Dragon Key Press Books

The Templar Revelation and the Johannite Hypothesis

Oct 25, 2004
Author: Rayvn Navarro

A while ago the book The Templar Revelation. (1), by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince was recommended and sent to me by a dear friend, whilst having a discussion about the mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel and the general content of the boo, The Hiram Key. (2) My friend then proceeded to turn me on to a site that goes into some detail about Rennes le Chateau, the Priory of Sion and the mysterious Berenger Sauniere. (3) I had a look at this site and became quite intrigued.

The Templar Revelation arrived in the mail about a week later. I dug into it immediately, anxious to learn the secrets and truths hinted at in the title. The book is written in a style that is both comfortable and erudite, but it is not a book you can breeze through. There is simply too much interesting information between the covers to pass over without due consideration of every new revelation. Every page turned brought forth a name from my own personal “intellectual memory lane”, from Leonardo da Vinci to Jean Cocteau. My long time fascination with Cocteau's gorgeous black and white classic La Belle et Le Bette, and all of its symbolism began to make some semblance of sense. My love of decadent poetry, art and artists such as Gustav Moreau, Felician Rops, Dante Aligheri, Charles Baudelaire; medieval architecture...all things Egyptian, magic, alchemy, secret and mystical societies - they were all there to be sampled and analyzed within their relationship to a greater and very intriguing whole.

The authors’ resulting strange brew is a plethora of well-presented facts, and the authors take great pains not to jump to any wild speculations or conclusions. As well-written as the book is, and as together as is their presentation, one must applaud the authors for not doing so, because they could...very easily. Instead, they leave us with a rather intriguing statement at the end of Appendix II that reads:

“... the local traditions are primarily concerned with two people: Mary Magdalene and John the Baptist, and not Jesus. In the light of our research, rumours of Christ’s remains being in the area may actually refer to someone nearer to the hearts of the locals than Jesus.

This someone is John the Baptist.”

The Church of John

Today, in the valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now Iraq, there lives a people that the Iraqis call “the Subba”, but who call themselves “Mandeans.” The Aramaic word “manda” translates as “Gnostic”, and so the Mandeans are centuries old survivors of the Gnostic tradition. Stephan A. Hoeller writes of them:

“The history of the Mandaeans appears to go back to John the Baptizer (or John the Baptist), who taught and conferred his mysteries in the Holy Land in early New Testament times. Yet though he is regarded as the great prophet of this tradition, the Mandaean scriptures intimate that the tradition existed before him. The Mandaean religion thus has no historical founder. The original Mandaeans were probably Jews, or a people closely associated with the Judaic matrix; hence their original sacred language, Mandaeic, which is a form of Aramaic. The Mandaean scriptures regard Moses as a prophet of the counterfeit god and Jesus as a sort of false prophet who did not measure up to the true prophet, who was John the Baptist.

Mandaeans were actually long known as Nasoreans, meaning ‘guardians or possessors of the secret wisdom.’ At various points in history, perhaps beginning as early as the Crusades, Christians who came in contact with the Mandaeans referred to them as the ‘Christians of St. John’ or ‘Johannine Christians.’... It is quite possible that medieval Gnositicizing movements, particularly the Order of the Knights Templar, had contact with these ancient Gnostics of the Middle East and received some secret teachings and rituals from them.”

Mark 1:6 describes John the Baptist as being clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of skin about his loins. Kings II, 1:8 describes the mighty and powerful prophet Elijah as being girt with a similar leathern girdle about his loins. In their book The Hiram Key, authors Lomas and Knight bring up the fact that the original Knights Templar (Hughes de Payens and company) wore girdles of leather under their robes. They also point out that this has translated into the Masonic practice of wearing the symbolic leather apron. This would seem to indicate that John the Baptist was the last of this ancient line of the judges and prophets, who were known by the term “Nazirites” - a term very similar to the alternate name of the Mandaeans, “the Nasoreans.” This is further reinforced by Jesus in The Apocryphon of James: “Do you not know that the head of prophecy was cut off with John?” In his Antiquities, Josephus has this to say about John the Baptist (18:116-119):

