Djed column or pillar became for the Egyptians a symbol of immortality, and they traditionally covered their mummies and sarcophagi with symbolic Djed images in hopes of achieving immortal life in the hereafter.
Through raising the inner serpent power, the Djedi acquired an abundance of Force which could be used to perform supernatural feats similar to those associated with Lucas’s Jedi. For example, the Djedi of the Westcar Papyrus who possessed the key to the secret chambers of Thoth was said to have acquired the power to reattach the severed heads of animals at will. Other Djedi are mentioned in Egyptian history as traversing the scorching Egyptian sands with only their magical staffs and/or becoming powerful magicians in the service of the Pharaohs. Some Djedi are found in the service of the Pharaoh that Moses and Aaron confronted in order to demand freedom for the Hebrews. At the Pharaoh’s command his Djedi magicians turned their staffs into live serpents, which represented the serpent power that each Djedi possessed. But Aaron’s staff also turned into a snake, albeit a much larger snake than those of the Djedi, and it proceeded to consume their smaller serpents, thus proving the superiority of his serpent power to theirs.
The wisdom of the Djedi that the Knights Templar learned about may have first entered the Middle East as early as the Exodus, since Menetho tells us that the Hebrew leader Moses had been initiated into all the secrets of Egypt’s priesthood during his formative years in the country. The wisdom of Djedi may have also arrived many years later when Dhul-Nun al-Misri traveled from Egypt to the Middle East after spending many years studying the alchemical hieroglyphs covering the temples and obelisks of Egypt. With the esoteric wisdom he discovered, Dhul-Nun al-Misri founded the Al-banna, the Sufi sect of “Freemasons.” According to the Sufi Idris Shah, the Al-banna were teachers of the Templars during the years the Knights resided in the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Much of the wisdom of alchemy and the Force that resulted from the Templar-Al-banna intercourse was later taken into the continent of Europe by Templars who assimilated it into fledgling Speculative Freemasonry.
The order of “Jedi” Knights known of by the Templars was the Order of the Nart Knights, Masters of the Force of the ancient Persian Empire. Possibly as old or older than the Djedi of Egypt, the Narts may have existed as early as King Jamshid, one of the incipient Persian kings of legend who ruled during the time of “Airyan Vaejahi,” the Persian Golden Age that some historians have placed as early as 20,000 BCE. Jamshid was a classic example of the Fisher King of Grail legend in that he suffered a fall from pride and lost his Force, or “Farr” as it was called in Persia, although he had previously adhered to a righteous path and been a renowned Master of the Force. Jamshid engendered a lineage of Farr-empowered priest kings that culminated in the highly spiritual Kayanid Dynasty founded by King Key-Khosrow, the “Persian King Arthur.” Records state that, like King Arthur, Key-Koshrow possessed knights (the “Narts”) who were associated with a Holy Grail (the “Nartmongue”) and conducted their meetings around a table similar to Arthur’s Round Table. The mystical legends of Key-Khosrow and his Narts were eventually compiled into the Nart Sagas during the later Persian Empire and have since been regarded as Persian counterparts to Europe’s Holy Grail legends. According to From Scythia to Camelot, the Nart Sagas may have first entered Europe with bands of Persian Sarmatian warriors who were in the hire of the Roman legions. The authors of this theory, Littleton and Malcor, make the interesting observation that King Arthur and his Knights may have themselves been Sarmatian soldiers and members of a Roman legion stationed at what was Hadrians Wall with orders to protect England from the marauding Pics of Scotland. According to this possible scenario, following the downfall of the Roman Empire Arthur and his men would have been released from their Roman service, at which time Arthur would have become king of the newly liberated land of Britain and his fellow soldiers would have been transformed into the Knights of the Round Table. This alternate history of Arthur and his Knights was recently made into a major motion picture entitled “King Arthur” staring Clive Owen as the British monarch.
What little we know today of the Persian Narts suggests that these neo-Jedi Knights were continually seeking to increase their Force in order to become warrior adepts with a high level of spiritual purity and enlightenment. Only those whose dedication to king and country was immaculate could hope to increase their Farr to the degree needed in order to drink from the Nartmongue when it was passed around the Persian Round Table. Certain Narts increased their Farr to such a degree that they became the obvious choice to succeed an outgoing king. Some, like King Key-Lohrasp of the Kayanid Dynasty, became endowed with a mystical temperament and an abundance of gnostic insight. The mystical Key-Lohrasp eventually abdicated his “Fisher King” throne in favor of leading a purely mystical existence deep within the lofty mountains of Persia.
