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Order of the Solar Temple

The Order of the Solar Temple known also as OTS and the Cross and the Rose or simply as The Solar Temple was a secret society based upon the new age myth of the continuing existence of the Knights Templar (see Origins of the Neo-templar Movement below) that had an esoteric mission to save the spiritual heritages of the planet Earth and take it to another planet. It was purportedly started by Joseph di Mambro and Luc Jouret in 1984 in Geneva as l'Ordre International Chevaleresque de Tradition Solaire (OICTS) and renamed Ordre du Temple Solaire. It is believed that other members were also involved who have remained unknown to the public.

NOTE: While much of the material below is repeated in many articles and books written by journalists, much of the information about the Solar Temple remains unverified as there were few official documents and no official spokespersons of this group that can document the beliefs or practices of this Neo-Templar splinter group. Ex-member accounts are often contradictory as their statements are often based upon hearsay from other members or are allegations that were never responded to by the members of the group. The group received little publicity until after the tragedy that occurred killing most, if not all, of its leaders. Below are the generally undisputed facts about the group.

Table of contents

Origins of the Solar Temple and its founders

It is stated that OTS absorbed another neo-templar organization called Foundation Golden Way which was led by Joseph Di Mambro (1926 - 1995), who was born at Pont Saint-Esprit[?] in France. Before founding OTS Joseph Di Mambro was also part of a Rosicrucian organization called A.M.O.R.C.[?] from 1956 to 1970. Di Mambro who was trained as a clock maker and jeweler became interested in esoteric religions at an early age. He was arrested on swindling charges which prompted his resettlement in Switzerland.

Luc Jouret was born in 1947 and died 1994 in the Granges-sur-Salvan[?] Switzerland tragedy of the group. He was the other publicly acknowledged founder of OTS. Born in the Belgian Congo he was educated in medicine at the Université Libre in Brussels graduating in 1974. He specialized in homeopathy. Jouret, who had interests in freemasonry, the Albigenses and Cathars as well as many new age theories, convinced his followers that he and Di Mambro were members of the 14th Century Christian Order of the Knights Templar during a previous life and that Di Mambro's daughter Emanuelle was "the cosmic child". She would lead them after death to a planet which revolves around the star Sirius. They claimed that Di Mambro's daughter had been conceived without sex.

There were Solar Temple Lodges in Morin Heights[?] and St-Anne-de-Peraude[?] in Quebec, Canada, as well as in Australia, Switzerland, Martinqiue[?] and other countries. Its activities were a mix of early Protestant christianity mixed with a new age philosophy and homeopathic medicine using variously adapted freemasonic rituals. Jouret was interested in finding wealthy or infuential members and it was reputed that there were many wealthy European members who were secret members of the group. There were even press reports that there were some of the executives of Hydro-Quebec[?] in Quebec who were building dams at the behest of Jouret to provide electricity for the colony in Quebec that would exist after the doomsday[?] event.

Structure of the OTS

According to the literature of the OTS the central authority in the Ordre TS was the Synarchy of the Temple, whose membership was secret. Its top 33 members were known as the Elder Brothers of the Rosy Cross (another name for Rosicrusians) and were headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. The Council of the Order formed Lodges run by a Regional Commander and three Elders, progression in the Order was by levels and grades (three per level) The Brothers of Parvis, The Knights of the Alliance and the Brothers of the Ancient Times. There were many organizations associated with the Ordre TS including the International Archedia Sciences and Tradition, Archedia Clubs, Menta Clubs, Agata Clubs and Atlanta Clubs that offered the teachings of Luc Jouret both to the general public and privately to Ordre TS members. The Lodges had altars, rituals and costumes. Members were initiated at each stage of advancement which included the purchase of expensive purchases, jewellery, costumes, regalia, and the payment of exhorbitant initiation fees. Members believed in reincarnation and held that Di Mambro and Jouret would lead them, after the members died, to a planet near the star of Sirius. During ceremonies, they wore Crusader-type robes and held in awe a sword Di Mambro said was an authentic Templar artifact which had been given to him a thousand years ago in a previous life.

Origins of the Neo-Templar Movement

Various contemporary movements, known as "Neo-Templar" groups, have perceived themselves as fulfilling the tradition of the Knights Templar — an international Christian Order authorized by the Pope during the Crusades of warrior monks that had amassed great wealth. The wealth of the Templars had supposedly disappeared without a trace when the leaders of the group were branded as heretics and burned at the stake by the Catholic Church. The belief of neo-templar groups was that they could come into contact with the power of these warrior monks who either had the Holy Grail chalice or who had amassed all kinds of esoteric artifacts during their pillage of the holy lands during the Crusades and that these artifacts were still secretly hidden somewhere.

In France some historians say the these so-called modern orders began when the French esoteric author Jacques Breyer[?] established a Sovereign Order of the Solar Temple in 1952. In 1968, that order was renamed the Renewed Order of the Solar Temple under the leadership of French right-wing political activist Julien Origas[?]; some reports have claimed that Origas was a Nazi SS member during World War II. Jouret eventually became a member of this Renewed Order of the Solar Temple (ROTS), one of dozens of groups in Europe claiming to be successors to the Knights Templars. Jouret presided over Origas's funeral in 1983. After Origas died Jouret became the presiding Grand Master of the ROTS but then a year late the group splintered and it was then that Jouret and Di Mambro split from that group and founded the OTS taking a large portion of ROTS's members with them. There are other neo-templar groups that have some link to these groups and others that are not connected with them at all. See Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum (book) (1989) as a sophisticated satire of these western mystery tradition[?] groups that became popular in Europe after World War II. See also Priory of Zion, about the allegedly historical book The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leight and Henry Lincoln.

