Patricia Kennealy-Morrison – FAQ 40

What is the Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani? How is it that you are a Dame in this order?

The Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem is in fact the modern-day incarnation of the ancient order of Knights Templar, the medieval warrior-monks. (There is no connection to the modern Masonic Templars, though there may well have been an ancient historic one.)

The story goes thusly: when the Templars were disbanded by papal decree in 1307–the Pope and the King of France were determined to wipe out the powerful order and seize all assets, land and money for themselves–and the knights thrown into prison on utterly trumped-up charges to await horrible torture and eventual execution, many are said to have had advance warning of the vile plot, and managed to escape.
Taking supposed vast treasure and the mighty Templar fleet with them, the escaping knights sailed undetected round Britain and Ireland and landed in remote Scotland–where the papal writ did not then run because the Pope was pissed off at the Scots for other reasons and had slapped an interdict on the whole, uh, damned country. The refugees joined with other Templars–not monks any longer, they had to marry and settle down as ordinary citizens if they wanted to survive–and the Order has been kept alive in Scotland ever since, recognized today by, treaty, as an international chivalric order.
There is a tradition that there were Templars present at the fateful Battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314–mysterious mounted knights wearing white cloaks with red crosses, which sure sounds like Templars–knights who turned the tide of the fight that won the Scottish throne for Robert Bruce. (And, how darn coincidental is THIS, June 24–Midsummer Day–just happens to be the day Jim and I were married…)
Bonnie Prince Charlie himself was a member of the Order–there’s a painting of what was probably his own Templar investiture, conducted at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh during the nanosecond he actually held the city–as well as other great figures of Scottish history: a Templar cross was famously found on John Graham of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee, when he fell at the battle of Killiecrankie on 27 July 1689.
I was knighted–male knights take the honorific `Chevalier,’ women `Dame’–in September 1990, in Scotland, at the astoundingly beautiful 16th-century Rosslyn Chapel, in the Pentland Hills just south of Edinburgh.
It was built by the Sinclair family, Barons of Roslin and Princes of Orkney, well known for their Templar and later Masonic connections, who were ambitious to raise a young cathedral; but they ran short of funds and had to finish the building much smaller. Though hardly less ornate: the chapel is famous for its fabulous stone ornamentation; the incredible interior looks like a stone wedding-cake, and the place is of course the home of the glorious Apprentice Pillar, so called because a young apprentice mason saw the completed pillar in a vision and carved it while his master was away; on his return the furious and envious master killed the apprentice, and a carving in the chapel commemorates this dreadful deed.
Rosslyn has many Templar and Masonic, and `occult’, connections; there’s even a story that the Grail was once harbored there. There are 19 medieval Templars buried in the chapel vaults, and 19 North Americans, myself included, received the accolade of knighthood at that 1990 investiture, the first one ever held in modern times at Rosslyn–how cosmic is that?!
I was sponsored to the Order, as a Scottish Templar, by fantasy novelist Katherine Kurtz and her husband, Nazi-vampires-from-hell novelist Scott MacMillan, dear friends and longtime Templars themselves, and I consider my knighthood a keystone of my spiritual life. (You can read about Templars in Scotland past and present, and a modern Scottish Templar investiture, in The Templar Treasure, the third book in THE ADEPT, the absolutely wonderful series Katherine co-writes with Deborah Turner Harris; Katherine also edited Tales of the Knights Templar, a terrific anthology of Templar-themed short stories by such writers as Poul Anderson, Elizabeth Moon, Scott and Katherine themselves, and quite a few others–great fun.)
Receiving the accolade as a Templar at Rosslyn was one of the most magically overwhelming ceremonial moments I have ever experienced, right up there with my initiation as a Witch and my handfasting to Jim, reverberating all over the astral.
(Though, sadly and sexistly, in the years since my own investiture the Scottish Templars have apparently stopped giving women the accolade, and now give them red roses instead. Roses are fine–SO MAYBE MEN SHOULD GET THEM TOO!!! In fact, men don’t get enough roses…d’ye ken fine what I’m sayin’, ma braw laddies??? Please!! Just you try giving a rose to some of history’s formidable Scotswomen! They’d take your hand off at the elbow–so let’s rethink and retire so unjust and chauvinistic and dishonorable a policy, shall we? Discrimination is never a pretty thing; and in a supposedly knightly company of supposed equals it really, you know, bites. Big-time.)
