n Europe, many followers of the Cathar heresy joined the Knights Templars just because of their willingness to accommodate unorthodox thinking in the Order. The Cathar influence brought skeins of Gnostic thinking into the Order, and it goes without saying that such heretic thinking had to be done in secret. As is the case with all human secrets, leaks did occur, and from thereon rumors became extant and impossible to fight against. Again, bad blood arose by the bucket.
et us jump to the present day and welcome Dr. Hugh Schonfield. This scholar was one of the original researchers of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and he became interested in the alleged blasphemous practices the Templars were charged with. In fact, the legend of Baphomet struck him as curious, and he figured the name Baphomet, an odd construction to say the least, was actually written in cipher. He applied the ancient Atbash Cipher to the name, in the belief that the Templars might have been privy to the cipher in their time.
most interesting thing surfaced. If one writes the name 'Baphomet' in Hebrew letters (read from right to left), the result is
which in the Atbash Cipher can be unraveled to
which is 'Sophia', Greek for Wisdom. Considering the erudite state of the Order (by Medieval standards at least) this is not far-fetched at all.
n to the image of the head. In Hebrew folklore, there is a bearded male figure called Adam Kadmon (the Sky Man). His bearded head is called Chokmah, or, Wisdom. On the other hand, the Greek goddess Sophia is a most female one indeed, so the gilded image of a woman's head mentioned in Philip's inventory of the Paris Temple is not inexplicable at all. Furthermore, the Templars appear to have been privy to to even more ancient information, dating all the way back to Egypt where the goddess Isis was in some sources called Sophia. In a Cristian interpretation, Sophia is identified with Mary Magdalene. More on the material above can be found in Appendix A of The Essene Odyssey by Dr. Schonfield
n conclusion, the Templars held Sophia in high reverence. They were fully aware of her mystical and cosmological properties. But in those times, to worship such a controversial, nay, heretical figure openly would have been tantamount to placing one's head in a vice and turning the handle clockwise a dozen times. From this arose the secretiveness, and ultimately, the accusations of heresy.
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