These questions and answers are derived from the notes prepared for Tracy R. Twyman’s appearance on the “Coast to Coast A.M.” show hosted by Ian Punnett in 2005.
Are you a Freemason?
No, I’m not a Mason. As you probably know, all formally-accepted lodges of both the York and Scottish Rite of Freemasonry do not accept women, except as members of auxiliary orders such as Job’s Daughter’s or the Order of the Eastern Star. There is something called co-Masonry, which accepts members of both sexes, and performs traditional Masonic ceremonies, but these lodges are not accepted by the other, mainstream orders.
At any rate, it is a good thing that I am not a Freemason, because if I was, I wouldn’t be able to write about Masonic secrets. I would have to take an oath not to reveal them. This is the main reason why I would be reluctant to join, even if I could. When you take such an oath, you are spiritually binding yourself to the ethereal force or intelligence that controls Masonry. You can’t break your oaths, or you will be cursed forever. I don’t think I can handle that kind of obligation.
If you’re not a Mason, how do you know anything about it?
Anyone who wants to learn about Freemasonry can do so merely by reading the material that is widely available in books, and on the internet. All of the rituals of both the York and Scottish Rite have been published for all the world to see. For interpretations of Masonic mysteries, it’s best to consult books written by people who were actually Freemasons. A good reference source is Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma. Pike rewrote all of the Scottish Rite rituals for the Southern Jurisdiction, and then in 1871 published a guide to the rituals. It was intended for members only, but now anyone can get a copy. His book is an encyclopedia not only of Masonic ritual, but of ancient mythology and symbolism as well. Its index is so thorough, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
Another good Masonic author is Manly P. Hall, who wrote dozens of books about Masonry and occultism from the 40s through the 70s, His book The Secret Destiny of America is especially interesting, where he describes the Masonic influence on the foundation of America, and the Utopian plan of proto-Masonic societies, going back to medieval times, to create a model “Philosophic Empire” in the New World, based on Masonic principles. He argues that Masonic leaders in American politics from George Washington to Franklin Roosevelt have worked to fulfill that plan.
Are you for Masonry or against it?
Generally, I would say that I’m pro-Freemason. I think Masonry has been a force for good in the world throughout history. A lot of the modern values that we all hold today come from the Enlightenment philosophy movement in the 1700s, which was heavily influenced by Freemasonry. All of our contemporary ideas about reason, rationality, and scientific inquiry came from the Enlightenment. So too did all of our ideas about “democracy,” “freedom of speech,” “freedom of religion,” and “natural rights.” Philosophers such as Voltaire, Rene Descartes, David Hume, Isaac Newton, John Locke and Sir Francis Bacon defied the demands of the Catholic, Anglican and Protestant churches that were all competing to control the minds of men. And many of these philosophers were Freemasons, or were at least influenced by friends who were.
You see, the lodge was a place where men of all faiths could gather peacefully without fear of repercussions from the authorities. It was also a place where people of different social strata could meet on equal terms. So naturally, this was an environment where people would begin to dream of a society where all men were treated equally, were intellectually free, and were financially free. Indeed, the term “free man” comes from Masonry. It originally referred to a man who was free to own his own business, or to work for another man for wages — in contrast to a serf, who was essentially enslaved to his feudal lord. The Masonic guilds, and the other trade guilds that were modeled after them, were recruiting grounds for “free men.” Learning a trade in one of these guilds was the only means of escape from serfdom at that point. These guilds helped to create the new, emerging merchant class, which overshadowed the nobility in importance, paving the way for Enlightenment values and eventually, secular democracies. The influence of Freemasons on the American and French Revolutions is undeniable, and I think both of those events were great steps forward for Western civilization.
What was the Masonic influence on the founding of America?
The United States was essentially founded as an example of the ideal Masonic republic. One of the men most responsible for initiating this plan was Sir Francis Bacon. He was an English nobleman, philosopher, and member of a proto-Masonic group called the Order of the Helmet. (I call “proto-Masonic” all orders that existed prior to the official formation of the Masonic lodge, but which nonetheless seem to have contributed to Masonic tradition.) Now Bacon was one of the founders and main stockholders in the Virginia Company, which set up the first British colony in America. Bacon wrote a book called The New Atlantis, which allegorically outlines his plan to create a Utopian “philosophic empire” in the New World, where all men would be free to think, speak, and worship as they pleased. Masonic author Manly P. Hall says that Bacon’s book formed a blueprint for the later work of the founding fathers of the United States, a large percentage of whom were Freemasons. Up to 16% of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, 33% of the signers of the US Constitution, and 46% of the Generals in the Continental Army were Masons. Many of the top commanders in the British Army were Masons, too. Some authors have suggested that the reason why Britain lost the war was because there were too many double-agents within its military hierarchy who were more loyal to Freemasonry than they were to Britain. The assumption predicating this argument is that America winning the war was part of the Masonic “master plan.” Freemason Benjamin Franklin was known to have been involved in running his lodge brothers as Continental agents in the British Army. He also had brethren in France who were funneling money to the Continental army. Even the Boston Tea Party was perpetrated by the “Sons of Liberty,” who were all brothers at the same Masonic lodge in Boston.
