W e l c o m e   T o 



T H E   R E N N E S – L E - C H Â T E A U

T H E M E   P A R K



beginning with:


Why would Abbé Saunière (above), the poor, right-wing priest in

Rennes-le-Château at the turn of the 19th & 20th Centuries,

upon becoming suddenly and mysteriously rich,

spend his money on creating a Disney World for Heretics? 


Is it because:


“The imaginary is something that tends to become true.”

---Andrė Breton

As quoted by Gėrard de Sède in “The Accursed Treasure”


Possible application of Breton’s sentence as it applies to this case:


Just as Christianity was invented out of nothing and became true to many, so those opposed to it as falsifying of history are trying to invent something to replace Christianity, something they think is better, truer, and more honest, especially in its understanding of who Jesus and the cast of characters around him were. This new but old religion (which might still be called Christianity if it can sufficiently infiltrate the Church) is partially a reinvention or reimagining of a set of ideas about life that predated Christianity and/or rivaled it through the centuries, something which it is imagined began with the Egyptians and other “Ancients” and then was preserved by the Hermeticists, the Pythagoreans, the Alchemists, the Knights Templar, the Cathars, various occultists, and other “heretics” over millennia, as filtered through Hebrew, Greek, Roman, Arabic, and Medieval cultures. The problem is that as that list of progenitors suggests, the movement comes down already riven with schisms and contradictions, and the political/religious extreme right, sometimes “heretical” from too much belief (from the Vatican’s point of view), can use the same material to promote their causes, and frequently have to violent ends. The Christianity the “heretics” on the Right want to replace is one they see as too tolerant and too accommodating, whereas the “heretics” on the Left think it not tolerating and accommodating enough, and of course both Extreme Left and Extreme Right tend to see its opposite as engaged in a vast conspiracy to rule the world.

Now it seems our contemporaries in these causes have been using the French village of Rennes-le Château (RLC, for short) to further ideologies of both Left (“unbelievers”) and Right (“superbelievers”), largely because RLC is thought, under the aegis of several rogue priests in the area in the 19th and 20th centuries, to have been somehow connected to and fostering of this largely secret agenda (but not secret to the Vatican), which they have left mysterious clues to in various forms, and, here’s the problem, clues ambiguous enough to give encouragement to both extremes of Left and Right. All the fun is in trying to identify and read those clues as we contribute, wittingly or not, to the new imagining of an old idea, one that could support either ideological extreme. A huge boost was given to this game with the publication of The Da Vinci Code, which also illustrates how fiction in itself can be a code, as were all the stories of the search for the Holy Grail in the Middle Ages, referring to something really going on at the moment. 

It doesn’t seem to matter, by the way, that all of this may be off the track of what the real Saunière was up to; what seems to matter is what is made of what he was up to.  Christ knows!   In the account below, which attempts to sift through all the fraudulence, hoaxing, disinformation, and political paranoia that has accreted around “the Mystery of Rennes-le-Château,” it will be assumed that Saunière was indeed up to something unusual and something a tad “unorthodox,” even if everything else that followed was “invented” in an effort to make it “true.”  Saunière and his creation of a weird estate in this unusual location is the one solid thing in all that follows.       







Hugo Soskin, Henry Lincoln’s oldest son, has written a very amusing

but controversial account of his days around Rennes-le-Château

 entitled The Cook, The Rat, and the Heretic:

Living in the Shadow of Rennes-le-Château

(Chichester: Summersdale Publishers Ltd.. 2008).  

“If this book doesn’t kill Henry Lincoln’s mythic Rennes-le-Château,

then nothing will.”  

For a summary and review of this important book, click HERE.





        One of the principal mystery men in “The Mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau” is

Noël Corbu, the man who bought Saunière’s estate from Marie Dénarnaud

and converted part of it into a hotel- restaurant called “La Tour (The Tower).  

Some argue that it may have been largely to promote this enterprise

that Corbu invented the story that is the primary basis for “The Mystery,”

especially after publication in regional newspapers.  

That Corbu had a taste for the sort of mystification and thriller material

that characterizes this story seems to be indicated in the novel Corbu published

 in 1943, Le Mort Cambrioleur, whose exceedingly twisted plot has been summarized

for your convenience.  To read this summary, click HERE.   





THE LAND OF HERESY (or independent thinking)



Above is the area known as the Languedoc-Roussillon,

in Southern France on the Mediterranean side,

 in the foothills of the Pyrenees, just north of Spain.

This area was once part of a Visigoth kingdom after the Visigoths

sacked Rome and pushed the Romans out of much of southern Gaul. 

Eventually the Arian Visigoths were forced to retreat into Spain by the by then Catholic Franks,

but they may have left something important behind.   Or somebody else did.    Or not.


Below is a postcard view of RLC in recent times, this village being all that’s left

of what is imagined to have been a considerable, fortified city in the Middle Ages:



RLC Labeled




PAGES (Just click on the page you wish to go to):


Page 1—Abandon All Hope: Introduction to a Hermeneutical Hell

Page 2—“The Saunière Episode”   Who Wrote It?

Page 3—The Plantard Subplot

Page 4—The Lincoln Story & Its Aftermath

Page 5— Puzzling Pieces of the Story

The Parchments--Mary Magdalene & Marie Dénarnaud–The Church  of St. Madeleine—The Villa Bethania--The Tour Magdala--Marie de Blanchefort—Abbé Bigou---Knights Templar---Jesus at RLC---Numerology & Sacred Geometry---Poussin’s Tomb—The Holy Temple---Lost Civilizations & Aliens---Other Priests-Abbé Boudet)

Page 6—Summing Up: The Battle of the Books (you might want to start here if you wish 

                to understand first the basis for the analysis in the rest of the chapters)

Page 7—Links & Sources




Copy of demon-angels





R. F.




Above, built by the Abbé Saunière over what seems to be a blocked cave that descends into the earth, is the Tour Magdala [Mary Magdalene is associated in many old paintings and church iconography with towers supposedly because the town she's from, "Magdala" or Migdala," means "tower" in Ancient Hebrew, but of course this has taken on religious connotation as well, as the watch tower of the faith from which shines the beacon of hope through repentance (supposedly Mary’s claim to sainthood, but this seems to be based on a misunderstanding of her role in the New Testament). Of course “Magdalene” might have just been a nickname for a tall woman or a woman who stood out and led the way!  Her name could be translated as “Mary the Great.”  At any rate, the number of the Magdalene’s Feast


Above is the devilish fellow who greets you just inside the door of the Church of the Magdalene in Rennes-le-Château, bearing the holy water stoup and four angels making the sign of the cross. Is this devil the Cathar’s Rex Mundi, Evil Lord of the Earth? Or Asmodeus, custodian of secrets and hidden treasures, who points the way with four fingers on his knee? Or Eurynomous, Prince of Death and “Lord of the Flies”?  Or the Great Satan that Father Saunière thought was Republican France?  Or just the devil who made him do it?

      [Actually, the close-up photo of the demon at the top of this page is from 1994, after which this statue was vandalized and the head replaced by one that looks rather different and has the eyes looking in a somewhat different direction.]       

     Vandalism, by the way, is a recurrent problem in the RLC area, from both "Questers" and "Anti-Questers." And violence is not unheard of, including murder, including the murder of two and possibly three priests who were close to the principal, Abbé Saunière (picture at the top).  Saunière himself has come under suspicion for at least one of those murders, and some think all three!   That is, if his own suspicious death didn’t just add a fourth to the list of murdered priests!



Day, July 22, is often repeated in the geometric layouts of Saunière’s mysterious realm, seemingly instances of many other tributes to her (Although lately there is a claim of finding a document in Saunière’s handwriting that explains his assumed loss of faith as being due to his discovery that Jesus did not die on the cross but lived for 22 days after that, so here’s another possible source for Saunière’s fascination with the number 22].  Saunière’s Magdalene Tower contained a glass-encased library, but the books and other material have been mostly lost or moved. With the tower’s winding staircase leading to a magnificent view at the top and the walkway leading from it northwest along the cliff's edge providing spectacular views, the whole construction also served as lookout post and belvedere.  Was it anything else?  Was it just a rich man’s folly?  Or a place from which to keep an eye on the rich man’s hoard? Or, as is wished by some, geometric key to a cosmic mystery? Or portal to the Grail Temple and refuge from the coming Apocalypse? Or door to the Never Never Land of Monarchist Restoration?  Or pole for a Kabalistic interaction between North and South towers that may yield incredible power to those who activate it?  Or sample of the Kingdom to come?  Or, as is argued here, entrance to the empty echo chamber of postmodern relativity?

     Note the built-in, twin-crossed "Cross of Lorraine" window in the basement right under the arched window.  The question with the House of Lorraine has always been, "Who is double-crossing whom?"





A B A N D O N   ALL   H O P E,

Y E   W H O   E N T E R   H E R E


Introduction to a Hermeneutical Hell


“The truth is an ambition that is beyond us.”  --Peter Ustinov


"The facts are that there are no facts." –Henry Lincoln





Theme parks are supposed to be fun, not a place where you abandon all hope.  Well, Rennes-le-Château (or “RLC” for short) is fun, perhaps more fun than you’ve ever had, if you’re the right sort.  But you just need to be warned that this is one theme park where you’ll find yourself hugely entertained one minute and in complete despair the next because as in Hell there seems to be no way out. Too much fun!


 For this is about a mystery that gets more mysterious the more answers to it there are, as the mystery cell-divides into an endless number of mysteries!  Largely because the cancer of Postmodern Relativity has come here to metastasize in the most spectacular of ways, making it a supreme emblem of our time!  Appropriately enough here, in France, since it was the French who invented this postmodernist plague!!  (With an assist from French Algeria in the case of Derrida.) 


And with the publication of Dan Brown's popular thriller The Da Vinci Code, so obviously borrowed from the RLC caper, however fictionalized, a more virulent strain of the plague has been introduced, as the notorious factual "inaccuracies" of this novel, taken literally by the literal-minded, now threaten to make nonsense of the whole enterprise, causing the amusing speculation that Dan Brown is a double agent, secretly working for the Vatican in its wish to discredit the investigation of "the Mystery," and even more ironically for Opus Dei in causing scrutiny that ends in TIME magazine’s running a story (April 24, 2006) that pretty much absolves the organization of the sort of villainy imagined in the novel.  But TIME, as with almost all the news media and History Channel accounts you’ve seen on this, misses the point.  Brown’s unspoken assumption in the novel is that since religious zealotry of the sort found in Opus Dei often, historically, factually, became murderous, his villain thus has plausibility.  Such plausibility is all that is required of the novelist, and one must grant that the frequently murderous history of the Church not only justifies that generally and in the long run, but also that, even today and more specifically, there have been, in fact, certain murders associated with modern Vatican bank scandals, not yet totally solved, really, that seem to have Opus Dei connections (albeit supposedly through some group called “P2”).  And there are lots of people, including Catholics, who think John Paul I was murdered, just as he was about to investigate these scandals.   If so, by whom?  


As for Brown’s villain being an albino, check history for how often “pure” (i.e. “extreme”) white as a symbolic color, connoting “the obsessively puritanical” (i.e., the obsessively ideological), has been associated with religious fanaticism, long before it became associated with racism.  {And for historical-fictional accounts of the Church’s use, in addition to the inquisitions and crusades, of “hit men” over the centuries to enforce such “purity” (“purity of thought,” of course) and a characterization of popes and cardinals as essentially Mafioso dons in drag running a protection racket (buy our dogma and we’ll save you from Hell), see Thomas Gifford’s Assassini and Juan Gomez-Jurado’s God’s Spy}.  Of course sometimes those opposed to Catholic dogma were also obsessive in this way, as were some of the more extreme among the Cathar “heretics” who dressed in all white.  It’s called “advertising.”  See how “pure” I am, says the person who dresses in all white (brides as well, note).  The difference, of course, is that some of the top Cathars may have worn white but they did not persecute, torture, murder, and rob “unbelievers,” as did the Church and its agents (some of whom may dress in black, in fact, but beneath their dress is the truth of their obsession, which Brown expresses by having them enlist a psychologically-warped albino to do their dirty work). 


The film BLOODLINE has added a major complication to this picture, however.   In it a man who claims to be a spokesman for the Priory of Sion (perhaps a late-blooming variety of that organization?) says that the highest members of the Priory are also among those at the top of the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.   What this implies is that there is and has been a civil war going on at the Vatican, between hardline dogmatics who want to stick with current doctrine that pretends Jesus was a supernatural redeemer and those who think the only way Christianity can be saved in an age of science is by humanizing it, which includes the admitting that Jesus was entirely a human being, was married, and had children, the proof of which has supposedly been in the keeping of the Priory for centuries.   As the Priory spokesman in the film insinuated that there have been numerous assassinations (mostly disguised poisonings) of Priory leaders in recent decades, this implies that the “civil war” is every bit as bloody today as it has always been, giving further credibility to Brown’s albino villain as one who fights fiercely and blindly on the side of the dogmatics.  Brown sees them as ultimately losing, however, so maybe he’s not a double agent after all!   But the BLOODLINE film may be nothing more than part of the general attempt to invent something contrary to orthodoxy (as explained at the top) and needs a lot more validation before it can be taken very seriously.   It just illustrates how rich is the soil of the RLC mystery in growing such an exotic bloom.       






Dan Brown’s thriller employs the most popular interpretation of “the mystery,” derived from Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln’s Holy Blood, Holy Grail, that it involved a no-longer secret organization called “The Priory of Sion” and their determined preservation of a suppressed truth that Mary Magdalene was wife of Jesus, mother of his child or children (whose bloodline continues), and that Mary was appointed by Jesus as head of his church, for centuries kept a secret because Mary’s Jewish Church was a “hunted” church whose apostolic succession “by blood” was perceived as a threat by the Gentile Catholic Church and its supposedly celibate (and thus childless) priesthood.  The supposed connection between the priest Saunière and the Priory of Sion is that the parchments he supposedly found in 1891, when decoded, supposedly support both the claims of Mary Magdalene enthusiasts and the original claim (later revised) of Pierre Plantard, the presumed head of the Priory when this all came to light in the 1960s and 70s, either to a claim to the throne of France through Merovingian descent (and perhaps to the throne of a United States of Europe, since Europe’s royal families are connected through intermarriage) or, as perhaps imposed upon Plantard by the principal mythmakers of the mystery Lincoln, Baigent, and Lee, at least to a recognition of his “holy blood” received as a direct descendant of Jesus and Mary Magdalene as consequence of their child’s marriage into the Merovingians (first kings of the Franks).  A Pax Plantard was to be the outcome, apparently.  Financial gain, at any rate, did not seem to be the Priory’s primary motive.  (And, as said, Plantard later recanted part of this, partly because his lineage was challenged, partly because it went further than he intended in claiming descent from Jesus, but lately the BLOODLINE spokesman for the Priory insists that Plantard was misunderstood, that “he did not say that the Bloodline of Christ did not exist but that it was not the primary concern of Sion any more than the Merovingian Bloodline.” (quoted from an email in The Priory of Sion Dossiers, edited by the BLOODLINE producers).   [You should get used to the rapid pace of “revisionism” in this tale as it develops, by the way.]  


But it should be noted at the outset that there are many other ways to approach the facts of the case, the many approaches having in common only that they begin with the belief that a poor French priest named Saunière suddenly and mysteriously got wealthy, more or less, beginning in or around 1891, by:

Ø Either uncovering, in his renovation of his 11th Century church in Rennes-le-Château dedicated (or rededicated later) to Mary Magdalene, long-lost, coded documents, supposedly in parchment form (the copies are shown below), part of which constituted a treasure map (clues to which he left in the decorating of his church) or were marketable in some way.

Ø And/or a long-hidden treasure that he at least partially “fenced,” while giving some objects of antiquity away to friends.

Ø Or, alternatively, that he got wealthy in some other, partially obscure fashion that had nothing to do with those particular documents and/or such treasure mentioned above, such as: by simony?  patronage?  occult practices?  bribery?  document trafficking?  or some combination, etc.?

Ø In any case, leading mysteriously to unusual wealth, unusual building projects, and secretive travel.   The one fact that cannot be denied is the strange estate he left behind. 


