There is an old occult maxim which declares that—" Nothing is concealed from him who knows." No Mason is bound to conceal that which he has never learned in the Lodge. All else he receives as he learns any thing, places his own estimate upon its value, and becomes individually responsible for its use. It must be a matter of conscience, and be weighed in the balance of duty, and every one must abide by the result. If Masonry has lost the Royal Secret, or if it never possessed it, or if it was wrenched away in the very name of Religion little more than a century ago, all the same, it belongs to the Craft as the Heir-apparent of the Old Wisdom. But the time has come when no cable-tow can bind it. It now belongs to Humanity equally with the Mason. To this end has it been preserved throughout the centuries.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Origin of the Skull & Crossbones - As told by the Inquisition

I came upon this while researching the Templars, of which I belong. Although I'm sure many of my readers are not Templars themselves I still hope you'll find this little passage from histroy enjoyable. It came from a title named; A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages.

Many of you I am sure have never seen a Templar apron, which you will find pictured to the left, and if you have you may have wondered the origins of the skull and crossbones you may consider this story, or you may not, either way its a fun little story.

Among the few outside witnesses who appeared before the papal commission in 1310-11, was Antonio Sicci of Vercelli, imperial and apostolic notary, who forty years before had served the Templar's in Syria in that capacity, and had recently been employed in the case by the Inquisition of Paris.

Among his Eastern experiences he gravely related a story current in Sidon that a lord of that city once loved desperately but fruitlessly a noble maiden of Armenia; she died, and, like Periander of Corinth, on the night of her burial he opened her tomb and gratified his passion. A mysterious voice said," Return in nine months and you will find a head, your son!" In due time he came back and found a human head in the tomb, when the voice said, " Guard this head, for all your good fortune will Come from it!"

At the time the witness heard this, Matthieu le Sauvage of Picardy was Preceptor of Sidon, who had established brotherhood with the Soldan of Babylon by each drinking the others blood. Then a certain Julian, who had succeeded to Sidon and to the possession of the head, entered the Order and gave to it the town and all his wealth. He was subsequently expelled and entered the Hospitallers, whom he finally abandoned for the Premonstratensians (Proces, I. 645-6).

This somewhat irrelevant and disconnected story so impressed the commissioners that they made Antonio reduce it to writing himself, and lost no subsequent opportunity of inquiring about the head of Sidon from all other witnesses who had been in Syria. Shortly afterward Jean Senandi, who had lived in Sidon for five years, informed them that the Templar's purchased the city, and that Julian, who had been one of its lords, entered the Order but apostatized and died in poverty. One of his ancestors was said to have loved a maiden and abused her corpse, but he had heard nothing of the head (lb. II. 140). Pierre de Nobiliac had been for many years beyond seas, but had likewise never heard of it (lb. 215). At length their curiosity was gratified by Hugues de Faure, who confirmed the fact that Sidon had been purchased by the Grand Master, Thomas Berard (1257-1273), and added that after the fall of Acre he had heard in Cyprus that the heiress of Maraclea, in Tripoli, had been loved by a noble who had exhumed her body and violated it, and cut off her head, a voice telling him to guard it well, for it would destroy all who looked upon it. He wrapped it up and kept it in a coffer, and in Cyprus, when he wished to destroy a town or the Greeks, he would uncover it and accomplish his purpose. Desiring to destroy Constantinople he sailed thither with it, but his old nurse, curious to know what was in the coffer so carefully preserved, opened it, when a sudden storm burst over the ship and sank it with all on board, except a few sailors who escaped to tell the tale. Since then no fish have been found in that part of the sea (lb. 223-4). Guillaume Avril had been seven years beyond seas without hearing of the head, but bad been told that in the whirlpool of Setalias a head sometimes appeared, and then all the vessels there were lost (lb. 238). All this rubbish was sent to the Council of Vienne as part of the evidence against the Order.”

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