Even though not every founder of the United States was a Freemason, once again, those that weren’t members of the Order were still influenced by Masonic Enlightenment philosophy, and by the ideas of their Masonic colleagues. Also, those founders who were Masons had no shame in declaring the foundation of the United States a Masonic event. So much so, in fact, that many of the ceremonies which took place to consecrate the new nation, such as the swearing in of the first President, were openly Masonic rituals. George Washington took the Oath of Office dressed in Masonic regalia, with his hand resting on a Masonic Bible. Also, the cornerstones of the Capitol Building, the White House, and Washington, D.C. itself were all laid in official Masonic ceremonies.
Beyond this, Freemasons made their mark on America as Masons know best: with sacred geometry embedded into architecture and landscapes. The capitol city was originally laid out by Freemasonic architects as a 100-mile square grid. Upon this, main streets and important landmarks were placed in key Masonic patterns, including pentagrams and golden mean proportions. The main buildings themselves were all designed by Freemasonic architects as well. And to this day, there is a position known as the “Architect of the Capitol.” This person’s job is to make sure that all changes to the layout of the Capitol area fit the overall pattern as originally planned by the Masonic founders.
Are Freemasons Satanists?
No, Freemasonry is not Satanic, although there have in fact been members of Freemasonry who were Satanists of one sort or another. But that does not reflect upon the character of Freemasonry as a whole. The main reason why Freemasonry has been labeled with this charge by both Catholic and Protestant Christian groups is because their ceremonies are largely derived from pre-Christian mysteries, such as the rites of Mithraism, those of the royal priesthood of Egypt, and even those of Druidism. But they also derive from the rites of the Judaic priesthood, and Christian religious practices. Freemasonry is not a religion, but a unique blend of different mystery traditions from the ancient world that were passed on through the generations via coded rituals. Thus Freemasonry is “occult,” and I would also say that many of their rites constitute “magic” rituals. For this reason, many Christian groups label the practice of Freemasonry as “Satanic.”
If Masons are occultists, does that mean America was not founded on Christian principles?
Not at all. Although there were some exceptions, I would say that by and large, even those founding fathers who were Freemasons, influenced by all of its pre-Christian ritual and secularist philosophy, still considered themselves ultimately Christian. Certainly they were all aware of the Christian heritage of the vast majority of America’s citizens, and took that into account while creating the US government’s secular institutions.
But seeing that Freemasons did consecrate the US Capitol in what amounts to a magical ritual when they laid that Masonic cornerstone, it is worth asking to whom they consecrated it. They appear to have formally devoted our new nation to three different spiritual entities simultaneously. On the one hand, there is the reverence clearly shown by America’s founders to the God of the Bible, Jehovah, also called Zeus by the Greeks and Jupiter by the Romans. The founders made it clear in their phrasing of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and in markings found on American currency, that they considered the sovereignty of the United States to be “under God,” guided by divine Providence. But there is also a clear reverence shown by the founders to the goddess represented by the constellation Virgo and the planet Venus. This is the Ishtar of the Babylonians, personified as Columbia, or Lady Liberty. Then in addition to this, we have the subtle but identifiable acknowledgment the founders apparently gave to the figure of Baphomet, a Templar and Masonic symbol of the union of masculine and feminine divine essences. This is apparent from the nature of the cornerstone-laying ceremony, as well as the sacred geometry embedded in the Capitol’s layout.
Is Freemasonry the same as the “Illuminati”?
Well, there was such a thing as the Illuminati. It was a secret society created by a man named Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria in 1776. They did infiltrate a number of Masonic lodges in Germany and France, and seem to have directly influenced the character of the French Revolution. They made an anti-Christian religion out of atheism, which they called “the Religion of Reason.” For a while this was formally adopted as the religion of France. But this was short-lived, as was the existence of the Illuminati. And although I think that the influence of Illuminism left a permanent mark on the character of French “Grand Orient” Masonry, I don’t agree with the wider conspiracy theory which states that all Masonic lodges have been controlled by “the Illuminati” ever since.
Is Freemasonry connected to the Knights Templar?
Yes, absolutely. The first Masonic lodge was founded at Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh, Scotland in 1475, although the “Grand Lodge” of modern Freemasonry wasn’t created until 1717. Rosslyn Chapel belonged to the Sinclair family of Scotland, a bloodline that had been historically involved in the leadership of the Knights Templar. This was a military order of Catholic Knights that had been disbanded by the Church in 1307 on charges of heresy. The Sinclairs became the official patrons of the first Masonic lodge. One of the hereditary lords of Rosslyn was Prince Henry Sinclair, or “Prince Henry the Navigator,” who is alleged to have explored North America on a secret voyage in 1398. This same line of thought leads to the supposition that the Freemasons inherited from the Knights Templar a plan for colonizing America, and used it to fulfill a long — held goal of the Templars. The Templars had always wanted their own country: an autonomous empire that they could rule according to their own unique philosophic principles. Certainly it is interesting that the ships which sailed with Christopher Columbus on his voyage in 1492 all bore the red cross of the Knights Templar. Masonic author Manly P. Hall says that Columbus was working under the influence of a neo-Templar, proto-Masonic secret society.
But in addition to this, the rituals of Freemasonry themselves purport to derive in part from Templarism. All of the higher degrees of Scottish Rite Masonry are said to have come directly from the Templars, and Masonic author Albert Pike was not shy at all about the connection between the two orders. Meanwhile, in the York Rite of Freemasonry, there is actually a degree called “the Order of Knights Templar” that you can join.
Do Freemasons control the world?