The Solar Temple in Quebec

In 1986 Jouret and Di Mambro immigrated to the French speaking province of Quebec in Canada establishing a chapter of the Order of the Solar Temple near Montreal and Quebec City. They bought a chalet complex in Morin Heights[?] complete with indoor pool along with a center in St-Anne-de-Peraude[?]. Jouret also brought some other of his loyal followers from Switzerland. The group believed that there was going to be a coming global catastrophe[?]. Jouret declared that "the world would soon be engulfed in warfare and famine. Only Quebec would be spared…" A "giant concrete nuclear air-raid shelter" was built to protect them during the predicted calamity in the centre near Quebec City.

Di Mambro also had a string of luxury properties in Australia, France, Switzerland, Martinique and elsewhere Canada that were used for Solar Temple activities. He also married a new, young wife named Dominique Bellaton. They had Emmanuelle, their "virgin birth" daughter that the members of the group believed who would lead them to Sirius.

By the early 1990s, there were many people who were leaving the group with various complaints about the leaders of the group. Jouret had been arrested for keeping guns illegally in the Quebec center and his doomsday predictions did not seem to be panning out.

Leaving the Planet, Destination: Sirius

The beginning of the end of the cult began when an infant, aged three months, was killed in October 1994 at the group's centre in Morin Heights, Quebec, a ski resort north of Montreal in the Laurentian mountain range, the baby had been stabbed repeatedly with a wooden stake. It is believed that Di Mambro ordered the murder because he identified the baby as theAnti-Christ described in the Bible. They believed the Anti-Christ was born into the cult to prevent Di Mambro from succeeding in his spiritual aim. A few days later, Di Mambro and twelve followers performed a ritual Last Supper. A few days later, mass suicides and murders were conducted at two villages in Switzerland and in Morin Heights — 15 inner circle members committed suicide by the use of poison, 30 were killed by bullets or smothering and 8 others were also killed. Many of the bodies when found were drugged, possibly to prevent the members from objecting. The buildings were then set on fire by timer devices purportedly as one last symbol of the group's purification.

In western Switzerland, 48 members of a sect died in another mass murder-suicide. Many of the victims were found in a secret underground chapel lined with mirrors and other Templar symbolism. Bodies were in the order's ceremonial robes and were in a circle, feet together, heads outward, most with plastic bags tied over their heads, which bore bullet wounds. It is beleived that the plastic bags were a symbol of the ecological disaster that would befall the human race after the OTS members moved on to Sirius. It is also believed that these bags were used as part of the OTS rituals, so members whould have voluntarily worn them without being placed under duress. There was also evidence that many of the victims in Switzerland were also drugged before they were shot. Other victims were in three ski chalets. Several dead children were lying together. The tragedy was discovered when officers rushed to the sites to fight fires which had been ignited by remote-control devices. Farewell letters left by the believers stated that they believed that they were "leaving this earth to escape "hypocrisies and oppression of this world.

Members of the Solar Temple dead in Switzerland included a mayor, a journalist, a civil servant and a sales manager. Records seized by the Quebec police showed that some members had personally donated over $1 million to the cult's leader Joseph Di Mambro. There was also another attempted mass suicide of the remaining members that was thwarted in the late 1990s. All the suicide/murders and attempts occurred around the dates of the equinoxes and solstices obviously in some relation to the beliefs of the group.

Michael Tabachnik[?], an internationally renowned Swiss musician and conductor, was arrested as a leader of the Solar Temple in the late 1990s. He was indicted for "participation in a criminal organization," and murder. He came to trial in Grenoble, France during the spring of 2001 but was acquitted.

It is believed that The Solar Temple group continues to exist with thirty surviving members in Quebec at the St-Anne-de-Peraude center where some of the remaining members run an organic bread bakery with from 140 to 500 worldwide.

Bibliography

  • Cult Members say Solar Temple Leaders Ordered Mass Suicides, AFP, April 19, 2001, www.rickross.com
  • Darkaul, Arkon. A History of Secret Societies. (NY: Citadel, 1995)
  • Davis, Eric. Solar Temple Pilots, The Village Voice (October 25, 1994)
  • "French Magistrate rejects idea that outsiders killed cultists," AFP, (April 24, 2001)
  • Galanter, Marc. Cults: Faith, Healing, and Coercion. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989)
  • Haight, James A. And Now, the Solar Temple. Free Inquiry, Winter 1994-95.
  • Hassan-Gordon, Tariq. Solar Temple Cult Influenced by Ancient Egypt, (Middle East Times, Issue 18, 2001)
  • Mayer, Jean Francois. Apocalyptic Millennialism in the West: The Case of the Solar Temple, Critical Incident Analysis Group, hsc.virginia.edu, retrieved, January 4, 2003.
  • Moran, Sarah. The Secret World of Cults. (Surrey, England: CLB International, 1999)
  • Musician Denies Solar Temple Murders, The Scotsman, Edinburgh (April 18, 2001)
  • Palmer, Susan. Purity and Danger in the Solar Temple, Journal of Contemporary Religion 3 (October 1996) pages 303-318
  • Probert, Robert. Solar Temple: Tabachnik Aquitted, Center for New Religious Studies, (June 25, 2001)
  • Ross, Rick. Solar Temple Suicides, Cult Education and Recovery, www.culteducation.com, (Sept. 1999)
  • Serrill, Michael S. Remains of the day, Time, (October 24, 1994)
  • Solar Temple," www.religioustolerance.org, (Jan 4, 2003)
  • Spanish cops arrest cult leader, Associated Press, (January 8, 1998)



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