It is factual, at least, that, with initial, substantial funding from a family of monarchist pretenders, Saunière did renovate his decaying and storm-wracked church in a wholesale manner, changing a relatively plain church into a rather gaudy church that calls attention to itself, did find something of value in his reconstruction of and/or digging around in his church (and adjacent cemetery), became relatively wealthy (although not necessarily from what he found locally), bought property around his church, developed it at considerable expense, and built a curiously symbol-ridden, mathematically-precise, geometrically sacred, luxurious, and ostentatious estate rather unbecoming of a priest, that he put this estate in the name of his younger “servant” Marie Dénarnaud, and that with Marie he lived high on the hog, possibly falling victim to over-indulgence (gout, stroke, etc.) in 1917, although some suspect his death had other, unnatural causes.  Marie lived until 1950, at which time she joined Saunière in his gravebed!  [A scandalous arrangement that a recent RLC mayor tried to correct by supposedly moving Saunière’s skeleton to a separate location in the garden above the church’s cemetery.]

It also seems factual that Saunière underwent a considerable personality change in, say, the last 15 years of his life, becoming much more secretive and guarded and, some say, even depressed and paranoid.  He was under investigation by his bishop, for one thing, and, after refusing to leave RLC at the bishop’s orders (although he traveled secretively throughout this period and had secret bank accounts in several places, one as far away as Budapest), eventually was suspended from his duties as priest, which he performed anyway in defiance on a make-shift altar outside the church, to which the village people came in preference to the newly assigned priest’s sanctioned ritual performances in the church.  But he seemingly ended the beneficiary of a change in popes (his fortune seemed to rise and fall and rise again with changes in popes), which inspired him to return to making Big Plans shortly before he died, including plans for the building of an even larger tower than the Tour Magdala he built in the 1890s.  However, that the three priests of churches close to him (Fathers Gélis, Boudet, and Rescanières) seem to have been murdered, in 1897 for the first and in 1916 for the other two, may have qualified any sense of returning good fortune he may have had.  Where those murders warnings to him?  He himself died in the year following the 1916 deaths.   Or was he implicated in the murders?   Or what? 



But as the Priory of Sion eventually came under suspicion as fraudulent (and some have no doubt about this fraudulence because it was confessed to [see John Michael Greer’s The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies for a succinct but thorough debunking], while others see both the fraudulence and the confession of it as a screen or red herring in some sort of disinformation campaign, disinformation piled upon disinformation!), other approaches to the mystery have flourished as well:


For an approach that ignores the Priory of Sion and the discovery of coded “parchments” relating to the Priory, one might read another thriller, by Steve Berry, The Templar Legacy, which focuses on the priest and presents an altogether different theory as to what he discovered, involving popular conceptions of the Knights Templar and their lost treasure. This represents a whole genre of works that bypass the Priory and Pierre Plantard, who are thought to have grafted their own, invented mystery onto the genuine mystery of Saunière. 


Another approach follows from the strong possibility that Saunière, during his short exile from RLC (for giving anti-Republican sermons) after his initial appointment there, was introduced to certain important and powerful people by his younger brother Alfred, also a priest, who arranged for him to be sent back to RLC to find something that was crucial to these people and that they knew or at least suspected was there (something that would legitimize their monarchist claims, perhaps, or de-legitimize somebody else’s?). Giving credence to this, in non-fiction attempts to get at Saunière’s secret, is Jean Luc Robin’s Rennes-le-Château: Saunière’s Secret, which presents the Habsburg’s struggle to maintain their royal prerogatives, abetted by royalists in the Vatican, as likely playing a role (with brother Alfred figuring in as a go-between in some fashion).  It’s known that Saunière had visits from a member of the Habsburg family (the Villa Bethania guesthouse perhaps being built for such VIP visitors) and had a bank account in Budapest, the Habsburg’s seat of power, and the only question may be whether the money put into it was hush money or money for loyal services rendered.  Robin’s untimely death in 2008 just as he was about to resume caretaker status of Saunière’s domain may have forestalled or delayed a seemingly very fruitful avenue of research.


A book that provides an interesting answer to Robin’s speculations about the Budapest bank account is Gérard de Sède’s 1988 Rennes-le-Château: The dossier, the impostures, the fantasies, the hypotheses, a second thought on the subject by the man who started it all in 1967 with his sensational book The Accursed Treasure {first published as The Gold of Rennes), which he had been maneuvered into writing by Plantard and a cohort named de Chérisey to legitimize the Priory of Sion, a book that then intrigued Henry Lincoln into launching the enterprise that led to a series of BBC television documentaries and the publication of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.   De Sède’s book notoriously introduced us to the theme of danger in the RLC area, frequently buttressed in the years since by amazingly violent occurrences to people involved and a constant vandalism, often of a symbolic nature (as I write this bit, news has come in that the Black Madonna of Notre Dame de Marceille in Limoux, the church next door to where Saunière went to school as a child, has been decapitated and the head stolen! These Black Madonnas, in this and other churches, are thought to have originally represented Mary Magdalene or, if they’re really old, Venus or Isis.  There’s even an apocryphal gospel that insists that The Virgin Mary was black, and a case has been made that Mary Magdalene was at least “dark-skinned.”).   De Sède’s final guess was that Sauniere was “only a cog in the machinery of forged documents” that involved a behind-the-scenes power struggle and that “the Merovingian romance” was an allegory pointing to more current pretenders to various thrones, the Habsburgs among them.   Just as the original Grail romances, set in the past, were code for what was going on at the moment, and similar to “the Merovingian romance” in focusing on a lost king and an afflicted kingdom. 


A couple of more recent studies ferret out other possibilities:


The Rise (2009), by Isaac Ben Jacob and Sarah Fishberg (more pseudonyms, probably, in an affair more pseudonymous than not in its authorship), pile up a lot of evidence in favor of the idea that the principal thing Saunière discovered was how to “work magic” in the service of some rather dark, cultic practice that promised, probably for a price, a resurrection of the body, which would explain why he was found digging in his own cemetery at night, for bodies to practice on.  It’s plausible that some of the rich, especially, were willing to pay that price and take a shot.  Or maybe that sort of “resurrection” appealed to those who wanted to resurrect the monarchy.  That’s one thing, but this argument for Saunière’s magical practice is given considerable historical weight by connecting it to a European penitential movement that has been struggling with orthodoxy for centuries and that traces its roots to a Babylonian cult of the dead.   Bizarre public spectacles on the streets of present-day Europe during parades and processions still testify to the presence of this “movement,” it is argued.   For additional historical research that lends some credibility to this approach by connecting Merovingian antecedents to political realities (especially monarchist desperation) in Saunière’s time, see Andrew Gough’s Arcadia at http://www.andrewgough.co.uk/ibj_part1.html .       Well, Saunière did fool around in cemeteries and crypts.


Guy Patton’s Masters of Deception: Murder and Intrigue in the World of Occult Politics (2009) is a fascinating account of political skullduggery over the centuries among certain secret societies of the esoteric and occult brand, and Patton makes some effort to connect what went on in Saunière’s time in Rennes-le-Château to this history, but the further he goes with this, the less time he has for Saunière and RLC, so that by the end you’re more convinced of the role these societies played in European politics than of Saunière’s complicity.   Another problem is that the defining of what people in these societies believed seems to shift so much, from person to person and from period to period, that it’s hard to pin down exactly what political cause was supported, partly because people in politics use disguises (Mitterrand pretended to be a Socialist, for example, but this book shows his roots in various right-wing organizations).  “Synarchism” is a word frequently used to identify what underlay much of what certain people believed and worked for politically, but its definition is so slippery at times (at least in this book) it’s hard to see Saunière in particular working for so confusing and abstract a cause.  And although Plantard might be understood in the context of “Synarchism,” what is lacking in the case of Saunière, as usual, is a “smoking gun.”   [For what it’s worth, Wikipedia defines Synarchy thusly: “Synarchism is a term which generally refers to a conservative political philosophy focused on solving economic, political, and social problems that are perceived to be precipitating anarchy. Viewing society as an organic unity, synarchists aim to create a synarchy – a harmonious society where a corporatist government defends social differentiation and hierarchy by encouraging collaboration between social classes in order to transcend conflict between social and economic groups. Its critics and opponents argue that synarchism is particularly associated with anti-anarchism, anti-communism, cooptation, elitism, fascism, technocratism, and even occultism.”   Conspiracy theorists further see Synarchy as disguising a cryptocracy, in which the real leaders are hidden.]


 And there are other theories, the most intriguing perhaps being ones that involve areas to the east of RLC—Rennes-les-Bains and Perillos—and southeast to Girona in Spain, that will be picked up later.   But let’s for now stick with the interpretation that has had the most play, the one that has related the priest’s discovery of coded “parchments” to the Priory of Sion, codes which seem to have been planted by the Priory itself, according to one dénouement.






 This “mystery” would probably never have reached global proportions without Henry Lincoln.  Lincoln, a writer and documentarian for the BBC, on vacation in France in 1969, accidentally came across Gérard de Sède’s The Accursed Treasure (1967), which contained copies of the coded “parchments” Saunière supposedly found in his church, copies given to De Sède by The Priory of Sion (Plantard alone or Plantard et al?).  Lincoln’s deciphering of the code on one of the two messages reported but not deciphered by De Sède led to Lincoln’s being inspired to investigate further, arriving at a decoding of the other, much more complicated message, and eventually to his narrating three BBC-TV programs, increasingly popular, that dramatized and exposed “The Mystery of Rennes-le-Château” and ultimately to Lincoln’s taking on co-authors to write world-shaking books on the subject. 


As told most notably in Holy Blood, Holy Grail (1982) (henceforth referred to as HBHG), by Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln, “The Mystery” they reported was created, apparently (get used to seeing that word, along with “ostensibly,” “supposedly,” “seemingly,” etc.!) in or around 1891 in Rennes-le-Château, a mountaintop village in southern France with a perhaps exotic past (Although others are convinced that the discovery must have occurred a few years earlier: see Picknett & Prince’s The Sion Revelation).  That year Bérenger Saunière, its poor, ostensibly right-wing priest (“right-wing” in France then meaning, in reaction against the consequences of the French Revolution, “anti-Republican,” meaning “anti-democratic,” meaning “pro-monarchy”), supposedly discovered in or around his church a number of historically significant items, most notably four old parchments, supposedly deposited there in the 1780s (or no later than 1791) by a priest named Bigou.  Two of the parchments supposedly contained genealogies (dating from 1244 and 1644) proving royal descent of once local aristocrats from Merovingian King Dagobert II, the Merovingians being the first kings of the Franks (“priest-kings” or “sorcerer-kings,” by reputation) and supposedly divinely appointed, perhaps even divinely descended (by their own accounts), from King David originally and then, eventually (by the suggestion of HBHG), from Jesus and Mary Magdalene through intermarriage.  The Merovingians ruled the Franks (apparently more ceremoniously than actually) until Dagobert was betrayed by the Church (with whom a predecessor king, Clovis I, had made a pact) and assassinated in 679 A.D by, it’s said, one of the Church’s agents, possibly because the Church feared the development of an apostolic succession that was not theirs and, arguably, more valid than theirs because based on “blood.”   Or so the story goes.  [Or went!  An email from the Priory spokesman in BLOODLINE, contained in The Priory of Sion Dossiers, claims that there were up to TWELVE parchments involved, and gives a rather confusing account of what they are and where they came from.  The more the merrier the laughter, I suppose.] 


But let’s stick with the original notion of four parchments.   As for the third and fourth “parchments,” there is disagreement or at least confusion. All the parchments were supposedly composed or transcribed by Abbé Bigou in the 1780s (or no later than 1791, when he took off for Spain), Bigou being then the priest of what became Saunière’s church, at the behest of local aristocrats he served in the troubled times leading up to the French Revolution and perhaps also in reaction to the lack of male heirs among them.  But the 3rd & 4th parchments are presented by HBHG as containing seemingly pious excerpts from the Latin New Testament that are actually coded messages. Some confusion has entered this account by others identifying the third "parchment" as a civil document of some sort (the will of local aristocrat Henri d’Hautpoul dated 1695? Or 1644?), and the fourth had seemingly coded messages on front and back (reproduced separately below), but which were never presented in that front-and-back form, which thus, as some have argued, may have removed certain key spatial relationships necessary to a complete understanding of the codes, especially if the “parchments” were transparent to some degree.   Confusion thus begins with the question of whether the coded messages were on separate parchments (3 and 4) or on the front and back of a single parchment (parchment 4).  But if it’s understood that the 4 parchments were attached to the will of Henri d’Hautpoul before being removed to be hidden in the church (as asserted on pp. 216-18 of Picknett and Prince’s The Sion Revelation), that eliminates the possibility that the will was one of the 4 parchments.  Most of this information, however, comes from a document called the Dossiers Secret that seems to have been planted in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris by the Priory of Sion, along with other documents of a suspect nature, all pseudonymous or with faked authorship.  One can make a good case, however, that these were part of a deliberation disinformation campaign by unseen forces (Synarchist?) that used The Priory as it had used many other organizations over the centuries (see Picknett & Prince’s The Sion Revelation).   [Perhaps another source of confusion about the parchments should be cited: “The Cholet Report” of 1967, which specifically mentioned only 3 parchments, and this from a professional archeologist, Jacques Cholet, a Parisian who had actually been given permission to dig in and around the church of RLC, the only one who has done such extensive digging.   However, André Douzet argues that as a quite different version of a Cholet Report has been found, the “official” report is possibly another instance of deliberate misdirection.   Since the possibility of fraud in this entire case is bottomless, researchers are not shy about questioning earlier research.]


Regardless, although the first of the “parchment” messages (often referred to as the Dagobert message) was easily decoded (Lincoln’s ability to do so is what first got him intrigued), the second of the "parchment" messages (sometimes referred to as the Blue Apples message for its strange, concluding reference to “blue apples” or as the Shepherdess Cipher because it begins with “Shepherdess”) seems to depend for deciphering of its very complex code (based on knights’ moves in chess) on an understanding of another coded message in the headstone and/or graveslab of Marie de Négri D’Ablès, Marquise d'Hauptpol de Blanchfort (died January 17, 1781), although Filip Coppens suggests that the lady wasn’t actually buried beneath these stones, their purpose being rather to mask steps leading down into a crypt (as Saunière discovered).  Whether the lady was buried there or not, the headstone and graveslab, supposedly once in the cemetery behind Saunière's church, were supposedly effaced by him after a supposed trip to Paris to get the parchment messages decoded by experts at St. Sulpice, messages also supposedly created by the priest Bigou, who served the noble family of Blanchfort/Hauptpoul prior to the French Revolution. For more on this headstone/graveslab and this family, see www.rennes-discovery.com/Blanche2.htm and www.rennes-discovery.com/Blanche1.htm   (and Berry’s The Templar Legacy also has a lot to say about Bigou and the aristocratic family he served, by the way), but see below for images of copies of the headstone/graveslab that were fortuitously made (supposedly) by a collector of gravestones named Stüblein before Saunière rubbed them out (except that the Stüblein book, Pierres Gravées du Languedoc, cannot be found and is not listed in his works!  We know of this mostly because it was referred to in the Dossiers Secrets; it is also reportedly listed in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, but the book is missing there as well!).  A further complication is that there are two different versions of the sketch of the gravestone, another having been made by a visiting scientific society in June of 1905, so which is correct?  Whatever, numerous errors in the inscriptions on these stones were supposedly made deliberately to call attention to and make possible a code, which when deciphered arrives at the word “mortpee” (death by sword?), the key word necessary to unscrambling the code in the “Shepherdess Cipher” below.  

One other new wrinkle: If things aren’t confusing enough, here’s another version: Geoffrey Morgan argues in The Secret Church: The Treasure of Rennes-le-Chateau (2006) that the graveslab was actually the bottom side of the altar slab in the church that Saunière replaced after storm damage forced him to make repairs, the slab having no relation to Marie de Négri D’Ablès’ headstone.  But since Morgan goes on to argue that Nicholas Poussin in the 1640s not only authored the parchment messages but also the inscriptions on the slab and placed them where Saunière found them, a notion not supported in the Dossiers Secrets or anywhere else except by remote inference and an obscure logic, a lot of unproven assumptions have to be accepted before this version can be considered viable.  Yet it does raise some interesting questions and explains some anomalies, such as:


        The Putative Gravestones of Marie de Négri D’Ablès, Dame D’Hautpoul de Blanchefort

                   (The “slab” is on the right and interestingly contains no reference to her,

                                 nor is it stylistically the same as the headstone on the left.)