“But to some of the Jews the destruction of Herod’s [i.e., Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, ruled Galilee and Peraea 4 B.C.E.-39 C.E] army seemed to be divine vengeance, for his treatment of John, surnamed the Baptist. For Herod had put him to death, though he was a good man and had exhorted the Jews to lead righteous lives, to practice justice towards their fellows and piety towards God, and so doing to join in baptism. In his view this was a necessary preliminary if baptism was to be acceptable to God. They must not employ it to gain pardon for whatever sins they committed, but as a consecration of the body implying that the soul was already thoroughly cleansed by right behavior. When others too joined the crowds about him, because they were aroused to the highest degree by his sermons, Herod became alarmed. Eloquence that had so great an effect on mankind might lead to some form of sedition, for it looked as if they would be guided by John in everything that they did. Herod decided therefore that it would be much better to strike first and be rid of him before his work led to an uprising, than to wait for an upheaval, get involved in a difficult situation and see his mistake. Though John, because of Herod’s suspicions, was brought in chains to Machaerus, the stronghold that we have previously mentioned, and there put to death, yet the verdict of the Jews was that the destruction visited upon Herod’s army was a vindication of John, since God saw fit to inflict such a blow on Herod.” [Note: See also Mark 1; 6:14-29; Acts l9:1-7.]

This portrait of John seems true from an historical viewpoint. That is, Herod Antipas probably was alarmed by John’s popularity, and his power over crowds of people. However, other historians beg to point out that it was John’s condemnation of Herod Antipas’ marriage to Herodius (once his brother Philip’s wife) that led to John’s death. In the Bible, it is Herodius who plants the bug in her daughter Salome’s ear to ask for John’s head as a reward for her dancing. We are also told that Antipas had great reservations about granting her request.

What is the truth? It seems that it is far stranger than either of these scenarios might suggest.

In their discussion of John and his following, Picknett and Prince get a bit into the politics of the sect. That the Church of the Baptist survived is certain, as the authors point out. Saint Paul - who never was a direct disciple of either Jesus or John - experienced a miraculous conversion (much like a certain Tantric Swami) while walking down the road one day. One might suspect that he saw a good thing he might be able to cash in on, and ingratiated himself with James, Peter and the other remaining disciples of Jesus to learn their secret teachings. Paul then made it his business to nip what remained of the Johannite sects in the bud. It would seem that the Johannites learned a lesson from this and integrated themselves with the newer Jesus cultus. What better way to hide themselves than within a group with teachings that were so similar to their own?

But all this smacks of a story when viewed in the light of certain facts pointed out by the authors of The Templar Revelation. They tell of how Jesus was a disciple of John - as well as a certain other figure who is sometimes known as the “First Heretic.” This other figure was Simon Magus. Simon traveled with a woman named Helen, who was said to be “black as an Ethopian.” Helen was a prostitute from Tyre. Simon equated her to the concept of Ennoia, the First Thought and Mother of All. Like the Gnostic Sophia and the Jewish Shekinah, Ennoia was mother to the angels, the gods and demi-gods. As the authors write:

“They created the Earth under her instructions, but rebelled and imprisoned her in matter, the material world. She was trapped in a series of female bodies (including that of Helen of Troy), each enduring increasingly unbearable humiliations, and eventually ended up as a whore in the seaport of Tyre. But all was not lost, because God was also incarnate, in the form of Simon. He had sought her out and rescued her.” (5)

The Simonians worshipped Helen as Athena - in the pantheon of the Greeks, who held rule over and occupied much of the Holy Land in these times. Across the way, over in Nile country, she was worshipped as Isis, the wife of Osiris the Egyptian vegetation god.

These are common Gnostic beliefs that filtered down into the Cathar or Albigensian beliefs in medieval times. The Coptic Gnostic text, Pistis Sophia, equates this figure with the Magdalene...the bride of Jesus. What is often misunderstood or ignored about certain Egyptian and Gnostic mysteries is that they are sexual in nature. Both Iraneus, an early father of the Holy Roman Church, and the chronicler Epiphanius write that these sects practiced sexual rites. Epiphanius himself was in fact a member of Simon’s group, or one associated with it, for nine years. He then had an “awakening” and left, only to spill their secrets into the ears of the Christian fathers and lay bare their “sins.”

Simon Magus and Jesus were, as far as the early Church was concerned, dangerously alike in their teaching, which is why Simon was accused of having tried to steal the Christians’ knowledge. This is a tacit admission that his own teaching was, in fact, compatible with Jesus - even that he was part of the same movement. The implications of this are disturbing. Were the sexual rites of Simon and Helen for example, also practiced by Jesus and Mary Magdalene? According to Epiphanius, the Gnostics had a book called The Great Questions of Mary, which purported to be the inner secrets of the Jesus movement, and which took the form of “obscene ceremonies”...but as we have seen, there is evidence that the Magdalene was a sexual initiatrix in the tradition of the temple prostitute, whose function was to bestow upon men the gift of “horasis” - spiritual enlightenment through sexual intercourse. (6)

Simon was not only a disciple of John’s, but his personally designated successor, not Jesus. Simon Magus was continually painted by the early historians and fathers of the church as a sort of Satanic twin to the Saviour, when in fact he was the official heir to John’s position. The implication here is that Simon was within the “inner circle”, as was Jesus. It is implied that Simon learned what he knew from John...as did Jesus.