Anyway. Reception as a Templar was on one level simply acceptance as a member in an historic and worthy social organization, but on the level that really counts it was acceptance as a warrior of and for and in and in the service of the Light. (And that’s why the accolade is so darn important, Macblockheads, for a woman as well as for a man! Maybe even more important…)
I don’t have the words to tell you what it really felt like, and even if I did I still couldn’t, except that it was, of course, WAAAAY cool… I wanted to do it right, so I kept a proper meditating prayer vigil the night before, fasted, took a ritual bath, the whole chivalric trip–it all seemed very familiar somehow…
The candlelit ceremony at Rosslyn that night was solemn and beautiful (and was taped by the BBC; you can see part of it in “The Templar Renaissance”–available from a mail-order video place called ScotVision, in Lewiston NY–I’m actually even in it for a couple of seconds, all newly accoladed and mantled, standing next to Katherine in a front pew).
First, there was a lot of ritual stuff that, for a Christian ceremony, seemed quite remarkably Pagan to the Pagan eye: stuff that looked suspiciously like casting a circle and calling the quarters, some very familiar things on the altar, like that. Then some invocations and prayers and hymns, then an oath, which we all most enthusiastically swore, to uphold and defend the Royal House of Scotland against all enemies “inwith and outwith the realm”.
Then, one by one, each candidate goes to kneel before the altar, and the Master of the Order in Scotland gives the accolade, tapping you with the swordblade, on each shoulder and upon the head, symbolically helming you with the Light; women have an order star pinned on their dress, men get a badge of the same star hung round their necks–a red enamel cross on a black ribbon, either way. The Master gives you the traditional kiss on either cheek, then someone puts the Templar mantle, the long white cloak with the red cross, around your shoulders–at my investiture, the acknowledged head of the Royal House of Stewart, HRH Prince Michael of Albany, did us this honor. (And darn right I curtsied, when I was properly presented after the ceremony… “Your Royal Highness, may I present Dame Patricia Kennealy-Morrison”–one of the great introductions of my life!)
All levity aside, you can see things like this in movies and read about them in books, but when you are kneeling there in real life, in such a place, feeling the power rise up around you like incense, sensing the presences (and Presences), and a three-hundred-year-old sword strikes your shoulders with all the age and history and power it contains, and you are bidden by the Master “Avances, chevalier!”–“Rise up, knight!”–well, the word `amazing’ doesn’t even come close. It was, in the truest sense of the word, absolutely otherworldly–a complete and perfect journey to the Chapel of the Grail. I thought I was going to explode. I thought Rosslyn’s roof was going to blow off. I didn’t come down for DAYS…
So now I guess if they ever call another crusade I have to go (not that Celts would, unless it was against the perfidious Sassanach, in which case by all means count me in!); though if Scotland should ever opt for independence, I’d be only too happy to join the royal guard of The Man Who Should Be King: Sean Connery–Conaire Mûr II! Cool!
And in keeping with the tradition of Total Fashion Recall established in Strange Days–and since I know you’re wondering–for the investiture I wore a long-sleeved, cowl-necked black jersey dress, a silk plaid of green Hunting Morrison tartan pinned with a silver and diamond clan badge, dark green leather boots, some significant Celtic jewelry (including a pendant with the Kennealy arms), and, since I wanted him to be there with me in every way he could, some relics of Jim–a ring or two of his, his hair in a heart-shaped crystal Victorian mourning locket on a black velvet ribbon, a few other things.
Afterwards, there was a banquet at Dalhousie Castle a few miles away. For my knightly ordeal Scott and Katherine actually made me eat haggis (and I haven’t forgotten, either, guys!!!), and if you think that wasn’t much of an ordeal, let me tell you, there’s a very good reason single-malt whiskey is the traditional chaser to every wee bite of the vile crud–it tastes like the floor of a barn, and you need all the anesthetic you can get. But the pipers made up for it.
For the Soirèe of the White Cockade the following evening (a formal ball commemorating Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s own investing), held at the wonderful old 18th-century Merchants’ Hall in Edinburgh, I wore a floor-length formal evening skirt–A-line, not kilted, I made it myself–in red Dress Morrison tartan, a matching double-length plaid pinned at the shoulder with an antique diamond brooch, a black velvet jacket and rather low-cut (duh!) black silk Zandra Rhodes blouse, my emerald engagement ring and sapphire-and-diamond anniversary ring and our claddagh wedding rings, an antique diamond bracelet that was a birthday gift from Jim and the spectacular mid-Victorian necklace and earrings that were Jim’s main wedding present to me.
Katherine and Scott, and our other friends Dame the Reverend Nancy Hanger and her husband Chevalier Andrew Phillips, all were equally splendid if not even more so–especially the lads, who of course were in full formal Highland evening dress, kilts and sporrans, sgians in their socks, the whole trip.
