Full of anguish, Simon Magus urges his horse towards the summit of Mount Carmel. It has been a long and tiring ride from the fortress of Machaerus, but as the Temple of Light comes into view it looks so beautiful in the setting sun that it lightens his heart and he is glad to be here after the horror of the past few days.
On his return from a sojourn in Egypt embarked upon to hone his magical skills, he learned that the Baptiser had been arrested by Herod Antipas and was being held at Machaerus. He made his way there without delay with the intention of procuring John’s release. Simon knew Herod would receive him as he owed him a debt for magic he had worked on his behalf in the past. However, on his arrival at the fortress he learned that events had overtaken him and turned far worse, John was dead and his head had been severed from his body rendering his raising impossible.
It is dusk as Simon taps his secret message on the bolted door to the stables of the Community of Light. The stable boy Deter hears his knock and comes running to draw the heavy bolts free. He helps Simon dismount and takes the reigns of his horse to lead them safely inside.
“My Lord, they have just gathered for evening service. There is a good fire in the refectory and a comfortable chair beside it. Shall I go to the kitchens and fetch a plate of food and some wine for you?”
“No thank you Deter, I must go to the Temple, I have important news that cannot wait. I will eat with the others later.”
Simon strides through the columned walkway to the cloistered courtyard; the outer guard at the temple entrance hears his footsteps and looks in his direction. Recognising him at once, he opens the great wooden doors and steps inside to make his announcement.
“Master, Simon Magus is here and awaits your leave to enter the temple.”
“Bring him in at once brother, I am anxious to see him.”
The gathering of priests and priestesses turn expectantly as Simon joins the company. He brings a breath of cold to the assembly as he delivers his shocking news.
“They have murdered the Baptiser, beheaded your Prince of Light! Oh Teacher of Righteousness you will be next! The spineless priests of the shadow mean to destroy you all!”
Murmurs pass between the priests and priestesses as they look to their Master. Visibly shocked at the death of his cousin, the master postpones the ceremony and descends the steps of the altar towards Simon.
“This means the truth is known, the priests of the shadow have discovered that the dynasty of the Priest Kings survives. These murderers will not rest until they have eliminated our bloodline. One thing is fortunate, they are not holy men; they do not have the sight, they have no power of prophecy, so we may be able to outwit them. We are now too visible and vulnerable at the Temple of Light; we must go into hiding and take with us the precious scrolls from our libraries. Let us make preparations without delay and go to Qumran, the caves near the factory will be ideal for our purpose.
For now, brothers and sisters, let us attend to our worship, we will talk further with Simon later on.”
Simon repairs to the refectory fire to find a goblet of wine waiting on the side table. He sips it gladly, it gives him a warm glow, his limbs relax after the long ride and he nods in and out of sleep whilst the table is being prepared for the evening meal. He wakes to the smell of warm bread and the scraping of chairs as the priests and priestesses are seated. Grace is said and the soup ladled, the simple meal is delicious and he wipes his bowl clean.
During the following weeks the temple libraries are gradually emptied of the rolled papyrus and leather. Each day scrolls are loaded onto a wagon and taken away to be stored in clay jars fired in the Qumran kilns. There the chronicles will wait to be hidden in the surrounding hill caves.
When the inventory of the Temple valuables is complete the papyrus documents are handed to Simon. It is important these details are given the chance of a long life so he prepares sheets of copper alloy, his scribe crafts a long handled stylus to begin the painstaking work of engraving the details of the treasures and their hiding places on the copper scrolls to be interred at Khirbet.
When the preparations for their removal to Qumran are nearing completion, the Master welcomes Judas Iscariot to his study, they embrace and the Master looks deep into the eyes of his closest friend.
“I have had a terrible vision, Judas, I saw Jerusalem in turmoil, the streets full of fighting, soldiers rounding people up and killing any who attempted to escape. There was smoke and the rubble of buildings destroyed. It was a vision of bloodlust and murder, the forces of malevolence having caused chaos and the destruction of the very temple itself. All the land was laid to waste even to Carmel and our Temple of Light torn apart.
I have been pondering this for some time and have come to the conclusion that if we can wrest the wicked priests from the Jerusalem Temple, we may be able to avert this tragedy.”
“Jesuah, it is true that the Temple’s traditions have been destroyed since Herod replaced the initiated priests he first favoured with his own unholy yes men. But how are we going to displace them? They have the carapace protection of Rome.”
“We must show courage my friend. When we are settled at Qumran, we should act on a plan to oust them by revealing that I am the true High Priest who carries the bloodline of King David.”
“Jesuah, you are talking of exposing the secret we have kept since our childhood in order to protect you, you are exposing yourself to the wrath of Herod Antipas!”
“The time is right for challenge, if we do nothing a revolt will happen later anyway and be the worse for the waiting. We have the chance to alter things now and return initiated priests to the temple. Everything depends on the people of Jerusalem having the courage to accept the validity of our order and request the Roman Governor to return their true priesthood.”
“What will happen if the people will not come forward?”
“Then I am a condemned man. Should I fail to take the temple, the inner circle must all deny me and you Judas must tell the Sanhedrin where to find me. When they have me in their custody they will believe they can terminate the bloodline and continue to hold power over the people through the false priest hierarchy.”
“But I cannot betray you Jesuah!”
“You must, it will be a burden you will carry for the rest of your earthly life, but your spirit will remain pure. If my plan fails I cannot return to Mount Carmel or Qumran it will put you all in danger as they will undoubtedly hunt me down. You must continue our work under the direction of our brother James.”
Judas looks into Jesuah’s eyes with love and takes his hand.
“As you wish Master, we shall go to Jerusalem to relieve the temple of iniquity. It is not given that Priests should mediate to God for the people, but for each individual to find the light for themselves. The shadow priest’s rituals are false; the slaughter of innocent birds and beasts does not take away sin. Nor is it the function of priests to receive money to forgive sins in this way. A true priest is a healer and these pretenders have no such skills.”
“Then we are in agreement. The inner circle will travel to Jerusalem with me as people are gathering for the Passover. We will go to the Temple to proclaim ourselves the true priesthood and give the people the opportunity to turn aside from the false Priests of the Shadow who are the puppets of Herod.
“Hear me Judas, if we fail to take the Temple, the inner circle must return immediately to Qumran and you must tell the Sanhedrin where to find me. Joseph Arimathea will arrange a passage to Europe for my Mother, my Son and my beloved Magdalene. If I survive I will go with Joseph to the holy place of Avalon in the land of Britain where I hope to see you again. Should the Romans refuse to accept the true priesthood it is essential we preserve the sacred knowledge and the bloodline for future generations.”
Text copyright Tigerbrite
Head of John by Caravaggio
The Last Supper by Dali