The Druses of the Lebanon

Taken from THE ADEPTS - by Manly P. Hall

In the mystical sect of the Druses, several streams of highly specialized and extremely profound religious teachings, both Eastern and Western, have been imposed upon a people neither profoundly learned nor especially suitable to become so. Today the sect numbers approximately one hundred fifty thousand, and is scattered through the smaller communities of Syria and contiguous areas. The Druses follow a system involving elements of the Orphic mysticism of the Greeks, Indian esotericism, Near Eastern and North African transcendentalism, Old Testament moralism, Islamic ethical speculations, star worship, and the Avestic literature of Persia. Obviously, such ingredients are incomprehensible to the average Druse, who is satisfied to believe that his faith is predestined to unite the religions of the world and to end forever those fanatical tendencies which have from time immemorial, divided the devout.

Even the simple and natural desire to reconcile men of good spirit contributed to the misfortunes which have plagued the Druses for centuries. Tolerance has never been popular, and the sects and creeds flourishing in the regions occupied by the Druse communities have slight sympathy for, the votaries of this strange faith. The Christians resent the Moslem sympathies of the group, and the Moslems are suspicious of the Christian and Jewish content in the Druse doctrines. Altogether this minority cult is between the upper and lower grindstone, and has survived precariously for centuries. Nor have the Druses become more popular as the result of proclaiming their special interest in the moral and ethical culture of China. They feel that the Chinese are Druses by conviction, if not by name.

To escape the persecution of powerful neighbors, the Druses have incorporated into their code an article of faith which permits them to conceal their membership in the Order and to proclaim themselves orthodox members of any faith dominant in the area where they live. Thus they live in a state of public conformity and private dissension. They further justify their attitude on the grounds that all other religions are corrupt forms of Drusedom. Fortunately, they, are not inclined to proselyte, and have no interest in making converts, and this disinterestedness has prevented their extinction. Although it is usual to consider them as an off- shoot of Islamism, it is doubtful if that assumption is correct. The sect arose among the Moslems, but from the beginning, exhibited characteristics suggesting Gnosticism. The Gnostics flourished in North Africa, where Drusedom was born, and it might be more accurate to trace the sect to the revival of classical philosophy among the Moslems. Just as Mohammed himself was strongly influenced by Nestorian Christianity and Judaism, the founders of the Druse sect were evidently acquainted with several philosophical systems. The Drusean attitude toward the complex problem of the man Jesus and the Christ principle, is certainly based upon the teachings of the Alexandrian Gnostics.

The Druses have an excellent reputation for thrift, hospitality, and courage. They will converse freely on almost any subject except the secrets of their religion. If pressed too far, they may have a convenient lapse of memory or experience unusual difficulties with language. Like most devout peoples, however, they have a keen sense for estimating human nature, and a few non-Druses who showed an honest desire for knowledge, and appropriate capacities of temperament, have been permitted to learn some parts of the Drusean doctrine. By, living quietly in a community of Druses and gradually gaming the respect of the sect, it is possible to overcome slowly the reticence of these people.

According to history, Drusedom was founded in the 11th century of the Christian era by Ismail Ad-darazi, a Persian mystic. At that time, Al-hakim bi'amrillahi was the Fatimid Caliph of Egypt. Under the pressure of a rising mystical conviction, this Caliph proclaimed himself to be an incarnation of God, and being apparently of unsound mind, he reigned erratically and despotically until his final disappearance in A.D. 1021. It seems probable that he was assassinated, but, as his fate was never clearly established, curious legends gained wide circulation. Actually, Al-hakim was little more than a name, and it cannot be assumed that he originated the doctrines associated with him. The Druses of the Lebanon have been falsely accused of deriving their religion from a mad Caliph, whose temperament was reminiscent to that of Nero. Actually, both Moslem and non- Moslem Druses follow an elevated moral and ethical code which causes them to be considered more or less puritanical by neighboring unbelievers.

There are a number of Druses in the United States, but they usually pass as Syrian Christians and are not likely to discuss their faith unless the listener is informed and sympathetic. There is nothing in the manner or attitude of the educated Druse to suggest that his background is in any way remarkable. In business he is honorable; in his private life, kindly and tolerant; and in public matters, he exhibit a strong sense of civic responsibility. In discussing their religion with Syrian Druses who have become American citizens, it has been my experience that they regard many of their older beliefs as folklore, but are quickly responsive to references made to the esoteric doctrines of Oriental nations. One told me that he had heard from his mother about the existence of adepts and secret schools in remote Asia, but had not given the matter serious thought until he contacted mystical groups in America. Like the followers of most other faiths the Druses are receptive to the idea of a secret doctrine concealed beneath the outer forms of religious systems. As one expressed it: "I was told these things when a child, but I did not understand."

