1. The Knights Templar: Uh... yeah. The Templars occupy such an enormous part of the European cultic heritage that to do without them with be a life half-lived. Eco knows enough about the Templars to, within the confines of his story, make of them real people with real concerns and a very special kind of life - rather than just wild, heretical crusaders. But he also knows enough about the mysteries that still surround them to preserve - and even augment - their mystique. The Templars, as presented by Eco, are an awesome theme even if you're not writing modern occult thrillers; they're a fantastic template for any secret order, especially in a book of fantasy or science fiction. Wearing heavy metal in the desert heart, kundalinis arising, spitting on the cross and cavorting with the enemy: the clash of the obscene, the pious, and the antithetical is the genius of the Templar mystique.
2. The Old Man of the Mountain: Double yeah. The "hashishins" or assassins of the Shia Ismailis, with their fabulous and impenetrable fortress of Alamut, are the Muslim counterparts to the Templars: religious, but only to the degree necessary for power; esoteric, but not so much as to be close-minded or impractical; and awesome, indefatigable warlords. Their devotion to the cause is probably what most arouses our curiosity, and it is that kind of loyalty to a cause that cements the wonder of the conspiracist: obviously, they must be hiding something. An equally powerful template for your own secret society.
3. Cabala, Sefira, and Tetragrammatons: Due to the particularities of the language, Hebrew occultism has always had a special place in the world of the Initiates. The numerological-linguistic connection is fascinating, even if, rather than solving the riddle of the world, it seems to make it even more meaningless. But this kind of intricate system, a certain magic of words - a nomenclomancy, as it were - is fascinating. And the esoteric, secret nature of the knowledge is another thing to mimic when generating secret societies in your fantasy worlds.
|It is all happening according to a plan...|