by Wor. Bro. Dennis Stocks, Barron Barnett Lodge.
Following the release of Humanum Genus in 1884 by the Pope, Leo Taxil (one of many pseudonyms used by Gabriel Jorgand-Pages - a pornographer who had previously attacked the Roman Catholic Church in his works) turned his literary talents against Freemasonry. In 1886 he produced five exposures and eight bitter attacks against the Craft. These included The Three-Point Brothers (or The Brethren of the Three Points), The Cultus of the Great Architect, Sister Masons (published in 1886), Freemasonry Unveiled and Explained, The Vatican and the Masons, The Anti-Christ and the Origin of Masonry, The Masonic Assassins and The Legend of Pope Pius IX as a Mason. Later, as "Paul Rosen," he published The Social Enemy and Satan and Company. This last work was dedicated to Leo XIII and purported to be all the secrets of Freemasonry as revealed by a M.Ill. S.G.I.G. of the 33rd and Last Degree of Freemasonry. A presumably satisfied Leo XIII granted him a private audience in 1887.
At this time in France, people had never talked so much about the Devil. Numerous books, plays and songs all dealing with Satan were flooding the market such as Abbe Decanu's History of Satan, and Meyerbeer's Robert the Devil. It may be argued that this was coupled to the coming new century lurking on the temporal horizon. For Taxil not to involve Satan in his works would have appeared to make him ill-informed.
In 1891, Taxil expanded on an earlier work on Adoptive Masonry (Les Soeurs Maconnes - Sister Masons) and published Are There Women in Freemasonry? (Y a-t-il des femmes dans la Franc-Maconnerie?) Answering his own question, Taxil proceeded to reveal intimate (in every sense of that word) details of an androgynous rite called the "New and Reformed Palladium" which was directed from Charleston by one Albert Pike, the "Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite". This presumed Satanic rite had been imported into France by one Phileas Walder who founded the Mother-Lodge of the Lotus with the aid of the occultist Eliphas Levi who claimed to have, on 24 July 1854, raised the spirit of Apollonius of Tyre. Beyond the first three degrees are two virulently anti-Christian grades which involve the initiate in blasphemy, sacrilege and - in the Temple-Mistress Grade - ritualised sex to show "that the sacred act of physical generation is the key to the mystery of being".
On the basis of this absurd misinformation, Bishop Fava, the impetuous Bishop of Grenoble, published a booklet in which he stated that women's lodges constituted a sort of harem for the men's lodges.
Taxil (as Dr Bataille) claimed that the virulently anti-Christian and satanic Palladium had been brought to France by Phileas Walder with the aid of occultist disciples. The Palladium ritual involved blasphemy, sacrilege and ritualised sex. However absurd this was, the Catholic hierarchy took it seriously and it led to another surge of anti-Masonic books. Other authors such as Adolphe Ricoux confirmed the existence of the Palladium and expanded on Taxil's background. Ricoux went on to describe Pike as the "Pope of the Freemasons" sending secret messages to his followers. Other anti-Masonic authors, such as Father Leon Meurin, a Jesuit bishop who had come from Mauritius, began seeking Taxil out to confirm their theories as to the satanic nature of Freemasonry. In his book Freemasonry, the Synagogue of Satan, the pious Bishop Meurin, who was an erudite Orientalist, was quite sure Freemasons worshipped the Devil, having discovered satanic allusions in everything pertaining to Freemasonry: passwords, aprons, collars etc. Taxil gave him everything he wanted. As late as 1957, this work was still being published in Spanish translation.
Of course there was no primary source material to support all this. There never could be since the whole thing was a premeditated and carefully planned hoax on the part of Taxil.
Taxil embellished his creation with lurid illustrations showing not only fictitious Palladists in their full Luciferian glory, but portraits of real, living Freemasons together with a fine collection of both true and invented Masonic documents as well. No bureaucratic detail was omitted with the Palladium reported to have seven organisational centres - Berlin, Rome, Washington, Monte Video (sic), Naples, Calcutta and Charleston. (Note that Waite in his encyclopedia's citation on the Pall adium adds Port Louis in Mauritius for African control).
