Jesus, Freemasons, Extraterrestrials, The Gnomes of Zurich, 
Black Israelites and Noon Blue Apples
by Robert Anton Wilson
The Priory of Sion first came to the attention of Americans with
the publication in 1981 of Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent,
Lincoln and Leigh, a book so sensational and wildly speculative
that many readers decided to believe nothing in it. Some even
doubted the existence of the Priory of Sion, the alleged 800-year
old secret society which is the main topic of the book. Other, of
course, were eager to swallow everything in Holy Blood, Holy
Grail, and there is now a wide subculture, mostly in occult and
witchy circles, who fervently believe that Jesus married Mary
Magdalene and their descendents are alive and well in various
royal families of Europe; the allies or supporters of this "holy
bloodline" make up the backbone of the elusive Priory of Sion,
according to Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh.
Personally, I did not have an immediate yes-or-no reaction to
this new Christian "heresy." I have long believed that
Aristotelian either/or logic is inadequate to deal with the
"real," or sensory, or existential, world (since such logic only
applies to the abstractions or fictions created by Jesuits,
Randroids, Marxists and other metaphysicians). I therefore did
not believe or reject all of Holy Blood, Holy Grail as a lump or
package deal. I wondered how much of it could be verified and how
much of it could be refuted and how much would remain at least
temporarily in the "maybe" state of quantum particles - like a
coin tossed in the air and tumbling about before coming down to
rest in a definitive Heads or Tails position.
In checking out the historical scenario of Holy Blood, Holy
Grail, I found that the largest part of it belongs in the Maybe
category. That is, most of it is speculation that can neither be
proven or disproven by any of the techniques recognized by
historians who attempt to practice scientific method. Of course,
there are "high Maybes" and "low Maybes." The genealogies
relating the von Hapsburgs or Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands
to the Merovingian kings of the dark ages seem to be high Maybes;
although there is a certain degree of uncertainty in all gene
pools, the intermarriages of European royalty have been zealously
documented for many centuries (since property and inheritance are
involved in determining who was the son of which royal house).
Dozens and scores of other matters - such as the membership of Sir
Isaac Newton in the alleged Priory - are very low Maybes; the
arguments cited by Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh are neither
conclusive nor even plausible, and amount to what the chaps at
M.I.T. call "hand waving." The attempted genealogical links
further back, from the Merovingians to Jesus of Nazareth, are
even lower Maybes and without exaggeration can be called wild
I decided to investigate other books on the Priory of Sion
mystery in search of further data, if there was any to be found
and if the whole saga was not made up almost entirely of "hand
waving." Since I have dozens of other interests, I have not
devoted the whole of the past six years to studying this
question, but I have done a lot of reading, much of it in books
not available in the United States (since I live in Europe). I
can begin stating my conclusions by saying, like a famous editor,
"Yes, Virginia, there is a Priory of Sion." Whether the Priory is
800 years old or has any link to Jesus, however, are still
questions that remain in the quantum "maybe" state; the coins
in that case have not landed yet, or have not landed where I can
see them.
The Gnomes of Zurich and the Priory
The European literature on the Priory of Sion is much more
voluminous than is realized by those who have only read Holy
Blood, Holy Grail. It is also much more diverse and, as you will
shortly see, various authors have attempted to expose or explain
the Priory with a variety of theories, some of which make the
Jesus/Madalene bloodline story rather tame by comparison.
To begin with a source that is merely speculative, mysterious,
and a bit sinister, but at least makes sense - before plunging
into the books that are very, very, very mysterious wildly
speculative and make no sense at all - in 1973 there appeared in
Basel, Switzerland, Les Dessows d'une Ambition Politique by a
Swiss journalist named Mattieu Paoli. The thesis of this book was
fairly mundane, with only a few eldritch touches. Paoli had
discovered the existence of a secret Freemasonic society of some
sort made up of French intellectuals and aristocrats, because
some of the literature of this secretive group was being
distributed within Switzerland in a very restricted way. This
literature, in fact, was circulated only to members of the Grand
Loge Alpina, the largest and most influential Freemasonic group
in the Swiss cantons. Of course, European ears prick up with
curiosity at the first mention of the Grand Loge Alpina. Among
Continental conspiracy buffs, the Grand Loge Alpina has a
reputation for unspecified mischief rather akin to that of the
Bohemian Club in America. That is, although not even the most
avid critic has ever clearly demonstrated that the Grand Loge
Alpina engages in criminal or even unethical behavior, it is
known to include some of the richest men in Switzerland and the
general assumption is that, like the Bohemian Club, it is some
sort of "invisible government," or at least a place where the
Power Elite meet to discuss their common interests. In a general
sort of way, the GLA (an abbreviation for the Grand Loge Alpina
which I shall use occasionally to avoid monotony) is more or less
the group that English Prime Minister Harold Wilson once
characterized as "the Gnomes of Zurich" - the cabal of bankers
and financiers who, Wilson claimed, have more power than any
rival coalition in Europe.
Another shady rumor about the Grand Loge Alpina - which is worth
pursuing a bit, since Paoli first discovered the French secret
society through its connection with the GLA - is that the GLA has
heavily infiltrated the Vatican Bank, in collaboration with the
definitely criminal and conspiratorial P2 (or Propaganda due),
the Italian "Freemasonic" group which controlled the Italian
secret police in the 1970s, took money from both the CIA and KGB
(and apparently double-crossed both), had over 900 agents in
other branches of the Italian government and has been accused of
every possible felony from massive bank fraud to assassination
and terrorism, to laundering Mafia drug money through the Vatican
Bank and its affiliates, to plotting a fascist coup. The source
of the claim that the Grand Loge Alpina infiltrated the Vatican
Bank and aided or abetted the dirty dealings of P2 is David
Yallop's sensational book, In God's Name, which is accurate as
far as I have been able to check it but contains literally
hundreds of assertions which cannot be checked because Yallop
claims he cannot divulge his sources without risking their lives.
