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Spirituality

No Self is an Island

Kingsley L. Dennis, Guest
Waking Times

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” ~John Donne

“For eternally and always there is only now, one and the same now; the present is the only thing that has no end.” ~Erwin Schrodinger

Whether we like to admit it or not, we need other people. Other people in our lives help to teach us about who we are. Their actions and attitudes are like a mirror that reflects to us not only aspects of human behaviour but also facets of our social conditioning.

It is said that our most dominant feature as humans, and similarly our most ignored facet, is that when we are speaking about other people, or things, we are actually speaking about ourselves. Because of this blindness we actually need other people in order to project ourselves onto them. And then perhaps in some moment of clarity we will gain the insight that our descriptions of others are in fact descriptions of ourselves. It is through our social environment and connections that a light may eventually shine back at us.

As it is, many of us are only dimly aware of the extent of our own social conditioning. We perhaps do not fully realize how the language, images, and terms of reference that frame the culture we were born into also influence to a large degree our own thinking patterns and emotional responses. In other words, our thoughts and opinions are not entirely our own, despite what we like to tell ourselves. We live within a world of ‘borrowings.’ That is, much of what we think about and who we think we are is borrowed from some other place. We take on opinions and ideas that are not our own, and then we make them our own by investing our attention onto them. Like a building we construct ourselves brick by brick, each one placed upon us one after the other. Our psychological world is this ‘artificial’ edifice that we have constructed by the throwaway things of the world. And by placing our personality over our construction – like a membrane – we call it our Self. After all, the word personality comes from ‘persona’ which is derived from Latin, where it originally referred to a theatrical mask. With this mask we have formed our ‘theatrical character’ from our attachments to external things. Our physical presence in this world is not some isolated island; we are all bridges to one another built from the pebbles and stones of the material world. And it is through this body that we navigate our manifested reality. Our physicality is ‘of this world’ and from its materials we are made. We thus participate in the density of the world; and it is from this situation that difficulties arise. We forget that there is a separation – or rather, difference – between our social self, and our inner Self. And in this respect, we hardly know our own minds.

We develop our own narratives of how we are independent entities, free to make our own decisions and choices based on our ‘own mind.’ Our societies tell us that we are free individuals to make our own choices, and yet at the same time they make the person an inseparable part of society by conditioning. Within the same breath they command us to be free whilst commanding us to conform. And this dual bind, or contradictory state, creates not only a psychological confusion but also an illusionary sense of self. We are taught that we are responsible as free agents whilst simultaneously we are managed through social processes. The truth of the matter may be something more distinct – that we have a unique sense of self with a degree of autonomy whilst at the same time being intrinsically interconnected to every other living thing. We are in a grand communion – no self is an island. Or, as Alan Watts once said, ‘The universe implies the organism, and each single organism implies the universe.’[1]

Each one of us is the universe looking back at itself. We can go further and say that the cosmos is looking through us and we are at the same time looking through the cosmos. It is only when we spend all our time and efforts describing the exterior that we lose this perspective. It is like the tale of the little boy who caught a fly, dissected it, and then wondered where the fly had disappeared to. We have trained ourselves to observe and ‘to know’ through separateness rather than wholeness. We observe space and we ‘see’ emptiness – we do not perceive the energy that enfolds everything and from which matter emerges. It is the same as seeing the ocean waves approach by their crest and troughs, by their rise and fall, and yet we miss out on seeing the ocean. We see only that which we train ourselves to see. Rather than seeking to adapt our senses to new environments we prefer to fix our senses so that they perceive only the familiar and that which we already know. In this way, we reinforce our ‘knowns’ whilst blocking out any anomalies that may disturb this security. Security is stability, and too many unknowns bring discomfort. We are anxious over that which we do not know; not realizing that our futures depend upon us seeking and exploring these current unknowns. We tend to live our lives filled with paradox and contradictions.

