The Castle of Secrets: Conspiracy Over the Ages
The Castle of Secrets: Conspiracy Over the Ages
[A version of this article appeared in PARANOIA Magazine Issue #28 Winter 2002]
"Let us assume, for a moment, the existence of a group
I will dub the "Men In Black". This name came to me upon
seeing, at all conferences I attended on the subject, a
sinister-looking group of men dressed in black, always
the same ones. I believe them to be as old as civilization
-- Jacques Bergier, Les Livres Maudits
A casual perusal of history books shows us that over the course of the centuries, there have been secret societies and groups created with the aim of achieving a specific target or goal, elitist organizations - often secret - who cling to power at all costs. Philosophers and historians have sought for a way to explain events that have transpired in throughout the course of human civilization. While it is sometimes possible to find an answer within the normal ebb and flow of events, the existence of a "hidden hand" is sometimes suggested - the metaphorical hand of secret cabals.
The label "conspiracy theorist" is one which are society slaps onto anyone who dares question the possibility that there might just be something underhanded taking place at the highest levels of government, the military, the world financial institutions and of course, the world's religions. The belief in a global conspiracy, regardless of the amount of evidence accumulated in its favor, must be stifled in order to maintain a perception of a lawful, orderly society in which people can go to work, mow their lawns and pay their taxes without ever questioning the secretive activities of their leaders.
A Conspiracy Primer
Before embarking upon a voyage in quest of the forces that pull the strings from behind the scenes, it would be wise to examine the forces we can actually see and unfortunately, experience in our everyday lives.
In his book La Granja Humana (The Human Farm), Spanish paranormalist Salvador Freixedo plays the role of conspiracy theorist when dealing with "the visible rulers of the world" prior to launching into a disquisition on the world's "invisible" rulers. He cleverly condenses the main points of belief in conspiracy into the following categories:
1. Politicians. According to Freixedo, this category of visible ruler despises physical violence and weaponry, but loves being consulted, loved or even feared. He suggests that many elected officials have psychopathic personalities and feeling the lack of something within themselves, find a suitable replacement by being engulfed in crowds of people.
2. Military. This segment of the power structure varies in importance from country to country (ranging from countries lacking armies, such as Costa Rica and San Marino to military dictatorships such as Iraq). Freixedo theorizes that the military was created to defend countries from external threats, but once said threats have vanished, they soon turn upon their own countries in search of internal enemies. In some countries, it is accepted practice for a civilian government to turn the reins of power over to the military when financial, social and political ruin is imminent.
3. Banks. Freixedo gives us a taste of the "International Bankers" conspiracy which is still prevalent in our times. In his opinion, "money maniacs" have less actual power and contribute indirectly to the prevailing tribulations by a fevered urge to increase the amount of money available to them, whether it bankrupts their countries or not. He observes that many politicians have sought safe haven in the banking world to mend their shattered political careers.
4. Clergy. Nothing has caused more dissension on earth than religions, observes Freixedo. The clergy maintains its power by gathering masses and conditioning them to follow a specific belief, while at the same time telling them that others not sharing this belief are "the enemy."
These four tiers of the power structure rule the visible world. The members of these tiers are able to recognize each other readily, since it is they who wield the largest share of the planet's monetary and legal power. As if their vast power wasn't enough, we now turn to those other powers that also hold sway over our lives.
In the Ancient World
While it is perhaps possible to go farther back into the historic record, the Roman Empire gives us our first best example of the fear generated among the average person and even within certain reaches of the government that conspiracies are afoot.
The historian Suetonius, in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, gives us a surprising parallel to our contemporary belief that Hitler escaped the bunker to live in South America, JFK is alive and well in Switzerland, and that Elvis never died: A pervasive belief around 70 A.D. was that the emperor Nero, who had allegedly committed suicide, had in fact escaped alive and was a guest of the Parthian monarchy. A clever impostor, indubitably milking the Parthians for all they had, probably led to this particular belief.
Roman emperors feared any kind of dissension within their far-flung empire, and this gave rise to the belief that the nascent religion of Christianity was in fact a conspiracy to destroy the empire. Bloody persecutions over a period of three hundred years killed thousands of alleged "subversives". Adherents of Judaism didn't escape persecution either, since there was the belief that Jewish scholars under the protection of the Parthian king were plotting the overthrow of Rome from a safe distance in retaliation for the destruction of Jerusalem.
Roman authorities were also fearful of individuals with unusual powers and intelligence, such as Apollonius of Tiana, who claimed to have visited a "City of the Gods" in the Himalayas after a long trek from Nineveh in modern Iraq. The story tells that the "Gods", who controlled human activity, lived in a world vastly different from our own, were served by automatons and possessed artificial light generated by "luminous stones". Apollonius learned much in this place before returning to Rome, where he became a trusted advisor to emperors Vespasian and Titus. The latter of these monarchs is supposed to have said: "I conquered Jerusalem, but Apollonius of Tyana has conquered me!"