Clearly from the time of their inception in the fifteenth century, through at least the Truman administration, Freemasons had an important influence on public policy in the US, and in other places in the world as well. In Europe and South America, they have at times controlled entire national governments. Freemasons clearly had a major effect on history, and I would say mostly for the better. But lately, they haven’t been so important. Their membership is aging and dying off, but there are few new recruits, and those that do join seem to have little interest in conspiring to control the world. Freemasons may control some companies, and even heavily influence some local governments, but I would say that there is no larger conspiracy, although obviously at one time there was.
What are the sources of common misconceptions about Freemasonry?
The biggest source of lies about Freemasonry ever was a man named Leo Taxil, who in the late 1800s published a number of books claiming to expose, from personal experience, the rituals and secrets of Freemasonry. Some were even written under a female pseudonym, “Diana Vaughn.” His claims were really bizarre, alleging not only an international conspiracy to take over the world, but Satanic rituals in which people transmogrified into demons and flew around the room. Eventually he had to admit that the whole thing was a hoax, and he was fully discredited. However, the damage had already been done, as he had inserted several fake quotes from Masonic author Albert Pike into his books, purportedly proving the Satanic nature of Freemasonry. These quotes still show up in modern conspiracy literature, more than a decade after being debunked by the very person who invented them.
Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, first published in 1897 is another forgery that has done a lot of damage to the image of Masonry. It claimed to be the minutes of a meeting of Jewish Freemasons conspiring to take over the world. Anti-Semites seized on it, and the document has been used to fuel hatred of both Jews and Freemasons ever since. As you know, paranoid fear of Jews and Freemasons is now a mainstay of the modern conspiracy culture.
What is the premise of your book, Solomon’s Treasure: The Magic and Mystery of America’s Money?
My book deals with the religious and occult ideas that lie at the heart of the US monetary system, as well as how the history of money ties in with religion and the occult. My premise is that fiat currency, which the US dollar is an example of, is an inherently alchemical and magical thing. Fiat currency is any type of money in which the value of the unit exists by declaration of the government or bank that issued it, unlike money made from precious metals, which has intrinsic value. The American dollar, like all fiat currency, is valuable because the government says it is, and because the American public accepts that it is. Thus, our money derives its value from faith. It is inherently ethereal and spiritual.
In what way is fiat currency alchemical?
Alchemy is a widely used term, but I think it can be generally described as the art of turning something of little value into something of high value. This can mean changing the quality of something, just as alchemists tried to turn lead into gold. It can also mean greatly increasing the quantity of something. Many alchemical operations involve taking a small amount of gold as a seed and multiplying it through the alchemical process. This is what happens with money in the modern banking system, and in a capitalist economy.
It is my belief that the Freemasons and their colleagues who have been responsible for creating the United States, designing the dollar bill, and engineering our economy have understood the principles of alchemy, and have purposely chosen to construct our economy upon these principles. They are the principles of creating worth from worthlessness, and for creating a large volume from a small one, using the power of faith. I submit that the creation of money by the Federal Reserve, and its exponential increase by the procedures of the banking system, is analogous to the creation and increase of gold in alchemy. The power of money to transform almost any thing or situation into another is similar to the alchemical power of the so-called “universal agent” or “Philosopher’s Stone.” Fiat money is perhaps the only thing that truly means nothing except in relation to something else — that is, what it can buy, or be converted into — and yet it is the most powerful force within our lives. This matches descriptions of the “Azoth,” or secret essence of life spoken of in alchemical texts. The members of the Federal Reserve Board are in many ways like sorcerers, conjuring wealth seemingly out of thin air and distributing it at will to transform the American economy according to their desires.
Now, this system depends entirely on a religious faith by the American people in the supernatural power of the dollar. The ability of the United States President and other elected officials to uphold and improve the economy depends largely upon their ability to manipulate the spiritual will of the people, in much the same way that a priest or a magician would, inspiring them to have faith in the value of the dollar, and confidence in the American economy. This faith is reinforced by the financial terminology currently in use — such as “trust,” “fiducial,” and “credit” — as well as by watchwords and symbols found on American money. These objects thus act as magical charms, containing a unit of magical charge that is passed on from one person to the next, and multiplied as the money changes hands.
Are you the first person to propose that modern money is akin to alchemy or magic?
Not at all. Indeed, this was one of the themes behind the best book ever written about the Federal Reserve, William Greider’s Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country, written in the 1980s, in which the Federal Reserve board is portrayed as an elite caste of priests magically manipulating the economy and conjuring cash out of thin air. But the idea goes back further than that to a Scottish philosopher named John Law who managed to con the French government and people into investing in his fraudulent banking scheme by convincing them that he had discovered the key to the Philosopher’s Stone of the alchemists, which he said was paper money. And in the classic story of Faust, the title character and his teacher, the Devil, gain the favor of the emperor by offering him the secret of alchemy: how to create wealth by printing paper money.
Furthermore, it’s an interesting fact that the first “dollars” ever minted were silver dollars made from silver mined in Bohemia in the 1500s by Georgius Agricola, an alchemist, who abandoned the practice of alchemy when he discovered that minting dollars was accomplishing the same thing that he had sought with his pursuit of alchemy.
When did Americans begin to use paper money?
