New Dawn 156 (May-June 2016)

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Technetronic Enslavement: Life Inside the Matrix of Control

Coming Patrick Henningsen shows how technological progress is quickly turning into a nightmare that threatens our humanity.

Control 101: Creating Consensus Reality

Coming Patrick Henningsen explains how populations in the Western world are manipulated by mainstream media, the education system, and the state itself.

David Icke Speaks Out

Coming In the first part of this interview, Marc Star speaks to British author David Icke about our Hunger Games society, Transhumanism, the Phantom Self, & more.

Converging Prophecy: Will 2017 be the Year Hell Breaks Loose?

Coming Warren Aston analyses two intriguing prophecies that resonate closely with unfolding events.

Who are the Controllers?

Coming Elites finance wars & political assassination, and manufacture events to provoke conflict in their favour. It’s about time we woke up, writes Mees Baaijen.

The Conquest of Time: Can We Penetrate the Veil of the Future?

Coming Nicholas Corrin examines the story of a group of gamblers who come up with a method of reading the future.

The Cocaine Mummies Revisited

Coming Brett Lothian investigates the ancient Egyptian mummies that were found to contain tobacco, cannabis and cocaine.

Typhon Rising: The Magical Legacy of Kenneth Grant

Coming Matthew Levi Stevens reviews the life & work of the British author, occultist and poet Kenneth Grant.

The Strange Identity of Jesus Christ

Coming Most Christians think the New Testament says that Jesus is God. They’re wrong, says Richard Smoley. Here’s why…


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Is Your Home Making You Sick? D.I.Y. Remedies for Cleaning the Energy & Air of Your House by Sandy Brightman

Microwaves as a Drug by Benjamin Nowland

Ego is Not the Enemy by Will Schneider

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The Mystery of Albert Pike: Satanist, Racist or Great Man?



The enigma of Albert Pike is a persistent one. Certain facts are known about him, facts that detractors and supporters alike can both agree upon. He’s a little-known figure whose impact upon American history far exceeds his notoriety. He single-handedly created the higher degrees of Scottish Rite Freemasonry (degrees 4 through 33). He was Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction of Scottish Rite Freemasonry from 1859 to 1891, the year of his death. He was a Confederate General during the American Civil War. He was a powerful attorney in his day. He was also a prominent poet, whose literary works have been forgotten except by a small handful of devotees. He is the author of the most important work on Masonic ritual, philosophy and symbolism, i.e., Morals and Dogma.

On these facts, everyone can agree. It’s the interpretation of these facts that begin to grow a bit misty.

Pike is a polarising figure. There seems to be very little objective analysis of his impact on history. Mainstream historians rarely, if ever, refer to him. Therefore, we are left with volumes of questionable interpretations that often draw upon half-truths, rumours, innuendoes, misinterpretations, and outright forgeries. Pick up any book that contains even a minor reference to the man and you will find that the interpretation of the author either falls into one of two categories: 1) Pike was a genius and a Saint whose very touch turned men’s souls into alchemical gold, or 2) Pike was a Satan worshipper whose noxious acts still stain the very heart of the United States of America – indeed, the very world itself.

There is no middle ground among these ‘researchers’. Pike was either good or evil. Of course, the world would be much simpler if anyone was wholly good or wholly evil. Zen Buddhist Alan Watts once wrote a book entitled The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are in which he advises his readers to drop that dialectic way of thinking, what he calls “the game of Black-versus-White.”1 It only causes confusion because it is a model that does not reflect reality. Human beings are far more complicated than that, and this includes Pike.

With most historical figures, the latter statement could normally go unsaid, but strange as it is to say a very small minority of pundits have indeed implied Albert Pike was not human at all (he was really a shape-shifting reptilian in disguise). I’m going to immediately crawl out on a limb, right here in the fifth paragraph, and propose we eliminate that theory for lack of evidence.

But first, picture a scene for me, if you will. Picture an underground train depot, a twisted set of metal tracks sunk about ten feet into the concrete. On either side of the tracks people are yelling at each other: men, women, children… all races, all creeds. Strangely, some of the people who are shouting the loudest have no faces at all. A giant bronze bust of Pike is sitting in the middle of the tracks. In the distance, a train is barrelling down upon this immense monument. The train is so loud, nobody can hear what anyone else is saying.

Let’s slow this scene for a moment, turn the volume down on the train, and turn up the volume only on certain individuals… just one at a time. There’s no preferred order amidst this chaos. We’ll select our speakers at random….

Pike as Satanist

Ralph Epperson, a Fundamentalist Christian and author of the book The New World Order, concluded that Albert Pike was a Satanist whose secret goal was to stamp out all organised religions in the world. (But isn’t Satanism itself an organised religion? Oh, wait, sorry about that. Let’s leave aside editorial intrusions for a moment and just examine the claims.) Here’s Epperson in his own words:

…Pike considers Lucifer to be the God that is good, and the God of the Bible is the devil, the god of evil. That is what [Pike’s] statement about ‘that which is Below is as that which is Above’ means. That means that the God in the heavens is the god that is below, and the god who is below is the god in the heavens.

So the Masons do believe in a god: it is in the fallen lightbearer, Lucifer. There can be no other reasonable explanation of what Mr. Pike just wrote.2

No other reasonable explanation? This is a common belief among Christians, particularly the Fundamentalists, many of whom are very concerned about the ongoing “threat” of Freemasonry. Most people reading this magazine will no doubt already be aware of the fact that the hermetic dictum “As above, so below” is a common phrase among the ancient practitioners of alchemy and does not refer in any way to either God or Satan. In fact, the belief systems associated with alchemy no doubt existed long before the Christian religion even came into being. But when one is viewing the world through a limited framework, the amount of information one has to draw upon will be equally limited… and thus may lead to numerous misperceptions, like the one we’ve just heard.

Now let’s pan over to the other side of the tracks, shall we?

Pike as “Oracle of Freemasonry”

Manly P. Hall, a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Freemason who wrote scores of books attempting to illuminate the esoteric meanings of Masonic symbolism (The Secret Teachings of All Ages being the most exhaustive) seems to have an endless supply of adoring adjectives to describe Albert Pike. He variously refers to Pike as “the Plato of Freemasonry,” “this Masonic Prometheus,” “the Homer of America,” “the Master Builder,” “the Real Master of the Veils,” “the Oracle of Freemasonry,” and (perhaps most confusing) “the Zoroaster of modern Asia.”3 And that’s just scraping the surface.

Hall chooses to introduce Pike in his illustrated review of occultism and philosophy, The Phoenix, with the following anonymous tribute:

Albert Pike was a king among men by the divine right of merit. A giant in body, in brain, in heart and in soul. So majestic in appearance that whenever he moved on highway or byway, the wide world over, every passer-by turned to gaze upon him and admire him. Six feet, two inches, with the proportions of a Hercules and the grace of an Apollo. A face and head massive and leonine, recalling in every feature some sculptor’s dream of a Grecian god…. 4

Hall does not mention who wrote the preceding tribute or where it was originally published. It’s hard to imagine what sort of prostrate position the writer was in when these words flowed from his (or her) pen. Perhaps Pike himself wrote it. Or maybe even Manly P. Hall. When it comes to attribution in Hall’s writing, everything’s in doubt. He had a bad habit of being rather too lackadaisical about citing his sources – a habit he shared with Pike himself. For this reason alone much of his writing is considered useless by mainstream historians, and I understand their dismissal of him on those grounds. But it could be that Hall didn’t want his work to be useful to historians. Like Pike himself, Hall was interested in history only on his own terms, and those terms involved the practice and explication of metaphysics. Every aspect of the mundane world somehow related back to the big Masonic “G” – whether that G stood for the initial letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “Geparaith,” “God,” “Geometry,” or “the generative principle” is entirely open to interpretation. Pike cites them all as possible candidates. (On pages 780, 640, 40, and 632 of Morals and Dogma, respectively.)

Hall saw himself reflected in Pike and came to admire him accordingly. They were both pre-eminent scholars of the arcanum, perhaps the most knowledgeable of their respective centuries who chose to compile their occult knowledge in encyclopedic works, and therefore it might be no surprise that Hall would place Pike on such a lofty pedestal. And here we come to an important point about the enigma of Albert Pike: because so much of Pike’s real life and career is shrouded in mystery, it’s easy for him to become a polymorphous Rorschach blot upon which people with an intense interest in the esoteric can project their own highest hopes or darkest fears.

Conflicting Portrayals

In a Labor Day lecture delivered to the Schiller Institute in Washington, D.C., Anton Chaitkin (author of Treason in America) delineated what he called “the Scottish Rite’s KKK Project” by attempting to connect Pike to the founding of the Ku Klux Klan. He said:

The Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was a terrorist counterattack, beginning in Tennessee, designed to block Reconstruction and reverse the outcome of the Civil War. The Klan and the Scottish Rite were one and the same enterprise, continuing the imperial effort behind the slave owners’ rebellion. 5

But to James T. Tresner II, author of the anecdotal biography Albert Pike: The Man Beyond the Monument, Pike is nothing less than…

…one of the most amazing men who has ever lived. During his long life, he was a teacher, an explorer of the American frontier, a poet, a newspaper editor, a lawyer – in fact he is still regarded as one of the outstanding legal scholars of the 1800s – a short-story writer, a linguist, a worker for reform in both education and the criminal justice system, an active advocate for the rights of women and the rights of Native Americans, an orator whose speeches are still reprinted in collections of Southern literature, a general in the Civil War, and a philosopher.

He made and gave away fortunes. He built the finest home in Little Rock, Arkansas. The society columns of the Washington, D.C. newspapers spoke of him as one of the most graceful dancers, cordial hosts, and knowledgeable connoisseurs of food in the capital city. He always had a joke to tell his legion of friends, and his hearty laugh was famous.

When, in the last years of his life, he moved to an apartment in the House of the Temple, his personal library contained thousands of books. He was a profound student of religion and philosophy.6

Could this possibly be the same person under discussion here? The preceding two examples were chosen almost at random, by simply dropping books about Albert Pike on the floor and letting the pages fall open where they may. Other examples of this extreme dichotomy could be reprinted here, but I think you get the point by now.

When researching this article, I decided to give Pike the benefit of the doubt. I wondered if writers like Epperson and Chaitkin might have given Pike short shrift; after all, facts can always be misinterpreted to bring about a negative conclusion. My first goal, therefore, would be to visit the library established by Manly P. Hall at the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles, one of the largest repositories of occult texts in the United States. Since Manly P. Hall was one of Pike’s most ardent admirers, I concluded this might be the best place to go in order to get a more positive view of Pike and his work.

The librarian at the Philosophical Research Society at that time was Maja D’Aoust, who has lectured frequently over the years on the subject of alchemy and co-authored a book on hermeticism entitled The Secret Source. I asked Ms. D’Aoust to comment on Pike and his contributions to Freemasonry:

Guffey: Do you know anything about Pike’s life?

D’Aoust: Pike was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was a Grand Wizard. And, of course, I read Morals and Dogma.

Guffey: Anton Chaitkin was the first person I ever read who mentioned Pike’s supposed KKK connection. Pike’s a very elusive fellow. If you read a book by a Freemason, Pike’s a wonderful guy who was against slavery. You can easily find another book about Pike in which you’ll have the exact opposite information, but both stories will seem equally plausible somehow.

D’Aoust: They probably are both true, because he had different faces for different parts of the community. There are bridges and elementary schools built to him in his home town because he was such a helpful member of the community, and to that part of the community he was very helpful. He was very helpful to many people, but not to – you know, unfortunately – the black Americans who he probably strung from a tree.

After our conversation Ms. D’Aoust referred me to Paul Austad, the Director of Technology at the Philosophical Research Society. Mr. Austad provided several valuable sources that dealt with Pike’s involvement in the Ku Klux Klan.

Pike & the Ku Klux Klan

The 1905 book Ku Klux Klan: Its Origin, Growth and Disbandment by J.C Lester and D.L. Wilson contains an introduction by Dr. Walter L. Fleming, who was a professor of history at West Virginia University and held a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University. In his introduction he lists “[s]ome well-known members of the Klan” and states, “General Albert Pike, who stood high in the Masonic order, was the chief judicial officer of the Klan.”7

The 1924 book Authentic History, Ku Klux Klan, 1865-1877 by Susan Lawrence Davis contains an oil portrait of General Pike given to the author by Pike’s own son (Yvon Pike of Leesburg, Virginia) for the specific purpose of including it in her book. In Chapter XVIII, entitled “Arkansas,” Davis reports:

General Pike organised the Ku Klux Klan in Arkansas after General [Nathan] Forrest appointed him Grand Dragon of that Realm at the convention at Nashville, Tenn. He was also appointed at that time Chief Judicial Officer of The Invisible Empire. He advised in this capacity that the Ku Klux Klan memorise their Ritual and to never make it public […].

In 1872 Arkansas had two governments operating at one time and civil war was threatened and great excitement prevailed against the Washington Government. General Pike called a mass meeting at Little Rock, Ark., in the Capitol building and appealed to the people to be patient until better times would come and assured them that he would go to Washington and intercede for them, which he did many times.

At this meeting General Pike unfurled the Stars and Stripes and in a most beautiful manner, asked the people to follow it, which thousands of them did, promising him to be patient until the Ku Klux Klan could redeem the state.8

In his 1929 book The Tragic Era: The Revolution After Lincoln, a former Ambassador to Spain and Chile named Claude G. Bowers writes, “In the earliest phase [of the Klan] only men of the highest order were in control.” He lists the leaders in each of the Southern states in which the Klan had lowered their roots including Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia – leaders such as “[i]n Arkansas, General Albert Pike, poet and journalist, scholar and jurist, solider and explorer, and a commanding figure in Masonry for half a century…”9

Far more recently, Wyn Craig Wade’s 1987 overview of the White Supremacy movement, The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America, identifies Pike as having served as the Grand Dragon of Arkansas during the early days of the Klan’s inception. But Wade also adds this clarification:

[T]he leadership of these men, originally appointed by Memphis officials, was usually in name only and nowhere lasted longer than 1869; such experienced veterans quickly realised the impossibility of governing in secret such widespread bands of young hellions and wanted no responsibility for it.10

In a very rare book, History and Evolution of Freemasonry, written in 1954 by a Freemason named Delmar D. Darrah, Pike’s own words seem to clarify his sympathies further. Regarding the establishment of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodges for African-Americans, Pike wrote a letter in 1875 in which he stated, “I took my obligations from white men, not from negroes. When I have to accept negroes as brothers or leave masonry, I shall leave it.”11 He goes on to declare that he is dedicated to keeping “the Ancient and Accepted Rite uncontaminated, in our country at least, by the leprosy of negro association.”12 Some Masons claim these quotes are being taken out of context.13

There are still more voices to be heard amidst the turmoil: The Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon have published a lengthy essay on their website, “Albert Pike Did Not Found the Ku Klux Klan,” countering the claims that Albert Pike had any connection to the Ku Klux Klan.14 This title is, in fact, a true statement: Albert Pike did not found the Ku Klux Klan. During the American Civil War, he founded a secret society called the Knights of the Golden Circle which later transformed into the Ku Klux Klan.

Knights of the Golden Circle

The Knights of the Golden Circle is the X factor in this debate. What was the Knights of the Golden Circle? What was Albert Pike’s intention in forming it? Was it an esoteric secret society with a benign interest in hermetic rites that was then later twisted into what we now know as the Ku Klux Klan?

In 2003 journalist Warren Getler published a fascinating history of the Knights of the Golden Circle, Shadow of the Sentinel, a book that’s been sadly overlooked despite the fact that it’s a highly readable, true-to-life detective story. Getler claims the main purpose of the Knights of the Golden Circle was to overcome the North on the battlefield and prepare for a contingency plan to continue the war underground, secretly, in the event the South was defeated. This book is the best and most comprehensive analysis of Pike’s involvement with both the Knights of the Golden Circle and the Ku Klux Klan.15

There’s no doubt Pike was involved in these secret societies. The question is, why? Let’s now turn up the volume on another member of the crowd, shall we?

James Tresner II, who’s a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Freemason, attempts to defend Pike’s connection to the Knights of the Golden Circle by putting the following words in his mouth in a strange videotape produced by the Scottish Rite Research Society in which Tresner dresses up like Pike and answers questions from a contemporary Mason who’s sent back in time into Pike’s library for a late night chat (yes, that really is the plot of the video). Here is what Tresner, in the role of Pike, has to say about the American Civil War:

Have the people of your time reduced the terrible and complex issues of the war to a simple-minded belief that the North wanted to free the slaves and the South wanted to impose slavery? […] Oh, sir. No, no. I knew no one personally who argued that slavery was a good thing, though there may have been such people. But how do you end it? Decree, in a day, that the slaves are free? No, I believed that the only way to end slavery was to make it unnecessary economically. And I hoped for better conditions in the South than in the North; for there were slaves there, too – women and children who worked in the manufactories for so low a wage that they starved to death even as they worked. To that end, I worked and argued to increase shipping and manufacturing in the South.

When the Southern Convention met in 1856 and introduced a resolution in favour of resuming the slave trade, I took the floor and spoke against it. I ended that speech by saying that I looked forward to the day when ALL men would be free. And for that I was booed off the floor, my character was attacked, and I was threatened with physical assault.

No, sir, I was no lover of slavery. But to me, and to many of us, that was not the issue of the war. The issue was whether the states or the federal government was to control. I feared the despotism of a large government, and I believed in my heart that the states were better suited to governing the citizens and protecting their interests.16

Some of these statements strike me as plausible. Indeed, the central issue of the American Civil War was not the abolition of slavery, though high school history books have encapsulated the war as such in order to make it more easily digestible by students whose knowledge of American history has been bastardised by years of oversimplification. Other statements strike me as outright dissimulation, particularly the notion that Pike never once came into personal contact with a single person in the antebellum South who argued “that slavery was a good thing.” In complex technical language, this statement could be categorised as “a shuck and a jive.” Quite frankly, for me, that comment alone strains the credibility of the rest of Tresner’s statement.

Pike’s Own Words: Morals and Dogma

Let’s return to what can be documented: not Tresner’s words, but Pike’s. How do we reconcile Pike’s incendiary, overtly racist comments with his own magnum opus, the apex of Masonic philosophy, Morals and Dogma? Let’s turn the volume up on Pike’s own words at the moment. Is Morals and Dogma the work of a man who advocates slavery or violence in any form? Let’s allow the monument to speak for himself at last….

Might, in an army wielded by tyranny, is the enormous sum total of utter weakness; and so Humanity wages war against Humanity, in despite of Humanity. So a people willingly submits to despotism, and its workmen submit to be despised, and its soldiers to be whipped; therefore it is that battles lost by a nation are often progress attained. Less glory is more liberty. When the drum is silent, reason sometimes speaks.

Tyrants use the force of the people to chain and subjugate – that is, enyoke the people. Then they plough with them as men do with oxen yoked. Thus the spirit of liberty and innovation is reduced by bayonets, and principles struck dumb by cannonshot.17

*   *   *

…[I]t is one of the fatalities of Humanity to be condemned to eternal struggle with phantoms, with superstitions, bigotries, hypocrisies, prejudices and the pleas of tyranny. Despotisms, seen in the past, become respectable, as the mountain, bristling with volcanic rock, rugged and horrid, seen through the haze of distance is blue and beautiful. The sight of a single dungeon of tyranny is worth more, to dispel illusions and create holy hatred of despotism, to direct FORCE aright than the most eloquent volumes. The French should have preserved the Bastile as a perpetual lesson; Italy should not destroy the dungeons of the Inquisition.18

*   *   *

[The Mason] labours equally to defend and to improve the people…. He knows that the safety of every free government, and its continuance and perpetuity depend upon the virtue and intelligence of the common people; and that, unless their liberty is of such a kind as arms can neither procure nor take away; unless it is the fruit of manly courage, of justice, temperance, and generous virtue – unless, being such, it has taken deep root in the minds and hearts of the people at large, there will not long be wanting those who will snatch from them by treachery what they have acquired by arms or institutions.

