Sunday, October 7, 2012

A History of Vengeance and Assassination in Secret Societies

by: Tim O'Neill

That secret societies exist is a historical and anthropological fact. The difficulty is in obtaining valid, objective information on even the more public groups, such as the Freemasons. Conspiracy hunters busily amass piles of suggestive data to lend weight to charges of subversion and nefarious vengeance, but these often Byzantine plots are built upon shaky documentation and pure inference that could only convince other conspiracy buffs involved in a closed world of newspaper clippings, faulty syllogisms and talk-show emotionalism.

The conspiracy theorists tend to cluster in several different schools. Heresy hunters along religious lines are detailed in my "The Christian Theory of Occult Conspiracy" in Apocalypse Culture, first edition 1987. A large secular school centers around Gary Allen's Bircherite None Dare Call It Conspiracy, which lays out a globe-spanning cabal of bankers and commies, involving such groups as the Trilateral Commission, the Bilderbergers and the Rockefellers. This school, parodies by Robert Anton Wilson in his Illuminati series, holds relatively little interest in the more occultly-inclined secret societies.

The best known school of conspiratology derives from John Robison’s 1798 tome Proofs of a Conspiracy. This work is the root source of most the occult/political conspiracy theories, which attempt to implicate Masons, Rosicrucians, Templars, and Illuminati in the sinister attempt to destroy Western civilization in favor of a Gnostic-Theocratic “One World” rule. In Gnosticism, the major competitor with Christianity during the 2nd to 4th centuries of the Roman Empire, all living beings are perceived as “monads” … pure points of light and consciousness that exist beyond time and space. The Constitution of the United States was a Gnostic effort to participate in the upheaval against aging European political regimes and reshape the American order along Masonic/Illuminatist lines. The “all mean are created equal” clause of the Constitution was not to be taken literally, but spiritually - a “monadal” understanding of human consciousness.

Gnostic/occult political upheavals of the past few centuries is rooted in Continental Grand Orient Freemasonry (in contrast to the staunchly conservative British and American Freemasonry). Its Strict Observance and Templar-revival form are focal points for the vengeful tradition of Freemasonry. The Bavarian Illuminati, under the leadership of Adam Weishaupt, joined in this revolutionary fervor, attempting to translate metaphysical into political realities. Occultist Universalism, Anti-Imperialism, Libertarianism, Secularism and Anti-Clericalism all find their roots in these forms of secret societies.

It’s no surprise that Karl Marx was a member of the Illuminati “League of Just Men” prior to enunciating his economic and political theories. The course of French, Italian and Sicilian Grand Orient Masonry during the period of the great European revolutions, from 1789 to 1848, demonstrates a gnosticizing tendency that we can only term as “antinomian” - a desire to replace centralized and absolutist Christian Monarchies with the principle of individual determination within the universal Theocracy, or rule of the Divine Principle, the rise of the power of the Monad over that of the Pope of King.

In Proofs of Conspiracy, Robison lays out his belief that the Bavarian Illuminati had infiltrated Continental Freemasonry with the express intent of fomenting revolution and rebellion against the Church and State. The truth of his accusations are mitigated by the fact that social forces were ripe for change. Even before the Gnostic program was underway, the Jesuit Order was formed to police those who were using the Reformation as a cover against the Christian power structure. In forming the Jesuit order, the Papacy conceded that conservative Christianity could resort to mind-manipulation, secrecy, intrigue, and assassination as well as any other group. As the Jesuits circulated through the royal courts of Europe and designed their schools for the indoctrination of children, the Gnostics were moving on different levels. Speculative Freemasonry and the British Royal Society were both founded in the early 18th century to claim its roots to antiquity and to create a rational, secular, scientific culture as far removed from Christian dogmas as was practicable at the time.

The famous discovery of papers detailing Weishaupt’s program for the Bavarian Illuminati, back in the 18th century, and Captain William Morgan’s murder fanned the flames of anti-Masonic hysteria during the mid-1800s. (It was assumed the Masons had kidnapped and murdered Morgan because he threatened to publish Masonic secrets.) The stunning onset of the Bolshevik revolution unleashed another flare of anti-Masonism and anti-Jewish sentiments.

The modern post-Robison school of conspiratology was founded by British writers Nesta Webster, Lady Queensborough and “Inquire Within.” in the 1920s and 1930s, lately followed by Christian-oriented conspiratologists Salem Kirban, Robert Keith Spenser, Gerald B. Winrod, Constance Cumbey and Tim LaHaye.

