By Tracy R. Twyman
Originally written for Dagobert’s Revenge Magazine, Copyright 2002
(Does not necessarily represent author’s current viewpoint.)
Around the turn of the century, a controversial document was published, the effects of which reverberated well into the middle of the next century: the notorious Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, long held by scholars to have been a hoax. As the czar and czarina’s involvement with the occult and reliance on mystical advisors grew, so too did the paranoia in Russia about secret societies and their influence on national politics. The mystical advisors in question — Rasputin, Papus, and a mysterious figure named Monsieur Philippe — also had a powerful enemy: Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who wished to see her own hired puppets acting as advisors to the throne. One such puppet was Sergei Nilus, who in 1903 presented to the czar The Protocols of Zion, documents purporting to be the minutes of the World Jewish Congress, a Jewish conspiracy that supposedly intended to take over the world. Unfortunately for Nilus, the czar recognized it as a fraud, declared that all copies of the document were to be destroyed, and banished Sergei Nilus from the court.
Over the years, however, the document was published again and again, becoming a cult classic among anti-Semites, who fervently believed in the document’s authenticity. The Protocols were used to fuel the fire of anti-Jewish hatred after the Russian Revolution of 1917, as well as by the Nazis a few years later. Although at times a bit over-dramatic, there is something inherently believable about The Protocols. They lay out in straightforward rhetoric the Machiavellian steps which an international conspiracy would go through to take control of the world’s governments and institutions, and to maintain power, largely through the manipulation of the masses, as well as those already in power. It recommends the proliferation of dangerous creeds, philosophies, religious and political ideas such as Marxism, Anarchism, Atheism, and Darwinism, all to sow discord and cause the breakdown of traditional institutions, clearing the way for the new hierarchy of which The Protocols speak. It is bone-chilling to read such a document as this, written in the nineteenth century, which predicts perfectly the results of a conspiracy that in every way resemble the world in which we currently live.
But what The Protocols describe is much more than your typical paranoid New World Order scenario. They speak of a global monarch, the “King of the blood of Sion”, of “the dynastic roots of King David”, who as ruler of a new “Masonic kingdom” will be both the “King of the Jews” and “the real Pope”, acting as “the patriarch of an international church.” Of him, The Protocols state, “Certain members of the seed of David will prepare the Kings and their heirs… Only the King and the three who stood sponsor for him will know what is coming.” Finally, The Protocols end with a curious postscript: “Signed by the representatives of Sion of the 33rd Degree.”
The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail presented a theory regarding The Protocols with which I overwhelmingly concur. They proposed that the “Learned Elders of Zion” were in fact the Priory of Sion, and that this document had been, originally, the minutes of one of their meetings, which fell into the wrong hands and was subsequently transformed into a weapon for anti-Semites. It certainly bears all of the earmarks and catch phrases for a “Priory document”, and overall the goals that are set forth within, as well as the methods proposed for achieving them, fit my conception of the Priory’s own objectives, although I imagine that in certain sections of the document the original version might have been phrased more delicately. Furthermore, there is circumstantial evidence to indicate that this was indeed the case. The earliest known version of The Protocols was actually written in French, and most scholars believe it to have been partially based on a political satire written by Maurice Joly against Napoleon II which was published in Geneva in 1864. Maurice Joly was also a member of the Rose-Croix order, and good friends with Victor Hugo. But perhaps it was the other way around. Perhaps the “Protocols of Sion” and the anti-Napoleon satire were themselves based on the same Priory of Sion document, which Joly, as a potential member of the Priory, could possibly have had access to. We cannot know for sure, but it is known that in 1884, copies of The Protocols of Zion were found circulating amongst the members of a Masonic lodge to which Papus himself belonged — the lodge where the aforementioned legend of the wise Egyptian sage named Ormus (whom the Priory of Sion called themselves after) first surfaced.