He knows that if, after being released from the toils of war, the people neglect the arts of peace; if their peace and liberty be a state of warfare; if war be their only virtue, and the summit of their praise, they will soon find peace the most adverse to their interests. It will be only a more distressing war; and that which they imagined liberty will be the worst slavery. For, unless by the means of knowledge and morality, not frothy and loquacious, but genuine, unadulterated, and sincere, they clear the horizon of the mind from those mists of error and passion which arise from ignorance and vice, they will always have those who will bend their necks to the yoke as if they were brutes; who, notwithstanding all their triumphs, will put them up to the highest bidder, as if they were mere booty made in war; and find an exuberant source of wealth and power, in the people’s ignorance, prejudice, and passions.19

*   *   *

To honour the Deity, to regard all men as our Brethren, as children, equally dear to Him, of the Supreme Creator of the Universe, and to make himself useful to society and himself by his labour, are [Freemasonry’s] teachings to its Initiates in all the Degrees.20

Quotes such as these are often used by Freemasons to “prove” that Pike could not have been a racist or a supporter of slavery. The Freemasons are right: these are not the words of a man who supports either racism or slavery. These words have as much relevance today, perhaps even more so, as they did when Pike first wrote them. Does that mean the man who wrote them was not a racist?

No, it doesn’t. No one can know, at this late date, exactly what Pike was like in his private life. This would not be the first time in the fields of philosophy, religion, or literature when the words a man penned were far nobler than his actions. Does a man’s actions invalidate a man’s work? Does the fact that Ezra Pound was a fascist anti-Semite lessen the artistic quality of his Cantos? Does the fact that Lewis Carroll had a penchant for taking nude photographs of prepubescent children invalidate Alice in Wonderland as a classic in British literature? Does the fact that William S. Burroughs shot and killed his wife cancel out his status as one of the great innovators in American literature in the 20th century?

Perhaps it does.

And perhaps the fact that neither Ezra Pound, Lewis Carroll, nor William S. Burroughs ever deigned to pen a 1,086-page didactic tome entitled Morals and Dogma should be taken into consideration here as well.

If so, it should also be kept in mind that the words inscribed in the United States Declaration of Independence are clearly not those of men who support the slavery of fellow human beings… and yet, nonetheless, most of the learned gentleman who signed that auspicious document did indeed own slaves and continued to own them once their tidy revolution was complete.

Listen to the clamour growing: these are the arguments of the crowd still milling around in that underground depot, cut off from the rest of society. Few people today, above ground, care whether or not Albert Pike was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Few people today even know what Freemasonry is, and far less have ever heard the words “Knights of the Golden Circle.” Quite frankly, it’s not something they really need to know in order to pursue their daily lives.

But still, here in the dusty underground, the war continues to wage as if there were never a better war worth fighting. The masses can barely hear each other over the noise of the oncoming train, the apocalyptic clamour of a bronze statue being shattered into tiny shards. The masses stand agape, staring dumbly as the train whizzes past.

Would these paralysed fellows be shocked to see who’s driving this train, the very same coal-black engine that just reduced Pike’s larger-than-life-sized monument into copper-coloured dust? Look closely through the front window and you can almost make out the engineer’s bedraggled, wizened features: it’s him all right, the one person who went the farthest to encourage all this mystery and obfuscation in the first place: Grand Commander Albert Pike, Confederate General and Master of the Royal Secret… yes, the “Zoroaster of modern Asia” himself.

There’s no doubt in my mind Pike would be pleased to learn that his mystery, at the very least, still persists even as the amount of people in the world who actually read his cryptic words dwindle ever further into non-existence.

After all, there’s something to be said for mystery… one notion with which everyone huddled in this underground depot can agree.

What does it matter what you say about people?
– Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles’s Touch of Evil, 1958

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  1. Alan Watts, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Collier 1967, 30
  2. A. Ralph Epperson, The New World Order, Publius P 1990, 159
  3. Manly P. Hall, The Phoenix: An Illustrated Review of Occultism and Philosophy, 1956, The Philosophical Research Society 1995, 37-8
  4. Ibid., 37
  5. Chaitkin’s truncated lecture can be found online at www.the
  6. James T. Tresner II, “A Visit with General Albert Pike,” Heredom 10 (2002), 39-62
  7. J.C. Lester & D.L. Wilson, Ku Klux Klan: Its Origin, Growth and Disbandment, Neale P 1905, 24
  8. Susan Lawrence Davis, Authentic History, Ku Klux Klan, 1865-1877, American Library Service 1924, 276-277
  9. Claude G. Bowers, The Tragic Era: The Revolution After Lincoln, Blue Ribbon 1929, 310
  10. Wyn Craig Wade, The Fiery Cross: The Ku Klux Klan in America, Oxford U P, 1998, 58
  11. Delmar D Darrah, History and Evolution of Freemasonry, C. T. Powner, 1954, 329
  12. William H Upton, Negro Masonry: Being a Critical Examination of Objections to the Legitimacy of the Masonry Existing Among the Negroes of America, (1902), AMS P 1975, 215
  13. Interested readers can see the entire text in Appendix 12 of William H. Upton’s Negro Masonry, a book written by a Freemason. The entire letter can also be see at this pro-Masonic website Feel free to judge for yourselves.
  14. The title of their essay is “Albert Pike Did Not Found the Ku Klux Klan” (the full text can be found at
  15. I’ve written more extensively about the Knights of the Golden Circle’s involvement in the Civil War in an article entitled “The History of Unknown Men” published in New Dawn Special Issue 3.
  16. James T Tresner II, “A Visit with General Albert Pike,” Heredom 10 (2002), 60
  17. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, (1871), L.H. Jenkins, 1956, 3
  18. Ibid., 4
  19. Ibid., 177
  20. Ibid., 329


ROBERT GUFFEY is a lecturer in the Department of English at California State University – Long Beach. His most recent book is a journalistic memoir entitled Chameleo: A Strange but True Story of Invisible Spies, Heroin Addiction, and Homeland Security (OR Books, 2015). He is also the author of a collection of novellas entitled Spies and Saucers (PS Publishing, 2014). His first book of nonfiction, Cryptoscatology: Conspiracy Theory as Art Form, was published by TrineDay in 2012. He’s written stories and articles for numerous publications, among them The Believer, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Flavorwire, The Mailer Review, New Dawn and Postscripts.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 9 No 4

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The Compass & The Crescent: Secret Societies of the Muslim Freemasons



Freemasonry burst onto the world stage early in the 18th century, spreading across the globe with remarkable speed. With Lodges established everywhere from London to India, and from America to the West Indies, Freemasons established the first truly global network by the end of the century.

Although English-speaking Freemasons considered themselves loyal subjects of their respective nations, they also saw themselves as part of a great brotherhood that transcended national borders, class, race, ethnicity, and even religion. This contradiction guaranteed that conflict eventually arose within Freemasonry’s ranks over its role in the world, and who could, and who could not, be made a member.

The first recorded initiation of a Jew into a Masonic Lodge is that of Edward Rose in 1732. Members of non-monotheistic faiths (such as Hinduism) faced more resistance, and the issue was not resolved until the 19th century.

Masonic Lodges were sometimes used, unofficially, by colonial powers (especially Britain and France) as part of diplomatic efforts. Initiating foreign dignitaries and even members of monarchies into Freemasonry helped cement relations between the two negotiating countries.

The Shah of Persia’s ambassador, Askeri-Khan, was initiated into Freemasonry in Paris in November 1808. He was impressed enough to have discussed the possibility of founding a Lodge in Isphahan, Persia (Iran). Two years later, in London, Mirza Abul Hassan Khan, Minister to the Court of Persia, was made a Freemason.

Things could be more difficult abroad, however, and the issue finally came to a head in 1865. Prosonno Coomar Dutt, a Hindu, had petitioned Lodge Courage with Humanity for initiation into the fraternity. In turn, the Master of the Lodge sought permission from the Provincial Grand Master, Hugh David Sandeman, who refused, citing “social considerations.” Around the same time, Said-ud-Dowlah, a Muslim prince, had been initiated into a Lodge of British Freemasons in Kanpur, India. Sandeman had officially refused permission for the initiation to take place, and, on learning about it, suspended two leaders of the Lodge for insubordination.

The exclusion of the two men, on the basis of race and religion, became a heated issue inside Freemasonry in India. Before the end of 1864 the news reached the United Grand Lodge of England, which subsequently decreed that Hindus and Muslims could be admitted into the fraternity to foster “brotherhood between man and man.” And they would also be exposed to “true religion and enlightenment.”

Despite the snobbery, and even revulsion, expressed by some Freemasons, Masonic intellectuals had long been interested in ancient and non-Western religion and its symbolism. During the 18th century, Freemasons developed a vast number of rituals, many of them esoteric or alchemical in nature. A century later, many of these ceased to be performed, or “worked,” and they faded into history. Others were compiled into Rites, some of which competed for prestige, or to be regarded as the most authentic. Notably, one 19th century Masonic Degree interpreted the Christian acronym I.N.R.I. as “India, Nature, Regeneration, Ignorance.” The Freemason had to overcome ignorance, and the “source of knowledge,” according to the Degree, was India.

Late in the same century a new force emerged in the East: anti-colonialism and national independence. There is a certain irony in the fact that two of the early figures in the push for Indian independence from Britain and for the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka had also been involved with Freemasonry, at least to some extent. The enigmatic Madame Helena Blavatsky, head of the Theosophical Society, had been granted a charter for a co-Masonic Order by British esoteric Freemason John Yarker. Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, the Theosophical Society’s number two, had also entered Freemasonry as a young man.

We will return to Yarker later, but here it is worth mentioning that Blavatsky and Olcott felt profound respect for the cultures they encountered in Asia, and were at the forefront of the independence movements in India and Sri Lanka. Although largely forgotten today, Olcott helped establish a Buddhist school system in Sri Lanka, and petitioned for greater rights for the country’s Buddhists (who were being culturally ‘cleansed’ so that Christian missionaries could proselytise more effectively). He also wrote a Buddhist catechism and helped design the international Buddhist flag, both of which are still in use.

Abd al-Qadir & Anti-Colonial Politics

Even before Blavatsky reached India, Freemasonry had already been intertwined with anti-colonial politics in the Middle East. Abd al-Qadir al-Jazairi (1808-1883), Sufi, resistance fighter, and Emir of Mascara in northwest Algeria, joined a Masonic Lodge in Egypt in 1864 after striking up a correspondence with a French Lodge. Other important figures to join the Masonic fraternity included the founding father of pan-Islamic anti-colonial politics, Sayyid Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani, the Grand Mufti of Egypt Muhammad ‘Abduh, and Shaykh Abdullah Quilliam, a convert to Islam and advocate for the rights of Muslims under the British Empire. Why would Muslim activists join Freemasonry during this period?

Abd al-Qadir, a descendent (sharif) of the Prophet of Islam, was born into a family of prominence in the Qadiriyya Order of Sufism. His father, the head of the Order, seems to have been keen that his son be well travelled and educated in the faith. During 1826-27, the two men journeyed to Mecca for the hajj, visiting Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad along the way. This afforded Abd al-Qadir the opportunity to meet and discuss with scholars of different Sufi traditions, and to gain a deeper understanding of the esoteric and philosophical traditions within Islam.

This relatively idyllic time was cut short in 1830, with the French invasion of Algeria. Abd al-Qadir’s father initially led the resistance against the colonial power, but when he was too old to continue al-Qadir took over his responsibilities. Despite all efforts, tens of thousands of Algerians were killed, many due to the scorched earth policy of the French who destroyed orchards and crops, causing many to starve.

Abd al-Qadir was forced to sue for peace in 1847. Taken to France and placed under house arrest, he devoted himself to the study of the works of Sufi master Ibn al-Arabi. In 1855 he was given permission to resettle in Damascus. There, with a small Algerian entourage, al-Qadir established a salon for discussing Sufi writings. He also began teaching the Qura’n and Sunnah at the Umayyad mosque. In 1860 anti-Christian riots broke out in the city. Abd al-Qadir sheltered a number of Christians at his home, and used his armed entourage to protect them. Already respected abroad (Paris’s Asiatic Society registered Abd al-Qadir as a Fellow prior to his departure from France), his actions won the Algerian Sufi new accolades. Among those now taking an interest in Abd al-Qadir was Henry IV, a Masonic Lodge under the jurisdiction of the French Grand Orient.

The Lodge wrote to Abd al-Qadir, telling him Freemasons believed both in God and the immortality of the soul, and implored him to affiliate. Before this, the Sufi had thought Freemasons were mischief-makers. After the introduction, al-Qadir corresponded with the Lodge and four years later, in 1864, he visited Alexandria, Egypt, where he was initiated into the Lodge of the Pyramids, which acted on behalf of the French Lodge. The relationship ended the following year, however, when he visited Henry IV in Paris. Al-Qadir was troubled to discover that instead of wanting to learn from Islamic spirituality, the brethren were only interested in convincing the Sufi to act as an ambassador for Grand Orient Freemasonry, which was becoming increasingly secular.

Al-Afghani’s Secret Society

A few years later, founding father of pan-Islamic, anti-colonial politics Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani would join the Masonic ‘Craft’ in Egypt. Born in Shia-majority Persia, al-Afghani, as his name suggests, presented himself as an Afghan, and, by implication, an adherent of Sunni Islam, the largest branch of the religion. Despite his lifelong pan-Islamic activism, al-Afghani associated with Babis, Christians, Jews, and secularists, including the Reverend Louis Sabunji, publisher of the London-based al-Nahlah (“The Bee”) newspaper. (It may be worth noting that G.I. Gurdjieff claimed the existence of a Sufi Brotherhood called Sarmoung, often translated as “Bee.”) Another of al-Afghani’s collaborators was Muhammad ‘Abduh (1849-1905), who would go on to become the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

Al-Afghani became a Freemason in May 1875, and began attending different Lodges, including three Italian Lodges in Cairo. He seems to have held a favourable impression of the fraternity, believing it a revolutionary influence in the world, and a brotherhood bound by the ideal of liberty. Al-Afghani convinced many of his collaborators to join, but apparently to his surprise and dismay attempts to discuss politics inside the Lodges were brushed aside. When the Prince of Wales – Grand Master for England – visited Cairo and was addressed at one Lodge meeting as “Crown Prince,” Al-Afghani was unimpressed. Inside the Lodge, Brothers were regarded as compatriots and equals, “on the level,” but not the Prince of Wales.

Al-Afghani formed his own National Lodge, affiliating it with the Grand Orient of France. One of the most liberal Masonic jurisdictions, the Grand Orient dropped the requirement of belief in God in 1877. (This remains a requirement in “regular” Lodges of the English-speaking world, though men of all different faiths, and agnostics and Deists, are eligible for admission.) A number of al-Afghani’s students, as well as intellectuals, journalists, army officers, and members of the ulema (Islamic scholars) joined up.

The National Lodge created several committees to approach Egypt’s ministries, to agitate for better treatment of Egyptian civil servants and officers (who earned a fraction of the Europeans employed in the same capacity). The political agitation alarmed the authorities, and on 24 August 1879, charged with heading a secret society aimed at ‘corrupting’ religion and the world, al-Afghani was seized by the police and put on a ship bound for India. Remarkably, he was undeterred, and spent subsequent years living in different countries (including France), agitating against the colonial powers. He called for Muslims to unite behind a Caliph, and published his journal al-‘Urwat al-wuthqa’. During the following decade, al-Afghani also inserted himself into the politics of Persia.

Between 1888 and 1889, the Shah of Persia granted a number of concessions to the British. In particular, the tobacco concession that gave the colonial power the right to produce, sell, and export the country’s entire tobacco crop for a period of fifty years. The Shah received a quarter of the tobacco profit, annually, plus a five percent dividend, but the arrangement caused problems for small traders, and even for the ulema, some of whom owned land on which tobacco was grown. Al-Afghani denounced the agreement, and the open hostility from various quarters eventually led the Shah to cancel the concession. Ever the revolutionary, al-Afghani published a pamphlet in 1891 accusing the Shah of selling Persia to the “infidel” and he was once again exiled.

This was not the end of the pan-Islamic activist’s involvement in Persia. Although now resident in Istanbul, al-Afghani controlled a secret society in Tehran. Two of its members were charged with sedition and given each an 18th month sentence. After his release, one of these two men, Mirza Riza Kirmani, visited al-Afghani in Istanbul. Returning to his home country in disguise, Kirmani assassinated the Shah, Nasir al-Din, on 30 April 1896.

This wasn’t the first secret society in Persia. Mirza Malkam Khan, an Armenian associate of al-Afghani’s, and a nominal convert to Islam, founded the Faramushkhana (House of Forgetting) in Tehran in 1858.

Khan had been initiated into the Grand Orient Lodge Sincere Amitie in Paris, in a mass induction of Persian ambassadors a year earlier. The Faramushkhana was modelled on Freemasonry, but it had an explicit political agenda: to marry the political understanding of the West with the religious faith of the East. In order to convince Muslims, it would be claimed that Islam was the originator of modern Western ideas, and this fact had been forgotten over time. Unsurprisingly, the Faramushkhana provoked fierce objections from the religious scholars, though Khan’s aim was, again, to empower Muslims to stand up to the West, not to Westernise Islam.

Islamising Freemasonry

Interest in pre-Christian and non-Western cultures, religions, Gnosticism, and symbolism proliferated early on in Freemasonry. During the 18th century, as it spread across Europe, Freemasonry incorporated Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, Egyptology and chivalry, into various rituals. Before the end of the 19th century, the premier British Masonic journal Ars Quatuor Coronatorum had published articles on Hindu “Brahminical Initiation,” the swastika (a Hindu, Buddhist, and pre-Christian European symbol), the Qabala, and “West African Secret Tribal Societies,” among many other articles on similar themes.

Already by this time Islam had left its impression on several societies tied to Freemasonry. The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles Mystic of the Shrine (better known as the Shriners or the Shrine) had been founded in New York, as had a rival group called the Mystic Order of the Veiled Prophets of the Enchanted Realm (better known as the Grotto). Both required members to be Freemasons. Both adopted the fez as part of its official dress – in the former case, a red one with an Islamic-inspired crescent and the name of the Shriner temple on it, and in the latter case a black one bearing the image of a turbaned figure.

The Grotto’s nomenclature, ritual, and symbolism was based on the poem “The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan” by Thomas Moore (1779-1852). It focuses on al-Mokanna, the Veiled Prophet Hakem ben Haschem, who lived between the 7th and 8th centuries, and blended Islam with the pre-Islamic Persian religion of Zoroastrianism.

The Shrine was created by Dr. Walter M. Fleming, with the assistance of Charles T. McClenachan and some other Freemasons, in or around 1870, and its first temple – Mecca Temple – was established in New York. Although long known for its intentionally clownish parades through small suburban towns, some early histories of the Shrine claim a more esoteric origin: the Bektashi Order of Sufi Islam.

There were more serious attempts to introduce Islamic mysticism to Freemasons and spiritual adventurers in the West. After his failed attempt to scale Kanchenjunga, the world’s third largest mountain, in 1905, Freemason and magus Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) left the Himalayas and headed to Calcutta where he prepared to return to his native England via Persia. Part of Crowley’s preparation was to immerse himself in Sufi literature and to begin writing his “Ghazals of Ishtar,” imitating the style of the Sufis though instead focused on the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian goddess.

