As we enter the ancestral lands of my Great Grandmother Maria Templer, we are stunned to see an Eagle flying overhead. We pull up a side lane to get a closer look and its most likely a Golden Headed Eagle or it could be a long legged Buzzard. It must be being flown by a falconer as it shouldn’t be here and it is circling over a church spire. The dirt lane we have swerved in to make sure we are not going crazy is lined with Aaron’s Rod. Many years ago I made a flower essence of this plants about initiation into Priest and Priesteshood and it seems significant as Aaron’s rod is unusual as a wild flower..
I had wondered when I found out my Great Grandmother was called Maria Templer /Templar some years ago whether there was any connection to the Knights Templar. In preparing for this journey, and in particular reading ‘The Sun and the Serpent’ by Hamish Miller and Paul Broadhurst I also discover that this area of England was the centre of activity for the Knights Templar.
I have discovered from ancestry.com including DNA testing and a distant relative I found online that my Great Great Grandfather Caleb Templar was a gamekeeper of the Manor House at Marsh Buckingham and was married to Dinah Coles. I love this name as Dinah was the daughter of Jacob from the bible (depicted in the Red Tent) and the carrier of the Mysteries of Women of plants and Goddess rituals. Our family were mostly farmers although one Mary Templer was also a Landlady of her own public house. She was born Christmas Eve of 1815. She was a spinster so it is possible she was of alternative sexuality. There weren’t many options for expression in those days but I imagine she was a character.
At the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Marsh Gibbon we discover the ancient graves of my ancestors lined up on the pathway to the entrance between ancient Yew Trees- Caleb 4 times removed, John, Thomas and William Templer. There are some leads to follow up on too such as an ancestor on the matriarchal line Thomas Mason who it says died at Abbingdon Abbey, Northampton in 1882.
We visit two other villages connected to my family line, Ambrosden and Ludgershall. Both have a church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary which seems to be an unusual density for such a small area (about 10 mile radius) near Bicester.
I had hoped to find some kind of evidence of a link with the Knight’s Templars but there is nothing concrete. My research into the surname Templer said ‘Servants of the Knights Templar’. It was not a common name and it last at least 4 generations. I do know that they left the area suddenly in 1857 for Burton on Trent.
Was this unexpected move to do with a family tragedy as in the case of Jay’s family? The Knights Templar came under a lot of suspicion from the church and many were tried as heretics. What is interesting is that in the next Census in 1861 they had changed their name to Caleb and Dinah Tompson. So they not only moved, they wanted to change their name as well. I can only speculate about this.
I feel that for many years, since my initiation as a Priestess in the late 90’s, I have had a direct connection with the Knights Templars on a spiritual level. The Holy Grail mysteries have been a constant source of fascination. I have done a pilgrimage to France around 10 years ago exploring the Knights Templar and the Black Madonna. The story of Percival, Gawain and the Green Knight, King Arthur are ones I know inside out.
In some ways it doesn’t matter if the connection is through my bloodline, it is for me a very deep and pervasive need to follow its calling. In recent years I have been to Catalonia a few times and have again connected there to the mysteries of the Holy Grail at the Church of Sant Nicolau near Girona.
When we began this journey we expected it to be about the St Mary and St Michael Ley lines, but more and more I’m feeling St Mary is vitally important too. Its not coincidence all these churches built on the ley line are dedicated to St Mary, Mary Magdalene and St Margaret. What is the connection of the Mother of Christ and the Ley lines? It almost feels she is a Mother Earth Goddess but this is a very new concept of her to me.
I’m also seeing a bigger picture of ceremonial pathways and alignment between sites on the Orkneys and Anglesey and Southern England. I feel some sadness that the final week of our pilgrimage is upon us. There are some discomforts living from a camper van, but mostly I feel very happy travelling with Jay and the dogs in this way. We are entering into deeper Knights Templar country next and then onto Norfolk which has, I have recently discovered, amazing connections with St Mary.