PL: I don't know why Otto Rahn was killed, although I am reasonably certain he was and that his death was not the accident it was made out to be. He may be only another one in a series of individuals involved with Montsegur and Rennes-le-Chateau who died violent deaths. Was he murdered by the Nazis ... or were other elements at play here? He was Himmler's pet for awhile, and a friend of Wiligut (who designed the Death's Head Ring worn by the SS). Wiligut was a total psycho, so it is hard for me to imagine a less likely friendship since Rahn seems somewhat sane in his writings, if a bit overboard at times. There is no evidence to hand that Himmler ordered an investigation into Rahn's death, so either it was ordered by Himmler himself or he was satisfied that it was an accident. Had he been cut down by a cult defending the Cathar/Templar secret, it is possible that more would have been made of his death and that there would be a paper trail to follow. (Possibly there was, but it has been lost with time and with the destruction of many Nazi documents during the final days of the War.) Yes, if Rahn had discovered the "Holy Blood, Holy Grail" secret then possibly Himmler would have ordered Rahn killed to keep the secret safe ... or he would have had him killed for having the temerity to suggest it. But I think that Himmler would have been fascinated by this discovery and would have had Pierre Plantard and his relatives rounded up and brought to Wewelsburg for some heavy interrogation. The Rahn mystery is one that concerns me to this day, for none of the reports, stories, theories I have heard so far have seemed conclusive enough. Perhaps, as the French say, cherchez la femme?
DR: In the epilogue to your book, when you discuss the cooperation the Nazis received from the Catholic church, despite the openly pro-pagan, anti-Christian stance of Nazi doctrine, you say the following:
"Were the Nazis somehow blackmailing the Church with evidence of some monstrous crime that has never come to light (did the Nazis find the Templar treasure? were they in possession of the Grail?), or was the Church's notorious lack of conviction during World War II somehow evidence that the Church itself had lost its own faith?"If you'll recall, the Prieure de Sion and members of the Grail families have been suspected of blackmailing the Vatican with their knowledge of the continuing bloodline of Christ, knowledge that would have disastrous implications for the Church, since their empire is based on the idea that Christ was celibate and died on the Cross with no heirs. Is it possible that Nazis were implementing a similar form of blackmail, if they had, as you suggest, found the "Templar treasure" or the "Holy Grail", terms which could be interpreted to mean the bloodline of Christ?
PL: Yes, it's possible; but why kill Rahn, then? Rahn would have been invaluable for the blackmail operation as he would have an intimate knowledge of the history, the documents, etc. The blackmail theory does have its merit, though. It would explain a great deal, especially the rat-lines after the War. But it's something that would have been kept from Hitler, I think. Hitler would have blurted it out, and had Goebbels write up a particularly scathing oration on the subject for Nazi sweeps week. If this secret had been unearthed, Himmler would have held onto it and used it in his own way. But ... there the theory falls apart. Himmler had no friends at the end, no help from any quarter, and committed suicide after he was captured. If he had been in possession of this secret, he could have blackmailed his way straight into Bel Air if he so desired. Something doesn't ring true, then. Rahn would have been the one to discover the secret, and he would have told it to either Himmler or Wiligut. Both turn up empty-handed at war's end. Was the secret -- whatever it was -- an object that was subsequently lost (again) by either Rahn or Himmler? Recovered by the Church? Or hidden by some third party somewhere? There is a retired Army veteran who writes books on the subject, and who claims that a German submarine buried something in Antarctica after the War...
DR: On page 32 you wrote that S.L. MacGregor Mathers had "aristocratic pretensions and was desirous of restoring the House of Stuart." I recently got a letter to the editor claiming this as well. The man, whose name is Kevin Coogan and is a successful writer in his own right, also said that Crowley and other members of the Golden Dawn supported the Stuarts, and referred me to p. 121 of Crowley's Confessions, which I unfortunately do not have a copy of. Could you comment on this and tell me what evidence there is to support this? Also, please explain why they might have been supporting this long-exiled royal family.