As Roman power waned, beliefs in hidden forces took a turn for the more magical and sorcerous. It was believed that the Huns -- whose leader Attila exacted tribute from the weakened empire -- were the offspring of demons and the prostitutes in the rearguard of the Visigothic armies.
Cabals of the Dark Ages
The Middle Ages, a period of European history racked by turmoil and disease, held in a mental straightjacket by the Church and prone to invasions by barbarian peoples, held many beliefs which could fall under the heading of conspiracies.
Charlemagne, the most enlightened and energetic monarch of this period, felt that his kingdom was beset by Sylphs -- nonhuman creatures whose magical powers affected the weather and caused the loss of crops. Many reams of paper have been written about the Sylphs and their mythical land of "Magonia" by a number of authors who have linked them to the UFO phenomenon. Most readers of this publication will remember Jacques Vallée's account of St.Agobard rushing to the rescue of three peasants who were about to be lynched by a frightened mob after having been deposited on earth by a "sky-ship" hailing from this eldritch realm. Belief in the Sylphs persisted well into recent times: a Parisian bookseller of the turn of the century claimed to be in contact with a particular Sylph which would find rare volumes for him.
On a more innocent tone, earlier Medieval beliefs held that inanimate objects were also engaged in a little conspiracy of their own. According to Gregory of Tours, church bells could be seen flying off into the sky, concluding that bells were flying off the belfries to go to Rome, "since the Pope was there". So much for early UFO reports.
The Medieval world was a theocratic state ruled by the Papacy. Simplistic maps showed a flat world composed by three continents and centered on Jerusalem. In later centuries, rumor would have it that a great monarch lived beyond the lands of the marauding Saracens -- "Prester John", who lived in a realm of amazing wonders and was the most powerful Christian king in the world. If only he could be contacted, argued the chroniclers of the time, he could attack the infidel from the rearguard while brave European knights led charges against the forces of Islam. Belief in Prester John, rex Armenida et Indae (King of Armenia and India) had a protean quality: when it had been established that there was no such wonderful kingdom in Asia, it was quickly relocated in the popular imagination of the time to Africa, where it would endure well into the Renaissance.
A Cabal of Scientists?
Narciso Genovese, an Italian scientist living in Mexico, was interviewed in the 1970's by Professor Mario Rojas of the CEI with regard to a perplexing conspiracy -- is our world run by a conspiracy of scientists?
According to Genovese, a council of ninety eight scientists from all nations and all branches of scientific knowledge -- physics, chemistry, mathematics, astronomy and electronics -- have pursued research into hidden avenues of knowledge under the supreme commandment of never revealing a single iota of knowledge to any of the world's governments. The "Council of the 98", to give it a name, has a doctrine based on three main points:
• There is only one religion: the belief in a wise, omnipotent God.
• There is only one country: the planet Earth.
• There is a single purpose: to bring forth peace through science on our world and create an alliance between humans and the inhabitants of other worlds in the universe.
Genovese's startling "scientocracy" was allegedly established in 1938 shortly after the death of Guglielmo Marconi, who refused to turn over his notes and discoveries to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini. Inspired by this courageous act, the "Council of the 98" has pursued it secretive work in the hopes of establishing a one-world government aided by technological developments. Perhaps this scientific conspiracy is much older than we think...
Realm of the Alchemists
The alchemists, those proto-scientists whose quest for knowledge was coupled with a profound esoteric philosophy, have captured the imagination of writers for the past two centuries. Traditionally, we have been told that alchemists sought to transmute base elements such as lead into noble elements like gold. Many authors contend that this goal merely served the alchemists to receive funding from greedy feudal lords hoping to replenish their cash-starved estates -- some chronicles even tell us that small amounts of lead were turned into gold just to keep impatient patrons happy, but that the real quest of the alchemists was immortality.
This has led many believers in conspiracy theory to suggest that perhaps some of the alchemists were successful in this endeavor, and that human history may perhaps be controlled by a hidden council of alchemists who appear to us at critical moments to change the course of human history.
While the idea is laughable at first blush, our history books are certainly filled with enough strange encounters between important personages and unknown characters to add considerable weight to the argument. The most prevalent of these enigmatic characters is the Count of St. Germain, who has been described as everything from an angel or "ascended master" to a time traveler or even a vampire. The legend of St. Germain has him appearing in the mid-1700's in the Austrian capital, Vienna, at subsequent moments in that century right through Napoleonic times, never looking a day older. During his last recorded apparition, he told an onlooker that he was leaving to prepare the way for an invention that we would come to know as the railroad. While many authors have dismissed this personage as merely another 18th century adventurer like Alessandro Cagliostro, many have been convinced that St.Germain was in fact an immortal alchemist. Other strange characters, like the "Red Man" who persistently appeared to Napoleon Bonaparte at moments in his life, could also be members of this bizarre "Order of Immortals".
