Chapter Outline: The Cave of Treasures: Rennes-le-Chateau and the Holy Grail
By Tracy R. Twyman
Phone: (814) 676-2492
Mailing Address: 224 Hoffman Ave.
Oil City, PA 16301
Chapter 1: Psychic Shock
It is customary, during the initiation ceremony for a new recruit joining a secret society, cult, or religious group, for the candidate to be confronted with something disturbing, disconcerting, or frightful. This induces a state of “psychic shock” in the initiate which suspends disbelief, and heightens suggestibility. It creates a blank slate in the mind which can then be imprinted with the organization’s particular dogma. In this chapter I will explain how Dan Brown used a similar tactic in The Da Vinci Code to imprint public consciousness with the idea of a bloodline descended from Jesus, and a secret society sworn to protect it – the Priory of Sion.
Chapter 2: Fact vs. Fiction
The premises upon which Dan Brown’s novel is based require a number of assumptions of fact which are not entirely true. In this chapter, I will take apart The Da Vinci Code’s “fact” page at the beginning of the book, and describe the erroneous nature of each statement. I will then introduce a more realistic concept of the Priory of Sion based on what is actually known about this organization.
Chapter 3: Illustrious Pedigree
In the Priory of Sion’s own literature, deposited in the national library of France, they claim an origin dating back to the eleventh century. They purport that the Priory of Sion, then called the “Order of Sion”, was responsible for creating the Knights Templar, and that the two orders originally were led by the same Grand Masters. Allegedly, the Order of Sion eventually broke away from the Templar order, in a ceremony called “the Cutting of the Elm.” This chapter will delve into the Priory of Sion’s purported origins.
Chapter 4: The Navigators
After the Cutting of the Elm, the Priory of Sion claims to have experienced the leadership of a number of important Grand Masters. The men and women on the Priory’s Grand Master list include famous artists, authors, and scientists, as well as people from important noble families. Each alleged Grand Master is someone known to have been deeply involved in occult and alchemical studies. This is one of several lines of continuity that seem to run though the lives of each person on the Priory’s Grand Master list, lending it an aura of credibility. It is also alleged that the Priory of Sion has had significant influence on the politics and history of Europe throughout this time. In this chapter, I will explore the different periods of leadership and activity that the Priory of Sion has purportedly experienced, up until the twentieth century. I will then describe the actions of the Priory’s main spokesman in modern times, Pierre Plantard, and how the Priory of Sion came to the attention of the general public.
Chapter 5: A Schism in Sion
Shortly after the publication in 1982 of the bestselling book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, the Priory of Sion became a household name, and its allegations regarding itself were open for public debate. Under the light of journalistic scrutiny, embarrassing details about the order’s true history came to be known. Several members of the Priory of Sion and associates of Pierre Plantard came forward stating that the Priory was a modern organization with no medieval background, and indeed, could hardly even be called an “organization”, but was rather a casual association of friends. They said that the order’s claims about its origins in history were products of Pierre Plantard’s imagination, and that the documents put forward to back up these claims were fake. In this chapter, I will present the evidence that the Priory of Sion is really a modern hoax, and the reasons why despite the apparent fakery, the Priory might still have something important to offer the world.
Chapter 6: The Sorcerer Kings
The most controversial claims of the Priory of Sion and The Da Vinci Code center around the alleged continuation of a medieval royal bloodline into modern times. I refer, of course, to the Merovingian kings of the Franks, who ruled over lands that are now called “France.” In this chapter, I shall explore the known history of this royal house, including contemporary legends which linked them with an incredible superhuman ancestry, and the magical powers which they were said to have possessed because of this. I will discuss how this royal line was dethroned and extinguished, seemingly as a result of a conspiracy involving the Catholic Church. I will also address the Priory of Sion’s allegations regarding the secret continuation of this bloodline in the Languedoc region of Southern France, and the proclamation that Pierre Plantard was the last scion of this line.
Chapter 7: Blood Royal
In addition to contemporary legends portraying the Merovingian line as the spawn of a superhuman being, there are now modern legends linking them with another incredible ancestry. As everyone now knows, the Merovingians are purported by some to have been descendants of Jesus Christ, who, in this version of events, was actually married to one of his female disciples – Mary Magdalen. As The Da Vinci Code and Holy Blood, Holy Grail have both suggested, the medieval symbol of the Holy Grail can be seen as a metaphor for this concept. In this chapter, I will give context for the idea that the Grail symbolizes a royal, sacred bloodline. However, I will show that the actual origin for this bloodline that the legends are alluding to seems not to be Jesus Christ, but something more ancient and infernal in nature.