A large part of Yallop's book, therefore, also remains, for
non-Aristotelians like me, in the quantum "maybe" state. (For the
curious: two books dealing with the frauds and felonies of the
Vatican Bank and their links with P2 and the Mafia, which
document all their claims and do not quote unidentified sources,
are Richard Hammer's The Vatican Connection and Penny Lernoux's
In Banks We Trust.)
A digression about Freemasonry itself is probably obligatory at
this time. Contrary to popular impressions, Freemasons do not
belong to one global brotherhood with a unified system of dogma
and ritual. The world is, in fact, full of Freemasonic lodges
that do not recognize other Freemasonic lodges as "Fellow Craft"
or "real Freemasons" at all.
There are two types of split within the Freemasonic brotherhood -
political and metaphysical. The political split dates back to the
French Revolution, when all Freemasonic groups were anti-Papist
and "radical" (inclined to replace absolute monarchy with either
Constitutional monarchy or with a Republican or even Democratic
form of government). This radical spirit began to splinter when
British Freemasons saw the Continental lodges moving too far to
the Left, and arranged that, in the U.K. at least, the
Grandmaster of all Craft lodges would always be a member of the
Royal Family, thereby guaranteeing a conservative flavor to the
Grand Lodge and other Anglo-dominated Craft groups such as
Scottish Rite and the Royal Arch. Most Continental lodges,
however, are still basically radical (e.g. the Grand Orient Lodge
in France and Italy).
The metaphysical split occurs within both the conservative and
radical Craft groups. It divides Freemasons into those who, on
one hand, joined Freemasonry for practical purposes (business
contacts or covert political action) and only give lip service to
the "mystical" goals of Freemasonry without knowing or caring
much about what those "mystical" goals are; and, on the other
hand, the "occult" lodges which practice Freemasonry quite
consciously as a system of initiation similar to the ancient
Mystery schools, Gnosticism or Sufism. To make things more
complicated, some see the initiatory rituals of the Craft leading
to pantheism or even a kind of transcendental humanism, while
others see the rituals as leading back to a more traditional
theism or even theocracy. To know that the Priory of Sion is
Freemasonic or an offshoot of Freemasonry is not really to know
much about its actual inner tradition.
Freemasonry has been repeatedly condemned by the Vatican, and all
Freemasons are officially excommunicated. The Presbyterian Church
of Scotland also recently announced that no man can be a
Freemason and a Christian at the same time. This hostility from
the ultra-orthodox is justified (in its own internal logic)
because Freemasonry was based, originally, on the rather Sufic
doctrine that all religions are somewhat distorted remnants of a
true Revelation that can only be rediscovered through gnosis
(inner experience) by one person at a time. (It is the purpose of
Freemasonic ritual to convey this gnosis by techniques of drama
and shock somewhat similar to those of shamanism, Sufism, the
Gurdjieff schools or Tibetan Buddhism.) Conservative lodges in
Christian countries, however, still use the Bible as centerpiece
of the Craft altar. (Moslem Freemasons use the Koran.) The
Orleanist lodges have reversed the gnostic tradition and are
totally agnostic; they use a book of blank pages on their altar,
and seem to share the Firesign Theatre's celebrated doctrine,
"We're all Bozos on this bus."
The Rights and Privileges of Low-Cost Housing
Returning to Mattieu Paoli and his discovery of the links between
the Grand Loge Alpina and the unknown French Freemasons : M. 
Paoli's attempts to learn more about the latter group read like
comic opera - but so does much of this epic. The French group had
a magazine (limited in circulation only to its own members and
those of the Grand Loge Alpina.) It was called Circuit, and,
although Paoli does not make much of this, the cover of the first
issue he saw depicted a map of France with a Jewish Star of David
superimposed upon it and something that looks much like a
spaceship or UFO hovering above. (I know that I am pushing the
paranoia buttons of both anti-semites and the more demoniac UFO
theorists, but I also believe that this is precisely the intent
of the Priory of Sion, which seems to have a flair for gallows
humor.) This strange magazine, Circuit, was devoted entirely to
astrology and other "occult" subjects but was attributed to the
Committee to Secure the Rights and Privileges of Low Cost Housing
- a group which Paoli was unable to locate anywhere and which
nobody else has ever been able to track down either.
At this point readers of normal skepticism will begin to share my
suspicion that the Priory of Sion at least has its own brand of
humor. In fact, the very name Priory of Sion may be intended to
spread panic among those weird people who still believe in the
Elders of Zion conspiracy.
Paoli eventually tracked down the publication offices of Circuit.
It was produced, not at the fictitious Committee to Secure the
Rights and Privileges of Low Cost Housing, but at the very real
and powerful Committee for Public Safety of the de Gaulle
government in Paris. The Committee for Public Safety, named after
the similar group during the French Revolution, was managed by
two close friends of President de Gaulle - Andre Malraux,
novelist, art critic and Nobel prizewinner in literature; and one
Pierre Plantard de Saint Clair, about whom we will shortly learn
more and understand less.
Paoli, who had noted that de Gaulle had contributed an article to
Circuit, found other reasons to suspect that the de Gaulle
government was aware of, and sympathetic to, the goals of a
shadowy Freemasonic lodge called the Priory of Sion - which, by
then, he had determined was the real group behind the masquerade
of the Committee to Secure the Rights and Privileges of Low Cost
Housing. The rest of Paoli's book is devoted to demonstrating
that the Priory wielded considerable power in Gaullist and
conservative circles; Paoli speculates, backed by fairly
plausible evidence and inference, that the Priory intends some
major shift to the Right in French and possibly European
politics, or some form of Christian Socialism to rival and
undermine the spread of Marxism.