The Drusean system of initiation, like that of most esoteric sects, includes visions, trances, and related psychic phenomena. The Masters of the sect are undoubtedly well trained in natural magic and, like the priests of most ancient sects, are able to cause miraculous occurrences. Perhaps their disciplines were derived from the Ophites, who were skilled in secret arts. Certainly the higher, members of the Drusean sect are so convinced of the validity of their esoteric sciences that they cannot be converted to any other faith. Their rites include fasting, rituals of purification, and obligations of secrecy. They also share in the concept of many fraternities, as these relate to mutual aid, to the protection of members, and to the performance of charity.

The Druses have seven commandments, or tenets, which they obey and practice: 1) God is one and indivisible. 2) Truth is supreme. 3) Religious tolerance is a virtue. 4) All men and women of good character are entitled to respect. 5) Complete obedience to the decrees of God. 6) Purity of mind, soul, and body. 7) Mutual help and support in time of need.

Both men and women are eligible for initiation on terms of complete equality. This in itself is unusual among Eastern sects. Masters of the Drusean faith are regarded as exceedingly venerable and are consulted on important matters. Their advice or opinion is usually followed without question. Children are well treated in the Drusean community, and the family life is simple and dignified. In older times, education was largely in the keeping of advanced members of the group. Though not especially warlike, the Druses are ready to defend their culture, and there have been periods of intense strife between them and the Moslem groups. Most of these difficulties, however, belong to the past, and today the communities are peaceful and industrious.

It is not easy to summarize the doctrine of the Druses. Most available information is derived from antagonistic sources, either Christian or Moslem. Even those who desired to be fair have either lacked direct contact with the sect or have been influenced to some degree by popular reports. The summary given by the Earl of Carnarvon is about the best available: "The imposing doctrine of faith in one God, in whom there are no parts, to whom no attributes can be assigned, before whom the tongue refuses to utter, the eye to see, the mind to understand, whose very name is ineffable, which crowns the pyramid of Druse theology, might seem to remove Heaven too far from men and their affairs; and therefore the weaknesses of human nature have been well accommodated by the reflexion and incarnation of the Deity in successive ages. Nine times previously in India, Arabia, Persia, and Africa - so Hamze taught - had the Supreme Intelligence deigned to reveal himself under the form and name of mortal men. In the person of Hakem, for the tenth and last time, God's will was republished, His forbearance manifested, and a final appeal made to the obduracy of the world. For twenty-six years 'the door,' in the figurative language of the Druse doctors, stood open to Christian or Mahommedan, Jew or Gentile; but when that term of grace had expired, the work of conversion was closed, and the world was left uninvited and unenlightened for the future, till in the great consummation of mortal things, amid the gathering of armies and tribulations of the faithful, when Mahommedanism shall fail and Mecca be no longer sacred, Hakem shall reappear to conquer the earth and to give supremacy to the Druse religion."

Missionaries who have attempted to penetrate into the secret rites of the Druses have occasionally been permitted to witness ceremonials manufactured for the entertainment of persistent unbelievers. This has led to the conclusion that Drusedom consists of two conflicting systems of doctrine- one for the laity, and another for the initiated. Actually, the esoteric content is merely an extension of the exoteric tradition, whereby, through interpretation, mysterious realities are first sensed and finally known.

Another quotation from the Earl of Carnarvon, who "passed through the region," conveys the bewilderment of the Occidental: "Gradually - very gradually - he (the neophyte) is permitted to draw aside the successive veils which shroud the great secret: he perceives the deep meaning of numbers, he understands the dark sayings in which the sacred writings, that he has hitherto accepted in their literal sense, convey in doubtful phrase a double and a different meaning to the ear and the mind. The Koran becomes an allegory; the life and actions even of his own Immam are but the shadows of distant truths; . . . . Still, as he presses on, he perceives that he is unravelling the web that he had just woven - that he is learning only to unlearn; he makes, and he treads on the ruins of his former beliefs; slowly, painfully, dizzily, he mounts each successive degree of initiation, until the mystical seven, or the not less mystical nine, are accomplished, and - as if to mock the hope of all return - at each stride he hears the step on which he last trod crumble and crash into the measureless abyss that rolls below him."