The project turned into The Scented Garden of Abdullah The Satirist of Shiraz. Though his least known work, Crowley, never a shrinking violet, claimed it transcended the Bhagavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching. The work had to be published pseudonymously since it included homoerotic and Gnostic content. The English magus chose the name ‘Abdullah al Haji’ who he claimed was active during the 17th century. Despite the ruse, most copies of The Scented Garden were seized and destroyed by customs during import to Britain from Crowley’s printer in Paris.

Notably, Crowley says in the text that he cannot discuss the inner working of Sufism, “if only because I am a Freemason.” The implication is, of course, that the two are in some way connected or at least kindred.

Crowley wasn’t the first English Freemason to see similarity between the Craft and Islam. In 1872, Kenneth MacKenzie founded the Order of Ishmael, on the authority of an Arab in Paris. In theory, at least, Christians (excluding Catholics), Hindus, Zoroastrians, Muslims, and others could be initiated, though the highest of its 36 Degrees was titled “Submission,” the literal translation of Islam (submission to the Will of Allah). John Yarker, a very active and influential figure in the underground esoteric Masonic scene, appears to have been involved in the project – which may have existed more on paper than in practice. Yarker played a role in the ‘fringe’ Masonic life of William Henry Quilliam (1856-1932), better known as Shaykh Abdullah Quilliam.

Shaykh Abdullah Quilliam & Freemasonry

Quilliam converted to Islam as a young man, and went on to become an influential figure in Muslim political life in Britain. Believing in the creation of an international Muslim brotherhood, Quilliam agitated for the rights of Muslims under the British Empire, and attempted to expel prejudice against Islam – which had a bad image in Britain during his lifetime. Besides this, the shaykh founded the first mosque in Britain, as well as an Islamic education centre and publishing house to disseminate literature on Islam.

His activities won him the attention of the Ottoman Empire, which appointed him Shaykh ul-Islam for the British Isles, and funded some of his work. At the same time, Quilliam was active in both regular Freemasonry and the ‘fringe’ Masonic societies of the Sat Bhai (which was influenced by Hindu mysticism) and the Swedenborgian Rite. More significantly, Quilliam was undoubtedly the founder of the Ancient Order of Zuzimites, which adopted the structure of the Masonic Craft Ritual and the symbolism of pharaonic Egypt.

Quilliam seems to have understood that Freemasonry was more sympathetic to Islam than mainstream society in the English-speaking world. Indeed, some important Masonic journals, which he wrote for, noted his Islamic credentials. It is highly likely that, like Abd al-Qadir and many other Muslims who joined Masonic Lodges, he saw the fraternity as offering the possibility of a transcending of religious and ethnic boundaries – and as a Muslim in a Christian country he would have been all too aware. Perhaps, like Crowley, he saw some manifestations of Islam and Freemasonry as compatible.

Whatever the case, it is extremely significant that some of the more important and radical Muslim activists sought initiation into Freemasonry during the 19th century, and that some Freemasons and societies linked to Freemasonry were, in turn, influenced by Islam. These historical episodes may have been almost entirely forgotten, but whether we like it or not, these influential individuals and groups helped shape the world we live in today.

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The subject matter covered in this article is explored in more details inside Angel Millar’s new book The Crescent and The Compass: Islam, Freemasonry, Esotericism, and Revolution in The Modern Age (Numen Books, 2015), available from all good bookstores and online retailers.


ANGEL MILLAR is the author of The Crescent and The Compass: Islam, Freemasonry, Esotericism, and Revolution in The Modern Age (Numen Books, 2015). His writing has also been published in the Journal of Indo-European Studies and at, among others. He is also the editor of, a webzine dedicated to alternative viewpoints on spirituality, subcultures, politics, and popular culture.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 9 No 4

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Brothers of the Shadows: Overlords of Chaos

The cartoon map of Europe printed in the Christmas 1890 edition of The Truth.

The cartoon map of Europe printed in the Christmas 1890 edition of The Truth.


Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
– George Orwell, 1984

Back in 1893, an elusive Englishman named Charles George Harrison (b.1855) delivered a series of six lectures to the Berean Society, a London based association of Christian esotericists. Harrison, described as a “mysterious and unknown figure,” was an English occultist and Anglican Christian. A record of his lectures can found in the book The Transcendental Universe. What is clear is that C.G. Harrison had access to highly sensitive information and a good deal of inside knowledge of world changes then being engineered by certain circles in England.

In his second lecture Harrison spoke of “the next great European war” and of how the “national character” of the Slavic peoples would “enable them to carry out experiments in Socialism, political and economical, which would present innumerable difficulties in Western Europe.” The “next great European war” points to what would be the First World War of 1914-18, while the “experiments in Socialism” predict the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution which brought about the Soviet Union, one of the boldest and bloodiest politico-economic experiments in human history. Harrison said the plan of a particular secret elite, which he doesn’t mention by name, was that “the Russian Empire must die that the Russian people may live.” It is amazing to consider these truly prescient words were spoken in 1893, 21 years before the First World War and 24 years before the Russian Revolution. Today we know that in 1917 Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin was transported from Zurich, then the banking capital of the world, to Russia in a train loaded with gold and weapons to start the revolution.

Discussing C.G. Harrison’s extraordinary foreknowledge, Sevak Gulbekian asks:

How could he [Harrison] know about the forthcoming War as well as the “experiments in Socialism,” which would take a grip on Russia and its surrounding states for most of the twentieth century? If he was not, as he claimed, a “practical occultist” himself, it is reasonable to assume he had contact with people who were, and who had access to the malign plans…1

Another significant piece of information coinciding with Harrison’s insights into the future is a cartoon map of Europe printed in the Christmas 1890 edition of the satirical English weekly, The Truth. Over the map is written: “The Kaiser’s Dream.” It showed wherever monarchies had been up to that time, there were going to be republics. The Austro-Hungarian Empire of the venerable Hapsburg monarchy had disappeared, as had the centuries old Russian Empire. Over the territory of Russia we read the words “Russian Desert.” In addition, Germany is identified with the words “German Republics”! Commenting on this map from 1890, Sevak Gulbekian notes:

This map signifies not only a foreknowledge – similar to Harrison – of the fate of Russia to become a cultural as well as an economic ‘desert’, but also of the future splitting of Germany into ‘republics’. The magazine’s editor, Henry LabouchEre, was a Freemason. Was his remarkable foresight pure luck, or once again did he have some inside knowledge of future plans to shape the world?

Why destroy the Hapsburg Empire? The influence of the Catholic Hapsburgs, as heirs of the Holy Roman Empire, was felt through all Europe. As Catholic Europe’s most important royal house they posed a particular obstacle to Britain’s plans for the Continent. Austria-Hungary, along with the ruling Hapsburg dynasty, had to be wiped off the map in order to create a patchwork of small states in Eastern Europe. These could be easily manipulated by London. Count Arthur Polzer Hoditz, director of the cabinet of the last Austro-Hungarian emperor stated in his memoirs that, “the destruction of the Hapsburg Empire was carefully prepared.” Late 20th century research reveals the suicide in 1889 of Crown Prince Rudolf, the Hapsburg Emperor Franz Joseph’s only son and heir, was a planned political assassination. Less than a decade later in 1898 the Empress Elizabeth was brutally murdered by a secret society member in Geneva. And the killing in 1914 of Emperor Franz Joseph’s nephew Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo by a member of the Serbian secret society of the Black Hand, had as its immediate consequence the outbreak of the First World War.

The occultist Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), who knew a great deal about the mysterious nexus of politics and the occult, mentioned the above map in a talk given in Switzerland at the height of the First World War. He said the map, as a secret document, was in existence since the last decades of the 19th century. This is the same time as the British imperialist Cecil Rhodes was laying the foundations for “a secret society with but one object, the furtherance of the British Empire, and the bringing of the whole uncivilised world under British rule…” According to the American historian Carrol Quigley in his book Tragedy and Hope, Cecil Rhodes set up such a secret society known as the “Society of the Elect” in 1889.

Sevak Gulbekian explains Rudolf Steiner’s perspective thus:

Behind the outer façade of world affairs, suggested Steiner, the machinations of occult groups or ‘brotherhoods’ were at work. Certain of these brotherhoods had wanted the Great War to take place, and had manipulated events to bring it about. In doing this, they sought to protect the dominant economic position of the English-speaking world, and in turn to crush the ‘mediating’ role of Central European powers such as Germany, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and so on.

These occult brotherhoods – small groups of men who met together in ‘lodges’ and practiced ceremonial magic as a means of achieving certain goals – originated from the English-speaking (Anglo-Saxon) world and were allied, in particular, with Anglo-American interests. Their aim was to extend Anglo-American influence across the globe, and to ensure the predomination of Anglo-American culture. Furthermore, they sought to extend its superiority into the distant future; essentially to ensure that the present state of affairs continues evermore.

Rudolf Steiner in one of his lectures about the influence of secret societies on politics says that in the Slavic peoples there lies a “special future.” He believed at some point in the future a cultural-spiritual highpoint would be reached in the Slavic countries, principally Russia. This is apparently known to the Anglo-Saxon occult brotherhoods which seek to manipulate these powers and bring them directly under British domination. Steiner’s revelations, based in part on his intimate involvement with Europe’s leading secret societies, help explain the major events of the 20th century. Two world wars, the partition of Europe into the Anglo-American dominated West and the Soviet controlled East, the decades long ‘stand-off’ between Eastern communism and Western capitalism in the ‘Cold War’, the collapse of the USSR and the declaration of an Anglo-American dominated unipolar world, can all be traced to the dark intrigues of the Brothers of the Shadows.

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  1. ‘Brothers of the Shadows: A Perspective on Conspiracies’ by Sevak Gulbekian, New Dawn 86 (September-October 2004)


MEHMET SABEHEDDIN is a researcher, writer and inveterate global traveller. He is a long-time contributor to New Dawn magazine. A “wandering Sufi” and “spiritual swaggie,” his areas of interest are wide ranging and include mysteries, hidden history, Sufism, Eastern wisdom, and Gnostic Christianity.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 9 No 4

Read this article with its illustrations and much more by downloading
your copy of New Dawn Special Issue Vol 9 No 4 (PDF version) for only US$5.95

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The Secret Elite & the Origins of the New World Order

Tragedy Hope


Secret societies, the unseen hands that steer national and international affairs from the shadows, go back to the dawn of Western civilisation. The individual most famously linked to these occult forces is Adam Weishaupt (1748-1830), a Jesuit trained philosopher and lay professor of canon law at the University of Ingolstadt in southern Germany. On 1 May 1776 Weishaupt founded a secret society called the ‘Perfectilibists’ (which soon became known as the ‘Order of the Illuminati’.) The Illuminati recruited over 2,000 influential followers, but apparently lasted only until March 1785 when the Bavarian Government uncovered the conspiracy, exiled Weishaupt and outlawed the Order.

Some investigators suggest that rather than being wound up in 1785, the Illuminati (‘enlightened ones’) continued in existence to the present day. For the past 200 years controversy persisted over its role in influencing global affairs. In 1798 John Robison, professor of philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, published Proofs of Conspiracy, a book alleging an Illuminati/Freemasonry plot to conspire against all religions, kings and governments of Europe.1 According to Robison, the Illuminati had been instrumental in fomenting the worst excesses of the French Revolution. That same year the Jesuit Abbé Augustin de Barruel published Memoires pour Servir a lHistoire de Jacobinisme which supported Robison’s thesis.2 A century and a half later, Nesta Webster and William Guy Carr revived conspiracy theories about the Illuminati.

Nesta Webster (1876-1960), who was linked to the British Union of Fascists, wrote that rather than being banished, the Illuminati remained active and within a few years had “multiplied its hotbeds all through the south of Germany, and as a consequence in Saxony, in Prussia, in Sweden, and even in Russia.”3 William Guy Carr, an English born Canadian naval officer and lay Christian preacher, supported this thesis, maintaining that Weishaupt had been retained by moneylenders, including the House of Rothschild. Carr claimed there was an evil force at the forefront of an international conspiracy to destroy religious institutions and national governments in order to bring about a “Satanic One World Government.”4

According to Carr, the conspirators use a variety of methods to help them accomplish their aims, including:

1) Monetary and sex bribes to obtain control of individuals already occupying important positions. Such recruits are then held in bondage through blackmail, threats of financial ruin, public exposure or physical harm or death of their loved ones.

2) Illuminati in colleges and universities recruit students possessing exceptional mental ability.

3) Individuals trapped into Illuminati control are placed behind the scenes of all governments as ‘experts’ and ‘specialists’ who advise adoption of policies which serve the secret plans for one world government.

4) Control of the press and all other agencies which distribute information to the public.5

However, Illuminati researcher Dr. Tony Page says that Webster and Carr totally misrepresented the situation and were anti-Semites indulging in madcap conspiracy theory. Page translated Weishaupt documents from the original German and presents him as a much maligned moral and virtuous man whose intentions were “assuredly high minded and benign.” A man who “strove for far nobler and morally exalted goals than are properly ascribed to him. In fact, his intention (naive perhaps) but in my view, sincere, was to promote and disseminate human virtue, equality and freedom, and the happiness and dignity that flow from them.”6

Today, some see the Illuminati “as a major factor and influence in international power politics, allegedly fomenting wars, civil disorder and revolutions in their attempt to establish a one-world government.”7 It appears the jury is still out on whether the Illuminati is an ongoing occult force.

What we can say is that in our own intensive research over the past 10 years on the true origins of the First World War, we found no direct connection whatsoever to Weishaupt’s creation. The secret society that we identify as responsible for the war employed similar tactics, but was a very different, very English creation. Furthermore, it remained concealed until exposed by the late Professor Carroll Quigley in the latter half of the 20th century. Quigley (1910-1977) was a highly esteemed American historian who moved in Establishment circles, lectured at top universities, including Harvard, Princeton and Georgetown, and was a trusted consultant to both the US Department of Defense and US Navy. He studied this secret network for 20 years and was permitted to examine its records. In 21st century parlance, Carroll Quigley was the whistle-blower par-excellence.


Professor Quigley wrote that the Rhodes secret society, or the ‘Milner Group’ as he called it after Cecil Rhodes’s death, was “one of the most important historical facts of the twentieth century” and of such significance that “evidence of its existence is not hard to find, if one knows where to look.”8 The ‘Milner Group’ exposed by Quigley is now widely recognised and variably named by others as the ‘Hidden Power’, the ‘Money Power’, the ‘Deep State’, or ‘the men behind the curtain’. All these labels are pertinent, but we call them, collectively, the Secret Elite.

Without Quigley’s revelations, the lid on this secret society would still be closed today. By opening Pandora’s Box and revealing some of the evils therein, he enabled others to see the truth. His work exposing this powerful group has been enhanced and developed through years of careful research by other investigators into an explanation of how control of the civilised world has steadily been acquired through wars, economic manipulation and political chicanery by generations of privilege and money.

Our own work, including the book Hidden History: The Secret Origins of The First World War, closely examines the men involved and reveals their nefarious global influence was greater even than Quigley believed. We garnered solid evidence that its members were directly responsible for taking the world to war in 1914 and deliberately prolonged the terrible carnage for over four long years while making massive fortunes from it. The immensely rich and powerful Secret Elite controlled the British and US governments from behind the scenes, then as now, and much of the global mayhem over the last century arose at their instigation.

While Professor Quigley did mankind a great service, he remains an enigma. He exposed this ruthless, anti-democratic, totalitarian organisation and anguished over their determined attempts to suppress his writings, yet back-tracked on some of his original findings as if in fear of his life. He also side-stepped a number of key issues and failed to discuss the Secret Elite’s role in the genesis of the 1914-18 war, or their audacious coup d’etat in 1916 whereby they literally took over the British government. Rather bizarrely, Quigley stated that he agreed with their goals and aims.9 He did, however, disagree with their methods.

Their tendency to place power and influence into hands chosen by friendship rather than merit, their oblivion to the consequences of their actions, their ignorance of the point of view of persons in other countries or of persons in other classes in their own country – these things, it seems to me, have brought many of the things which they and I hold dear close to disaster. In this Group were persons… who must command the admiration and affection of all who knew them. On the other hand, in this Group were persons whose lives have been a disaster to our way of life. Unfortunately, in the long run, both in the Group and in the world, the influence of the latter kind has been stronger than the influence of the former.… I feel that the truth has a right to be told, and, once told, can be an injury to no men of good will.10

There is something deeply puzzling about Quigley’s assertion that while their methods brought much of what he held dear “close to disaster,” he agreed with their goals and aims for global control. These powerful men intended to replace democratically elected governments, arguing that their rule would be the rule of the best, whether or not the people wanted it.

A few researchers raise the possibility that Quigley was at some stage an actual member of the secret society, but failed to admit it. We believe it far more likely his strange statements of support were down to self-preservation. In his major works – Tragedy and Hope and The Anglo-American Establishment – he narrated a history peopled by men who successfully concealed their power and influence, their connivance and common purpose. These individuals (and their descendants and agents ever since) conspired in secret towards the establishment of a world government that ultimately they, and they alone, would control.

It is worth noting that Quigley’s histories have themselves been subject to suppression. Tragedy and Hope was removed from bookstore shelves by unknown persons and withdrawn from sale shortly after its release. His publisher, the Macmillan Company, destroyed the book’s original plates and lied to him for the next six years.11 Quigley believed that powerful people suppressed the book because it exposed matters they did not want known. In this instance, unlike his exposure of the British Establishment, he did not name his tormentors.


The opening passage of Quigley’s The Anglo-American Establishment may read like a John le Carré thriller, but it is no spy fiction:

One wintry afternoon in February 1891, three men were engaged in earnest conversation in London. From that conversation were to flow consequences of the greatest importance to the British Empire and to the world as a whole.

The staunch British imperialists who met that day – Cecil Rhodes, William Stead and Lord Esher – were well-known public figures but it should be noted from the outset that each was linked to infinitely greater wealth and influence. They were joined weeks later by Lord Alfred Milner and Lord Nathaniel Rothschild, the international merchant banker and richest man in the world. He was inducted together with Lords Salisbury and Rosebery, whose families had for generations controlled the Conservative and Liberal parties in Britain and ruled the country as their personal fiefdom. Rothschild provided the financial clout while Salisbury and Rosebery provided the long-standing patronage and political networks.12

Cecil Rhodes, in association with Rothschild, had made his fortune in the gold and diamond mines of South Africa. Stead was the most prominent English journalist of the day and a moral crusader of great standing. Esher represented the interests of the monarchy from Queen Victoria’s final years, through the exuberant excesses of King Edward VII, to the more sedate but pliable King George V. It was through Esher that the monarch was kept fully appraised of Secret Elite business.13

Alfred Milner, a contemporary of Rhodes at Oxford University, was a self-made man of ability and ideas who began his working life as an aspiring lawyer, turned to journalism, led the political agitation against the Boer separatists in South Africa, and eventually emerged as an immensely powerful and successful power-broker. Milner was the master manipulator, the iron-willed assertive intellectual who offered that one essential factor: strong leadership. On Cecil Rhodes’s death in 1902, he became the undisputed leader of the world’s most powerful and far reaching secret society. These were the founding fathers of what we recognise today as the ‘New World Order’ movement.

They met at private town houses and magnificent stately homes. These might be lavish weekend affairs or dinners in private clubs which provided suitable London bases for their intrigues. The heady mix of international finance, political manipulation and the control of government policy was at the heart of this small clique who set out to dominate the world. They drew up their plan for a secret society that would take political control in Britain and, later by extension, the United States of America. They renewed the Anglo-Saxon bond between the two countries – the ‘special relationship’ – expanding their power base to bring Anglophile Americans into the secret brotherhood; men who would go on to dominate the world through financial institutions, global corporations and dependent governments. Wars, revolutions and other major events of the last 100 years are directly attributable to these individuals. The Boer War and the destruction of Germany in 1914-18 were merely the first steps in their long-term strategy.