Not satisfied with having regained the pinnacle of the anti-Masonic crescendo, Taxil now introduced to the world his most complicated and ingenious deception -- a reformed and repentant ex-Palladist who would reveal the full depths of wickedness, depravity and perversions practised by the Freemasons.
This quisling, Miss Diana Vaughan, was "born" in July 1895 and her story appeared in twenty-four monthly issues of "her" Memoirs of an Ex-Palladist. The story recounted how, on Albert Pike's death, control of the Palladium and the position as the Supreme Dogmatic Director of Universal Freemasonry had passed to Adriano Lemmi, the first post-revolutionary Italian Grand Master in Rome -- which came, no doubt as a surprise to that worthy Brother! After a quarrel with Sophie Walder, Miss Vaughan had gone her own way, forming her own "Free and Regenerated Palladium" before being, finally, converted to Catholicism.
Her revelations did not match the satanic wonders of "Dr Bataille", but she clearly outdid him in libelling living English Freemasons. Many harmless Freemasons were implicated during the course of her revelations including Dr William Wynn Westcott, the head of the English Rosicrucian Society.
Westcott was accused of being "the actual chief of the English Luciferians" and the "actual custodian of the diabolical rituals of Nick Stone; it is he who is the Supreme Magus of the Socinian Rose-Cross for England." Diana Vaughan claimed to have visited Westcott's home and made copies of the rituals.
Dr William Wynn Westcott (1848-1925) came to London in 1889 after a career as a country doctor. He became a coroner for Central London and finally retired from public life in 1918. In 1921 he went to Durban, South Africa where he died four years later. Although a regular Freemason and a leading member of the SRIA, Westcott had a love of fringe societies especially the Isis-Urania Temple of the Golden Dawn in the Outer or, more commonly, "The Order of the Golden Dawn" which he, G. Samuel Liddel Mathers (1854-1918) and Dr William Robert Woodman (1829-1891) had formed in 1887-1888.
Westcott and Mathers devised the Order's rituals and liturgy allegedly from secret Rosicrucian cipher manuscripts. At its height, the society numbered approximately 200 members and became influential in certain artistic circles in the 1980's when its membership included Algernon Blackwood, W.B. Yeats, Constance Wilde (wife of Oscar) and Florence Farr (actress and lover of Yeats and Shaw).
One reason for suspecting Westcott and the others was a spurious claim that the Ripper murders were ritual sacrifices. Ellic Howe has written that, at the time of the murders, the Society was "nothing more than a kindergarten for would-be occultists." In 1897 the authorities had threatened to eject Westcott (who had written sixteen books on the occult) from public office due to his membership of The Golden Dawn. He immediately left the order and severed all ties with his former colleagues. Probably just as well, for The Golden Dawn turned somewhat nasty. In 1898, Aleister Crowley joined and the Order turned to demonic magic, but far removed from ritual murder. Mathers's most aggressive magical act was to baptise a number of dried peas with the names of his enemies in order to shake them fiercely in a sieve. On the other hand, Crowley baptised a frog "Jesus Christ," flogged it and crucified it.
On 19 April 1897 when Diana Vaughan was scheduled to present an address at the Paris Geographical Society, Taxil appeared alone on stage (after ensuring his audience had all left their sticks and umbrellas in the cloakroom) and explained how he had been hoaxing the intolerant world for twelve years!; how his sole purpose had been to discomfort the Roman Catholic Church by confronting and feeding it with its own intolerance.
The Catholic world lived isolated from the ordinary world. Sheltered behind specially edited newspapers with a style all of their own, careful not to read books that were not endorsed or recommended, kept in almost complete ignorance of the mechanism of their society, they were ready made for the deception in that their means of verification of Taxil's claims were almost entirely absent.