Lord Carnarvon's description is dramatic, if not completely factual. The Western mind is not conditioned for cabalistic speculation. To the literal theologian, the possibility of a secret faith which can bestow an inner illumination and transform the material substances of a belief through inspiration and revelation seems little more than a fantastic superstition. Even after a Druse teacher has emphasized the importance of the allegorical key to his faith, the outsider seldom applies this key to the fables which the Druse patiently unfolds. Would it be likely that the members of a mystical sect, the Masters of which have been enlightened by meditation, prayer, and lives of piety, could literally believe that the unsavory Caliph Al-hakim was actually the incarnation of God, or that the door of salvation stood open for only twenty-six years?

In all probability, the legends of the Druses must be approached with the same attitude with which one should examine the mythology of the Grecians. Only by acknowledging the existence of a profound language of symbolism can the conduct of the Olympian deities be reconciled with the lofty convictions of Pythagoras and Plato. The Greek philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and legislators would not have acknowledged the divine authority of an order of divinities whose characteristics were less heavenly than the manners of the decadent Athenian aristocracy. The Encyclopedia Britannica acknowledges that the sacred books of the Druse religion "contain moral teachings of a high order on the whole."

The Druses consider both the Christian Gospels and the Koran to be inspired writings, but only the Druse Scriptures are accepted as correct guides to spiritual conduct. All other religions, by allegorical interpretation, are made to support the Drusean revelation. Here is a broad application of the Neoplatonic concept that all religions and philosophies are identical, when unlocked by the proper key. Mystics, regardless of their affiliations, pass through the same experiences when they apply the principles of internal growth. Although the Druses do not require ascetic practices, their beliefs lead inevitably toward detachment from materialistic interests and pursuits. The Drusean mystics share the attitudes of unworldliness which distinguish the more advanced Dervishes and Sufis.

The sect believes in reincarnation, and holds that each embodiment is nobler than the previous one. The process of rebirth continues until the mystical resurrection. The physical body, with its lower mental and emotional attributes, is the enemy of man's spiritual purpose. There are elements of anthropomorphism similar to those in the Mazdian cult, where powers of light and darkness struggle for domination over the human destiny. Security against evil is attained by obedience to the Drusean code, which was given by God, through His embodiments, for the preservation of His creatures. The neophyte must learn the false doctrines of the world, in order to receive into his heart the secret of the mystery of life. This process of unlearning becomes increasingly severe as the disciple advances through the grades of the sect. He is struggling against illusion, and in so doing, must overcome his own mind and accept without reservation the impression of the divine purpose.

Lord Carnarvon's description of the neophyte treading on the ruins of his former beliefs would be the natural reaction of the uninitiated. True humility is complete submission to the Divine Will. To overcome the world, the neophyte must overcome the worldliness in himself. Not only the shadow (materialism), but also the works of the shadow must be conquered. To the Druse, the works of the shadow include even the human attitude toward God, religion, and philosophy. He has been accused of choosing a path which leads, in the end, to a monstrous unbelief. The simplest explanation of his faith is to compare it with Buddhism and the Buddhistic concept of Nirvana. To the Christian, the Nirvana is simply total extinction of self, an idea frightening and repulsive to the average believer.

The Druse resurrection is the re-identification of the spirit in man with the universal spirit, which is all-pervading. This is not extinction, but universalization. The one does not become nothing; it becomes all. Certainly it is impossible for mortal man to know, as inward fact, an unlimited condition of consciousness. The Druse system gradually enlarges and impersonalizes the spiritual convictions of the individual, until the ideal of universalization becomes not only attractive, but also completely satisfying. To awake from the illusion of diversity to the realization of unity is the fulfillment of man's supreme destiny. Just as the word yoga means union, the Druse prefers to be called a unifier. He strengthens his resolutions by the constant discovery and experience of unity. He sees the religions of the world gradually awaking to the awareness of unity. He contemplates the coming together of nations and the gathering of knowledge by emphasis upon common denominators. With the aid of allegory and interpretation, he is able to perceive those eternal verities enthroned behind the shadowy and illusional divisions which have so long prevented men from laboring together in common causes.