I would have SO loved to have seen Jim in a kilt–in fact, I had even threatened to get him into one for our planned `public’ wedding in October 1971, and had bought him a solid silver antique sword-belt buckle to wear with it. Perhaps surprisingly, he was by no means opposed to the idea–though he had been thinking more along the lines of a black velvet frock coat or Renaissance-style doublet, white silk Cossack shirt and black leather pants–hey, it was still the 60’s! But a kilt makes any man look incredibly sexy–a most virile garment–so Jim would have looked like a god, or at least like some Highland warrior chieftain, and he kind of liked the idea of wearing a sword at his wedding. Plus he had great legs and a terrific behind–eat your heart out, Val Kilmer!–or is that too much information???
[Oh, and in spite of declarations to the contrary, ABSOLUTELY Jim Morrison was six feet tall!!! I remember very well where my eyes came to when I was walking beside him–as a five-foot-eight-inch person–and how far I had to reach up to put my arms around him or to kiss him–and how I was always surprised by the bigness of his frame, how completely he filled a door. Besides, I have his height and mine cut into the bedroom doorpost: six glorious feet of him, I promise, at most a quarter-inch under–and he wasn’t wearing his boots when I measured. In fact, he wasn’t wearing anything–but that really IS too much information… ]
Anyway, I was very proud to wear Jim’s family tartan that night–a civilized cloth, as the Scots say–and felt a great sense of kinship and history to bear his name and represent him to such a company in the homeland of his clan… To look around and see all these people in all the different setts, and to be able to say oh, yes, that’s Grant or Graham or Douglas, she’s a Macdonald, those are Stewarts over there, look, that guy’s wearing the same tartan as mine, hey, he’s a Morrison too!; and to know they could identify us the same way–it was a very strange and rather wonderful feeling…
But back to the topic. Some thoughtful readers of both persuasions have recently questioned–gently–how I can be a Witch, and trash the Church as hard as I do, yet still accept initiation into a Christian order like the Templars. Well, it’s a good question, and the answer is fairly complex so just bear with me…
All faiths are ultimately in the service of the Light; we just differ in how we choose to serve It. What I believe the Templars stood for is something so far beyond “Churchianity” as to make the religion itself almost irrelevant in the end–and that Something is indeed something I can serve as a Templar without doing violence to my vows as a Witch. It’s the same reason I can go into the Lady Chapel at St. Patrick’s Cathedral here in New York to pray to the Goddess, or invoke St. Michael the Archangel in those so-frequent moments when I really need a warrior saint to give me strength, or carol away merrily every Christmas. As I have said many times in many places, my problem is with Christians–and by no means all of them, either–not with Christ…)
Now the historical Templars may well have been exactly what they appear to have been: a pack of fanatical xenophobic warrior monks who never bathed or shaved and who were never happier than when they were out slaughtering infidels–unless it was when they were controlling the finances of the entire known world. But there have been equally as many historical claims made for the Templars being the keepers of the Grail (and the Grail was originally Pagan, as was so much else that the Churchians shamelessly co-opted) and other even more esoteric secrets; and as such they were squarely on the side of the Pagans and the Witches and the Mages. No problem there! At least, not for me…
Also the Templars had undoubtedly learned a LOT more from their Islamic adversaries than the Church was quite comfortable with, and had amassed immense worldly power as well; hence their ultimate savage betrayal and annihilation by the Pope and his minion the French king.
(Note to readers: We have seen this sort of thing endlessly throughout history, how the Church eats its own young and works you over every time–at the least, it majorly messes up your life and psyche; at the worst, it molests your altar-boy son or burns you at the stake. Repeat after me, class: Crusades against the “infidel” Muslims. Crusades against the “heretic” Cathars. Burning the Witches. Spanish Inquisition. Forced conversions. Torturing the Jews. Blaming the Jews. Failing to speak out for the Jews in the Holocaust. Bank scandals. Child-abuse scandals. Rampant sexism and homophobia. Second-class citizenry of women. Libertine popes. Criminal hypocrisy. Criminal intolerance. Criminal positions on ecology and population issues. Religious imperialism (they call it missionary work…). Keeping not only its own people but the entire world in enforced ignorance. War. Executions. Hatefulness. Worldwide cultural genocide. Worldwide spiritual deracination. And yet after two thousand years its flock has still learned nothing from all this–man, `sheep’ doesn’t describe it!)
Still, Templar monk or wisewoman-priestess or Maid of France or Italian scientist or blameless Jew, in the end it makes no difference: once you move outside the Church-prescribed bounds, once you stand up for liberty and an individual personal relationship with Deity, you’re automatically a threat to Churchian hegemony–and you must be destroyed.
