One of the most extraordinary theories - given the militaristic nature of the
Order of the Temple - is that the secret beliefs of the Templars centred on the Feminine; that, in effect,
they were Goddess-worshippers.
The Templars dedicated themselves to the Virgin Mary. Undoubtedly this was the influence of their original
eminence gris, Bernard of Clairvaux, who also had a strong devotion to Mary. In fact, Bernard appears to have been
strongly drawn to the feminine side of the divine, even though the Christianity of the time allowed only a limited
number of forms in which this might be explored and expressed.
Apart from the mother of Jesus, Bernard had an especial reverence for the Old Testament Song of Songs, which is
an exaltation - often in frankly erotic terms - of the feminine. Bernard composed over 90 sermons on the Song of
Songs alone. He equated the Bride of the Song with Mary Magdalene, the repentant sinner of Christian tradition who
some believe to have been the lover or even wife of Jesus.
Bernard has also been linked with the Black Madonna cult that is prevalent in France, and which is itself
closely entwined with the special cult of Mary Magdalene that existed in the south of France during the Middle
Ages, and which itself had a heretical character.
It was as a result of Bernard's influence that Pope Innocent II - who owed his election to Bernard's support -
declared the Virgin Mary 'Mother of God' and 'Queen of Heaven' (concepts familiar to Catholics today, but a very
radical innovation then).
Therefore it is not surprising that the two Marys appear in the Templar oaths and services. On entering the
Order, the new knight took an oath to 'God and the Lady St Mary' (or variations such
as 'God and Our Lady' or 'God and the Blessed Mary'). The words of the Templar absolution were, 'I pray to God
that he will pardon you your sins as he pardoned them to St Mary Magdalene and the thief who was put on the
cross.' Bernard of Clairvaux himself, when he had drawn up the Templar Rule, had commended the Templars to
'the obedience of Bethany, the castle of Mary and Martha.' (Mary of Bethany is normally regarded as the same
person as Mary Magdalene.)
Researchers Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince point out that the round Templar churches - although apparently made
in emulation of the Temple of Solomon or the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem - is a specifically female symbol.
They also refer to Hugh Schonfield's decoding of 'Baphomet' using the Atbash cipher, by which it is transformed
into the word 'Sophia' - the Greek for 'Wisdom'. However, it more specifically means female wisdom. Sophia as
Goddess of Wisdom not only appears in the Old Testament (as the translation of the Hebrew 'Chokmah') but was also
important to many Gnostic sects.