Sample Chapters: 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. This is the purpose of the death and rebirth rituals of Masonic initiation, and the hazing rituals of college fraternities.
This same technique can be used to present otherwise unpalatable ideas to the public at large. A concept is introduced that is so shocking, people either reject it out of hand, or swallow it whole, and allow it to completely alter their mental paradigm. Those whose belief system was changed by the first shock are then quite likely to take as gospel any other idea presented to them as being connected with the first.
This is the manner in which Dan Brown’s popular novel, The Da Vinci Code, managed to overnight change the religious dogma held by millions of people throughout the world. They were presented with a shocking idea: that Jesus was married to his female disciple, Mary Magdalen. The mere suggestion ignited outrage and charges of blasphemy from leaders of Christian churches, as it did in the 1980s when it was proposed by the non-fiction book Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln. Later, the same reaction was inspired by the film version of Nikos Kazantzaki’s 1960 novel The Last Temptation of Christ, in which Jesus and Mary Magdalen are shown having a sexual relationship.
In response, church lobby groups have moved to ban or restrict Dan Brown’s novel, and the film based on it, in every country that still has blasphemy laws on the books. In many places, such as Lebanon and the Philippines, they succeeded. To some people, it seemed as if Christian society was on the brink of instituting a new Inquisition to rout out heretics. Indeed, the sheer hysteria the married Christ idea ignites amongst orthodox Christians every time it is trotted out merely serves to reinforce the psychic shock experienced by those who are more susceptible to the idea. After all, why would churches get so upset at the mere mention of this concept if they have nothing to hide?
For the readers of The Da Vinci Code, those who were able to digest this first shocking notion were then able to simultaneously consume all of the other attendant ideas that came with it. After all, if Jesus was married, he would surely have had children. And if he had children, then surely such a sacred bloodline would never be allowed to go extinct. Surely that bloodline would have resulted in people of historical importance, such as the Merovingian kings of Frankish Gaul. Surely the Catholic church would have felt threatened by this historical truth, and by the existence of this bloodline. So surely they would have conspired to extinguish the bloodline, and to cover up all trace of its existence. Just as assuredly, a secret society would have been formed to protect this bloodline, and the truth about Jesus. That group, like the bloodline it protects, would never be allowed to die off, even unto the present day. Surely this organization, dedicated to preserving such a powerful secret, would include important, prestigious people, such as Victor Hugo, Isaac Newton, Botticelli, and Leonardo da Vinci. If men of such importance secretly dedicated their lives to this belief, then it must be true that Jesus was married and had children. If so, then he was a man, and not the son of God. Thus, there is no such thing as salvation. Thus, Christianity is a lie.
The fallacious nature of such circular logic seems obvious when written down on paper like this, but not when you are experiencing it in your own head. For this is how the human mind works while in a state of psychic shock. This is how the publication of a formulaic mystery novel managed to bring about a crisis of faith for millions of Christians throughout the world.
For most Christian churches, this has been quite an annoyance, requiring sermons and books be written to refute the Da Vinci Code heresy, and to quiet the concerns of their frantic flock. For the Catholic Church in particular, the main target of Dan Brown’s barbs, it has been completely disastrous. Still crippled from the recent wave of child abuse charges, and having closed entire dioceses to pay off victims, this was the last thing they needed. To quell the unrest, many Christian churches have fallen back upon their own, standard formula for inducing psychic shock. They told their constituents that if they allow themselves to believe the lies in The Da Vinci Code, they will be eternally tortured in the fires of Hell by the father of lies, Lucifer.
So would it shock you now if I told you that the mysteries of the Priory of Sion have more to do with Hell and Lucifer than they do with Jesus and Mary Magdalen?
Read on, dear initiate, and you will see what I mean.
Chapter 2: Fact vs. Fiction
A skillful artist and obvious student of the occult, Dan Brown delivered a psychic shock of his own to the readers of his novel on the very first page. It read:
The Priory of Sion – a European secret society founded in 1099 – is a real organization. In 1975 Paris’ Biblioteque Nationale discovered parchments known as Les Dossiers Secrets, identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Botticelli, Victor Hugo, and Leonardo da Vinci.