Many of the contradictions that fill our lives are secondary phenomenon that keep the game of life in play. The dualisms and the distinctions – such as good and bad, and I’m right but you are wrong – are not essentials (although we often mistake them to be). The world is full of angels and devils (to use a worn analogy), and where the angels are winning but have not won and the devils are losing but have not lost. And so the constant interplay keeps the game active and dynamic, and not static. Our reality is similar to this, filled with secondary phenomenon that keeps the ball rolling and everything in movement. Yet we seem to often lose ourselves by becoming attached only to these secondary aspects and missing the unity that underlies all. When we adhere to definitions, or describe and label things, then we are already creating a boundary. By labelling we are creating categories and comparisons that by their nature limits us. True things are beyond such defining categorizations; they exist in the in-between spaces, in the gaps where everything is unseen. No wonder so many sages and prophets spoke in parables and riddles. It is the most useful mechanism to deliver the unspeakable.

It is the focus upon the secondary phenomenon that can create the emotional response of boredom. Those people who claim to get bored in life may also claim to find nothing exceptional or fascinating in the human condition. Or, to put it another way, the fact that they are a human being alive at this particular time, within a vast, intelligent cosmos has never astonished them. There is something incomplete in this lack of awe; a lack of sensitive awareness. We may ask ourselves, how can a truly sensitive person not be without metaphysical wonder or the urge to ask fundamental questions about our existence?

How can we not realize that we are living in truly remarkable times, with all the disruption and opportunity that this involves.

A New Horizon

A new time horizon is coming into being for us on this planet and with it comes different perspectives. We have already begun to inhabit this new temporal horizon – we have information that takes us back to the proposed beginning of the universe, and into the heart of the quark and into the cosmic hologram. The human horizon of information now spans billions of years. Such new perspectives are opening up our external view of material reality. The tools that are assisting us in this are primarily technological. In this regard, it helps if we understand that technology is another medium through which to operate in material existence. That is, it facilitates another mode of transmission. Just as cultural forms such as religious bodies, social institutions, guilds, sacred buildings and structures, etc, were modes through which the developmental potential operated, so it can be also with our modern technologies (although not in every case, of course!). The emergence of modern technologies – the Internet, artificial intelligence, learning-assisted machines, nano and bio technology, etc – are the tools of our epoch. This is similar to how the pyramids, Stonehenge, stone circles, Gothic cathedrals, and the like, were the technologies of prior epochs. Technology is a medium through which humanity can be assisted along its evolutionary spiral of development. It should not be considered as a replacement for humanity. This again, is an example of how we project ourselves onto external things.

As within, so without – our technologies are representative of a connection and communication we have internally. Our developmental path as human beings is one that works with technology as an expression of our epoch and current stage of material advance. Our technologies, likewise, impact upon our human biological organs of perception. According to spiritual philosopher Idries Shah:

The human being’s organism is producing a new complex of organs in response to such a need. In this age of the transcending of time and space, the complex of organs is concerned with the transcending of time and space. What ordinary people regard as sporadic and occasional bursts of telepathic or prophetic power are…nothing less than the first stirrings of these same organs.[2]

From this above statement we can see that there is a strong correlation between external and internal development. Neither exist in seclusion but form an interrelated whole. The reality is that there are no separate islands, despite the ‘evidence’ of our senses. We may ‘see’ things in life as separate, yet this is a perspective that allows material life to function. Upon a deeper, more intrinsic level, all forms – both living and non-living – are inherently interconnected. We may look like islands above the surface of the water, yet underneath it is the ocean that connects us all. To recognize this is a question of choice.

Our Choice

In everything in our lives, we make a choice; and when it comes down to basics – which it inevitably must do – then we find that we have a fundamental choice between living a life in Love or in Fear. In other words, if we choose Love then we side with compassion, empathy, acceptance, forgiveness, and tolerance. And if we choose to align with the Fear then we give ourselves over to control, manipulation, anxiety, and vulnerability. So where do we choose to place our trust?

If we ascribe to a life lived as islands of separation, then inevitably we learn (or are conditioned) to place our trust externally upon a range of institutions; these may range from religious, work/career, social, educational, etc. And if these institutions fail us then we naturally feel vulnerability, or even betrayed. And yet the truth of the matter is that we betrayed ourselves in the first place by outsourcing our trust. If we live a life relying upon external systems and socio-cultural bonds, then we must be prepared to feel distraught should those external attachments break-down. In such times of great transition, such as now, these social bonds and institutions are themselves very fragile.