A close study of secret societies will reveal that a majority were formed for reasons of self-protection, a means of insulating those who subscribed to unorthodox religious, sexual and even artistic attitudes. Robison was on the money, though, in his remarks about some secret societies having been formed on both political and subversive platforms. The Bavarian Illuminati and the National Socialist Party are two familiar examples of groups who began life with an essentially mystical outlook, and who later chose to put those insights into Realpolitik. Such groups should be distinguished from those whose entire purpose was political, nationalist or subversive, such as the Italian Carbonari, or “charcoal burners.” The mystical-political or pure political groups should be carefully distinguished from purely mystical or magical groups as the Illuminati of Avignon or the Martinists, whose focus and means remained otherworldly. Such groups tend to “render unto Caesar” while following personal mystical beliefs in the course of daily life.

Among those secret societies whose aims are political, there is an astonishing history of vengeance, assassination, mind-control, terrorism and Machiavellianism of the most profound sort. The Hashashins, who dominated through terrorism, added the word “assassin” to our vocabulary.

The 7th century split in the world of Islam, a fight between the “orthodox” Sunnis and the “heterodox” Shiites, created a global blood feud. The minority Shiites, fearing violent reprisals from the majority, hit upon the solution to the undermining of their opponents through a system of strict secrecy and devious accumulation of political and spiritual influence. The famous “Lodge of Cairo” or “Abode of Wisdom” functioned outwardly as a university, but really served as a cover for Shiite political interests. Students at the “university” were gradually led through nine initiatory levels of teaching, ranging from orthodoxy to extreme radicalism. It is interesting to note that this system of nine-degree gradualism is still preserved in many Masonic and Rosicrucian groups in the United States and Europe, although a few preserve the radicalism of the original teaching. Alternating confusion and reassurance was the mind-manipulating technique of the Abode of Wisdom, and such techniques echo modern mind-manipulation controls.

The Lodge of Cairo System initiated a large body of Shiite fanatics by the mid 11th century, and they infiltrated throughout the heart of Sunni Islam, the Caliphate of Baghdad. The Lodge controlled the Caliphate until the expansion of the Turkish Dynasties brought about an end to the power of the Cairo System through sheer force of the arms. In 1123 the University closed, but its lessons were taken to heat by a radical Islam Shiite by the name of Hassan-I-Sabbah. Following a bitter personal and political failure, he wandered toward the mountains of Persia and eventually reached Alamout, an impregnable mountain fortress, Within the stronghold, he began the huge task of slowly subverting and manipulating his way into a position of ultimate power within the ranks of Islam, and even beyond the seas.

Hassan began his work by taking young men from the surrounding countryside and indelibly impressing their minds with a surprisingly simple method of mind control. He would feed the young and impressionable peasants copious amounts of hashish and had them led blindfolded into a garden he had constructed in a remote and well-guarded ravine at the foot of the mountain Alamout. When their blindfolds were removed, the drugged peasants were confronted with an intoxicating vision of running brooks, exotic plants and animals, and shapely houris, or dancing girls. Hassan himself then announced to the initiate that this was the paradise promised in the Qur'an if the initiate would follow him unto death, Some modern historians have begun to cast doubt upon the actual existence of the fabled “garden” of Hassan, yet the traditional account may just as well serve as a metaphor for his real use of Hashish and the nine-degree gradualism of the Lodge of Cairo to initiate recruits into his service.

Hassan’s strategic masterstroke was to plant his followers in positions of trust at royal courts around the Mediterranean, Middle East and Europe. At the least expected moment, often years after being planted, royalty would be murdered in a knife attack, followed by revelation of Hassan’s power and the suicide of the assassin. Hassan soon had many of the world’s monarchs reduced to a state of constant paranoia. It wasn’t until the 13th century and the military might of Mongol invaders that the secret Assassin network came to ruin.

Historians have speculated that the Assassins and the Knights Templar entered into several shady political, economic and “cultural” exchanges that helped import the Lodge of Cairo system into the West, where it became grafted into many of the indigenous secret societies and mystery-guilds. The morphological similarity between Rosicrucianism (which was supposed to have been imported to the West from Arabia), Speculative Freemasonry, Illuminism, and all of the other societies who trace their lineages back to the Templars, is striking. It should also be remembered that Hassan’s system also functioned as a means of spiritual initiation into the mystical experience of Sufism. Much like the current dynasty of Iran, Hassan hoped to create  a Sufic Theocracy with himself or the chief Imam.

The 13th century European society, Vehmgericht, or “Holy Vehm” of Westphalia, were almost certainly influenced by Hassan’s Assassins. The word “Vehm” is thought to be derived from the Arabic word Fehm, or “Wise.” “Wise” illuminized mystics have applied their Gnosis to the lawless conditions of middle Europe during the 13th Century in quite an extraordinary manner.

