This week’s sample is taken from my newest release, the Jealous God, Book 24 of the Assassin Chronicles. The Prologue is not a necessary part of the book, but simply something I wanted to include in one of the books as my own idea of the initiation process of the ancient ritual. It was secret, so that’s why my version is fictional. LOL! So read with one eye closed.
(The prologue to Book 24:. The Jealous God is a fictionalized version of the Templar initiation ritual which could account for some of the rumors and misconceptions that led to their historic downfall in the fourteenth century.)
The candidate knelt in front of the altar with his head down and his eyes closed as the priest standing beside the altar looked down upon his head. The Knight, his face obscured by a deep hood attached to his mantle of black, knelt behind the candidate and tied his hands behind his bare back. The candidate wore only the baggy, white trousers of the shalwar-kameez that he traditionally wore. His feet were also bare and he had been stripped of his rings and all other ornaments considered tokens of vanity. Very little now stood between the man and his Creator.
The priest prepared the cup of the Holy Communion and the consecrated wafer of the Body of Christ by the glittering light of the votive candles on the altar. When the prayers were finished, the candidate raised his head and accepted the Communion of Christ.
“And he said unto them, This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. Amen.” The priest made the sign of the cross over the candidate’s head.
The Knight helped the bound man to his feet and then placed a blindfold over his eyes. He drew his sword and pressed the point against the nape of his neck, pushing him forward toward the stairs leading to the crypt below the chapel. The priest walked in front of him, bearing a simple wooden cross made of dark wood. They descended the stairs slowly, the candidate finding his way in complete darkness beneath the blindfold. Their steps echoed hollowly in the stone chambers lit only by the reddish flames of torches set in brackets on the walls. The priest recited the Lord’s Prayer in Latin as they descended into the darkness and followed this with the 23rd Psalm.
The procession followed the corridor until they were before an ancient door bound in black iron straps where another Knight dressed in a black mantle and hood with the red cross patee emblazoned on the front, barred their way with a drawn sword held diagonally across his heart.
“Speak the words and pass!” he demanded. The priest repeated the secret phrase selected especially for this ceremony and the Knight opened the door.
This chamber was even darker than the corridor and lit only by a tall, golden candlestick holding twelve candles set beside a rough stone altar. The Grand Master stood beside the altar, also cloaked and hooded. The priest took up his position at the side of the Master and presented the candidate to him. Nine Knights dressed in either black or white stood on either side of the chamber as the candidate was made to kneel before the altar with the sword still pressed against his neck.
The Grand Master pushed back his hood and stood in front of the kneeling man.
“By this covenant, all that you are, all that you have been and all that you shall be are now passed to the keeping of this Order. By this covenant, you become one with the Body of the Brotherhood and renounce your identity as nothing more than an empty title bestowed upon you by men. By this covenant, you become a true Son of God, Bringer of Light, Protector of the Holy Blood of Christ and swear unto God in the presence of these honored Brethren to uphold the tenets and beliefs of the Order until death may claim your flesh and your spirit shall rest in the hands of the Creator. Do you agree to the terms of your commitment?”
“I do,” the candidate gave his answer.
“The Brothers will now test your faith and judge whether you are worthy to enter into the Covenant as prescribed by the Rule of the Order of the Brotherhood of the poor Knights of Solomon’s Temple. Do you agree henceforward to abide by the ancient Rule of the Order as modified by the consent of this Council in all things?”
“Then let the questions begin.” The Grand Master stepped back and the Knight removed the sword from the candidate’s neck, taking his place at the end of the line on the left of the altar. The rustle of cloth and the jingle of chain mail accompanied his movements and the noise seemed much too loud in the hollow confines of the stone chamber. The first Knight stepped forward and pushed back his white hood, exposing his face to the yellow light of the candles.
“Do you believe in God Almighty, Creator and Architect, as the One True God, Unknowable, All-Powerful, Eternal Flame of the Universe?”
“Do you swear before these Brothers that there is no other god equal to Him in that all things come from Him and return to Him?”
“Do you swear to lay down your life in defense of your faith and that of your Brothers?”
“Moreover He said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.” The first Knight quoted a verse from the Holy Scriptures, emphasizing particular words that gave an even more ominous overtone to the verses and then stepped back in line.
The second Knight stepped forward and pushed back his hood.
“Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?” he began his questions.
“Do you claim to know that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God?”
The candidate faltered and then answered “I do.”
“Do you put more faith in the Word of God than the word of men?”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.” The second Knight finished with his quotation from the Holy Scriptures and stepped back, covering his face again with his hood. The third Knight stepped forward.
He began his speech with the Holy Scriptures. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
“What is it that makes Jesus Christ different from other Sons of God as shown in the words of John?”
“He is the only begotten son.” The candidate answered the question.
“Do you understand the words ‘for God so loved the world’?”
“Do you understand the words ‘his only begotten son.’?”
“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” The third Knight finished with a quote describing how the Virgin Mary conceived of the ‘power of the Highest’.” He stepped back and was replaced by the fourth Knight.
The fourth Knight quoted passages from Genesis.
“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. Do you believe that the angels descended unto the world and begat sons of the daughters of men?”