Paper money has been used throughout our history, beginning with the “continentals” which financed the Revolutionary War. They were backed by nothing more than the promise that America would win the war, and begin collecting taxes from its citizens. A similar gamble was taken during the Civil War, financed by “Greenbacks,” which were paper dollars. In addition to these two examples, each of which were issued by the federal government, there were, throughout the United States’ early history, many paper dollars in circulation that were issued by privately-owned banks throughout the various states. These dollars differed widely in appearance from one another, which led to massive counterfeiting, and when the banks failed, which they often did, the dollars became worthless. Numerous measures were taken by the federal government attempting to control this problem. Finally, in 1913, a series of banking collapses inspired the creation of the nation’s new central bank, the Federal Reserve.
What is the Federal Reserve, and how do they create money?
The Federal Reserve is now the United States’ national bank, and it is both quasi-governmental and privately-owned. It sets the basic operating policies for all of its member banks, including most of the banks in the U.S., and provides them with their money supply. The process they use to supply this money is called “fractional reserve lending.” In this system, a bank can take the money from its depositors’ accounts, and lend that money out to any other person or institution on interest. It can loan out the vast majority of the money deposited — say, 87% — leaving only a fraction (say 13%) in the bank’s vaults. This fraction is called the “reserve,” and it is the only “actual” money sitting in the bank, backing all of the various loans, and the only money that is really ready to be withdrawn, should the depositors choose to withdraw from their accounts. When the loans are paid back, the bank earns a profit from the interest. Thus, the bank has caused its depositors’ money to multiply, and has kept the difference for itself, essentially creating money out of nothing. If the bank has loaned money to another bank or financial institution, that institution can then loan it out and create even more money out of nothing. Thus the money supply multiplies exponentially, and the economy itself acts as a money multiplier. Money can always be used to make more money.
Now since the Federal Reserve is the point of origin for this, the money they inject into the system is sometimes called “high-powered money,” because it effects the whole economy. It can be thought of as the tiny mustard seed which causes the rest of the money supply to grow. The interest rate which the Fed chooses to set for the money it lends determines how much money will be borrowed by other banks at that time, and also determines the rate that those banks will charge for loaning money. This is the primary way in which the Federal Reserve controls the money supply, and thus, as much as possible, the American economy: too much money being created leads to inflation, and too little leads to recession. When the Fed first loans it out to the member banks, the money is “created,” and each time those banks lend it out, they are breeding more.
When was the American dollar taken off of the gold standard to become totally based on faith, as you say?
It was a gradual process. In the 1930s, in order to free up the money needed to finance the New Deal, Roosevelt removed the dollar from the “gold standard” to which it had been implicitly set, so that he could have the money supply greatly expanded with no predetermined limit. This worked to stabilize the economy just in time for the United States to enter WWII. As part of removing the gold standard, Roosevelt had laws passed forcing US citizens to give all of the gold and silver that they owned to the government, in exchange for an equivalent amount of paper dollars.
At the end of WWII, an agreement was signed at a conference between 44 nations in which the other countries agreed to value their currencies in relation to the dollar, rather than precious metals. The US then set the value of the dollar at $35 per ounce of gold, and agreed to redeem dollars held by the central banks of other nations in gold. However, this led to a steady loss of US gold reserves, until finally, in 1971, President Richard Nixon closed the “gold window,” announcing that the holdings of foreign central banks would no longer be redeemed for gold by the US government.
This was the final step in abandoning the gold standard. Now the value of the dollar floats freely in relation to foreign currencies, with no fixed standard of value. The value can only be manipulated by the market forces of the economy, and by the actions of the Federal Reserve. So the dollar that we now use is one backed entirely by faith alone — the public’s faith in America’s economy, and America itself.
Now interestingly, when Roosevelt took us off the gold standard in the 30s, that was around the same time that the one-dollar bill we currently use was being designed.
So the modern one-dollar bill was designed around the same time that the dollar was taken off the gold standard? Who designed the new dollar, and what are some of the peculiar elements of the dollar’s design?
The one dollar bill was designed by a group consisting of President Franklin Roosevelt, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace, and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, all of them Freemasons. The number 13 is undeniably the most repeated symbol on the one-dollar bill. Most of these examples are found on the back of the bill. The pyramid on the left has thirteen layers, not including the eye at the top. Above the head of the eagle on the right, there is a constellation of thirteen stars. There are thirteen leaves on the olive branch in his left talon, and thirteen arrows in his right. There are thirteen horizontal divisions on the eagle’s shield, and thirteen vertical ones. The motto “E Pluribus Unum,” written on the banner in his beak, contains thirteen letters. So too does the motto “Annuit Coeptis,” written above the pyramid on the left. I could go on an on. There are many examples. Now the number 13 isn’t particularly important to Freemasons, but it was important to the Knights Templar, and it is important in alchemy, because there are 13 steps in the alchemical process.
The next most noticeable pattern on the dollar bill is the number 1, or the word “one,” which is used profusely, much more than necessary just to identify the denomination of the bill. The concept of “unity” could in fact be said to be the real underlying theme of the one dollar bill. This is expressed with the plenteous use of “1,” the central placement of the word “ONE” on the back of the bill, and the use of the motto “E Pluribus, Unum,” meaning “Out of Many, One,” underneath a constellation of thirteen stars, representing the original colonies that were “unified” at the creation of the United States. The theme is continued with the symbol of the pyramid on the back, which according to the designers of this emblem, was meant to represent the ideal state, made up of unified individuals.
All of these symbols remind us that our society is made up of various parts that are essentially united, and money is the great uniter, since it is the one thing that everyone in the country uses, and each dollar can continually be passed from person to person. The spider web motif in the background of the bill’s design illustrates how we are all connected through the web of commerce.