It is important that we recognize that much of our everyday life is negotiated between these ‘belongings’ and similar attachments that we pull and wrap around us, like a protective overcoat. At the same time, we need to recognize that our world of ‘belongings’ is changing. We have ‘belonged’ to our nations, our cultures, our religions and belief systems, to our politics, to our teams, our communities, etc. We were largely brought up within our collective belongings that gave us some semblance of a fixed environment. And now many of these collective belongings are breaking apart; they are unravelling. Such belongings and attachments recruited and formed us. Yet they no longer ‘belong’ to us. They were our bubbles that created our islands – they made us believe, and put our trust in, a series of external constructs. This unravelling is revealing that our sense of vulnerability is partly the dismantling of our false assumptions. And further, that our sense of vulnerability is the fear of letting go. It is important to be open to receiving information, even if it is of the disagreeable kind. Yet in being open to such information does not mean we should adopt a position of fear. We have to make a choice of not accepting, or adopting, these external items as ‘belonging’ to us. We need the external world around us, for it is the environment that nourishes us as physical beings. Yet we should be aware and mindful that most of what we see are the jetsam and flotsam that float upon the great waters of life.

In knowing this, we are compelled to seek out those experiences that feel real to us, and which can assist us in developing as human beings. These experiences depend upon us relating with the people who manifest in our lives, for one reason or another. It may not always be pleasant, yet working through our personal relationships is one of the fastest ways to self-development. It is where many of our mental and emotional issues can be worked through and resolved. We are individuals, yet at the same time we are one grand, integral human organism. Somewhere within this organism are the heart-centred experiences that can propel us forward upon our path.

After all, the Real is not the construct but the profound personal experience. To understand love, we need to experience love, not to have it given to us in a text message or written on a Valentine’s card. Likewise, that which we call the ‘self’ is only a construct until we can experience it through the revelation brought about by others. Alone, we are unable to ‘see’ the self – no more than we can see our own faces. And just as we need a mirror in order to view our face, so too do we need other people in life to be as mirrors to reveal the workings of the Self – for no Self is an island. Each Self is a part of the Whole looking back at It-Self.

About the Author

Kingsley L. Dennis is the author of The Phoenix Generation: A New Era of Connection, Compassion, and Consciousnessand The Sacred Revival: Magic, Mind & Meaning in a Technological Age, available at Amazon. Visit him on the web at http://www.kingsleydennis.com/.

References:

[1] Alan Watts, The Book (Rider, p107)

[2] Idries Shah, The Sufis, (Octagon Press, p54)

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Spirituality

How Hell Works: A Brief Guide to the Afterlife

Sooner or later, time is up for everyone. It would be ridiculous to think that after such a life we ​​will be able to somehow penetrate through the heavenly gates or deceive the archangel guarding them. It is worth accepting the inevitable: not booths and houris are waiting for us, but the gloomy landscape of hell. And in order not to get confused at the grave board, you should prepare for this in advance. Moreover, you can find a whole bunch of authoritative evidence on how to navigate in hellish terrain. The main thing is not to panic.

Where is it, the underworld? Some ancient peoples burned the deceased: this is a sure sign that the soul must ascend to its new abode in heaven. If he was buried in the ground, then she will go to the underworld.

If sent on the last journey by boat, it sails to the country across the sea, at the very edge of the Earth. The Slavs had a variety of opinions on this, but they all agreed on one thing: the souls of those people who are not kept near their former dwellings enter the afterlife, and they lead about the same existence there – they harvest, hunt …

Those who, due to a curse, or an unfulfilled promise, or something else, cannot leave their bodies, remain in our world – either settling into their former shells, then taking the form of animals, natural phenomena, or simply ghosts of failure. We can say that the afterlife of such souls is our own world, so this is not the worst option for a posthumous existence.

Egyptian hell

Everything will turn out much worse if you find yourself in the afterlife of the ancient Egyptians, where Osiris reigns. During his earthly incarnation, he was killed and dismembered by his own brother Set. This could not but affect the character of the lord of the dead.

Osiris looks repulsive: he looks like a mummy, clutching the signs of pharaoh’s power. Sitting on the throne, he presides over the court, which weighed the actions of the newly arrived souls. The god of life Horus brings them here. Hold on tightly to his hand: the hawk-headed Chorus is the son of the underground king, so it may well put in a good word for you.