The secret society comprised concentric circles with an inner core of trusted associates known as “The Society of the Elect” who unquestionably knew that they were members of an exclusive cabal devoted to taking and holding power worldwide. A second circle “The Association of Helpers” was larger and quite fluid in its membership. A third outer ring comprised members who may or may not have been aware they were either an integral part of, or inadvertently being used by, a secret society, though “it is more likely they knew it.”14

The overlapping rings are themselves concealed, hidden behind formally organised groups of no obvious political significance. As Quigley put it, the group was able to “conceal its existence quite successfully, and many of its influential members, satisfied to possess the reality of power rather than the appearance of power, are unknown even to close students of British history.”15 In the early 20th century its tentacles spread throughout the British Empire to America, Russia, France, the Balkans and South Africa. Their targets were agents in the highest offices of foreign governments who were bought and nurtured for future use.

What’s more, they had the power to control history, to turn history from enlightenment to deception. The Secret Elite dictated the writing and teaching of history from the ivory towers of academia down to the smallest of schools. They carefully controlled the publication of official government papers, the selection of documents for inclusion in the official version of history, and refused access to any evidence that might betray their covert existence. Incriminating documents were burned, removed from official records, shredded, falsified or deliberately rewritten, so that what remains for genuine researchers and historians is carefully selected material. Their ambitions overrode humanity and the consequences of their actions have been minimised, ignored or denied.


One of the problems facing anyone who turns to Quigley’s seminal The Anglo American Establishment is that it makes for a difficult read. Like several of the early chapters of the Christian Bible, his inter-connecting lists name many from the aristocracy, big business, high finance, politics and the press. Some were linked by matrimonial alliances while others by their gratitude for titles and positions of power.20 He devotes an entire chapter revealing how the Secret Elite controlled The Times (then Britain’s most influential newspaper) for more than 50 years with the exception of the period 1919-1922.21

A list of Oxford graduates, especially those given fellowships at All Souls College, included Milner’s heir apparent, Lionel Curtis, and numerous others who later gained positions of great significance and power. Indeed, they all did, every single name listed by Quigley. Oxford gave the Secret Elite access to influential professorships, some of which they created and funded themselves, such as the Beit Chair of Colonial History, established in 1905. It remains a serious concern that Carroll Quigley was absolutely correct when pointing an accusing finger at those who monopolised “so completely the writing and the teaching of the history of their own period.”22 There is no ambivalence in his accusation. The Secret Elite controlled the writing and teaching of history through numerous avenues including the press, but none more effectively than at Oxford University where they held huge influence over Balliol, New College and All Souls, and largely dominated the intellectual life of Oxford in the field of history.23 They ensured we learn only those ‘facts’ that support their version of history. The influence was so powerful that they controlled the Dictionary of National Biography, meaning the Secret Elite wrote the biographies of its own members. They created their own official history of key members for public consumption, striking out any incriminating evidence and portraying the best public-spirited image that could be safely manufactured. Has anything changed?

Oxford University was also the Secret Elite base for the Rhodes Scholarships, funded by the legacy left by Cecil Rhodes when he died in 1902. Rhodes’s wish was to create a “worldwide” secret group devoted to English ideals and to the Empire as the embodiment of these ideals,24 and the scholarships brought that international dimension to the society. They “were merely a facade to conceal the secret society, or, more accurately, they were to be one of the instruments by which members of the secret society could carry out his purpose.” Professor Quigley leaves us in no doubt that the secret society is the real power behind the scholarships.25 From its inception, Rhodes Scholarships favoured American students, with 100 places allocated, two for each of the 50 states and territories, whereas only 60 were made available for the entire British Empire and, strangely, several from Germany. The ‘best talents’ from the ‘best families’ were to be nurtured at Oxford University and imbued with an appreciation of ‘Englishness’ and the importance of the “retention of the unity of the Empire.”

In The Anglo-American Establishment, Quigley concluded that the secret cabal advanced its power-base through a triple-front penetration in politics, the press and education.26 We would go further, and can but wonder why he omitted banking and the military-industrial complex from his analysis. Politicians will always be easy targets. Ambition, greed and sexual proclivity can be nurtured and harnessed. Sometimes men of real stature come to the fore and bring strong leadership to the cause. In the early years Alfred Milner assumed that mantle. Fired by a zeal forged by Ruskin at Oxford, he was consumed by the need to establish the primacy of upper-class Englishness at the pinnacle of world power. He believed in the need to bring the British Empire and the American ideal together to sweep aside any rival for world domination.

Milner went to South Africa in 1897 to save it from falling to the Boers. He deliberately started the Boer War and saved the diamond and gold mines for fellow Secret Elites Rhodes, Rothschild, Beit and Bailey. He was idolised by Cecil Rhodes who placed his legacy in Milner’s safekeeping, and he was rewarded by the King with a knighthood and then a Viscountcy. Critically, in South Africa between 1897 and 1905, he built a personal following of young carefully chosen civil servants who loyally followed his every decision behind the scenes in British and world politics. Lord Alfred Milner was arguably the most important man living in the first decades of the 20th century, yet his name remains virtually unknown outside academic and political circles. Why?


To demonstrate the privileged path that the Secret Elite created in their quest to establish a ‘New World Order’, we have chosen to follow the trail that began with Alfred Milner, the undisputed leader for 23 years following Rhodes’s death in 1902. Critically, his most important achievement in South Africa was the creation of a network of extremely able acolytes to whom he entrusted the future direction of his cause: the domination of the world by the Anglo-Saxon race. His secretariat in South Africa comprised young men of “breeding, ability and conviction” from Oxford University, All Souls College in particular. Dubbed “Milner’s Kindergarten,” they absorbed his commitment to Ruskin’s philosophy, his disdain for career politicians and his concern that democracy as it had developed in the Western world was corrupt and untrustworthy. It was akin to “a religious brotherhood like the Jesuits, a church for the extension of the British Empire.”27

From 1909 Milner began expanding the Kindergarten into a highly secretive organisation called the “Round Table,” with branches in South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and, crucially, the United States. (It is not to be confused with a benign charitable organisation of the same name.) The grand Arthurian title suggested equality of rank and importance, nobility of purpose and fairness in debate, but was nothing of the kind. Milner, and most of the Group, held democracy in contempt, and far inferior to rule by those who had an “intellectual capacity for judging the public interest” and “some moral capacity for treating it as paramount to their own.”28 Wealth, of course, also counted and “the key to all economics and prosperity was considered to rest with banking and finance”29 which the Secret Elite controlled. Alfred Milner acted as both elder statesman and father figure to the Round Table with his role described as “President of an Intellectual Republic.”

The Round Table groups across the world kept in touch through regular correspondence and a quarterly journal called The Round Table that was controlled by the Secret Elite. They saw Britain as the defender of all that was fine or civilised in the modern world. Her “civilising mission” was to be carried out by force if necessary, for the “function of force is to give moral ideas time to take root.” Asians, for example, would be compelled to accept “civilisation” on the grounds they would be better off under British rule than that of fellow Asians. “To be sure, the blessings to be extended to the less fortunate peoples of the world did not include democracy.” They would simply be educated up to a level where they could appreciate and cherish “British ideals.”30 The ‘White Man’s Burden’ is indeed great.

Milner, his Round Table, and the Secret Elite generally saw the new Germany with its economic, industrial and commercial strength as the great threat to their global ambitions. In The Round Table journal of August 1911, Lord Lothian, a member of the Secret Elite’s inner core, wrote: “There are at present two codes of international morality – the British or Anglo-Saxon and the continental or German. Both cannot prevail.”31 Alliances with France and Russia were created for the specific task of destroying Germany through a prolonged war.32 These men had no fear of war, though they rarely put themselves in the direct firing line.


Cecil Rhodes had long dreamed of Anglo-American unity, and in 1891 actually discussed the possibility of achieving it by Britain joining the United States.33 On his death, the Secret Elite developed an even greater appreciation of America’s vast potential and the need for closer union. They adjusted the original concept of British race supremacy to Anglo-Saxon supremacy, so that Rhodes’s dream had only to be slightly modified. They created a common ideology and world outlook among the peoples of the United Kingdom and the United States, and the instruments and practices of cooperation in order to pursue parallel policies.34

Alfred Milner believed these goals should be pursued by a secret political and economic elite influencing “journalistic, educational and propaganda agencies” behind the scenes. The flow of money into the United States during the 19th century advanced industrial development to the immense benefit of the millionaires it created: Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan, Vanderbilt and their associates. The Rothschilds represented British interests, either directly through front companies or indirectly through agencies they controlled. Small groups of massively rich individuals on both sides of the Atlantic knew one another well, and the Secret Elite in London initiated the very select and secretive dining club, the Pilgrims, that brought them together on a regular basis. On 11 July 1902, an inaugural meeting was held at the Carlton Hotel of what became known as the London Chapter of the Pilgrims Society. It was to have a select membership limited by individual scrutiny to 500. Ostensibly, The Pilgrims was created to “promote goodwill, good friendship and everlasting peace” between Britain and the United States, but its highly secretive and exclusive membership leaves little doubt as to its real purpose.35

Seven months later the American chapter was formally created on similarly exclusive lines. This was the pool of wealth and talent that the Secret Elite drew together to promote its agenda in the years preceding the First World War. Behind an image of the Pilgrim Fathers, the persecuted pioneers of Christian values, this elite cabal advocated the idea that “Englishmen and Americans would promote international friendship through their pilgrimages to and fro across the Atlantic.” It presented itself as a spontaneous movement to promote democracy across the world, and most of the membership probably believed that. But the Pilgrims included a select collective of the wealthiest figures in both Britain and the United States who were deeply involved with the Secret Elite. They shared Rhodes’s dream and wanted to be party to it.36

In Britain, at least 18 members of the Secret Elite, including Lords Rothschild, Curzon, Northcliffe and Esher, and Sir Edward Grey and Arthur Balfour, attended Pilgrims dinners, though the regularity of their attendance is difficult to establish. Such is the perennial problem with secret groups. We know something about the guests invited to dinner but not what was discussed between courses. In New York, members included both the Rockefeller and Morgan dynasties, and many men in senior government posts. The power elite in America was New York centred, carried great influence in domestic and international politics, and was heavily indulgent of Yale, Harvard and Princeton universities. Within a short period of time they created an American version of what Carroll Quigley termed the triple-front penetration of politics, the press and education. The Pilgrims Society brought together American money and British aristocracy, royalty, presidents and diplomatic representatives. It was indeed a special relationship.37

Because closer ties with the United States were considered of such crucial importance, a Round Table group was also established in New York to further develop links between Westminster and Washington, and high finance in the City of London and Wall Street. It was supported by Rockefeller and Morgan, managed in secret, hidden from the electorate and the politicians, and normally its meetings went unreported in the press. Members aimed to gain political influence and set the political agenda in the US, but they were rarely willing to speak out in public. All was to be carried out in secret.38 How dangerous are those who believe they have the capacity to think and plan for the world’s good, impervious to the will of the people and disdainful of democracy itself?

The first American to be directly associated with the Round Table was George Louis Beer, an outspoken Anglophile academic and writer who contributed reports and articles to their magazine for many years. Beer called Alfred Milner “the intellectual leader of the most progressive school of imperial thought throughout Europe,” and was one of the chief supporters of America’s intervention in the First World War. His link to the Secret Elite opened many associated doors and Beer became the recognised expert on colonial questions at the Paris Peace Conference in 1918-19. In the manner which typifies how these powerful men write their own histories, Beer and his Secret Elite compatriot, Lord Eustace Percy, later drew up the outline plan for the History of the Peace Conference. In other words, the Secret Elite made sure that the record for future generations was one they dictated. They supported Beer’s appointment to the head of the Mandate Group of the League of Nations and he was one of the creators of the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London (Chatham House), its American branch, The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and sister organisation the Institute of Pacific Relations.39 Lest there be any doubt, these were all Secret Elite creations. Milner’s Kindergarten had been expanded into the Round Table and that, in turn, had been expanded into the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, the CFR in New York, and other Institutes across the globe.

The dominant role of the CFR in controlling American policy and politics cannot be overstated because almost all of America’s leadership has stemmed from this elite group. That includes US presidents and their advisors, cabinet members, ambassadors, members of the board of the Federal Reserve, directors of the largest banks and financial houses, presidents of universities and heads of metropolitan newspapers, news services, and television networks. “It is not an exaggeration to describe this group as the hidden government of the United States.”40 It is no less than a carbon copy of how the Secret Elite took control of Britain in the 20th century. These organisations were direct extensions of the Round Table Groups and have helped drive the Secret Elite agenda through the 20th century and beyond.

Carroll Quigley was the trailblazer in unmasking the Secret Elite, and it is plain to see they still dominate the British and American governments among others; still control banking and finance, politics, the press, the military-industrial complex, the universities and the key offices of state.

Wherever you live, ask yourself this, “is it happening here?” The grotesque plan set in motion by Rhodes and Milner at the end of the 19th century rolls on. Can it be stopped from reaching its ultimate destination – totalitarian, elite-controlled one world government? The challenge is to reach beyond what Gore Vidal described as a conditioned response to the word ‘conspiracy’ where people react with a smirk and a chuckle; where historical analysis and contemporary evidence that demonstrates the power these people wield is dismissed as the product of ‘nuts and loners’ or fringe extremists.41 If we give up trying to educate the doubters, give up telling it as it really is, we the people are doomed to an Orwellian nightmare.

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Readers are encouraged to obtain a copy of the authors’ book Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War and visit the authors’ blog at Hidden History is available from all good bookstores and online retailers.


  1. E-book available at
  2. E-book available at
  3. Nesta H Webster, Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, HRP edition, 254
  4. William Guy Carr, Pawns in the Game, X
  5. Ibid., X-XI
  6. Tony Page, A Brief Justification of My Intentions by Adam Weishaupt,
  7. ‘The Enlightened Ones: The Illuminati and the New World Order’ by Michael Howard, New Dawn Special Issue 11
  8. Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, IX-X
  9. Ibid., XI
  10. Ibid., IX-X
  12. Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor, Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War, 17-29
  13. Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, 137
  14. Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, X
  15. Ibid., 4-5
  17. D. J. Markwell, ‘Zimmern, Sir Alfred Eckhard (1879–1957)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004,
  18. Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, X
  19. Docherty & Macgregor, Hidden History, 14
  20. Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, 15
  21. Ibid., 101-116
  22. Ibid., 197
  23. Ibid., 84-100
  24. Ibid., 37
  25. Quigley, Tragedy and Hope, 131
  26. Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, 15
  27. Ibid., 34
  28. Ibid, 134
  29. Ibid., 122
  30. Ibid., 133-6
  31. Ibid., 329
  32. Docherty & Macgregor, Hidden History, 75-96
  33. Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, 38
  34. Ibid., 150
  35. Docherty & Macgregor, Hidden History, 210-224
  36. Ibid.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, 168
  40. G. Edward Griffin, The Creature From Jekyll Island, 110
  41. Gore Vidal, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace


GERRY DOCHERTY was born in 1948. He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1971 and was a secondary school teacher by profession. He taught economics and modern studies, developed a keen interest in the theatre and has written a number of plays with historical themes. One of these plays was the powerful story of two cousins from his home town of Tillicoultry who were both awarded the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Energised by the research he had undertaken to write this play, he was intrigued by Jim Macgregor’s work on the First World War, and their mutual interest developed into a passion to discover the truth amongst the lies and deceptions that the official records contained.

JIM MACGREGOR was born in Glasgow in 1947 and raised in a cottage in the grounds of Erskine Hospital for war disabled. There he witnessed the aftermath of war on a daily basis and, profoundly affected by what he saw, developed a life-long interest in war and the origins of global conflict. Jim graduated as a medical doctor in 1978, and left the practice in 2001 to devote his energies full-time to researching the political failures in averting war. His numerous articles have been published on subjects such as miscarriages of justice, the Iraq War, global poverty, and the rise of fascism in the United States. His powerful anti-war novel The Iboga Visions was published to critical acclaim in 2009.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 9 No 4

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Magicians of the Gods: An Interview with Graham Hancock

Graham Hancock (credit Santha Faiia)

Graham Hancock (credit Santha Faiia)


Author and theorist Graham Hancock has had a sizeable impact upon the popular understanding of humanity’s ancient past. His global 1995 bestseller Fingerprints of the Gods contended that some previously ancient but highly advanced civilisation existed in prehistory, one which served as the common progenitor civilisation to all subsequent known historical ones. Further books such as Keeper of Genesis (with Robert Bauval), Underworld (studying underwater ruins as evidence of lost civilisations) and others propose bold new theories that challenge mainstream dogma.

Hancock’s new book Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization – a sequel of sorts to Fingerprints – gathers compelling evidence pointing to an ancient global cataclysm, caused by devastating meteor impacts, that may have all but erased a highly advanced human society and forced the survivors to, in essence, start again. Hancock also presents evidence the Earth may soon face this potentially species threatening meteor stream again.

David Thrussell spoke to Graham Hancock in this exclusive interview for New Dawn.

DAVID THRUSSELL (DT): From a distance, you appear to have what could be described as an ideal life Graham, travelling around exotic and interesting places, exploring the edges of history and knowledge. Are there any downsides, disappointments or frustrations in your work?

GRAHAM HANCOCK (GH): I feel glad that I’ve had the opportunity in this life to explore and spend time in so many incredible, mysterious, profoundly moving ancient sites, all around the world. It’s been a great privilege to have the opportunity to do this, and I have no complaints whatsoever. I’m grateful for my life. I have a lot of freedom and I’ve worked from home since I was 29 as a matter of fact – that’s when I decided I couldn’t work in a large organisation anymore, and struck out on my own. For a very long time I was completely broke. Eventually I started to manage to make a living from it. But I have no complaints. I think I’ve been very fortunate and I’m grateful for the life I’ve had the opportunity to lead.

DT: How long have you been working, brewing away on the new book [Magicians of the Gods]?

GH: Well in a sense, 25 years. As a focused project, about 3½ years, but this book draws on my interests and enquiries into this field going back to the end of the 1980s.

DT: Now, if you had to advance a single most compelling piece of evidence to support your theory, what would it be and why would it be that?

GH: Well, it’s more complicated than that. This is not a problem that can be solved by a magic bullet. This is a problem that requires co-ordination of evidence from many different sources. I would offer you three pieces of evidence that are all in a sense joined together, and one of those pieces of evidence, a very important piece of evidence, is something we have now, but I didn’t have when I wrote Fingerprints of the Gods in 1995. It’s effectively a smoking gun, globally. Scientific evidence for a global cataclysm between 13,000 and 12,000 years ago. That was essentially the hypothesis I put forward in Fingerprints of the Gods, that there had been a global cataclysm between 13,000 and 12,000 years ago, and it wiped out an advanced civilisation, and I speculated on many possible causes of that cataclysm – notably pole shift and Earth crust displacement.

What happened since 1995, and particularly since 2007, is that a group of scientists have put before the scientific community – very little of this has yet leaked out to the public – absolutely compelling evidence Earth suffered a series of impacts from fragments of a giant comet, and these impacts happened 12,800 years ago when several fragments hit the North American ice cap, causing global flooding and radical climate change. It happened again 11,600 years ago when more fragments from the same comet came out of orbit and smacked down into an ocean – almost certainly the Pacific – sending up a huge plume of water vapour into the upper atmosphere and causing very sudden global warming. So the interval between those two periods, the 1,200 years between 12,800 years ago and 11,600 years ago, is an episode of almost unparalleled global cataclysm, coupled by massive extinction of animal species, the mega mammals, the mammoth, the woolly rhino, and so on. And this is the event that I believe lost us a whole civilisation of pre-history that previously has not entered the archaeological records.