It is probably only a coincidence, but I cannot resist adding
that Paoli was later shot as a spy in Israel.
Extraterrestrials and Rains Of Frogs
Also in 1973 appeared la Race Fabuleuse by Gerard de Sede - a
book which, if you are willing to believe it, explains the Star
of David and the spaceship which Paoli had noted on the cover of
Circuit. In a word, La Race Fabuleuse is the kind of book loved
by those who are wild about von Daniken and Velikovsky. It deals
with a secret society - never called the Priory of Sion
explicitly, although de Sede later admitted to Baigent, Lincoln
and Leigh (the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail that he was
indeed writing about the Priory in La Race Fabuleuse. By and
large, the book deals with unsolved mysteries of French history
and is full of intriguing puzzles and novel ideas.
For instance, the town of Stenay has the Devil's head on its coat
of arms, and frogs are often reported falling from the sky there.
If that's the kind of thing that turns you on, de Sede is your
main man in the Priory mystery. Other strange data in La Race
Fabuleuse include stuff like this: The last Merovingian king,
Dagobert II, was murdered by persons unknown on December 23, 689,
in the Ardennes forest, which is named after a Stone Age
bear-goddess. Arcadia in ancient Greece was named after a
bear-goddess, too, and Nostradamus is a pen-name which means one
devoted to "Our Lady" - a term which usually, in France, refers
to the Virgin Mary. One whole chapter argues that the 
"prophecies" of Nostradamus are not predictions about the future
at all (that was a mask to slip his quatrains past the censors)
but coded revelations about what really happened in the past and
was excluded from official history. We are offered a new theory
about the Man in the Iron Mask, but that is left unfinished and
we are led instead into the mystery of why Louis VX was obsessed 
with Poussin's painting. The Shepherds of Arcadia, which brings us
back to that bear goddess again. After a while, one realizes that
de Sede is not explaining anything but dropping hints that lead
in dozens of directions and one suspects the whole book may be a
complicated hoax.
Then de Sede does explain; alas, his source cannot be revealed
and is hidden behind the title and initial, "Marquis de B."
Marquis de B can neither confirm nor deny that de Sede is quoting
him correctly because he (the Marquis) was murdered in the
Ardennes forest, just like Dagobert II, and on the anniversary of
Dagobert's death - December 23, 1971. Anyway, if you are still
with me, the reason Dagobert and the mysterious Marquis were
murdered is that they both belonged to a secret Society made up
of persons descended from the Tribe of Benjamin in ancient Judea;
and the Tribe of Benjamin was not exactly like the orthodox
Hebrews at all. In fact, the Tribe of Benjamin intermarried with
extraterrestrials from Sirius, became superhuman due to this
exotic genetic strain, and then migrated to Greece, and then to
France. . . .
Whether or not one is inclined to believe a yarn like that on the
basis of the weird data offered, what is even more intriguing
about La Race Fabuleuse is that, even if one believes in these
Jewish-extraterrestrial French nobles, that theory only explains
some of the historical enigmas de Sede has presented to us. What
about those frogs falling out of the sky at Stenay, and why are
two forests named after bear goddesses made part of de Sede's
narrative, and who the help are the gang that keeps murdering off
these Supermen, and why can't the Supermen protect themselves
better? (For that matter, the head of Satan on the coat of arms
of Stenay, with which the book begins, is never explained
As the French themselves say, it gives one ferociously to think.
Treasure, Codes and Moon Blue Apples
In a later book, L' Or de Rennes-le-Chateau, de Sede does not
answer any of these questions, but provides us with more wild
theories and even more strange data. Briefly, a priest
manuscripts in an old church in the Provencal town of Rennes-le-
Chateau. (Like Stenay, the town with the head of Satan on its
coat of arms, Rennes-le-Chateau was the home of a castle of the
Merovingian dynasty, to which the murdered Dagobert II belonged.)
You are going to love this if you have any sense of humor at all.
De Sede does not decode the Sauniere parchments, but the code is
so simple a child might guess it. The manuscripts have some
letters raised above the others. Read these letters only and get
the message found by the ingenious authors of Holy Blood, Holy
The conjunction of Dagobert and Sion, of course, seems to
authenticate the medieval origin the Priory claims for itself
(although nobody, to my knowledge, has carbon-dated the Sauniere
parchment, which might be a late forgery.) I cordially invite you
make what you can of the rest of the secret message. Cabalists
are especially likely to find something of interest in the 681.
Others will be emotionally drawn to conjecture about the "daemon"
and the "horse" (not house) of God. Personally, I am
aesthetically fond of the noon blue apples as a topic for
speculation when I can't get to sleep at night.....
The damned thing about this is that there may indeed have the
priest who found the parchment, Father Sauniere, became quite
wealthy by unknown means, and that has kept "the mystery of
Rennes-le-Chateau" a topic of keen interest among French
conspiracy buffs and puzzle addicts for nearly a hundred years
Later, however, Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh were to offer another
explanation of Father Sauniere's wealth. But I will come to that.
. . .
