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Before the Italian Renaissance there was an earlier flowering of ancient knowledge in
Medieval France. This was initiated when nine self-described "Poor Knights of Christ" returned
from a decade of excavation work undertaken in the temple mount of Jerusalem.
The most famous preacher of the age, St. Bernard de Clairvaux, argued persuasively on their
behalf at the Council of Troyes in 1129. This resulted in the Templar order being officially
chartered and endorsed by the Catholic Church. The poor Templars instantly became a favored
charity and it certainly didn't hurt when the Pope signed an order saying they didn't
have to pay any taxes, could pass freely through international borders, and were exempt from
all legal authority save for his own. This also tells you something about just how powerful
the papacy was in those days. The Templars accepted large donations and
monetary deposits, started issuing letters of credit, opened banks in several countries,
and essentially became the first multinational corporation. Very quickly the Templars had
an abundance of gold and military power. To me the question is what did those nine
poor knights find in Jerusalem that led to their meteoric rise in power? Could they have
found Enoch's cube buried in the temple mount from before the great flood? Whatever the
case, I believe they unearthed knowledge rather than gold.
And with knowledge comes power. Speaking of someone with sacred knowledge,
St. Bernard de Clairvaux is a fascinating figure.
Norman Cantor had this to say about Bernard in his book The Civilization of the Middle
Ages, "Bernard played the leading role in the development of the *** cult, which
is one of the most important manifestations of the popular piety of the twelfth century.
In early medieval thought, the *** Mary had played a minor role and it was only with
the rise of emotional Christianity in the eleventh century that she became the prime
intercessor for humanity with the deity." Bernard wrote, "No one can enter heaven unless
by Mary, as though through a door." In this illumination Bernard is shown receiving
a stream of milk from the ***'s breast. He wrote several works on the "Queen of Heaven",
which was also a epithet used in ancient Egypt for Isis.
Essentially Bernard reintroduced the cult of Isis to the west under the veil of Mary.
As the primary architect of the Cistercian and Templar orders, Bernard's writings had
a major impact on the Gothic building explosion that ensued all over Europe for the next 300
years. On building, Bernard wrote, "There must be
no decoration, only proportion." As you've seen, proportion is what sacred geometry is
all about. Although the current Cathedral of Our Lady
of Chartres was begun a few decades after St. Bernard's death, Chartres had long before
been a pilgrimage center dedicated to the ***.
Since 876 the site housed the Sancta Camisa, a tunic said to have been worn by the ***
Mary. When the old church at Chartres burned down, the relic was feared lost. When the
Sancta Camisa was discovered unharmed in the ashes, it was deemed a miracle. The dramatic
recovery of the relic catalyzed Medieval Europe's interest in the building project and Chartres
ended up becoming the first cathedral dedicated to Notre Dame and one of the finest examples
of Gothic architecture in the world. More than a place of religious worship, Chartres
was also a cathedral school in the medieval period. In this school Platonic and Pythagorean
thought passed through a Christian filter and resurfaced in the west after a thousand
year hiatus. Chartres remembers Pythagoras in this sculpture
in the right bay of the Royal Portal tympanum. The Seven Liberal Arts comprised the curriculum
taught in the School of Chartres. The seven arts were split into two groups,
the trivium and quadrivium. Trivium is where we get the word trivial because grammar, rhetoric,
and logic were considered basic but necessary skills to master before studying the more
challenging Quadrivium subjects which included number theory, music, geometry, and astronomy.
Each one of the subjects in the Quadrivium serves as a key to the ancient mysteries.
The Seven Medieval Liberal Arts were a bit different compared to a liberal arts degree
today. These subjects were taught only to the elite. The so called Servile Arts were
taught to tradespeople employed by the elite. The goal of the Servile Arts was not to cultivate
critical thinking but to develop specific skills required by farmers, blacksmiths, carpenters,
stone masons and so on. This Liberal / Servile division mirrors the
internal division between speculative masons, more commonly known as Freemasons, and the
operative stonemasons who actually built the cathedral.
Australian Architect John James has discovered how the floor plan of the cathedral was laid
out ad quadratum, as you can see from the red squares. The smaller squares are half
the size of the larger, as octaves are related in music. The template for the cathedral ground
plan clearly echos the quadrivium. Two millennia ago famed Roman architect Vitruvius
described in his Ten Books of Architecture that effective temples are based on the proportions
of the human body. Vitruvius' written description of ideal human proportions later influenced
many Renaissance artists including Leonardo Da Vinci and Cesare Cesariano.