PL: This could be a long story. How much time do you have? Seriously, I think the best source for background on this would be "The Temple and the Lodge" by Baigent and Leigh. They cover the links between the Stuart dynasty, the Jacobite movement and Freemasonry pretty thoroughly, including data on the Rosicrucian societies and the Royal Society connections. According to Baigent and Leigh, Scotland was an early destination for Templars fleeing the Church and there are Templar graveyards and chapels there and a history of Templar activism supporting the armies fighting the English. Remember that restoring the House of Stuart would have been a romantic concept to Mathers, Crowley, et al. And ties in with their opposition to Victorian English values. Mathers went so far as to have photographs taken of himself in full highland drag, and signed many of his writings MacGregor. Crowley made himself Laird of Boleskine on the banks of Loch Ness, and Boleskine is now the "Mecca" for Thelemites, the place they face when they pray. I could go on and on about Bonnie Prince Charlie, "Charlie over the water", and the underground societies that supported him with their codes and safe houses ... all those elements necessary to attract the devotee of secret cults and hidden meanings. I mean, look at the similarities between the Catholic Church versus the Templars and then the English Empire versus the Templars: the Templars as romantic champion of the underdog, fighting the minions of the Death Star. More to the point, the Stuart connection gives the Templars a dimension on the British Isles apart from its Gallic origins and fame. It makes them more universal, and moreover is credited with being the source of Freemasonry. To restore the Stuart dynasty would be to restore Templarism de facto. Mathers was passionately involved in Stuart-type intrigues and half-baked political movements; Crowley adopted it as a fashion and probably believed in restoring the throne to the Stuarts but I think he was not as politically involved as his mentor in this cause. Crowley came first to Crowley, and unless he could prove to himself that he was a Stuart I don't think he would have thrown his not inconsiderable weight behind the movement for any period of time. (As I write these lines now, the muezzin outside my window calls the faithful to prayer. It is 6:08 am local time, and the mosques use loudspeakers these days so the volume is at quite a hideous level. I am jet-lagged and have been awake for hours, answering these questions in a cocoon of Asian silence until this moment when I am reminded that the Templars' fellow travelers have successfully "evangelized" this part of the world. To speak here of Islamic mysticism, though, would invite the wrath of the state religious police organs who can arrest people for heresy. So I look out my window at the darkness, hear the call to prayer, and incline my head ...over my laptop.)
DR: How is it that Freemasonry - the tenets of which proclaim "liberty, equality, fraternity", encouraging men to regard one another with brotherly love, and the members of which have fought for freedom of thought and conscience for hundreds of years - could be so corrupted into to the fascist Italian Propaganda Due Mason lodge, involved in a number of fascist coup attempts both in Italy and throughout South America? How is it that Albert Pike, author of Morals and Dogma, that essential Masonic tome - could at the same time have drafted the charter for the Order of the Ku Klux Klan? This is also odd since the Nazis, whom the Klansmen are emulating - considered Freemasonry to be the machinery with which the Jewish conspiracy operated.
PL: By way of illustration, a little story: Pope John Paul I was leader of the Catholic Church for about a month before he was assassinated. One of his missions was to fire all members of Masonic lodges -- such as P2 -- who were clergymen. He never got the chance. Membership in Masonic lodges was at that time (and until only recently) forbidden to Catholics; much more so to monsignors, bishops and cardinals. John Paul I felt that the widespread masonic cult within Vatican City itself constituted a real enemy. P2 was -- and remains -- pitted against the power of certain elements within the Church, as were the generations of Templars and Freemasons and Illuminati down the centuries. That is not to say that these groups would have been anti-fascist or supportive of liberation movements in South America. If you have spent any time in Italy, you would eventually realize that what constitutes a Masonic lodge there is not necessarily what you would recognize elsewhere. Specific lodges often have specific political agendas. Italy has a long history of secret societies and we probably shouldn't judge Freemasonry on the basis of P2. But you get a like-minded group of males together for whatever purpose and soon you will find that water seeks its level and what began as a masonic lodge becomes a center for political favoritism, secret deals, a few points off a mortgage arrangement or a real estate sale ... you get the picture. Remember that one must be asked to join a lodge: this precludes signing up people who are "not like us." The corollary is that the brotherhood of that particular lodge takes on a certain complexion, a certain homogeneity. There is a authoritarian aspect to Freemasonry in that there is a hierarchical structure, a graded system of degrees, secrets that are not revealed all at once but only over a time, etc. In other words, a system of control over people. Is that a bad thing, necessarily? Should we ask the question? Today, we have very specific attitudes towards what we perceive to be fascism, totalitarianism, etc. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was no such thing as an identifiable form of fascism. There was nationalism, and colonialism, and imperialism. And racism. And sexism. Much of this was institutionalized, of course. Did Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism arise as revolts against specific political and/or spiritual leaders? Probably. Would these movements have replaced existing power structures with ones of their own? Possibly. That is probably what happened in America in 1776. The problem for me personally with all of this is that the fashionable morality of one age becomes concretized -- petrified -- in the system. The high-sounding ideals of a Scottish Masonic lodge of the eighteenth century would not be inconsistent with the views of someone like Albert Pike, for instance. Once again, we have an underdog -- this time a member of the failed Confederacy -- creating a secret cult to oppose the totalitarian state of America. P2 had a specific anti-Communist agenda; it viewed the Church as soft on Communism. And what was the reverse of Communism to the post-WWII mentality? Nazism. We made the same mistake, hiring Reinhard Gehlen to run European operations for the CIA and Wehrner von Braun to head up our space progam, etc. P2 was a continuation of politics by other means. I should point out that when Albert Pike created the Klan, all the votes were not in on the heinous nature of what the Klan supported. For many years the Klan was seen as a romantic symbol of the Old South and as a resistance movement to the greedy carpetbaggers and other scurrilous Yankees coming down from the North. For much the same reason as Nazis are emulated by certain elements of society today -- the nicer uniforms, the aura of gentility and sophistication -- the vanquished Southern gentlemen officers of the Confederacy were idolized. "Birth of a Nation" told us that, if Major Moseby and stories of the Grey Ghost did not. As for the Jewish elements of Freemasonry, as with the Germans and Templarism whatever was Jewish was conveniently ignored or explained away as elements that were appropriated by the Jews from older, more authentic, sources. The Nazis that I met during the course of the last 20 odd years have never agreed that the Jews were the repository of any special knowledge or ability, only that they had stolen the family jewels, so to speak -- which was the core of the Jewish conspiracy -- and that the jewels had to be reclaimed and the Jews destroyed once and for all.