Surrealism and Catholic Traditionalism
This is as good a place as any to mention the short and undated
Le Cercle d' Ulysse by Jean Delaude. This pamphlet does not
bother us with demons, horses of God or frogs falling from the
sky, and doesn't have a single noon blue apple. It states bluntly
that the Priory of Sion is a conservative Catholic secret society
devoted principally to the cause of making Archbishop Lefebvre
the next Pope. Delaude also claims that the Grandmaster of the
Priory is the Abbe Ducaud-Bourget (Lefebvre's leading disciple),
who succeeded the surrealist poet Jean Cocteau, who had been
Grandmaster until 1963. (Holy Blood, Holy Grail produces
documentary evidence that Cocteau was indeed a Grandmaster of the
Priory or, at least - one suspects everything at this point -
that somebody did a good job of forging Cocteau's name on a
Priory document.)
While the noon blue apples have a Cocteauean or surrealist flavor
to them, it does appear that the Sauniere parchment really did
exist at least as early as the 1890s, so I reject the theory
proposed by my wife at this point, which is that the Priory is
the last and greatest of all surrealist pranks. No: Cocteau may
have given his own flavor to the enterprise, but the Priory
clearly has a pre-Cocteau origin, even if it doesn't necessarily
date back to copulation between ancient Benjaminites and UFOnauts
from Sirius. (Still: it was Cocteau who said "The poet must
always be a shady character" and "One must run faster than
beauty, even if it seems one is running away from it." I find
these remarks helpful in trying to intuit what the hell the
Priory is really all about.)
As for Archbishop Lefebvre and the Abbe Ducaud-Bourget - linked
to the Priory by Delaude, remember? - these are two extremely
right-wing gentlemen indeed, leaders of what is called the
Catholic Traditionalist movement, and many have not been shy
about hurling the word "fascist" at them (Oddly, Lefebvre was a
member of the pro-fascist Action Francaise group in the 1930s,
but Ducaud-Bourget was part of the anti-Nazi resistance in the
1940s.) For our purposes Lefebvre and Ducaud-Bourget can be
characterized as the leaders of that very conservative faction of
the Catholic church, not yet excommunicated, which is in such
total rebellion against the "Liberalism" (as they see it) of the
Vatican that their lack of excommunication may be the most
interesting (and enigmatic) thing about them.
Archbishop Lefebvre has long proclaimed that "Freemasons and
Satanists" have taken over the Vatican, although that expression
is a bit redundant in his case, since Catholic Traditionalism
regards all Freemasons as Satanists (an opinion shared by some
Protestant Fundamentalists). Abbe Ducaud-Bourget was the first of
the many speculators to claim that the sudden death of Pope John
Paul I (JP-I) was murder. Still, the Vatican tolerates these
heretics within the Church. One of their British supporters told
The Guardian newspaper that Lefebvre holds a "weapon" over the
Vatican, but declined to say what the "weapon" was. Naturally,
Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh think it has something to do with the
sex life of Jesus.
Father Juan Krolm, the chap who tried to kill Pope John Paul II
(JP-II) at Fatima a few years ago, was ordained and trained by
Archbishop Lefebvre, but later became even more of an extremist.
Amusingly, at his trial, Father Krohn said he had no guilt about
trying to kill "the Antichrist" - his name for JP-Il - and that
the only shame in his life was what he called "sins of the
According to Father Malachi Martin, S.J. - another heretic -
Archbishop Lefebvre was responsible for sending inflammatory
documents to the previous Pope, JP-I (the one whose death has
aroused more conspiracy theories than anybody's since that of
John F. Kennedy). In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church,
Father Martin says this Lefebvre material included documentation
of Freemasonic affiliations of various Cardinals, together with
sexual scandal, including photos of some Vatican officials with
their girl friends and others with their boy friends. Unless I
misread him, Father Martin seems to imply that it is a strange
coincidence that Pope John Paul I's death followed so quickly
upon his receipt of this expose material from Archbishop
Whatever one thinks of that speculation, and the claims about the
"murder" of JP-I attributed to unnamed sources in Yallop's In
God's Name, there is no doubt that Mino Pecorelli, editor of the
expose newspaper L'Osservatore Politico, did send JP-I a list of
P2 and Grand Loge Alpina members on the staff of the Vatican
Bank just before that Pontiff's sudden demise. What happened to
Pecorelli leaves little room for speculation. He was shot dead on
a street in Rome, quite definitely by professional assassins. If
you must speculate, Signor Pecorelli was shot through the mouth -
the sasso in bocca, traditional Mafia punishment for informers.
The Sex Life of the Late Redeemer
For the sake of the few who haven't read the much-discussed Holy
Blood, Holy Grail, it is well to review a few of the
counter-claims of the egregious work. The authors, Baigent,
Lincoln and Leigh, argue that, while Paoli may have been an
independent investigator, de Sede and Delaude appear to be
members of the Priory of Sion and that their works are not
intended to reveal much of the truth but just to arouse
curiosity, controversy and mystery, and also to prepare the
intellectual climate in France for whatever astounding political
or religious revolution the Priory intends in the near future.
Specifically, Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh claim there is no
evidence that Archbishop Lefebvre and his right-wing crowd have
any link with the Priory; they assert that that asserted linkage
is a Priory joke at Lefebvre's expense. They also reject the
extraterrestrial yarn, and replace it with their own lovely yarn
that the Priory is descended from Jesus and his unacknowledged
bride, Mary Magdalene.
It is worth mentioning at this point that the alleged romantic
alliance between Jesus and Magdalene is not the invention of
Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh. The Gnostic gospels - all as early
and historically as plausible as the orthodox gospels - imply
such a relationship several times, and Jesus is described as
kissing Magdalene romantically in one celebrated text. It is also
true that celibacy was regarded by orthodox Jews of Jesus's time
much as it is regarded in the post-Freudian world of today :
namely, as a rather kinky, unmanly and somewhat reverse
life-style. Finally, Jesus is called "Rabbi" even in the orthodox
gospels and no man could be a rabbi in orthodox Judea at that
time who was not married. These facts are well known to
occultists and freethinkers and have even been discussed, albeit
gingerly, by a few liberal Christian theologians. What is unique
about Holy Blood, Holy Grail is the claim that the offspring of
Jesus and his bride are alive and among us today; but even that
has a kind of precedent. That odd little cult, the British
Israelites, have always claimed that the royal family of England
is descended from the House of David - although they never
claimed the descent was by way of Jesus, of course.