Egypt

The courtroom is huge – this is the entire firmament. According to the directions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, a number of rules should be observed in it. List in detail the sins that you did not have time to commit during your lifetime. After that, you will be offered to leave a memory of yourself and help your relatives by depicting a court scene on a papyrus scroll.

If your artistic talent is at its best, you will spend the rest of eternity here, participating in the affairs of Osiris and his numerous divine relatives. The rest await a cruel execution: they are thrown to be devoured by Ammatu, a monster with the body of a hippo, paws and mane of a lion and a crocodile mouth.

However, the lucky ones may find themselves in his jaws: from time to time there are “cleansings”, in which the affairs of the wards souls are again reviewed. And if relatives have not provided the appropriate amulets, you will most likely be eaten by a ruthless monster.

Greek hell

It is even easier to get into the afterlife kingdom of the Greeks: you will be carried away by the god of death Thanatos himself, who brings here all the “fresh” souls. During big battles and battles, where he, apparently, cannot cope alone, Thanatos is helped by winged Kerrs, who carry the fallen to the kingdom of the eternally gloomy Hades.

In the far west, at the edge of the world, stretches a lifeless plain, in some places overgrown with willows and poplars with black bark. Behind it, at the bottom of the abyss, the muddy quagmire of Acheron opens. It merges with the black waters of the Styx, which encircles the world of the dead nine times and separates it from the world of the living. Even the gods are wary of breaking the oaths given by the name of Styx: these waters are sacred and ruthless. They flow into Cocytus, the river of weeping that gives rise to Lethe, the river of oblivion.

Greece

You can cross the river Styx in old man Charon’s boat. For his labor, he takes a small copper coin from each. If you have no money, you just have to wait for the end of time at the entrance. Charon’s boat crosses all nine streams and drops passengers into the abode of the dead.

Here you will be greeted by a huge three-headed dog Cerberus, safe for those entering, but ferocious and merciless to those who are trying to return to the sunny world. On a vast plain, under a chilling wind, wait quietly among other shadows for your turn. The uneven road leads to the palace of Hades himself, surrounded by the fiery stream of Phlegeton. The bridge over it rests against the gate, standing on diamond columns.

Behind the gates is a huge hall made of bronze, where Hades himself and his assistants, judges Minos, Eak and Radamant, are seated. By the way, all three were once people of flesh and blood, like you and me. They were just kings and ruled their nations so well that after their death Zeus made them judges over all the dead.

With a high probability, just judges will cast you even lower, into Tartarus – the kingdom of pain and groans, located deep under the palace. Here you will have to meet three old sisters, goddesses of vengeance, Erinnias, whom Hades put to watch over sinners.

Their appearance is terrible: blue lips from which poisonous saliva drips; black cloaks like the wings of bats. With balls of snakes in their hands, they rush through the dungeon, lighting their path with torches, and make sure that everyone fully drinks the cup of their punishment. Among the other “indigenous inhabitants” of Tartarus are Lamia, the stealing child, the three-headed Hecate, the demon of nightmares, the corpse-eater Eurynom.

Here you will also meet many mythical figures. Tyrant Ixion is forever chained to a wheel of fire. The chained giant Titius, who offended the tender Leto, is pecked by two vultures. The blasphemer Tantalus is immersed up to his throat in the freshest clear water, but as soon as he, tormented by thirst, bends down, it retreats from him. The Danaids who killed their husbands are forced to endlessly fill the leaky vessel. The quirky Sisyphus, who once deceived the spirit of death Thanatos, and the intractable Hades, and Zeus himself, rolls a stone up the mountain, which breaks down every time he approaches the top.

Christian hell

The images of Christian hell are largely inspired by the ancient Greeks. It is among Christians that the geography of hell has been studied in most detail. Getting there is a little more difficult. Already in the apocryphal books – those that were not included in the Holy Scriptures or were excluded from it later – different opinions were expressed about the location of hell.

Thus, the “Book of Enoch” places the devil himself in the eastern lifeless desert, where Raphael “makes a hole” into which he lowers him, bound hand and foot, and rolls him over with a stone. However, according to the same apocrypha, the soul will go in the opposite direction, to the west, where it will “groan” in the depressions of the high mountain range.

At the end of the 6th century, Pope Gregory the Great, distinguishing between two hells – upper and lower – placed one on the ground, the second under it.