As startling as all this may seem, these sorts of beliefs and rituals were quite common in Egypt, Babylon and India. They may have in fact come to the Promised Land from when Moses brought the Children out of Egypt. If they’d forgotten them in the meantime, they may have been reminded during the Babylonian captivity of the Jews. Personally, I doubt that they were ever “lost”, in that these sorts of rituals and belief structures find resonance with early fertility, resurrection and death rites that sprung directly from the worship of Osiris and Isis in Egypt. The story is told in the Bible that Jesus was taken to Egypt by his mother to avoid the edict of Herod the Great to kill all the first-born Jewish males at the time Jesus was born - to thwart the coming of the Messiah. There are records in Coptic Churches in the Nile Delta of the infant Jesus and miracles he performed there.

Then again, there is another link: that of their probable Egyptian origins. Karl Luckert says of Simon:

“As the ‘father of all heresy’ he must now be studied not merely as an opponent, but also a conspicuous competitor of Christ in the early Christian church -- possibly even as a potential ally...from the fact of their common Egyptian heritage may be derived the very strength of Simon's threat. The danger amounted to the possibility that he could be confused with the Christ figure himself...” (7)

Radical Conclusions

What we have in the figure of John the Baptist is a very eloquent and powerful man, who was capable of swaying the opinion of the public against the “establishment.” He was, quite plainly, a seditionist in their eyes. The number of different versions of the story of his death point to an effort to confuse and obfuscate the truth. It is a truth that would undermine the very foundations of the great institution of Christianity...and if the truth were to be known, it would probably bring down Islam and Judaism as well. These are the things that we are not to know, and therefore, taboo.

Josephus’ version of the John the Baptist story contrasts sharply with what is presented in The Templar Revelation. It reads like some of the political spin-doctoring out of today’s headlines, with staged photographs and twisted facts. Was the political climate in those times any less sophisticated or cunning than it is today? I think not, in light of all that is written about royal emissaries and spies. The Jews and Greeks learned from the Egyptians, who had it all down to a science, for their ruling houses had seen many a courtly intrigue and suffered through numerous assassinations and plots to defame whoever happened to be pharaoh at the time. History is full of kings and kingly heirs who plotted their own disappearances only to emerge at a later time. The Dagobert’s Revenge article The Merovingian Mythos explains that Dagobert himself made use of the Returning King myth. This same ruse was also used in the Bible, in Kings II, Chapter 11:

“1. And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal. 2. But Jehosheba, the daughter of kind Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king's sons which were slain. 3. And he was with her hid in the house of the Lord six years.”

Plainly, our distant ancestors were not without some cleverness in manipulating their “realities” in furtherance of their political agendas to protect or depose certain lineages. This smacks of the actions of the prophets and judges in the Old Testament, most notably Elijah and his spiritual heir, Elisha. Working behind the scenes, they made and broke kingly lines, using any means necessary, including assassinations and public disturbances or displays of wondrous powers.

In John’s position, one might see where it could be expedient for him to “get out of Dodge”, as it were. The surest way to do that would be to make a clean break by staging his own death and re-appearing as “the one to follow”, just as he himself had prophesized. John the Baptist was no dummy. He couldn’t be and command the sort of fanatical reverence and worship that he did. In this instance, it does not seem so far-fetched to wonder if perhaps this isn’t exactly what occurred and what the authors of The Templar Revelation are hinting at. He appears to die and returns as Jesus, continuing his mission.

While many of the texts of the Gnostic gospels present Jesus as the Christ and Master teacher, one occasionally stumbles across lines that indicate that he was all too human. In The Apocryphon of James, he makes a statement more or less to the effect that “if I’d known what I know now, I wouldn't have come here.” In The Gospel of Thomas, it states:

Jesus said, ‘Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will stand solitary.’” (16)

This is not the Dove of Peace talking. This is a man with a mission of revenge. John preached openly against the Pharisees and Sadducees, as did Jesus. Both men condemned them as opportunists, slanderers and narrow-minded bigots. The Temple establishment was quite unhappy with John’s popularity and saw him as a threat as egregious as any heathen god. And there were heathen gods all around them in Greek-occupied Jerusalem, gods of every stripe and color: Syrian, Phoenician and Egyptian. The cults of Attis, Adonis and Osiris flourished in Jerusalem as well. Crucifixion and hanging were used by both the Greek and Roman despots to punish criminals as well as seditionists. This is documented in The Dead Sea Scrolls and other historical writings of the period. Hanging on a tree - either as an effigy or as a living sacrifice - was part and parcel of the rites of Attis and Adonis, as was dismemberment and castration. Clearly, this was a mode of sacrifice that would be appreciated and understood by the heathens - one that would make a lasting impression. And, if handled rightly, the resurrection would set the stage for greater things to come.