  Of course the connection is that Abbé Bigou was also, supposedly, according to the popular story (contradicted by Morgan above) the creator or at least passer on of the “parchments,” its being logical then to assume that on the headstone/graveslab of the woman (whether buried beneath them or elsewhere) who gave him either the documents or the knowledge to create them he provided the key necessary to cracking the code of the second of the coded messages on the parchments.  Thus even if it cannot be proved that the first of the coded messages in the parchments dates from Bigou’s time (and its relative simplicity makes it suspect), it would seem logical that the second message does because interpretation of the message obviously depends upon seeing the key for interpretation provided in the 18th C. tombstone/graveslab, which themselves may have disappeared but the decoder key at least provided by the historically-verifiable Bigou, who can be imagined to have appropriate motives.  


But, setting aside the facts that the vanished parchments cannot be dated and that the gravestones cannot be proven to have existed other than through Stüblein’s missing book and its sole referencing in the Dossiers Secrets, there is a problem with chronology here caused by the reference in the second message to “blue apples,” which has been interpreted as a phenomenon of blue spots of light projecting onto the wall opposite through the Lazarus stained-glass window in Saunière’s church at noon on January 17 (also, “coincidentally,” the death date of Marie in 1781 and the feast day of St. Sulpice in Paris).  This blue spotting occurs thanks to Saunière’s installation of that window in 1887, thus calling into question the idea that the “blue apples” phenomenon occurred in Bigou’s day.  If there did not exist in Bigou’s day a stained-glass window in the same spot that produced more or less the same “blue apples” phenomenon, then this reference appears to have been a slip up on someone’s part (deliberate or not), someone who lived after Saunière’s installation of the window, a forger who was inventing the connection.  Unless of course the “blue apples” refers to something entirely different!   Furthermore, it is reported that something similar occurs at St. Sulpice, not to mention other churches with stained-glass windows.  Further, since the phenomenon is reportedly not restricted to January 17th in the case of Saunière’s church, and that spots of other colors appear as well, this makes for a highly suspect detail.  But, again, one that may have been intended to be suspect, and thus our Hermeneutical Hell.  


Although apparently no one involved in the RLC mystery as it developed from the 1950s on and who is still alive has ever seen them in their parchment form (if such exists, for nobody knows where they are, those claiming to have seen the passages now being dead), below are coded biblical passages in Latin from which the “messages,” in French, have been derived, passages alluding, in the case of the simplest decoded message, to a story from all three of the synoptic Gospels telling the parable of the ears of corn picked on the Sabbath day.  See Matthew 12: 1-8 and Luke 6:1-4, in which Jesus takes some Pharisees to task for being too literal-minded in their application of scriptural law to Sabbath observations, Jesus arguing again as he stated more explicitly in Mark 2: 25-28 that “the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” This has been taken to mean that the spirit of the law should prevail over its letter, or that genuine spiritual action should trump mere ritual observance.  In putting all the emphasis on the decoding, the decoders often tend to overlook or not sufficiently take note of the anti-priestly character of this biblical passage.  Jesus is quoted elsewhere as saying that he came to fulfill the prophets, not destroy them, and inasmuch as the biblical prophets were often in conflict with the Jerusalem priesthood, this can and has been taken as a statement of the right of individuals to their own path to spiritual enlightenment, outside "The Temple" and its priests, the path the ruggedly individualistic prophets took.  Naturally, priests dispute this interpretation or dispute that it applies to Christian priests.  And so why would the priest Bigou have selected such an anti-priestly passage to carry the coded message (assuming that he made the choice)?  And why would the priest Saunière continue with it?   Unless, the reasoning goes, they were rogue priests, secretly heretics and anti-clerical clerics!   It’s been known to happen.


The passage on the left below, leading to the so-called Dagobert message, is coded by a simple device of raised letters, as Henry Lincoln was the first to note when he encountered it in 1969 in reading Gėrard de Sède’s The Accursed Treasure, where it was first published (after being handed to de Sède by the Priory of Sion) but, surprisingly, not decoded.  The passage on the right below, leading to the Blue Apples message, is coded by a far more complicated method which it is possible not to understand even after it has been explained to you (see, for examples, Tim Axon's explanation of "The Shepherdess Cipher" in the February 2005 issue of The Rennes Alchemist or see www.rennes-discovery.com/Blanche2. htm or see Mariano Tomatis Antoniono’s explanation on his website www.Rennes-le-Chateau.it/Rennes-le-Chateau.php?sezione=english or in The Rennes Observer of Spring 2007.)  [NOTE: The Blue Apples message is sometimes also referred to as “The Shepherdess Cipher” because it begins with the word “Shepherdess,” followed by a reference to Poussin that invokes a famous painting of his, Les Bergers d’Arcadie (sometimes also referred to by the Latin inscription on the tombstone the shepherds point to, Et in Arcadia Ego), that includes a mysterious shepherdess.  See http://et-in-arcadia-ego.mezzo-mondo.com/et-in-arcadia-ego.html for more on this and a conventional summarizing of the story, which includes a reference to an above-ground tomb in Pontils near RLC (now demolished) that is identical to the one in Poussin’s painting (and for other connections, see the speculations at http://www.andrewgough.co.uk/poussinmm.html ).  Morgan (see above), who assigns authorship of the coded passages and the slab inscription to Poussin, also thinks Poussin had the Pontils tomb built that he later painted.  Art historians find no evidence that Poussin was ever in this region, but of course if Poussin was here on a secret mission (as is credible, given his relations with certain VIPs), that would be the point of there being no record of it.  The French king, Louis XIV, for example, was certainly very interested in knowing what Poussin knew, possibly because, as Morgan argues, what he knew was, perhaps, a secret leading to a great power that was divulged to him by the Barberini family in Rome.]. 


The Blue Apples or Shepherdess message on the right below is from the Latin version of a visit by Jesus to Mary Magdalene, Martha, and Lazarus at Bethany told in the gospel of John.  The Dagobert message on the left is usually published (as it is here, first) with the bottom chopped off (supposedly), thus missing a section that contains an upside-down copy of the strange device near the right bottom of the other one, although it seems to be the other one which is upside-down (Lately, by the way, it has been speculated that such strange devices as are found at both top and bottom were used as utilitarian markers for copiers tracing from one piece of paper to the another, but of course such a utilitarian application doesn’t rule out that they were there originally and served other purposes as well):



             DAGOBERT MESSAGE                                         BLUE APPLES MESSAGE OR SHERHERDESS CIPHER


DECODED:  "To Dagobert II, King, and To Sion

belong this treasure and he is there dead."


DECODED:  "Shepherdess—No temptation

that Poussin and Teniers hold the key; Peace 681

By the cross and this horse of God I destroy

this daemon of the guardian at noon blue apples."   


Below is a comparison of the handwriting of the portion typically cut-off from the passage on the left above with the similar part of the passage on the right above but inverted for comparison's sake.  Research by Ian Campbell, as published in The Rennes Observer of July, 2003, following the model found in Stanley James’ The Treasure Maps of Rennes le Chateau, reveals (supposedly) that a strange device appearing at the end of the document on the left has been cut off in most published versions, the same device that appears near the end of the other message but upside down.  These were obviously written by two different people.   It doesn’t take a handwriting expert, however, to see that the two documents were written by two different people, which confounds many theories about their origin.   Further questions are raised by the possibility that all or at least most of the letters were traced!





In Holy Blood, Holy Grail and elsewhere, decoding of the one on the left (with the raised letters) reduces the message to a French sentence, usually translated as: "To Dagobert II, King, and To Sion belong this treasure and he is there dead."  The "Sion" is presumed to refer to "The Priory of Sion," a previously semi-secret organization founded either in the 12th C. or in the 20th C. or somewhere in between, depending upon whose argument you believe (and Pierre Plantard himself significantly changed the dates mid-way through the game, from the 12th C. to the 17th C.).  The Da Vinci Code presents the Priory as ancient, founded in Jerusalem during the First Crusade, almost concurrent with the founding of the Knights Templar, thus leading to the theory that the Templars were the military wing of the Priory, before they split at Gisors in 1188 (an account that the authors of HBHG also seem to find fairly credible).  Decoding of the one on the right has given us, after translation from the French: "Shepherdess—No temptation that Poussin and Teniers hold the key; Peace 681 By the cross and this horse of God I destroy this daemon of the guardian at noon blue apples."  


In addition to there being different interpretations of these translations, additional interpretations derive from disputes about translation, which lead in different directions.  For examples, see http://gazette.portail-Rennes-le-Chateau.com/neymanenglish or http://home.tiscali.be/rlcbooks/.   (For a website that deals expertly with all the facts of and speculations about the case and provides views of the key documents and artifacts, please see www.rlcresearch.com.)


 Whatever, that handwriting analysis suggests strongly that the two messages were written or transcribed by different people itself raises questions, for both sides in the debate over their authenticity claim a single author for both, the chief candidates being either an 18th C. priest named Bigou (as claimed by the popular story) or (as claimed by debunkers of the popular story) a 20th C. forger, surrealist poet, pataphysician, and radio and film personality (pictured to the left) named Phillipe de Chérisey (long-time friend of Pierre Plantard and putative member of "The Priory of Sion," which injected itself into the "mystery" beginning in the 1950s {although unnoticed until the 1960s and, mostly, 1970s} for seemingly political reasons, and then found itself used fictionally in The Da Vinci Code.  By the way, those who think The Priory of Sion is now a dead issue {because exposed as a 20th C. fraud} should have a look at http://www.bloodline-themovie.com/ and also the extraordinary claim that punk rocker Rat Scabies is the new Grand Master of the Priory!  This is news to Rat.  For a book that deals most entertainingly with these subjects, read Rat Scabies and the Holy Grail.  Also The Cook, the Rat, & The Heretic: living in the shadow of rennes-le-château, by Henry Lincoln’s most skeptical son, Hugo Soskin).


 Whoever [singular or plural] created the "parchment" messages obviously imposed a code over well-known biblical passages, but until recently it was thought the passages were from conventional sources, such as the Latin Vulgate version of the Bible, although the transcription seemed only a rough approximate.  Recently it has been argued that the message on the left above used an earlier, Old Latin version of the Bible that was mysteriously quite different from the Vulgate or any other version (see Wieland Wilker's website at http://www-user.uni-bremen.de/~wie/Rennes/ for this new discovery but a summary follows). 


 See Page 5 to see discussion of the messages that require decoding, but it appears that the message on the left is largely a copy of an Old Latin version called the "Codex Bezae," which Willker believes justifies calling the whole thing a hoax, if only because he doesn't think it was available to anyone in France until a mid-19th C. publication of it, so it couldn't have been composed by someone (Bigou) in the 18th C., as is supposed to have happened.  Wilker tells us that the document was discovered in a monastery in Lyon in the 16th C. by a man named Beza, who then deposited it in Cambridge in 1581. Wilker further informs us that "Scrivener published the complete text in 1864; a facsimile appeared in 1899."  Wilker says he has information from a Jean Luc Chaumeil (supposedly one-time member of "The Priory" who had “issues” with Plantard and others) that another Priory member named De Chérisey copied this from the Dictionnaire de la Bible, Tome 1: A-B, Editor:  F. Vigouroux, Paris, 1895, the passage from Luke 6:1-9 reproduced as a facsimile from the Codex between columns 1768 and 1769 (Vigouroux, interestingly, was a professor at the seminary of St. Sulpice in Paris, where supposedly Saunière took the original parchments for decoding!). This attribution, however, is contradicted by an earlier "confession" from De Chérisey himself that he copied from an uncial script version edited by Dom Fernand Cabrol for the Dictionnaire d'archaéologie chrétienne et de liturgie (1903), an admission to be found in Pierre Jarnac's Histoire du Trésor de Rennes-le-Château (1978, p. 268).  Since Chaumeil most likely got his source from De Chérisey, Stephen Anderson asks, in the July 2005 Rennes Observer, "why would Chaumeil's memory of the source in 2005 be better than de Chérisey's in 1973 when he was much closer in time to his [supposed] creation of the parchments?"  But Anderson also notes (confirmed by Sandy Hamblett) that the Cabrol text does not have the Bezae Codex in it, which he believes supports the True Believers in their belief that the texts are not forged.   That is, why on earth would De Chérisey have said his source was the Cabrol text if the Codex Bezae is not in it!!??  That would imply that either he did not use the Codex Bezae or that he didn't know what the true source was because he was not in fact the transcriber!!  Still, why, then, would he refer us to Cabrol?   And isn't it interesting that Jarnac did not check this out?   What else did Jarnac not check out?    Well, this contradiction just adds another mystery to all the rest.  

 [For a curious update on Chaumeil (the sole survivor of those claiming to be members of the Priory of Sion at the time of HBHG) and his comments on this issue, please see http://www.portail-Rennes-le-Chateau.com/survivor_chaumeil.htm or http://priory-of-sion.com/posd/chaumeil.html.  Henry Lincoln, by the way, doubts De Chérisey’s “confession” because he made clear to Lincoln in exchanges that he did not understand the code of the documents he supposedly forged.  Some buttressing of Lincoln’s view ensues from the fact that De Chérisey’s “confession” is mostly conveyed posthumously (he having died in 1885) in a bizarre and cryptic document entitled Pierre et Papier (“Stone and Paper”) that Jean Luc Chaumeil included, in an obviously tampered with form, in his own work, La Testament du Prieure De Sion (2006).  De Chérisey’s often incoherent explanation of his coding here does not inspire confidence (See The Rennes-le-Chateau Observer of Autumn 2007 for a translation.  However, in investigating other works of De Chérisey, such as the mysterious poem Le Serpent Rouge, Isaac ben Jacob (a pseudonym for a group of researchers, presumably) has argued that De Cherisey’s works make more sense if it’s understood that his real interest was in the goddess Isis (for whom “Mary Magdalene” as patron saint of embalmers was code) and in her embalming technique that is instrumental in the resurrection of Osiris.  It is further argued that the biblical episode of the raising of Lazarus from the dead was meant to be understood as a symbolic resurrection effected by Jesus in some sort of cult ritual ("Lazarus” being a translation of “Osiris”).]


Wilker's is a welcome discovery, if it pans out, but it adds several new mysteries as it may solve one.   In addition to what has been noted above, Wilker is exaggerative when he claims that the "parchment" version is an exact copy of the Codex, for he himself notes numerous discrepancies, and his explanation of the discrepancies is generally not convincing. He attributes the discrepancies largely to ignorance of Latin or transcription errors, but the alterations could just as easily be deliberate or have their source in coding needs.  Certainly the words "Redis" (an ancient name for RLC?) and "bles"(slang for "treasure") were deliberately added, so why not other changes?  Secondly, Wilker's view that the Codex was not available to the French until 1864 at the earliest, thus eliminating the by-then-deceased Bigou as the transcriber and perhaps leaving the forger De Chérisey, does not necessarily follow, for certainly there were many Frenchmen in the 18th C. who had contacts in England and traveled there, and certainly a society that had the reach and power of the international society presumed to be a the bottom of this (either the "Priory of Sion" or something similar, of which Abbé Bigou and the aristocrats he served could have been party to, as they were known to be members of several secret societies) would not find it difficult to gain access to the rarest of documents at Cambridge, especially ones of French origin.  Some might even have been invited in as consultants.  


But there may be a simpler and more specifically historical explanation, if Sandy Hamblett is right, in her article in The Rennes Observer of July 2005.  There she contends that the Codex was looted by the Huguenots from the Monastery of St. Irenaeus in Lyon during the Wars of Religion and then was delivered by them in 1562 to Theodore Beza (1519-1603), an important theologian of the Protestant Reformation who was a friend and successor to John Calvin at Geneva.  Beza was also well known to the family of Francis Bacon, whose brother Anthony stayed with Beza for months during an Intelligence gathering mission to the continent (sent by spymaster Walsingham, part of an Elizabethan administration that included scientist-alchemist-magus John Dee) in the same year and just before Beza sent the Codex to Cambridge, most likely in the care of the Bacons.   Beza’s alarm at the religious wars occurring across Europe but especially in his region explains why a Protestant Frenchman of the 16th C. would have thought Cambridge a safer place for the Codex Bezae.   It appears he had good reason for getting this document out of France.   


Furthermore, in view of:

·        the mysterious and apparently heterodox nature of the Codex Bezae (although we need a close comparison of the Codex with the Vulgate text to see if the considerable differences add up to "heresy"), the possibility that, as a more "primitive" and thus perhaps more genuine version written prior to Jerome's Vulgate, it was chosen because it better suited both the coding and the heterodox purposes;

·        that it still can't be established who the original adaptor was and when the adaptation was made (those confessing to forging it having good reasons to lie about that and being suspiciously contradictory and even ignorant of the facts in their accounts of this, not to mention that the putative forgers’ hand printing has never been compared by experts with the printing in the “parchment” messages);

·        and that it would more likely be a priest (Bigou?) than anyone else who would know of this obscure document (especially one who had contacts in Lyon, where he may have learned of its removal to Cambridge in 1581),

·        more questions are raised than answered by this nevertheless important discovery and thus illustrates well this website's thesis that we are plunged into a hermeneutical hell, for Wilker's discovery just adds one more mysterious and suspect document.  