From the earliest time, God has sent His teachers and His prophets to reveal His will and to purify doctrines corrupted by human ignorance. Mankind has not the strength or courage to practice or preserve the Divine wisdom, and the revelations brought by the anointed messengers were perverted through selfishness and ignorance. To prevent doctrinal errors from frustrating the spiritual aspirations of humanity, reformers came to purify earlier revelations and to restore the essential principles of religion. In the Druse system, one hundred and sixty-four great teachers are enumerated, and because of their mighty efforts, there has never been a time when the world has been without spiritual guidance. There is the implication that all the teachers brought one essential doctrine, although they appeared in different places and their revelations received various names.

In addition to these messengers, the Deity itself became peculiarly and particularly embodied in ten Messiahs, who correspond with the Avatars of Vishnu in the Hindu system. The prophet Hamsa was the precursor of the tenth Avatar of the Druses. Like John the Baptist, he announced the coming of Al-hakim. More mystically speaking, Hamsa represented Jesus, and Al-hakim the Christ. Obviously, the mystical tradition is not actually concerned with personalities at all, and the effort to associate universal principles with historical personages has resulted in serious misunderstandings. Hamsa, in a way, personifies the Druse Adept, who, having advanced to the highest state of personal sanctity, has become a vessel capable of receiving into itself the Divine incarnation.

In the Druse communities, places of initiation are set aside for the performance of the rites and ceremonies. These chambers are undergound and, with the exception of certain celebrated sanctuaries, have only the simplest of furnishings. The prayer rug can be symbolical of the chamber of initiation. The room merely represents a state of aloofness from material concerns. It is not essentially a place, but a condition of consciousness. The initiation rituals follow closely the rites of Greece and Egypt. The candidate is tested by trials of physical strength and endurance, moral temptations, and is further examined for his aptitude in the learning and disciplines of the sect. Very few are able to pass all the tests successfully, but those whose ability and character are worthy of consideration may wait a year and try again. The seventy of the physical ordeals accounts for many failures, but there are indications that these tests are not so severe now as in earlier times. Those who pass the examination successfully are accepted into the inner sanctuary of the Order, and are given signs of recognition and further instruction in the esoteric sciences.

Referring to the initiation rites of the Druses, Mme. Blavatsky points out that on certain occasions, a solemn ceremony takes place during which the initiates of the higher degrees start out on pilgrimage into certain hidden places in the mountains. She writes: They meet within the safe precincts of a monastery said to have been erected during the earliest times of the Christian era. Outwardly one sees but old ruins of a once grand edifice, used, says the legend, by some Gnostic sect as a place of worship during the religious persecution. The rums above ground, however, are but a convenient mask; the subterranean chapel, halls, and cells, covering an area of ground far greater than the upper building; while the richness of ornamentation, the beauty of the ancient sculptures, and the gold and silver vessels in this sacred resort, appear like `a dream of glory' according to the expression of an initiate."

Although seldom mentioned in the accounts of this sect, there is evidence that the Druses acknowledge the existence of an association of Adepts and Masters, who form a superior council. These illumined teachers, like the fabled Mahatmas of India, are extremely elusive, but may appear when the need arises. They are known by their wonderful powers and remarkable sanctity, but their comings and goings are inexplicable. Some of the more venerable Druse doctors are believed to have contact with these immortal- mortals, who alone are perfect in the doctrine. In the areas where the Druses flourish, legends and reports about these Adepts are quietly circulated. They are seldom, if ever, mentioned to strangers.

It is quite possible that American Druses and more enlightened members in the Near Eastern communities could be induced to prepare a reasonably correct account of the sect and its doctrine. Groups of this kind are concerned over the encroachment of modern materialism, and recognize the desirability of providing qualified persons with reliable information. The project languishes, however, because the sect is one of many minority groups about which there is no general concern. When we realize that the Near East has supplied the religious incentives to three great continents, and that nearly half the civilized world is influenced by doctrines originating in the area of the Lebanon, there should be more interest in uncovering the foundations of now-dominant faiths.

The effects of Drusedom upon Europe were considerable during the medieval period, and the modern world is still dominated religiously, politically, and culturally by medievalism. The Crusaders, especially the Knights Templars, the Knights of Malta, and the Teutonic Knights, contacted the Druses and were influenced by many of their doctrines. The direct result was the Renaissance, and among later consequences was the Reformation. Mystical interpretations of Christianity increased rapidly and broadened the foundations of the faith It is believed that a number of the European Knights were actually initiated into the Syrian Mysteries and the Secret Orders of Islam. Through them the great heresy reached Europe, supplying the impulse which ultimately overthrew spiritual, intellectual, and physical feudalism. "The constant intercourse between Syria and Europe, maintained first by the flocks of pilgrims perpetually crowding to Jerusalem, then by the Crusades, and lastly by the establishment of the Frankish kingdom in Palestine, and of the different principalities upon the coast, produced vast effects, both apparent and concealed, upon the nations of Europe, more especially those seated upon the Mediterranean."