Now, let’s co-ordinate this with the latest discoveries in archaeology. Remember that one of the two dates for that cataclysm is 11,600 years ago. This was a sustained event that involved two separate bombardments from fragments of a comet. On both occasions there were massive sea level rises and a global cataclysm unfolded. The first occasion 12,800 years ago, the second occasion 11,600 years ago, were also accompanied by global flooding and massive sea level rises. It’s therefore intriguing that the archaeological site in south eastern Turkey, known as Göbekli Tepe – which means ‘pot-bellied hill’ in the Turkish language – was created 11,600 years ago by people who already knew how to work with giant megaliths. Göbekli Tepe is an anomaly, because it’s 7,000 years older than other megalithic sites around the world, and yet it demonstrates advanced techniques of stonework and stone cutting, organisation of labour, planning, site design and alignment to the heavens. This is not the work of a group of hunter-gatherers who woke up one morning and felt suddenly inspired to create the world’s first megalithic architecture. In my view, what we’re looking at is a transfer of technology, the knowledge brought by the survivors of the lost civilisation, including the knowledge of how to create large-scale megalithic structures – and at exactly the same moment 11,600 years ago we get this sudden and unexplained appearance of a sophisticated megalithic site in south eastern Turkey.

We also get the dissemination and uptake of agriculture in exactly the same region, whereas previously the inhabitants had been entirely hunter-gatherers. I say again, what we’re looking at is a transfer of technology, the fingerprint of the survivors of a civilisation that was lost in the cataclysmic events between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago.

And I mention a third point, the age-old myth of Atlantis, which isn’t actually that old because the version of it that comes down to us – the only version that comes down to us – is in the works of the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato said he got the story of the submergence and destruction of the advanced civilisation of Atlantis through his ancestor Solon, the Greek law-maker who visited Egypt in 600 BCE, and there was told, by Egyptian priests, the story of Atlantis. And they said Atlantis had been destroyed and submerged, having incurred the anger of the gods, 9,000 years before the time of Solon. We know that Solon was in Egypt around 600 BCE, therefore they are talking about 9,600 BCE in our calendar, 11,600 years ago, which is the date precisely for the appearance of these hitherto unheralded techniques of megalithic architecture and agriculture in the region of south eastern Turkey.

DT: The cataclysm you’re talking about has been staring us in the face really, hasn’t it?

GH: It has been staring us in the face, but I don’t blame historians and archaeologists for failing to get to grips with it sooner than this. Because the leading scientists in the field have only really been compiling and presenting evidence on what is now referred to as the Younger Dryas comet for the last seven or eight years. It’s a very recent discovery and the reason it’s a recent discovery is that the major impacts of this comet 12,800 years ago were on the North American ice cap. This was still the Ice Age. North America, as far south as New York, was covered with ice, two miles deep, and at least four fragments of the comet hit the ice cap. But they did not leave prominent craters on the ground because the craters were in the ice itself and the vast heat and kinetic energy of the comet melted away that ice, so the craters were transitory and what we have is shock effect on the ground underneath. Recently, a number of craters have been found. The kind of craters that would be left when an object hit a two mile deep ice cap and transferred its shock to the bedrock underneath.

Much more important is the evidence of the Younger Dryas scientific team – more than 30 scientists are working on the Younger Dryas comet. That evidence is based on what I call “impact proxies.” When you get an object coming in at 60 or 70 thousand miles an hour, and that object is a kilometre or two in diameter, it has unbelievable quantities of kinetic energy, and then you’re looking at an explosive power in the range of the entire nuclear arsenal of planet Earth, going up at once, with any single one of these objects. And there are certain, very recognisable outcomes of this. One is melt glass. You have heat unleashed in excess of the boiling point of quartz. Temperatures in excess of 2,200 degrees centigrade. This produces melt glass which is indistinguishable from the melt glass we find as a by-product of nuclear explosions. You also get carbon micro-spherules and very distinct nano-diamonds that are caused by the shock and heat. These nano-diamonds are only visible under a microscope, and they are combined with the melt glass, the carbon micro-spherules, and other evidence all around the world. They are compelling evidence for a gigantic cosmic impact 12,800 years ago.

And, by the way, it’s exactly this kind of evidence that was initially put forward to prove the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. There’s only two occasions in Earth’s history, in the last 100 million years, that we get precisely the same impact proxies spread around the world. One of them is the so-called KT event 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. And the other is the hitherto unrecognised, but now very obvious extinction level event that happened 12,800 years ago, and was caused by the Younger Dryas comet. I say “Younger Dryas” because that is the geological name for the period between 12,800 years ago and 11,600 years ago when the Earth’s climate fell into a sudden and hitherto unexplained deep freeze. We now know the cause of this. It was our interaction with the fragments of a giant comet, and the effects were truly cataclysmic.

DT: Is it reasonable to suggest that mainstream academia, media and science are wedded to a particular view of history?

GH: Yes. It is reasonable to suggest that, and it’s not surprising either. It’s just always the case – when you have any area of study, any discipline, whether it’s geology or whether it’s archaeology for that matter – that a body of knowledge is built up. And respected elders have contributed to that body of knowledge, and the new generation obviously respects the work of their elders. And gradually what builds up is a reference frame, a picture for how that area of study should be. In the case of archaeology, the picture that built up over the last 100 years of work is of a slow evolution of civilisation – that our ancestors were hunter-gatherers and nothing more until perhaps 8 or 9 thousand years ago. Then we begin to see the gradual movement towards more permanent settlement and about 5,000 years ago we get the first big cities and the first great megalithic architecture. This is the picture of civilisation taught to us by mainstream academic historians and archaeologists. It’s taught in the schools, it’s by and large conveyed through the media, but it is not a fact, it is a reference frame. It is a reference frame built up by 100 years of archaeological study. And this is, I think, the problem with archaeology and other scientific disciplines that get locked in a particular reference frame. When new facts emerge that don’t fit the reference frame, they find it difficult to adjust to them, and the first step is the attempt to discredit those facts. When more and more evidence comes in that the existing paradigm can’t explain, eventually the paradigm gets overthrown. A lot of good people who’ve done a lot of good work, who are convinced they’re right, who respect the work of their elders, and who don’t want to rock the boat – I think that’s the central problem. It always happens in science. No ideas change suddenly overnight without overwhelming new evidence that the previous paradigm cannot explain. That’s what we’re finding in the field of history and archaeology now – more and more new evidence coming in that simply can’t be explained by the existing reference frame of history.

DT: Would you care to speculate – if the theory that you’re advancing is indeed correct – what pre-history looked like? What would history on Earth look like before this comet struck the planet?

GH: A much more complicated world than the world portrayed to us by mainstream historians and archaeologists. Not a world populated entirely by hunter-gatherers as they suggest, but a world in which hunter-gatherers, and a more advanced civilisation, co-existed. This, in a way, is not odd. If you think about it, we are a very advanced technological civilisation today – Western technology, the industrial-technological-complex that has spread around the world, but we are not alone. We share the world with hunter-gatherer people – hunter-gatherers in the Kalahari Desert, for example, and in Southern Africa. Hunter-gatherers in the Amazon Basin. There are even tribes in the Amazon Basin who are completely un-contacted, who don’t even know that we exist; an advanced technological culture has not even impinged on their worldview yet. So the co-existence of advanced technology with hunter-gatherers that we see today, I would project that back into the past, and I would say more than 13,000 years ago during the Ice Age there was a much more advanced civilisation on this planet, than is given credit for by historians and archaeologists. It is remembered in myth and tradition all around the world, and it’s increasingly supported by recent striking archaeological discoveries such as Göbekli Tepe.

DT: You mentioned two obvious cataclysmic events – the dinosaur extinction and the Younger Dryas events. Is it possible there have been other cataclysmic events that we have no inkling of?

GH: Certainly there have been other cataclysmic events, and we do have inklings of them. The only question is, whether they affected the human species, and this becomes a matter for further enquiry. I hold, for the moment, the view that anatomically modern humans – people who look just like you and I – have only existed on Earth for about 200,000 years. It may well be that further discoveries will produce evidence of earlier anatomically modern humans. I don’t rule that out. But at the moment the evidence points to the emergence of our anatomically modern line about 200,000 years ago. We have, for example, a skeleton from Ethiopia, 196,000 years old, which is indistinguishable from an anatomically modern human being. So for these cataclysms to involve humanity and to impact the human story, they need to have happened within a human timeframe. This is why the Younger Dryas event is so intriguing because not only is it within the human timeframe, it’s right on the edge, on the border of a period when historians and archaeologists think civilisation began. Yet they had not yet taken into account this extinction level cataclysm, right in the backyard of history, and I would say that until they do take it into account, all their notions about the origins of civilisation are up for grabs.

There have been multiple other global cataclysms of an extinction level going back hundreds of millions, even billions of years in the past. These things happen from time to time, and every time they happen they reset the clock on this planet, and life changes due to these dramatic and radical events. I think it’s only the most recent one, the one that happened 12,800 years ago, that directly impacted the human story – and this recent global cataclysm has not yet been taken into account in the model building of our past by historians and archaeologists.

DT: Is it possible that mainstream science, the media, or even the general population in a sense, don’t want to know about our own history as a species?

GH: There appears to be a kind of directive operating at governmental level, not to say things too alarming. It particularly applies to issues that involve global cataclysms. Anybody who’s worked in the field of geology will know that proposing a cataclysmic agent results in furious criticism. There was a great geologist called J. Harlan Bretz – whose work I write about in Magicians of the Gods – who provided the first evidence of cataclysmic flooding in North America, particularly in the Pacific north-west, in the channelled scablands, an area I researched quite intensively for Magicians of the Gods. J. Harlan Bretz was absolutely 100% right, but it took from the 1920s, almost to the 1970s, before he was accepted as being right. Prior to that he had been subjected to the most grievous and unpleasant abuse, which a weaker man might not have borne. In the end he turned out to be correct and he lived until the age of 99. And when he was awarded America’s highest honour for a geologist, he said: “My only regret is that all my enemies are now dead, and I have no-one to gloat over.”

DT: If there is an active effort to forget or obscure history, why would that be?

GH: I’m not sure. I don’t want to go in the direction of a conspiracy. I think it’s just the way people’s minds work. We find it difficult to conceive of certain things, or apply them to ourselves. There may be a conspiracy. I have to contemplate this possibility a little bit in the book. I don’t like conspiracy theories – it’s an area of enquiry where facts get thin on the ground and speculation gets very thick and long. When I look at the way the catastrophists’ ideas have been systematically rubbished, sometimes for decades until proved correct – the same was true, by the way, about the dinosaur impact. Initially no scientists believed that either. Luis and Walter Alvarez, who initially proposed the idea of a cosmic impact 65 million years ago, were subjected to abuse and persecution, and they too were eventually vindicated.

DT: Are you aware of the work of Steven and Evan Strong in Australia?

GH: I know Steven and Evan Strong. They were kind enough to show me a number of interesting sites in Australia last year. I’ve got a lot of respect for their leg work and they’ve opened my eyes to mysteries in Australia which I do intend to look at in the future. Australia has not been a big focus of my work up till now.

DT: Do you ever suffer from ‘apocalypse fatigue’? It seems to be a staple of human endeavour, doesn’t it, thinking that a cataclysm is around the corner?

GH: No, I don’t suffer from ‘apocalypse fatigue’, and I don’t go around thinking that the end of the world is nigh, either. I do think we should be paying much more attention to our cosmic environment. At the moment the human race has its priorities all screwed up. We’re capable of spending trillions of dollars a year on weapons of mass destruction, quite ready to wipe each other out and destroy this beautiful and precious habitat, the Earth, that the universe has given us. Humanity shows every sign of being an insane species at the moment, an insane and unconscious species, totally devoted to material production and consumption, uninterested in matters of spirit. Negligent of this beautiful garden in which we find ourselves.

If we were to take the responsibility of human life seriously, we would closely and carefully inspect our immediate cosmic environment. I have drawn attention in the book to the fact that the debris stream of the giant comet that caused the cataclysm 12,800 to 11,600 years ago is still in orbit. It’s called the Taurid meteor stream. We pass it twice a year. If we were smart we’d pay a great deal of attention to the objects that orbit in the Taurid meteor stream. And if, as seems likely, some of them threaten Earth in the future, we have the technology, we have the ability to avert that danger. I’m only interested in the issue of future cataclysms to the extent that we can avoid them, and that foreknowledge of them would help us avoid them, and I believe that is the case with the cosmic threat. There is a threat, there is an ongoing danger. Most responsible and serious astronomers would absolutely agree with that.

We mark World Asteroid Day on 30 June, which is an attempt to draw attention to the dangers of our immediate cosmic environment, and to do something about it. We’re probably the first civilisation in the history of Earth that has the capacity to intervene in our cosmic environment and to deflect or divert objects that might threaten life. I think we’d be doing a lot better if we directed our resources more responsibly – a lot of the money we spend on useless military pursuits at the moment – and channelled it instead to a thoroughly worked out space-watch project to ensure Earth never again suffers the kind of disasters it suffered between 12,800 and 11,600 years ago. We are going down the path of insanity and madness with our military spending. With all the fear and hatred and suspicion circulating in the world at the moment, we need to recognise that we’re all brothers and sisters, we’re one human family, and perhaps the prospect of dealing with a shared common threat would be the very thing to bring us together.

DT: Ironic, isn’t it, there may be a weapon of mass destruction bearing down upon us all right now.

GH: Yes, exactly. This is possible. A number of astronomers (including Bill Napier) and the mathematician Emilio Spedicato at the University of Bergamo, are all deeply concerned about the Taurid meteor stream. They believe it has a number of very large objects, including one that may be 30km wide, and the Earth crosses this stream twice a year. Some calculations indicate we may be crossing particularly lumpy and dangerous parts of the stream within the next 30 years or so. Nothing really could be more urgent. We need to pay attention to this problem. We need to identify objects that endanger Earth, and we need to move them. All of that we can do, it just takes the will. We already have the technology. But while we go around fearing and hating and suspecting one another, our eye’s not on the ball. Our eyes are on totally the wrong place.

DT: I couldn’t agree more with you.

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„Magicians of the Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom of Earth’s Lost Civilization by Graham Hancock is available from all good bookstores. Graham Hancock’s website is


DAVID THRUSSELL is a poet trapped in the body of a hillbilly. Or a hopeless romantic hidden in the twisted frame of a dark electronic musician. Late at night Thrussell fantasises that actually he lives next door to Hieronymous Bosch in Medieval Europe and has hallucinated the whole dreadful modern era while suffering from acute ergot poisoning. We are not entirely convinced that this is not the case. The world knows him (if it knows him at all), as the creator of a seeming multitude of obscure recordings (Snog, Black Lung and Soma among others) and film scores. He has written previously for Wax Poetics, Fortean Times and numerous other publications.

The above article appeared in New Dawn 153 (Nov-Dec 2015)

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American Gurus & the Search for Enlightenment: An Interview with Arthur Versluis



Until recently the academic world paid almost no attention to the Western mystical and esoteric traditions. If any scholars strayed into these areas, they did so gingerly and apologetically, often feeling the need to sneer at these currents as a way of safeguarding their reputations.

This situation began to change in the 1980s. A small group of academic scholars in mainstream universities began to pay serious attention to esotericism as a formative part of the Western spiritual and intellectual culture.

Arthur Versluis (left) is one of the central figures in this development. Chairman of the department of religious studies at Michigan State University in the US, he has helped form a community of academics that share these interests. He is the founding president of the Association for Esoteric Studies, the leading academic research group in the US in this field, and founder of the online journal Esoterica.

Versluis’s books include The Secret History of Western Sexual Mysticism: Sacred Practices and Spiritual Marriage (2008), Magic and Mysticism: An Introduction to Western Esotericism (2007); The New Inquisitions: Heretic-Hunting and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Totalitarianism (2006); Restoring Paradise: Esoteric Transmission through Literature and Art (2004); The Esoteric Origins of the American Renaissance (2001); Wisdom’s Book: The Sophia Anthology (2000); Wisdom’s Children: A Christian Esoteric Tradition (1999); and American Transcendentalism and Asian Religions (1993).

His 2014 book, American Gurus: From Transcendentalism to New Age Religion, traces the rise of spiritual teachers outside the folds of religious traditions. Many of them claim to teach various forms of instant or immediate enlightenment.

In October 2015, I conducted an e-mail interview with Versluis to discuss American Gurus.

RICHARD SMOLEY (RS): One of the main themes of American Gurus is a phenomenon called immediatism. Could you talk a little bit about that?

ARTHUR VERSLUIS (AV): Immediatism refers to a religious assertion of spontaneous, direct, unmediated spiritual insight into reality (typically with little or no prior training), which some claim is enlightenment. It refers to a claim of a “pathless path” to religious enlightenment, because the immediatist says “away with all ritual and practices!” and claims that direct spiritual awakening or enlightenment is possible at once, without meditation or years of guided praxis. In American Gurus, I show that an immediatist approach to enlightenment is deeply embedded in the contemporary religious scene, and is fundamentally a modern New Age phenomenon with some historical antecedents.

RS: How has this quality of immediatism played itself out in the America of the last 150 years?

AV: As I said, immediatism as discussed in the book is really a phenomenon of the last several decades. Of course, some antecedents are visible in Anglo-European American literature in much earlier authors. I argue that if contemporary American immediatism has a single ancestor to whom it owes the most, that figure is Ralph Waldo Emerson. In the book, I show that Emerson is much more deeply influenced by Platonism than is usually acknowledged today, and further, I discuss his work in terms of Emerson’s own gnostic experience. Literary critic Harold Bloom was right when he said that in American literature, the titanic figure is Emerson, and one can measure American literature as being before and after Emerson. Of course, Bloom wants to cordon off the term Gnostic to refer to the world-rejecting perspective attributed to it by Hans Jonas and those who follow his existentialist, early-twentieth-century interpretation of “Gnosticism” in late antiquity. However, in my usage, gnosis and gnostic have only their generic implications of one who claims direct spiritual insight, a “gnostic” being someone who experiences gnosis, or illumination. Emerson is the archetypal American figure in this regard.

But strictly, speaking, Emerson is best described as a Platonist, whereas immediatism discussed in the latter half of the book is a contemporary or relatively recent New Age phenomenon based to a considerable extent, though by no means exclusively, in Neo-Advaitic Hinduism, or what is known as the “satsang movement.”

RS: You contrast immediatism with Platonism. What are some of the main differences between the two?

AV: Platonism, like Buddhism and Hinduism, includes contemplative practices and rituals. As I show in my new book Perennial Philosophy [see excerpt, ‘Leaving the Cave’, on page 60], Platonism centres on the contemplative ascent and illumination, and although it does not exclude the possibility of immediate illumination without praxis, it also certainly is not based in that. Immediatism, on the other hand, typically represents a claim that one does not need practices or ritual, but simply needs to be in the presence of a guru, or, sometimes, that one needs to do nothing at all. Immediatism is quite attractive in a New Age consumerist marketplace because it doesn’t ask anything in particular of us, but tells us that we’re “always already” “enlightened.”

RS: Which of these do you feel more in sympathy with?

AV: My admiration for and understanding of Platonism continues to grow. Plotinus is an extraordinary figure, whose work Enneads should be read by everyone in the West who feels called to an inner life. But Platonism is not like Buddhism, which has so many available teachers and gurus, as well as a wide range of practices and traditions.

RS: One figure that you discuss at length is Robert Anton Wilson. Both in Wilson and the Discordian movement there’s obviously a great deal of spoofing going on. Where do you think the joking stops and the serious message begins? Could you comment on Wilson’s work a little and say why it’s significant?