For example, why would the coder or coders go out of his/their way to select a heterodox and pre-Vulgate source for one of their messages?  What purpose does this serve other than gratuitous mystification?  And who wrote the Codex?  Were the creators of the perhaps heterodox Codex themselves part of an alternate tradition, also perhaps "heretical"?  And would the coders have known about these documents because they shared this tradition? [Sandy Hamblett speculates that the codex found its way to Lyon via St. Polycarpe's passing it on to a disciple of his who became Bishop of Lyon, St. Irenaeus, thus dating its origin as no later than the early second century.  Hamblett further notes both a Huguenot and Waldensian interest in the Codex and a role in Beza's life, which is at least suggestive of "heretical" affinities.  And that Beza was a Greek scholar who published an edition of the Greek New Testament showing differences between his translations and the Vulgate is further suggestive of unorthodox intentions.]  And why did Scrivener see fit to publish the codex in 1864?   Was this purely a scholarly act?  Who made that editorial decision and why?  It is certainly interesting that the editor Vigouroux was a professor at the seminary of St. Sulpice, where supposedly Saunière took the original parchments for decoding!   That has a certain symmetry to it. 


As for the message on the right above, Wilker asserts that it is from the Vulgate, and, if true, that in itself raises interesting questions.  Why use the Vulgate for one coded message and the Codex Bezae for another?  When you combine:

1.     the fact of separate sources

2.     with the fact that the handwriting is different on the two messages and neither has been matched with anyone involved

3.     and the fact that the coding technique in the two is utterly different,

this raises the question of whether the two messages came from different sources with different traditions, as though the authors weren't particularly aware of each other.  And if the two coded passages are indeed by two different authors, then how likely is it that they would appear on the front and back of a single parchment, if that did happen, and if not, on separate parchments in the same package?  Why this division of labor?  This also more seriously calls into question any material, spatial relationship between the two established by the transparency of the parchment, if they were on the same parchment.   But was the other message really based on the Vulgate?  If so, according to Stephen Anderson, there were almost twenty errors made in transcription, and might the errors therefore point to another source?    Until we have satisfactory answers to these questions, the cry of "hoax" will sound more like the cry of orthodoxy trying to drown out a challenge to it than anything else.  






Whatever, back to the popular story.   To recapitulate, these "parchments" Saunière supposedly found hidden in his church were supposedly deposited there in the late 1780s (or no later than 1791) by a desperate and frightened Abbé Bigou, priest of the last aristocratic family to rule in this region before the French Revolution of 1789 caused aristocrats to lose their heads or become refugees, often followed by the priests whose Church had supported them.  Bigou himself fled into Spain, where he soon after died (although some mystery has lately arisen about where in Spain he went and died, Sabadell near Barcelona or Besalú northwest of Girone, for the significance of which see Patrice Chaplin’s City of Secrets).  But did some of the aristocrats survive, leaving blood royal descendants to the present day?  Whatever, the discovery of the "parchments" and decoding of the messages (supposedly with help from experts at St. Sulpice in Paris) therein supposedly led Saunière to some significant “treasure,” literal treasure (such as coins, jewelry, and ancient artifacts that could be "fenced") and/or figurative treasure (such as marketable knowledge or documents), after which he began doing very strange things with his new wealth and/or new knowledge, including rather quickly building what I jocularly refer to as a “Disney World for Heretics,” that being a joking way of summing up the strange effect on this region of the way “the mystery” has been popularly interpreted, most particularly in Holy Blood, Holy Grail and The Messianic Legacy, both books by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln [a good but uncritical summarizing of which is Tracy Twyman's The Merovingian Mythos and the Mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau, which leads via linguistic analysis even deeper underground and into even more fantastic areas of speculation, and that gives a measure of how stimulated the imagination is by the possibilities of the case.  That this region is rife with large caves and abandoned mines and that at times people of this region, such as the Cathars, did indeed reside in or take refuge in caves, such as the mammoth Lombrives near Quillan, perhaps gives some credibility to the otherwise far-fetched notions of an underground of beings living an alternate existence, possibly threatening to the above-ground.  (For another interesting account of the “legend” of Abbé Saunière, see Jean Markale’s The Church of Mary Magdalene, which tries hard to find the whole story preposterous but strangely keeps finding reasons why it’s not so preposterous)]. 


As a consequence of breaking the codes of the discovered messages (with the help of his bishop and experts at St. Sulpice in Paris, it's said) and following out their clues, Saunière, it is “heretically” supposed, perhaps in addition to finding literal treasure, found documentary proof that Jesus was strictly human, however great, and that his marriage to Mary Magdalene led to their progeny marrying into the Merovingians, the first kings of France (or the Franks).  It is further argued that the early Merovingian kings, “sorcerer-kings” with long hair by reputation, were at first "heretics" of some sort, perhaps Arian (characterized by disbelief in the divinity of Jesus), in keeping with the beliefs of Mary and her children (as imagined for them), or possibly even “Jewish” if the legend of their being descendants of the lost tribe of Benjamin has any basis in fact, but were later tricked into becoming orthodox Roman Catholic (in a pact between the Church and Clovis I) and then later betrayed when King Dagobert II was assassinated by Church agents (supposedly). 


 Although the Merovingians may have believed that they had Davidic “blood” from the start, this infusion of the “blood” of Jesus and Mary Magdalene into the Merovingians through marriage then created a supposedly holy (or holier) bloodline that did not end in 679 AD with the traitorous assassination of Dagobert II, heretofore thought the last of the Merovingians (as effective rulers of the Franks, that is, since apparently only cadet branches of the family served as figureheads for a while until the Carolingian dynasty officially usurped the power), as history given us by the Church records.  Rather, that Merovingian bloodline supposedly still exists as the true “holy grail,” the real “cup” of Christ’s blood being the womb of Mary Magdalene where the seed of Jesus produced progeny whose direct descendants, still in existence, carry with them “holy blood” of the direct line.  That is presumed to be why the early Carolingian kings, such as Charlemagne, went out of their way to marry Merovingian women, as did, it is said, Napoleon Bonaparte.  [For an interesting and unusual account of the connection between the early years of Christianity in Egypt and these persistent beliefs in at least Mary Magdalene and perhaps Jesus as well ending their lives in France, see Graham Simmans’ Jesus After the Crucifixion.  Another book that brilliantly argues the case for Egyptian antecedents for Christianity and echoes of this in the Rennes-le-Chateau area is Robert Feather’s The Secret Initiation of Jesus at Qumran.]






Note, however, the contradiction between the insistence on the humanity of Jesus in many of these accounts and the holiness of his “blood.”   Which is it?   If Jesus was strictly human, then what does it matter if his “blood” survives or not?  Arianism provided the answer that while Jesus wasn’t divine, he wasn’t strictly human either and existed in a special category that gave people who believed in “blood” some reason to think that passing that “blood” down was worthwhile.  An answer perhaps more relevant to the present that some offer (from the occult wing, mainly) is in the notions that Jesus was a special adept in a tradition of underground knowledge that provides something better than the mere after-death salvation of a redeemer—namely, a means while alive to achieve actual oneness with God, without benefit of church or priest--and that this knowledge (this "gnosis") is carried partly by "blood" and partly by initiation into secret "mysteries" of the "grail families" and their chivalrous supporters.  Jewish Kabalism, however, suggests that you only need to know the Kabalah and be master of certain rituals to bring this off.   

[Perhaps apropos, Michael Baigent’s latest book, The Jesus Papers, is largely devoted to exploration of “secret” traditions and rituals inherited from ancient Egypt that were used to transport the initiate to “the Far-World” where God waits for the desired union and, if also desired, to transport the initiate back to the mundane world.  The possibility of having that experience is what Jesus meant by “the Kingdom of Heaven is within you.”   For an argument that identifies the “mysteries” in which Saunière was an initiate as Kabalistic, see Patrice Chaplin’s City of Secrets.  Of course it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that the Kabala was Egyptian in source.]    






There are schools of research that speculate that, in addition to whatever else he found, Saunière may have found indications that Jesus was a specially adept passer on of ancient truths inherited from at least the Egyptians, who may in turn have gotten them from an amazingly advanced prehistoric, antediluvian civilization that has been forgotten, except by ancient myth (such as that of "The Flood") and the Hermetic-Pythagorean-Gnostic-Templar-Alchemical-Occult and possibly Masonic traditions, constituting a hidden, underground stream of special knowledge that contradicts doctrinal assumptions of the Church.  That’s everything a “heretic” could wish for, and more.  


But if you need more, one of the most explosive implications of all this is that the Roman Empire never died, for with the Emperor Constantine serving as political spin doctor overseeing the project at the Council of Nicaea in 325, the Empire just cleverly mutated into the Roman Catholic Church, where it became a far more powerful imperium in which Emperor Popes continued the earlier persecution and suppression of real Christians as part of the eternal struggle between the worldly and the unworldly, i. e., between the paradoxically worldly (but pretending otherwise) Vatican and a succession of unworldly or otherworldly "heretics," some of whom even began within the Church (such as St. Francis).  In this mutated form, in which power was spiritualized, the Imperial Papacy commanded (or struggled to command through collusion) the armies of kings and other feudal lords to the Church's imperialistic ends, all too often with amazingly bloody success. The Albigensian Crusade of the 13th C., the suppression of the Knights Templar of the 14th C., and the ruin upon Europe in general brought by the witch-hunting Inquisition are the most classic examples of “successes,” from the Church’s point of view.  But there were also amazingly bloody failures, as in the disastrous Crusades to the "Holy Land," which ended with a rout of the very-less-than-holy Christians that reminds one of the end of the Vietnam War.   [And anyone watching the media's coverage of the death and virtual canonization of John Paul II and the election of sieg heil Ratzinger, the "Holy" Inquisitor, to Pope Benedict XVI, can appreciate this "imperial papacy" thesis even better now.   Our current Nazi pope has further revealed his true colors, first by restoring the Latin Mass to appease the far right and then by insisting that his church is the only true church and condemning the rest of humanity as “heretical.”  John XXIII must be spinning in his ecumenical casket.]


Ah, but there's more, and you might even think this more explosive, given Europe's history.   The argument of many of the "heretics" in the RLC caper is that the apostolic succession of the Catholic Church is not the true apostolic succession.  They would have you note that, despite plenty of opportunity to enlist Gentiles, Jesus chose for disciples only fellow Jews, because, as he said, he had come to fulfill the prophets, not destroy them, and note that it was his brother James who was the first head of the original Christian church, a church that had its Vatican City in Jerusalem.  This church actually kicked out a man named Saul of Tarsus, a.k.a. Paul, a self-appointed disciple who had never met Jesus personally, because they didn't like his Gentilizing agenda for Christianity, which they thought heretical.  


Well, we all know how Paul then took off for the Gentile world and, in league with Peter, established his counter-church there, a move so politically effective that, by the middle of the 4th Century A.D., with a major assist from the politically-desperate Emperor Constantine, a Church Triumphant was able to declare those among the original Christians who opposed the forced doctrinal consensus "heretics" and systematically hunt them down, kill or excommunicate them, and burn or otherwise destroy their scriptures (except for a few documents that later turned up at Nag Hammadi and elsewhere!).   But in Paul's lifetime, if we're to believe the contrarian tradition that The Da Vinci Code leans on, Mary Magdalene and her children (or child, if just one) found their way to southern France (then Roman), established their family in Jewish communities there, and her (and Jesus's) descendant(s) eventually married into the Merovingians (perhaps also Jews, of the lost tribe of Benjamin, according to a tradition they themselves seemed to believe in), who, before and after they lost power, were in turn married into by almost every royal house in Europe, this Jewish bloodline thus constituting the true but secret apostolic succession from Jesus.   Naturally, monarchists are especially fond of this idea of “rule by divine right,” although you never hear them speak of having “Jewish blood.”   Family secret, I guess.


From this conflict between the above-ground Gentile apostolic succession of the Roman Catholic Church, which was not based on blood, and the underground Jewish apostolic succession, which was based on blood, ironies abound.  While it is generally conceded that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a fraudulent document, cooked up by Russian secret police at the end of the 19th C. to discredit and make scapegoats of the Jews of Russia who had influence at court, nevertheless its purported demonstration of a Jewish conspiracy to, if not take over the world, at least take over Europe, now seems ironically confirmed by this underground tradition of a hidden apostolic succession of Jewish blood. The fake book ironically announces a real conspiracy, according to the HBHG thesis, for the Mary Magdalene–Merovingian bloodline thesis implies that there is (or was) indeed a Jewish conspiracy to take over Europe through a monarchist revival that included the establishing of a theocratic United States of Europe ruled over by Jewish popes!!!! It's odd that no one seems to have noticed this, most especially that group called the Priory of Sion which was supposedly the chief supporter of the underground tradition in modern times, but odder still is the fact that their most famous leader during the uncovering of the RLC mystery, Pierre Plantard, notoriously wrote anti-Jewish propaganda, especially during the Nazi occupation of France.  Did they know they were contradicting themselves, since Plantard himself was supposedly Jewish, if truly of Merovingian descent?  Or did they understand the secret tradition differently?   Or were they covering their tracks by pretending to be anti-Jewish? Or what?  Maybe this accounts for their backing away from the Merovingian thesis when Plantard took the Priory helm for the second time in the 80s.

[By the way, documents included by Chaumeil in his Le Testament du Prieuré de Sion (2006) purport to show Plantard’s thinking in 1964-5 before De Sède published L’Or de Rennes in 1967 and characterize Plantard as rather “Aquarian” and anti-establishment in his New Age beliefs, which gives us another Plantard to contemplate and make us wonder if he was a natural chameleon.   In The Rennes Observer of Winter 2008, see Stephen Anderson’s translations of Plantard’s views expressed at a conference that supposedly took place in Rennes-le-Château in 1964-5.]






One final bit of interpreting the RLC messages, combined with the startling portrayals of "primitive" Christianity found in the Nag Hammadi scrolls, has led many to the supposition that the chief disciple of Jesus, as far as Jesus himself was concerned, was Mary Magdalene, not only his wife and mother of his children (or child), but also called by him to head a far more feminist church than what was eventually manifested as "Christianity."  This idea seems reinforced by Saunière's own obsession with Mary Magdalene and the possibility that in Marie Dénarnaud, his much younger, live-in "servant," he was living with a real, live Magdalene. This view has lately been compounded and confused by the claim of Patrice Chaplin’s City of Secrets that the real love of Saunière’s life was Maria Tourdes, who lived in a house with a similar tower in Girone, Spain, often visited by Saunière, with Marie Dénarnaud merely covering up for him during his absences.  Whichever “Mary” was involved (and could not it have been both?) Saunière is thus imagined as a man who needed a Magdalene-centered theology to justify his own life!   And as of course our notoriously patriarchal Church would seemingly prefer death to allowing women into the shop as priests, it's easy to see how Saunière may have run afoul of the hierarchy on this score.  And why Dan Brown, the current popularizer of the Magdalene-for-Pope school, has caused such an uproar.


And, if a third bit of oppositional theology were to be added to the already rich mix, we come up with the following list of three major oppositions in the identifying of a True Church:  


1.     Jewish vs. Gentile Apostolic Succession: in which the Jewish bloodline apostolic succession of the Hidden But True Church (derived from James, first “pope” of the Jerusalem Church, & the Merovingians, after the infusion of “holy Jewish blood” from Mary Magdalene’s child) stands in opposition to the Gentile apostolic succession of the Publicly-Acknowledged But Hijacked Church (derived from the Jewish Peter & Paul, of course, but soon passing into Gentile hands).


2.     Masculine vs. Feminine Churches: in which the foundationally masculine Church (Peter, Paul, James, and/or John) stands in opposition to the foundationally feminist Church (with Mary Magdalene as the first “pope”).


3.     Exoteric vs. Esoteric Church: in which there is a further division to consider between an exoteric Church (Pauline) and an esoteric Church (John and a hidden, Gnostic tradition that runs counter to the exoteric Church), the esoteric supposedly to replace the exoteric about now, in “The Age of Aquarius” (as that was miscalculated by Paul Le Cour and others).   [See Stephen Anderson’s explanation of esoteric versus exoteric in The Rennes Observer of Spring 2007].  Did Saunière, knowing this distinction, deliberately symbolize it by creating a second, esoteric church outside of and parallel to the Church of the Magdalene of dimensions identical to the exoteric church?   Those who have done the measurements of the spiritual church, from the VM statue on the pillar to the Calvaire, say “yes.”  