The pyramid with the All-Seeing Eye is probably the most well-known symbol on the back of the dollar bill. Surrounding it are the words “Annuit Coeptis,” meaning “God favors our undertaking” and “Novus Ordo Seclorum,” meaning “The New Order of the Ages”. These are both based on quotes from the Roman poet Virgil. These words confidently declare God’s favor upon the “daring undertaking” of creating the United States. The pyramid with the All-Seeing Eye, as well as the roundel on the other end of the dollar with the eagle on it, are both part of the Great Seal of the United States, created in 1776, at the same time the nation was founded. They are displayed in reverse order on the back of the dollar: the back of the seal is on the left, and the front is on the right.
Who designed the Great Seal, and when was it designed?
The design of the Great Seal has never been ascribed to any one individual, and it has evolved a bit over the years. Several people are known to have contributed, including Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and all but one were Freemasons. The first metal die for the Seal was cut by Robert Scot, a Freemason, in 1782. However, although dies were commissioned for both the front and the back of the Seal, only the front was actually cut. No die was made for the back of the Seal until much later, and most people weren’t aware that their national Seal had a back to it at all until it appeared on the one-dollar bill in 1935.
Why do the words “In God We Trust” appear on our money?
“In God We Trust” was not placed on the one-dollar bill until 1957. However, it was originally made the national motto of the United States in 1863 at the suggestion of Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase. This motto has been put on all American coins ever since, although it did not appear on paper currency until much later. But “In God We Trust” is indeed a Masonic motto — one used in almost all Masonic rituals, in which the participants must pledge to always put their “trust in God” during the ceremonies. The appearance of this phrase on paper bills in the 1950s may have been meant to bolster a currency increasingly dependant on faith due to changes in American monetary policy, such as the removal of the gold standard. I believe that the words “In God We Trust” are meant to inspire faith in the dollar as a currency, and faith in the American republic. One should trust the dollar the way one trusts in God, because it is implied that God himself has chosen to favor the U.S. and, by extension, the dollar.
Why is our money green?
The green color of U.S. dollars represents fecundity, plenteousness, and growth. The Treasury Department has officially said so. This too is the reason why there is foliage all over the one dollar bill, including olive branches, oak leaves, laurel wreaths, and holly. But there have been representations of vegetation all over American money since colonial times, including corn, cotton, wheat, and tobacco. In fact, wheat is one of the most commonly depicted motifs on money from throughout the world and throughout history. It can also be found represented on the outside of the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C.
What is the origin of the dollar sign?
The dollar symbol was supposedly chosen for the dollar by Thomas Jefferson. It is said to have come from an image on the back of a Spanish silver dollar circulated in America in colonial times. The reason for the supposed relationship is because on the Spanish dollar the words “Plus Ultra” were written on banners surrounding two pillars representing the Pillars of Hercules. So the dollar sign would then represent a pillar encoiled with a banner. But I have always thought it to be reminiscent of the Caduceus. This is the magical wand of Hermes or Mercury, a staff with a serpent entwined upon it, which has long been a symbol of alchemical transformation and healing. This theory appears to be supported by the fact that there is a relief on the wall outside of the Federal Reserve building in Washington, D.C. showing the national goddess, Columbia, holding a caduceus in one hand, and the seal of the Federal Reserve in the other.
But an earlier prototype of the dollar sign comes from a coin made on the Phoenician island of Tyre, which features both the Pillars of Hercules, and a serpent coiled around a tree, just like the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden. So this symbol has been around for a long time.
What do the Knights Templar have to do with the occult history of money?
We already discussed the relationship between Freemasonry and the Knights Templar. During the Templars’ era from the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, towards the end of the “Dark Ages,” Europe had shifted to a feudalist economy, and very little money was being circulated. Part of the problem was that usury, or the lending of money upon interest, was outlawed by the Catholic church. But the Church was persuaded to grant the Knights Templar immunity from this rule, and that is how they came to create the world’s first international banking empire.
The Templars had a very interesting entrance policy. New members literally handed over everything they owned to the Order, and vowed to remain in “poverty” thereafter, donating any earnings they might make in the future. Considering that the knights were taken from the cream of European aristocracy, this allowed the Order to amass a large amount of wealth and land in a relatively quick amount of time.
They then multiplied this wealth exponentially over the next several decades by investing in various business ventures. They farmed, manufactured textiles, built roads and hospitals, and engaged in all sorts of trade.Their business ventures had the effect of largely transforming Europe’s economy, paving the way for the mercantilism that would later giving birth to Capitalism in Europe and America. The Templars’ most significant contribution on this front was in the field of banking, which became their most lucrative industry.
Now the Templars were, first and foremost, the official guardians of pilgrims en route to the Holy Land. This was supposedly the reason why the Order was created in the first place. In this capacity, they devised a system to protect pilgrims from the “highway robbery” that often made such pilgrimages dangerous. Instead of loading themselves down with gold and provisions, which were likely to be stolen, the pilgrims could simply deposit some money in the form of gold or silver at the Templar preceptory nearest to their point of departure. From there they would make their way to Jerusalem via a pre-selected route connecting series of churches and cathedrals, which were themselves associated with nearby Templar preceptories, each featuring banking services. There the pilgrim would present the banker with a “chit”: a piece of paper that was encoded with ciphered information regarding the pilgrim’s deposit at the originating bank. The pilgrim could then withdraw from the bank at his current location whatever amount of money he needed to pay for his stay at that particular stop on the route, and could leave the rest in his “account.”
