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The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven [Paperback]

James Wasserman
1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

29 Mar 2001
A thousand years ago Christian battled Muslim for possession of a strip of land upon which both their religions were founded. These Crusades changed the course of Western history, but less known is the fact that they also were the meeting ground for two legendary secret societies: The Knights Templar and their Muslim counterparts, the Assassins. In The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven, occult scholar and secret society member James Wasserman provides compelling evidence that the interaction of the Knights Templar and the Assassins in the Holy Land transformed the Templars from the Pope's private army into a true occult society, from which they would sow the seeds of the Renaissance and the Western Mystery Tradition. Both orders were destroyed as heretical some seven hundred years ago, but Templar survivors are believed to have carried the secret teachings of the East into an occult underground, from which sprang both Rosicrucianism and Masonry. Assassin survivors, known as Nizari Ismailis, flourish to this day under the spiritual leadership of the Aga Khan. Wasserman strips the myths from both groups and penetrates to the heart of their enlightened beliefs and rigorous practices, delivering the most probing picture yet of these holy warriors.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Destiny Books,U.S. (29 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 089281859X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0892818594
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 350,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Against a sweeping historical backdrop, Wasserman draws his own conclusions about the interrelationship of these two most powerful orders of the late mediaeval Middle East, shedding new light on their spiritual ideals and the perennial appeal of their myths. -- Hymenaeus Beta, Frater Superior, Ordo Templi Orientis

One always looks forward to such well researched and eloquently written expositions. -- Elias Ibrahim, New Dawn, September-October 2001

This book provides a fascinating, if speculative, insight into the secret life of the holy warriors of Christendom and Islam. -- The Cauldron, February 2002

Wasserman adds profoundly to our understanding of the religious, ideological, and initiatory forces that shaped the development of Western civilization. [He] brings both impeccable scholarship and a rare gift form making even the most complex metaphysical concepts intelligible to his readers. -- Michael A. Aquino, Ph.D., High Priest Emeritus, Temple of Set

Wasserman weaves a fascinating tale based on factual data from the best scholarly sources. -- Christopher S. Hyatt, Ph.D., Magus of the Golden Dawn

About the Author

James Wasserman is the author and designer of several heralded works on the occult, including "Art and Symbols of the Occult" (Inner Traditions) and "The Egyptian Book of the Dead "(Chronicle Books). A twenty-five-year member of the Ordo Templi Orientis, he lives in New York.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Right wing propaganda 17 Jan 2009
If you like your history written by a right-wing ideologue, without the discipline to separate fact from political opinion, then this is the book for you. To be fair I can only really judge on the basis of the first 100 pages, life is much too short to waste time reading such a biased & opinionated tract.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.6 out of 5 stars  29 reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 14 Jan 2002
By aaXia Interactive design - Published on
This is an excellent book. The author is uniquely qualified to offer
this new and exciting study of the Knights Templar and the Assassins,
which highlights the points of convergence between them. It is written
from the point-of-view of a longtime member of an occult society that
claims derivation from the interaction between Christians and Muslims
during the Crusades. At the same time, the author states his
determination to adhere to the most authoritative and scholarly sources
for his research.
Legends assert that the Templars were infused with Assassin doctrines
leading them to the anti-Christian heresy for which they were destroyed
by the political and religious authorities of their day. The historical
basis for such claims are carefully explored. Convincing evidence is
provided to buttress the long held theory that the interaction of these
two groups contributed to the Renaissance and the flourishing of the
occult arts in the West -- as Templar survivors carried the secret
teachings into an underground from which sprang both Rosicrucianism,
modern Masonry, and the disclosure of the essence of Kabbalah.
While many authors have either uncritically repeated misinformation or
invented their own fancies to embellish history, Wasserman has
scrupulously sought to tell an accurate story based on scholarly sources
that reads as far more fascinating than fiction
This is a mature work whose historical accuracy lends credibility to its
spiritual conclusions. It is a must read for anyone who has suffered
either the tedium of the scholar or the fantasies of the lunatic fringe.
27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine overview 10 July 2001
By Aramis Delacroix - Published on
This is a fine overview of the history of the Templars and the Assassins, with a focus on their effect on the development of secret societies in the West. It is well written, if perhaps a little dry, and doesn't engage in the usual occult book sins of rumor-mongering, making up facts, and being generally soft-brained and fuzzy thinking. The author clearly has the occult background to understand the often cryptic and Byzantine connections between the groups and the philosophies that they espouse.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A well researched compilation of other books with an interesting resulting theory. 1 May 2007
By B. Stewart - Published on
This book is a very good broad historical account of the templars and the assassins. It is an overview of each of the secretive orders and the effects that each had on the times in which they existed; the crusades. Wasserman then draws from these two societies to create his theory of the creation of secularism and the rise of occult groups present today.