 So take your pick as to which side you think, first Saunière, then Plantard’s Priory of Sion, was on.   If they weren’t on the strictly orthodox side of things, were they Jamesian-Merovingian Christians (by blood), Magdalene-feminist Christians (worshippers of “The Sacred Feminine),” or esoteric-Gnostic Christians who relied on sacred knowledge rather than priestly ritual to get them to God?  Or some combination thereof?  This of course assumes that they were on the same side, which no longer seems clear.   Or that they were on any of those sides!






Well, with this huge load of interpretation bearing down on the RLC mystery, you can see why the True Believers in such "heretical" revelations are going to be very disappointed if what Saunière found turns out to be nothing but literal treasure, of the jewels and gold and ancient coin kind, as "Ben Hammott” originally thought was the case (see "Breaking News # 3" below for radical developments in “Ben Hammott’s” thinking and his starring role in the film BLOODLINE, in which he is shown uncovering a very interesting female corpse covered with a Knights Templar shroud.  RETURN HERE).  “Ben” reports, incidentally, that French treasure-hunters have found a hoard of 1500 ancient coins somewhere in the RLC area that have a market value of around a million Euros, but I haven’t seen that confirmed.  A researcher named Andre Douzet says he too has recovered literal treasure in two other spots frequented by Saunière outside of the RLC area, one south of Lyon and the other northwest of Perpignan not far from ancient Tautavel and Perillos in the Corbière Mountains.  So literal treasure can’t be dismissed as at least one of the things found, and it seems factual that he did find some old coins and other artifacts of worth.


Well, if Saunière was fencing coins and other ancient artifacts (perhaps with his brother Alfred’s help, his brother being a priest in the employ of aristocratic pretenders living to the east of RLC and Perillos, in the Narbonne region), that at least would account for where he got sufficient moolah to turn the rather barren rock of late 19th C.  RLC into a little garden of Eden.  But was there more to it?


[A digression on the imagined RLC treasure, brought on by the recent film National Treasure.  This film imagines that the Freemasons who were Founding Fathers of the U. S. A. and signers of the Declaration of Independence colluded in burying a huge treasure, inherited from the Knights Templar (one of the possibilities for what’s buried at Rennes-le-Château), beneath Trinity Church in New York, clues to which they hid in various places but most notably in invisible ink on the back of the "Declaration of Independence."  The treasure as glimpsed at the end of the film consists of a vast array of ancient artifacts, many suggestive of Egyptian culture, and a specific reference is made to manuscripts from "the Library at Alexandria," the greatest library of the ancient world whose burning down by fanatical “Christians” brought incalculable loss (see http://www.ehistory.com/world/articles/ ArticleView.cfm?AID=9 and read Steve Berry’s thriller, The Alexandria Link).  The motif of disguise that runs through everything connected with Rennes-le-Château is prevalent in this film as well, as "heresy" uses "orthodoxy" to hide its intentions, which are basically those of bringing liberating and democratic enlightenment to an autocratically-minded, priest-ridden, superstition-ridden planet. And so the film's "national treasure" (embodied in the "Declaration of Independence" as well), the study of which will bring greater understanding of life and human progress, is buried beneath “Trinity” Church, the Unitarian Truth buried beneath Trinitarian Falsehood (the last place you'd look!).  The customary moral is that you have to dig deep to get at “The Truth.”  And, also, that now is the time to uncover “The Truth,” in a relatively enlightened, scientific age.  For a variation on this, see also the novel The Rule of Four, by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason.]   

{Interestingly, another recent film, The Kingdom of Heaven, portrays the Knights Templar as villainous fanatics possessing the temperament of today's suicide bombers (but Christian), which rather contradicts the view that they were keepers of the flame of enlightenment and behind-the-scenes transmitters of ancient classical knowledge from the Arabs to those who created the Renaissance in Europe.   Did the Knights Templar have a split personality?}


The True Believers are going to be even more crushed if it turns out that Saunière did not even find literal treasure, or not a significant amount, as some argue his sudden wealth came mostly from less glamorous sources, such as trafficking in masses and the selling of salvation to the wealthy (i.e., simony), or the selling of participation in unorthodox magical rites to secret society initiates, or even from such legitimate sources as the Church's poor box and building funds (For the latter possibility, see http://www.tsj.org/saunmarg1.htm).  Well, if Saunière did not find either parchments or literal treasure, as doubters claim, thus calling all that potential “heresy” into question, he nevertheless built a very interesting theme park, full of ambiguous symbols and signposts, built with incredible mathematical precision employing principles of “sacred geometry,” unlike anything any other poor priest has done (with reportedly even more grandiose plans in the years just before his death, such as the building of a taller tower [because the Tour Magdala failed to serve as the North pole of his Kabalistic experiments in Girona?], suggesting renewed support from hidden sources), and it’s sufficiently intriguing to ask why and how he did that, and why here, in Rennes-le-Château, of all places, in and around a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene, whose name he put on several of his projects and whose legend he apparently pursued in his travels?   Even if all this is nothing more than evidence of a vast corruption and/or delusion, it is nevertheless a very interesting case indeed, worth solving for its own sake, if that were possible. 


Abbé Saunière (1852-1917)

It seemed appropriate to leave the red eye in.  A brimstone vision?  Or just too much cognac?  Saunière had a reputation for being a lavish entertainer of VIPs, with a  cellar full of the best wines and Jamaican rum.   He also seems to have been generous with the more humble locals, although perhaps less so than the myth suggests. 

For, all joking aside, who can blame the True Believers?  Whatever he was up to and however he came by his wealth, Saunière clearly intended to make a statement of some sort by building this theme park.  See the devil and the tower near the top for proof that Father Saunière had a wild and devilish imagination and one that seems to speak most eloquently and ambiguously to many different kinds of people, on all sides of the political spectrum, who imagine themselves kindred spirits.  Of course newly rich people sometimes think they’re making a statement about who they are simply by making a vulgar display of their wealth, and that can’t be ruled out in the case of a sybaritic Saunière and decorator of a garish church, but the peculiar “statement” he made has so much religious content and connects so well with certain esoteric societies that it seems unlikely this was mere vulgar display or nothing but that.   My guess is that he meant to say something significant in the renovation of his church and in building the curious luxury estate around it.  And enjoy himself while doing it.   Even if he was mainly just following orders.


If this had been reported as no more than the story of another corrupt priest who made money by trafficking in masses and selling salvation, which is what some think was the case, following a clear indication that he was advertising such services, it probably would have been forgotten after everyone concerned was dead.  Indeed, it was on the verge of doing just that.  But it is remembered because in the 1950s and 60s an amazing and perhaps questionable effort was begun to connect this “mystery” to the history of the Western World in profound ways, ways that promised to radically alter our future, as it radically altered our view of the past, and perhaps even bring about a “New World Order.”  Zot knows, we need a change!










 Before moving on to a summary, note should be taken of a website that follows the theme of an enterprising Saunière who traveled a lot to meet with kindred spirits and who thereby maybe earned most or some his money by performing special services.   See www.perillos.com for quite a different take on the RLC mystery that rather moves the center of it almost due east to Perillos, above Perpignan, and a very strange, mostly abandoned region of France (postal code 66600!!), a strangeness compounded by its having been chosen as a military post and place for odd scientific experiments.  The argument of the Perillos website (by Filip Coppens and Andre Douzet) finds Saunière in collusion with a secret society (or societies), mostly within the priesthood, called “Association Angelique” and/or “La Sanch” {“The Blood”}(or something similar), which seems involved in some sort of “cult of the dead,” perhaps with ritualized resurrection on its cultic mind or at least heavenly guarantees, for a price.  Such a practice may have ancient roots in this Perillos region, full of underground caverns seemingly used for ritual burial for centuries, possibly even treated as some sort of gateway to the underworld.  It is suggested that this group may be implicated in the 1897 assassination of the priest Gélis, Saunière’s next-door neighbor in Coustaussa, and in hastening the later deaths of the priest Boudet, Saunière’s mentor, of Rennes-les-Bains, and Boudet’s successor, Rescanières, most likely to keep them from spilling some beans.  Sounds wild, but read the substantial research its authors have dug up.   It seems both Gélis and Boudet were, as young priests, assigned to duties in a town, Durban-Corbière’s, very near Perillos, prior to their ultimate assignments in Coustaussa and Rennes-les-Bains respectively, where they gained intimate knowledge of the strange history of the area, which they introduced Saunière to along with certain “mysteries” in Perillos that echoed ones he had discovered in RLC.  There are remarkable similarities between the two locations, beyond such surface consideration as their conical shapes as emphasized in the pictures below, perhaps most importantly in that both have ancient churches that were originally attached to castles and that contained underground burial crypts which, most practically, connected to underground tunnels and caverns to create a system of emergency exists for local nobility but which may have lent themselves to other, more recondite uses as well.  


                          Perillos                                                                            Rennes-le-Château                                                                                        



Even more extravagant claims for a connection between the two towns is made on this Perillos website by the assertion that a plaster model Saunière had made shortly before he died (and never picked up from its maker) of that area of the “Holy Land” involved in the death and burial of Jesus matches the landscape of Perillos when the model is inverted, and that the model differs from the Bible in the number and placement of tombs, especially in the identifying of the tomb of Jesus as being other than that belonging to Joseph of Arimathema, that is meant to suggest (perilously?) that the biblical account is not accurate and thus distorting of “the truth.”  As though that sort of “accuracy” was any more of a consideration to the writers of the New Testament than to Dan Brown in writing The Da Vinci Code!


This Perillos website also considers the possibilities of a connection between Perillos and various sites to the south, especially a Spanish town called Girona southeast of RLC, supposedly visited by Saunière quite frequently (where lived a woman with whom he supposedly had a secret affair), and known as a center of Jewish Kabalism in the Middle Ages.   Thus it’s imagined that the secret society Saunière was involved with was Kabalistic, rather surreptitiously kept alive to the present day by a few chosen souls, as presented in Patrice Chaplin’s City of Secrets, but there seems to be common ground between them and the societies mentioned above in their interest in ways to transcend our mortality.   Whether it’s literal tunnels of escape for the nobility or time tunnels to eternity, everybody is always looking for a way out of mortality. 


From the Arcadia website, at http://www.andrewgough.co.uk/memento.html , comes the following summary: “Soliciting money for the care of the soul in the afterlife appears to have been big business. Some believe it still is. The belief that ritual could alter the fate of an individual’s fortune in the next world, regardless of the virtues exhibited in life, was a source of considerable income to the penitent brotherhoods who administered the ritual. Orders such as these exist today, as they have for hundreds and even thousands of years. In France they are called La Sanch, meaning The Blood, and in Perpignan, where they have their headquarters, hooded penitents, dressed in theatrical regalia, process through the city each Easter, as they do across France and Spain and other European countries. Vincent Ferrer, a Valencian Dominican missionary, who was born in the aftermath of the Black Death (circa 1350), was the Order’s founder. Ferrer gave lectures about the end of the world across Europe and is believed to have used manipulative tactics, such as the Danse Macabre, when disseminating his message. 









The initial myth-making effort, though it failed in itself (at least for now, perhaps), inspired many others to research “the mystery” in greater depth and to arrive at mostly serendipitous findings that make the entire Rennes-le-Château area potentially far more significant and more instrumental in shaping the world’s future than even the “original” myth-makers imagined.  Or perhaps would have wanted!  For this research seems to have had many unintended and possibly ironic consequences, not the least of which would be the causing of the site to be treated as a Disney World for Heretics if the priest who created it and the man who later tried to ride it to glory (Pierre Plantard, supposed descendent of the Merovingians) intended exactly the opposite!  Believing that to be the case, certain debunkers have been hard at work trying to expose what they see as a deliberate perpetration of fraud on the part of a few and a relatively innocent romanticizing of that by many others who have, they think, been duped.


And yet, after all the possible fraud and myth-making are accounted for (which is considerable and will be reviewed further later!), there seems to remain a hard core of fact that even the debunkers can’t entirely rule out (such as the bizarre estate itself, Sauniere’s documented actions, and the murder of three nearby priests) and that gives life to the possibility that “the mystery” if solved in certain ways would have world-shaking, history-altering consequences, although perhaps not as originally imagined. Many researchers are working hard to make that happen, to get Rennes-le-Château and vicinity recognized as the locus or at least the explainer of certain lost truths of the ancient and medieval worlds that they hope will debunk many orthodox accounts of history and perhaps profoundly affect how the future unfolds.  Skeptics of “History-as-Written” are skeptical, partly because so much of human history has simply been lost and thus not factored in, and partly because known history has been written by “the winners” and thus distorted to favor them, and Rennes-le-Château is precisely valued because it’s thought that it gives voice to many of history’s big losers, who were not necessarily wrong in their views but were simply squashed by the side with the greater might, usually unscrupulously employed, and their views labeled as “heresy.”  Here’s a chance to set the record straight, they think.


Which gives rise to an enormous paradox.  Many skeptics of “History-as-Written” have been drawn to this because they paradoxically find the romance of this potential debunker-to-end-all-debunkers irresistible.  To switch metaphors, the one thing a true skeptic can’t resist is food for his skepticism, and the menu at Rennes-le-Château is long and scrumptious! 


But is this menu purely imaginary, as the debunkers of the skeptics of history think, as they attempt to debunk the whole idea of a history-debunking town?  Are you following this?  The clash here is between debunkers of official history and debunkers of the debunkers!!  That is, between two schools of skeptics who are skeptical about different things, although, ironically, one skepticism leads by default to support of Orthodoxy.  Of course many are in the middle, including myself, but I will focus here on the extremes in order to draw the sharpest contrast in the central debate.


Where do I stand?  Well, although in sympathy with those who hope for history to get straightened out here, I would just like to see things more clearly.   I would settle for greater clarity but am in despair because the fog around this part of the world seems to be growing with each new revelation!  I see both sides as lost in a confusion over dubious documents and testimony, and lately revisionist testimony, from questionable witnesses, that proves little except the postmodernist case for language’s hegemony over Truth, which argues that our language writes us more than we write our language (the Bible and commentary on it being the most notorious example of language run amuck and ruling men—Blake's "mind-forged manacles").   I’d like to think there’s a way out of this, but below I will first show why there may not be.  Although both sides seem to believe that “objective” history is possible and that “The Truth” can be known, they both illustrate how historical investigation tends to relativize “Truth.”  Partly because an important supposition of both camps is that there are dark agents working behind the scenes destroying or corrupting or replacing or inventing or stealing evidence, or it’s even thought by some that the behind-the-scenes people are using the Saunière story, especially in its Priory of Sion version, simply as a red herring, to take everyone’s eye off something else, something that really matters (a good case for which, theocratic Synarchism, is to be found in Picknett & Prince’s The Sion Revelation). 


No wonder so many researchers are being driven to mathematics and ancient, esoteric geometry!  The escape to numbers is a way to escape the relativity, they think.  Maybe, but sooner or later the mathematicians have to interpret the numbers, and that seems to land them back in the same old hermeneutical quandary.  Henry Lincoln has become an example of someone who, knowing the impossibility of proving anything factually in the Saunière–Priory case, has ended in geometrical hypotheses pertaining to the idea that this area was a holy site from pre-historic times, which, if the local priests were aware of (and there are indications that they were), at least provides a context for any effort, esoteric or otherwise, to continue that tradition.   


Although my initial contacts with RLC led me to hope for certain outcomes that would help us awake from the nightmare that is history and throw off two thousand years of intellectual misrule, I now just try to keep open for whatever truth comes, hoping that something will turn up that will help me escape from this Hermeneutical Hell.  And of course the way to keep open is to keep asking questions.  Here you will find a fairly up-to-date summary of what some of the principal investigators think about “The Mystery of Rennes-le-Château,” which constitutes the “themes” of this theme park (excuse the pun),  but the heart of this is the questions it asks, of both “True Believers” and “Debunkers,” as I dramatize their disagreements.  Whether you’re new to this or you’ve heard it all, the hope is that this summary of major facts and standard theories and the questions they inspire will be useful.  Not the least, perhaps, in emphasizing where the hellishness lies in this Hermeneutical Hell.  