In all probability, the legends of the Druses must be approached with the same attitude with which one should examine the mythology of the Grecians. Only by acknowledging the existence of a profound language of symbolism can the conduct of the Olympian deities be reconciled with the lofty convictions of Pythagoras and Plato. The Greek philosophers, scientists, mathematicians, and legislators would not have acknowledged the divine authority of an order of divinities whose characteristics were less heavenly than the manners of the decadent Athenian aristocracy. The Encyclopedia Britannica acknowledges that the sacred books of the Druse religion "contain moral teachings of a high order on the whole."

The Druses consider both the Christian Gospels and the Koran to be inspired writings, but only the Druse Scriptures are accepted as correct guides to spiritual conduct. All other religions, by allegorical interpretation, are made to support the Drusean revelation. Here is a broad application of the Neoplatonic concept that all religions and philosophies are identical, when unlocked by the proper key. Mystics, regardless of their affiliations, pass through the same experiences when they apply the principles of internal growth. Although the Druses do not require ascetic practices, their beliefs lead inevitably toward detachment from materialistic interests and pursuits. The Drusean mystics share the attitudes of unworldliness which distinguish the more advanced Dervishes and Sufis.

The sect believes in reincarnation, and holds that each embodiment is nobler than the previous one. The process of rebirth continues until the mystical resurrection. The physical body, with its lower mental and emotional attributes, is the enemy of man's spiritual purpose. There are elements of anthropomorphism similar to those in the Mazdian cult, where powers of light and darkness struggle for domination over the human destiny. Security against evil is attained by obedience to the Drusean code, which was given by God, through His embodiments, for the preservation of His creatures. The neophyte must learn the false doctrines of the world, in order to receive into his heart the secret of the mystery of life. This process of unlearning becomes increasingly severe as the disciple advances through the grades of the sect. He is struggling against illusion, and in so doing, must overcome his own mind and accept without reservation the impression of the divine purpose.

Lord Carnarvon's description of the neophyte treading on the ruins of his former beliefs would be the natural reaction of the uninitiated. True humility is complete submission to the Divine Will. To overcome the world, the neophyte must overcome the worldliness in himself. Not only the shadow (materialism), but also the works of the shadow must be conquered. To the Druse, the works of the shadow include even the human attitude toward God, religion, and philosophy. He has been accused of choosing a path which leads, in the end, to a monstrous unbelief. The simplest explanation of his faith is to compare it with Buddhism and the Buddhistic concept of Nirvana. To the Christian, the Nirvana is simply total extinction of self, an idea frightening and repulsive to the average believer.

The Druse resurrection is the re-identification of the spirit in man with the universal spirit, which is all-pervading. This is not extinction, but universalization. The one does not become nothing; it becomes all. Certainly it is impossible for mortal man to know, as inward fact, an unlimited condition of consciousness. The Druse system gradually enlarges and impersonalizes the spiritual convictions of the individual, until the ideal of universalization becomes not only attractive, but also completely satisfying. To awake from the illusion of diversity to the realization of unity is the fulfillment of man's supreme destiny. Just as the word yoga means union, the Druse prefers to be called a unifier. He strengthens his resolutions by the constant discovery and experience of unity. He sees the religions of the world gradually awaking to the awareness of unity. He contemplates the coming together of nations and the gathering of knowledge by emphasis upon common denominators. With the aid of allegory and interpretation, he is able to perceive those eternal verities enthroned behind the shadowy and illusional divisions which have so long prevented men from laboring together in common causes.

From the earliest time, God has sent His teachers and His prophets to reveal His will and to purify doctrines corrupted by human ignorance. Mankind has not the strength or courage to practice or preserve the Divine wisdom, and the revelations brought by the anointed messengers were perverted through selfishness and ignorance. To prevent doctrinal errors from frustrating the spiritual aspirations of humanity, reformers came to purify earlier revelations and to restore the essential principles of religion. In the Druse system, one hundred and sixty-four great teachers are enumerated, and because of their mighty efforts, there has never been a time when the world has been without spiritual guidance. There is the implication that all the teachers brought one essential doctrine, although they appeared in different places and their revelations received various names.