Chapter 8: This Place is Terrible
In Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland is portrayed as the physical center of the Grail mystery, and the final sanctuary of the Grail family. But in real life, the Merovingians, the Grail, and the Priory of Sion are more directly linked to another location, more remote, and even now much less well-known: the tiny village of Rennes-le-Chateau in southern France. It was here that, in the late 1800s, an impoverished parish priest discovered something that apparently made him very wealthy. Speculation on what he might have found includes the Grail, the Ark of the Covenant, and the bones of Jesus Christ, or of Mary Magdalen. Perhaps most popularly, some believe that he found proof of a terrible secret that could have been damaging to the Catholic Church. He was supposedly led to this treasure after finding a collection of coded parchments underneath the altar of his church. In this chapter, I will introduce the amazing story of this priest, Berenger Sauniere, who was the inspiration for one of the characters in The Da Vinci Code, and the man at the center of one of the world’s greatest mysteries.
Chapter 9: Tombs and Treasures
The story of Berenger Sauniere and Rennes-le-Chateau seems to include not one, but a series of discoveries which happened while the priest was trying to make repairs to his church. He appears to have found several things within the royal and noble tombs situated beneath the foundation of his church. These discoveries led him to exhibit some bizarre behavior, including mysterious travels throughout France, purportedly to attend meetings with occult groups. He also began digging up and desecrating the graves outside of his church, much to the outrage of the villagers. With one grave in particular, he seems to have deliberately destroyed the writing on the tombstone, which contained yet another enigmatic coded message. In this chapter, I describe these peculiar aspects of Sauniere’s story.
Chapter 10: Shrine to a Secret
The discoveries made by Berenger Sauniere at Rennes-le-Chateau, whether they involved treasures, secrets, or both, seem to have inspired him to create a coded message of his own, which he embedded into the décor of his church via a major renovation. To accomplish this, Sauniere used a number of symbolic elements not normally found in a Catholic parish, arranged in such a way as to make metaphorical statements. These include a statue of the Devil in the doorway, Stations of the Cross altered to make heretical comments on about Jesus Christ, and statues of saints that appear to proclaim further blasphemies. The decorations are convincing evidence that Sauniere had been initiated into an esoteric order, and taken as a whole, the entire church can be seen as an occult ritual chamber. Some people believe that Sauniere was also attempting to disclose the details of his discoveries to future generations of treasure hunters. In this chapter, I will reveal Sauniere’s strange system of coded decorations, and the heterodox religious beliefs that they imply.
Chapter 11: Mysterious Income
Berenger Sauniere’s drastic remodeling of his church was paid for with vast amounts of money, causing many around him to wonder where he was getting it. Other behaviors provoked similar wonder, as Sauniere proceeded to spend lavishly, travel extensively, and to entertain important guests. He also bought property in the area around his church, and had several other expensively-produced buildings constructed on the grounds. Eventually, Sauniere’s diocese forced him to account for the source of his wealth. He was found to have received enormous donations from people whose names he refused to reveal, for reasons that are still unknown. People were also paying him large amounts off the books to perform masses for their dead ancestors. All of this still does not account for the large amount of money he had been spending. Some people believe that Sauniere had discovered a secret so damaging to the Catholic Church that he had been able to bribe them, and that is how he got rich. But nobody knows for sure. Sauniere was finally suspended from his duties and forbidden to perform the sacraments. In this chapter, I will tell the story of Sauniere’s prosecution by the Church, and address the question of how he acquired his riches.
Chapter 12: Death of a Salesman
By the time he died in 1917, Berenger Sauniere was broke. His death was, in some ways, rather strange, most especially because the priest who took his last confession and was supposed to administer his Last Rights refused to give him Final Absolution. Apparently, Sauniere told the priest something that left him in a state of shocked horror. On his death, Sauniere’s parishioners performed a strange occult ceremony with his corpse. Afterwards, his housekeep made statements indicating that the treasure which Sauniere had discovered was still there at Rennes-le-Chateau, hidden somewhere, and that it had the power to make people rich. I think chapter, I will describe the bizarre occurrences that happened before and after Sauniere’s demise.