AV: Robert Anton Wilson is an entertaining figure, and of course Discordianism and variants of or like it are often quite funny. I think one of the more interesting connections mentioned in the book are the links between Wilson and various magical practitioners, authors, and groups, including Christopher Hyatt, Lon Milo DuQuette, and others who might be grouped roughly in the category of “left-hand” magic. In fact, one of the other authors in a volume Wilson contributed to says directly “We are Black Magicians.” I think Wilson’s work needs to be understood in the context of overcoming monotheistic and other forms of what he would call “programming” as well as in the context of going beyond dualities, but as an individualist and a spiritual anarchist. He specialises in semantic disorientation toward those ends.

RS: Could you comment about William S. Burroughs and his relation to this tradition?

AV: Burroughs is quite different from many of the other figures discussed in the book. He rejects traditional religions, and offers instead what he calls a “Magical Universe” full of gods and demons in conflict. His magical world is harsh, demonic, characterised by paranoia, and could be described as a kind of cosmic confidence game. He is a somewhat sinister and fascinating figure. I’d suggest readers take a listen to the Bill Laswell album that includes Burroughs reading passages from his novel The Western Lands to get a sense of his unmistakable voice. Critical accounts of his work have not fully taken into account his occultism, for the most part. But his work represents more of a reference point in the book, not a main subject.

RS: Could you talk a little bit about the Traditionalist Frithjof Schuon and the kind of Sufism that he came to embrace?

AV: The book really doesn’t focus on Schuon or Traditionalism, but rather mentions them in passing as a reference point. Broadly speaking, I think Traditionalists would dismiss many of the more recent figures discussed in the book as spiritually harmful and deluded. I think it’s pretty clear that Schuon and his circle emphasise spiritual practices and thus aren’t immediatist in the way that, say, Andrew Cohen might be.

RS: Another figure you discuss is Peter Lamborn Wilson, who has embraced what he regards as a radical, heretical Islam. What would you say are some of the most significant things about Wilson and his work?

AV: I know Peter – we published my conversation with him in JSR: Journal for the Study of Radicalism a few years back. I talk to him from time to time. He is one of the liveliest intellects I know, a voracious reader, and full of interesting and surprising ideas. I think the radical, antinomian aspects of some offshoots of Sufism both influenced and appeal to him. He is fundamentally what I call a spiritual anarchist, and a real American character.

RS: At the end of your book you discuss a number of self-styled enlightened masters ranging from Andrew Cohen to Franklin Jones (Adi Da) to Ken Wilber. You mention that teachings of love and compassion seem more or less absent from their discourse. Could you say a little bit about why?

AV: In the last chapter, I quote Georg Feuerstein’s critique of some of the guru figures you mention. He argues, as do a number of others, that it’s possible to believe one has reached the end of a spiritual path when one actually has only gone partially down it, for instance. It might well be that some people who claim enlightenment have realised something, but have not gone through all the stages as described, for instance, in Buddhist descriptions of the stages leading to enlightenment. Lama Surya Das refers to such claims, cleverly, as “premature immaculation.” One can’t discount the possibility of less charitable interpretations as well, of course.

RS: One of the most striking conclusions in your book is that the whole immediatist strain in American spirituality could be viewed as part of the absorption of Asian religions, notably Hinduism and Buddhism, in American culture. Many of the self-styled enlightened masters seem to have an affinity for the Hindu Advaita tradition in particular. Could you suggest why this might be?

AV: One of two epigraphs for the book as a whole is a remark by pollster George Gallup, Jr., who observed, “Americans want the fruit of religion, but not its obligations.” I think there’s a lot of truth to that, and it does help explain why what’s called “Neo-Advaita” Vedanta is popular; it tends to require only that one show up for satsang, or an audience with a Neo-Advaitic guru. But there’s a larger frame, which is the emergence of the New Age movement more generally. The basic idea of a “New Age” is that it just happens to you; it is fundamentally more passive and consumerist than based in traditional practices. It lends itself to spiritual consumerism.

RS: How do you believe these impulses – notably the influence of Asian religions – will develop in our civilisation in the time to come?

AV: This is really an interesting question to explore. Asian religions in America, in particular Buddhism and Hinduism, but also Taoism and others, are becoming acclimated, but also are beginning to be Americanised and, more broadly, Westernised. Thus there are a number of practitioners and teachers who see themselves as maintaining the essence of the religious tradition, but at the same time adapting it to the modern American or Western context. Of course, one argument is that some of them, for instance, many Neo-Advaitin teachers, have so essentialised the tradition as to have created something else, which critics argue is diminished into a variant of New Age consumerism. And that is the argument that may often be wielded. But one also has to recognise that as Asian religions become rooted in the West, especially the gnostic initiatory lineages, it is inevitable they also adapt and are adapted to new and very different cultural contexts. An example of this would be the German teacher of Zen Buddhism and mysticism, Willigis Jäger. Another would be B. Alan Wallace, who has a Ph.D. in religious studies and is also a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. And there are many others, in different traditions. This phenomenon will continue to develop, I’m sure – it is arguably the most important religious development in the West since the emergence of Protestantism.

If you appreciate this interview, please consider a digital subscription to New Dawn.

„American Gurus: From Transcendentalism to New Age Religion (Oxford University Press, 2014) is available from all good bookstores and online sellers. Professor Arthur Versluis has a website at


RICHARD SMOLEY’s latest book, The Deal: A Guide to Radical and Complete Forgiveness, was reviewed in the May-June 2015 issue of New Dawn. He is the author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe; Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity; The Essential Nostradamus; Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism; Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History, and Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (with Jay Kinney). A frequent contributor to New Dawn, he is editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America. His next book, How God Became God: What Scholars Are Really Saying about God and the Bible, is due to be published by Tarcher Perigee in June 2016.

The above article appeared in New Dawn 154 (Jan-Feb 2016 2015)

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Freemasons, Secret Societies, Conspiracies, Consciousness & the Hidden Masters: An Interview with Gary Lachman



An overlooked but powerful current is flowing in our time. It’s found in a small group of writers and thinkers who are trying to overcome the materialism and rationalism of the present age and rediscover the perennial truths that lie behind all religion. These writers are grappling with the occult and esoteric paths of the past and present. They’re trying to explore these movements without falling into either credulity or blinkered scepticism. They include Jay Kinney, founder of Gnosis magazine and author of The Masonic Myth; Mitch Horowitz, a New York book editor whose own works include Occult America and One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; and Erik Davis, author of TechGnosis and Nomad Codes: Adventures in Modern Esoterica.

In this small but distinguished company is Gary Lachman. He started out in the 1970s in the New York rock scene as one of the original members of the groundbreaking New Wave band Blondie. In 1996 he moved to London, where he established himself as a full-time writer, contributing to publications such as Fortean Times, The Guardian, and The Times Literary Supplement.

Since 2001 Gary has produced a steady stream of books, including Turn Off Your Mind: The Mystic Sixties and the Dark Side of the Age of Aquarius; The Secret History of Consciousness; A Dark Muse: A History of the Occult; and Politics and the Occult: The Right, the Left, and the Radically Unseen. In recent years he has published biographies of major esoteric figures including P.D. Ouspensky, Emanuel Swedenborg, Rudolf Steiner, Carl Jung, and H.P. Blavatsky (see his interview in New Dawn 137).

Gary’s latest work, published in December 2015 by Tarcher/Penguin, is The Secret Teachers of the Western World, a monumental work that unveils the esoteric masters who have shaped the intellectual development of the West, from Pythagoras and Zoroaster to little-known twentieth-century figures such as Jean Gebser and René Schwaller de Lubicz.

In June 2015 I conducted an e-mail interview with Gary about secret currents in the Western tradition.

RICHARD SMOLEY (RS): Many people have a sense, however dim, that what is going on in the news is only the thinnest skin upon a sea of struggles and forces that we can barely conceive of. Would you agree with this assessment?

GARY LACHMAN (GL): I suspect that at most times what we are aware of is only a selection of what is actually taking place. I mean this in the broadest sense possible. In terms of the media, it’s reasonable to assume there are a variety of filters in place that result in an edited version of things getting to us. But then there are people who devote their energies to ‘uncovering’ the truth and ‘revealing’ the facts about this or that event. It does strike me that one could get lost in attempting to track down the ‘truth’ about things, in terms of the political, economic, social situation. I mean conspiracy theorists who pursue an elusive solution to the mystery of who ‘really’ is in power and what ‘really’ happened in this or that situation.

I think it is important to be discriminating about what we accept from our sources and to be aware that every source has its bias. Personally, I am more interested in the kind of things that are outside this kind of ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’, in the philosopher Paul Ricoeur’s phrase. I mean philosophy, thought, etc. I think it’s always a good time to pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful, whoever is running the show. I also think there is less covert control than some people believe, but it seems de rigueur nowadays to feel that everything we see on the news is false. The show itself is ultimately unimportant. It is an unavoidable nuisance that we nevertheless need to be aware of in order to pursue our aims.

RS: Novelist Ishmael Reed wrote, “Beneath or behind all political and cultural warfare lies a struggle between secret societies.” How much truth do you think there is in this statement?

GL: Well, I don’t know. I first came across it, as many people did, in Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Shea’s conspiracy fantasy Illuminatus. Are there really secret societies at work, manipulating events and controlling the world? If there are, they don’t seem to be doing a particular good job of it.

I think that at different times there have been societies or groups of people who have worked together to effect some change or introduce some idea into the societies of their time. I talk about some of them in my new book, The Secret Teachers of the Western World. But these were relatively small groups who were active at a certain time, and when you look at what they were doing, the aura of mystery and sensation around them being ‘secret’ dissolves. That isn’t what is important about them. Take the Fedeli d’Amore of Dante’s time and of whom Dante was a member. They weren’t secret in the way that we think of Skull and Bones or that kind of thing (and I should say here that my book isn’t about that kind of secret group). But they were a relatively private group of poets who wanted to introduce ideas about the divine feminine or Sophia into the consciousness of their time. They were more like what G.I. Gurdjieff and P.D. Ouspensky mean when they talk about the ‘inner circle of humanity’ or ‘esoteric school’. I’m not saying the Fedeli d’Amore were agents of esoteric schools, but that their objectives and practice were like theirs, rather than some cabal of powerful individuals directing events from behind the scenes, which is how secret societies are popularly imagined to be.

In one sense I think conspiracy consciousness is a good sign, in the way that Jung said neuroses were, as an attempt by the psyche to deal with a problem. It shows that we have a hunger for meaning. We prefer feeling that someone is in charge, even if we don’t know who that is, to feeling that no one is and that everything is chance and arbitrary. The hunger for meaning is good; it’s the means of satisfying it that I find questionable. We are purposive beings who seek out patterns and meanings. The mainstream narratives – religion, progress – no longer satisfy our appetite for meaning, and so we seek it elsewhere. One of the ideas of the book is that the meaning is there, but we won’t find it by looking for it outside ourselves.

RS: One period in which occult orders were especially influential was the eighteenth century, in which lodges like the Freemasons played a crucial role in transforming the old feudal and ecclesiastical order into the modern world. Do you have any thoughts or insights about this development?

GL: Freemasonry was a very important means for some fundamental ideas about modernity to be disseminated. I mean ideas about tolerance, social justice, democracy, individual worth regardless of social or economic rank. It was the spread of these ideas through different lodges that helped prepare the eighteenth-century zeitgeist for the radical changes that happened with the American and French revolutions. It is a mistake, though, to think, with Abbé Barruel and more recent writers on the Masonic influence on these events, that Freemasonry arranged or stage-managed them. There were Masons on both sides of the American Revolution, and the Illuminati – the real society, not the popular romanticised idea of it that’s present on the Internet – wasn’t ‘responsible’ for the French Revolution. The ideas that informed Adam Weishaupt’s short-lived and ineffective Masonic offshoot certainly were active forces in the revolution, and they were spread through Masonic lodges. But I think we have to credit the zeitgeist more than Weishaupt and Co. for the storming of the Bastille. In fact in one sense we could say Freemasonry itself was a product of the shift in consciousness that began around that time.

RS: Your new book is entitled The Secret Teachers of the Western World. If they were secret, how have they been able to have such influence?

GL: Well, again, my secret teachers aren’t necessarily secret in the sense that no one knows about them. I mean, if they were that secret, how could I know about them? One can be a secret teacher by teaching secrets, or one can be a secret teacher in the sense that the influence and importance of your ideas haven’t been recognised or have been misunderstood. Or you can be secret in another sense, as with several important thinkers who have been marginalised or don’t fit into the standard model of Western consciousness. It’s a broad term referring to a variable status rather than specific group of people. Jesus Christ, for example, is one of my secret teachers, and most people know about him. But there is a whole school of thought that argues that what we have accepted as Christianity really has little to do with the original teachings associated with Jesus. The Gnostics, for example, are thought to be more in line with what Jesus actually taught then the Petrine church of Rome.

Or take Madame Blavatsky. If people know about her at all, she is chalked up to be an entertaining but fraudulent nineteenth-century spiritualist with a lot of chutzpah. But she was enormously influential on the modern world, in everything from art, religion, and science to what became known as the ‘counterculture’. I am not saying that everything she said about science or religion is ‘true’. That’s not the point. True or not – and she is more often on the ball than you might think – her ideas were tremendously influential, and I am amazed that feminists haven’t appropriated her. I suspect the occult connotations put them off. She isn’t secret, but her influence is not generally recognised.

I should say the central idea of my book is that the whole Hermetic, esoteric tradition is the victim of a war going on inside our heads. I mean the rivalry between our two cerebral hemispheres. One of the inspirations for the book came from reading Iain McGilchrist’s very important work The Master and His Emissary, which is about the left and right brain and the differences between them. Briefly put, McGilchrist revamps the left/right brain discussion by showing that the difference between them is not in what they do – as was originally believed – but in how they do it. They respond to the world in very different ways, and the way they present the world is also very different. In the simplest sense, the right brain presents a total picture of the world. Its mode of consciousness is relational, connective, holistic. It presents what McGilchrist calls the ‘big picture’, the overall pattern, but its picture is fuzzy, vague. It works with metaphor, symbols, and is focused on the living character of being. It is aware of implicit meanings, meanings that we know and feel but cannot express explicitly. (Think of our appreciation of music: we know a Beethoven string quartet means something, but we’d be hard pressed to say exactly what.)

The left brain is aimed at breaking up the big picture into smaller bits and pieces that it can manipulate. Its main function, as Henri Bergson said long ago, is to help us survive. It reduces the living, flowing whole presented by the right brain to a kind of map that allows us to manoeuvre through the world effectively. It’s interested in the trees; the right brain is interested in the forest. One looks through a microscope, the other at a panorama.

Both are necessary, and for the most part each gets along with the other in a system of checks and balances, each inhibiting the other’s excesses. But McGilchrist argues – convincingly, I believe – that in the last few centuries the left has increasingly gained an upper hand against the right and has, in a sense, gone on a smear campaign against it. One expression of right brain thinking that the left brain targeted was the Hermetic, esoteric tradition, which was cast into disrepute with the rise of mechanical science – itself an exemplar of left brain thinking. With the dismissal of the esoteric tradition it was transformed into what the historian James Webb called ‘rejected knowledge.’ What my secret teachers teach is this rejected knowledge.

RS: Of the figures that you would include among these secret teachers, which do you consider the most influential?

GL: That’s difficult to say, and I should point out that the book isn’t a ‘top ten’ or ‘ten best’ list or something like that. Plato is certainly one of the most influential; in many ways the esoteric, Hermetic roads all lead to him. He is believed to have ‘gone to school’ in Egypt, and whatever he learned there is supposed to inform his philosophy. But whether Plato studied in Egypt or not, his ideas about the Forms, the ideal essences of which the physical realities of time and space are merely shadows, is certainly at the heart of the esoteric tradition. And Platonism informed Christianity, Hermeticism, Gnosticism, and other esoteric teachings. We can argue with and reject or accept different aspects or elements of his philosophy, but I would say that for the West, Plato is certainly one of, if not the most, significant source of esoteric thought, or thought in general. Alfred North Whitehead said long ago that all Western philosophy is but a series of footnotes to Plato.

In saying this I’m not saying I think Plato is the ‘best’. My own philosophical background is more in Nietzsche, Bergson, Whitehead, William James, and existentialism. But Plato is still there too.

RS: Which of these figures do you admire the most?

GL: I’m not quite sure how to answer that. There are plenty of admirable figures in the book, as well as more questionable ones, and also some martyrs, like Hypatia the Neoplatonist, and the Persian theosopher Suhrawardi, both of whom fell victim to religious persecution, as well as truly secret teachers like the so-called Dionysius the Areopagite who welded Neoplatonism to Christianity. We do not know who he really was, just as we have no names for the Hermeticists of ancient Alexandria.

I can say who has been an influence on me. One of first writers on esotericism that I read was P.D. Ouspensky. His books Tertium Organum and A New Model of the Universe made a big impact on me, even before I read In Search of the Miraculous and became interested in Gurdjieff. I first read these books forty years ago, and Ouspensky seemed a model of the kind of thinker I wanted to be: he combined a romantic openness to ideas, and poetry and art with a rigorous critical mind and he remains the best writer from what I call the ‘golden age of modern esotericism’, which took place during the 1920s, when people like Ouspensky, Gurdjieff, Rudolf Steiner, Jung, Crowley, and others were all active. Again, I’m not saying Ouspensky is the ‘best’ – that’s as pointless as arguing about who’s the best guitarist. But reading his books excited me and made me want to learn more. I tend to like figures that combine imagination with critical thinking, which we can see as the right and left brain working together, which is another theme running through the book.

RS: One theme that you advance in your new book is that the cosmos is a living, conscious being, and that we need to rediscover that fact. To what extent do you think this rediscovery is actually happening in the world today?

GL: It seems some form of that idea has been revived and presented in a variety of different ways throughout the last century and into our own. Bergson argued a form of it as did Whitehead. In the nineteenth century we have Gustav Fechner, who wrote about the Earth as a living being well in advance of James Lovelock. The philosopher David Chalmers has argued for a kind of panpsychism, meaning that in some sense, the entire universe is conscious. What headway this idea has made in altering our ‘standard model’ of the cosmos is unclear. We’d have to interview lots of scientists, I guess, and go through the numbers. I think more people today have some sense of it than, say, in the nineteenth century – at least the kind of mechanistic picture of the world popular then is less so now. Of course, any scientist who takes the idea literally and talks about it is subject to the scorn of his peers. But that too is an expression of the rivalry between the two modes of thinking. The ‘hard’ left brain makes fun of the ‘soft’ right brain’s ‘need’ to see a nice, cozy universe that cares about him, while he shows how ‘tough’ he is by saying that he doesn’t need that and prefers the ‘truth’ about the cold, indifferent cosmos. I write about this in an earlier book, The Caretakers of the Cosmos, where the idea of a living cosmos is a central theme.

RS: Thirty or forty years ago, it seemed possible to believe that we were on the verge of a new age of rising consciousness and compassion. It’s a little harder to believe this now. How do you personally respond to hopes and dreams of a coming new age (however imagined)?

GL: I’m not that keen on predicting a new age. Western history is littered with them. I think the current pessimism, or, more accurately, nihilism is a kind of ‘sound barrier’ that our culture, our civilisation, has to break through. Nietzsche predicted it at the end of the nineteenth century. I think we have somewhat naïve ideas about a new age. I believe there are shifts in consciousness. One of the thinkers I refer to in the book and in others is the little-known German philosopher Jean Gebser, who talks about different ‘mutations’ of consciousness happening throughout history. But these come about through our own participation in them; I mean we are active players, not passive recipients of something happening in the stars or according to some ancient teachings.

The real new age will come round when we learn how to master our own consciousness. This means coming to understand it. This takes hard, determined work. I don’t think the new age will come about because of nice thoughts or fun raves or because of a conference or a festival. It will start to appear in individuals who have an obscure hunger for some purpose higher or more demanding than what our ordinary life can provide. These types embody in embryonic form a new consciousness that demands a new kind of inner freedom.