In addition to these messengers, the Deity itself became peculiarly and particularly embodied in ten Messiahs, who correspond with the Avatars of Vishnu in the Hindu system. The prophet Hamsa was the precursor of the tenth Avatar of the Druses. Like John the Baptist, he announced the coming of Al-hakim. More mystically speaking, Hamsa represented Jesus, and Al-hakim the Christ. Obviously, the mystical tradition is not actually concerned with personalities at all, and the effort to associate universal principles with historical personages has resulted in serious misunderstandings. Hamsa, in a way, personifies the Druse Adept, who, having advanced to the highest state of personal sanctity, has become a vessel capable of receiving into itself the Divine incarnation.

In the Druse communities, places of initiation are set aside for the performance of the rites and ceremonies. These chambers are undergound and, with the exception of certain celebrated sanctuaries, have only the simplest of furnishings. The prayer rug can be symbolical of the chamber of initiation. The room merely represents a state of aloofness from material concerns. It is not essentially a place, but a condition of consciousness. The initiation rituals follow closely the rites of Greece and Egypt. The candidate is tested by trials of physical strength and endurance, moral temptations, and is further examined for his aptitude in the learning and disciplines of the sect. Very few are able to pass all the tests successfully, but those whose ability and character are worthy of consideration may wait a year and try again. The seventy of the physical ordeals accounts for many failures, but there are indications that these tests are not so severe now as in earlier times. Those who pass the examination successfully are accepted into the inner sanctuary of the Order, and are given signs of recognition and further instruction in the esoteric sciences.

Referring to the initiation rites of the Druses, Mme. Blavatsky points out that on certain occasions, a solemn ceremony takes place during which the initiates of the higher degrees start out on pilgrimage into certain hidden places in the mountains. She writes: They meet within the safe precincts of a monastery said to have been erected during the earliest times of the Christian era. Outwardly one sees but old ruins of a once grand edifice, used, says the legend, by some Gnostic sect as a place of worship during the religious persecution. The rums above ground, however, are but a convenient mask; the subterranean chapel, halls, and cells, covering an area of ground far greater than the upper building; while the richness of ornamentation, the beauty of the ancient sculptures, and the gold and silver vessels in this sacred resort, appear like `a dream of glory' according to the expression of an initiate."

Although seldom mentioned in the accounts of this sect, there is evidence that the Druses acknowledge the existence of an association of Adepts and Masters, who form a superior council. These illumined teachers, like the fabled Mahatmas of India, are extremely elusive, but may appear when the need arises. They are known by their wonderful powers and remarkable sanctity, but their comings and goings are inexplicable. Some of the more venerable Druse doctors are believed to have contact with these immortal- mortals, who alone are perfect in the doctrine. In the areas where the Druses flourish, legends and reports about these Adepts are quietly circulated. They are seldom, if ever, mentioned to strangers.

It is quite possible that American Druses and more enlightened members in the Near Eastern communities could be induced to prepare a reasonably correct account of the sect and its doctrine. Groups of this kind are concerned over the encroachment of modern materialism, and recognize the desirability of providing qualified persons with reliable information. The project languishes, however, because the sect is one of many minority groups about which there is no general concern. When we realize that the Near East has supplied the religious incentives to three great continents, and that nearly half the civilized world is influenced by doctrines originating in the area of the Lebanon, there should be more interest in uncovering the foundations of now-dominant faiths.

The effects of Drusedom upon Europe were considerable during the medieval period, and the modern world is still dominated religiously, politically, and culturally by medievalism. The Crusaders, especially the Knights Templars, the Knights of Malta, and the Teutonic Knights, contacted the Druses and were influenced by many of their doctrines. The direct result was the Renaissance, and among later consequences was the Reformation. Mystical interpretations of Christianity increased rapidly and broadened the foundations of the faith It is believed that a number of the European Knights were actually initiated into the Syrian Mysteries and the Secret Orders of Islam. Through them the great heresy reached Europe, supplying the impulse which ultimately overthrew spiritual, intellectual, and physical feudalism. "The constant intercourse between Syria and Europe, maintained first by the flocks of pilgrims perpetually crowding to Jerusalem, then by the Crusades, and lastly by the establishment of the Frankish kingdom in Palestine, and of the different principalities upon the coast, produced vast effects, both apparent and concealed, upon the nations of Europe, more especially those seated upon the Mediterranean."