Furthermore, there was during this period in time a secret society with stated goals very similar to those enumerated in <The Protocols, and they were in fact, apparently, an auxiliary order of the Priory of Sion. They were called “The Hieron du Val d’Or”, which, Holy Blood, Holy Grail notes, contains an anagram of the place-name “Orval”, a location that frequently crops up throughout this mystery. Notably, the word “Orval” contains the syllables which, in French, mean “gold” and “valley.” Thus “Val d’Or” means “Valley of Gold.” In his 1979 book Le Tresor du Triangle d’Or (The Treasure of the Golden Triangle), Jean-Luc Chaumeil states that the Hieron practiced a version of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, and the upper degrees of this order constituted the lower degrees of the Priory of Sion itself. Chaumeil describes the group’s disposition as “Christian, Hermetic, and aristocratic.” They proclaimed themselves to be Catholic, even though the Church of Rome condemned them. Their mystic teachings contained, according to Holy Blood, Holy Grail, “a characteristic emphasis on sacred geometry and various sacred sites… an insistence on a mystical or Gnostic truth underlying mythological motifs”, and “a preoccupation with the origins of men, races, languages, and symbols …” The order was, “simultaneously Christian and “˜trans-Christian.’ It stressed the importance of the Sacred Heart … sought to recognize Christian and pagan mysteries”, and “Ascribed special significance to Druidic thought — which it … regarded as partially Pythagorean.” The Hieron du Val d’Or was also unabashedly pro-monarchist, and sought a restoration of the Holy Roman Empire. But this one would be built, unlike the previous one, on an ultimately spiritual basis — a vision specifically echoed in the Priory of Sion’s own literature, which we will soon discuss. The new empire would have been a reflection of Heaven on Earth, that specifically Hermetic Arcadian ideal. Jean-Luc Chaumeil described the Hieron’s ideals as:
… a theocracy wherein nations would be no more than provinces, their leaders but proconsuls in the service of a world occult government consisting of an elite. For Europe, this regime of the Great King implied a double hegemony of the Papacy and the Empire, of the Vatican and of the Habsburgs, who would have been the Vatican’s right arm.
The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail were quick to point out that this envisioned scenario accords with the Nostradamus prophecy about the “Great King” who would issue from Lorraine, since the Habsburgs essentially were the House of Lorraine. At the same time, though, this vision accords with that shared by numerous other cultures throughout the world and throughout history who have embraced the myth of the King of the World, a quasi-divine global monarch discussed in many ancient legends. It further accords with the “King of the blood of Sion” image discussed in The Protocols of Zion.
Perhaps even more shocking, Chaumeil claims that Berenger Sauniere, Abbe Henri Boudet, Emile Hoffet, and the Bishop of Carcassonne were all members of this organization, and that it was a political scuffle within this organization which led to Sauniere’s premature death. Chaumeil describes Sauniere as a pawn in the Priory of Sion/Hieron du Val d’Or’s bizarre plot regarding Rennes-le-Chateau and the surrounding area. According to this version of the story, Sauniere had been involved with the order since before his arrival at the parish of Rennes-le-Chateau, and had actually been dispatched there by them for the purpose of finding the parchments. But in 1916 he is said to have had a falling out with the order, which supposedly explains his mysterious death the following year. Chaumeil states that Sauniere’s “handler” with regard to lodge business was actually the cure of Rennes-le-Bains, Abbe Henri Boudet, who is said to have orchestrated all of Sauniere’s activities, including the remodeling of his church and the surrounding domains. Boudet was also purportedly the middleman who passed along Priory of Sion hush money — not to Sauniere, but to his housekeeper, Marie Deneraud, who was also in their employ and to whom all checks were made payable. She also, says Chaumeil, was the agent through which Boudet transmitted all of his highly specific instructions for Sauniere. And Chaumeil tells us that Sauniere did not even know true nature of the “treasure” and “secret” which he protected until 1915, one year before his supposed falling out with the order, when Boudet made a deathbed confession to his fellow cleric and conspirator. Whatever it was, Sauniere must have found it disturbing to say the least.
Another interesting figure who appears to have been involved with the Hieron is Rene Guenon, a traditionalist Catholic philosopher who also took an interest in Eastern and Islamic mysticism. He was one of Julius Evola’s good friends, and they shared an interest in the Holy Grail, as well as the symbolism of the Black Sun, Agartha, and the “Lord of the World,” which Guenon wrote about extensively. Julius Evola was also considered a “traditionalist.” He advocated a united European empire, ruled by a sacred monarchy, and based upon spiritual principles. His views appear to be entirely in line with those of the Priory of Sion, as expressed by their front organizations the Hieron du Val d’Or, and later, Alpha Galates. It seems likely, then, that Evola could have been a member of the Hieron, and therefore that Guenon was as well. Author William Kennedy has found a great deal of evidence linking Guenon to the Hieron. In his article, “Rene Guenon and Roman Catholicism,” published in Volume 9, Number One of The Journal of Traditional Studies, he writes:
Guenon became involved with the Catholic historian and archeologist Louis Charbonneau-Lassay … an authority on medieval Christian symbolism, specializing on the various fantastical beasts that appeared in medieval art. For Guenon, Charbonneau-Lassay was authoritative on all matters of symbolic interpretation. Charbonneau-Lassay’s work appeared in the Catholic journal, Regnabit, run by the controversial writer and oblate priest Pere Felix Anizan. The fact that Anizan was under constant suspicion by the French authorities of being a monarchical conspirator seeking to restore the House of Bourbon in France did not deter Charbonneau-Lassay from publishing in the new journal or from suggesting that Guenon also submit articles to it. Regnabit was merely the propaganda organ of an organization called the Hieron du Val d’Or.