We tend to think of freedom as liberation, as being free from something. The new types want a more significant freedom, the freedom for some purpose greater than just fulfilling their individual needs. In The Caretakers of the Cosmos I borrow a term from the Russian existential philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev and talk of a ‘creative minority’. These are the individuals who quietly and solitarily confront the demands of the new consciousness emerging within them. We tend to think that a new form of consciousness will be lots of fun and full of ecstasy. But more often people experiencing a different kind of consciousness, with different needs and appetites, tend to feel like misfits and have to go through a long struggle to actualise their possibilities. I have a very evolutionary way of thinking. I feel that any important development at first makes life more difficult for those in whom it occurs. Those who can get through the initial difficulties develop a strength that will help them impose the new vision on the world around them.

RS: Which living people do you consider to be most important and impressive in fostering this higher awareness?

GL: The most important one for me has been Colin Wilson, who sadly died at the end of 2013 at the age of eighty-two. I have been a dedicated Wilson reader since 1975, when I first read The Occult. After that I tracked down and read as many of his books as I could find. I am in fact preparing to write a book about his work and ideas, which more or less form the basis for much of my own writing. Wilson spent a lifetime in a determined analysis of consciousness and developed what I find to be a very convincing argument for why our consciousness is how it is and what we can do to intensify it. It isn’t for everyone, but I personally have got the most out of following his leads.

If you appreciate this interview, please consider a digital subscription to New Dawn.

Gary Lachman’s The Secret Teachers of the Western World (Tarcher/Penguin) is available from all good bookstores and online retailers.


RICHARD SMOLEY’s latest book, The Deal: A Guide to Radical and Complete Forgiveness, was reviewed in the May-June 2015 issue of New Dawn. He is the author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe; Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity; The Essential Nostradamus; Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism; Supernatural: Writings on an Unknown History, and Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions (with Jay Kinney). A frequent contributor to New Dawn, he is editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America.

The above article appeared in New Dawn 153 (Nov-Dec 2015)

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Secret Societies and The First World War



This August [2014] the centenary of the beginning of the First World War was marked by the release of new books, magazine articles, radio programmes and television documentaries. There has also been considerable public discussion among mainstream academics and historians about the causes of the war and whether the slaughter of millions on both sides was justified.

It has been suggested World War One was a struggle for power between rival empires, the political and economic control of Europe, and the colonial dominance of the Far East. It was certainly the end result of a gradual military build-up and arms race since the early 1900s by the main protagonists. However, there were darker and more sinister forces at work involving secret societies that wanted to overthrow the European monarchies and change the traditional order in Europe.

As early as the end of the 19th century some observers were predicting a major European war. In a series of lectures on ‘Occult Science, Theosophy and the Catholic Faith’ given to a gathering of occult students in 1893, this idea was mooted by the lecturer C.G. Harrison. These talks were published in book form three years later under the title The Transcendental Universe (George Redway & Co, 1896). In general they dealt with occult subjects such as the Cabalistic Tree of the Life, the difference between Satan and Lucifer, the celestial hierarchy of angels, the Theosophical Society and the ‘Hidden Masters’ of Madame Blavatsky. In the second lecture, however, Harrison deviated from esoteric matters to refer to the Russian Empire and a confederation of Slavic states in south-eastern Europe that had recently broken away from the Ottoman Empire. He predicted these “little states” would only remain independent until the “next great European war.” He also said that it was the destiny of the Russian Empire to die “so the Russian people may live” and referred to “experiments in Socialism” that would create a higher form of civilisation. These developments, Harrison suggested, would cause innumerable political and economic difficulties in Western Europe.

Assassins, Emperors & Occultists

The French Martinist and occultist Dr. Gerard Encausse (aka ‘Papus’) was closely associated with the Russian royal family. He claimed before the First World War that a “large financial syndicate” was behind the current political problems and upheavals in Europe, especially in France and Russia. Specifically, he identified the Freemasons and the Carbonari, an anti-clerical Italian secret society, as the organisation’s prime movers and claimed the centre of the conspiracy was in the City of London banking district with branches in Germany. Dr. Encausse said the aim of this shadowy group of financiers was to gain control of the world’s gold reserves. To do this they planned to create social, political and economic instability and possibly even war between the major European powers.

The actual flashpoint that led to the First World War was a tragic event in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo. On 28 June 1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his Czech wife Archduchess Sofia, were on an official visit. As their car drove through streets lined with cheering crowds a small group of fanatical assassins attacked the royal party. One threw a crude bomb at the vehicle that bounced off the bonnet and exploded on the road. The car’s occupants were unharmed but the explosion injured twenty bystanders. The would-be assassin fled the scene and was later arrested by the police after trying to commit suicide using cyanide. Having survived this attack and believing they were safe, the royal couple proceeded on. Unfortunately their driver took a wrong turn and brought his passengers into a fateful and deadly contact with the remaining assassins. One walked up to the side of car and fired two shots with his pistol, killing the archduke and his wife instantly.

The three main assassins in Sarajevo were a teenager named Gavrilo Princip, who was the shooter, and two of his equally young friends. They were all Serbian nationalists belonging to a secret society called the Order of the Black Hand. The group’s members included military officers, lawyers, civil servants and university lecturers. However, the Sarajevo assassins were young students with socialist and anarchist views who had decided to make a violent gesture against the Habsburg monarchy. When the case came to court it was claimed the young men had not acted alone and were part of a wider conspiracy with more universal objectives.

In his book L’Attentat de Sarajevo (1930) Alfred Moussett recorded that at the trial of Gavrilo Princip (Gabriel Prince in English) it was claimed a Masonic lodge in France had financed the Order of the Black Hand in their political activities. When he testified, Princip’s co-defendant Vaso Cubrilovic (1897-1990) made the fantastic claim that the assassination of Franz Ferdinand had been planned two years earlier at a meeting of senior French Freemasons in Toulouse. Allegedly at this secret gathering a sentence of death was passed on the archduke. Cabrilovic also said that the Browning automatic pistol used in the assassination had been provided by a Serbian Freemason called Ziganovic. It was also stated in court that Princip was a Mason (although he was far too young to have been one) and the group of assassins had been trained by another member of the fraternity called Tankosi.

Gavrilo Princip died in an Austrian prison in 1918 from tuberculosis, but Cubrilovic was released in November 1918 when the Allied powers won the war. After he came out of prison Cubrilovic turned into a model citizen. He was a schoolteacher and a professor at the University of Belgrade, a member of the Serbian Academy of Arts and Sciences, and after the Second World War served as a Yugoslavian government minister during the communist regime of Marshall Tito. Cubrilovic’s anti-Albanian writings in the late 1930s calling for ethnic cleansing are said to have influenced the terrible events of the Bosnian War in the 1990s.

It was widely known that Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I was paranoid about secret societies and Masonry in particular. His wife the Empress Elizabeth had been brutally stabbed to death by an assassin with secret society links in 1898. The emperor himself had been the subject of an assassination attempt by the Black Hand in 1911. Franz Josef believed French Freemasons were plotting to start a war between Austria-Hungary and Russia. The aim of such a conflict was to bring down both monarchies. His worst fears would have been confirmed by the revelation during the trial of his nephew’s murderers that the Russian military attaché in Belgrade had passed 8,000 roubles from his government to the Black Hand leadership. With this gift came a personal assurance from Tsar Nicholas II that he would support Serbia in any armed conflict with the Habsburg Empire.

The German Kaiser

Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany was a friend of Archduke Ferdinand and was shocked when he heard of his death. He immediately offered German support to crush the Order of the Black Hand.

Events soon spiralled out of control when on 28 July a still distraught Emperor Franz Josef declared war on Serbia because of the murder of his nephew and heir. In response Russia began to mobilise its military forces to defend their Serbian ally. The German kaiser told Tsar Nicholas that unless the Russian army stood down Germany would also mobilise. The demand was ignored and on 1 August Kaiser Wilhelm declared war on Russia. France and Britain were asked by the German government to remain neutral in the conflict. But two days later the German ambassador in London informed Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, that his country’s troops planned to march through neutral Belgium into France. In defence of the Belgians and the French, Britain declared war on Germany and its allies and the First World War began. Four years later it is estimated about 16 million soldiers and civilians had been killed.

Kaiser Wilhelm, who was related through his grandmother Queen Victoria to most of the European royal families, believed the popular conspiracy theories about Freemasonry and other secret societies. These beliefs coloured both his domestic and foreign policy. Throughout the kaiser’s reign until his forced abdication in 1918 he believed Jewish elements in the German press, left-wing politics and international banking were plotting to overthrow him. When he abdicated the kaiser blamed an international conspiracy for starting the Great War, engineering Germany’s defeat and his own downfall.

Ironically, when hostilities began Kaiser Wilhelm was effectively sidelined and became a puppet ruler controlled by a military junta led by his generals. As a result he was increasingly excluded from political decisions and the day-to-day running of the war. Any support that Wilhelm had from the public and the ruling officer class faded away in 1918 when it became clear Germany was losing the war and the kaiser became a convenient scapegoat. Many blamed Wilhelm for getting the country involved in the first place. When he was told the army’s officer corps would no longer support him and popular uprisings began, Wilhelm fled by train from Berlin to a self-imposed exile in neutral Holland. There he formally announced his abdication and ended the 400 year old reign of the Hohenzollern royal dynasty in Germany.

According to the British occultist Lewis Spence in his book The Occult Causes of the Present War (1941), at his Dutch retirement home Wilhelm had an extensive library. Among the hundreds of books he collected and read were many volumes on esoteric subjects such as Freemasonry, Luciferianism, secret societies and the occult. The ex-kaiser had always been interested in occultism and Spiritualism. In fact in 1888 it was reported he had even attended a séance held to contact the spirits of the dead. However, later in life, he was to criticise and condemn some civil servants who had become involved in occult activities. Wilhelm’s interest in Spiritualism and alternative spirituality was shared by his cousin the Russian tsar and also the tsarina, who patronised the ‘holy man’ Rasputin because of his healing powers.

One of Wilhelm’s friends and regular correspondents was an English occultist with German links called Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927), the husband of the composer Richard Wagner’s step-daughter, Eva. Chamberlain and Wilhelm shared similar views and the Englishman also had his own idiosyncratic ideas about German racial superiority. In the 1920s these ideas influenced the ideology of Adolf Hitler and his emerging National Socialist Party. Wilhelm invited Chamberlain to his royal court in Berlin and even arranged for his writings to be distributed among army officers and placed in school libraries.

Rudolf Steiner & the Great War

The German kaiser’s interest in the occult and esotericism was shared by the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Helmuth Von Moltke (1848-1916). He was influenced by his wife’s Austrian spiritual mentor Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of the Anthroposophical Society. Today Steiner is best known for his radical education methods taught in Waldorf schools and his promotion of biodynamic agriculture.

Von Moltke first met Rudolf Steiner in 1904 and they remained friends until the end of the general’s life. One of Von Moltke’s critics, Dietrich Graf Von Hulson-Haeseler, Chief of the Military Cabinet, opposed his appointment as Chief of Staff because of his occult interests. He condemned Moltke as an irrational religious dreamer who believed in “nonsense” such as guardian angels and faith healing. Because of the criticism of his appointment, Kaiser Wilhelm ordered Von Moltke to “stop dabbling in the supernatural,” or at least keep his unusual interests private. This did not prevent the general and his wife frequently contacting Rudolf Steiner and secretly following his esoteric philosophy and teachings on subjects such as the lost continent of Atlantis, karma, reincarnation and the spiritual realm.

Rudolf Steiner was also a firm believer in the hidden power and influence of secret societies on world events and generally regarded them as satanic in nature. He believed their ultimate aim was the enslavement of the human race. In 1916 and 1917 Steiner strayed into the political arena during a series of lectures in Switzerland. In one he suggested that secret societies were responsible for the current war. Transcripts of the talks were later published in two volumes under the title The Karma of Untruthfulness: Secret Societies, the Media, and Preparations for the Great War. In one of the lectures, given on 8 January 1917, Steiner claimed that secret cabals wanted to preserve the economic position of the English speaking countries (Britain and the United States) in Europe and destroy the dominance of Germany and Austria-Hungary. The First World War certainly achieved that aim as the ruling monarchies of both power blocs were overthrown. The Austro-Hungarian empire was dismembered, while Germany became a republic. The Russian Empire collapsed to be replaced with one of the “experiments in Socialism” that resulted in the Soviet Union, as predicted by the English occultist C.G. Harrison in his lectures given over a decade before in 1893.

Ahead of his time, Steiner also warned his students of the future threat to personal freedom. He told them the Anglo-American materialistic worldview would lead to the social control of the human race and the suppression of spiritual development. Predicting the present global economic situation, Steiner said individual governments were not really in control of national finances. Instead, the international banking system was the real controller. It was infiltrated or being used by secret societies working towards an “Ahrimanic [satanic] world order” based on rationalism and materialism.

With regard to the First World War, Steiner seems to have laid the blame on a plan hatched by the British to manipulate France and Russia and create a pan-Slavic federation in south-eastern Europe. He also said that the agenda of the occult secret societies from their origin in ancient times was to preserve a monopoly on knowledge. They allegedly taught their followers that the destiny of the Anglo-Saxon race was to rule the world and Steiner gave the British Empire as an example of this process. According to the Austrian occultist, it was also the plan of the secret societies for “centuries into the future.” Steiner later identified the Russian Revolution as the work of these clandestine groups. This was because it furthered their mission of social control over millions of people using a totalitarian political system, i.e. communism.

In November 1918 the Armistice was signed between the Allied and Central European powers at the former royal palace of Versailles in France. It is said that at the signing the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, remarked it was not a real peace treaty and represented only a truce in hostilities between the major European powers. He even correctly predicted that a new war would break out between the Allies and Germany within twenty years. In September 1939 Lord Curzon’s prediction came true when Britain declared war on a Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler. Many historians have said it was the severe conditions of the Treaty of Versailles that humiliated the Germans which led to the Second World War.

The Hidden Hand

After what was called the Great War ended, fingers of suspicion began pointing towards hidden influences that might have been responsible for it. The famous American industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford (1863-1947), had no doubts. Talking in the 1920s about the First World War, Ford blamed it on the machinations of a secret cabal of “Jewish bankers.” It was a belief that was not unusual and found support in many quarters, not least among those politicians and senior military personnel who had actually been involved in the Great War.

For instance, during the war Winston Churchill was the First Lord of the Admiralty in charge of the then powerful Royal Navy that ruled the world’s seas. In the 1920s Churchill expressed his admiration for the anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Nesta Webster, who believed the Illuminati were responsible for the French and Russian Revolutions. Churchill even wrote about an international conspiracy operating behind world affairs. He mentioned Adam Weishaupt of the 18th century Bavarian Illuminati and attempts to overthrow Western civilisation in the same sentence as Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky.

On the German side, General Erich von Ludendorff, the Chief of Staff of the Army after Von Moltke, put the blame for his country’s defeat on the forces of “international Freemasonry.” He also held it responsible for bringing the United States into the war in 1917, which dramatically changed the military balance in the Allies’ favour after two years of stalemate in the trenches. Von Ludendorff was also another anti-Semite who regarded Masonry as a cover and a source of power for “international Jewry.” The general believed Kaiser Wilhelm had metaphorically been “stabbed in the back” by conspirators led by “Judeo-Freemasons” and international bankers.

On 7 March 1919 a public meeting of the Citizens’ Association in Vienna, Austria was organised by Count Czernin, the former foreign minister of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A lecture was given by Dr. Richard Schuller, once an economist in the Austrian foreign office, on the subject of ‘Freemasonry and the World War’. A nationalist politician and lawyer called Dr. Friedrich Georgi Wichtl also told the audience, which included members of local Masonic lodges, that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand had been organised by Serbian Freemasons using the Order of the Black Hand as their tool. Dr. Wichtl also accused Masons of involvement in the assassination of King Carlos I of Portugal in 1908. He was another cousin of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and had been murdered by two anti-monarchist republicans while visiting Lisbon.

One of the assassins, Alfredo Luis de Costa, was a journalist working for socialist publications and a Freemason. Previously he had been involved in an abortive coup against the Portuguese government. In common with Gavrilo Princip who assassinated Franz Ferdinand six years later, the killers of King Carlos had used Browning automatic pistols.

It is obvious from the overwhelming evidence that before, during and after the First World War, there was a widespread belief that the subversive activities of secret societies set the world on course for a murderous global conflict.

The notion of secret cabals manipulating world events – like sinister puppet-masters – is a powerful one in history. It is an idea that still exists today among conspiracy theorists, except that in the early 21st century secret cabals like the Illuminati, renegade Freemasons and ‘international bankers’ are said to be planning World War III. If the 1914-1918 conflict was, as optimistically claimed afterwards, the ‘war to end all wars’ then the next global war will definitely be the one that ends civilisation.

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MICHAEL HOWARD is an Anglo-Irish writer, historical researcher, magazine editor, folklorist and practising occultist. He has been studying occult parapolitics and secret societies since he was a teenager fifty years ago. He is the author of Secret Societies: Their Influence and Power from Antiquity to the Present Day published by Destiny Books and The Pillars of Tubal Cain published by Capall Bann Publishing Ltd UK (on the Luciferian tradition). His website is

The above article appeared in New Dawn 146 (Sept-Oct 2014)

Read this article with its illustrations and much more by downloading
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The Secret Origins of the First World War



The history of the First World War (1914–1918) is a deliberately concocted lie. Not the sacrifice, the heroism, the horrendous waste of life or the misery that followed. No, these were very real, but the truth of how it all began and how it was unnecessarily and deliberately prolonged beyond 1915 has been successfully covered up for a century. A carefully falsified history was created to conceal the fact that Britain, not Germany, was responsible for the war. Had the truth become widely known after 1918, the consequences for the British Establishment would have been cataclysmic.1

To the victors go the spoils, and their judgment was reflected in the official accounts. At Versailles in 1919 Britain, France and the United States claimed that Germany had planned the war, deliberately started it, and rejected all Allied proposals for conciliation and mediation. Millions of documents were destroyed, concealed or falsified to justify that verdict. Germany rightly protested she had been forced into war by Russian aggression. German delegates at Versailles, under threat of occupation, dismemberment and starvation, were left with little choice but to accept the blame and agree to massive reparations. As The Economist put it, the Treaty of Versailles was the final crime whose harsh terms would ensure a second war.2

Our research proves that the true origins of the war are to be found not in Germany, but in England. In the late nineteenth century a secret society of immensely rich and powerful men was established in London with the stated aim of expanding the British Empire across the entire world. They deliberately caused the South African War of 1899–1902 in order to grab the Transvaal’s gold from the Boers. Their responsibility for that war, and the horror of British concentration camps in which 20,000 children died,3 have been airbrushed from official histories. The second stage of their global plan was the destruction of the rapidly developing industrial and economic competitor, Germany.

Carefully falsified history? Twenty thousand children dying in British concentration camps? A secret society taking control of the world? Britain responsible for the First World War? Should you jump immediately to the conclusion that this is some madcap conspiracy theory, please consider the work of Professor Carroll Quigley, one of the twentieth century’s most highly respected historians. Quigley’s greatest contribution to our understanding of modern history is presented in his book The Anglo-American Establishment. It carries explosive details of how the secret society of international bankers, aristocrats and other powerful men controlled the levers of politics and finance in Great Britain and the United States. Quigley explains that very few people knew about this because the society was able to conceal its existence and “many of its most influential members are unknown even to close students of British history.”4

Plotting to Destroy the ‘Teutonic menace’

Cecil Rhodes, the South African diamond millionaire, formed the secret society in London in February 1891.5 Its members aimed to renew the bond between Great Britain and the United States, spread all they considered worthy in English ruling-class values, and bring all habitable portions of the world under their influence and control. They believed that ruling-class men of Anglo-Saxon descent rightly sat at the top of a hierarchy built on predominance in trade, industry, banking and the exploitation of other races.