DR: Do you think that there was organized participation by Freemasons in the allied resistance in order to stamp out enemies of the craft?
PL: I don't think the resistance was organized. Probably more of a case of individual lodge members assisting each other to flee the Nazis, etc. The Masons had never organized along military lines as did the Thule and other groups. They were not armed, or hiding guns in their temples. I think if the Nazis had had any proof of that, it would have been highly publicized. But I am sure there were Masons involved with the Maquis in France and may have formed a kind of subset within the resistance group. But that is about as far as I am willing to speculate without documentation.
DR: What do you think about the idea put forth in Holy Blood, Holy Grail hypothesizing that the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, were originally a Masonic document, which was doctored by Sergei Nilus in order to foster anti-Semitism?
PL: It is possible that the Protocols are a corruption of another document; but once we go down that path how do we know what was original and what was Nilus? At one point, Nilus himself says that the Protocols were stolen by a woman from an influential leader of Freemasonry. (That was only one of his many stories of the background and origin of the Protocols; most are mutually exclusive.) It was originally entitled "Minutes of the Meeting of the World Union of Freemasons and Elders of Zion" according to Norman Cohn in his definitive "Warrant for Genocide" which is probably the best source for anyone interested in the history of the Protocols. I should also mention Cohn's point that in "the eighteenth century the Freemasons were on the whole hostile to the Jews (and so, incidentally, were the Bavarian Illuminati)." (page 29) The irony is that the Nazis (and the Russian anti-Semites responsible for the Protocols) assumed a Jewish-Masonic conspiracy. Both groups were considered secretive, clannish, self-supporting and outside the mainstream of culture; ergo, they were united in a single conspiracy. Paranoia has its own internal logic, I guess.
DR: In the book, you hint about your own involvement with the occult. What can you tell me about that? Why are you mentioned in the "Special thanks" section of the Necronomicon? And what's up with the Necronomicon, anyway? It always thought it was something that Lovecraft had made up, but the preface to the one edited by L.K. Barnes states that it was brought to him by some guy named Simon in a briefcase containing "additional material on the NECRONOMICON which provided his bona fides." He also says that the briefcase contained "correspondence from various Balkan embassies." This I at first took with a grain of salt but after seeing your name in the special thanks section I grew curious.
PL: My involvement was on the translation side. I've been around occult groups in New York since the late 'Sixties. I was a friend of Herman Slater of the old Warlock Shop in Brooklyn Heights before it moved to Manhattan and became Magickal Childe. I was around during the famous Witch Wars of the Seventies, when it seemed that everyone was casting spells on everyone else. I was there when Gardnerians and Welsh Trads and Alexandrians and Sicilian Trads sat down around a table in the back of Herman's shop to settle the War and make peace once and for all. Herman had once interviewed neo-Nazis in New York in the 1960s and we had a lot of interests in common. I never joined any of the groups, that wasn't my intention or inclination, but I was a familiar face around the campfire, so to speak. My fascination has always been on the degree to which religion and occultism influence mainstream politics; Unholy Alliance began as an academic study of this before it turned into a Nazi history. As for the Necronomicon, it was part of stash of stolen books. The story is told, I think, in other places and I have been asked this before -- also on the Internet -- so to summarize: in the 1970s a couple of Eastern Orthodox monks pulled off the biggest rare book heist in the history of the United States. It was a continuing crime, the books being taken from libraries and private collections all over the country (and, it was said, Canada and Mexico). They were finally busted, and did federal time, but most of the books were never recovered. The Necronomicon was part of this swag as were a lot of occult books. It was in Greek, handwritten, but the problem was that much of the Greek was unintelligible. My modest contribution to this was recognizing that some of the Greek was an attempt to phoneticize Babylonian and Sumerian words. I am not one of the people arguing that this Necronomicon is THE Necronomicon, or that Lovecraft was even aware that it existed. I think Lovecraft heard the name through one of his friends in the Golden Dawn, and used it creatively. If the Simon Necronomicon is a hoax, I think it would have been better done and more closely followed the Cthulhu Mythos. I kind of like the fact that William Burroughs was into it, and wrote Simon and LK Barnes a letter praising it as an important spiritual breakthrough.