Still, John/Jesus needed to get out of Dodge. Possibly, the apparent appointment of Simon Magus was yet another in a long line of disguises...each one growing darker, with greater plans to thwart the establishment. Eventually, however, there seems to have come a point when these ruses were no longer feasible or working. As it is clearly pointed out in The Templar Revelation and on this website, southern France is known to be a place where both the Magdalene and John the Baptist are worshipped over and above Jesus Christ. All the mysteries of the Priory of Sion, the later massacres of the Cathars and the Templars themselves by the Church, and the worship of the mysterious Black Madonnas in Languedoc and other places along the Mediterranean point to the idea that it was Helen, who was “black as an Ethopian”, who escaped into this region to safety. However, there is another wrinkle in the story that ties in a different sort of “Egyptienne” - the Gypsies.

By some accounts, Sara the Virgin is the daughter of Mary Magdalene and Jesus - the European connection to the “Sangreal” or the bloodline of the Grail. In his fascinating book The Gypsies, Jean-Paul Clebert reveals the legend of Sara:

“One of our people who received the first Revelation was Sara the Kali. She was of noble birth and was chief of her tribe on the banks of the Rhone. She knew the secrets which had been transmitted to her. Near the Rhone the tribes worked in metals and engaged in commerce. The Rom at that period practiced a polytheistic religion, and once a year they took out on their shoulders the statue of Ishtari (Astarte) and went into the sea to receive his benediction there. One day Sara had visions which informed her that the Saints who had been present at the death of Jesus would come, and that she must help them. Sara saw them arrive in a boat. The sea was rough, and the boat threatened to flounder. Sara threw her dress on the waves, and, using it as a raft, she floated towards the Saints and helped them to reach land. The Saints baptized Sara and preached the Gospel among the gadje and the Rom.”? (8)

The Saints referred to here are the three Marys: Mary Salome, Mary Jacobe and Mary Magdalene. If one considers that the same woman might have been the consort of John the Baptist, Jesus and Simon Magus, this might explain the mystery of the three Marys. Clebert goes on to say:

“The name given by the Gypsies to Sara - ‘la Kali’ - means in their language both ‘the black woman’ and ‘the Gypsy woman.’ As for the name Sara, if it is, for the Church, that of Abraham's wife, this is to bring together a whole series of goddess-mothers...” (9)

The idea of a triple goddess is also found in Hecate, as well as Tripura Sundari of India. The Gypsies are known to have come originally from India, where Saraswati, who is both the goddess of Wisdom and Speech is the consort or daughter of the creator god Brahma. The dark goddess, Kali-ma - the consort of the god of red dreadlocks, Shiva - is also native to Hindu mythology, as well as to the ancient shamanic Tantric practices of the Harappan civilization. The book referred to above, The Great Questions of Mary, seems suspiciously like Tantric scriptures known as “agamas”, where the Devi poses questions to her great lord, Maheshvara. Anyone familiar with the concepts of Tantra will realize that the sorts of rituals and rites described by Epiphanius and others in their condemnations of the Johannite or Gnostic sects very much echo Tantric ritual sex.

What does it all mean? Who can say? We can only speculate that these rituals came from the earliest cradles of civilization in both Egypt and Sumer, then found their way across the Zagros mountains into Persia and on into India. Perhaps they were carried there by the Phoenicians, who reportedly had already sailed around Africa as early as 2300 BC, and were known to have lived in India as merchants and craftsmen during the height of Harappan civilization. But one thing is clear in all of this. The mythos of the Fisher Kings appears to incorporate mythologies that span the length and breadth of the “four rivers of Eden”: the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates and the Indus (or Ganges, depending upon the interpretation)...and a great expanse of time.

Copyright, 2004, Rayvn Navarro


(1) The Templar Revelation, by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, Corgi Books, 1997.

(2) The Hiram Key, by Christopher Knight & Robert Lomas.

(3) Rennes Discovery, http://www.rennes-discovery.com/index.html

(4) Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing, by Stephan A. Hoeller, Quest Books, 2002.

(5) The Templar Revelation, pg. 418.

(6) The Templar Revelation, pg. 422.

(7) The Templar Revelation, pg. 422.

(8) The Gypsies, by Jean-Paul Clebert, Penguin Books, 1961.

All material copyright 2004 Dragon Key Press. Site created and maintained by Brian Albert.