All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents, and secret rituals in this novel are accurate.
Not one of these statements is entirely true. No serious scholar would today purport that the Priory of Sion’s pedigree stems from 1099, at least not in any literal sense. Even so, the Priory of Sion claims it officially started in 1090, not 1099. The Secret Dossiers and other “Priory documents”, as they are called by Priory of Sion researchers, date from the 1950s and 1960s, not from 1975, and they were deposited in the French national library, not discovered by the library. They consisted of typewritten manuscripts, photocopies from magazines, and microfilm, not “parchments”, although a supposed set of parchments does figure into this story, as I will soon explain. The historical personages named by Dan Brown were listed in the Secret Dossiers as Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion, and not merely “members.” Finally, it is impossible that Dan Brown’s descriptions of the “secret rituals” of the Priory are “accurate”, since no account of their rituals, if there are any, has ever been published. But there can be no doubt that the Priory of Sion exists, and that they have been disseminating information which, true or not, has set the world on fire.
The “fact” of the matter is that the Priory of Sion first surfaced in 1956, when it registered with the French government as a fraternal organization. There is no proof of its existence before that date, although in their literature they claimed to have been working in the shadows for many centuries previous to this. The Priory first began disseminating information about itself in the 1950s by depositing certain documents in the Bibliotheque Nationale, France’s national library, located in Paris. These included the now-famous Secret Dossiers, although it is uncertain that they were ever intended for public consumption. Their target audience may have merely been members of other, rival secret societies.
At any rate, they came to the attention of a French author named Gerard de Sede, who became intrigued, and contacted the Priory of Sion’s chief spokesman, Pierre Plantard. De Sede’s interviews with Plantard, and subsequent research, led to several books, one of which was picked up by British scriptwriter Henry Lincoln while on holiday in France in the 1970s. He too contacted Pierre Plantard, and consulted the Priory documents deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale. This eventually culminated in three documentaries which were aired on BBC television in the late 1970s, and two books in the 1980s, written with co-authors Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh.
This is how the English-speaking world became aware of the Priory of Sion and their extraordinary claims. The revelations of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the first book by Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln, shocked the world, and created an unprecedented crisis of faith within traditional Christian churches, not unlike what is happening today because of The Da Vinci Code. The sense of disillusionment felt by Christian readers at that time was even more pronounced, perhaps, because Holy Blood, Holy Grail, unlike The Da Vinci Code, was supposedly non-fiction. But in fact, many of the suppositions upon which the theories of Holy Blood, Holy Grail rested came straight from the documents of the Priory of Sion. Here we are on shaky ground indeed.
Chapter 3: Illustrious Pedigree
According to the Priory documents in the Bibliotheque Nationale, the Priory of Sion was originally founded as the “Order of Sion” in the late eleventh century with the purpose of preserving, supporting, and eventually restoring a royal family called the Merovingians to the throne of France. The Merovingians had been the first kings of the Frankish people (in what later became France), and they were thought by their subjects to have magical powers. The Priory of Sion never claimed that the Merovingians were descended from Jesus, as Dan Brown asserts in his novel, but merely that the Merovingians had been special. Elsewhere, the Priory made allusions to the mythical symbol of the Holy Grail, and this, as I shall explain, led the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail to conclude that the Priory was alluding to a Merovingian descent from Christ. I will say more about this shortly.
The Priory documents strongly hinted that the Priory of Sion considered the Merovingians to be eligible for many other thrones throughout Europe, as well as that of Jerusalem. This is by virtue of the fact that the Merovingians purportedly passed their lineage on, through dynastic intermarriage, to most of Europe’s leading royal and noble houses, most especially through the lines Blanchefort, Gisors, Saint-Clair/Sinclair, Habsburg, and Lorraine.