(One tiny example more. Dig how it went down with Joan of Arc, another one of my favorite saints: first she was called `saint’ and `holy’ and `chosen of God’ because she heard angelic voices and the Church found it expedient for her to be believed in; then she was a witch BECAUSE she heard those very same voices, and was burned at the stake for it by that very same Church because the Church found it expedient for her NOT to be believed in; then she was made an official saint in 1920 because for five hundred years people had never stopped venerating her (quite rightly) and the Church found it expedient for her to be believed in again–as long as THEY could control that belief! Can you say `cynical political machinations of an opportunistic, hypocritical, corrupt unspiritual weathervane’, boys and girls?? Yes, I think you can…)
So how can a loyal Witch also profess loyalty to such an order? Because ultimately the loyalty is to That Which Is Beyond, and being a Templar is merely another way to serve it. Also, and not incidentally either, I have a cultural right to it, if nothing else: I was born a Catholic, after all, and any kind of sacrament leaves an imprint upon your soul–even infant baptism when you can’t prevent it (hey, maybe that’s why so many babies cry so furiously at the font! They’re really trying to Just Say No!).
But the ancient ideals for which the Templars fought and indeed died are good and beautiful things that have nothing to do with Churchianity’s petty dogmatism or condescending paternalistic hierarchy, or with even the Templars’ own unwashed murderousness. (And why is it that Pagans–of any denomination–love being clean, love air and water and light, have respect for the planet, while Christians cultivate scorn and disdain for the `shameful’ body and the natural world?? Could that have anything to do with respective mindsets? D’you THINK??? Just asking…)
Anyway, those ideals are sacred and universal, and NO religion has a patent on them. They have everything to do with the Light that cannot be owned and only grows greater the more It is shared. And any form that the boundless all-encompassing love of the One, the Great Creator of Being (as Jim himself once described it), the humanity-loving Beatific Energy, chooses to wear–be that form male or female, Eastern or Western, Northern or Southern, black or yellow or white or red or brown, Jesus or Isis, Dagda or Og[dotaccent]n or Kali, Buddha or Odin or Demeter, Dionysus or Diana, Lugh or Astarte, Maui or Osiris, Po-shai-an-K’ia or Athena or Tonantzin, Yemaya or Tangaroa or Kuan Yin, Kernunnos or Mary or Shekinah or Mûr-rìgan–is just fine with me. It is not for us to scorn or challenge Divinity’s choice of vehicle.
Therefore I disdain or disrespect none of those Aspects and Appearances. I could go with any of you into any temple or shrine or cathedral or henge or holy place belonging to any one of these great avatars, or any other, and honor the true Spirit of each with total serenity and honesty and integrity–and no problem whatsoever.
And so should all the rest of you.
Because the only real blasphemy is to put limits on Deity, to decree that Deity can only be honored in such and such a form in an officially sanctioned way by certain self-appointed individuals or one self-appointed gender.
Because to honor Deity, you have to honor not only all its forms but where it comes from as well. Christianity is a LOT older than Jesus Christ, and has a lot more going for it than is evidenced in the Gospels–stuff that’s been ruthlessly suppressed and denied because it runs counter to the official party line–not that I presume to compare us to Jesus (hey, that’s where John Lennon got into big trouble!), but in much the same way that my personal story with Jim has been trashed, because, again, it soooo inconveniently doesn’t fit the hype. I know that this is so, not only because I have studied and learned it but because I have experienced it first-hand–at my investing, at my initiation, and, yes, at my wedding. And ever since.
Because if you limit Deity, you limit your own soul. The great Quest is indeed for the Grail–which is not some piece of sacred Tupperware but nothing less than the Oneness of All Things. More even than that: it is not so much worship of something external as it is worship of the Eternal Divine within ourselves–acknowledging it, consecrating ourselves in the world, saving our souls alive, humbly raising ourselves to godhood. That, to me, is no paradox but What It Is All About. And sometimes you have to fight for it–sometimes you have to be not only a priestess but a knight…
(c) 1998, Patricia Morrison
{The above section is taken from a much longer discussion of this topic, and a lot more, which will be appearing elsewhere in another format. Announcement to follow. Watch this space …}

So yes, it really is `Dame Patricia’. And since only a knight can make a knight, and since my powers really do reach beyond time and space, maybe we’ll be seeing Jim–named as he was for King Robert the Bruce’s brave loyal friend, Sir James Douglas, known to history as the Good Sir James–as `Chevalier James Douglas Morrison’…at least on the astral! I think he’d like that. But he has always been my knight; and I, who have long time been his lady, now also am his knight.


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