Victorian England sat confidently at the pinnacle of international power, but could it stay there forever? That was the question exercising serious debate in the great country houses and smoke-filled parlours of influence. The elites harboured a deep rooted fear that unless they acted decisively, British power and influence across the world would be eroded and replaced by foreigners, foreign business, foreign customs and laws. The choice was stark. Either take drastic steps to protect and further expand the British Empire, or accept that the new, burgeoning Germany might reduce it to a minor player on the world’s stage. In the years immediately after the Boer War, the decision was reached. The ‘Teutonic menace’ had to be destroyed. Not defeated, destroyed.

The plan began with a multi-pronged attack on the democratic process. They would: (a) Wield power in administration and politics through carefully selected and compliant politicians in each of the major political parties; (b) Control British foreign policy from behind the scenes, irrespective of any change of government; (c) Draw into their ranks the increasingly influential press-barons to exercise influence over the avenues of information that create public opinion, and (d) Control the funding of university chairs, and completely monopolise the writing and the teaching of the history of their own time.6

Five principal players, Cecil Rhodes, William Stead, Lord Esher, Lord Nathaniel Rothschild and Alfred Milner, were the founding fathers, but the secret society developed rapidly in numbers, power and presence in the years before the war. Influential old aristocratic families that had long dominated Westminster were deeply involved, as was King Edward VII who operated within the inner core of the Secret Elite. The two great organs of imperial government, the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office, were infiltrated, and control established over their senior civil servants. They likewise took over the War Office and the Committee of Imperial Defence. Crucially, they also dominated the highest echelons of the armed forces through Field Marshall Lord Roberts7 in what we have termed the “Roberts Academy.”8 Party-political allegiance was not a given prerequisite for members; loyalty to the cause of Empire was. They have been referred to obliquely in speeches and books as ‘the money power’, the ‘hidden power’ or ‘the men behind the curtain’. All of these labels are pertinent, but we have called them, collectively, the Secret Elite.

Leading Role Played by Alfred Milner

The leading figure in the Secret Elite from around 1902 until 1925 was Alfred (later Viscount) Milner. Remarkably, few people have ever heard his name. Professor Quigley noted that all biographies of Milner had been written by members of the Secret Elite and concealed more than they revealed. In his view, this neglect of one of the most important figures of the twentieth century was part of a deliberate policy of secrecy. Milner became the undisputed leader of the Secret Elite. On his return from South Africa in 1905 he set about preparing the British Empire for war with Germany. Though not a member of parliament, he sat in the inner-circle of Lloyd George’s Imperial War Cabinet from 1916 onwards.9 What was so precious about Lord Alfred Milner that he has been virtually airbrushed from history?

In goading the Boers into war, Milner displayed the cold objectivity that drove the cause. War was unfortunate but necessary. It had to be. The very future of the Secret Elite’s global ambitions depended on a victorious outcome. By May 1902, the Transvaal’s gold was in their hands at the cost of 32,000 deaths in the concentration camps. Though the Boer War finally ended in victory it came at a cost greater than the 45,000 Empire troops killed or wounded.10 Britain had fewer friends than ever. Up to that point, Britain didn’t care. Living in ‘splendid isolation’ and devoid of binding treaties with any other nation had not been viewed as a handicap as long as no other power on earth challenged the Empire.

But in the early years of the twentieth century there was a serious challenger. If the Secret Elite were to achieve their dream of world domination, the first step had to be the removal of the upstart German competitor and destruction of her industrial and economic prowess. This presented considerable strategic difficulty. Friendless in her isolation, Britain could never destroy Germany on her own. As an island nation her strength lay in her all-powerful navy. Friendship and alliances were required. “It would have been impossible for Britain to have defeated Germany by itself. Therefore, it needed the large French army and the even larger Russian army to do most of the fighting on the continent.”11 Diplomatic channels had to be opened and overtures made to old enemies Russia and France. This was no mean task since Anglo-French bitterness had been rife over the previous decade and war between them a real possibility in 1895.12

Step forward the Secret Elite’s most special weapon, Edward VII, whose greatest contribution lay in engineering the much-needed realignments, and addressing the Secret Elite’s prerequisite need to isolate Germany. Ultimate responsibility for British foreign policy lay, by precedent, with the elected government and not the sovereign, but it was the King who enticed both France and Russia into secret alliances within six short years. The great armies of France and Russia were integral to the mammoth task of stopping Germany in her tracks. Put simply, the Secret Elite required others to undertake much of their bloody business, for war against Germany would certainly be bloody.

The treaty with France, the Entente Cordiale, was signed on 8 April 1904, marking the end of an era of conflict that had lasted nearly a thousand years. The talk was of peace and prosperity, but secret clauses signed that same day aligned the two against Germany. The Secret Elite then drew Russia into their web with a promise they never intended to deliver – Russian control of Constantinople and the Black Sea Straits following a successful war with Germany. This empty promise was the root cause of the Gallipoli disaster.

Secret Elite Control Both Sides of Politics

British democracy, with regular elections and changes of government, was portrayed as a reliable safety net against despotic rule. It has never been this. Both the Conservative and Liberal parties had been controlled since 1866 by the same small clique that consisted of no more than half a dozen chief families, their relatives and allies, reinforced by an occasional incomer with the ‘proper’ credentials.

The Secret Elite made an art form out of identifying potential talent and putting promising young men, usually from Oxford University, into positions that served their future ambitions. With the demise of the Conservative government in 1905, the Secret Elite had already selected their natural successors in the Liberal Party: reliable and trusted men immersed in their imperial values. Herbert Asquith, Richard Haldane and Sir Edward Grey were Milner’s chosen men. Grey moved into the Foreign Office and Haldane the War Office, and within two years Asquith was Prime Minister. Continuity in foreign policy was assured. A complete root-and-branch reorganisation of the War Office began in preparation for the coming war with Germany. How the Secret Elite must have laughed in their champagne at the notion of parliamentary democracy.

Secret Elite’s Propaganda Arm: The Press

Control of politics had never been a problem, nor was control of the press. Lord Northcliffe, the most powerful press-baron, was a valuable contributor to the Secret Elite in their drive to vilify Germany and prepare the nation for eventual war. His ownership of The Times and Daily Mail allowed them to create the impression that Germany was the enemy. In story after story, the message of the German danger to the British Empire, to British products, to British national security, was constantly regurgitated. Not every newspaper followed suit, but the right-wing press was particularly virulent. A large and influential section of the British press worked to the rabid agenda of poisoning the minds of the nation. It was part of a propaganda drive sustained right up to, and throughout, the First World War. If The Times was their intellectual base, the popular dailies spread the gospel of anti-German hatred to the working classes. From 1905 to 1914, spy stories and anti-German articles bordered on lunacy in what was an outrageous attempt to generate fear and resentment.

Tapping the Colonies for Cannon Fodder

Sir Alfred Milner set himself the mammoth task of preparing the Empire for war. Britain had only a small, highly trained Expeditionary Force, but the Empire remained a vast untapped source with over six million men of military age. Milner knew that when war came he had to be sure Australia, New Zealand and Canada would stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain. A Colonial Conference was held in London in 1907 to wrap the Union Jack around the Empire. Australia’s Prime Minister Alfred Deakin was Milner’s prime target. They shared a platform at the Queen’s Hall on which Milner praised Deakin and Australia’s commitment to the Empire and stressed the links of race and loyalty that bound the two nations. They adopted a plan to organise the dominion military in line with the reorganised British army so that they could be integrated in “an emergency.” This led to the complete reorganisation of the Australian and New Zealand forces.13

Canada, likewise, had a huge reserve of young men, and in 1908 Milner undertook a coast to coast rail tour praising Canadian spirit, patriotism and loyalty to the Empire.14 In June 1909 he threw his energies into an Imperial Press Conference in London that brought together over 60 newspaper owners, journalists and writers from across the Empire. Every effort was made to impress – indeed, overawe – the visitors, with lavish praise and hospitality. He was determined to rally the support of the Empire for the mother country in time of war. Travelling by private first class train, they visited armaments factories in Manchester and a shipyard in Glasgow where destroyers were being built for Australia. Honorary degrees were conferred on several leading newspapermen from Canada, Australia, India and South Africa. In the keynote address Lord Rosebery, a member of the Secret Elite, warned that never before in the history of the world was there “so threatening and overpowering a preparation for war.”15 Though Germany was not mentioned by name, the clear inference was that the Kaiser was preparing for war, and Britain and the Empire must quickly to be made ready. Lord Rosebery called on the delegates “to take back to your young dominions across the seas” the message that “the personal duty for national defence rests on every man and citizen of the Empire.”16 Milner later sent his most trusted acolytes to organise influential local groups throughout the Empire. Their message repeated the mantra of loyalty, duty, unity and the benefits of Empire… Empire… Empire. In the final analysis, Australia placed its navy under British command, and a total of 332,000 Australians went to war. New Zealand sent 112,000 men. The Empire did ‘its duty’, yet what have you ever heard about Lord Alfred Milner?

A Convenient Assassination

Two conditions had to be met before the Secret Elite could start their war. Firstly, Britain and the Empire had to be made ready. Secondly, in order to heap blame on Germany, she had to be goaded into making the first move. The assassination of the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Arch-Duke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914 provided the excuse for monstrous manipulation. It has often been cited as the cause of the First World War. What nonsense. On its own it was just one more political assassination in an era of such murders. The blame rested with a group of Serbian officials who trained, armed and aided the assassins, and Austrian retribution was generally accepted as a valid reaction. What we have demonstrated in our book, Hidden History, is that connections linked the Serbians, the Russian Ambassador in Belgrade, the Foreign Office in St. Petersburg and the Secret Elite in London.17 Austria demanded the Serbian government take specific action against the perpetrators and allow Austrian involvement in the investigation. Serbia refused. Russia, having assumed the spurious role of protector, voiced total support for Serbia.

In London, the Secret Elite purposefully fanned the orchestrated antagonisms into a crisis. When Serbia and Austria squared up to each other in what should have been a localised conflict, Russia, with the full support of London and Paris, began in secret to mobilise her massive armies on Germany’s eastern border. Everyone was aware that once the general mobilisation of an army began, it meant war and there was no turning back. Germany faced invasion along her eastern front, and, as the French army mobilised to the west, the Kaiser repeatedly made valiant attempts to persuade his cousin the Tsar to stand down his armies. In the full knowledge that France had promised to join with her immediately, and that Britain, though not openly admitting her collusion, was secretly committed to war, the Tsar refused. Russia’s dream of taking Constantinople could at last be realised.

Backed into a corner and forced into a defensive war, Germany was the last power in Europe to mobilise her army. In order to deal with the French who had secretly mobilised to the west, the Kaiser ordered the German army to advance into France through Belgium. He had little other option. Continental Europe was at war.

The Secret Elite watched and waited. Though joint preparations for war had been ongoing since 1905, they had been kept so secret that only five out of twenty Cabinet ministers in the British government knew of Britain’s commitments. Sir Edward Grey addressed the House of Commons on 3 August and promised that no action would be taken without the approval of parliament, yet that approval was never put to a vote. The crux of his argument lay in Belgian neutrality though he knew full well that such neutrality was a grotesque charade. Among others, the American writer Albert J Nock later revealed that Belgium had been a secret, but solid ally of Britain, France and Russia long before August 1914.18 The fiction of Belgian neutrality provided the legal and popular excuse for Britain to declare war on Germany on 4 August 1914. Sir Edward Grey, loyal servant of the Secret Elite, lied the British Empire into war.

Documentary Evidence Destroyed & History Falsified

Over the last 100 years facts have been twisted and falsified by court historians. Members of the Secret Elite took exceptional care to remove traces of their conspiracy, and letters, telegrams, official reports and cabinet minutes which would have revealed the truth have disappeared. Letters to and from Alfred Milner were removed, burned or otherwise destroyed. Incriminating letters sent by King Edward were subject to an order that, on his death, they must be destroyed immediately.19 Lord Nathan Rothschild, a founder member of the Secret Elite, likewise ordered that his papers and correspondence be burned posthumously lest his political influence and connections became known. As his official biographer commented, one can but “wonder how much of the Rothschild’s political role remains irrevocably hidden from posterity.”20

Professor Quigley pointed an accusatory finger at those who monopolised “so completely the writing and the teaching of the history of their own period.” There is no ambivalence in his damning accusation. The Secret Elite controlled the writing and teaching of history through numerous avenues but none more effectively than Oxford University. Milner’s men largely dominated Balliol College, New College and All Souls which, in turn, largely dominated the intellectual life of Oxford in the field of history. They controlled the Dictionary of National Biography which meant the Secret Elite wrote the biographies of its own members. They created their own official history of key members for public consumption, striking out any incriminating evidence and portraying the best public-spirited image that could be safely manufactured. They paid for new chairs of history, politics, economics and, ironically, peace studies.21

There was a systematic conspiracy by the British government to cover all traces of its own devious machinations. Official memoirs covering the origins of the war were carefully scrutinised and censored before being released. Cabinet records for July 1914 relate almost exclusively to Ireland, with no mention of the impending global crisis. No effort has been made to explain why crucial records are missing. In the early 1970s, the Canadian historian Nicholas D’Ombrain noted that War Office records had been “weeded.” During his research he realised that as much as five-sixths of “sensitive” files were removed as he went about his business.22 Why? Where did they go? Who authorised their removal? Were they sent to Hanslope Park, the government repository behind whose barbed-wire fences over 1.2 million secret files, many relating to the First World War, remain concealed today?23 Incredibly, this was not the worst episode of theft and deception.

Herbert Hoover, the man who fronted the Belgian Relief Commission and was later the 31st President of America, was closely linked to the Secret Elite. They gave him the important task of removing incriminating evidence from Europe, while dressing it in a cloak of academic respectability. Hoover persuaded General John Pershing to release 15 history professors and around 1,000 students serving with the American Forces in Europe and send them, in uniform, to the countries his agency was feeding. With food in one hand and reassurance in the other, these agents faced little resistance in their quest. They made the right contacts, “snooped” around for archives and found so many that Hoover “was soon shipping them back to the US as ballast in the empty food boats.” The removal of documents from Germany presented few problems. Fifteen carloads of material were taken, including “the complete secret minutes of the German Supreme War Council” – a “gift” from Friedrich Ebert, first president of the post-war German Republic.24 Hoover explained that Ebert was “a radical with no interest in the work of his predecessors,” but the starving man will exchange even his birthright for food. Where now is the vital evidence to prove Germany’s war guilt, had they been guilty? Had there been proof it would have been released immediately. There was none. What has been hidden or destroyed will never be known, and it is a startling fact that few if any war historians have ever written about this illicit theft of European documents: documents that relate to arguably the most crucially important event in European and world history. Why?

Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War

The evidence for every statement in this article can be found in our book, Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War. In addition, we have been blogging regular articles since June 2014 on what really happened 100 years ago, not the pre-packaged history on which the British government would like us to concentrate. Amongst the disturbing ‘history’ to be exposed as a lie is the disgraceful Gallipoli campaign, a sordid and unworthy ‘distraction’ which resulted in tragic consequences for so many Anzac lads. A few historians have questioned why the attack on the Straits was so badly mismanaged but we go further, much further. In our next article for New Dawn, we will prove that the Gallipoli disaster was not due to misjudgement in London or the incompetence of naval and military leaders on the spot. Young men from Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand were needlessly sacrificed on the damned beaches and slopes of the Dardanelles to serve a very different purpose. Gallipoli was deliberately designed to fail.

After a century of propaganda, lies and brainwashing about the First World War, cognitive dissonance renders us too uncomfortable to bear the truth that it was a small, socially advantaged group of self-styled English race patriots, backed by powerful industrialists and financiers in Britain and the United States, who caused the First World War. The determination of this London-based Secret Elite to destroy Germany and take control of the world was ultimately responsible for the deaths of millions of honourable young men who were betrayed and sacrificed in a mindless, bloody slaughter to further a dishonourable cause.

Today, tens of thousands of war memorials across the world bear witness to the great lie, the betrayal, that they died for ‘the greater glory of God’ and ‘that we might be free’. It is a lie that binds them to a myth. They were the victims. They are remembered in empty roll calls erected to conceal the war’s true purpose. What they deserve is the truth, and we must not fail them in that duty.

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To read exclusive extracts from their book Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War and also their latest research, please visit the authors’ blog at Hidden History is available from all good bookstores and online retailers.

The authors contributed the article “Gallipoli: The Untold Story – ‘The first casualty of war is truth’” for New Dawn 149, March-April 2015.


  1. Gerry Docherty & Jim Macgregor, Hidden History: The Secret Origins of the First World War, Mainstream Publishing, 2013, 11
  2. The Economist, 31 December 1999
  3., politics and society, 20th Century South Africa
  4. Carroll Quigley, The Anglo-American Establishment, G S G & Associates Pub, 1981, 4
  5. Ibid, 3
  6. Ibid, 197
  7. Nicholas D’Ombrain, War Machinery and High Policy, Oxford University Press, 1973, 143
  8. Docherty & Macgregor, Hidden History, 194-202
  9. A.M. Gollin, Proconsul in Politics: Study of Lord Milner, Blond, 1964, 390-441
  10. Will Podmore, British Foreign Policy since 1870, Xlibris Corporation, 2008, 29-30
  11. Pat Walsh, The Events of 1915 in Eastern Anatolia in the Context of Britain’s Great War on the Ottoman Empire: A Talk Given by Dr. Pat Walsh at the London School of Economics on February 15th 2013, 4
  12. Niall Ferguson, The Pity Of War: Explaining World War I, Basic Books, 1999, 41
  13. J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot: A Life of Alfred, Viscount Milner of St. James’s and Cape Town, FDU Press, 2007, 257
  14. Viscount Milner, Speeches delivered in Canada in the Autumn of 1908, 1-12,
  15. J. Lee Thompson, Northcliffe: Press Baron in Politics 1865-1922, John Murray, 2000, 168
  16. Ibid, 169
  17. Docherty & Macgregor, Hidden History, 242-251
  18. Albert J Nock, The Myth of a Guilty Nation, B.W. Huebsch, 1922, 36-7
  19. Lord Arbuthnott Fisher, Memories and Records, Vol. 1, George H. Doran company, 1920, 21
  20. Niall Ferguson, The House of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money’s Prophets: 1798-1848, Penguin Books, 1999, 319
  21. An in-depth analysis of the extent of this control can be found in our blogs of 18-19 June 2014 at
  22. Nicholas D’Ombrain, War Machinery and High Policy, Oxford University Press, 1973, xiii


GERRY DOCHERTY was born in 1948. He graduated from Edinburgh University in 1971 and was a secondary school teacher by profession. He taught economics and modern studies, developed a keen interest in the theatre and has written a number of plays with historical themes. One of these plays was the powerful story of two cousins from his home town of Tillicoultry who were both awarded the Victoria Cross at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Energised by the research he had undertaken to write this play, he was intrigued by Jim Macgregor’s work on the First World War, and their mutual interest developed into a passion to discover the truth amongst the lies and deceptions that the official records contained.

JIM MACGREGOR was born in Glasgow in 1947 and raised in a cottage in the grounds of Erskine Hospital for war disabled. There he witnessed the aftermath of war on a daily basis and, profoundly affected by what he saw, developed a life-long interest in war and the origins of global conflict. Jim graduated as a medical doctor in 1978, and left the practice in 2001 to devote his energies full-time to researching the political failures in averting war. His numerous articles have been published on subjects such as miscarriages of justice, the Iraq War, global poverty, and the rise of fascism in the United States. His powerful anti-war novel The Iboga Visions was published to critical acclaim in 2009.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 9 No 1

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