The Society of Guardians: An Exploration of Early Influences
1) At the time the Guardians predecessors were in Provence and the South of France the Rabbi 'Isaac the Blind' was an influential Kabbalistic teacher there. Mark Stavish describes how "he studied not only Jewish, but also early Greek, and Christian Gnostic writings, as well as the teachings of a Sufi sect at Basra -the Brethren of Sincerity".2) Master Kyot was the character described in Wolfram von Eschenbach's "Parzival" as the source of the Grail myth, who translated it from Arabic in Toledo. The Guardians myth then has this person going to Sicily and onto Italy and Germany. From discussion with the late Michael Freedman and research I get the impression that Master Kyot (if ever such a figure existed) was a 'blind' for Maister Scot (Michael Scotus) - a "scholar, alchemist, Wizard and a leading intellectual of the early 13th century". He studied Kabbalah in Provence before moving in Toledo and translating many books of occult philosophy. mysticism and astrology from Arabic to Hebrew and Latin. In Liber Abbaci (1228, p.149) he is described as a "Master of Wisdom" (the Highest Grade of the Society of Guardians) and that he became the "Grand Master" of an Occult group.
3) Abulafia? In particular Scot translated works on by Abu al-walid Ibn Rusd (al-Walid meaning 'The Guardian'), who was also known by the Latin name "Averroes". Scotus was assisted in translations by Andrew Alphagirus (a student of Johannes Avendeath, a converted Jew who was one of the heads of the Kabbalistic circle in Toledo). During the time that Scot was at the University/Yeshiva in Toledo it was run by Meir ben Todos Halevi Abulafia (C 1170-1244). Gershom Scholem in his 'origins of the kabbalah' (p.391) affirms the "existence in Toledo of a Kabbalistic tradition connected to the Abulafia family". Michael Scot then went to Sicily as Astrologer to the court of Frederik II of Germany, then to Northern Italy and Germany.
4) In Saragossa in Spain there were mentions made in 1378 of "Leil Ashmorot" (The Night Watchmen/Watchers ) or 'Guardians' who met for the pursuit of esoteric lore". It also seems that Baruch Togarmi was a real Rabbi (of Turkish origin) who was the teacher of Rabbi Abraham Abulafia. Mordecai ben Berechiah Reuben Jare published in 1612 'Ayyelet ha-shahar', a book of prayers, songs readings and ceremonies of a Fraternity called the "Shomerim" (Guardians) or "Shomerim la-Boker" (Watchers of the Dawn/Morning) which was brought to Italy from Spain by Rabbi Menahem Azariah da Fano (Heller, 2010). There were "Shomerim" societies in Venice, Montova, Modena and Ancona from 16th-18th Centuries who while they worked in regular professions during the day at night and early morning undertook "kabbalistic rituals, study and meditations". This is interesting in light of Michael Freedman stating that "The Guardians in Hebrew are called Shomerim which is also spelled H-Sh.W.M.R.Y.M, from the root-verb Sh.M.R, shamar, to preserve, guard, to protect. watch over, etc.
The Guardians' motto is : Ha-Lilah mishmar, w-ha Yom M'Lakah" which means "Work by Day, Watch by Night".