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A Relatively Brief History of Our Order

The true history of the Order is shrouded in mystery -- with good
reason. Though we're a relatively peaceful Order, we are Pagans. This
alone causes us to be looked upon with suspicion, if not antagonism, by
more mainstream religions, such as Christianity. Let me stress that we
are not anti-Christian. One of our fundamental principals is respect
for all life, and the beliefs of all people, even if those beliefs would
seem to conflict with our own.

Since Pagans are so often maligned by others, either through
maliciousness or simple ignorance, the Order is what is known as a
Mystery Religion. This means that many aspects of the Order are kept
secret. These include such things as the true identities of high-
ranking officials, the number and identities of the membership, the
mysteries of many of our doctrines, and our true history. So this
history has been constructed. Some of it is true, some is fictional.

In the Common Era Year 1118, a Christian military order named the
Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, also
known as the Knights Templar, was founded, with its headquarters on the
site of Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem, to protect the passage of
European pilgrims to the Holy Land. Like Cistercian monks, they wore
white robes, until 1146, when they adopted the red cross upon the white
robe, for which they became quite famous. They owed allegiance only to
the Pope, and were sworn to poverty, chastity, and obedience. Like so
many orders sworn to poverty, they became the richest organization in
Europe through endowments and banking.

With the fall of Jerusalem in 1187, the Templar moved to France.
One of their greatest centers of influence was in the court of the Count
of Champagne, at Troyes. Here, as in Jerusalem, the Templars were
exposed to many esoteric studies, including Jewish Kabbala, as well as
other Islamic and Arabic traditions.

Then in 1308, the Templars were suddenly arrested throughout
France on obscure and trumped-up charges, such as idolatry, repudiating
the Christ, and even homosexuality. All of this was heresy, of course.
The Order was finally suppressed with cruelty, and their Grand Master,
Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake in 1314. Much of the Order's
wealth was transferred to the Knights of St. John, also known as the
Knights Hospitalers. Not surprisingly, a lot of the wealth also went to
King Philip IV of France. Thus ended two centuries of power.

Or did it? Surely some of the Knights Templars escaped the
Inquisition. And surely not all the Order's wealth had been seized.
There is a legend which says the Templars were the Guardians of the One
True Grail, an object so sacred that only the highest member could look
upon it. Granted, some believe the Grail was the cup used by Christ at
the Last Supper. But others believe it to be an object that is sacred
not for its association with Christ, but in its own right. The only
thing known for certain is that if the Templars did have the Grail, the
Church did not acknowledge it as being part of the possessions seized
from the Order.

(By the way, our Order does not claim to have any object known as
the One True Grail, be it the cup of Christ or otherwise. The Grail is
a mystical object which simultaneously occupies many dimensions and
realities, and as such does not exist in any one physical form.)

There was at least one Templar who escaped death at the hands of
the Inquisition. His name may have been Artus de Troyes, or that may be
the name he took in hiding. We honor him today as the Trojan Arthur,
whose birthday has been established as 2 July. Disenchanted with the
betrayal of the Pope and the Catholic Church, he fled the faith
altogether. Finding refuge in Troyes, the birthplace of the Legend of
the Holy Grail, he founded a new Order, known as the Knights of the Holy
Grail. He and his trusted friends met clandestinely to study and
worship. At first, the Order remained Christian, though heavily
influenced by other faiths as well.

Years passed, and the Order secretly spread throughout Europe and
parts of the Middle East. Eventually it reached England, home of Arthur
himself. As the Reformation swept Europe, the Order began to change,
moving from strict Christianity to a freer, more esoteric faith.

When New Logres (North America) was colonized, members of the
Order spread the faith to the New World.

In 1959, the Witchcraft Act was repealed in England, and Gerald
Gardener published his book, which purported to expose for the first
time an ancient Pagan religion. Other Pagans, both English and
American, quickly followed suit in publishing and publicly declaring
their religion.

Members of the Order were affected by this change. Many wanted to
renounce Christianity altogether in favor of a more Pagan faith. Others
wanted to remain Christian. In 1962, a schism occurred when Madame
Peredura of Newcastle, the Duchess of Angaland (the east coast of the
United States), formally broke from the Order and declared herself
Pendragon of New Logres (the territory of North America). She
proclaimed that the Order in New Logres would be completely Pagan, and
shock waves shot throughout the Order. After long debate and many hard
feelings, Sir Galahalt le Vigoureux, Pendragon of the Order, issued a
proclamation that those who wished to remain Christian might maintain
their membership in the Order of the Holy Grail, but those who wished to
be Pagan must leave and join Peredura's Order, which she named the Holy
Order of the Faithful Knights of the Round Table, in honor of the First
Questors of the Grail -- even if those questing knights were only
literary figures.

And that's where we are today. Though we still have some ties to
the original Order, we are separate and sovereign. Though we have
members worldwide, we are centered in New Logres (mostly the United
States and Canada). And though we are completely Pagan in orientation,
we respect the faiths of all people.

As I said earlier, some of the above is factual, some fictional.
Very little is a matter of public record, but all has been judged safe
for the general public. And it certainly embodies the spirit of our
history, just as Modern renditions of the Arthurian legends embody the
spirit of the history of the Original Knights of the Round Table.

The Years of the Sword

Years within the Order are counted from 510 CE. This is the year
we've agreed upon for the drawing of the Sword from the Stone by Arthur.
To calculate the current year, subtract 510 from the temporal year. For
example, the Common Era year 1996 is the Year of the Sword (or Anno
Gladii, AG) 1486: 1996 - 510 = 1486. All dates before CE 510 are known
as BG (Before the Gladius, the Latin word for sword), and are calculated
by adding 510 to the temporal year. So 44 BCE (the year Julius Caesar
was slain) is 554 BG. The CE year 510 is simply known as the Year of
the Sword, and 511 as the First Year of the Sword (AG 1), and so on.

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