Once having decided that a criminal had broached one of its “Christian” laws (the Vehm had its own peculiar system of jurisprudence), all the male inhabitants of the victim’s village would be summoned together upon an open hearth. Not to attend this meeting was itself punishable by death. The judges and executioners were hooded, and the accused had no opportunity to defend themselves, but to simply listen to the verdict. The most minor of infractions was punishable by breaking of the legs. Those accused of capital crimes had the choice of dying slowly in a torture chamber (the Behm invented the notorious spiked casket), or could elect to be declared Vogelfrie (literally “free as a bird”). The latter method had the accused given a head start at freedom, but could be hunted down like a dog by a member of the Vehm. Very few ever escaped the huge network of Vehm influence, and many simply turned themselves to escape the terror. The Vehm were so powerful by the 15th century that they could order the Holy Roman Emperor to appear as a common criminal in one of their courts. The Vehm was rumored to exist as late as the 19th century, and reputedly provided a historical mode for the S.S. “Werewolves”.

The hypothetical Assassin-Templar link is often laid at the root of modern Scottish Rite Freemasonry. Having reached a position of great financial, political and spiritual influence throughout Europe, he Templars naturally became a target for the Pope and Emperor alike, The sudden repression of the Templars by agents of Philip the Fair, took Europe by surprise. Imprisoned, and awaiting death at the stake, Jacques DeMolay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was supposed to have founded four secret lodges at the outskirts of Europe, away from the influence of Church and State. One of the lodges was supposedly formed at Edinburgh, hence the term “Scottish Rite.” The purpose of these lodges was to carry out the vengeance of the Templars against the Bourbon monarchy and the Papacy. According to late Masonic doctrine, the Templars believed in the ascendancy of liberty, equality and fraternity, as preached on secret for a universal, illuminated theocracy on the model of Plato’s Republic. The Assassin edge of Templarist beliefs comes into play with the famous anecdote of the beheading of the Bourbon Monarch, Louis XVI, during the French Revolution. Supposedly, someone in the crowd surrounding the guillotine shouted, “Thou art avenged, Jacques DeMolay!” just as the blade fell against the king’s neck.

Eighteenth century Freemasons certainly took the Templar legend to heart. Several of the Scottish Rite degrees are directed toward creating historical links with earlier groups such as the Rosicrucians and the Templars. The Templar degrees are grouped together as “Black Lodge,” Encampment,” and tellingly, the “Lodge of Vengeance.” In a ritual which includes the symbolic stabbing of two skulls representing the Bourbon monarchy and the Papacy, the initiate is led through a history of vengeance stretching back to the Middle Ages The initiations are conducted in rooms draped in black velvet and, unlike other Scottish Rite degrees, black gloves replace the customary white. The grades of the dagger, known as the Elect of Fifteen, the Master Elect of Nine (shades of the Lodge of Cairo?), the Chevalier Effect, and the Chevalier Kadosh, are all represented with black drapings and the presence of the assassin’s dagger. Grand Orient Masonry in France and Italy, which operates its own version of the Scottish Rite, is openly atheistic, anti-Christian and tends toward both extremes of the political spectrum. The current drama of the “Propaganda Due” Masonic Lodge, and its infiltration into the Italian government, the Vatican, and even the mafia, demonstrates that the radical Masonry of the French Revolution and the Carbonari is still very much alive. It is widely believed that such radical lodges are the source capital for many of the terrorist groups that haunt Europe. In this light, the inception of modern assassination techniques can be seen as a legacy brought into Europe as early as the Middle Ages, inherited from the Hashashin system.

It is now clear that at least one elite unit within the S.S. (Schutzstaffel, or the “protective echelon,” Hitler’s personal bodyguard unit and special police) was highly influenced by the Vehm tradition. When it became clear to the higher officers of the S.S. at the end of WWII that Germany was going to have fight a guerrilla war in order to survive, a tightly knit group of expert assassins was organized to take out key Allied personnel This was the famous Unternehmung Werwolf, which was directly and self-consciously modeled upon the Vehmgericht in order to add the older luster of terror to its already formidable strength. It turned out that the Werewolves could only accomplish one major assassination before the end of the war, that of the Mayor of occupied Aachen. Still, the allure of their name and legend wa such that Allied High Command was misled into assuming that the Bavarian Alps were swarming with thousands of guerrilla fighters and assassins, an assumption which materially affected Allied strategy at the time.

The history of modern terrorism, intelligence and counter-insurgency has been deeply influenced by this long and complex history of vengeance and assassination, which reaches back to a single disaffected Ismaili Shiite with the intelligence and cunning to plan a means to terrorize, control and dominate the entire world... Hassan-I-Sabbah!

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