RENNES-LE-CHATEAU: Past, Present, Future




Let’s begin with the evidence of our eyes, to show how insufficient that sometimes is, and then supplement that with the evidence of our imaginations, sometimes far more important if treated carefully.  Below is, first, what Rennes-le-Château looks like now (very deceiving?) and, after that, what it might have looked like in the Middle Ages, when it was perhaps known as Rhédae (or some variant of that) or Razes (which can refer to a district as well as its main city). [For a detailed examination of this question, see Nicholas Mazet's "Where is the City of Razes?" at http://www.tsj.org/razes.htm.]   You have to “see” its Medieval reality, as the popular story imagines that, to understand its importance in the scheme of things.  By the Middle Ages it may have already become a place with a fabulous past, and a place where you would expect buried treasure and deep secrets to have been kept.  Some of which appear to have been forgotten, even by initiates, if those finding meaningful patterns on the ground are correct.


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RLC Labeled.jpg


Above, the modern village of Rennes-le-Château, from the south, with pointers to three towns that are just below RLC to the north and northwest and easily visible from the Tour Magdala—Montazels (hometown of the priest Saunière), Esperaza (hometown of the priest’s “housekeeper” Marie), and Couiza (where the priest did some financial business and got his mail).   From Couiza east runs the road to Coustaussa (where the priest Gélis was murdered in 1897), Pontils (where the tomb was Poussin is supposed to have painted) and Arques (headquarters for modern Catharism?), and eventually to Perillos & Perpignan, with a road across from and just east from Coustaussa branching southwards between Mt. Blanchefort & Mt. Cardou to Rennes-les-Bains, just a few kilometers east of Rennes-le-Château. 

     Rennes-les-Bains, a health resort from ancient times and a sort of mystery twin for Rennes-le-Château, may even be a progenitor of “the mystery” in that the priest there, Boudet, seems to have been Saunière’s mentor at first, possibly calling the latter’s attention to strange formations and relics in the region that argued for its having received an ancient stamp of “the sacred.”  Some even think Boudet was pulling the strings on Saunière throughout, which caused some discord when Saunière didn’t follow the script.  Or even that, since Boudet was known to have been wealthy long before Saunière arrived on the scene, it may be that Boudet’s church, dedicated to St. Lazaire et Celse, was actually where the “treasure” was that they and other priests in the region tapped into, and that it was Saunière’s greed and indiscretion that caused the falling out with Boudet.  At any rate, these are all key sites in the story and most are within just a few miles of Rennes-le-Château.  The “Visigoth Castle” is apparently of more recent construction, by the way, although it might be roughly on the spot of the original built by the Visigoths and might have Visigoth elements within it, although some believe the original chateau was in what became Saunière’s garden and was attached to the church.   The church, at any rate, began as a separate chapel for the town’s aristocrats, and it may not have been dedicated to St. Madeleine at first. 




Does Carcassonne, about 30 miles north of Rennes-le-Château on the Paris meridian, suggest what Rennes-le-Château looked like in the Middle Ages?


          Although nearly everything about the history of Rennes-le-Château has been disputed, because records are scarce, ambiguous, and imprecise, some of dubious authenticity, some perhaps planted, almost all with hidden political spin on them, our story assumes that it was a major walled city in the Middle Ages, looking somewhat like Carcassonne to the north still does.  But was it that large?  Some archaeologists have reported finding remains of fortification walls and of large military camps in a wide area around RLC, but disbelievers have hired other archaeologists who say that they find no evidence that RLC was much larger than it is today.  Which shows that you can’t even rely on the scientists to settle matters, for there are quarrels here just as there are in almost every field of science.  There’s also a question as to whether undisputed historical references to Rhédae as a medieval center of the Visigoths actually refer to RLC or to another location. [Again, see Nicholas Mazet's "Where is the City of Razes?" at http://www.tsj.org/razes.htm.]  Whatever the truth of this, RLC may have been on the busy pilgrim route to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain (as now it is on the way to Lourdes, for some) and appears to have seen considerable traffic pass by.  For centuries before that, it and/or the area around seems to have been an important and sometimes a sacred site for Celts, Gauls, Romans, and Visigoths, and, when it was a Visigoth center (if it ever was), a Merovingian Frankish prince is supposed to have married a local Visigoth princess, connecting it to the throne of France, which may ultimately have connected it to every royal house in Europe, or so the story goes, for some dispute that this marriage took place.  Also disputed is that the Merovingians survived a homicidal betrayal by a pope and the founder of the Carolingian monarchy in the 7th Century AD (see http://www.ordotempli.org/the_merovingians.htm for one version of the history of the Merovingians and, for another, http://www.fiu.edu/~mizrachs/poseur3.html).   RLC was also, for a time, supposedly, the seat of the Count of Razès (the first count supposedly a survivor of the Merovingians). {Note: at various times and in different contexts, this area has been referred to as part of Septimania, Occitania, the Razès, the Languedoc, or the Midi}.


          All of the attempts, however valid, to dispute the idea that the “holy blood” of the Merovingians somehow survived and found its way into every European royal family, seem of dubious value unless only male heirs count, for it’s pretty well established that there were Merovingian females who did continue the line and who married into more than one royal family.  The most serious question is if that bloodline really matters, not whether it exists or not.  


           But RLC felt the effects of the Albigensian Crusade (and subsequent Inquisition) in the Thirteenth Century, as Pope Innocent III and his Frankish agents (well, who was the agent of whom?) attempted genocide upon the Cathars and stole much of their wealth and lands, and plague and roving bandits pretty much finished it off in the Fourteenth Century after the Knights Templar fell victim to King Philipe le Bel’s sudden arrest of their members in 1307, leaving the area without law-enforcers.  In addition to the decay of Templar commanderies in the area (the one at Bézu being closest to RLC), the fairy tale castles that had been built on mountaintops around it, held by “heretical” Cathars mainly, also began to crumble after bloody sieges emptied them in the wiping out of “heretics.”  Two centuries of bloody depopulation made the Languedoc a desolate land for centuries to come.  

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Château Peyreperteuse,

southeast of RLC,

a Cathar stronghold.

Château Montségur, site of

the Cathars’ last major stand in 1244.

 See Zoë Oldenbourg’s Massacre at Montségur  and Aubrey Burl's God's Heretics: The Albigensian Crusade

 for the story.  The producers of the film BLOODLINE, by the way, have named their film company 1244 Films to commemorate this massacre

as a sacrifice to a higher truth

than possessed by the Church.



And so, according to the story, Rennes-le-Château shrank and gradually decayed into what it is now, a small mountaintop village in the foothills of the Pyrenees.  Today’s inhabitants, less than a hundred in all, most of whom one never sees out and about, may have taken to hiding to avoid the increasing number of tourists intrigued by its “mystery,” modern-day “pilgrims” who think it’s not on the way to a shrine but is itself a shrine of some sort.   Although today we call them “theme parks”!


ABBE SAUNIÈRE: Identity Crisis


            I jokingly call Rennes-le-Château a “Disney World for Heretics” because, as said, that has been the thrust of much of the story-telling about it, which sees Father Saunière as fundamentally subversive of modern Catholic (or at least Vatican) orthodoxy, however right-wing Catholic monarchist he seemed to be.  Further along, I’ll suggest a way to understand how Saunière could be both subversive and right-wing at the same time, as a priest can become if he finds his church’s relative modernization distasteful and/or finds pre-Nicean practices more to his sense of orthodoxy, but for now let’s stick with the original notion (derived from HBHG) that he lived a double life of surface orthodoxy and hidden heresy.


It’s popularly believed that Saunière was not what he seemed.  It’s supposed that the Big Secret Saunière uncovered forced him to rethink history and switch sides while pretending not to.   In Saunière, supposedly, the Cathars and other “heretics” and even pre-Christian “pagans” of this region’s past lived again through him!  Although covertly, as the mostly hidden half of a double life, in which Saunière secretly worked counter to the Church’s doctrine and dogma because his findings had exploded it all and proved the “pagans” and “heretics” right.  But certain debunkers of this popular view, believing Saunière to have been exactly the ultra-orthodox Catholic right-winger he seemed to be (at a time when the Vatican was moving somewhat Left to accommodate the slow-but-sure political triumph of democracy) and up to less than imagined (mere commonplace simony), think it would be more accurate to see his building and restoration as an attempt at creating another Lourdes or Fatima, perhaps in the form of a retirement center for priests, as he himself told the bishop who was suspicious of him, something the ultra-orthodox would approve of.  They could be right.  Or was Saunière covering up?   Was the trafficking in masses he was accused of by his bishop part of a clever scheme to hide something (such as trafficking in valuable documents or conducting secret rituals for the well-to-do, etc.)? [This bishop, by the way, was politically opposed to Saunière in being of the modernizing party within the Church and a man charged with cleaning up a corrupt bishopric]   In summarizing this, I’ll try to show the possibilities of both views and how they may be questioned.  The logical way to proceed is to present the popular view of the matter and then introduce debunking points along the way, while questioning both.  Keep in mind that I’m dramatizing differences in order to make them stand out more clearly. 




          But to make sense of this, you have to understand what a topsy-turvy world you’re entering.  Most of the “True Believers” and “pilgrims” who come to RLC today are, ironically, “heretics” and “unbelievers” from the Church’s point of view, because they’re hoping for confirmation of the truth of their “heresy” or, in some cases, just of the falsity of the Church’s claim to possess the truth.  This is made all the more interesting by the fact that there are several different lines of “heresy” involved here, and while they have joined forces in their effort to understand Rennes-le-Château as repository of or clue to Great Heretical Secrets, they are not in agreement as to which “heresy” is supported here.  So most just check “All of the Above” when provided a list of “heresies” they support to signal solidarity in the effort to rewrite history.   See Page VI of this website for an explanation of the eternal “Battle of the Books” this case illustrates.


          To complicate matters further, these “proper heretics” are outrageously being upstaged by the appearance in the discussion of “ironical heretics,” by people who got in trouble with the Church not because they wanted to destroy the Church but because they wanted to strengthen it by returning it to ancient ways.  It is cogently argued that what occurred here was part of a larger reactionary movement among the out-of-date orthodoxy within the Church, who hovered on the edge of excommunication for their refusal to accept modernization of the Church and Republican, secular rule in the state.  These were “heretics” of a very different, ironical stripe, for they thought of themselves as more orthodox than the Vatican, which some went so far as to declare “the seat of the anti-Christ” or “the Great Whore” of the Book of Revelation.  {Strangely, some of the most intense vituperation aimed at the Vatican comes not from Protestants or secularists but from disaffected Catholics, of both Right and Left, although some of those on the Right have recently been somewhat assuaged by Pope Benedict’s allowing the Tridentine Mass to be restored, while others have not (see http://www.mostholyfamilymonastery.com/)}.   Some of Saunière’s associates, in fact, were excommunicated, and Saunière himself ended his life under suspension from his priestly duties, which he preferred to accepting reassignment elsewhere.  One of the most significant facts about Saunière is that he refused to leave RLC when ordered to do so by his bishop.  What kept him in RLC, come hell or high water?   Besides Marie, maybe.


         [To give a contemporary example of an ironical heretic, consider the case of Mel Gibson and his horrendous, sado-masochistic film called “The Passion of the Christ,” which theoretically appalls the Vatican because it revives the sort of Passion Play Adolf Hitler so admired at Oberammergau, now censored of much of its anti-Jewishness at Vatican insistence (although one suspects mere “political correctness” in the Vatican’s actions).   But Mel, son of a man who is into Holocaust-denial, thinks gibbet-worship is the True Church.  Onward Crosstian Soldiers!].   So, “heretics” everywhere here, both of the Isis in Museum_1798Left and the Right, often leaning on the same ancient, esoteric sources and traditions, but often in conflict in their use of them.  [One of the most interesting differences is in the interpretations stemming from 19th Century discoveries among archeologists and anthropologists about the recurrence of the Madonna and Child and the Crucified Savior as sacred figures in very ancient, pagan religions, the “proper heretics” taking this as proof that the patterns of Christianity were borrowed and made up, the esoterically-inclined orthodox taking these pagan practices as proof that “The Truth” was trying to come out in the pagan religions but didn’t quite make it until Jesus and Christianity came along.  See the image to the left of Isis nursing baby Osiris, the template for the Madonna and Child of a later time]



  Nevertheless, whether “proper heretics” or “ironical heretics,” what the True Believers all believe, which is why they’re called “True Believers,” is that the Rennes-le-Château area has been a special, magical place, perhaps from pre-historic times, that its secrets support an alternate view of history and human reality, which in the view of the ironical heretics needs to be further suppressed, as they’ve done for centuries, and that, if its secrets are not suppressed, it may have a key role to play in the unfolding of a future they fear. 


          With an equal irony, the effect of the debunking of this romance of the “proper heretics” (if that’s what it is) is to support Orthodoxy, whether the debunkers themselves are orthodox or not (although one wonders at the zeal of some of this counter-debunking; well, there’s plenty of zeal on both sides).  So please adjust your thinking to the topsy-turvy world of Rennes-le-Château, where most of today’s “True Believers” in the heretical secret at the heart of the RLC mystery are “unbelievers” bent on debunking the Orthodox view of the world and of history and today’s “debunkers” debunk their debunking and call them “mystery-mongers”! 





        What are the principal ingredients of “the mystery” as the “mystery-mongering” popular story has it and that has so captured the imagination of the “True Believers” and brought ridicule upon them from the disbelievers (i.e. believers in Orthodoxy)?   Among other elements, to be developed later, Rennes-le-Château contains:


1.     a ruined castle or Château, perhaps a reconstruction or partially so of an original Visigoth castle on about the same spot, about which surprisingly little is known of a factual nature, although it is supposed to be, according to the Merovingian family myth, more or less on the spot where Sigebert (or Sigisbert) IV hid when he escaped after his father' s assassination in 679 AD., his father being Dagobert II, the last relatively effective Merovingian king.  Sigebert, son of Daogbert II's second and Visigoth wife, Giselle de Razes (if that tradition is to be credited), thus secretly continued the direct Merovingian line (that was replaced by the Carolingian line of monarchs) but made no claim to the throne.  It’s said (by the Plantard camp, of course) that Sigebert's sister took him in 681 to an area of the Languedoc ruled over by his mother, then took the name Plantard (“Plant-Ard” meaning “seedling pool”?  Or from an appellation meaning “ardently flowering root”?), thus giving Pierre Plantard his opening to claim kinship (along with another related family called "the Plantagenets"!).  Sigebert became the Count of Rhédae and the Duke of Razès, and his descendants then supposedly lived in the original of that castle too, or its replacements or other castles in the area, their families continuing by marriage into the era of the Blanchforts and d’Hautpols (both names variously spelled), some of whom lived in other castles in the region.  But this is all according to one of the "parchments" reportedly signed in the 13th Century by Blanche de Castille (mother of the bloody king “St.” Louis but ruler of France by default when Louis was off scourging “heretics” and stealing their lands; leave it to the Church to make a saint of a mass-murderer!), parchments supposedly found by Saunière in his church, supposedly put there by the priest Bigou in 1789 (or 1791?) when aristocrats and their priests were forced to flee for their lives in the wake of the French Revolution.  The existence of this parchment signed by Blanche is given some credence by the possibility that before that date the parchment text was deposited with the will of François-Pierre, Baron d'Hautpoul de RLC, and registered by the public notary Captier on 23 November 1644 in Espéraza, but the source for this is perhaps fraudulent.   Whatever truth there may be in all this, one would think serious archeology would focus more on this castle ruin.   Perhaps things are going on behind the scenes or perhaps digs have already proved disappointing.  See Ben Hammott’s website at http://www.benhammott.com/chateau_hautpoul_research.html for some photos of this “Chateau D’Hautpoul.”  See http://www.perillos.com/ for connections made with the Perillos Château.  

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“The Blue Apples Café” in the foreground, before closing, had a “Visigoth castle” for backdrop, although this Château is apparently more recent than the Visigoth era.   The café experienced a suspicious fire and is now closed.


