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Blood Ritual: the Ark and the Shroud

Blood Ritual: the Ark and the Shroud

This underground stream has occasionally surfaced throughout time and we can see from these trickles that the elements of truth were in fact widespread and ancient. This water of wisdom has in fact given life to the plants that have grown on the surface and sometimes even great trees have emerged and have refused to be chopped down by intolerance or bigotry. These trees are the great mysteries we know today such as the Holy Grail, Great Pyramid and Ark of the Covenant. If we grasp these growths firmly and pull hard enough we uproot the hidden secrets that first gave life to them. One of these roots I found was to branch off into Islam and it would reveal a mystical world that was connected so firmly and so obviously to the main trunk that almost everybody had missed the connection. This root had a name â€" baraka.

The term baraka is a Sufi one and from which our French barque and Italian barca is derived. Indeed in contemporary France the term baraka, of Algerian origin, still has connotations of luck or blessing and this would eventually make complete sense.

Egyptian Mystics

The ancient Egyptians believed that everybody was a unique individual. The people were said to have two distinct parts, the ba and the ka. These are not simple concepts and have in fact baffled and amused Egyptologists for over two hundred years. But we need to break them down, for within the names of these two human domains attributed by our Egyptian ancestors lies the truth of the term baraka.

The ba is close to what we would call the personality, the traits and acts of the man or woman developed over the course of life. The ka was the life-force or soul. It is the first, or in number, one. This is found to be true in the Indian concept of the word as well where ka means supreme and together with ar means the ‘supreme light’ or ‘one light’ (arka) and ‘essence’. The ka itself came into being when a person was born and was often depicted as the person’s twin or double. This is of course ancient Egyptian alchemy at play, whereby both the ka and ba must be united to become one and the twin element has come down to us through the centuries in our Tarot cards, fables and of course the twin riders of the Templar symbol.

Because the ba was the personality of the unique individual, it too was unique, whereas the ka, as the life-force was the same for everybody â€" it was the creative force running through us. The ka itself was made by the god Khnum on a potters wheel â€" hence it was an energy vortice exactly like the vortices found within the very atom. This energy is required for life and is also raised by the efforts of the processes in the mind - akin to the kundalini chakra - in raising enlightenment. The kings or pharaohs had many ka’s due to their own immortality like the gods. In fact the goal of every individual was to remain united, or fused with the energy of the life-force, ka, and the personality, ba, after death and to join Ra (sun) on his journey of perpetually re-creating creation itself. In this way the individual wanted to return to the creative point, the alpha and omega, at the same time and same place. In essence they wanted to reside in that perfect state. This perfect union comes down to us in the uniting of the three principles require, ba, Ra and ka â€" baraka.

In fact, this is most likely the reason for mummification after death â€" to keep the body and the symbolic representations of the personality in place for the ka to unite with Ra and reinvigorate life. Should the body rot away the coffin and in fact the very death shrouds or bands of cloth would act as the spare body. Now we are beginning to see the value of the Shroud, as the body of Jesus joined his father (Ra) leaving behind his personality infused with the energy of his ka. It is itself a baraka or Ark.

Ra himself as the personification of the sun of the one-Egyptian god is in essence wishing a reunification. This is described as the ‘greatest of mysteries’ by the ancient Egyptians and it occurs at precisely midnight â€" the middle hour, the in-between state. Ra in fact must reunite with his body by midnight in-order to be resurrected as the morning light of the sun. This is personified as the body of Osiris, who is the Underworld personification of the Egyptian one-god. You see, I tend to agree with the writer, Egyptologist and researcher, Alan Alford, that Egypt was a monotheistic culture, but that different personalities and aspects of the one god were given different, but meaningful, names. In the Underworld state, the ka and ba of Ra was Osiris and Osiris once reborn is Horus, who became Jesus in the Christian mysteries. These great acts of the deities are not just re-enactments of the sun, moon and stellar cycles, they are also deeply held esoteric truths and I am not alone in this statement:

“The mystical character of these ‘books’, in the sense of a codification of an esoteric and secret knowledge…” [1]

It is indeed a secret knowledge and one that has remained so for generations, so much so, that we still search for literal treasures, when we truly encompass them all ourselves.

In fact Osiris personified the old self or the old creation and Ra was the new birth, the new man. Just like medieval Alchemy, creation was made from a mixture and through transformation.

“The Egyptians did not believe in creation ex nihilo. On the contrary, the religious texts state clearly that the cosmos was created from pre-existent materials, namely primeval water, matter, and air. Creation involved the transformation of the materials from the state of chaos into a state of order. It involved the construction of a new cosmos from the remains of an old cosmos.” [2]

This mixture required the reduction of the self (ba and ka) and the reformation in the midnight hour of the parts to create the true trinity of the ba Ra ka.

The Egyptians believed that when the ka left and the body died, it returned to the divine but remained close to the body. In fact even false doors were created in tombs for ka’s called ‘ka doors’, so that the ka could access the earth at will. Now the ba could roam the earth, but only when Ra, the sun-god, was in ascendance in the sky. When Ra returned to the underworld, so too did the ba. This is in fact the Egyptian explanation for ghosts.

