Grand College of Esoteric Rites
- Knights of the Helmet -
In 1618, Francis Bacon (1561-1626) decided to secure a lease for York House. Over the next four years, he would host banquets there that were attended by the leading men of the time, including poets, scholars, authors, scientists, lawyers, diplomats, and foreign dignitaries, as well as luminaries in education and social reform. On 22 January 1621, in honor of Sir Francis Bacon's sixtieth birthday, a select group of men assembled without fanfare in the large banquet hall in York House for what has been described as a Masonic banquet, to honor this great man. Only those of the Rosicrosse and the Masons who were already aware of Bacon's leadership role were invited. The T-tables were adorned with gleaming white drapery, silver, and flowers. The poet Ben Jonson, a long-time friend of Bacon, gave a Masonic ode to Bacon that day.
It seems that Francis Bacon was the acknowledged leader of the "invisible" Order, dedicated to Pallas Athena. The members of this Secret Literary Society were known as The Knights of the Helmet.
They had a series of ethical rituals created by Francis Bacon, and were initiated with an elaborate ceremony which included a vow, recitatives, and perambulations. The Initiate was capped with the Helmet of Pallas to denote he was henceforth an "Invisible" in the fight for Human Advancement. A large Spear was placed in his hand, indicative of a pen, for he was to Shake the Spear of Knowledge at the Dragons of Ignorance.
As Goddess of Wisdom, Athena was originally chosen to protect and guide the Knights of the Helmet in their initiatory work. This protection continues even today.
It is probable that members of the Knights of the Helmet were part of the revival of this Ogdoadic-Theurgic Tradition. In fact, several Officers of the Order have been Freemasons. The current lifetime Grand Master of the Aurum Solis, Jean-Louis de Biasi has received the highest degrees of several Masonic lineages. He is the one overseeing the masonic heritage of the Knights of the Helmet. This is a conservatory of ancient Masonic rituals. This is also a place where Master Masons from all origins study, translate, and sometimes perform these rituals.