2.     a very strange church, apparently built over an even older church and perhaps royal tombs beneath that (as suggested by ground scans and markings on the church).  Saunière’s church, dedicated in 1059 to Mary Magdalene (or was it originally dedicated to St. Peter and then re-dedicated to her later?), was once a chapel for local aristocrats but was dilapidated and leaking when Saunière arrived in 1885 (he was soon sent elsewhere for preaching anti-Republican sermons but returned in 1886 and was directed by his bishop to affect repairs).  There are contrary views of Saunière’s appointment.  One school believes that he was intellectually promising enough as a seminarian to warrant a better assignment but, after a few minor assignments elsewhere, was sent to obscure, tiny RLC as punishment for being too uppity or in some way displeasing to his superiors; the other school believes that, since he had been born and raised within sight of RLC and knew its reputation as a treasure-trove, he had schemed from the beginning to get the RLC assignment.   A third view, put forth by a man named Chaumeil (the sole survivor of the original known Priory group but apparently not to be trusted because known as a game-player with surrealist and Dadaist roots), is that Saunière was the pawn of a secret organization who actually sent him to RLC to find the parchments and then eventually betrayed him and caused his death when he had a falling out with its leader, whoever that was, his local "handler" until his death being the priest of nearby Rennes-les-Bains, Abbé Boudet, who worked in collusion with Marie Dénarnaud, Saunière's "servant," to control Saunière.  A variation on this is Gerard de Sède’s final guess that the secret organization pulling Saunière’s strings was Rosicrucian/Martinist, involved in the forging of documents concerning Legitimists’ claims to the Habsburg throne and thus blackmailing to the Habsburgs.   Another variation is to be found in Jean Luc Robin’s Rennes-le-Château: Saunière’s Secret, which wonders if Saunière’s short exile in 1885-6, near where his brother was employed with aristocrats allied to the Habsburgs, did not find him receiving an assignment to return to RLC and find specific, historically important documents crucial to the continuation of Habsburg rule.  Take your pick.   {And R.I.P. Jean-Luc Robin, whose sudden death in March of 2008 at the age of 58 just as Henry Lincoln’s APARC had won back local power in RLC, forestalled his becoming, once again, the keeper of Saunière’s domain, which might have led to better confirmation of his thesis.   As a tribute to Jean-Luc, Filip Coppens has published online a bit of sleuthing that does confirm it, as he uncovers numerous ways in which Saunière seemed to be on the payroll of the Habsburgs, and concludes with a startling parallel between the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo in 1914, which precipitated WWI, and the murder of Abbé Gélis in Coustaussa in 1897, both of which seem to have been part of a Serbian nationalist plot!  See www.perillos.com/habsburg_1.html. } 


      [By the way, it’s asserted by some that this little town had at one time a second, larger church, St. Pierre’s, the presence of which argues against the notion that this was always a small town.  Typically, another view insists that the church was dedicated not to St. Peter but to St. John the Baptist, the juxtaposing of that with a church dedicated to Mary Magdalene being especially suggestive of an heretical context.   For a development of the connection between the Magdalene and the Baptist, see The Templar Revelation: Secret Guardians of the True Identity of Christ, by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince.  And, as mentioned above, it’s possible that the confusion stems from the fact that Saunière’s church was first dedicated to St. Peter and later to Mary Magdalene.  Whatever, it's time to get serious with the shovels!]



Church from Cemetery-5-04-150


The Church of the Magdalene (or St. Marie de Madeleine’s)—back view from the cemetery.   Saunière and Marie Dénarnaud were buried side by side along the back wall between the bell tower and the tall tree to the right in this picture.  The original location of the grave of Marie de Négri D’Ablès, Marquise d'Hauptpol de Blanchfort, whose gravestones Saunière supposedly defaced after excavating the tomb, is under dispute.   Saunière was reportedly ruthless in moving out the old bones from the past, but the reason for that is also under dispute.  One camp believes that he was covering up too obvious clues to his treasure; another believes that he was practicing some sort of magical rites upon the dead; another believes that he was just eager to have a more modern churchyard.  Whatever, his behavior in the cemetery incurred a lot of hostility from the villagers, and so perhaps he’s getting his comeuppance in the moving of his bones up to a mausoleum behind the back wall and out of view from those in the cemetery, certainly contrary to his wishes and most decidedly against the wishes of Marie.  This assumes that Saunière’s bones really were moved, about which there were considerable doubts until recently!   [The former mayor, under fire for this, insists that he was simply following the wishes of Saunière’s descendants, but one wonders how the wishes of these descendants can trump Saunière’s wishes].   See the new mausoleum below.  The cemetery is just over that wall.   Saunière is no longer looking at Mt. Cardou, as seemingly was his intention:




Jesus & John

3.     Whatever the case, after Saunière’s restoration of the church (completed by 1900?), the church contained, among many other iconographic peculiarities, a devil (see top) poised as if to play chess with Jesus (both statues, catty-corner from each other but in roughly the same pose, look down at a black-and-white checkered floor, the floor pattern reportedly to be found in Masonic lodges as well, and in Knights Templar banners and in cathedrals that have Templar origins, the black and white pattern perhaps referring to the dual nature of reality, with its  light and dark sides, but also suggestive of Manichean influences). The peculiarity in this posing of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist is that the letters for Alpha and Omega below the statues are reversed from the conventional, as John was supposed to be the Alpha (the precursor) and Jesus the Omega. Of course in other scripture Jesus is quoted as saying that he was “the alpha and the omega.”

            Evidence suggests that while Saunière ordered conventional models for all his icons and statues, he had them altered in minor ways that suggest subversive meanings, and this one is a good example.


The altar dedicated to Mary Magdalene is flanked by statues of both Joseph and Mary carrying the baby Jesus.  Does this refer to the obvious schizophrenia of the Bible’s account of the character of Jesus, the prince of peace versus the apocalyptic sadist, or was there more than one Jesus, so to speak?   In Leonardo’s “Last Supper,” there’s a man to the right of Jesus who looks a lot like Jesus, echoing a long tradition of his having a twin (“Thomas” is supposedly translated as “twin.”)



4.     Also very odd are the separate statues of Joseph and Mary on either side of the Magdalene altar each holding a baby Jesus (seemingly), a motif of doubling or twinning that is echoed throughout the estate by the frequent use of the number "22" in many of its measurements and constructions (22 being the number of letters in the ancient Hebrew alphabet with numerical values and July 22 being the Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene, among other instances of the magical use of “22.”).   Further, investigators believe that they have found many instances in the statues, murals, and stations of the cross of conventional, even amateurishly garish church art being significantly altered in small details, often employing some sort of mirroring or inversion technique suggesting that the opposite of the literal reading was meant.   And perhaps that the garishness is ironic, meant to call attention to its content.  “Look at me!” it says.  “Ben Hammott” says he looked hard enough to find the treasure map others have suspected was there in frequent allusions to local spots.  [“Ben Hammott” has also published in The RLC Alchemist of June 2004 a comparison between stations of the cross found at Rocamador and at RLC, which shows quite clearly that Saunière made numerous, significant changes in conventional models (mostly by workers employed by him on site) and that the debunkers are wrong in asserting that such manufactured church art is everywhere the same.  Ben Hammott has been doing much on-site investigation, by the way, and come up with some startling finds.   See http://www.benhammott.com/ ].   However, someone else has found a church that seems to use stations of the cross that are almost identical with Saunière’s, so this issue is still at question.

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5.     a luxury park around the church that a sybaritic Saunière had built (mostly between 1901 and 1905?, after having huge amounts of dirt carted in by donkey wagons), that featured walkways suggestive of solar symbolism between and among the various sites on the grounds that he had built, sites which include:

·                      A priest’s guest house, called “The Villa Bethania,” which he told his bishop was ultimately intended as a retirement home for priests.   But who was housed there in the meantime, for he continued to live in the Presbytery?   An Austrian Arch-Duke of the Habsburg family (and a Rosicrucian?) or a near relative (the mysterious Jean Orth?) perhaps heads the list of important visitors, perhaps supporting those who think Saunière was involved in a plot to restore the monarchy (Bourbon claimants being, first, Comte de Chambord, until his death in 1883 [which accounts for generous early donations to Saunière from a Countess de Chambord], and then Charles Naundorff, thought by some “Legitimatists” to be Louis XVII), but also supporting those who think he was blackmailing the Habsburgs with forged documents that questioned their legitimacy.  Whatever, locals have testified to the revelry and high living of the VIPS that the villa housed.   The museum says that “Bethania” means “House of the Answer,” but it also refers to the belief current at the time that Mary of Bethany was the same as Mary Magdalene, and the frequent visits of Jesus to this Mary’s house in Bethany, where her brother Lazarus was supposedly literally raised from the dead (as opposed to ritually-symbolically “resurrected”), indicates a relationship with the Magdalene that a male chauvinist Church has been at pains to suppress.   And there’s something we’ve overlooked—the Villa Bethania was so positioned and built tall enough as to provide a wall that blocks a direct view of the Presbytery, where Saunière and Marie actually lived.  Nosy neighbors would have had to go above or below the Villa to see the Presbytery, and the view then would have been at a slant that would not have revealed much about what was going on inside the building.  As for what was going on there, did Saunière have his own Magdalene?   He certainly liked to put the Magdalene’s name on everything, such as the Tour Magdala.  There’s no support in the Bible for the notion that Mary Magdalene was “sexy” or a “fallen woman,” but that calumny of the Church may be at play in all this, if Saunière thought it should be overturned.


Below the Villa Bethania Guest House, which later became part of Corbu’s Hotel de la Tour, now part of the Saunière Museum.    While no doubt comfortable enough for guests and interestingly decorated, this two-bedroom house is smaller and less opulent than one has been led to believe by some accounts of it.




·                  The “Tour [Tower] Magdala” with an esplanade curving northward from it along a cliff to form a belvedere offering amazing views of the area around, ending with a glass-encased Orangerie where he kept exotic, tropical plants.  In Saunière’s day, a person with binoculars could have kept tabs from there on the entire circle of the mountainous region around for many miles.  Trees now obscure some of this view.  Was there something in particular that Saunière wished to keep tabs on?  A book by Bill Kersey, Still Spins the Spider of Rennes-le-Chateau, argues that sightings from the top of this tower over the spire above the Orangerie at the other end of the esplanade pinpoint the exact spot where Saunière’s main hoard can be found.   Others dispute this.   Lately “Ben Hammott” is reporting that he and Sandy Hamblett have found the tomb of Mary Magdalene, about which there will soon be a documentary film provided: Bloodline, the Movie.   This tomb can be sighted, they say, from the tower by looking directly through the tower window.  



Even panoramic cameras can’t do justice to the spectacular view from the Tour Magdala.

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VM & Door

·                      Near the door of the church a statue of the Virgin Mary stands on a replica of an upside-down “Visigoth” pillar (the original is in the museum), the Mary supposedly imitative of the Lourdes Mary but the 1891 inscription ambiguously suggestive of other female apparitions as well, especially a VM who appeared at Salette to support the monarchist cause (later proved a hoax).  The pillar, originally supporting the altar in the church, supposedly, was originally identified as the place where Saunière found ancient parchments containing secrets, but the pillar is reportedly not hollow enough to allow for documents to be hidden within it, and it may not even be “Visigoth.” {For a dispute of these assertions, see the February, 2003 journal, The RLC Alchemist}  Could the cross on the upside-down pillar, which is thus also upside-down, serve as a sort of “distress signal” (as is the case with the flying upside-down of some national flags), signaling Saunière’s view of the modern Church?   Or, since the cross is of the square kind that would look the same whether right side up or upside down, is that cross, similar to the Knights Templar cross, of a rather different meaning from that of the tau cross of orthodox Christianity?  Or was Saunière simply careless of antiquities, as suggested by the rough treatment some say he accorded many other venerable artifacts in his domain?  

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The door to the Church with above it a plethora of ambiguous symbols and textual references, one being ChurchDoorto Jacob's cry in Genesis 28:17 when he dreams of a ladder to Heaven with angels descending and ascending, as translated in the King James Bible: “How dreadful [or awesome?] is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven."  The context is Jacob's struggle with his brother Esau over legitimacy, and he has this dream on his way to find a wife suitable to his mother Rebekah and to a God who is imagined as wanting to establish Jacob's seed throughout Canaan as rightful owner.  What makes this ambiguous is that, although this verse is part of the opening song in the Mass for the dedication of a church, it could just as easily support the notion that Saunière’s gate to heaven is through heresy as through orthodoxy, given what's inside that church.  It could also relate to the claim that he was involved in the forging of documents that were used to blackmail the Habsburgs over the issue of legitimacy.  That Saunière had inscribed the arms of Pope Leo XIII on the tympanum of his church may also relate if that pope was as involved in this question of legitimacy, as he seems to have been.


·                      A sunburst calvaire opposite the Mary statue, on a walkway to a man-made grotto and mysterious well.   The sunburst calvaire provides more solar symbolism, which may or may not be suggestive of Saunière’s sympathies for the restoration of a monarchy in which the kings of France were identified, emblematically, with the “risen” Christ, the sun-king.  By those who believe Saunière constructed an esoteric church outside the exoteric Church of the Magdalene, this calvaire is positioned to be the altar of that esoteric church.    

Since it is known that Saunière and Marie went on mysterious expeditions in the area that saw them returning with “rocks,” it has been suggested that the rocks used in building the grotto were originally markers to the hoard, removed by Saunière in his effort to hide the hoard.   

·                      Calvaire& Grotto

The sunburst calvaire to the left and the grotto at the end, apparently rebuilt, and the well is to the left.


·                      In Saunière’s day his estate also contained zoological gardens (he kept a monkey, parrots, etc.), two greenhouses full of exotic plants, fountains, a man-made grotto containing a statuette of Mary Magdalene (since stolen and interestingly replaced by a VM statuette, as historically the Magdalene was replaced by the Virgin, and lately that VM has been replaced by a VM with a black face in some sort of turn about), a working altar outside the guest house (defiantly used by Saunière after his suspension by his bishop in 1911), a library in the tower that perhaps contained an unusual collection, and a peculiar covered well that one story says he would not let the locals use to put out a fire, among other curiosities.  (Incidentally, the argument that he refused use of the well on royalist principles, because the fire occurred on Bastille Day, is a cartoonish idea that is contradicted by the fact that he pretty much kept it to himself on all occasions).   In addition, he had some sort of “office” strangely installed just outside the cemetery wall near the grotto and well (and a cistern leading to an RLC underground?), the story being that he used the office to escape from Marie’s contentious mother (he began by living with the Dénarnaud family, while his Presbytery was being renovated, and some say they continued to live with him or the mother to work for him after moving to the Presbytery).  Was this a mother concerned for the reputation of her daughter, perhaps?  Early entries in Saunière’s diaries find him cautioning himself to keep his distance from young Marie, but one wonders how long that lasted?  It was certainly on his mind. 

·                      And, everywhere it seems, researchers have found a mathematically and geometrically precise layout, employing “sacred geometry” of mostly a pentagonal nature, both in Saunière’s estate itself and in relation to many other significant sites within a radius of several miles.  Henry Lincoln, in fact, has gone increasingly in that direction over the years, as he became increasingly frustrated with his pursuit of factuality in other areas of research.  As to what this geometric pattern might be about, that the planet Venus follows a pentagonal pattern in its celestial moves is thought to be relevant to an estate that perhaps celebrates “the Sacred Feminine” in the person of Mary Magdalene.  While not disputing that there is an amazing coincidence of points that can be plotted geometrically, the debunkers hold that this is natural and accidental, according to probabilities arrived at by computer.  Henry Lincoln rebuts that it is not natural for such geometry to occur using these particular precise mathematical measurements.  This will be discussed later, but for now another interesting theory (supplementing the Venus mirroring) is that in the layout of his estate Saunière was symbolically mirroring the Jerusalem of the New Testament (see John Pollard’s The Paradise Co-ordinates and Andre Douzet’s Sauniere’s Model and the Secret of Rennes-le-Château) to reveal some secret about the crucifixion that contradicts the Bible.  But others believe that the RLC area was a Holy Place from ancient, perhaps even pre-historic times, and Saunière, discovering that (with the help of Abbé Boudet from Rennes-les-Bains?), was simply trying to fit his construction into the larger pattern of ancient sacred geometry, passed on from the Egyptians by Hermetic /Hebrew /Pythagorean /Templar/ Alchemical/ Masonic traditions.  


 [And behind the Egyptians, of course, lies “Atlantis,” which is variously interpreted as one Lost Civilization or another (Antarctica being one current favorite for its home, conveniently buried beneath two miles of ice, after a drastic shift in the earth’s crust moved it to the South Pole!) but always referring to whoever gave the Egyptians their wisdom and knowledge, which otherwise seems way ahead of the times and too sudden in its technological accomplishment.  Graham Hancock is one of those on the trail of Ice-Age civilizations that he thinks were buried beneath a world-wide flood at the end of the Ice Age, thus providing the necessary technological precedents]. The “proper heretics” take all this mathematical precision and use of sacred geometry as evidence of Saunière’s hidden heresy, but all this ancient material was also used by esoteric, Synarchist Christianity to justify its monarchist sympathies and retrograde Orthodoxy.  And the Nazis had no trouble in working it into their mythology as well (see Joscelyn Godwin’s Arktos and Richard Steigmann-Gall’s The Holy Reich for illustrations of how both overt and covert beliefs of both Christianity and its “heresies” contributed to the Nazi and other fascist causes).