In his 1714 book on the nature of hell, the English occultist Tobias Swinden placed hell in the sun. He motivated his assumption by the then existing ideas about our light as a ball of fire and a quote from the Apocalypse (“The fourth Angel poured out his bowl on the Sun: and it was given to him to burn people with fire”).

And his contemporary and follower, William Whiston, declared all celestial comets to be hell: when they get into the hot regions of the sun, they fry souls, and when they move away, they freeze them. However, you should hardly hope to get on a comet. The most widely accepted idea is that hell is located in the center of the Earth and has at least one exit to the surface.

Most likely, this exit is located in the north, although there are other opinions. So, an old poem about the wanderings of the Irish saint Brendan tells about his journey to the far west, where he finds not only heavenly places, but also places of torment for sinners.

The sun

And in heaven, and under the earth, and on the earth itself, hell is placed in the apocryphal “Walk of the Mother of God through torment.” This book is replete with detailed descriptions of punishments. Asking God to disperse the complete darkness that envelops the suffering in the West, Mary sees a red-hot tar pour out on the unbelievers. Here, in a cloud of fire, those who “sleep like the dead at dawn on Sunday” are tormented, and those who have not stood in church during their lifetime are sitting on red-hot benches.

In the south, other sinners are immersed in the river of fire: those cursed by their parents – up to the waist, fornicators – up to the chest, and up to the throat – “those who ate human flesh,” that is, traitors who abandoned children to be devoured by beasts or betrayed their brothers before the king. But deepest of all, to the crown, are the perjurers.

The Mother of God sees here other punishments due to lovers of profit (hanging by the legs), sowers of enmity and Klchristian adepts (hanging by the ears). In the “left side of paradise”, in the raging waves of boiling tar, the Jews who crucified Christ are suffering.

John Milton, author of the poem “Paradise Lost”, is in the realm of the eternal chaos. According to his concept, Satan was overthrown even before the creation of the earth and heaven, which means that hell is outside these areas. The devil himself sits in Pandemonium, the “brilliant capital”, where he receives the most prominent demons and demons.

Pandemonium is a huge castle with halls and porticoes, built by the same architect as the palace of the Heavenly King. The angel architect, who joined the army of Satan, was expelled from heaven with him. Myriads of spirits rush along the corridors of the palace, swarming in the earth and air. There are so many of them that only satanic sorcery allows them to be accommodated.

Even more confusing is the medieval Christian theologian Emanuel Swedenborg. He distinguished three different hells, corresponding to the three levels of heaven. And since God has dominion over everything, all three hells are ruled by him through specially delegated angels.

In his opinion, Satan does not exist at all as the ruler of the kingdom of evil. The devil in Swedenborg’s understanding is a collective name for the most dangerous “evil geniuses”; Beelzebub unites spirits striving for dominion even in heaven; Satan means “not so evil” spirits. All these spirits are terrible to look at and, like corpses, are deprived of life.

The faces of some are black, in others they are fiery, and in others they are “ugly with pimples, abscesses and ulcers; many of them don’t see their faces, others have only teeth sticking out. ” Swedenborg formulated the idea that as heaven reflects one person, and hell in aggregate is only a reflection of one devil and can be represented in this form. The devil’s mouth, leading to the fetid underworld – this is the path awaiting sinners.

Heaven

Do not overly trust the opinion of some authors who argue that the entrance to hell can be locked. Christ in the “Apocalypse” says: “I have the keys of hell and death.” But Milton claims that the keys to Gehenna (apparently on behalf of Jesus) are kept by a terrible half-woman, half-snake. On the surface of the earth, the gate may look quite harmless, like a pit or a cave, or like a mouth of a volcano. According to Dante Alighieri, author of The Divine Comedy, written at the beginning of the 14th century, souls can go to hell by passing through a dense and gloomy forest.

This poem is the most authoritative source about the hellish device. The structure of the underworld is described in all its complexity. The hell of the Divine Comedy is the torso of Lucifer, inside it has a funnel-shaped structure. Starting a journey through hell, Dante and his guide Virgil descend deeper and deeper, without turning anywhere, and in the end find themselves in the same place from which they entered it.