William Kennedy’s assessment of the Hieron includes detail that identify them even further with the ideals of Alpha Galates. In the Alpha’s official publication, Vaincre, they write about the solar religion of Atlantis, calling it the basis for Christianity and the only true spiritual tradition. Similarly, Kennedy writes that the Hieron du Val d’Or:
… sought to demonstrate that Christianity was in fact a primordial revelation which could be traced to antediluvian Atlantis and sought to form a brotherhood dedicated to the promotion of a universal sacred symbolism. The Hieron was also adamantly anti-Masonic and sought to reform this brotherhood according to Christian principles.
The last above-quoted sentence is particularly interesting because in the Dagobert’s Revenge article “Between the Swastika and the Cross of Lorraine,” I document how Alpha Galates was also anti-Masonic, yet shared a similar goal of the ultimate “reformation of the freemasonries.”
In the same article, William Kennedy details Guenon’s relationship with another Catholic scholars whose views seem, on the surface at least, ion direct opposition to those of the Hieron. His name was Jacques Maritain, who, as Kennedy writes:
… influenced an entire generation of Catholic intellectuals. Maritain was a major figure responsible for the democratization of the Church which came to fruition after the Second Vatican Council.
This is interesting, since Maritain was also good friends with Jean Cocteau. It was Maritain who was responsible for Cocteau’s re-conversion to Catholicism, and the two published a book full of their letters to one another on the subject of God. Maritain had first become acquainted with Cocteau’s work when a disciple named Charles Herion gave him a copy of Cocteau’s pamphlet Le Coq et l’Arlequin. Herion soon became ordained as a priest, and it was from him that Cocteau took the sacraments for the first time since his childhood, during the Feast of the Sacred Heart. This “Sacred Heart” symbol played a large part in Cocteau’s passionate conversion. According to William Emboden, when Cocteau was introduced to Father Herion, he:
…looked at the swarthy priest wearing a cloak with a red cross above a red heart — the symbol of his order — and all but swooned as he dropped into the arms of the church. When he wrote afterwards of Father Herion as an angel in costume, we cannot help but look back to the opium drawings of only months earlier with the theme of the angel with the heart on his chest. …Cocteau was now in the same ‘club’ as Picasso and Stravinsky; he had converted back to Catholicism.
Indeed, it would appear that Cocteau was already a member of a club that included those two, specifically, the Priory of Sion. The Sacred Heart symbol which so attracted him, and which had been a theme of his art even prior to his conversion, was a symbol used by the Hieron du Val d’Or.
Is it possible that both Maritain and Herion were members of the Hieron, despite Maritain’s obvious left-wing stance on Church issues? The Priory of Sion has never had a clear-cut position on the subject of Catholicism. They appear to have been involved in many anti-church movements over the centuries, but also many right-wing and traditionalist movements. Their membership has included clerics and Catholic spokesmen on both sides of the political spectrum, and the stances of these individual members have at times not been clear either. The same can be said about many of Cocteau’s friends. One of the strangest acquaintances of his was Cardinal Jean Danilou, described in The Messianic Legacy as “the Vatican’s chief spokesman at the time on clerical celibacy.” This man was mysteriously found dead with a stripper one day, purportedly after becoming involved with the scandalous P2 Mason lodge. Interestingly, Danilou had translated Cocteau’s play Oedipus Rex in Latin. And while it has not been proven, Cocteau has been purportedly linked with Pope John XXIII, who inaugurated the Second Vatican Council. He was one of the most liberal and most mystical of modern popes, and was linked by contemporaries with Rosicrucianism. One of the major things linking him with Cocteau was that when he took on the Grand Mastership of the Priory of Sion, he also took on the title “Jean 23.” In I speculated that Cocteau may have been presiding over what was essentially an internal Vatican coup orchestrated by the Priory to reform the Church from within according to Vatican principles. Was this, then, the original intent behind the Second Vatican Council? We may never know, but the Priory of Sion’s involvement with the various radical and reactionary Catholic movements (as well as anti-Catholic movements) demonstrates that they certainly believe they have the right to claim the Church, and Christ himself, as their own. What provides the motivation for this apparent conviction is open to debate.