6.     A cemetery adjacent to the church that, reportedly, was dug in by Saunière and Marie (surreptitiously, at night) and in which inscriptions were perhaps altered on the headstone and tombslab (see page 3) of Marie d’Hautpoul or Marie de Blanchefort or Marie de Négri D’Ablès (all seeming to be the same lady, a Marquise), often referred to as the last of the noble house that once controlled this region, although she apparently had daughters who continued the line while losing the name.  The shocking genealogy of this noble family, supposedly descended directly from Jesus and his wife Mary Magdalene, is presumed by the “proper heretics” to be at issue in the Saunière Secret.  Mary Magdalene, in any event, figures very large in speculations about the biblical history of this region (and see Time magazine, August 11, 2003, for a summary of the general effort to resuscitate “St. Madeleine,” as she was known in France, after centuries of Church abuse.  Further, ABC-TV in November of 2003 broadcast an investigation of the attempt to resuscitate Mary Magdalene in the wake of Dan Brown’s bestseller, The Da Vinci Code).   But maybe this family’s claim was just that they were descendants of the Merovingians, the first kings of France and thus the most legitimate claimants to the throne, should anyone wish to restore the monarchy (and an amazing number of people in contemporary France do!).  This was of course a dangerous assertion in the wake of the French Revolution and thus the need for secrecy.  Some conjoin the two possible genealogies by making the Merovingians direct descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, which doubled the jeopardy.  However, a contradiction at the heart of the popular story is in its suggestion that the principal secret held is that Jesus was strictly human, not divine, for if Jesus was human then the blood of the Merovingians can’t be holy, unless their claim is descent from David, not Jesus! (A digression: while there certainly were times in post-Enlightenment French history when monarchist pretensions would have been dangerous to assert openly, the French Republic several times crashed in the 19th C, and one wonders why there wouldn’t have been occasion along the way when such a claim could have been made public without endangering anyone long before this late 20th C. attempt.  Perhaps it was because these monarchist pretensions were in conflict with other monarchist pretensions, and the latter had the power!  Or perhaps this is a red herring.)


7.     The RLC cemetery of Saunière’s day was certainly interesting (although growing less so as it looks more and more like just another gaudy French cemetery), but some of the most interesting bodies in this case seem not to have made it into this cemetery.  In a nearby garden, for example, three decaying male corpses with gunshot wounds were discovered in 1956, their identities unknown.  In the same year a skull was found about a meter down in the church’s nave.  And one account of the burying of the original treasure by Queen Regent Blanche de Castille in 1250 (if such occurred) has her sealing off the men who hid the treasure in a cavern beneath the RLC castle so that they couldn’t reveal this secret deposit.  So supposedly there are about a dozen skeletons down there waiting to be found.  Well, soundings suggest that there is at least an older church beneath the present one and perhaps large tombs, as of royal graves, and so, with suggestions of buried secrets, buried bodies, and buried treasure about, there have always been “investigators” skulking about, some of whom may have come to a bad end.  This combined with other local fatalities of a mysterious nature (a nearby priest, Gélis, was murdered in Saunière’s day, and some think Abbé Boudet of Rennes-les-Bains and his successor were murdered as well) contributes to the area’s reputation for containing treasure that is “accursed,” always a popular theme.  The manner of Saunière’s death itself, for example, has caused suspicion.   And secular keepers of the domain have not had much luck either, as illustrated by Corbu’s dying in a suspicious car crash.


8.     An area of several miles around, frequently tramped by Saunière, that is full of geological oddities, mysterious ruins, megalithic markers, and other curious relics of the past, an area that, it has been argued, appears to be part of some significant, geometric pattern, employing sacred geometry and/or mimicry of the constellations, that Saunière’s church perhaps calls our attention to and that some argue means the entire area was a “Holy Place” from very ancient times.  But such possibilities could nurture the ambitions of both “proper heretics” seeking validation of their heresies and “ironical heretics” seeking ancient, pre-Christian validation of their ultra-orthodox Christian beliefs.


9.     And, the one thing not visible except in its consequences and thus can only be supposed, a Big Secret, clues to which are provided by 18th Century parchments the originals of which nobody living, apparently, has ever seen and the whereabouts of which nobody knows (although a bank in England has been suggested as current keeper, without corroboration. See this story at http://www.dragonkeypress.com/articles/article_2004 _10_19_4743.html). The clues supposedly point to where a certain significant “treasure” and/or a certain significant body was/is buried.  Rather than just “gold” (meaning material treasure that might include literal gold), the “treasure” might be, for examples:

·               history-changing documents (such as the wedding certificate of Jesus and Mary Magdalene!)

·              or access to ancient magical Wisdom (such as how to lift 40 ton blocks of stone onto the top of a

        400 foot pyramid without a crane or how to raise the dead)

·              or clues to impending catastrophes (such as meteors or bursts of cosmic radiation known from

        ancient days to be scheduled for collision with Earth in the not-too-distant future) 

·              or directions to where the bodies are buried (most notably, that of Jesus).

 But most who believe in the presence of “treasure” here think it’s both “gold” and something else.   Saunière carried on like it was both.   


The Saunière Museum’s model of the west part of the priest’s estate.

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To summarize the popular story, then, in 1891, supposedly, Abbé François Bérenger Saunière (1852-1917) found clues to the Big Secret on coded parchments uncovered while digging around in his dilapidated church, which then connected with other clues provided by inscriptions on the headstone and tombslab on the grave of Marie de Négri D’Ablès, Marquise d'Hauptpol de Blanchfort, in his church’s cemetery, inscriptions he reportedly defaced after decoding the parchments.  It is disputed as to when he actually began working on the restoration of his church, but some say he had been working on restoration since his re-appointment in 1886, with the help of loans and rich donors [[were the donors all monarchists and church traditionalists, by the way?], but 1891 is usually cited as the date at which things got interesting, with 1890 to 1892 being a looser and perhaps safer designation.  He’s also reported to have uncovered some ancient gold coins and other artifacts, some of which he gave away.  The story then insists that, in concert with other interested parties, at St. Sulpice in Paris and/or elsewhere, who supposedly helped him break the codes, he then seemingly grew immensely wealthy on the Secret, and maybe even powerful in a way. Then, in the restoration of his strange church and the building of a curious estate around it, it is believed that he passed on coded clues to the Big Secret in the form of a cartographic, geographical, geological, geometric, mathematical, numerological, linguistic, allegorical, sculptural, graphic, and architectural riddle, of such complexity that one needs to be an initiate of many arts and sciences to fathom it and a code-breaker to boot.  


And that complexity, as is usually the case, would be the point of all the coding, to keep the Secret confined to the trusted few, such as initiates of certain secret societies who know the codes!  Well, the secret society motif is given some plausibility by the fact that Abbé Saunière himself seemingly was not enthusiastic about democracy, and the priests, aristocrats, and mostly esoteric and artistic types he was reputed to have consorted with generally weren’t either. After all, the democracy that came in with the French Revolution began by guillotining the aristocrats, outlawing the Catholic Church (temporarily), and making patronage of the arts considerably less common.  And esoteric societies have always been elitist, as apparently were the Martinists of Lyon some of whose meetings Saunière apparently attended.  So revealing this Secret was not something he and his elitist associates thought should be voted on.  In fact, a major assumption of this account is that the Secret has been so poorly known for so long precisely because the holders of it did not trust “the people” with it.  But was that because “the people” were in thrall to beliefs that considered the Secret anathema or because they were “the rabble” who wouldn’t know the “higher truth” if they saw it?   Perhaps both.

Whatever, a case has been made that there were members of an elite who were in on the Big Secret before Saunière was, who in fact kept the Secret for centuries, including Botticelli, Newton, Poussin, Victor Hugo, Jean Cocteau, etc.  To expatiate on just a few of the historically famous people supposedly in on the Secret, Richard Wagner reportedly made a pilgrimage to Rennes-le-Château before he wrote his last opera, Parsifal (1882), apparently because he had been led to believe that the Holy Grail was here or nearby.  Wagner’s visit may be mythical, as some claim, but Jules Verne (1828-1905) wrote novels that clearly allude to the mystery before our modern story begins!!  How did Jules Verne know about this in the middle of the 19th Century, before Abbé Saunière made his discovery?  And then there’s the painter Nicholas Poussin, who may have known about it in the 17th Century and put clues to it in his paintings.  How is that possible?   (And now the bestseller list has been topped by Dan Brown’s fictional thriller The Da Vinci Code, which calls attention to Leonardo as an initiate of the Magdalene mystery as well!).   A 20th Century man who clearly believed that something was going on in this area was Otto Rahn, who either committed suicide or, more likely, was murdered by his fellow Nazis when he tried to disconnect from them upon finding that he did not like the use they were making of his discoveries in the area.  

The answer provided by the popular version is that this is a story with many chapters and episodes, covering millennia and many different peoples and cultures, apparently involving other secrets that Saunière did not know about, and the part of it that has caught our attention is merely the latest episode, what might be called “The Saunière Episode,” in which a priest somehow gets rich from discovering either just literal treasure or, perhaps in addition, a lost Big Secret, or at least enough of the Secret to intrigue wealthy sponsors for a deeper search (I’ll just mention here the possibility that Saunière’s strings were being pulled, at least at first, by the older priest of the nearby village of Rennes-les-Bains, Abbé Boudet, Saunière’s mentor, who quietly operated behind the scenes and had intellectual qualifications Saunière seemed to lack, but the notion that we should be calling this “The Boudet Episode” is one I will reserve for later, as well as the increasing evidence that other local priests were involved, going back well before Saunière came on the scene.  I’ll just mention again Geoffrey Morgan’s thesis that correct interpretation of all the signs and messages points not to the RLC church but to Boudet’s church at Rennes-les-Bains as the place where the treasure and/or secret is kept, an interpretation that has the virtue of putting the horse before the cart, since Boudet was known to be surprisingly wealthy before Saunière was, which argues that the younger man was let in on the Big Secret by the older man.   This also explains why they might have had a falling out, when Saunière became ostentatious in his display of wealth and greedy in seeking more, unlike the more circumspect and scholarly Boudet. ).  But a major premise of this popular version is that the Secret in question was lost only to the world at large and never lost to a few.   And we’re here because we want to join those “in the know,” but this time supposedly less for snobbish or selfish reasons than because we scientific moderns are in love with “Truth.”  Which around here used to be called “Heresy.”  The problem is that “Truth” must now have quotation marks around it, thanks to the cancer of Postmodern Relativity, which causes all truth-seeking to be suspected of being just power-seeking gamesmanship that merely feeds its own metastasizing.   Further, as we now know that the Bible is primarily a collection of political spin jobs, whatever else it is, and with that which set the standard for Truth for so long being now so compromised, there is now no document upon which suspicion cannot be cast.   So where does this leave us?    


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"BREAKING NEWS" FROM RLC:   Supposedly, Abbé Saunière’s bones have been moved from his chosen spot in the church cemetery to a lonely spot of honor in a sealed mausoleum in the ever-developing “SaunièreLand” on museum grounds (it will cost you to visit, in other words), on the grounds that this will protect his remains from over-zealous "investigators."  Marie Dénarnaud, the priest’s “servant,” is outraged of course; she didn’t climb into that bed or that grave for this!  For photos of this atrocity, go to http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~dietrich/Sauniere's-Mausoleum.htm. Then call the mayor and protest.  Except there is some question as to whether he was actually moved, since his old gravesite does not appear to have been disturbed!   By the way, one hears that mayors of French villages are given powers that make a Mussolini envious, and you need only look at the palatial mayor’s office that the current mayor has built in Rennes-le-Chateau, which has less than 100 residents, while Saunière’s domain is allowed to deteriorate,  to see the truth of this.  This mayor apparently has a mysterious and violent past that is worthy of RLC, but that seems to be his only qualification for mayor!   The latest on this is that Henry Lincoln’s APARC party has won elections in March of 2008 and will be taking over the village, with an eye toward restoration.  Jean-Luc Robin was scheduled to be keeper of the domain but died of a heart attack the night of the election.  




"Breaking News" # 2—Bill Kersey, the translator of Gérard de Sède’s The Accursed Treasure of Rennes-le-Château, has published a book (Sept. 2004) entitled Still Spins the Spider of Rennes-le-Château that explains how he employed geometry and GPS tracking to find the key to “Saunière’s main hoard,” which he says will "soon" be tested with a dig.  But apparently he's been down this road before.  See Henry Lincoln's Key to the Sacred Pattern, where Kersey is apparently a "Mr. A" in a rather comic episode.   It's fair to ask why one wouldn't dig up the treasure first and then announce it.   Whatever, to order Kersey's book, contact him at "DEK Publishing" <dekpublish@blueyonder.co.uk>. 




"Breaking News" # 3 First: Old News: A Ben Hammott, calling himself “The Tomb Man,” claims to have found a cave near Rennes-le-Chateau where Father Saunière discovered “treasure.” Judge for yourself at http://www.thetombman.com/.   It appears this cave is not far from the spot claimed by Bill Kersey for the main hoard.  “Ben Hammott,” by the way, is an anagram for “The Tomb Man” and thus not a real name.   See the interview in the October 2004 issue of The RLC Alchemist, in which “Ben” says he doesn’t think Saunière found parchments, nor does he believe Poussin and Teniers have anything to do with it, nor that sacred geometry is a factor.   He thinks Saunière found clues to a treasure trove while digging in graves, inside and/or outside his church, and then he encoded those clues in his renovation of the church, thus providing what amounts to a treasure map.  “Ben” also believes that Saunière hid the treasure he found in twelve different caches, which he regularly tapped until he came under suspicion by his bishop and was investigated.   Perhaps tipped off by a friend at the Vatican that he was being spied on, he lived in relative poverty in his last years rather than lead the Church to the treasure, which he thought he could return to when they got tired of watching him, and which he preferred to leave to his co-conspirator, Marie Dénarnaud, anyway. Although "Ben" shows photos of the buried treasure on his website, his book on this subject does not shed as much light on the subject as it might.  NOW FOR THE UPDATE: Ben Hammott’s website and focus has changed quite a bit since I posted the notice above, and the discovery emphasized there now is of an intriguing message in a bottle he found near the Devil’s Armchair, a message dating from Saunière’s time, supposedly, possibly even signed by Saunière.   Part of the message is revealed, but we’ll have to wait for a documentary to get the whole story.  Another tease.   AND A FURTHER UPDATE:  The latest is that the discovery of a tomb near RLC (see http://www.benhammott.com/tomb.html) containing a shrouded body and, in a treasure chest, all sorts of interesting and apparently ancient artifacts, including historical proofs and references to Mary Magdalene as the bride of Jesus, has led to the making of a documentary by a Bruce Burgess entitled BLOODLINE (see http://www.bloodline-themovie.com/home.html), now released at select theaters.  For more on “Ben Hammott” and an explanation of his secrecy and of what he has found (including more danger!), see http://www.andrewgough.co.uk/tomb.html.   I’ll quote just one interesting bit of text from that:


“I have often been asked why I was able to decipher Saunière's church clues to find something, when everyone else has failed. Even the French researchers and treasure hunters, who have been looking a lot longer than I, have not found anything. I believe it is because I looked at it with fresh eyes from a different perspective. I ignored the two parchments and the paintings linked to the mystery, instead concentrating on the physical evidence we can see today, Sauniere's church and domain. My thinking was, even if the parchments and paintings had aided the priest in his discoveries, they were probably redundant now, because Saunière had already found what he had been looking for and in all probability taken steps to ensure they could not be used again.”


This has a certain logic to it!


AND THE VERY LATEST: “Ben Hammott” is now starring in the film BLOODLINE, which incorporates his rather nervously exposing, in the cave he’s found near RLC, an apparently female mummy under the Templar shroud.   The best news is that he and the film’s producers have finally turned this excavation over to authorities and professionals.   Stay tuned! 







Other news: In late August, 2003, Torkain announced that the recent dig under the Tour Magdala, inspired by ultra-sound readings that indicated a large chest-sized object there,  had turned up nothing (although the dig may have been terminated prematurely when they came upon a sizable rock that caused the reading and strangely went no further.  Roll back that rock!).   At any rate, that must not be where “The Tomb Man” hangs out!!










Last Updated 27 January 2010