The “Jedi” Secrets of the Force possessed by the early Persian kings and their Narts were preserved within Persian civilization as popular legend for many hundreds of years. Then, in the 11th century CE, Hasan-i-Sabah, the founder of the Order of Assassins that was to become a huge influence on the Knights Templar, revived the ancient Nart tradition. He resurrected the Secrets of the Force and founded a cadre of knights to serve him. Hasan chose for his court the castle of Alamut, the “Eagles Nest,” which was located high in the Albourz Mountains, the region of northern Persia that had anciently been the seat of the Persian kings.
Hasan learned the Secrets of the Force both by studying the Nart legends and by traveling to Cairo in his younger years for the purpose of mastering nine mystical degrees of a Sufi mystery school centered within the city. After his graduation Hasan left Egypt and returned home to quickly establish himself as one of the greatest alchemists that Persia had ever seen. He subsequently founded his own mystery school of nine degrees, which eventually became known as the Order of the Assassins. The degrees of alchemical purification of Hasan’s school—which Hasan cryptically referred to as the nine steps of ascension up the mystical mountain of Kaf—assisted his Assassin Knights in awakening the inner Force and acquiring gnosis. Hasan’s manual for his mystery school, the Sargozast-i-Sayyid-na, provided a step-by-step guide to the alchemical practices that would lead an aspiring knight to the summit of Kaf.
Hasan’s alchemical Secrets of the Force were passed down to successive generations of Assassins, during which time they became known as the Teaching of the Resurrection. The greatest promoter of these teachings, and a fully enlightened Master of the Force in his own right, was the later Assassin Grand Master Rashid al-din Sinan of Syria. Sinan began his career as a common Assassin knight in Persia but eventually achieved enlightenment and an abundance of supernatural powers by adhering closely to Hasan’s alchemy. After being sent to govern the Assassins’ outpost in Syria, Sinan is said to have acquired the power to be able to see into the past or future, and for being able to go for indefinitely long periods without eating or drinking. His psychic ability was also legendary. When a letter was delivered to him it was said that Sinan would hold the unopened letter against his third eye for a moment and then promptly write down and dispatch a reply to the sender.
Through their encounters with Sinan and his knights the Templars, who had nearby castles in Syria, learned some of the Assassins’ Secrets of the Force. The Templars felt an affinity with the Assassins since they were both renegade orders of knights aspiring to alchemy and gnosis while being ostensible members of a fundamentalist religion. Sinan, whom the Templars came to call the “Old Man of the Mountains,” awed the Knights with his powers and they coveted his alchemy, which they eventually learned from both him and his knights, as well as from various other Sufi sects. As a compliment to what would eventually become the prodigious amount of Sufi teaching they acquired, the Knights Templar also inherited the gnostic teachings of the Johannite Gnostic Church which had been passed down to them from a series of grand masters beginning with John the Baptist, Jesus, John the Apostle, and Mary Magdalene.
The Knights Templar would subsequently create their own Holy Grail mystery school tradition comprised of numerous levels. The Force, the Knights Templar were to discover, was the true “Holy Grail.” Although the Knights may have possessed certain physical objects which were ascribed the power of a Holy Grail, including the Holy Shroud and perhaps even the cup that Jesus drank from during the Last Supper, they discovered from their Sufi teachers that what made an object a Holy Grail was its accompanying Force or Holy Spirit power. It was this Force that activated and drove the process of alchemy within a Knight and eventually opened him to his inner gnostic wisdom and supernatural power.
The Templars’ Secrets of the Force eventually passed into some of the Secret Societies of Europe, including the Rosicrucians and Freemasons, and for awhile this wisdom survived in its purity. But it would eventually become grossly distorted, hidden or completely forgotten, and the era of the “Jedi” Knights would come to a grinding halt. But now, certain Templar organizations are making a concerted effort to resurrect the “Jedi” Knight wisdom of Egypt, Persia, and the early Templars. The old gnostic and alchemical rites are beginning to be observed again and the hidden alchemical texts are being pursued in places like Rosslyn Chapel and Languedoc in France.
Mark Amaru Pinkham KGCTpl is currently teaching what he considers to be the Jedi Secrets of the Force in nationwide seminars and within his Templar organization, The International Order of Gnostic Templars (www.GnosticTemplars.com).