It is thus that the word “check” entered into the English and French languages. Indeed, a great many Middle English words, especially those pertaining to banking and commerce, seem to have originated in one way or another with the Templars. In the case of “cheque,” it was related directly to the use of the chequerboard clothe which Templar merchants and bankers used as an abacus to square their accounts.
What was the meaning of the idol named “Baphomet” that the Templars were accused of worshipping?
Well, let me tell you about that. As the Templars expanded their banking empire, and as they came to control many other staple industries throughout Europe, they quickly became the continent’s most dominant economic influence. Never before has a single institution used money alone to amass so much worldly power. This power threatened the monarchs of Europe, who all owed them money, as well as the Pope, who was no longer was able to control the Templars the way he used to. Their enemies hypothesized that for the Templars to have become so wealthy and powerful in such a short span of time, they would have had to have made a pact with the Devil. They were investigated for Devil-worship, and ample evidence was found to warrant an arrest.
When the Templars were arrested on Friday, October 13, 1307, they found throughout their domains various human skulls, and representations of human skulls or severed heads, which appeared to have been afforded certain ceremonial importance. The symbol of the skull and crossbones, which was invented by the Knights Templar, was used everywhere in their architecture. Carvings depicting a grotesque goat-headed creature, with a semi-human body at once both male and female, were also found in the Templars’ ritual chambers. Under torture, many knights admitted that the skulls, the heads and the hybrid creature all represented their secret god, “Baphomet,” whom they worshipped because they said it “caused the land to germinate,” and also “made them rich.” To their interrogators, it definitely sounded like they were confessing Devil-worship, so the Order was disbanded, and the Grand Master was burnt at the stake.
So what could this idol Baphomet have been? We know he represented to the Templars their source of wealth. In fact, they kept small statuettes of him in their money coffers. The description of the creature with the goat-body might make you associate Baphomet with Amalthea who, in Greek mythology, was a she-goat who nursed the infant god Zeus. After her death he turned her one of her horns into the “Cornucopia” or “horn of plenty”: a magical object that contained an inexhaustible supply of fruit. So Amalthea was venerated by some cults in much the same way that the vegetation deity known as the “Green Man” was in Celtic culture: as a representative of nature, of fecundity, plenteousness, and thus, by extension, wealth.
But the Baphomet is reported to have done more for the Templars besides just make them rich. He is also said to have made them “wise.” In fact, it has been shown that Baphomet’s name literally means “wisdom” in Aramaic, if run through the ancient Atbash cipher that was often used by the Templars. The result is “Sophia,” which was the name used for the goddess of wisdom revered by Gnostic cults in ancient times. Gnostics believed that one could unite spiritually with Sophia by performing certain rites and meditations, and thus one could obtain “gnosis,” or divine knowledge.
Gnosticism was widely practiced in the Roman Empire during Christ’s time. One man widely believed to have been a Gnostic was John the Baptist, the prophet of the New Testament who announced the coming of Christ. John, after his death, was himself revered by a number of Gnostic cults. There were even, by medieval times, numerous underground “Christian” sects called “Johannites,” who believed that John was the true Messiah. It has been charged that that Templars followed this doctrine, and indeed, that John was their patron saint, as he is now for Freemasonry. More importantly, perhaps, John is known to have been beheaded at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, and his head, or skull, has become a central Christian icon. It has been theorized by many that the Baphomet was actually John the Baptist’s skull.
This is interesting, considering that John the Baptist was a prophet, because the Templars believed that the skull of Baphomet talked to them. Specifically it is said to have “prophesied” for them. Now you may ask, “How could possessing such an item have made the Templars rich?” Certainly, the head could have talked to them, and told them how to set up a banking empire. But more than that, it is clear that the Templars believed that their devotion to it, and their sacrifices to it, would gain them wealth in return. This is a very ancient concept. It is the belief that one can contact a deity through divination and negotiate a contract with it, in which one agrees to perform certain services for the deity, in exchange for blessings in return. This is what I think the Templars may have done.
Moreover, there is again a connection with alchemy and Baphomet. As I explained, the principles of modern banking, which were created by the Templars, are based upon the idea that money derives its value from faith. The more you can convince others of the power of your money, the more power it actually has. This faith, which gives money its value, is equivalent to the “Azoth” or “Universal Agent,” the pure spirit force which, in alchemy, makes the transmutation of lead into gold possible. Well, as it turns out, this is the same concept which modern occultists now acquaint with the Baphomet. The Masonic scholar Albert Pike even wrote about this.
Incidentally, the Templars also associated Baphomet with the number 13.
Could the secret of the Templar wealth possibly have originated from a treasure discovered in Solomon’s Temple?
Well, during their formative years, the Templars were stationed at the mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Knights Templar are thought to have explored the secret caves beneath the Temple Mount — looking for the Ark of the Covenant, some say. It is quite possible that they discovered the head of John while down there. Or they could have discovered parchments or other items that somehow communicated to them the secret of King Solomon’s wealth and wisdom.
How did King Solomon acquire his wealth?