The shock that orthodox Christians feel at the concept of Jesus
as husband and father is distinctly odd in historical
perspective. The leaders of the other major patriarchal religions
- Zoroaster, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius - were all family men.
As for the pagan gods: some were family men, but some were also
notorious fornicators. Christian sex-denial is a very strange and
eccentric departure from the norms of world religion, in which
fertility is generally considered sacred and venerated as one of
the main manifestations of divine grace and beauty.
Be that as it may, at this point two suspicions cross a mind as
baroque as mine. First, if certain books in French may be Priory
propaganda disguised to look like outside investigations, as
Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh claim, could their own Holy Blood,
Holy Grail be more such propaganda, similarly disguised? And
second, why do the authors, like de Sede, drag in many subjects
which do not fit their own solution to the mysteries? Are they
hinting or blandly raising smoke screens or are they just
disorganized in their thinking? (For instance, they spend almost
as much space as de Sede on the bear-goddesses of Greece and
France, but this has no logical connection with their
Jesus/Magdalene theory any more than it has with de Sede's Sirius
theory. They also spend a lot of time on Poussin's painting, The
Shepherds of Arcadia, without ever really explaining its
importance, although I think perhaps they are hinting that the
grave in the painting is that of the son of Jesus and Magdalene,
who evidently died in Rennes-le-Chateau in southern France. )
Concretely, at least Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh did manage to get
an interview with a member of the Priory of Sion, and one who
even admitted he was the Grandmaster of the whole lodge. This was
the shadowy Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair whom some of you may
remember co-managed the Committee for Public Safety (under de
Gaulle) from the office where the Priory's magazine, Circuit, was
published. M. Plantard was marvelously esoteric in his
conversation with Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh. He neither
confirmed nor denied their theory that he is descended from Jesus
and Magdalene. He explained that the "treasure" in the Father
Sauniere parchment was "spiritual" rather than "material" and
added the helpful (or deliberately obscure) comment that this
spiritual treasure "belongs to Israel" and will be returned there
"at the proper time."
Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh think the "treasure" is the royal
bloodline of David and Jesus, which flows in the veins of M.
Plantard and his young son. . . .
Bankers, Anarchists and the Hollow Earth
Since Holy Blood, Holy Grail appeared in 1981, Baigent, Lincoln
and Leigh brought forth in England, in 1986, The Messianic
Legacy, a book which attempts to support their Jesus/Magdalene
bloodline theory with more evidence, most of it speculative. (As
I was about to mail this off to the editors of GNOSIS, I learned
that this book has just been published in the U.S. by Henry Holt
& Co.) Naturally, some further tidbits come to light. Pierre
Plantard de Saint-Clair gave these intrepid researchers several
more interviews, all hermetic at best and downright dishonest
at worst; then he abruptly announced that he had resigned as
Grandmaster of the Priory and was not allowed to inform them of
the name of his successor.
The door, in short, was closed in the faces of the investigators
and they were left out in the cold trying to make what they could
out of the gnomic utterances M. Plantard had granted them. Some
of his leads, however, did allow them to document, rather
convincingly, that the Priory of Sion is not an exclusively
French/Swiss product but has powerful branches in England and the
U.S., seemingly linked to parts of the banking industry . . .
which reminds one of Paoli's linkage between the Priory and Swiss 
banking, leading to grubby and sordid notions of what sort of 
mystery we are actually exploring here.
For those who find International Banking Conspiracies too corny
(or too right wing), there is always the alternative of Michael
Lamy's Jules Verne: Initiate et Initateur (1984). According to M.
Lamy, Veme was not only an initiate of the Priory of Sion but of
the Bavarian Illuminati as well, and the Priory itself is, in
many respects, a regrouping and a new false front for the
Illuminati. The Priory's politics are Orleanist, which Lamy
clarifies as "aristocratic-anarchistic" - i.e. Nietzschean.
(Think of Verne's characteristic heroes.) The real delight,
however, is the secret of Rennes-le-Chateau, the mysterious town
where Father Sauniere found the parchment about Dagobert, Sion,
the treasure and those noon blue apples, and where there is a
grave that looks like the one in Poussin's enigmatic painting.
The secret is - ready? - that the earth is hollow, of course 
(didn't you always suspect it?) and that in a Church at
Rennes-le-Chateau is a secret door leading down to the
underworld, which is inhabited by a race of immortal superhumans.
You see? Verne hinted at this, various times, in several of his
Actually, the church mentioned by Lamy really exists and even if
nobody else has found the hidden door leading down to the hollow
earth, it is certainly one of the weirdest churches in
Christendom. Among other things, it has a motto over the door
saying `THIS PLACE IS TERRIBLE." It also has, among the Stations
of the Cross, one showing a child clad in what might be Scottish
plaid among the crowd watching Jesus carry his cross. Another
Station can be interpreted as showing conspirators removing the
late Redeemer from the grave during the night, as if to fake the
Resurrection. You will be delighted to know that this church is
officially dedicated to Mary Magdalene.