Wasserman is a member of an occult group, "Ordo Templi Orientis", founder of one of their "lodges", and a follower of Aleister Crowley. I make note of this because the genesis of this book was to prove the point in time at which occultism began. Wasserman argues that the Templars and the Assassins at some point cross-pollinated to create a new sect of religious thinking; what Mr. Wasserman labels as "esoteric truth" that resulted in the "development of the Western Mysteries", his personal area of religious or secular belief.

That being said, the book is a very good primer for any beginner on the subject of Templars, Assassins or the time of the Crusades. A definite must read for anyone that is beginning their journey in to the past of the warriors of the crusades and the political and religious backdrop that created their fates.

If you are a student of the subject or a history junkie (as I am), this may be a bit sophomoric and overly concise. That is to say that Mr. Wasserman did do a great job of researching many important works regarding the 2 groups but it is all referenced from other works and only his final thesis (that the combination of eastern and western religions created modern occultism) is original; his bibliography is impressive and anyone that wants to truly understand in depth history of this time would be well served by reading the majority of the books in the bibliography.

But, in the end, if you are looking for new information, this is not the book for you. However, if you are searching for new theories, especially those which are not mainstream (specifically those related to occultism) this book would be a good place to get theories based on facts.

I did enjoy reading the book as I have read too many studies on the groups, especially the Templars , and this places everything in a slightly different light. The final section of the book is a summation of Mr. Wasserman's opinions, his thesis, regarding the interaction of the two groups and the resulting age of enlightenment that produced his religious order as well as many others.

Do yourself a favor and check the bibliography and grab some of those books. Mr. Wasserman does reference these books and acknowledges the importance of the works as his sources for his information.

Again, if you are new to the subject, jump on in and enjoy; and then move on to the meat and potatoes of the subject matter. But be wary of the final section as it is more propaganda than fact, more personal theory than thesis.

If you are a Templar or Assassin history junkie (as I am), you can probably skip this and move on to another study of the groups, the time period, or the geography of the crusades and the forces that led to the ongoing war between islam and christianity.