The closest evidence we have in our times for this fascinating though improbable belief is yet another controversy -- the one surrounding the legendary alchemist Fulcanelli and his two 20th century disciples, Eugene Canseliet and Jean Julien Champagne.
Fulcanelli is the only alchemist to have books in print right down to our times: The Mystery of the Cathedrals and The Philosopher's Dwellings. The first book was published in 1926 in Paris and the second in 1930. In the preface to the work, Canseliet observes that "it is a thankless and onerous task for a student to write a preface for a book written by a master [...] it is thanks to him that the Gothic cathedrals have yielded their mystery...Al the truth, all philosophy and all religion rests upon this unique, sacred stone. Many, filled with presumption, feel qualified to imitate it, yet how few are the Chosen whose modesty, wisdom and skill enable them to do so!"
The two books were the rage of pre-war French occultist circles, who believed that acquisition of the "Philosophers’ Stone" -- the Holy Grail of alchemy -- was close at hand. Yet many occultists refused to believe that Fulcanelli ever existed, and Canseliet himself declared that Fulcanelli had "ceased to be", suggesting that the alchemist had not only uncovered the Philosophers’ Stone but acquired immortality as a result.
Fulcanelli was allegedly seen in 1954, living in Milan. Others saw him in Spain, where he stayed near the Andalusian city of Seville. Gérard Heym, another alchemist, claims that Fulcanelli's physical appearance as an immortal was entirely androgynous -- one of the side-effects of having ingested the Elixir of Immortality.
The Black Order and Other Secret Societies
The belief in "hidden manipulators" of the reality surrounding us continues unabated and new conspiracies join the ranks of older, established ones every few years.
In 1982, a strange little book appeared in French bookstores. It was entitled "The Book of Secret Companions: The Secret Teachings of General De Gaulle". Authored by one Martin Couderc, it revealed the existence of a secret society known as the "Order of the 45" which was reputedly established by soldier/statesman Charles De Gaulle. A sequel appeared in 1984 (La Boucane contre l'Ordre Noir') dealing with mind-numbing revelations about the author's struggle in Canada against the group of hidden controllers now calling itself the Black Order, Couderc published the final work of his trilogy in 1986: "The Manifesto of the 45 and their Young Companions", in which he said that the order had relocated to remote Tierra del Fuego on the southernmost tip of South America.
While it is tempting to dismiss these tracts as nonsense, Couderc persuades his reader to believe that he draws his "forbidden" knowledge from epistolary sources, namely a series of letters left behind by De Gaulle himself exhorting members of the "Order of the 45" to fight for the restoration of France's greatness.
We began with a quote from that master conspiracist and renegade scientist, Jacques Bergier. His definition of "Men in Black" was apparently unrelated with the hatted, sunglasses-at-night sort that haunted ufology up to not so long ago, but to a longer-lived kind. A sort of priesthood in charge of keeping human progress in check, for want of a better description. To Bergier, a number of historical events could be laid at the well-polished shoes of these agents of secrecy, ranging from the destruction of Babylonian cuneiform tablets, the repeated burnings of the various book repositories in Alexandria over the course of centuries, and most likely the destruction of inventions and processes that could have represented a quantum jump in our development (a concept predating author William Bramley's "Brotherhood" in his book The Gods of Eden).
Could the Bergerian MIB actually be the Black Order? In 1988, Jean Rodin - a comparative religions expert - discussed the existence of a "vast international conspiracy" involving not only human agents, but denizens of subterranean civilizations and even extradimensional ones. The Black Order, according to this researcher, would be organization far beyond the manipulations of the Illuminati and Bilderbergers, with an even greater agenda: to prepare the way for "The One" whose powers and control of the human herd would be absolute. Some have understood this figure to be the scriptural Antichrist.
Other sects, secret societies and lodges have emerged in recent times. Some of them are decidedly religious in nature and involve only the top leaders of certain countries. To wit, the little-known Order of the Holy Sepulchre, created during Crusader times but still active, it is run by Italy's Prince Lanchelotti and Count Senni, occupying the posts of Grand Master and Governor General of the order respectively. The "knights" of the order are financiers, industrialists and political figures from all over Western Europe, sworn to defend Catholicism throughout the world. It is believed that the Order of the Holy Sepulcher has some two thousand members worldwide.