Father Sauniere, who was responsible for these un-Papist details
of decor, was a member of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light in
Paris, a group which at various times also included Gerard
Encausse and Aleister Crowley. Encausse, under the pen-name
"Papus," wrote one of the most influential modern books on Tarot;
he later went to Russia and became involved with the mystic
Rasputin who wielded considerable influence on the Czar and his
family before the Russian Revolution. Crowley wrote another
influential book on Tarot and became Outer Head of the Ordo
Templi Orientis, a secret society almost as inexplicable (to
outsiders) as the Priory of Sion. Curiously, both the Priory and
the O.T.O. are linked, by various commentators, with the Knights
Templar, the medieval secret society which is also claimed to be
the origin of Freemasonry by many Masonic historians.
The Illuminati and the Knights of Malta
I'm sorry, but at this point I cannot resist throwing in one of
those odd coincidences that I keep stumbling upon in researching
secret societies. Holy Blood, Holy Grail claims, with some
evidence, that Father Saunier's weird church in Rennes-le Chateau
(near an old Knights Templar fortification, by the way) was built
with money's the eccentric priest received from the Archduke
Ferdinand von Hapsburg (who, they also claim, gave the other
money that led the town to believe Sauniere had found a
treasure). A hundred years earlier, the Emperor Joseph von
Hapsburg legalized Freemasonry in Austria, abolished Catholic
schools which he replaced with modern secular (or non-
denominational) schools and was the hero of Beethoven's first
major work, the Emperor Joeseph Cantata, in which he is hailed as
"bringer of light" and "foe of darkness and superstition."
According to Maynard Solomon's biography, Beethoven, the
Illuminati paid Ludwig to write that bit of music propaganda for
the von Hapsburg "Illuminated Monarch" (as he was often called).
It almost makes one wonder if the von Hapsburgs are kingpins in
some occult group at least two centuries old, as the Priory
books imply.
Of course, Holy Blood, Holy Grail includes genealogies which
allege that the von Hapsburgs are descended from Jesus and Mary
Magdalene. However, the connection is through Dagobert and the
Merovingians, so if you would rather believe de Sede's thesis,
the von Hapsburgs are actually descended from ancient Hebrews and
extraterrestrials from Sirius. Whichever theory you prefer, or
even if you doubt both of them, it is interesting that the von
Hapsburgs have held the honorary title of Kings of Jerusalem for
nearly 800 years.
The current scion of the clan, Dr. Otto von Hapsburg, is
President of the League for the United States of Europe, a group
which has played a large role in creating the European parliament
and is steadily working toward greater unity between the European
nations. He is also a member of - hold Your breath - the
Bilderbergers, which gives him two odd links with Bernhard of the
Netherlands. Prince Bernhard was the founder and prime mover
behind the Bilderberger society, and the same Prince Bernhard is,
according to the Baigent-Lincoln-Leigh genealogies, descended
Merovingian kings and hence from either Jesus or those
ancient astronauts from Sirius.
On the other hand, Dr. von Hapsburg is known as a fervent
anti-Comununist and is a Knight of Malta - i.e. an officer of the
Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), the most right-wing of
all Catholic secret societies.
Other known members of SMOM have included Franz von Papen (the
man who persuaded President von Hindenberg to make Hitler the
Chancellor of Germany), William Casey (the CIA chief who died
during the Irangate hearings), General Richard Gehlen (Hitler's
Chief of Intelligence who later became director of covert
operations in Soviet Russia for the CIA), General Alexander Haig,
Alexandre de Marenches (former chief of French intelligence),
William F. Buckley Jr., Clare Booth Luce (who was, of course, a
Dame, rather than a Knight, of Malta), Licio Gelli (founder of
the P2 conspiracy which laundered cocaine money for the CIA's
favorite Latin American dictators by way of the Cisalpine
Overseas Bank whose board of directors included Vatican bank
chief Bishop Paul Marcinkus), the late Roberto Calvi of Banco
Ambrosiano, who co-owned the Cisalpine Bank and was so
mysteriously found hanging from a bridge in London on June 18,
1982, and the late Michele Sindona, lawyer for the Mafia and
manager of Vatican financial affairs in the U.S., who was
convicted of 65 counts of bank fraud in New York, convicted of
murdering a bank examiner in Rome, and died in prison while
awaiting trial on further charges relating to the P2 bombings in
Italy in the 1970s. (See Lernoux's In Banks We Trust for details
on P2, the CIA and the banking industry. See Covert Action
Information Bulletin No. 25, Winter 1986 for more on SMOM and its
role as Vatican secret police.) English journalist Gordon Thomas
claims, in The Year of Armageddon, that the Knights of Malta
serve as couriers between the Vatican and the CIA.
Lest the naive begin to think all this makes some kind of sense
in terms of a rational paradigm involving Catholic and other
conservative interests plotting to accomplish rational
political-economic goals that seem desirable to them, every part
of this jigsaw except the Knights of Malta is hostile to the
Vatican and has often been officially condemned by the Vatican.
The Illuminati, the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Hermetic Brotherhood
of Light, P2, and the Priory of Sion are all included in the
Vatican's general condemnation (reiterated for over 200 years
now) against all Freemasonic lodges. All of these occult
offshoots of Masonry seem to include in their systems certain
Hermetic and Sufic ideas that have been condemned as heresy by
the Vatican, and the books I have summarized seem to demonstrate
that all these secret societies wish to replace the Vatican with
some form of mystic Christianity with distinctly gnostic
Jungian and Rastafarian Connections?
The Cult of the Black Virgin, by Ean Begg, leads us further from
clarity and deeper, much deeper, into the murk. To begin with,
Begg 's biography on the back of the book informs us that he is a
former Dominican monk and currently a Jungian psychotherapist - a
suggestive background for a man who has written the most
philosophically dense Priory of Sion book to appear thus far.
Basically, Begg deals with one of the great unsolved mysteries in
European archaeology and in Catholic history - the existence of
well over 400 statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary in European
churches, in which "the Mother of God" (as Catholics call her) is
clearly and unambiguously depicted as Black or Negroid.