Chapter 13: Rites and Obligations
Debunkers claim that the Priory of Sion is not a “real” secret society, because they have so few known members, no known rituals, and their purported ancestry going back to the Knights Templar has been discredited. Critics also disagree with the notion that the Priory of Sion has had any real impact on the politics of the twentieth century, whether behind-the-scenes or otherwise. But in fact, the known membership of the Priory of Sion, and the known associates of Pierre Plantard, have all belonged to other, more established secret orders that have had such influence. So too were Berenger Sauniere and the figures involved with the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau, including the noble families of the area. In this chapter, I will reveal a line of continuity between the esoteric orders that seem to be behind the Sauniere affair at Rennes-le-Chateau, and those that appear to be involved in the activities of the Priory of Sion. I will establish that both phenomena are manifestations of the same metaphysical movement from within the occult underworld of Europe. This movement can be connected to the Knights Templar, and to mystical traditions which date back to ancient times.
Involved in the plot are the Masonic Grand Lodge Alpina of Switzerland, the Sovereign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, the Hieron du Val d’Or, the Rectified Scottish Rite, the Rite of Memphis-Mizraim, the Rite of Strict Observance, the Order of the Rose-Cross of the Temple and Grail, the Martinist Order, the Polaires, the Philadelphes, and the Ordo Templi Orientis; famous occultists such as Georges Monti, Papus, and, Josephin Peladan; key figures in the early united Europe movement; and members of American, British, and French intelligence agencies. A common thread running through all of these groups is a metaphysically-inspired political philosophy known as “Synarchy”, very influential with the right-wing movements of twentieth-century Europe, which I will also discuss in this chapter.
Chapter 14: The Keys to Heaven and Hell
Berenger Sauniere is certainly not the only Catholic priest to be involved with the practice of the occult. Indeed, a priest is more likely than a lay member of society to be interested in ritual magic, and to know how to use utilize spiritual power for specific ends. An ordained Catholic priest is supposedly given access to a current of spiritual power derived directly from Jesus Christ through Saint Peter via Apostolic Succession. Each pope is said to hold the metaphysical keys to both Heaven and Hell. Through him, Catholic priests allegedly have the power to command the spirits of both worlds. This power has been frequently used for what would be considered non-Christian or even anti-Christian ends. There have been a number of popes throughout history who were recorded by contemporary chroniclers as having been sorcerers. One is even credited with having written a magical grimoire.
The famous Catholic exorcist and close friend of Pope John Paul II, Father Malachi Martin, wrote extensively about what he considered a secret Satanic cult movement within the priesthood of the Catholic Church. He warned that these people had intentions to actually take over the Vatican, and install one of their own as Pope. This might be linked with the Catholic-oriented groups (the Martinist Order, the Hieron du Val d’Or, etc) that seem to be involved with the same network of secret societies as the Priory of Sion.
These groups, while politically right-wing, seem to have a theology decidedly different than orthodox Catholicism. In their literature they indicate that Christianity actually originated in Atlantis, and that the power of ostensibly Christian symbols actually lies in their pre-Christian origin. Some of their spokesmen have even gone so far as to say that the true meaning of Christianity is defined by Catholic dogma (which can be altered on order from the Pope), and is not necessarily connected to the Bible in any way. In The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown portrays the Priory of Sion as plotting to take over the Church and install a puppet Pope to promote its own unusual theology. In this chapter, I intend to demonstrate that he may not have been far off the mark on this.
Chapter 15: The Outer Head
In the Catholic Church, all members are part of a spiritual pyramid scheme based on a magical contract. The Pope is continuing a pact originally made between Jesus Christ and St. Peter, in which the metaphysical powers of Christ are granted to the Pope in exchange for his service to God. The Pope is then able to forward these powers to the bishops and priests, who then use them to perform magical acts on behalf of the laity. The Church members sacrifice tithes and devotions in return for these boons. The priests then channel the spiritual power derived from these sacrifices over to the pope, who then passes them on to God. The Pope is also able to divine and interpret the word of God, which he uses to steer the direction of the Church according to God’s will.