DR: In Unholy Alliance you talk about how the Nazi occultists believed there was an "Aryan spirit" and a "Jewish spirit", which was passed along through the genes by way of racial memory. Is this not the same concept espoused in the NECRONOMICON when it talks about how we all have the blood of the Ancient Ones pumping through our veins, poisoning us. It says "...a man, being born, is of sadness, for he is of the Blood of the Ancient Ones, but has the Spirit of the Elder Gods breathed into him." Also, I believe Abdul Alhazred, if there was such a person, refers to the pentagram as "The Sign of the Aryan Race."
PL: Yes, this is similar to what we find in the Necronomicon but is also what we find in ancient Sumerian religion (for instance). Man is formed from the blood of the slain gods, but has the spirit of the victorious gods blown into him ... hence his naturally schizophrenic nature. (I am not sure about Woman ...)
DR: In the final chapters to your book you explain how Nazi occultism is being spread throughout various youth countercultures like the skinheads. One of my readers, that same Kevin Coogan, recently sent me an article he'd written for Hit List magazine about a phenomenon popular throughout Europe known as "Black Metal", hard-core heavy metal called "black" ("an adjective used by Europeans for right-wing", he claims) because of the radical views espoused by the musicians. Many within this couterculture blend Naziism, anit-Semitism, fascism, Satanism, sado-masochism, and Odinist ancestor worship supposedly as a means of shocking themselves or others out of the mundane, linear mindset. He traces this cultural anomaly back to Genesis P-Orridge, one of the forefathers of industrial music (Throbbing Gristle/Psychic TV) and a Thelemic essayist with whom you're probably familiar. Genesis used a lot of these elements in his work as well, calling it "Entertainment Through Pain." Any comments on the usefulness of such practices? It reminds me of your description of Temple of Set founder Michael Aquino and his "Wewelsburg Working", in which he tried to catch waves off of the magical current he believed to be present in Himmler's famous S.S. Castle by performing a magic ritual there.
PL: Entertainment Through Pain? That would have been "Ishtar", I think. Or "Showgirls". But to answer your question seriously ... I'm not sure it's necessary to shock oneself out of a linear mindset, although that would be the fast approach. Satanic ritual does that, properly performed. But what happens to the psyche thus shocked? Who is in control at that point? In the case of Black Metal, the musicians are ostensibly in control but often their sole contribution has been the "shock" factor. Where does the psyche "go" at that point? What does it learn from the experience? Growing up in the Sixties, we understood acid to be a similar shock factor that disrupted linear time and linear thinking, but our trips were guided. The acid was used as a tool for other purposes and not an end in itself. I think it is more useful that way. The same for Black Metal. I think the music should be part of a larger format -- a ritual, if you will -- to enable the effects to be more lasting, more profound. But ... where's the fun in that?
DR: Do you think that members of the OTO are involved in espionage today? If so, how prevalent do you think that is? Do you think that by joining the OTO a person is entering into a den of spies and government agents?
PL: No, not really. I have known a lot of OTO people in my time -- from various countries -- and for the most part they would make poor spies. There were some lodges operating in the former Yugoslavia, though, that might have become involved in the murder and mayhem taking place there now. I don't know, as I have lost touch with them. But I do believe that the OTO was formerly involved in espionage for the first maybe 50 years of its existence. I think, as it became "hippified" in the States, it lost some of its attraction for the intelligence agencies but that does not mean that it would not be involved somehow in such activities in other parts of the world ... or that individual OTO members would not be involved in such activities even in the US. I feel that US intelligence investigated -- and possibly infiltrated -- the OTO in the 1960s as they did with the Klan and the neo-Nazis, and that the full extent of the FBI and/or CIA "cult awareness" program has never been adequately revealed or the right questions asked.