The strangeness of this hellish geometry was noticed by the famous Russian mathematician, philosopher and theologian Pavel Florensky. He proved very reasonably that Dante’s hell is based on non-Euclidean geometry. Like the entire Universe in the concepts of modern physics, hell in the poem has a finite volume, but has no boundaries, which was proved (theoretically) by the Swiss Weil.

Muslim hell

It looks like a Christian hell and an underworld that awaits Muslims. Among the stories of The Thousand and One Nights, seven circles are told. The first is for the faithful who have died an unjust death, the second is for apostates, the third is for the pagans. Jinn and the descendants of Iblis himself inhabit the fourth and fifth circles, Christians and Jews – the sixth. The innermost, seventh circle is waiting for the hypocrites.

Before getting here, souls await the great Doomsday, which will come at the end of time. However, the wait does not seem long to them.

Like most other sinners, visitors to the Islamic Hell are eternally roasted on fire, and every time their skin is burned, it grows again. The Zakkum tree grows here, the fruits of which, like the heads of the devil, are the food of the punished. Do not try the local cuisine: these fruits boil in the stomach like molten copper.

Those who eat them are tormented by intolerable thirst, but the only way to quench it is to drink boiling water so foul-smelling that it “melts the insides and skin.” In short, this is a very, very hot place. In addition, Allah even enlarges the bodies of the kafirs, increasing their torment.

Honestly, none of the described hells arouses good feelings in us, especially in comparison with our small, but generally comfortable world. So where exactly to go is up to you. Of course, it is not possible to give a complete information about the structure of hell on the pages of the magazine.

However, we hope that our quick overview will help everyone who finds themselves there to quickly navigate and greet their new eternity with the words of John Milton:

“Hello, sinister world! Hello, Beyond Gehenna! “

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Spirituality

Chalk portrait of Virgin Mary appeared 13 years later, Mexican people call for miracles

A recent miraculous phenomenon on an asphalt road in Guadalupe, Mexico, the image of the Virgin Mary painted in chalk 13 years ago suddenly appeared. Local residents believe this "miraculous manifestation". (Video screenshot)

A mysterious phenomenon recently appeared on an asphalt road in Guadalupe, Mexico. A portrait of the Virgin Mary painted with chalk 13 years ago suddenly appeared. The local residents were quite surprised and believe in this “miraculous manifestation”.

This chalk-painted portrait of the Virgin is located on the asphalt pavement of an open-air parking lot next to the Guadalupe municipal government. It was an unknown person who held the “Bella Vía” (Bella Vía) in Guadalupe in 2007 Painted during the festival.

Recently, a man splashed water on the asphalt road there, and this portrait of the Virgin unexpectedly appeared again.

The staff of the city government said that the parking lot has undergone many changes and the city has also experienced extreme weather. This image should have disappeared a few years ago, but it has suddenly appeared miraculously recently.

After the incident spread in the local area, it immediately attracted a large number of people to watch, and city hall officials were also surprised. Many people believe that this is the miracle of the Virgin, and many believers come to worship and light candles and place flowers on the spot.

Félix Palomo, director of the Cultural Affairs Bureau of the Guadalupe Municipal Government, also shared a photo of this mysterious chalk drawing on Twitter and wrote:

“Believe it or not, the problem is that this portrait was created 13 years ago. How could it reappear afterwards?”

At present, the portrait of the Virgin Mary has been surrounded by traffic triangles, and the ground is often splashed with water to make the portrait of the Virgin Mary appear more clearly. As for why this chalk-drawn portrait of the Virgin Maru can be kept for 13 years, no experts have yet provided any explanation.

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Spirituality

The legend that connects the Holy Grail with a Polish village – The Knights Templar and the secret tunnels

Like all great travelers, the Knights Templar of medieval times needed some places to settle, and so they built some of the most impressive castles and cathedrals.

Famous examples of these 13th-century buildings are found throughout the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Less well known are the impressive chapels and fortifications they built in western Poland, where the Knights Templar and other crusaders colonized the area and began to weave their own mythology into the idyllic rural landscape.

A trip to the region of Western Pomerania and the villages of Chwarszczany, Myślibórz and Rurka – near the border with Germany – is an adventure in a neglected destination, where historical secrets are still revealed.

And, according to at least one local legend, there could still be hidden the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus Christ drank at the Last Supper and later had his blood.