In symbolism the ka was represented by two upturned arms and the ba by a human headed bird. Offerings of food were given to the ka and it was believed that the ka did not eat the food, but instead drew off the life-force from the offering.

The union of the ba Ra ka is indeed a true blessing and this is where the Arabic Barakah and the Hebrew Barach takes the word â€" both different versions of the Sufi baraka. Blessing of course is now an English word derived from Old English bleodsian or bletsian meaning to ‘sprinkle with blood’, being derived from the blood rites called Blots and from where we get the term ‘to blot out ones sins.’

The Blot rite is Old English or Old Norse and is even followed today by modern pagans or ‘heathens’. The origins of the rites are supposedly lost, but the term means ‘sacrifice’ or ‘feast.’ The term Blota means ‘to worship’ or ‘to sacrifice’. Indeed in the Hakanor Saga gooa from Heimskringla, Snorri describes how at these Blots, blood was sprinkled on the altar and temple walls, just as they were in Egypt and indeed in the Jewish Temple. In fact there also appears to be an extrovert use of the term for fusion:

“The meaning of the sacrificial feast, as Snorri saw it, is fairy plain. When blood was sprinkled over altars and men and the toasts were drunk, men were symbolically joined with the gods of war and fertility, and with their dead ancestors, sharing their mystical powers. This is a form of communion.” [3]

Again here we see that this union is found with each other in society and not just with the gods:

“When an article of value is passed across the boundary of frith and grasped by alien hands, a fusion of life takes place, which binds men one to another with an obligation of the same character as that of frith himself.” [4]

This is the true offering of the life-source spoken of above and I had one of those wonderful moments of excitement when I realised that the Ark of the Covenant, in-order to ‘work’ properly also had to be sprinkled with blood. It had to in effect have a ka offering. This was the same as the Shroud, which was to be ‘sprinkled’ with the blood of the Christ, himself seen as the offering by the pagan’s who converted to Christianity and who had previously practised the Blot rituals.

The blessing then, seen here to be entirely related to the term barach or baraka, is to infuse something with holiness or the divine will (which is also another word for ka.) The blessing has always been officially given by the priest of the orthodox church and so is the same as the baraka of the Sufi’s - a blessing or word of will passed from the master to pupil.

Of course I could not miss the fact that to the Sufi, the term baraka was symbolised by a boat and itself became fused with the symbol of the dove. The dove itself was the Christian and Gnostic symbol of the word or spirit of the Lord and hence it was the baraka. The later Gnostic Christian Heretics, the Cathars took this symbol and with their own links within Islam fused the two devices together:

“… One important Cathar symbol was the dove. It represented for them then, as it does for us today, the idea of ‘peace’ or, more accurately the more subtle concept of ‘grace’, that state of being in God’s love. After the first crusades, when the European Cathars in the entourage of Godfroi de Bouillon established some contact with the Sufi mystics of Islam, the symbolism of the dove sometimes became linked iconographically with the Islamic mystical idea of baraka, which also means ‘grace’ and with the idea that a person can be a ‘vessel of grace’… In some instance, the Cathar dove flying with its wings outstretched was rendered in an artistic motif very similar to the stylised ship meaning baraka in Sufi calligraphy, with the feathers of the dove and the oars of the vessel alike representing the flight and freedom of the soul.” [5]

Orthodox Christianity could not allow these ancient esoteric truths to be spread abroad as it had built its power base upon the literalism’s of the Bible and so they persecuted the Cathars and burnt them out of sight. However it does seem that these Cathars did hold the secret of the Temple of Solomon. They were the ‘perfecti’ who protected the esoteric wisdom of the Ark, for they were the Western version of the Eastern Sufi who themselves protected the ba-ra-ka. The only ‘vessel’ that they spirited away from their ill-fated Montsegur was the vessel of grace â€" knowledge.

In essence the term baraka is an original term for Ark and is thought by many to be derived from the ancient Egyptian b’arque or boat. The Sufi’s have often been said to have originated or at the very least to have origins in Egypt, and so having some knowledge of Sufism I embarked upon a journey into the term, knowing full-well that what lay before me was an often contradictory and argumentative subject matter. I had spent many hours listening to a Sufi master and I often recall his methods â€" which to many would seem offensive, but to me were esoteric teachings. I once asked him where my path might lay and he replied that the only path I had no longer existed. This path of course was the one behind me, for the path in front had not yet been made. He told me that if I concentrated on my only path I would stumble and fall over and I quickly worked out that this was because I would always be looking behind me, whilst trying to walk forward. There is only now, between yesterday and tomorrow â€" again, it was the place between.