King Solomon is most well-known in myth for two things: his wealth and his wisdom. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that one was predicated on the other. King Solomon is said to have been speaking to God personally in the Tabernacle one day as a young man, when God offered to grant him one wish. Solomon asked for wisdom, knowing that having wisdom would enable him to acquire riches as well. And Solomon’s wisdom led him to do a number of things that increased his both his own wealth, and the wealth of his kingdom. One was the trade agreement he made with King Hiram of Tyre, who had been an ally of his father, David. The Bible says that they “made a league together,” and agreed that Israel would provide Tyre with corn, oil, and wine, in exchange for timber and laborers to help build the Solomon’s Temple. This relationship, this “league” between Solomon and Hiram later became iconic in Masonic ritual, seen as the ideal fraternal business relationship. Solomon also was able to force trade agreements on the surrounding nations, and impose tribute obligations on them. Interestingly, King Solomon is specifically said to have received exactly 666 talents of gold in tribute every year. Travelers passing through his land were also encouraged to bring King Solomon expensive gifts in exchange for the privilege of hearing him speak his profound wisdom. At other times, Solomon would challenge someone to a riddle contest, and force him to pay a fee if he lost, which he inevitably did.
However, the wealth really began to flow after Solomon completed his Temple, which was part of the agreement he had made with God when he received his gift of wisdom. He built the Temple with the most expensive materials available, and it was almost completely covered in gold. Much of this was donated by the people of Israel, who turned in their gold jewelry to be melted down for use in the Temple. This was the continuation of a tradition common in the ancient world, in which temples, idols, and other religious items were made out of gold or silver sacrificed by the worshippers. The gold donated by the Israelites was a sacrificial seed which allowed the wealth of Israel to prosper.
Do you think there is some connection between the demon Asmodeus, whom King Solomon is purported to have conjured, and Baphomet?
As it turns out, King Solomon, like the Templars, may have also profited from consultations with a demon — this one named Asmodeus. According to extra-biblical legends, Asmodeus was conjured by Solomon through magic, and conscripted to take over the building of Solomon’s Temple. The figure of Asmodeus, as described in Middle Eastern legends, has a great deal in common with that of Baphomet, and I believe that they represent the same entity. I see no reason why the demon that the Templars may have discovered beneath the ruins of the Temple of Jerusalem could not have been the same demon who built the original Temple.
In your book you said that the use of money originated with religious practices. What are the ancient origins of money and how are they tied to religion?
It may surprise some people to learn that money actually has a religious origin. The oldest known coin currency that has been found is the Sumerian shekel, which dates from around 3000 B.C. It was created for use in a public religious rite known as “sacred prostitution.” The priestesses of the fertility goddess Ishtar served her by offering themselves as representatives of Ishtar to male worshippers. It was thought that if the men simulated intercourse with the goddess, this would stimulate fertility in the land. And a very important part of the ritual was the donation that occurred beforehand. The worshipper was expected to make offerings to the goddess in the form of wheat.
During religious festivals, worshippers would bring a portion of their yearly wheat crop to the temple, where it was used to feed all of the priests, priestesses, and temple support staff. In exchange, they received one coin for each bushel of wheat, and each coin would entitle them to a visit with one of the priestesses. This is how the coin got its name. “Shekel” means “bushel of wheat.” The coin featured a sheaf of wheat on one side, and a depiction of Ishtar on the other. This identification of money with wheat continues into the present day, where words that translate as “bread” or “corn” are used as slang terms for money.
Now the origin of money in Greece was similar. Beginning in 1000 B.C., they minted coins as tokens given to the worshippers of Dionysus in exchange for the donation of a bull to the Dionysian temple. These bulls would all be sacrificed at the annual celebration known as the “sacred feast,” to which Dionysus himself was invited. Half of the meat would be burned in honor of the god, while the rest was shared by the congregants, who had to produce a coin as proof of their donation.
When the large-scale minting of coins in Rome began in 269 B.C., this too had a connection to religion. The new silver coin, called the “denarius,” was minted in the temple of the goddess Juno Moneta. The Romans saw Juno as the protectress of the state. Thus, the issuance of money was one of the activities in Rome that she was thought to preside over. It is from Juno’s surname of “Moneta” that the English words “money,” “monetary,” and “mint” are derived.
In addition, there were a number of ancient societies who valued gold and silver, even before they learned to use them for money, because they associated them with their main god and goddess, the Sun and the Moon. Juno and Jupiter, as well as Hera and Zeus, were lunar and solar deities, with the male god representing the Sun, and his wife representing the Moon. The same associations were made in almost all ancient cultures, and they often made religious offerings of silver and gold to their gods and goddesses.
What does the Bible have to say about money?
The Bible has quite a lot to say about money. In the Old Testament, in addition to banning the practice of usury, it lays out the rules about tithing. Tithes were sacrifices that each Israelite had to make to the Temple and the priesthood every year — a tenth of their income. There were 12 tribes in Israel, but God had declared that one tribe, the Levites, must sacrifice their own happiness and devote themselves to the service of God perpetually, generation after generation. Levites were banned from owning property, and instead were required to perform priestly services for the rest of the tribes, in exchange for tithes and donations. So donating to the priesthood was like sacrificing to God, and the Bible suggests that those who do so dutifully will receive material rewards.
This idea is linked to a basic principle that has been around since ancient times — a principle dictating how blessings, either material or spiritual, can be multiplied by using an ancient inexplicable spiritual law. This law states that a sacrifice made freely to a sacred cause will be rewarded by God many times over. When applied to a priesthood, this means that the members of the congregation are rewarded for the tithes they give to the priests. The priests in turn give a portion of these tithes to the service of the gods they worship, and are in turn rewarded for that, mostly with more tithes. They also give a portion of the tithes they receive to the service of the community, and are rewarded for that as well.