So, to sum up: A good read, well researched and informative for anyone who is new to the topic; be cautious with the final section where many conclusions are drawn based on Mr. Wasserman's faith in his occultist beliefs.
42 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly yet readable examination 24 Sep 2001
By E. IBRAHIM - Published on
"The richness of the historical truths of the Order of Assassins and the Knights Templar intertwine inexorably with the myths that have stimulated the imagination of countless minds through the centuries. Both the Assassins and Templars were destroyed as heretics some seven hundred years ago."
Thus begins the latest book by James Wasserman, "The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven" . Like many other researchers and practitioners of the Western Esoteric Tradition, I too have had a long and continuous interest in the "myths" of both of these groups, not least of all since I was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, which still has a Templar Fort as a landmark. Both groups shared a very similar structure, and were said to be guardians of initiatic wisdom (Wasserman supports the idea that the Templars were transformed by an infusion of this Wisdom from the Assassins). Both groups embody intriguing archetypes: the noble group of warrior monks devoted to a higher purpose (the Templar motto was "Not for our Glory but for yours O Lord") which supposedly later degenerated into a powerful elite that snubbed political and religious authority and then was sacrificed on a funeral pyre from whose ashes many branches of the Western initiatic societies claim lineage. In the case of the Assassins it is the darker archetype of the secret society using drugs to gain recruits, and deliberately molding them for political purposes by utilizing them as agents employing the method now synonymous with their name: "assassination". According to Brocardus, a 14th-century German priest, "The Assassins...sell themselves, are thirsty for human blood, kill the innocent for a price, and care nothing for either life or salvation. Like the devil, they transfigure themselves into angels of light, by imitating the gestures, garments, languages, customs and acts of various nations and peoples; thus, hidden in sheep's clothing, they suffer death as soon as they are recognized."
There are so many unanswered mysteries surrounding both orders , it is little wonder that there is a ready public hungry for the newest addition to the voluminous literature which often glamorizes these groups or merely repeats the mythos of secret initiatic teachings and the "hidden hand" which created Freemasonry , and even international banking . A detailed overview of both groups which leads us through the labyrinthine turnings to one of the best examinations of the historical reality and context of both orders. Wasserman acknowledges the help of such eminent scholars as Peter Lamborn Wilson (also known as the delightful Hakim Bey). For the first time we have access, in English to the document "In Praise of the New Knighthood" by St Bernard of Clairvaux, who supervised the writing of the Rule of the Templars.
Originally appearing as a preliminary investigation in "The Equinox 3, No 10", the author openly states his 25 year affiliation with the OTO. However he has truly fleshed out this earlier draft and presents many missing pieces of the jigsaw. Details of the theory and structure of secret societies, the little understood divisions between the Sunni and Shiite sects and the sub branches of seven and twelve imam schools are presented with the healthy mixture of scholarship and plain speaking. The Templars are shown to have been a revolt against the decadence that knighthood had become, and the Assassins are shown to have been a society of free thinkers, with a legitimate and sophisticated hierarchical system of nine degrees of initiation into Gnosis. By necessity they had to have a military wing in order to safeguard their existence due to the tyranny of local political and religious leaders. The Ismaili Nizari sect still in existence today and ruled by the Aga Khan are shown to be the descendants of the Assassins.
Curiously Wasserman points out that there is no evidence of the actual administration of the drug Hashish to any of the members and points out that the allegation was leveled against them by Sunni critics who wished to denigrate them by associating them with a practice even now associated in the Middle Eastern world with the disreputable elements of the lower class. Idries Shah has pointed out in his writings that another derivation for their name is "People of the Assas", ie "the Foundation" and infers that they were actually an arm of the Sufis whose allegorical methods were interpreted literally. Witness the common reference to wine as an intoxicant (symbolizing the inebriated state of ordinary consciousness and paradoxically its transmutation) amongst the many Sufi poets, such as Rumi and Omar Khayyam, who are claimed by the Nizaris as being members of their order .
There is a lingering romance in the popular mind with these seminal influences on Western culture generally, and esoteric orders in particular. This book will prove to be a valuable addition to the library of any serious researcher, and a good companion to revelatory texts such as John Robinson's "Born in Blood", which has presented one of the most lucid substantiations of the Templar origin of Freemasonry. Whilst many other books merely repeat the many historical details , James Wasserman has done us all a great service by allowing us to access further insights into the beliefs and relevance of these traditions. One always looks forward to such well researched and eloquently written expositions.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As timely as today's headlines.. 14 Jan 2002
By A. Tjekeim - Published on
A searing portrait of the Crusades, as timely as today's headlines.
I found this book to be an invaluable look into the minds and structure
of the premier "terrorist" group in history, written well before the
fateful attacks of September 11, 2001.
The roots of the organizational structure of modern terrorist groups
like al-Qaeda reach back a thousand years to the Persian and Syrian
Assassins under Hasan-i-Sabah. At the same time, the differences in the
methodology and beliefs of the ancient Assassins seem to justify the
author's clear enthusiasm for this ancient brotherhood.
The Assassin doctrines and methods are presented here in a clear and
comprehensible manner. Unlike today's indiscriminate mass murderers
claiming divine sanction for their psychotic behavior, the Assassins
were respectful of human life. Those targeted in their 200 year campaign
were those responsible for the attacks against Assassin interests. Bin
Laden is deluded if he thinks he has inherited the Assassin mantle.
Highly recommended.
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