“I do,” came the slightly muffled answer.
“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” The fourth Knight repeated more Scriptures from Genesis. This Knight, one of Simon’s sons from the voice and the shadowy gleam of blonde hair, paused and the sounds of heavy breathing filled the resonant chamber before he continued.
“Do you believe that God disapproved of this behavior and cast them out of Heaven?”
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons’ wives with thee. Do you believe that Noah was a favored Son of God?”
The fourth Knight resumed his place in the line of Knights and the fifth walked slowly up the center of the two lines to begin his speech.
“Do you believe that Noah possessed the Holy Bloodline, the Sangreal?”
“Do you believe that Noah’s sons possessed the Sangreal?”
“And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you.” The fifth Knight finished his speech. He returned to the end of the line and the sixth Knight stepped forward to reveal himself.
“Do you believe that God saved Noah because he was a Son of God?” He repeated the first question of the fourth Knight.
“Do you still believe that Jesus Christ is the only Son of God?”
“Do you believe that Noah was the father of the Sangreal?”
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, but ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven. Do you believe that God is a jealous God?”
“I do.” The candidate shifted slightly on his aching knees as the rough stone cut through the flesh beneath the thin cloth.
The sixth Knight resumed his place and the seventh stepped forward to stand beside the candidate.
“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s. This is the commandment of God.”
The Knight paused and there was a slight rustling among the Knights gathered in the chamber.
“Do you believe that jealousy is a sin?”
“Do you believe that God can sin?”
The candidate swayed on his knees and did not answer.
“Do you believe that God is a jealous God?” he repeated a previous question.
“Then do you believe that God can sin?”
“I do.” The answer came in a tremulous, almost fearful voice. The seventh Knight stepped away and the eighth stepped forward.
“For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. Be ye afraid of the sword: for wrath bringeth the punishments of the sword, that ye may know there is a judgment. Do you believe that anger is a sin?”
“And My wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.”
“Do you believe that God can sin?”
“I do.” The answer was a bit less uncertain than before.
“Do you believe that God was angry with His creation and jealous of them?”
The eighth Knight left the candidate and the ninth stepped forward.
“Do you believe that God would allow his son to die on the cross to atone for your sins?”
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them. And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown. Do you believe that God allows great suffering for His pleasure and His pride?”
Again the candidate faltered before answering. “I… do.”
The ninth Knight brought forward the next question.
“Do you believe that pride is a sin?”
“Shall mortal man be more just than God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker? Behold, He put no trust in His servants; and His angels He charged with folly: Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man. How then can man be justified with God? Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Do you believe that God’s sins were delivered onto the head of His Son?”
Again, the Knight was replaced by the tenth Knight, the last in the second line of five.
“Do you believe, O man, that Jesus Christ arose from the grave?”
“Nathanael answered and saith unto Him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto Him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God and when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?” The last Knight was none other than the Chevalier du Morte.
“Do you believe that He was a great Rabbi and Teacher?”
“Do you understand what it means to be called Rabbi?”
“Do you believe that Jesus Christ met the conditions of the title bestowed upon Him?”
“Do you believe that Jesus Christ was married?”
The candidate did not answer, but swayed again on his knees.
“Do you believe that Jesus Christ was a Rabbi?”
“Do you believe that Jesus Christ was married?”
When the tenth Knight retired, the priest stepped forward to present his speech. He held up the wooden cross above the candidate’s head and one of the Knights stepped forward to remove the ropes from the candidate’s hands and the blindfold from his eyes. He looked up; blinking in the dim light at the cross above his head and terror filled his face as if he thought his answers might have brought about his death.
“And they stripped Him, and put on Him a scarlet robe. And when they had plaited a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head, and a reed in His right hand: and they bowed the knee before Him, and mocked Him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon Him, and took the reed, and smote Him on the head. And after they had mocked Him, they took the robe off from Him, and put His own raiment on him, and led Him away to crucify Him. Do you believe that Christ deserved to die upon the cross?”
“What would you do to atone for your sins?”
“I would follow Him to the cross.”
“Would you give your blood in place of His?”
The priest resumed his position beside the altar and handed the cross to the Grand Master.
“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear His cross. And as they led Him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. Do you see the evil abomination before you?”
“What would you do to this cruel device of torture and sin?”
“I would trample it down in the dust.”
The Grand Master threw the cross onto the floor and the Knight helped the candidate to his feet. The candidate raised his bare foot and stepped on the cross that lay on the floor.
“And what would you do to those who would crucify our Lord and command that you deny Christ?”
“I would spit in their faces!”
The Grand Master held up a golden crown made of laurel leaves like the ones worn by the Roman Emperors. The candidate spit on the crown and it was dropped to the floor.
“And what would you say to Jesus Christ, if He were here before you?”
“I would pledge my life in defense of His life and His blood. The Sangreal. Non nobis, Domine, Non nobis, sed nomini Tuo da Gloriam!”
The Grand Master stepped forward and took the candidate by the shoulders. He kissed him on both cheeks and then on the lips. “Spes mea in deo est.” The candidate repeated the phrase and the Master turned him about and presented him to his Brothers. Each of them stepped forward in turn to kiss him, repeating the phrase at each kiss.