This principle purportedly works not only for financial donations, but for any gift or service contributed freely to the cause. Thus, the priests are also rewarded for the spiritual services performed for their gods, such as prayers and rituals. It is a system in which any form of energy (of which money is certainly an example) can be fed into the system and multiplied exponentially. You could describe it as a spiritual pyramid scheme in which energy is channeled from the congregation to the priesthood, then from the priesthood to the gods, where it is multiplied and then channeled back to the priests and the congregation. The rate of increase is often said to be times ten. Moreover, the priesthood traditionally uses a portion of the tithes for charity and community outreach, and thereby the priesthood itself earns a ten times increase of stored-up karmic rewards. So although the priests themselves may have taken a vow of poverty, the organization they serve can expand infinitely in wealth and power.
We can apply this concept to the Knights Templar, who likewise took a vow of poverty, with the knights being required to give all of their property to the Order upon admittance. The Order took the wealth donated to them by their members and patrons, then used it in various ways to multiply their wealth and power. They loaned money to kings and nobles throughout Europe, and thus not only earned interest, but gained influence over the powerful figures who were indebted to them. The Templars also built magnificent castles and cathedrals throughout Europe, opened hospitals, and performed charitable work These acts earned exponential rewards for the organization, according to the tithing principle.
Likewise, the Catholic church has used the tithes and spiritual energy of its followers to create a force that even today is the most powerful organization in the world. Like the Levites, Catholic priests take a vow of poverty, but the organization they serve is anything but poor. The Catholic Church’s charitable activities remain unmatched, which undoubtedly earns them a great ongoing reward.
Now, if we move on to the New Testament, we find that Jesus made a number of allusions to money, tithing concepts, and especially this idea of planting a financial seed to let it grow. He also said and did things to indicate that he understood the alchemical idea of taking a small amount of something and multiplying it. He demonstrated this aptitude in several of his miracles, including that of the loaves and the fishes (in which a single serving of food was multiplied by thousands), and also when he transformed water into wine at the wedding at Cana. He also returned to the concept repeatedly in his parables. In Matthew 25, Jesus explained the importance of investing one’s money (or in a larger sense, one’s energy) in something fruitful, in order to multiply it, rather than keeping it saved up, stagnate, unable to increase. This is the parable about the man who left money with his servants while he was out of town, expecting them to invest it and increase it while he was gone. The ones who succeeded in profiting from their investments were rewarded by their boss, while the one who kept the money hidden the entire time rather than investing it received no reward.
What are the Masonic traditions and teachings regarding money?
The Masonic traditions regarding money are very similar to the biblical teachings, with particular emphasis on the idea that you must always deal fairly in business, or else you will incur a spiritual debt that you will have to repay one way or another. There is emphasis on keeping one’s oaths and obligations at all costs. Freemasonry is certainly, like the Templars, a spiritual pyramid scheme in which the members are expected to make donations to the fraternity. These donations are then used for charity. The members are also expected to participate in group activities that serve the community on behalf of the fraternity. This builds up a reserve of karmic rewards that can then be spread amongst the members.
When members are paid their rewards, spiritually or otherwise, it is referred to metaphorically in Masonic ritual as “a Masons’s wages.” Indeed, Masons act out rituals in which they pretend to be workers in the building of Solomon’s Temple, and they get paid in the ritual with corn, wine, and oil, just like King Solomon’s workers were paid. Interestingly, a symbolic sacrifice of corn, wine and oil was poured on the cornerstone of the US capitol when it was laid in a Masonic ceremony under the direction of George Washington. It was as if the Masons who built this country were sacrificing their own Mason’s wages as a seed upon which the prosperity of the nation could grow.
In addition, Freemasons also have a number of traditions stipulating a Mason’s requirement to help his fellow brethren in business and financial matters. They are required to do so when they can, but they are also required to refrain from helping the same brother twice in a row until the first favor or loan has been repaid
Hasn’t money also been associated not with God, but with the Devil?
Certainly we have all heard Jesus quoted as saying “Ye cannot serve both god and Mammon,” with Mammon being the Aramaic word for “wealth” or “riches.” But even in the pre-Christian era, before the love of money was declared “the root of all evil” by Jesus, the desire for money was always thought to be the worst form of greed and a deadly sin. The concept of money has been associated since ancient times with figures which we would now consider to be synonymous with the Devil. The Roman god of the underworld, Plutus, was also the god of wealth, and was depicted on coins holding a cornucopia. Also, recall the message of Faust, the story of a man who sells his soul to Satan in exchange for the ultimate wisdom. One of the bits of wisdom which the Devil gave to the title character was the secret to alchemy, which in this instance turned out to be the printing of paper money.
Today, spells to acquire money make up the majority of the activities engaged in by modern Satanists and neo-pagans, and like Faust, they often attempt to sell their souls in order to gain it. Even the Queche Indians of the Bolivian Andes, who work in the silver mines there and were converted to Catholicism long ago, still perform sacrificial offerings to the Devil in order to earn monetary rewards. To them, the association between money and the Devil is intrinsic, for they see cash as still being tied to gold and silver, which are mined from the Earth’s fiery nether regions, or “the Devil’s domain.”