Of course, the disciples of Marcus Garvey in general, and the
Rastafarians in particular, argue that Jesus and his family (and
the ancient Israelites in general) were Black; but these statues
are not a Rastafarian propaganda project. Most of the Black
Virgins in European churches have existed for several hundred
years and some seemingly have been around since at least the
birth of Christianity. You will not be surprised to learn that
Ean Begg attributes them to the Priory of Sion, which he holds is
at least as old as the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail claimed
in their wildest passages.
Why did the Priory go around planting evidence that Jesus's
mother was Black? If they wanted to implant some
proto-Rastafarian racial doctrines about "God's chosen people"
being Black, why didn't they make Jesus and Joseph and the
disciples Black, too, while they were about it? Begg does not
answer these questions. In fact, he does not answer any
questions, but raises more questions instead. He spends a lot of
time quoting familiar arguments that the Black Virgins were
originally idols of the Egyptian goddess, Isis, which the
Christians co-opted; but he shows that this doesn't explain all
the Black Virgins, many of which were created in recent centuries
and not imported from Egypt.
Begg goes on to give us an especially tender version of Jung's
theory of the Anima - the Ideal Female image in every male psyche
- and tells us legends in which Isis and Mary Magdalene function
as incarnations of the Anima. He seems to be hinting at the
theory that Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, but he never states
that explicitly. He also implies, repeatedly, that the Black
Virgins are not Virgins at all but portray Magdalene, an aspect
of the Anima which he suggests a more important to Western man
than the Virgin archetype. Many digressions deal with the Tarot,
which Begg tries to persuade us is chiefly a guide to the inner
mysteries of the Priory of Sion. (Encausse and Crowley, members
of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light which included Father
Sauniere, were also authorities on the Tarot.)
After taking us all around Robin Hood's barn, Begg leaves us with
two strong impressions or hints: we need to understand Jung and
we need to understand Sufism. Somehow, Jung, who considered
himself a Gnostic, and Sufism, which some claim is an Eastern
branch of Gnosticism, are the true keys to the Black Virgins and
to the Priory of Sion's ultimate mission on this planet. Many
hints seem to imply broadly that Begg writes not as an outsider
but as an initiate of the Priory's mysteries.
It is of some interest that Begg confirms the claim of the new
book by Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh (The Messianic Legacy) that M.
Plantard de Saint-Clair is no longer the Grandmaster of the
Priory of Sion and that the identity of the current Grandmaster
is not to be revealed to the profane.
Atlantis and the Vagina of Nuit 
The latest and most remarkable book in this whole bizarre area is
Genisis by David Wood. That is not a misprint but a Joycean or
hermetic pun; we are back again to the Magdalene-Isis connection.
Wood is the kind of writer who usually deals with ley lines, and
he has gone over the area around Rennes-le-Chateau drawing lines
and making diagrams like a pixilated Pythagoras. What he has
found is that the Church of Mary Magdalene is connected in a
complex pattern with every other major church or primitive
megalith in the area and the lines connecting them make up a
pattern which Mr. Wood calls "the vagina of Nuit." It looks about
as much like a vagina to me as Ronald Reagan looks like the
Guggenheim Museum in New York; but I am of the cynical school of
cartographers who believe any seven spots can be connected into a
ley-line pattern if you use a small enough map and a thick enough
pencil. Mr. Wood, however finds staggering revelations in the
genitalia of this early Egyptian sky-goddess.
It is impossible to give a coherent account of the argument of
Genisis for the same reason it is hopeless to try to explain
Dali's Debris of on Automobile Giving Birth to a Blind Horse
Biting a Telephone a Rationalist. Isis is one aspect of the Earth
Mother, and Nuit is another aspect, and for some reason the
Knights Templar, who were accused of sodomy by the Church, did
not really commit sodomy but instead cut off their penises and
saved them in special chalices (for reasons that make sense to
Mr. Wood but not to me), and this somehow or other proves that
France was originally colonized from Atlantis, and the human race
as a whole (not just some royal families) is of partly
extraterrestrial origin, having been the product of interbreeding
between proto-humans and the Space Brothers who appear as the
sons of God in Genesis, and the genetic engineer who raised us
above the animal to the human level got himself included in the
Bible, much maligned, as Satan, and . . . well, it gets wilder
and hairier as it goes along.
For what it is worth, I can comment that Aleister Crowley - once
a member of the same Hermetic Brotherhood of Light that included
Father Sauniere - believed that the world was astrologically
predestined to experience a revival of the worship of Nuit.
Crowley also believed any vagina was the vagina of Nuit to a
Tantric magician who knew how to turn his beloved into an
incarnation of the goddess. Crowley's sexmagick, however, did not
involve amputating the penis but rather prolonging coitus to the
state of hypnoidal trance. Nuit was also Black, like the
mysterious "Virgins" in Ean Begg's book. And de Sede hinted, way
back in La Race Fabuleuse, that the head of Satan on the coat of
arms of Stenay is somehow crucial to the Priory of Sion mystery.
And the Beat Goes on . . .
Before attempting to conclude or summarize all this, I have two
personal anecdotes to add to the tale. The first is a report from
Frederic Lehrman, the dean of Nomad University in Seattle, who
visited Rennes-le-Chateau a year ago and looked over some of the
sites mentioned in the Priory literature. Lehrman met a young man
who was also interested in the whole mystery and who had made a
major discovery. He had actually found a hidden sheaf of papers,
inside a hollow statue in the Temple of Magdalene (or so he
The papers were not in code, like those found by Father Sauniere
in the 1890s and they did not deal with Merovingian kings or noon
blue apples. They were stories from a German newspaper dated 1904
and did not refer in any way to any of the subjects connected to
the Priory in any previous literature.
