Masonic Knights Templar Symbols
As with all branches of masonry, there are various symbols and symbolic meanings associated with the Knights Templar. In this section, we will discuss a few of the most commonly seen symbols and their interpretive meanings. But first, a bit of background regarding this particular brand of freemasonry.
The Knights Templar are a Christian order of Freemasonry who derive their name from the medieval military order "Knights Templar." Although these organizations share a name, they are not related.
Templary is a masonic branch known in full as the York Rite. Within the organization of the Knights Templar are several masonic orders: The Knights of Malta, the Knights of St. Paul and the Knights of the Red Cross.
In order to obtain membership to the Knights Templar, one has to profess a belief in the Christian god and already be a member of a Masonic Lodge. Membership into the order also requires a petition to a Commandery and additional memberships to various masonic organizations, depending on location.
Associated with the Christian traditions and ceremonies performed by European monarchs, the symbol of the crown is commonly acquainted with power, honor and reverence. Crowns are not only the traditional symbolic form of headgear worn during coronations, they are depicted widely among many cultures and in various forms, from the wreath to the halo.
The symbolism of the crown is therefore rather straightforward: It conveys feelings of victory, grace and divine sanction. Additionally, the crown can refer symbolically to the head which is associated with wisdom, intelligence and authority.
From a purely Christian perspective, the cross is probably the most notable and common symbol signifying the suffering and death of Jesus. Because the Knights Templar align themselves with Christianity, the symbol of the cross is as straight forward as it might seem. However, as with many symbols in freemasonry, additional meanings are common even if sometimes only speculative.
Take, for example, the symbol of the cross outside of the context of Christianity. More than 2000 years prior to the birth of Jesus, the cross was already in use in several alphabets, including in ancient Hebrew where it denoted the letter "tav" which is a letter that is remarkable in its complexity. In the Hebrew alphabet, tav is the final letter. On its own, it represents completion. In the greater sense, tav might represent the sum or the finality of all things combined. In fact, the tav is derived from the Egyptian word meaning "mark". Tav appears symbolically throughout Jewish and Christian scriptures, and commonly represents a stamp or a seal as on a letter; the final mark on a completed piece of work.
Symbolically, the cross may then represent our completion: death. The cross may then serve not only as a reminder of our personal debt to Jesus but also of our own finite existence, a sullen reminder for many.
If we chose to delve even deeper into the symbolic meaning of the cross, we might dismantle the letter tav and make note that it is comprised of two separate letters: daleth and nun. These letters spell out Din or Dan, meaning "judgment". Referring to both finality and judgment, the cross grimly spells out our inevitable judgement after death.
The Crown & Cross
Within the order of the Knights Templar, you may notice that the Christian cross and the crown are almost always combined. Oftentimes, the cross passes through the crown, a symbol which actually appears outside of freemasonry, most often in Roman Catholicism. It has commonly been symbolically interpreted as alluding to the heavenly reward awaiting those who live their lives ready for judgment after death. The crown may also serve as a reminder that death is not final but that we can continue on victorious and with honor.
In the context of the Knights Templar, the symbol of the cross and crown is referred to as the "Knights Templar's blood-red passion cross and crown." Oftentimes, this symbol is accompanied or surrounded by the Latin phrase "In Hoc Signo Vinces", meaning "By this sign thou shalt conquer".
This phrase was a military motto used by Constantine, but has been used widely in ancient as well as in modern times, from school mottos to an appearance on the package of Pall Mall cigarettes.
The Skull & Crossbones
The symbol of the skull and crossbones is used only within the orders of Templary, never within general Masonry. Often referred to as the "Memento Mori" - literally "Remember that you must die" - it serves as a reminder of our own mortality and dates back to the beginning of the orders of the York Rite.
While some have taken offense to this symbol because of its tendency to be associated with piracy, slaughter or death, the skull and crossbones is not intended to be scary or distasteful. In the context of Masonry, the skull and crossbones are used to encourage reflection and contemplation of one’s own immortality. Much like the cross, this symbol serves as a reminder that we live a limited existence and that mortality is a passing state through which will pass. By using the skull and crossbones to reflect on his own life, the Mason should find both encouragement to live an upright life and urgency to live each day well.
We hope that this basic overview of Knights Templar symbolism has been informative. At Lovie Art Jewelry, we aim to provide you with new and insightful information about the products we well. If you have any suggestions for our literature, please don't hesitate to reach out to us.