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The Cross of Lorraine: Emblem of the Royal Secret

by, Boyd Rice

When various members of the House of Anjou plotted to topple the Valois dynasty of France, the symbol of the conspirators was the Cross of Lorraine, the heraldic emblem of René d'Anjou, said by Charles Peguy to represent the "arms of Christ", "the arms of Satan", and, strangely, the blood of both. René was the Angevin monarch who, at the time of the renaissance, single-handedly spearheaded a Hermetic revival in Europe. It was he who personally convinced Cosimo de Medici to translate many ancient texts such as the Corpus Hermeticum into various European tongues for the first time ever. And when Corpus Hermeticum was first published in France, the dedication it bore was to Marie de Guise, wife of James Stuart V, mother of Mary Queen of Scots, and a descendant of René who also adopted the Cross of Lorraine as a personal symbol.

That the Cross of Lorraine is a symbol embodying the Hermetic ideal is fairly obvious. The Angevins were primarily advocates of the Regia, or Royal Art, of hermeticism; a tradition which according to legend was passed down to man by a race of fallen angels. This isn't at all inconsistent with the perennially Luciferian overtones associated with the entire Angevin saga.

Interestingly, the Cross of Lorraine bears an uncanny resemblance to the sigil of Baphomet employed by British Magus Aleister Crowley, and the meaning of the two symbols would appear to be virtually synonymous. Baphomet is, after all, the penultimate hermetic symbol, whether depicted by Crowley in the form of a cross, or by Eliphas Levi as a goat-headed hermaphrodite. And the sigil used by Crowley was also employed by ancient alchemists as a device whose meaning was literally "very poisonous." In fact, the symbol was commonly affixed to containers of toxic substances in Europe as recently as the mid-twentieth century. To the alchemists, of course, the symbol and its very meaning had far more esoteric connotations. To them, poison represented an agent of transformation, a vehicle for the reconciliation of opposites. And there is an alchemical myth about a poison which for most men is extremely deadly, while for the elect it confers mastership and absolute power. Echoes of this idea recur as a motif in various aspects of the Grail lore. It would seem that the alchemists accorded this symbol very much the same meaning attributed it by Crowley, which in turn echoes what the Cross of Lorraine embodied for Rene d'Anjou. It is little known, but the Cross of Lorraine was also the official emblem of the Knights Templar.

Though they are more frequently associated with the symbol of the red equilateral cross, their true symbol first and foremost was the Cross of Lorraine, and many Templars awaiting death at the stake pursuant to the Friday the 13th persecutions drew the emblem on the walls of their cells. There is still a degree in certain rites of Freemasonry called the Knights Templar, whose symbol is the Cross of Lorraine. It is interesting to note that even the less esoteric-looking equilateral cross used by the Templars had essentially the same meaning: that of the union of opposites, the intersection of creative force and destructive force, or the union of male and female principles. It was a fundamental occult symbol, and it was in deference to the idea which it embodied that medieval occult rituals were often held at crossroads.

The Cross of Lorraine is far more explicit in it's iconography: the bar above mirroring the bar below, both of which are symmetrically affixed to a central pillar that provides balance and equilibrium. As above, so below is, after all, a Hermetic maxim. And the three bars of which the cross is composed echo Eliphas Levi's concept of the true trinity. Levi posited that the world is governed by two primordial forces, one creative, the other destructive. The equilibrium between these two forces constitutes a third force, and the union of the three constitutes what some might refer to as... God.

The central role of the principle of equilibrium in various occult arts cannot be overstressed. For Master Mason Albert Pike, equilibrium represented the Royal Secret, the pivotal principle upon which the universe is ordered. And Pike's specific designation of equilibrium as a royal secret is of particular significance because, as previously mentioned, Hermeticism has traditionally been known as the Royal Art, and its central tenet is essentially that of equilibrium. And too, when Pike calls it a Royal secret, he isn't speaking figuratively, but strictly in literal terms. Hermes, according to legend, was the sole receptacle of the secret doctrine of the antediluvian world, which he revived after the flood and passed down to the Kings. As you'll recall, this secret knowledge was thought to have been taught to man by a race of Gods or fallen angels. This knowledge was kept secret because it was probably recognized that for all but an elect few, such thought would no doubt bring about their ruin. This brings to mind the concept of the alchemical poison. Kings and aristocrats would understand how to wield and apply the secret doctrine because it was believed that they were in fact flesh and blood descendants of the Forgotten Race which had come down to take the wives of men.

References to this Forgotten Race occur repeatedly in numerous religions and mythologies throughout the world, and should most likely be known to readers of this magazine. Their doctrines have been enshrined in myth, legend, and many religious symbols, in which they are looked upon by many, and recognized by but a few. They are, and shall remain, the Royal Secret. The Cross of Lorraine is a sigil of that Royal Secret, the doctrine of the Forgotten Ones.


The Cross of Lorraine

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