Indeed, at the time of the Priory of Sion’s supposed founding in 1090, a Habsburg and Merovingian descendant controlled the Holy Roman Empire, while other Merovingian descendants reportedly held the thrones of its member states. In 1095, the Empire launched the First Crusade to capture Jerusalem for Europe. Four years later, another alleged Merovingian descendant, Godfroi de Bouillon, passed the seat onto his brother Baudouin I. The latter is historically credited with having negotiated the constitution of the Knights Templar (a famous Catholic order of fighting monks) in 1117, and granting them headquarters on the Temple Mount. The Priory documents state that the Templars were actually founded by the Order of Sion six years earlier, in 1111, and that Baudouin was working on the Order of Sion’s behalf.
The authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail found that there was in fact an Ordre de Sion which resided in Jerusalem at least as early as the turn of the twelfth century. Furthermore, their headquarters was the Abbey of Notre Dame du Mont Sion, which had been founded by Godfroi de Bouillon. The authors also found evidence that the historical Ordre de Sion had other connections to the Templars, including charters bearing the signature of Templar founding member Hughes de Payen.
Even more convincing, perhaps, is the list of Templar Grand Masters included in Secret Dossiers. Baigent, Leigh and Lincoln researched it and found that it seemed even more complete and correct than any previously published list, as if drawn from inside information. These authors also wrote that the date of 1111 given by the Secret Dossiers for the founding of the Knights Templar was more credible than the traditionally accepted Templar founding date of 1117.
Michael Baigent and his co-authors then discovered further evidence that the group which eventually became the Order of Sion had been instrumental in sparking the Crusades in the first place. This group consisted of monks from the Southern Italian region of Calabria, who in 1070 migrated to the Ardennes forest, then owned by Godfroi de Bouillon. This same group is mentioned in the Priory documents as having been led by the Merovingian “Prince Ursus.” But then in 1108 they vanished completely, and nobody knows where they went. Holy Blood, Holy Grail, however, speculates that they may have followed Godfroi de Bouillon on his crusade to the Holy Land, where, the authors write, “he is known to have been accompanied by an entourage of anonymous figures who acted as advisors and administrators.”
After this point, the Order of Sion is not mentioned again in history until 1152, when King Louis VII of France brought them ninety-five new members and gave them the Priory of Saint-Samson at Orléans. In 1188, Secret Dossiers states that there was a rift between the Order of Sion and the Knights Templar. The Templars’ current Grand Master, Gerard de Ridefort, had recently lost the Holy Land to the Saracens, and had also committed some kind of unspecified “treason”, it was written. So in that year, Secret Dossiers attests, during a ceremony called “the Cutting of the Elm”, the Order of Sion officially disavowed the Templars and cut themselves off from them.
Following this, the Order of Sion selected a new Grand Master, Jean de Gisors, and changed their name to “Priory of Sion.” They also adopted an odd nickname, “Ormus” with the “M” written as the sign for Virgo, and with the other four letters written inside of the symbol. “Ormus” is also the name of an Egyptian sage from Alexandria, who in A.D. 46 created an initiative order with the mystical symbol of the rose-cross (a white cross with a red rose in the center) as its insignia. It is significant, then, that in that same year of 1188, the Priory of Sion also purportedly adopted a second subtitle: “The Order of the True Rose-Cross.”
As the years progressed, the Priory of Sion reportedly became the target of Roman Catholic hostilities. In 1619, they were evicted from their house at Saint-Samsom. They had incurred the wrath of the Pope and the King of France for spending extravagantly, boycotting Catholic services and being generally irreverent towards all authority. From that point on, they disappear from the pages of history, at least apparently, until their supposed reemergence in the twentieth century.
Chapter 4: The Navigators
However, where history leaves off, the Priory documents continue on. They claim that after the Cutting of the Elm, the Priory of Sion went on to experience the leadership of a number of illustrious Grand Masters, called “Navigators.” Many of these were culled from the ranks of allegedly Merovingian-descended nobility, such as the houses of Gisors, Bar and Saint-Claire. Other claimed Navigators include some of history’s most renowned artists, authors, and thinkers, all of whom were known to have had a fascination with the occult, alchemy, and esoteric Christianity.