Sufism, for those who may never have heard the term, is called ‘the way to the heart’, which of course means the centre. It is the way of the pure, as Sufi may derive also from the word Sata or saaf meaning cleanliness or pure. Another viewpoint has the word being derived from the Arabic word for wool â€" suf - thus implying the cloak worn by the Sufi or the fact that every Sufi was seen to be a shepherd. It may also come from the Ashab al-Suffa or Ahl al-Suffa, meaning ‘companions of the veranda’ or ‘people of the veranda’. The veranda spoken of is the one on the Prophet Muhammad’s mosque, and these ‘people of the veranda’ were said to spend their days in prayer and meditation during the Prophets lifetime. These special adherents were from many lands, including Persia, Ethiopia, Egypt and even Rome, bringing a great many diverse beliefs and interests with them. There is, however, a more telling term from which the word Sufi may be derived â€" Sophia. This is the concept of wisdom spoken of again and again in esoteric literature and which has come down to us today via all-manner of faiths and creeds, even into secret societies such as the Freemasons. This version of the name was espoused by Abu Raihan Niruni, a Persian mathematician, astronomer, scholar, philosopher, historian and much more, of the late tenth and early eleventh century â€" a veritable Renaissance man before his time. The fact that a Persian stated this belief relates to something Springett said in his book Secret Sects of Syria:

“the Sufees are a secret society of Persian mystic philosophers and ascetics, whose original religion may have been that of the Chaldeans or Sabeans, who believed in the unity of God, but adored the hosts of heaven (Tsaba), especially the seven planets, as representing Him.” [6]

Whatever the true origin of the word Sufi, it cannot easily be summed up in just a few words due to its mystical mix. For sure, this is an Islamic cult, much akin to the likes of the Albigensians or Cathars of the Christians, who were known as the pure ones. However, absolutely nobody is sure of the true origins of the movement and indeed it could and probably does even pre-date Islam in many respects and could even have influenced Muhammad himself.

Sufism then, is this mystical side of Islam continued, and this is why it is so important to the Sufi’s to keep this baraka, this continuance, so strong, because the base instincts of man will steal the truth and turn it to profit and gain. This is why the baraka seems so strange to those outside of the loop, because it is the mystical world that is unknowable. To be a true mystic, one must know oneself and ones own unconscious world. Not everybody has the will and the time to do this and others can do it as if by accident. The Sufi’s see themselves as moving through this world of ours as if they are part of it and all the time knowing there is so much more. They feel at all times the divine presence and yet look upon mankind with an eye of mercy. At least, that’s the story. To them each one of us has a spirit or Ruh, which originates from the Alam â€" a creation of the divine light itself. The food of the spirit is therefore more light and not that of the external sun, but the inner sun of Allah. To mirror and reflect this wisdom of the light is all that can be asked â€" to be like the moon, and we all know, the crescent moon is a symbol of Islam. The one who truly reflects this light of Allah, does not take the light away from Allah, but instead glorifies His name. The one who does this can give divine blessings via the baraka â€" the baraka is therefore not himself, but the light and wisdom and power of God. One becomes the crescent moon, the Ark.

One of the literal reasons that baraka has become our barge, b’arque, barca, Ark and of course bark, is because it is involved in the art of ship building. This kind of ship building though involves no floating upon real water, it is more to do with the water of the mind. By having baraka, one is able to access divine information and to be able to pass this on. But, before being able to do this, one must learn how to build a decent ship.

In some Muslim traditions if the baraka (or b’ark-at) is strong then when the wise Sufi dies it will remain with his non-decaying body and may even transmit wisdom to his successors. This is the reason that shrines are so important to the Muslim traditions â€" because the shrines are seen to be infused with this divine essence from the Almighty Allah â€" via the Sufi master who is to all intents and purposes the Ark. In this way, we can now see why the Kaaba at Mecca should be so important â€" as this is a location of this universal baraka energy.

These sacred relics were only thus sacred due to the fact that they were seen to contain the baraka, just as Christian relics held a similar power or latent energy following the crusader invasions of the Muslim lands. It became therefore spiritually important and esoterically aligned for the father to pass down these baraka filled items â€" thus continuing the process of baraka, through the ages physically as well as esoterically.

My question now was simple and yet complex: Was the Shroud of Turin a kind of Blot offering? Infusing power in a divine relic? And who’s blood was it?

Philip Gardiner is a best selling author of The Ark, The Shroud and Mary, Gnosis: The Secret of Solomon’s Temple Revealed, Secrets of the Serpent and Proof â€" Does God Exist? He has several DVD’s out and speaks regularly around the world. His website is


1 Death and Salvation in Ancient Egypt, Jan Assmann, Cornell University Press, 2005.

2 The Midnight Sun, Alan Alford, Eridu Books, 2004, page 95.

3 Myth and Religion of the North, Gabriel Turville-Petre, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1964, page 251.

4 The Culture of the Teutons, Vilhelm Gronbech, Vol 2, page 55. Out of print, publisher unknown.

5 Holy Grail Across the Atlantic: The Secret History of Canadian Discovery and Exploration, Michael Bradley, Hounslow Press, Canada, 1998.

6 Secret Sects of Syria and the Lebanon, Bernard H. Springett, Kegan Paul International Ltd, 2005.


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