The road to Chwarszczany, a village lost among fields and forests, is not very well known, and has few permanent residents. The village itself is a collection of faded houses with less than 100 inhabitants who have chickens and grow tomatoes in the summer.

The farms and houses built in the traditional German style, testify to the geopolitical unrest that has affected the area over the centuries.

The special, timeless chapels built by the Knights Templar

It is here that the Knights Templar established a place of worship. Made of red bricks on a granite base, the church of Agios Stanislaos was built in 1232 on an isolated spot.

The chapel is designed according to the Temple of the Temples, an intricate code that the knights obeyed for fear of exile from the fraternity. The appearance of the building is defensive, its high walls are built to withstand attacks as well as the ravages of time.

It is still used as a place of worship, although Sunday mornings in Chwarszczany are quiet, we usually see about 30 parishioners gathered inside the chapel. There are two renovated frescoes on the walls.

The chapel in Chwarszczany

Discoveries are still being made here that shed new light on the lives and deaths of the knights and their followers. Among the finds below the sanctuary of the chapel are the bodies of some of the knights themselves and a possible secret passage.

Przemysław Kołosowski, an archaeologist working to preserve Chwarszczany’s medieval heritage, says that during excavations in 2019, researchers discovered more fortifications and a cemetery using ground-penetrating radar.

“Our GPR has identified gothic crypts with the remains of the Knights Templar beneath the chapel,” Kołosowski told CNN Travel. “According to legends and medieval documents, there was a well near the chapel. According to rumors, the well served as the entrance to a secret tunnel. “This requires further thorough archaeological research.”

The stories of the Knights Templar are a source of inspiration for movies

The Knights Templar have fascinated historians and archaeologists for years, in part because of the shady aspects of some of their practices.

Their Order was founded in Jerusalem in the 12th century to protect the pilgrims of the Holy Land. They became a powerful force throughout Europe, enjoying papal privileges, tax breaks and rich donations, while at the same time gaining legendary status.

The Knights Templar protected the Holy Grail

They are said to have become the patrons of the Holy Grail and the Ark of the Covenant, a sacred ark in which were kept the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments that God had given to Moses for the second time, and other sacred objects of the Israelis. These stories have inspired films such as Indiana Jones and Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

“The Knights Templar are always involved in everything,” Italian writer Uberto Eco wrote in his book “Foucault’s Pendulum.” 

This certainly seems to be the case in 12th and 13th century Europe. In western Poland, landowners decided to prevent this entanglement by inviting knights to settle in what was then known as the Pojezierze Myśliborskie region.

Struggles for political power

About 40 miles (25 miles) north of Chwarszczany, another Romanesque building owes its existence to the medieval order. The Chapel of the Knights at Rurka is a rugged stone building dating back to 1250, built in the architectural style of the German region of Saxony.

In a secluded forest spot, the Rurka Chapel was sold to private hands in 1999 and is closed for renovation.

Going further northeast, after a 25-minute drive, travelers will reach Myślibórz, a narrow community of narrow roads surrounded by forests and four lakes.

The Knights Templar arrived in Mysliborz, Poland in the 13th century. It is an idyllic place, but the show here is stolen by the extremely preserved fortifications of the city, which today look almost as they look during the Crusades.

Myślibórz’s defense architecture provides a glimpse of what life was like in the Temple Age, when communities lived in fear of wars and struggles for political power.

Historical documents place the Knights Templar at Myślibórz from about 1238, when the land around their city was ceded to the local aristocrat, Duke Władysław Odonic.

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The fortifications around Myślibórz were built in the 13th and 14th centuries. The city has retained its medieval town planning, with a square in the middle. Around this market there is the 18th century town hall, and houses.

Even today, the main entrances to the city are through two medieval gates, the Pyrzycka Gate and the Nowogródzka Gate, which were built in the early 13th and 14th centuries. Modern roads allow cars to enter the city through the gates. Inside the fortifications there is a cylindrical stone tower with loopholes.

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Visitors should ask about a secret underground tunnel that runs down the city, from the large church on Market Square to the Dominican convent, which, according to Karolczak, was originally the site of the Temple of the Knights Templars.

After the expulsion of the Knights Templar from Myślibórz in the late 13th century, their legendary treasure disappeared. Karolczak says that according to local tradition, the treasure was sunk by the Knights themselves, in a nearby lake.

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