Here Cesariano's Vitruvian Man fits the cathedral's ground plan and shows that it was based on
the proportions of the human body as laid out in antiquity.
English Professor of Architecture Keith Critchlow has discovered a fascinating correlation between
the floor plan and front elevation of Chartres. Intrigued by the fact that the rose windows
containing the exquisite stained glass and the famed labyrinth have equal diameters,
Critchlow compared the plan to the elevation. The rose window and the labyrinth line up
perfectly like so. The golden ball atop the Sun Tower aligns
with the curve of the Apse here. The moon tower's silver ball corresponds to the rondpoint,
the center from which the chapels radiate. Clearly the design is correlated in two separate
dimensions. Boaz and Jachin are the names of the two columns
that stood at the entry to Solomon's Temple that are echoed in all Masonic temples today.
Boaz stood on the left and the name Boaz means Sun. Jachin stood on the right and means Moon.
This symbolism matches the towers at Chartres. Critchlow explains that the Sun Tower is 365
English feet in height. The moon tower is slightly shorter, some 28 feet less.
These measurements suggest several things: 1) the design was based on the English foot,
2) the 365 foot Sun Tower symbolizes the year, and 3) the 28 foot difference in the Moon
Tower symbolizes the 28 day month of four 7-day weeks.
I think this metrology shows how Chartres is a calendar in stone very much like the
Roman Pantheon. Before the Christian era, the grotto below
Chartres was a Druidic shrine of Isis. Above the crypt today there is a black Madonna and
child called "Our Lady of the Pillar" that many suspect has a meaning older than Christianity.
The Druid grotto housed a sacred dolmen that was identified with the Womb of the Earth.
Think about it, both Isis and Mary were called 'Queen of Heaven', identified as so-called
virgins who had unusual conceptions, and later had sons who symbolized the Sun who also shared
the same birthday. The story of Mary and Jesus is a recapitulation
of the ancient Egyptian story of Isis and Horus.
The Black Madonna hints at her African origins while retaining just enough plausible deniability
to avert uncomfortable questions for the church. Chartres cathedral's axis is oriented to the
summer solstice sunrise, just like the red alignment Sixtus V set up in Vatican Square.
The labyrinth is not a maze because there is only one path to follow, like the life
we live from birth to death. The labyrinth's eleven concentric rings match the Ptolemaic
cosmology or spiritual dimension of the cosmos. Walking the labyrinth is therefore like taking
the journey of the soul. There are 112 cogs on the outside of the labyrinth,
a fact which has puzzled scholars. In them John James has discovered an unexpected connection
to the Arab world. "The eighth century Arab Sufi-alchemist Jabir
ibn Hayyan divided the four elementary qualities of existence (earth, air, fire and water)
into four degrees with seven subdivisions giving a total of 112 classifications which
between them contained all the materials, liquids and gasses found in manifest creation."
-John James Known in the west as Geber, and considered
to be the father of chemistry, he worked in the court of Caliph Harun al-Rashid, for whom
he wrote The Book of Venus on the art of alchemy. His work paved the way for later Islamic and
European alchemists in their search for the philosopher's stone.
Among his long list of achievements, Geber pioneered techniques in glass making that
were used in the stained glass directly above the labyrinth that bears his philosophical
number symbolism. Modern chemists still don't understand what gives the Chartres glass such
incredible vibrancy. "One of the greatest mysteries of Gothic architecture
is the stained glass used in the cathedral windows. The first appeared in the early 12th
century, but disappeared just as suddenly a hundred years later. Nothing like it has
ever been seen before, and nothing like it has been seen since. Not only is the luminosity
of Gothic glass greater than any other, but its light-enhancement qualities are far more
effective. Unlike the stained glass of other architectural schools, its interior effect
is the same whether the light outside is bright or dim. Even in twilight, this glass retains
its brilliance way beyond that of any other. Critchlow says in the Chartres Cathedral:
A Sacred Geometry DVD that he was approached by a Hindu gentleman who explained the meaning
of the number symbolism on the western facade. In Hinduism, chakras are traditionally symbolized
by lotus flowers with specific numbers of petals. Amazingly, specific details on the
facade match this symbolism. The facade is a reminder that the cathedral
houses the body of the church, or more importantly perhaps Chartres is saying the body is a temple.