Perhaps some joker placed those old German news clippings in the
statue to bewilder the next researcher. (But how would a casual
joker guess that a statue was hollow?) Perhaps the Priory did it
as another of their merry pranks. Perhaps there really is some
deep code in those news stories and the young man will find it
reveals the secret of the Alchemical Furnace or who shot Kennedy,
or where Moses was when the light went out, or something like
My second anecdote is even more ambiguous. At a seminar in
Hof-am-Frankenwald in Bavaria - the old stomping grounds of the
Illuminati - I actually met a man whom I'll call Fritz, who was a
member of the Priory of Sion (or so he alleged). He came from
Holland and was very much the Amsterdam New Age type, which is
not unlike the Marin County New Age type. He told me that all the
books on the Priory were inaccurate and that the true initiates
of the Prior found them all hilariously silly.
On the grounds that maybe Fritz really was a member of the Priory
of Sion and not a put-on artist, I paid very close attention to
everything he said during the seminar week-end. He was pro-Green
(in Europe that means ecological, decentralist and anti-Marxist
radical.) He was keen on space colonies, negative on life
extension, shared the Bucky Fuller-Werner Erhard-Bob Geldorf
vision that we can abolish starvation in this generation, and
seemed unconvincing (to me) when agreeing with some local
Theosophists about the evils of psychedelic drugs. He used the
word "pneumocracy" to describe his ideal society and explained
that this means "rule by the Spirit." (That we are entering the
age of rule by the Spirit was the "heresy" of Joachim of Fiore,
13th century founder of a stream of radical millenarianism in
Europe.) All of Fritz's attitudes would seem to be typical of
what I know of left-wing occult Freemasonry in Continental
Due to my unfortunate sense of humor and my inclination to
mischief, I tried a little test on Fritz when the weekend was
over. When I shook his hand, I formed a certain series of grips
and whispered a formula I shall here hide behind the metathesis,
"Bob Saw Jupiter's Moons." He looked startled and responded with
the correct counter-sign and the words I shall disguise as "Tuba
Concerto." I cannot say more about this for reasons of
discretion, but I can vouch for Fritz's initiation into one of
the higher levels of orthodox Freemasonry or else into one of the
"occult" Freemasonic lodges that share these grips and magick
formulae. This adds some credibility to his claim of membership
in the Priory of Sion, or at least to some personal knowledge of
the Priory. (Even if he belonged to a different occult lodge,
those grips would entitle him to visit in any occult Freemasonic
lodge on the Continent, and would probably get him into Priory
In conclusion, I think we have a high B.S. factor in all the
public revelations about the Priory of Sion. I offer five
alternative theories which all make -sense to me at various
times, although I am far from totally convinced by any of them.
1. The Priory is a left-wing occult group in the tradition of the
Grand Orient lodge and the Illuminati. Its intent is to overthrow
the political power of the Vatican and recreate Gnostic
Christianity. Its long-range politics (within this model) are
still mysterious. Gnostic cults have varied from theocratic
autocracy and downright tyranny to Dionysian and or Discordian
2. The Priory is, like P2 in Italy, actually a front for the
Sovereign Military order of Malta (SMOM). Its function is to
serve as another Vatican secret police organization and pretend
to be Freemasonic, so that if the members are caught in any high
crimes the Freemasons will be blamed instead of the Knights of
Malta. (This actually seems to have worked in Italy. Although the
ringleaders of P2 - Gelli, Calvi, Sindona - were all Knights of
Malta, hardly anybody knows that who hasn't researched P2
thoroughly, and most people think of P2 as "a Freemasonic
3. The Priory really is a front for Archbishop Lefebvre and
Catholic Traditionalism. It intends to abolish Liberalism,
Rationalism, Socialism and Modernism in general, and usher us
back into the medieval world of an absolute Papacy and no more
dammed heretics anywhere. All the seeming evidence that appears
to contradict this is part of a smoke screen and intended to dupe
those who would not otherwise cooperate in such a reactionary
4. The Priory is made up of Totally Enlightened Beings who happen
to be very rich bankers and love art and artists. They enjoy
playing mindfuck games on other, un-Enlightened financiers and on
groups that imagine they are Enlightened but aren't.
5. What we have here is just another commercial "conspiracy," or
"affinity group," with an unusually Continental flavor of art and
culture about it. Cocteau 's membership seems well documented;
almost as well documented is that of Claude Debussy, the
composer; Malraux could hardly have been ignorant of what was
going on in the office he shared with Pierre Plantard de
Saint-Clair. By and large, Continental politicians and
businessmen are more "cultured" and "intellectual" than their
American counterparts, and think it prestigious rather than
"queer" to have artists among their friends: Europe does not
share the American delusion that artistic/philosophical interests
are unmasculine and make one unfit for positions of power. The
Priory of Sion might be what the Bohemian Club could have become
if America's ruling class were not terrified that any
intellectual interests on their part would make them look like
"sissies." In short, the Priory could be a club of rich and 
powerful men who also enjoy occult and historical romanticizing:
the aristocratic equivalent of the Society for Creative
Anachronism or Dungeons and Dragons.
Whichever theory you prefer, or if you like a sixth theory of
your own, the whole Priory of Sion saga seems to shed a new and
(I would say) surrealist or psychedelic light on the famous
remark by Ishmael Reed: "The history of the world is the history
of the warfare between secret societies." 
Robert Anton Wilson is the author of numerous books including the
Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, The New Inquisition, and
Cosmic Trigger (Falcon Press, Los Angeles CA).



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